Like almost everyone else, I absolutely love and adore Beyoncé! You would think that I was a contributing writer for her considering how well I know her material. One of the reasons why I love her music is because no matter what mood you’re in, she has a song that can help you get through it, feel it more or get over it. Last weekend my best friend and I were sitting in my kitchen having a little karaoke and “Why Don’t You Love Me” comes on. Because we think that we’re Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, we talked about how cold the background vocals were and critiqued the lyrics and laughed and sang all night. The next day, the song was still in my head, but the partying was over and I started to relate the song to real-life events that have been going on. In the song Beyoncé reminds her man that she’s smart, she pays the bills, she’s beautiful and she can put it down in the bedroom, but the question remains, “why don’t you love me when I make me so damn easy to love”? Three recent situations made me think about these lyrics differently; Stephon Clark, Emily B., and Chikesia Clemons.
Stephon Clark, a young African-American man that was murdered by police in Sacramento, CA. after they claimed that he was vandalizing cars and “mistakenly” identified his cell phone for a gun and unloaded 20 shots on him. The second story is about a celebrity couple where the boyfriend had been accused of physically assaulting the girlfriend and pulling a gun on her family members, allegedly. The third story is about Chikesia Clemons and a waffle house located in Alabama where one of the restaurant employees decided to call the police on Ms. Clemons because she asked for the corporate office phone number. Yup. She asked for corporate’s phone number and paid a hefty price for the inquiry.
I’m sure that you are familiar with these stories. Most of the parties included, excluding the Waffle House employee, are people of color. This is an important part of my anger. Let’s talk about Stephon Clarke first. Yes, he was murdered by the police unjustly and I hope that the city of Sacramento pursues charges against the officers as we hear the explanation of “I feared for my life” all too often and no one ever pays for their bad judgment. I truly feel bad for his family and for our community because we should not have to see our men and boys taken because of fear. I do however have reservations about protesting for this case. Soon after the shooting occurred the national media released tweets from the deceased where he discussed black women in a disparaging light. “I don’t want nothin black but an Xbox, dark bitches bring dark days“. This statement is supported by his real-life where he, in fact, had a non-African American girlfriend who thought it was OK to use the “N” word as she echoed his sentiments. Now, the reason why the media released these tweets is simple. Whenever one of these police-involved shootings occur the media, as well as law enforcement, go and pull criminal records to try and paint a picture of the victim. The media and law enforcement work to separate us so that we won’t mobilize in support of Black Lives Matter or any other civil rights movement thinking that if someone has committed a crime we don’t think that they are deserving of being treated like a human. We see through this attempt every time, but this time it stung just a little bit more. As a black woman, what are we to do when one of our slain brothers is the latest victim of police brutality but he’s expressed the maximum disdain and disrespect for the very women who have brought him into this world, who have cooked meals for him, and who now occupy the front of the protest lines demanding justice for him and his family? What do we do when the men that are supposed to value and respect us tell the world that we are worth less than a video game?
Then there’s the celebrity couple. Cell phone footage comes out showing a huge argument between the couple as well as one of the parents of the girlfriend. You can see the boyfriend charging at the girlfriend while she’s running and screaming. Reports stated that he had hit her so hard in the face that he knocked out some of her teeth and she was forced to file a police report. Now, none of us were there so that means that none of us know what happened. We can speculate that it did or didn’t happen, but none of us know. Now, with the fact that none of us was there, do you know how many people called her a liar? Do you know how many people said she deserved it because she was cheating on him? Do you know how many people said its none of our business and she will be right back with him anyway so why should we care? Oh, and my favorite comment was, she’s not going anywhere because he has so much money and she doesn’t want to lose her lifestyle. Do you know what all of these statements are? Bullshit and excuses. Excuses to not do anything about physical abuse that women of color SPECIFICALLY have had to experience at the hands of their mates while family, friends, and onlookers did and said nothing except for, “she won’t leave anyway”. It always pisses me off when people choose not to get involved with something because of what they think the person will or will not do when honestly, what they choose to do is on them, but being human and compassionate is completely up to you. If you choose to stay, that’s on you, but you can trust and believe that if your boyfriend or husband decides to put his hands on you in front of me, I’m intervening. If I saw my brother abusing his girlfriend, I’m going to intervene and then I’m going to let his ass have it because that’s not how you treat a woman. See, too many of us sit back quietly and mind our business when it comes to the victims but then choose to sit and gossip with family members and friends. Don’t talk shit. Do something!
Chikesia Clemons has a night out with her friend and stops at the Waffle House. Now, I live in Michigan but I know how important the Waffle House is especially when traveling to the south. It’s honestly a staple. Ms. Clemons asks for plasticware and the Waffle House employee tells her that she has to pay for it. Ms. Clemons challenges this statement because she had frequented the location the day before and was given a different response but because the employee didn’t like that Ms. Clemons, the customer, objected to the claim of there being a charge for the plasticware can you guess what the employee did? She called the police. Oh, clearly this is what some people are deciding to do to remove us from their space without the presence of a real threat, which is pretty fucked up. Now we don’t know what happened during the time that the police was called and when they actually show up but what once the police get to the scene and inside of the restaurant we see the people who are sworn to protect manhandling this woman who is wearing a strapless dress. The next thing you see is her being pushed to the ground, dress being pulled down and her breasts being exposed while one of the cops threatens to break her arm and the other cop follows this behavior by choking Ms. Clemons while she’s lying on her back. She didn’t have a gun. She didn’t have a knife. She wasn’t yelling or being belligerent. If I recall correctly she was pretty respectable. But none of this mattered. They treated her like an animal and even with the story hitting social media, the story has died down. Protests are taking place at several Waffle Houses, but it appears that black women who are victims of police brutality do not garner the same support as black men who are victims of police brutality. Imagine if this were your sister, or your mother being thrown around and man-handled. What would you do? How would you feel?
All of these stories affected me for multiple reasons, but one of the main reasons is because black women and women of color rarely get the respect and protection that we are due, especially from our men. Black women are first to step up to injustice when it comes to our communities. Hell, we have been the caretakers of kids that didn’t belong to us when the only jobs we could get was being a maid or housekeeper all while taking care of our children and our husbands. During slavery, black women carried the weight of our men who were emasculated at every turn, we protected our children the best we could all while being raped by the master and whoever else master wanted to give us to. We kept it together through slavery, through Jim Crow, through the civil rights movement, through the Black Panther Movement and now with Black Lives Matter.
My question is, when will our men reciprocate the support that we have giving century after century? Its time to get our houses in order. If you want your sons to grow up knowing right from wrong, then show them the proper examples. If you want your daughter to grow up knowing what a man is and more importantly WHAT A MAN IS NOT, then show them the right examples. Let’s stop supporting people and their bullshit and work towards building a better community because there is power in numbers but until our men support us women the way that we support them, we are going to stay in a never-ending cycle of broken homes, broken promises and disrespect. It’s time to step up to strengthen our homes, our bonds, and our families. Then we will feel and know that love is there and never have to ask if you love us again.