This week, a Black teacher was under social media scrutiny.
Fourth grade paraprofessional Patrice Brown was reprimanded for wearing attire the Georgia school administration deemed questionable. In the photos distributed throughout Facebook and Twitter, Brown smiled confidently while she donned outfits accentuating her hourglass figure. This, of course, resulted in semi-epic debates involving the teaching assistant’s appropriateness (or lack thereof), accusations of body envy, and the unnecessary sexualization of a woman just doing her damn job.
While all that nonsense went down, though, I admit that my main concern wasn’t what she looked like (shit—as long she performed her duties correctly while treating those babies with respect, her wearing a tight dress and heels were the least of my worries).
I was actually worried about Brown’s overall safety.
Since gaining attention for her “sexy clothes,” #teacherbae’s Instagram following increased to 160,000. She recently had to make the account private because of the recent jump in popularity. After reading about her instant fame, I lowkey wondered about the hoard of basic ass fuckboys who flooded her inbox with unsolicited sexual advances. How some of them recognized Brown on the street and yelled “Ay, Baby Girl. Let me get that autograph” while trying to walk beside her, but spat “Oh you can’t speak? Fuck you, Bitch—you ugly anyway” while she continued to ignore her admirer.
Those thoughts traveled through my brain—especially when, while attending a Brooklyn festival, a graduate student named Tiarah Poyau was shot in the face by Reginald Moise after she told him to not grind against her. Or when 25-year-old Dee Whigham was stabbed 119 times by sailor trainee Dwanya Hickerson in a hotel room back in August. And then there was Rae’Lynn Thomas, a 28-year-old transwoman who was shot by her mother’s ex-boyfriend while being called Satan. And Renisha McBride. Aiyann Stanley-Jones. Lynaya Griffin.
The Black women and young girls I just named unfortunately fell victim to violence and death at the hands of abusive men or racist police officers. Black women are more likely than their White counterparts to succumb to this form of injustice. Despite this fact, there is very little coverage about violence against Black female victims and the Black activist organizations are just as silent.
To be honest, I take issue with organizations such as Black Lives Matter and how they handle the attacks on Black women. Though I don’t expect them to fight every single battle, I did notice they are disturbingly quiet about the recent murders of our innocent sisters. When prominent BLM activist Daryl Seale was found shot to death in a car set ablaze, entire squads demanded answers through all kinds of media sources. Black independent and national publications investigated Seale’s murder for more than a week. Yet when 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen was found dead in a juvenile detention cell while awaiting trial, the outrage was non-existent even after it was discovered that an employee watched her die.
When women do get a sliver of media attention, we are often blamed for whatever consequence we face. Remember when Korryn Gaines was gunned down by the Baltimore County police this past summer? Well, I hope y’all also recall the army of Black men saying she deserved to lose her life for “pointing a loaded gun at the S.W.A.T. team.” But these Twitter judges were nowhere to be found when the Baltimore County Police Department later admitted that officers fabricated most of the information reported to the press.
Speaking of the media, this industrial complex often contributes to the semi-erasure of Black women. We stay losing our lives and freedom out here for petty reasons, but Black journalists would rather squander their time reporting on Lena “ The Garbage Pail Kid” Dunham for two weeks for lying on a Black male athlete. Mother Tanya McDowell faced jail time for “stealing education,” yet we’re reading the 100th story on Colin Kaepernick. Cherelle Locklear committed suicide a year after William Paterson University failed to investigate her rape and her mother filed a lawsuit against the college. Keep in mind that Locklear’s tragedy paralleled that of Nate Parker’s victim, who took her own life in 2012. But because the majority of the Black media caped for this asshole, many folks in the community took his “I’m working on becoming a new man” nonsense as the truth.
Look. So many y’all Black folks offered him a chance at redemption—even though he used the media to manipulate y’all into thinking he’s trying to right his wrongs. Meanwhile, his fans won’t even acknowledge the fact that he penned a rape fantasy involving Turner’s wife into “Birth of a Nation.” Knowing that, please don’t be shocked when I read his apologists for filth. Especially after I found out about Locklear.
So much shit happens to Black women. For centuries, we underwent trials and tribulations on behalf of others, risking our entire souls for our community while receiving next to nothing in return. The dead ones might be the center of a candlelight vigil or a political demonstration. The lives ones tend to gain recognition for either committing a crime or becoming a victim of one. Whichever the case may be, most of the stories reported on/shared about us are rarely positive.
And it’s easy for me and other frustrated women to suggest having more discussions about toxic masculinity, to hold fuckboys and Noteps accountable for their anti-Black woman rhetoric. We can even put the Black media on blast for neglecting us women and our experiences (both positive or negative). But what good would any of those suggestions be if the community as a whole is unwilling to acknowledge the power that Black women possess? Until the entire collective wakes up, the hatred towards Black women is never going to dissipate. And in turn, our erasure will only continue.