by Tabitha Hale | April 30, 2010 9:38 am
It has taken me two days to respond to: this:
Ever committed to preserving the dignity of Black men in a world which constantly stereotypes them as violent savages, I viewed this writing as yet one more opportunity to fight “the man” on behalf of my brothers. That night, before I could finish the piece, I was held on a rooftop in Haiti and raped repeatedly by one of the very men who I had spent the bulk of my life advocating for.
Women are not the source of their oppression; oppressive policies and the as-yet unaddressed white patriarchy which still dominates the global stage are. Because women—and particularly women of color—are forced to bear the brunt of the Black male response to the Black male plight, the international community and those nations who have benefitted from the oppression of colonized peoples have a responsibility to provide women with the protection that they need.
…While I take issue with my brother’s behavior, I’m grateful for the experience…
To summarize Amanda’s story, a white woman goes to Haiti to work on a story on the plight of the black men. While she’s there, one of the black men she’s working to support rapes her repeatedly.
Now, forgive me for a more personal post than most, but I connect with the story on several different levels.
I empathize with her connection to Haiti. I love the country and the Haitian people. I have been there post-earthquake myself. I understand the compassion it brings out and the heavy emotion of the experience. The people there are incredible, their situation is heartbreaking. I described parts of the experience as having my heart ripped out of my chest. I pushed children off of me and ran away, leaving them in refugee camps, unsure if they even had parents that had survived. I held babies that are in all probability not alive anymore. Part of me stayed there.
However, as a believer in individuality and personal responsibility, my mission in Haiti was to remind them that they are loved — each and every one of them. That God knows who they are. That THEY are the ones that choose their reaction to their surroundings. I was not there long enough, and it is in my plans to go back longer term to do even more. I don’t know the answer to the plight in Haiti. How do you respond to such a level of desperation and pain? All I could do was do my best to love them. To bring their story to my circle of influence. I understand Amanda’s passion.
In addition, as a woman who has been raped, I understand the desperation and confusion — trying so hard to hard to figure out who is to blame. The answer isn’t always so apparent when you’re in that place. It’s hard to process the reality that evil like that can exist. It isn’t uncommon to find ways to explain it away. In this situation, Amanda has apparently determined that the white: patriarchy: is to blame.
My friend Melissa Clouthier wrote a fantastic piece in response to this story that is a must-read.
At the root of this absolution is a desire to push personal responsibility on the collective. Unfortunately, the collective was not in that room that night. One man raped one woman.
He alone is responsible. Excusing his behavior is a moral travesty. A society unravels when evil cannot be named and shamed.
Forget collective guilt. It is a collective shame that this sort of thinking permeates liberal thought. This belief in action will utterly destroy society should it go unchallenged.
Melissa’s words are so incredibly powerful, and I can’t make that point any better than she can. This is not about the “global: hierarchy”. Every person has control over their actions. Amanda’s rapist is no different. Her response is astounding to most — how could she possibly blame the status of the black man in the world society for this? How was the man that beat her and abused her not at fault? We’re right to question that.
I believe the reason we have that reaction is because we have a fundamental understanding that people are responsible for their own actions. The minute we make the rest of the world accountable for the sins of one, everything becomes negotiable. Freedom works because we have a God-given sense of right and wrong. I shouldn’t even have to say this out loud, but rape is wrong, and her rapist is at fault. We cannot lose the ability to hold a man accountable for his crimes. If the collective Black Man is not responsible for his crimes, he cannot take credit for his success, and such a mentality demeans his existence.
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