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SSH will not publish any comment that is offensive or hateful and does not add to a thoughtful discussion of street harassment. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, disabalism, classism, and sexism will not be tolerated. Disclaimer: SSH may use any stories submitted to the blog in future scholarly publications on street harassment.

Respect Black Women!!

In News stories, street harassment | on 05.09.12 | by | Comments ( 3 )

How many men will we let violate, shame, use, harass, beat, and kill Black girls and women while we stand by? While we excuse them, apologize for them, or look away!?

How many?!

The answer should be zero. But it’s not. Instead, the answer is countless, thousands, millions.

And that is WRONG.

Yes, women of all races face harassment and sexual assault – as a white woman I can personally attest to this – but studies show that overall, Black women face higher rates of sexual assault and higher rates of street harassment.

And that is WRONG.

Street harassment stories, articles, and documentaries suggest that Black women are more likely than women of other skin tones to be called a bitch and a ho (“You ain’t a bitch or a ho,” says Queen Latifah) by men, to be physically attacked on the streets, to be chased, to have trash thrown at them, and to be propositioned when they’re not sex workers (the latter was found to be true in Egypt, too).

And that is WRONG.

It’s no coincidence that the main anti-street harassment efforts that focus on youth have been led by/made for young teenagers of color (Young Women’s Action Team, Girls for Gender Equity, Helping Our Teen Girls, A Long Walk Home, etc).

To add insult to injury, there is less outrage when men harass or assault or murder Black women than when it’s white women. Some Black women muse this is why they are harassed and attacked more….men know they’re more likely to get away with it.

And that is WRONG.

Well, here is just one more example of this.

Image via Feminist Media as it's no longer available on Humans of New York

The site Humans Of New York is “a photographic census of New York City, one street portrait at a time.” They recently posted the photo on the right along with the following caption:

“This one is very serious, guys:

I came upon these two on the sidewalk. They were having a conversation. “Excuse me,” I said, addressing the girl: “I’m sorry to interrupt, but is there anyway I can take your photo?”

“Why would you want my photo?” she asked.

“Because you look beautiful,” I said. And she did. She was Sudanese. There is a very distinct beauty among people from the Sudan, and she was filled up with it. Suddenly the man cut in:

“I was just telling her she was beautiful,” he said.

Naively, I assumed I had just walked up on one stranger giving a compliment to another. I wanted to capture the moment. “Let me take your photograph together,” I said. The man seemed reluctant, he started smiling nervously and inching away. But the girl called him back.

“Come take a picture with me,” she said. Encouraged by her attention, he returned. She put her arm around him, and I took the photo.

As I examined the photos on my camera, the man started whispering to the girl. She answered him in a loud voice: “I told you! I’m not that kind of girl.” She seemed agitated now. Finally sensing that I had misread the situation, I stepped between them. The man began hurrying down the sidewalk.

When the man left, the girl’s demeanor changed completely. She seemed shaken. Her eyes were tearing up. “He just offered me five hundred dollars to go out with him,” she said. “And then when I said ‘no,’ he offered me one thousand. Why does this always happen to me?”

“It happens a lot?” I asked.

“All the time,” she said. “I’m sorry I’m getting emotional. I just can’t go out of my house without this kind of thing happening. I have a son. I’m a mother. I would never degrade myself like that. I just don’t understand why this keeps happening.”

“Do you mind if I tell this story?” I asked.

“Please,” she said. “Tell it.”

Let’s hope this man, and all men, realize the emotional damage they are inflicting on the women they try to buy. In the meantime, feel free to SHARE.*

*With this man being an Orthodox Jew, I hope that all long-time followers of HONY would by now have realized the high respect I hold for the Orthodox Jewish community as a whole.”

Despite the fact that the woman wanted her experiences shared and the person who took the photo said he wanted others to read and share it, the photo and story are no longer on the site.

Feminist Media reported that Humans Of New York (HONY) “removed the photograph from their Facebook page, which has over 90,000 subscribers. Because of uproar from what appeared to be men of the Orthodox Community.”

They posted photos of other Orthodox men who gave their views on the situation (like telling people not to rush to judgment) and with each post there was the message: “UPDATE: The original post has been removed out of respect for the man’s family. After 1,000 comments, I believe the discussion had run it’s course.”

Feminist Media writes,

“Hmm… many of the comments on these read along the lines of “Good job Brandon [the HONY photographer] for respecting the man’s family and taking the photo down” “Right decision HONY” “How we do know the woman’s telling the truth? HEARSAY!”

To which I say…you’re joking right? She asked to have her story told. I don’t give a flying fuck if this man is the fucking President of the United States, if he propositions a woman for being an escort after she said NO once he needs to be called out. And to say “I believe the discussion had run it’s course” is perpetuating that sexual harassment is okay. A commenter placed the question ‘would this photo have been removed if the racial roles had been reversed or if the woman had been white?’ “My question is whether or not a similar picture to “last night’s” would have been deleted or generated the same level of concern for the man’s reputation, community had the man in question had been Hispanic, Muslim or African-American?”

A comment summed up this photo “Again, another woman was silenced. To spare that man his embarrassment at being a hypocrite. A shame.” I hope everyone will reblog this to show that you cannot silence an idea and you cannot like this woman believes “ If you don’t like something – you can ignore it, delete it, unsubscribe – or just LEAVE.”

Yes, let’s just sweep racism, sexism, prejudice, and harassment right under the  rug right? WRONG.

Also interestingly enough before I had even finished writing this I was going to reblog the original tumblr post from the Humans Of New York tumblr and it had been removed.”

STFU Conservatives Tumblr posted the photo and story and this:

“After reading some of the discussion about this photo on the HONY fb page I cannot express how absolutely disgusted and frustrated I am by the public reaction. The public outcry was so much that Brandon (the man behind HONY) took the photo down and followed it up with some positive photos of Jewish men and their opinions of the post. One photo caption chanted on about virtue and suppositions, blah, blah, blahbitty fucking blah.

To put it shortly, an overwhelming majority of the reactions are in defense of this man and harshly criticized Brandon for posting this story. Many people both inside and outside of the Jewish community have rallied behind this man, claiming that we don’t know the whole story, that this woman could be lying, that it was wrong of Brandon to expose this man.

To that I have this to say: SHUT THE FUCK UP! So one of yours got caught out there on some slimey shit? Get over it! Everyone’s so busy being worried about this man’s privacy and how this photo will affect him and his family, but very few people stopped to consider the feelings of this woman. Very few stopped to support her and think about the trials she faces, the trauma she must suffer.

When it comes to Black women’s suffering, people seldom give a fuck. Where are all the follow up pictures of Black women sharing their mantras? hmmmm?

HONY had the opportunity to take a stance, to allow this woman the platform to tell her story, and although that is what I believe he set out to do initially, by deleting the post on FB (thank God for Tumblr) Brandon effectively worked to silence her voice… yet again. Something Black woman have had to suffer with for far too long: people constantly attempting to silence our voices and our stories. I will reblog this every time I see it!”

I’m on the HONY Facebook page now and there are comments like:

“You said you would share that Sudanese woman’s story. Why didn’t you leave it up in respect of her family and her wishes? Why did you side with the man who caused the problem in the first place? Why does he deserve more respect than she does?”

and

“What I learned from HONY: Black woman is “propositioned” and talks about the harassment she regularly receives: no one cares. White man who harassed a black woman is negatively portrayed in HONY: Why are you so quick to rush to judgement?! What about his feelings?! Why don’t you care about how much this could hurt him?!”

and

“I’m incredibly disappointed that you took down the picture of the Sudanese woman and her harasser. I know why you did it, but more than protecting his privacy, you silenced a victim of sexual harassment and a member of one of the most marginalized and ignored segments of society: women of color. Why is this man’s privacy more important than taking a stand against sexual harassment? Perhaps he should’ve considered not harassing an innocent woman if he wanted privacy.”

Amen. It’s problematic that street harassment happens in the first place and it’s doubly problematic that people shut down women who speak out, especially women of color, because they want to protect the men who harass, especially white men.

Alleged religious piousness, age, race does not give any man a free pass to harass and assault. In fact, my inclination is to be suspicious of older, white, religious men than of any other group because they are the most privileged and powerful group in our society and thus the most likely to get a free pass to keep on harassing and assaulting to their heart’s content.

This must end.

No more harassment, no more sexual assault, no more gender violence! Respect other humans, respect women, respect Black women!!!

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3 Responses

05.09.12

This story reminds me of my own experiences with the Mormons and their attempt in the all male hierarchy to cover up reported abuse. Just like the catholic priests. I’m glad SSH is not taking down this post or photo!!!!

05.09.12

Shared. This will not go unnoticed.

05.09.12

Sickening. I guess some lives are just worth more than others, huh.
If I were that woman, I would have called the police.
No way would I let this man get away with harassing me and other women.
Do not let them get away with this.

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