It’s Not Enough to Say “I love Black Women.”

You know the saying “actions speak louder than words?” Generic, right? But relevant? Yes. Always. You can say one thing but if your actions don’t align, your legitimacy is invalidated.

It’s no secret that misogynoir (anti-black misogyny) is a bonding agent among many. Many people of all different races love to see the dehumanization and belittlement of black women on display for their entertainment. You don’t believe me? Look on Twitter. On Twitter, many people–specifically young black men–have built an audience simply from constantly slandering black girls; and I’m talking an audience of 10K or more followers. “RT to make a black girl mad”, “Ruin a Black Girl’s Day” are some of the few various trending topics created by black guys to publicly humiliate black girls. It became so popular that even generic, parody accounts started tweeting “RT to make a black girl mad *insert picture of white girl with big butt or a WW/BM couple.*” Non-black people began to join in because they realized slandering black girls is where it’s at; slandering black girls is the way to build popularity on Twitter.

So why black girls though? Why is it that people enjoy seeing black girls demeaned publicly? Because we live in a world where both black people and women are hated. Now combine those two identities together and you get black women. So can you imagine what it’s like to deal with racism AND sexism? Hello, misogynoir.

You know what’s even crazier about these black guys who lead these misogynoiristic campaigns? After dehumanizing black women day in and day out, they have the gall to say, “I was just joking. I actually love black women” when black women respond angrily to their slander. So… let me get this straight. You say black women look like roaches for retweets but at the end of the day you love black women? Huh? What kind of fucked up love is that? Do you even know what love is and what it means to love someone? If you love black women–the women who are responsible for your existence–then why are we always the butt of your joke? Why us? They can never answer that.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t humiliation. Love isn’t dehumanizing.

I’ve come to understand that when a lot of black men say they love black women, it’s honestly not as deep as it sounds. It usually means they find black women physically attractive and they’ll find you even more attractive if you live your life and present yourself according to what they see as respectable. If not, that “love” and respect is revoked. It usually means they love what black women can *do* for them and/or how black women enable them. As long as you remain seen, not heard and give them unwavering labor and support, you’re good to go.

Their “love” will be there as long as you don’t challenge them on their misogynoir because if you do then you are now a “shea butter bitch who is out to hate and bash black men.” That’s why they make it a point to differentiate between a “shea butter bitch” and black women. A “shea butter bitch” is a black woman who challenges them and doesn’t just go mute when something they’re doing is bothering her. They’ll go as far as invalidating your womanhood and humanity if you dare point out unfortunate truths about how they domestically oppress black women.

I’ve seen a lot of black men say they love black women but then call a black woman a “bitch” in the next breath if she speaks out about misogynoir. I’ve seen black men say they love black women but then defend perpetrators of domestic violence against black women because the perpetrator was a successful black man (Hello, Ray Rice). I’ve see black men say they love black women and be rape apologists and side with Bill Cosby because again this enigmatic “they” were again “setting a successful black man up.” Sustaining a clean image of black men is more important to them than the safety of black women… but you love black women? Really fam?

Example of how a black man’s “love” for black women quickly turns into violence:

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My favorite rebuttal from black men about this is “Well, most black men marry and date black women.” That’s true. Most black men do end up with a black woman. But uh.. that don’t mean shit. That doesn’t mean that black women still don’t experience misogynoir from black men at large (and within those marriages and relationships). That doesn’t mean that black men ultimately value, support, and empathize with black women at large as they should.

Or the beloved “not all black men” rebuttal. Thank you Captain Obvious. We know all black men are not one in the same. We get it. We know. I have a black father. I promise. I know. Please save your breath and characters. Stop stating the obvious. Obviously, not all black men are partaking in this violent behavior but obviously it’s not “just a few.” it is ENOUGH for it to be an issue for hundreds of black women. Why is it that anytime I tweet about misogynoir from black men, so many black women–and I’m talking hundreds of black women from all over the country–resonate with what I’m saying? Obviously it’s an issue and instead of getting mad at me for pointing it out, how about you go address the black men who are what I’m talking about? Why don’t you go hold your brothers accountable for how they harm black women? Why don’t you go put them in check instead of projecting your guiltiness on me because I refuse to be silent and you feel bad because you feel you’ve done a sucky job at protecting black women? All you care about is not “looking bad” or not being “generalized.” Not about actually listening and resolving the issue. Black men will for real get mad at you pointing out the slander and not at the black men who are doing the slandering. Lol, ain’t that some shit? I “hate black men” for pointing out the slander but ole dude “just joking” and “doesn’t actually hate black women” when he calling us black bitches? Ok fam. Ok. The same “not all black men” black men do hardly anything when they see black women being abused and slandered by other black men because they’re too busy camping in my mentions on Twitter telling me they’re “not like the rest.”

What too many black men fail to realize is that you can’t say you love black women and not be intersectional when black women’s very identity is the epitome of intersectionality. We are not just black. We are not just women. We are not “black first.” Our identity intersects. Our oppression intersects. We experience racial sexism. Sorry but no. You cannot split us down the middle to make yourself feel comfortable. We do not have identical struggles. We are not on the same playing field when it comes to privilege. Cishet Black men, yes, experience racial oppression, but do not experience sexism like black women. Your word is taken more seriously than black women (especially within the black community) because guess what? You. Are. A. Man.

Black women aren’t your sidekicks nor are we white women’s sidekicks. Because for whatever reason, black men and white women seem to think black women have to “pick a side” when it comes to battling racism as black people and sexism as women.  Black women have our own unique struggle. You cannot make us choose between our blackness and womanhood when both of those identities intertwine in every single way imaginable for us. The system of sexism doesn’t just affect white women. It doesn’t skip over black women. Reminder: Black women are women. I know white supremacy has convinced you otherwise but black women are indeed women. Stop invalidating our womanhood.

See how this works? You can’t say you love black women and be a misogynist. That’s not how this works. You can’t say you love black women but you get quiet when you see black women being emotionally, physically, and sexually abused by other black men. You can’t say you love black women and be a rape apologist when 1 out of 4 women are sexually assaulted at least once in their lifetime. You can’t say you love black women but then defend domestic violence against black women. You can’t say you love black women and then slut shame a black woman when she practices sexual and bodily agency. You can’t say you love black women but can’t even acknowledge that state violence and police brutality affects black women as well.

Let me tell you something about love. Love is work. It’s not something you say and let float in the air. You have to put action behind every “I love you.” Because from what I’m seeing, the love that you supposedly have for black women is actually abuse.

You know what loving black women looks like and what that means?

It means not dehumanizing us for our physical features. It means respecting the choices we make with our bodies and lives despite your own preferences. It means not sex shaming black women. It means not policing what we do. It means respecting our “No.” It means not gaslighting black women whenever we speak on our struggle. It means listening. It means stop getting defensive every time a black woman is telling you that something you’re doing is harming her. It means showing up for black women like we show up for you. It means when you angry about Eric Garner, you get mad about Rekia Boyd too. It means you support black women. It means you stop mocking us and making us into a caricature. It means stop humiliating us for laughs. It means stop comparing us to non-black women. It means not allowing the constant emotional, physical, and sexual violence against black women to persist in front of your eyes. It means not silencing black women. It means being empathetic even when you don’t understand.

Love is work. Love is time. Love is unconditional.

If you’re not willing to unlearn patriarchy and self-hate, then keep the phrase “I love black women” out your mouth. Tweeting “black women are queens” is cute and all but means nothing if you don’t even treat us with common respect and decency on and offline.

You can say “I love black women” all you want but if your actions speak otherwise, your words are null and void.

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