Quoted: Tricia Rose on Fighting Sexism in a Community Assaulted by Racism

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson


The pressure young black women feel to defend black men against racist attacks, even at their own expense, is a new variation on the centuries old standard for black women’s race loyalty. This community wide standard – which asks women to take the hit (metaphorically and literally), to be content with dynamics in which they sacrifice themselves and care for others’ interests over their own – mimics the terms of an abusive relationship. As bell hooks has pointedly reminded us, although we should avoid demonizing black males “[b]lack females must not be duped into supporting shit that hurts us under the guise of standing beside our men. If black men are betraying us through acts of male violence, we save ourselves and the race by resisting.”

—Tricia Rose, The Hip Hop Wars, p. 127

Latoya’s Note: I’ve been thinking about these ideas a lot lately, in various conversations of feminism, on threads about Chris Brown and Rihanna, and looking over some of the conversation threads here. So I wanted to open this up to the floor. Other women of color, I encourage you all to participate and talk about how the dynamic described plays out (or does not play out) in your experiences. Men of color, I want you to listen first. You can feel free to comment, but I notice on a lot of threads men tend to become extremely defensive when women want to talk about things that are literally killing us.