“Protect Black Women” Is More Than Just a Mantra

It’s time for Black men to step up and answer the call

Published in
5 min readSep 14, 2020


Photo: Emmanuel Sasu Mensah

I was raised in an abusive environment. So when I see Black women mistreated, silenced, and erased, it hits close to home.

One in three Black women will experience either physical or sexual assault at some point in their lives. That number has always felt much higher in terms of the women I knew, given the cultural, political, and economic violence targeted toward Black women globally.

Many of the women I’m close to have shared countless stories of abuse in their personal and professional lives. In some cases, we’ve been able to work together to take meaningful action. But often, we’ve chosen to keep their experiences in confidence.

In our community, the belief that secrets stay in the family has always been a source of inner conflict for me. As a confidante, it’s often difficult to distinguish between who the silence really protects: the women who confided in me or the reputations of their abusers. This silence was troubling. I can‘t even begin to comprehend the depths women have to navigate when sharing their truths.

What routinely follows this disclosure is no less predictable than it is problematic. The default reflex to question women who come forward before questioning the actions of their abusers? Poison. The knee-jerk reaction to put women on trial before we interrogate their abusers? Poison. The search for flaws in their stories, pondering the motives in their actions or tone policing? All of it is poison.

How many of these ideas have we inherited from the doctrine of imperialist, White supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal thinking? How deeply has this permeated the cultures of our companies, social circles, and the furthest corners of our psyche? Even more, what makes questioning and trivializing Black women’s experiences at the hands of abusive men any different than the demonizing and criminalizing of unarmed Black men who have fallen victim at the hands of abusive police? Both serve as a gross rationalization to justify and legitimize a shirking of responsibility.

Voicing our support for Black women is necessary but not sufficient. Amplifying…