Monday, March 29, 2010

Beyond/With Precious: Black Women, Incest and Rape


Sent to you by moya via Google Reader:


via New Model Minority by admin on 3/28/10

Last fall, in an email thread about Precious, Ma'ia stated that people were so concerned with the Precious the character, she asked, where was the conversation about the Black women who had been raped?

I responded by saying that I would conduct a conversation here on my blog, to provide a space for such a conversation, because I was one of those writers focused on "Precious" the character.

Dedication: Anita, this is for you, and your willingness to reach out earlier today and ask for help around healing from being raped. Often times the first step is the most difficult and most important one. I Love You, toes to napps.

Beyond/With Precious: Black Women, Incest and Rape, Part 1/3

An Interview with Moya Bailey

Moving beyond Precious, what does having a conversation about Black women who have been raped, look like?

It looks intentional with tissue and breaks and food and breaks and music. I think its storytelling and i think its long and doesn't happen one day it happens a lot and folks should make more time for it. It also looks like shifting the notion that rape is the worse thing that can happen to a woman. there are "worse" things, and those we survive too sometimes.
Did your momma, daddy, grand parent or aunty  talk to you about the danger of being raped?
No. my parents took the approach of monitoring me 24 hours a day 7 days a week and were successful in keeping this from happening. The screening process to be my baby sitter had multiple parts, references and college degree required. That said, I don't know how my parents would have reacted if something had happened to me with all the effort they put in to something not happening to me. I remember being on the playground when I was in kindergarten and a white male teacher talking to me and a few friends in the corner of the playground. He was standing over us and my dad had just come to pick me up. My father was livid! At the time I understood him to be angry at me. He said something to the principal of the school. I'm not sure what happened after that. It wasn't until I was grown that I understood what that was about.

Recently though my mom, in trying to understand my queer identity, wonders if something had happened to me when I was younger, if it was abuse or violation that made me this way. I assured her that was not the case but the idea that child sexual abuse results in queerness is still prevalent.

To what extent does Black women's tendency to put their families and their communities ahead themselves  play a role in their willingness to be frank about rape and incest?
Well I want to question to what extent are we frank about rape and incest? I think part of the problem of black women's tendency to put family and community ahead of themselves keeps black woman from sharing things. I know of more than one story of black women waiting until their parents die to talk about incest and abuse in their homes, black women being pressured not to out men as rapists because they "do good work" in their communities etc. I'd like to follow Alexis' lead and reference Aishah Simmon's documentary NO! which discusses very candidly the way survivors are coerced into silence to protect the image of black man in these communities.

What kind of support do we need to be honest about being raped?
One thing we need is for community members to believe survivors and stop trying to absolve their attackers. Energy should be direct to and for the survivors and towards getting the  attacker help that still hold them accountable for the violation. I do think that this is a systemic problem that also has to do with changing how we respond as a culture.
What are the ways in which our history as enslaved women, have played a role in our unwillingness to be honest about being raped?
I think we learned that our bodies aren't valuable.  We learned that our bodies are most often a means to someone else's ends. As Jacqui Alexander will say, that history lives in our cells.

What can we give the Precious's of the world?
this is a huge question. I think we have to behave in ways to help folks see humanity beyond the scope of their own experiences. We need to call out the ways in which structural violence impacts the lives of women of color. I don't know how folks can talk about incest without talking about patriarchy and how capitalism makes us see children as property. The structural piece so often gets knocked out to make individual people like Precious' Mom or Antoinette Davis monsters, grotesque others who are inherently evil as opposed to people who are produced by the society that we help to co-create every time we put money over people.
What are some organizations that may be helpful?
What is some literature that may be helpful?

Bluest Eye
Women of Brewster Place
Bailey's Cafe
Temple of My Familiar

Do you all have thoughts? Feed Back?

Brang it!

Related posts:

  1. Musing on Precious and Shaniya Davis
  2. Black Women are Stupid, White Women are Stupider.
  3. Black Women and Resistance: I was Free


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