April 18th, 2018
In light of all the outrage concerning R Kelly and his numerous molestation allegations, I’d like to say that the reason this didn’t get nearly as much attention as it should is because black girls are stripped of their innocence before they have an understanding of what it is. Growing up, we were told at the ages of 10 and 11 to “cover up” and “stop being grown” if our clothes fit a certain way. No one is nearly as upset at R Kelly as they would be about a grown man preying on little white girls. Why? Because young black girls are hypersexualized and portrayed as more mature than their age simply based on their body.
I can remember as a young girl I was always self-conscious about my clothesbecause I knew that I would be called “fast” or “grown” because of my chest and the curve of my hips. I didn’t understand why, but now it all makes sense. Instead of worrying about cartoons and playing with friends, I was often plagued with the need to wear bigger clothes in order to hide my body. This is not how a childhood should be. There are countless other black girls out there who can relate to my sentiments, and it shouldn’t be that way. We should keep the same energy in protecting and nurturing our young black girls as we do with Becky and Sarah. This means that we need to stop covering up for the men in our lives, households, and communities that go out of their way to rob black girls of their innocence. R Kelly is a prime example.
R Kelly is no doubt a great artist, and many of our parents love him. However, this does not exclude him from being held accountable for his actions. He is a great example of how the black community covers up for the men who manipulate and ruin the lives of black girls. The responses I’ve been hearing about R Kelly’s most recent allegations are alarming. I can’t comprehend how things like “she was too fast anyway” can leave the mouth of someone with a black mother, sister, cousin, etc. Regardless of how quickly a girl’s body “blooms,” she should never be subject to a man taking advantage of her. This is not about R Kelly or any other public figure known for molestation, but it simply reinforces the point that black girls are often neglected.
Hypersexualization of us is evident in childhood but it continues into adolescence and even early adulthood. I still feel uncomfortable being gawked at by older men when I’m in public. Like most issues within the black community, hypersexualization of the black woman can be traced back to slavery in which the black woman was used and abused for her body. The black woman was depicted as the promiscuous Jezebel, as opposed to the perfect purity of the white woman. Slaveowners forced themselves onto black girls and women and gave them babies, but never valued them anything more than a quick satisfaction. It would take forever to dissect all the information and draw conclusions from slavery, but you get the picture.
Forcing black girls to grow up too fast is hindering them from just being kids. Men need to take the responsibility to evaluate themselves for pedophilic thoughts and behavior. This should not be acceptable in our community, or anywhere for that matter. Parents need to stop sexualizing their children at such early ages when they have no control over how their bodies develop. As a community, we need to do better at protecting our black girls and making them feel loved, not neglected.
Instagram and Twitter: @melaninxro