Archive for the ‘domestic violence’ Category

I’m Wearing Red Today

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

I’m wearing red today like I promised because I wanted to show my solidarity with women and men everywhere who are committed to standing up to violence against women and speaking out to what’s beginning to feel like open season against women of color.

I’m wearing red today like I promised because I am outraged at hearing that just within this summer alone a mentally challenged woman was tortured and raped in West Virginia, a mother was forced to perform a sex act on her son at Dunbar Village in West Palm Beach, Fla, a young woman in Chicago named Nailah was murdered and her murderer has not been found, a song like “Superman that Hoe” is playing in the ears of our children, a young actress named Keke Palmer (of Akeelah and the Bee) was refused a record deal because her mom Sharon refused the record label’s efforts to turn her daughter into a porn star.

I’m wearing red today like I promised because “every 3 minutes a woman is beaten every five minutes a woman is raped/every ten minutes a lil girl is molested.”

I’m wearing red today like I promised in memory of my maternal and paternal grandmothers, Marie Brown Weems and Lou Willie Clark Baker, who, died as a result of violence. The official cause of death for my paternal grandmother, Marie Brown Weems, was tuberculosis. The unofficial cause was from a body and spirit weakened by the slaps and beatings my grandfather gave her when he came home drunk and broke. My mother’s mother, Lou Willie Clark Baker, died from a gunshot wound intended for one of her sons.

I’m wearing red today like I promised because while my heart goes out to Evangelist Juanita Bynum for all the hurt and heartbreak she’s endured as a result of her husband beating her in that Atlanta parking lot, she is not the new face of domestic violence. That spot is already taken. There’s a woman who’s lover just smacked her for the first time sometime while I was typing this post.

I’m wearing red today like I promised to support the work of My Sister’s Keeper up in Boston who this week have brought women from various tribal regions in Sudan together there in Boston to discuss ways they can put aside tribal differences and come together to help find a solution to the civil war in their country and to put an end to women being rape as an act of war.

I’m wearing red today like I promised because I remember the red shoes my father bought me from K-Mart when I was four years old which I loved vociferously even though they were too small and hurt my feet. Red shoes have been a weakness of mine ever since.

I’m wearing red today like I promised because when I walk into church tonight to teach the bible study class on “Bynum and the Bible” I want the women to know that I mean business.

I’m wearing red today like I promised because red is the color of power and boldness.

I’m wearing red today like I promised because I’ve never seen a woman who didn’t look good in red!

My Sister’s Keeper

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

This week’s “Within the Quote” features a short media clip by a former student of mine from Spelman College, now graduate student at the University of Chicago. She observed the relative lack of national attention paid to black women who are victims of sexual violence and created this video clip to make sure that in our rush to rescue our men in Jena, Louisiana that we not forget black women who have been dealt injustices by the system as well. It shouldn’t have to be an either/or situation.

The movement must be big enough to come to the rescue of our men when they are in threat of hanging from a judicial hangman’s noose and be able to come to the aid of its women when we are victimized by sexual violence and are in threat of being stripped of our dignity by the legal system.

Document The Silence!

My Daughter, There Is An Evil In The World

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

I don’t want to have to admit that it’s possible for a 20 year old woman to endure week long torture and rape in the country where I live. Those things happen in Bosnia, Peru, Rwanda, Sudan, and are probably going on right now in Iraq. But not in the United States, right? Wrong. It happened in West Virginia.

I’ll leave it to others to provide you the barbaric details of what took place, if you haven’t read them for yourself already.

Stories describing the torture and rape of women are not for the fainthearted. The Bible is full of them. (I’ve written about these stories in Battered Love.)Few of us want to look at them closely. We are afraid because these stories never have a happy ending, not really. They are just there for us to muddle through their meaning: the rape of Dinah and Tamar; the butchered concubine in Judges; the sexually ravaged woman in Ezekiel; Hosea’s battered wife Gomer; the woman caught in adultery, just to name a few. We can’t afford to overlook these stories just so we can keep up our belief in the notion that bad things happen only to bad people, or that women are safe as long as they do what they are told, or that tragedy can be kept at bay by praying it away. It does not happen that way, not always, not for everybody.

Rape is an especially heinous crime. What makes it so? It has a way of eroding the fabric of a community in a way that few other weapons can. Rape can be devastating because of the strong communal reaction to the violation and the pain that engulfs entire families. The harm inflicted on a woman by a rapist is an attack on her family and culture, after all in many societies women are viewed as repositories of a community’s cultural and spiritual values.

Listen up: rape is not about sex, even though ejaculation takes place. Rape is about stealing and devouring a woman’s dignity, dividing her from her larger community and shattering all relationships she’s currently in or ever hope to be in. Rape estranges the family from the victim, and the victim from her culture.

Raise the story of the West Virginia’s woman’s rape and torture and somebody’s bound to have questions. What is a black woman doing associating with a white man (along with his family and friends) with such a violent past? Didn’t she know better than to go to some remote West Virginia house with a bunch of crazy folks? See what rape does? It isolates a victim from her family and community in ways that see to it that the victim is made to relive what happened to her every time she looks into the faces of those who question her judgment and innocence.

Women in Bosnia, Peru, Rwanda, Sudan, and Iraq will tell you that gang rape and torture leave permanent damage, both physical and spiritual. The victim who finds her way back to sanity does so with the help of a community that surrounds her with unconditional love. The victim who lacks the support system needed to rid herself of the shame end up often reliving her rape by going on to become a prostitute. We can only hope and pray that this West Virginia woman who was not only raped, but endured days of unspeakable torture, gets the long term help she needs.

“I don’t understand a human being doing another human being the way they did my daughter,” the mother of the West Virginia victim said to reporters. “I didn’t know there were people like that out here.” Evidently, there are. And that’s part of the truth we have to face and pass on to our daughters and sons. Part of the Bible’s lesson to us in the form of stories about rape, physical abuse, and ethnic cleansing is this: There is evil in the world. What can we do about evil as women of faith? Although I sound sure of most things most days, I don’t always know the answer to this one. The temptation is to order our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and goddaughters inside, lock the doors, and pull down the shades. The more intelligent thing would be to teach them how to differentiate between hate and love.

One thing is for sure: we can’t fix it until we face it. And that starts with calling it what it is.

Evil. That force in the world bent on shaming persons, dividing families and communities, and conquering the soul.

The Master’s Tools Will Not Dismantle Master’s House

Friday, September 7th, 2007

Friday is normally “Within the Quote” day here at Something Within where I share with readers a quote from one of my favorite writers. I plan to do that today, but I can’t resist jumping in with a few comments about Evangelist Juanita Bynum’s interview this week before the media.

The evangelist called a press conference this past Tuesday evening to let her supporters and well-wishers know that she is moving on with her life under a new mandate as “the new face of domestic violence.” She announced that while she still loves her husband and forgives him, she intends to go ahead and proceed forward in divorcing Bishop Thomas Weeks (a move that was already underway). Saying that domestic violence is “not a church issue but a social issue” Evangelist Bynum announced plans to launch a new ministry aimed at women around the world who have suffered violent attacks at the hands of the men who were supposed to love them. Later she mentioned that at this Saturday’s fund-raiser for presidential hopeful Barack Obama hosted by Oprah Winfrey to which she has been invited the evangelist hopes to have a chance to speak with presidential hopeful Barak Obama to urge him to make domestic violence an important issue on his agenda.

I’m happy to see that Evangelist Bynum is moving forward with her life, something that is encouraging to all those of us who were shocked and outraged by the beating she suffered two weeks ago at the hands of her husband, Bishop Thomas Weeks. But I must agree with my fellow sister blogger over at Content Black Woman that while her desire to help battered women is noble, the evangelist should move carefully and not come off as being opportunistic and exploitative.

For one thing, the evangelist is not, as she claims, the new face of domestic violence. That role has already been taken by the latest woman to be attacked by her husband–six seconds ago. Bynum wants to minister to battered women. What will be her message to the millions of bruised women, she doesn’t say. Here’s hoping that besides preaching movingly about painful relationships and “deliverance” Bynum uses her influence to make concrete change. How about lending her face and name to raising money for the many domestic violence organizations doing yeoman work in this area already, grass roots organizations with long track records for going in and rescuing women physically from abusive relationships, staffing domestic abuse shelters, and lobbying for stiffer legislation against abusers? Here’s hoping Bynum drops by and sits at the feet of some of these heroic activists who can give her lessons on politics, gender studies, and theology that can go along with the scripture she knows so well.

The evangelist hopes to have a word with Senator Barack Obama about domestic violence this Saturday at Oprah’s fundraiser? Hmmmm. Did anyone else’s head snap at this one? The “eternal daughter” (a term psychologists use) is what came to my mind. The woman who must have a male protector in crises, a man to run to for security, advice, and guardianship. Obama is a powerful man, but let’s not fool ourselves. There are other ways to position this issue politically. Again, talk to women who’ve been doing this work for years. Too bad female guests are expected to be dressed to the tee at this gala fundraiser. Bynum’s case would go over better if she could appear without make-up, brandishing her bruises from the other week. I would write a check to her personal ministry coffer if she did that.

Finally, by stating emphatically that domestic violence is a social issue and not a church issue, Evanglist Bynum makes it pretty clear that she knows which side her bread is buttered. She has no intention of upsetting those at the helm of TBN and other megaministries by taking the church to task for its traditional teachings on the roles of women and men. The evangelist will leave that to the rest of us loudmouth, hell raising, bare-face feminist/womanist towncriers standing outside the palace to do that. So be it.

And now for a quote from feminist thinker Audre Lorde who knew something about women who take pride in their mastery of the master’s tools, women who think they can dismantle the master’s house without catching any hell from master.

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”