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Challenging The Narrative: Rethinking Support For Alleged Abusers In The Black Community
Culture & Entertainment

Challenging The Narrative: Rethinking Support For Alleged Abusers In The Black Community

As social media is buzzing about the recent raids on Sean "Diddy" Combs' properties in Los Angeles and Miami, everyone is speculating about who will be exposed next. There is a pattern of behavior amongst certain Black men that continuously appears when women, specifically Black women, accuse successful Black men of harming them. It’s as though there is an unspoken “bro-code” that enables men who subscribe to it to blindly trust and defend other men who are under public scrutiny for their alleged behavior.


Now, one might argue that Black men in America have historically been wrongfully accused of sexual assault and violence against women, and this is why other members of the community rush to support them. We have examples of this steaming from Emmett Till to The Scottsboro Boys to the Groveland Four to the Central Park 5 and countless others. We also know the majority, if not all, of these false allegations were in relation to powerless Black boys and men, and that their accusers were white women.

In tandem with this truth, we also know that 45.1 percent of Black women will experience physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). The blind support and victim-blaming within the Black community leads to a culture of silence amongst Black women, which prevents them from speaking out against their perpetrators for years if they ever do.

Tanika Ray, former Extra host, and Combs’ dancer, shared an Instagram reel discussing an experience with Combs in 1996. “Women just want to live every day and feel safe, and when we revisit and revisit, we live in a state of victimhood.” Additionally, we also see when Black women go after influential Black men, they become a footnote in the story of the man’s life and road to greatness (i.e., Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, Dee Barnes, and Dr. Dre, the little Black girls victimized by Eldridge Cleaver, and the list goes on.) These traumatic realities bring us to the intersection of racism and sexism, misogynoir, in America.

Though I would never dare claim that Black men in America, at any level of success, don’t still face racism even in 2024. However, what I am here to question is why it is second nature for some Black men to consistently and without solicitation support those who have been accused and or found guilty of harming Black women.

We see this with Tyrese speaking out in support of Combs the day after his two homes were raided, sharing in an Instagram post which has since been removed, “I love this brother he’s been nothing but kind and generous towards me and that’s the way I feel praying and praying for more of a better outcome of all of this is happening.” We see it with podcast hosts who are livid that Combs’ homes were raided and believe he’s being “made an example of.”

We see it with Floyd Mayweather, who, in an interview on The Pivot Podcast, said, "I'm not gonna speak bad about P. Diddy because he's still a Black man…Mistakes happen.” He continued, “Even if that happened to my daughter, I would be hurt, but that's the choice that my daughter made. So, I don't wanna kick nobody while they're down.”

However, Combs isn’t the only high-profile Black man who’s received similar support in recent years.

Drake continues to support Tory Lanez even after his conviction for shooting Megan Thee Stallion in 2020. Posting images of Lanez on his Instagram story on Feb. 26 with the caption “3 you” which many interpreted as a message to free Lanez. In addition to this, in his song “Circo Loco,” Drake raps - "This (expletive) lie 'bout getting shots, but she still a stallion," – implying Meg lied about the incident despite the fact there were medical records, eyewitnesses, and the jury found Lanez guilty. Similar support was, and still is, being given to Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Chris Brown, and Trey Songz. All of whom have been accused and or convicted of traumatically harming Black women.

We have to analyze and question why so many individuals within the Black community find space to give Black men empathy and the benefit of the doubt when they’re accused of violating Black women. However, we don’t provide Black women with the same space and grace when they share that they’ve been assaulted or abused. In her 2013 book, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Womenin America, Melissa V. Harris-Perry goes in-depth on how negative stereotypes of Black women create space in society for them to be perceived as liars and untrustworthy.

In 1962, Malcolm X said these words: “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.” Though there was much more context around this conversation, the overall sentiment still rings true today. Black women are easy targets for abuse, neglect, and assault because there is limited protection within and outside of their communities.

When Black women do speak up or confide in others, they’re often not believed or told to stay quiet, and this isn’t just me going off statistics or hearsay. I speak from a point of lived experience and there is no greater disappointment in life than finally gathering the courage to speak your truth and it immediately being questioned or not believed. Likewise, having to choose between continuing to build your career or holding an individual who has violated you accountable is not an experience I’d wish on my worst enemy.

I am not here to serve as judge or jury regarding the ongoing investigation with Combs. Nor am I interested in seeing an innocent Black man go to prison, but I am in full support of people being held accountable for their violent actions against others. I encourage more people to believe and trust women, especially Black women, when they say they’ve been harmed.

And lastly, I would suggest we all evaluate how we speak about these conversations with others because you never know who’s struggling to share their truth.

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Featured image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

 

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