Most of us were shocked to read about the seventh grader who was forced by her school to apologize to her rapist. When the school didn’t believe the little girl’s story, they told her to write a letter of apology to the boy she’d accused. Later on down the road, the girl was raped by the same little boy again.
We published the story on Your Black World, a website that is designed to focus on African American issues. Our audience is predominantly black, we keep it black-owned and target our stories t0 the black community. Our goal is to directly confront the issues that matter most to "us" without watering them down by the influence of greedy, racially-oppressive corporate media.
Someone sent me a note about the little girl’s story, asking me if the girl was African American. I said, "I don’t know." Then, someone else reached out and told me that the girl wasn’t black. The person expected me to be shocked, as if they were telling me something that would change the relevance of the story or somehow make the little girl’s sexual assault less traumatic than it is.
My response to the person was this: I don’t care what color the girl is, her story was tragic and relevant to millions of black women who are faced with the threat of sexual assault on a regular basis. That’s all that matters to me, and that’s why black people need to read it.
In our community, rape is often under reported, not taken seriously or simply ignored. Many women are assaulted at the hands of men that they trust and members of their own family. Beyond blatant assaults, there are far too many situations where the 15-year old girl is smooth-talked by the 30-year old man who convinces her that he’s the only person on earth who gives a damn about her well-being.
These are the stories that often go untold in our community, and I can personally think of several teen pregnancies that occurred because an older man was committing statutory rape.
It is important for all of us to elevate our understanding, education and indignation when we see sexual abuse occurring in our communities. Black America’s apathy toward men like R. Kelly is a glaring sign that far too many of us do not value the protection, health and well-being of our little girls as much as we should. I don’t care how many hit songs R. Kelly makes: It must be clearly communicated that the behavior of a child predator will not be tolerated by any of us.
So, to make a long story short, I could care less if the little girl in the story was white, black or anything else. The reality is that her story had a universal connection to the core of our humanity, and there are other little girls out there right now having the same horrific experience. If we do not get into the habit of taking a stand for girls and women, we will continue to be just as abusive as those who’ve oppressed our people in the past.
We have to elevate our thinking.