by Tatiana Piper, Training Projects Specialist at the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
I am a young, African American woman who has so much pride, dignity and joy in being black. Unfortunately, that pride and joy did not come easily. It was often blocked by insecurities which stemmed from what society thought black should be. As a child my father would declare, “Say it loud and say it proud. I’m black and I’m proud.” Although it would take several times for me to finally find the courage, I would recite it back to him shouting with confidence. Through the continuous teachings of my father as well as being surrounded by strong black role models, I eventually found overflowing love not only for “the culture” but also for myself.
Even though I have profound passion and pride in being a black woman, what do I do when black culture mirrors rape culture? This soul crushing realization can be hard to figure out. How can I hate what I love and love what hurts. I’m a nineties baby who wanted a man to love her like Cliff Huxtable loved Clair and when the 50 Cent “In Da Club” came on the radio we would tell our kids, “Man, y’all don’t know nothing about this.”
I attended a magnificent Historically Black College and University (HBCU) which reinforced my black pride. And although I stood in awe of black unity, I also hated when my booty was grabbed or bitten while the Greeks were stepping. I could continue listing the complexities of enjoying one aspect of black culture while feeling repulsed by the other, but the focus should really be on what do you do when you’re bumping Gucci Mane and he’s rapping about pimping (human trafficking).
Now, let’s not get it twisted. Black culture is not the only culture that is seen as synonymous with rape culture. The reality is all cultures resemble aspects of rape culture. The bottom line is we have to educate ourselves on what rape culture is so we are all able to address it when we see it happening. Addressing rape culture is not a new concept to the black community. We heard Tupac say it in “Keep Ya Head Up,” Dave Chappelle mentioned it during his Netflix special, “The Bird Revelation,” and Charlamagne Tha God said it during The Breakfast Club morning radio show. The point of the matter is you can love your identified culture without approving “rape in your culture.” In 1962, Malcolm X said, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” So let’s not only love and protect “our” women but also love and protect “our” black culture. A lot can be taken away from us but they can never take our pride, history, ancestry and truth.