On The Black Men Who Dislocate Their Shoulders Reaching For Ways To Absolve Themselves Of Accountability
Working predominately with women has me spoiled. There are so many male shenanigans that take place every, single day that I’m able to avoid because I work for a Black women’s website. And Lord knows I’m grateful. So grateful. Because in the instances when I’m in mixed company when there are more men than women around, I so often find myself disgusted. But more so disappointed.
Last night, at a networking event, the DJ for the evening decided to play an R. Kelly song. The friend I went to the party with immediately called out, “#MuteRKelly. We were standing around a table and a man turned to my friend and said, “You know I had a friend who said we should mute Solange.”
“Why,” my friend asked.
“Well, she beat Jay Z up. Shouldn’t we hold her accountable for that?” Then he hit us with the classic, patented line from men who say ridiculous things against women. “You can’t have it both ways.”
There was simultaneously too much going on in the room. He wasn’t talking to me and his comments were ridiculous so I stepped away from the conversation.
For the hottest of seconds, I wondered if this man’s “friend” had a point. Are we hypocritical for requesting one punishment for R. Kelly and completely ignoring the bad behavior of our fave? Like I said, the moment was brief. After re-watching the video, it’s clear that Solange didn’t beat Jay Z up by any sense of the definition. Did she try? Absolutely. But with Jay Z restraining her himself and Julius stepping in to do a more effective job of it, she wasn’t able to connect as often as the internet would make it seem that she did.
But the more I thought about that disturbing suggestion, the more enraged I became. If it were indeed this man’s friend who said we mute Solange, then the next sentence out of his mouth should have been, “And I told him to shut the f*ck up.” There’s a distinct difference between Solange lunging at Jay Z on one occasion, for whatever the reason may have been, versus R. Kelly’s decades-long practice of preying on underage women. Engaging in sexual relationships with underage girls, even secretly marrying one of them is emotionally and psychologically manipulative. It’s statutory rape. It’s illegal. Not to mention, knowing what we now know about R. Kelly and his treatment of the young girls and women he sleeps with, it’s safe to say that rape is not the only thing taking place in his relationships with girls/women. The women have reported physical abuse, food being withheld, control in what they where, when they leave, who they can have contact with. And most recently there is news of him knowingly infecting women with herpes.
I don’t care how hard Solange’s purse was that night, throwing it at Jay Z is nowhere near the atrocities R. Kelly has perpetuated.
This is why I began speaking about the ways in which being around men can be so frustrating. There are just too many times when their strategy for being confronted with bad behavior by other Black men, involves shifting the conversation to speak about the bad behavior of someone else. In this case, it was a Black woman. When it was Bill Cosby, it was Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen or NBC. When it was Chris Brown, it was ‘Well, what did Rihanna do?’ In the recent confession from Kelis about her abusive relationship with Nas, a woman argued that Kelis had been in a violent relationship with Pharrell and with Nas, she simply “got the right one.” The bullsh*t is unbelievable.
And it’s exhausting.
It’s exhausting being a Black woman fighting racism and patriarchy in the world and misogynoir at home. All because men can’t admit that some of their brothas are living foul, doing f*cked up things to the Black women and girls they swear they honor and protect. I’m thankful to have grown up in a household where my father could acknowledge a wrong, no matter who committed it, even if that meant himself. But I can’t imagine the woman I’d be if I had a father who found a way to make an excuse for every single thing immoral thing a Black man did. What would that have taught me about the prioritization of men over myself? What would that have taught me about the behavior I was supposed to expect from Black men in the world and in the context of romantic relationships? What would it have taught me about the way I was supposed to see myself?
The sad thing is, this man at the networking event has a wife and a daughter. God bless them both.