Do you realize that my body isn’t a sacrifice for you?
You must not because anytime I criticize the violence women & femmes face at your hands, you accuse me of being a “man hater”. You tell me that I am contributing to the oppressive conditions that Black men face but all of you fail to see the irony.
I won’t say I don’t hate you because at the moment I do. When I can’t step outside without brothers harassing me and threatening my body with physical violence, I hate you. When I see grown men reducing my sisters to “fast” girls because by ten they have breasts and asses you just “can’t” look away from, I hate you. When my sisters are terrified to confront any of you because we know we will face the same dismissal that we receive from white folks, I hate you.
Black women are dying too.
We are denied jobs, housing, and education. We are forced into jails. We face high levels of sexual and domestic violence. We hurt because this country hates not only our Blackness, but our womanhood.
We stare down police for you, brother. We chant the names of men and cry for you. We are beaten and thrown into jails that could become our grave for you. This movement was created by us. You owe us. Not just for this movement, but for all the bullshit we have been dealing with. So the least you can do when confronted is listen.
Let me remind you that this movement was built by black women and black queer women.
We will not be invisible due to your discomfort. As we try our best to uplift you and your life, remember me and my sisters. The Sandra Blands, and the Rekia Boyds, The Penny Prouds and the Aiyana Jones.
We are here. We exist.
And we are dying.
I wish you would listen and check yourself because I don’t want to write you off as an oppressor. When I try to address the issue to tell that you your actions are harmful to me and other women, you act like I am being vague or abstract when I am trying to be as clear as possible. I have come to the conclusion that your male privilege prevents and protects you from understanding women’s experiences so that you can’t relate in a meaningful way.
The conversation then turns to addressing how you are oppressed but yet you fail to see that I am oppressed because I am black and because I am a woman.
Our liberation is bound up together.
My friend and I were standing around the fire having a conversation at the 4th precinct [protest for Jamar Clark in Minneapolis] when I overheard this older guy talking about how women need to stay in their lane.
I asked him, “What do you mean?”
He said, You know, I want a wife who will be home when I am and to cook, clean, etc.”
I asked, “Why can’t you do that? You’re perfectly capable.”
He said, “That’s not my job. It’s a woman job to clean and be home. She isn’t supposed to be out working.”
My friend and I attempted to have this conversation with him about how it is hurtful to have gender expectations about women, because those expectations make us feel we cannot be at the precinct or partake in community organizing. A common critique I heard was women being called out for being at the precinct rather than at home.
Brother, you critique women for showing up, but at the same time expect us to shoulder all these responsibilities. For us, the Black men being killed are family. We have to deal with our grief plus all the burdens already put upon us.
I want you to know, brother, that I need you to share the load. We cannot shoulder your pain and have you not do the same for us.
Follow this ongoing series from Patience Zalanga on Instagram @pzalanga .