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Sexuality

A Look at Sexual Abuse in the Black Community

Written by Nicole

***Trigger warning: mentions of sexual abuse***

I cannot tell you how many news articles I have seen that boldly states “Man/Woman/Teacher etc. arrested after sex with 15-year-old girl/boy”. Every time I see it, my vision goes red with rage, because of the language used. The person in question was not arrested for “sex with a minor”, or “sex with an underage woman”, they were arrested for RAPE. So why is this danced around? This airy-fairy language aims to reduce the severity of their crime, no doubt to make it seem “less serious”. Rapists are evil and need to face the fullest extent of justice that comes their way. Whether that justice comes from the court system or an angry mob seeking vengeance – as long as the job gets done.

 

The use of language as it pertains to pedophilia in the black community is utterly devastating. I am aware that this is not unique to us, but as a black woman, obviously I’m going to speak on black problems. Statistics state that close to 60% of black girls are molested before they turn 18. So, statistically, if you are a black woman, you were either molested yourself, or you know someone who was. No amount of scapegoating or blaming slavery or white supremacy can change that. The language used in the community surrounding those events is on the side of the pedophile, and paints the victim as the one in the wrong. Here are some examples:

“She was fast, she knew what she was doing”.

This line is extra horrible when used to victim-blame children who haven’t even reached puberty yet.

 

“Well, she was acting/looks grown, I don’t know what she expected.”

This is one of the greatest lie to leave someone’s mouth. First of all, some colored lip balm and presence of a bra does not constitute being “grown”. Wearing hair down is not grown. No matter how a child looks or dresses, any adult with some sense and discernment can tell that a child, is, in fact, A CHILD! What does an adult have in common with a 16-year-old? NOTHING. And the conversations that the predator and the victim would have would show evidence of her being underage.

What talking points can the average teenager with no life experience outside of school and social media memes hold with a 20, 30, 40-something old male? You mean to tell me that a girl who probably still watches Saturday morning cartoons has the mental capacity to beguile a fully grown adult human male? In addition to being pedophiles, they must also be stupid.

 

And then, the language that surrounds the abuser is softer, more shielded, and coded, as if it needs to be decoded to fully understand.

 

“Uncle Jimmy is real funny.”

One has to rely on family history and personal experience to know what “funny” means in this context. Very rarely is it about actual comedic prowess.

 

It may even take the form of a “compliment”

“Yeah, Uncle Jimmy has always been a little friendly.

Or the language is a warning, putting the impetus to prevent molestation on the child, usually a girl, rather than the abuser not to touch her, or the family not to crack his skull:

“Don’t wear shorts/low cut top/that dress when Uncle Jimmy comes over”

Or, it will be a demand for some sort of physical contact.

“Hey Junior, where’s my hug?”

 

Or their actions will tell you how they feel about the pedophile they care about, whether they are related or not:

The rally for R. Kelly that took place recently is an example. A woman put 6 figures on his bail out fund last year too. To hell with his victims, though.

Black women filling up commissary for their male relatives doing a multi-year bid for their crimes

Victim blaming black women and girls they don’t even know on social media

Or they excuse make for the pedophile as a reason for their despicable actions:

“Uncle Jimmy was molested when he was a child, he doesn’t know any better”

Do you see how this language protects the community’s abusers, and sets up the daughters and sons to be wholly devoured?

 

These are just some of the ways we shield evil within our community. But what can we do to prevent our own loved ones from becoming a victim?

 

  1. Teach your children boundaries as soon as they know how to say no

    Not because they are children means they have no agency over their bodies. A child does NOT have to hug or kiss an adult because they are told to. A child saying no to protect their personal space isn’t “bratty”, it’s necessary.

  2. Don’t let just anyone watch your child

    It does not matter how highly recommended your sister’s best friend’s uncle’s stepson’s auntie comes. Strangers should not watch your children. I understand this may be difficult, especially for any single mothers out there. But the ramifications of leaving a stranger in charge of your kids could be immense. Additionally, your new boyfriend should NEVER watch your child either. You never know what dangerous behaviors someone may possess until they are supposed to babysit. Vetting childcare is no easy task, but that could be the difference between life and death if not done correctly.

  3. Believe your child if they complain

    All too often black women give predators the benefit of the doubt. Too often we will say “what did you do to deserve that?” rather than “I’m so sorry that happened to you”. Instead of brushing off your child’s complaint of feeling uncomfortable with someone, TAKE THEIR WORD FOR IT, and take whatever actions needed.

  4. Name and shame the predators in your family

    Uncle Jimmy should not be allowed to prey on the young girls in the family and wider community with the certainty that no one will take a baseball bat to his testicles. Stop covering for him and protecting his depravity by dancing around what he is: a PREDATOR. At his funeral, speak ill of the dead, and make sure his legacy is tarnished beyond the grave as well.

  5. Change the language used to describe sexual assault, and victims of sexual abuse

    Please stop using the word “fast” to describe little black girls! We complain about the adultification of black girls but fail to check ourselves when we are the ones doing it. Don’t call Jimmy “funny” or “handsy” or “too friendly”, call him a rapist, an abuser, a child molester. There is no such thing as “non-consensual sex” – it is rape. A sixteen-year-old girl cannot “date an older man”. That is child grooming.

 

The time is now to take action in our community. There is no more room under the rug to sweep this under. Enough is enough.

 

Disclaimer: This blog was written by me, Nicole, and my ideas are not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.

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