99 Ways to Respect a Black Woman
The rules to loving and respecting a black woman are simple.
As a young girl, I remember reading about Harriet Tubman in elementary school, where I learned how she freed hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad. At home, I learned of her resilience and her importance to my personal history in this country. She’s the epitome of strength and courage, just as Sojourner Truth and so many other black women in history are.
But the team behind last month's “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape” didn’t view her legacy as I did. Or at least that’s how it came off when the video parody, produced by Russell Simmons for his new YouTube network All Def Digital, went viral.
When I saw the link come through my timeline stream, the title alone made me cringe. A new level of disrespect was the sentiment shared via social media.
Naturally, the video caused such mayhem that Simmons removed it from the site almost immediately and issued a public apology, saying he was “broken hearted that the tape had offended black women.” It was the first time in his 30-year career that he had taken down a piece of content. He apologized for misunderstanding the underlying implications and how African American women, in particular, would perceive the video.
But women’s subjectivity to ignorant jokes, unlawful practices and unjust reproductive laws doesn’t end with the vanishing of one ill-natured video. As Ms. Magazine puts it, the conversation begins with R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
In response to the Harriet Tubman Sex Tape, Ms. Magazine put together a list off “99 Ways to Respect a Black Woman" because, well, obviously, there’s some disrespect going around. The list confronts all issues that impact black women’s livelihoods—sexism, racism, culturalism.
Among the lists are:
-Do not rape us.
-Do not make jokes about raping us.
-Do not jail us if we defend ourselves from those who try to rape and abuse us.
-Do not speak to us about accidental rape and good racist white people. These are oxymorons. And not knowing this makes you a moron. Yes, I called you a moron. Deal with it.
- Do understand I have a right to choose how I live my life, to control my body, or control what happens to my body. Do understand that I have a right to “define myself for myself.” Do not try to put me in a box and define who you want me to be.
-Do understand that sometimes we get so sick and tired of the constant hate—racism, sexism, struggle, violence and disrespect—that we sometimes lose our way and believe how you see us is true and give up.
-Do understand we will get over this temporary weakness and keep fighting.
What other things should be people know about respecting black women?