Let me put this out there before I get into all of these thoughts that I have about this topic because it is indeed complex. I am a fan of For Harriet and of Kimberly N. Foster – I admire women that stand up for what they believe in. I also admire Black women that will put themselves on the line for a better good for the advancement of our community but sometimes our message gets lost in our frustrations. Recently , Ms. Foster wrote a conflicting article on the unjust death of Eric Garner. Garner was another unfortunate Black man that had his life taken by the hands of cops, specifically the NYPD. This is not the first and unfortunately this will not be the last of this type of behavior especially when it comes to Black men and police officers and unnecessary force. Ms. Foster used this tragedy to voice her opinions and her reasoning as to why she refuses to not stand/support Black men when it comes to injustice and inequality.
I had to read this article a few times because I was conflicted with so many emotions and I became a bit vexed with her stance. She wrote” I could not refrain from comparing the empathy shown him, particularly by Black men, to that which is heartbreakingly absent when Black women attempt to discuss the everyday terrors we experience both in the world and at their hands.”
Her point has truth to it but it was also flawed given the nature of the story. Who is to say for certain the Garner did not stand up for black women? And yes, there are some Black men and women that are lost but excluding ourselves by gender within our own community is more harmful than being oppressed by people who are not us. The Black community includes men, women, children and our elders – we should not promote separatism in our causes for equality and once we do we become counterproductive and fall ten steps backward.
Black women have ALWAYS stood and defended Black men all throughout our history and it is a choice of course, but someone has to defend Black men even when they seem to not appreciate it. Yes, there are some Black men that ridicule our hair, our skin and bodies but even through all that we still have their backs when it comes down to the seriousness of “them vs. us”.
Ms. Foster is in a position to influence Black women and men and I think her frustrations with how some Black men ignore our concerns was brought up inappropriately and a bit vindictively. To be frank, I expect so much more from a black feminist/womanist activist when it comes to police abuse and how we are treated.
Ms. Foster states adamantly “ Watching black men show up for Garner after seeing so many derail conversations about Black women’s well-being leaves me with little more than a sinking feeling of despair upon recognition that the understanding so many of us crave will not come. “ Well Ms. Foster, unfortunately your attitude contributes to a few of those Black men idealism on why they choose not to support us – which is equally unfortunate. Ideally, I would love all Black men to support us and our causes but we don’t live in that utopia, however we do live in a society where the Black community is constantly divided by skin tone, sex, age and class.
I find it ludicrous and disingenuous to proclaim that you won’t support a Black men’s issue but will support their women? To be frank I’m not even sure how you mustered that bullshit and deemed it to be logical. Black women need Black men just as Black men need Black women, whether you or anyone else fails to understand that – it is the truth.
Activism at its purest form is about fighting the wrongs in our community and our world; not to gain notoriety and social recognition – it’s purely altruistic. The idea that in order for you Ms. Foster, to support Black men is contingent on if they support you is not for the better good. Each one, teach one and trust me, I understand that this is easily said than done – we have a lot of work to do, but why separate yourself from your man? When I say man, of course I mean Black men because our efforts, our fights, our struggles are also indirectly theirs. When a Black man is murdered by police officers it’s not just that man that is affected but a mother, wife, daughter, sister – we all feel the same pain and we all have to deal with the aftereffect with community terrorists that hide behind badges.
“I’m not settling for anything less than reciprocity. If you refuse to hear our calls for help, then I cannot respond to yours. I have no desire, as a Black woman, to be placed on a pedestal, but I will not allow myself to become a footstool. Do not ask me for empathy if you are content to deny it in return.” I’m not excusing ignorance by any means but fighting for truth and justice is a very selfless act.
I think For Harriet is a dope ass website; it’s insightful, entertaining, and productive and it displays Black women as more than reality television stars, groupies and sexual caricatures but your comments made me think. Do I want to continually support a Black woman that refuses to support Black men? What if Angela Davis never supported Black men? What is Malcolm X never supported and loved Black women? No movement within our community can suffice with division. We need each other and as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad stated “ A nation can rise no higher than its woman”, so Ms. Foster, in order for you, us, all of us to reach the fullest potential and goals of our fruits we cannot deny/ignore/abandon each other – even if they don’t think they need saving.
This response wasn’t intended to be mean spirited because I enjoy a lot of what you produce but I can state what I don’t like out of love. This reply is out of love because when I see something wrong I want to address it head on. I feel you words were cold and hurtful and lacked compassion and I think you owe your readers and the family of Eric Garner an apology.