who will save black girls?

Salamishah Tillet wrote a poignant piece on black girls and modern-day slavery in The Root this past week in response to the Rowan Towers sexual assault case and other unspeakable incidents. The April/May issue of Heart and Soul magazine also takes up the “state of our girls.” Could a movement be brewing?

In response to the sexual assault of the 7-yr old in Rowan Towers, an impromptu march was organized by Trenton’s Mayor Doug Palmer and hip hop mogul Russell Simmons and addressed to men. While I think it’s useful for men to educate one another about domestic violence and sexual assault, the rally’s purpose seemed to be “peacekeeping” and policing(read male protection of women). Nation of Islam’s David Muhammed contends:

You can’t go into a community that loves itself and brutalize it […] I believe it has always been the duty of men to protect his community, to protect the women.

And yet, patriarchy (male authority and dominance) is part of the problem. Why not organize a rally to encourage dialogue between women and men around violence, sexism, and black male privilege? The knee jerk response to crises in black communities tends to be one in which men are encouraged to assume leadership of their communities instead of building coalitions with women. In order to begin eradicating sexual and other forms of violence in black communities, black women and men have to be seen as equal partners in struggle.


About jennifer williams

Jennifer D. Williams is a writer and professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies. She has published in academic journals and online at Ms.blog, PopMatters, among other sites. Jennifer is currently working on a book that looks at black women's urban literature between the Depression and the civil rights era.

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