Like the rest of the world, I have been following the Ray Rice incident since the video came across my news feed last week. I hate writing just to say I wrote something so I’ve silently watched all the thinkpieces, theories and arguments but now, I have to say something because I’ve noticed a theme in all of this. I wanted to give folks the benefit of the doubt but I’m realizing that giving too many people the benefit of the doubt allows them to find my oppression excusable. No, I wasn’t the one that got clocked in that elevator but I could be and so could any other woman I know. With that in mind, this coverage of the Ray Rice incident is frightening because almost all of it either trying to defend Ray’s actions or chastise Janay for staying.
Right before I started typing this post, a video clip of the Rices at their wedding surfaced with the caption “The video the media won’t show” with a series of hashtags affirming Ray behind it. This is one example of why Black women are so reluctant to report instances of wrongdoing at the hands of Black men. The person who posted that video insinuated that this hullabaloo is an example of the Black man being brought down by the media. No one should care about the woman that got punched in the face and dragged out of an elevator because no one wants to see another brotha in the system. Others brought up the Solange elevator incident to defend Ray because, according the misogynoir, the only way Jay-Z should have reacted was to mollywhop his sister-in-law. Black women are always lauded for being strong which is a blessing and a curse.
The community sees the Black woman’s strength as a virtue and excuse to brush off injustices. Black femininity has been attacked since we stepped foot on this soil. We did the same work as our male counterparts during enslavement regardless of whether or not we were sick or pregnant. When we weren’t working our bodies were being violated and objectified. We weren’t included in the feminist movement until women like Sojourner Truth and Maria Stewart made space for us. We have always been made to take bullshit and take it quietly from the world. We’re not able to be raped because we’re just sexual objects, hoes and thots anyway. That’s why Jada’s rape was able to be turned into a meme. We’re too strong to be beaten and sometimes we deserve it because we talk too much and too loud. If we’d just let the man be the man, we wouldn’t get socked in the mouth. If we’d just wear longer skirts and stop twerking, we wouldn’t get catcalled and sexually violated. We’re the reason so many Black men are in jail because our kids didn’t have no daddies or we called the police on their daddies. Everything is our fault and I’m sick of it. No woman should be blamed because the man and community that is supposed to love her beat her down. That includes Janay, Rihanna, Tina, your neighbor, your coworker and any other woman (or man) that suffers abuse at the hands of someone they love.
Stop wondering why she stayed and question why he thought punching her was the right response. Being Black and woman shouldn’t come with conditions.
“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere.
Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place!
And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me!
And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?
I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me!
And ain’t I a woman?”
— Sojourner Truth