Rihanna, Sasha and Malia

by Guest Contributor M.Dot, originally published at Model Minority

A couple of weeks ago, 50 Cent conceded that Rihanna getting beat by Chris Brown wasn’t real to him. James Montgomery of MTV News writes,

“After I saw the photograph, that wasn’t funny anymore,” 50 said. “I didn’t have any information on it. You’re just going on what the public actually had. It shifts the whole thing. Even if you’re saying you’re in a dysfunctional relationship, I understand that. There’s a point when you’re already past a woman fighting you back. You look at [the picture], and it’s obviously past that point. There’s some issues there that definitely gotta be addressed. Not to take any shots at Chris or Rihanna or take sides in any way, [but] it’s really not cool. It’s not funny anymore, so there will definitely be no more reference to that from me in any way.”

Why is a picture needed in order to convey the seriousness of the topic?

In many ways, I think that it wasn’t real for many people.

According to The Domestic Violence Institute, Black women comprise 8% of the U.S. population but in 2005 accounted for 22% of the intimate partner homicide victims and 42% of all female victims of intimate partner homicide.

African Americans account for a disproportionate number of intimate partner homicides. In 2005, African Americans accounted for almost 1/3 of the intimate partner homicides in this country.

According to a survey conducted by Tufts University,

– Approximately 40% of Black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18.
– The number one killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 is homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner
– In a study of African-American sexual assault survivors, only 17% reported the assault to police

Last weekend, I was discussing my idea for this post with Birkhold. I mentioned that, what if, instead of Rihanna it were Sasha or Malia Obama who was assaulted by their boyfriend? Malia is 11, and in 8 years she could be college student who is dating an R & B star.

I chose Sasha and Malia, because collectively, the Obama girls tend to elicit a kind of respect for Black femininity that I think that all Black women deserve.

Unfortunately, we have a tendency to organize the respectability of Black women into a hierarchy. “Hoe’s on the bottom. Triflin’ baby momma’s in the middle, wifey at the top.” All of us are human, all of us deserve to be respected.

I was discussing this post with Birkhold. I asked “What if it were Malia. What if Malia was 19 and a at Harvard, Howard or Spellman and was assaulted by her boyfriend. Would we have to see proof in order to believe that something happened or at least to not make a joke of it?” He responded, “That it wouldn’t make a difference to many people because, in American culture, there is a strong tendency to explain men beating women as boys will be boys behavior.”

I have also been thinking about of Real Housewives of Atlanta. Last fall I remember seeing one of the first episodes, and all I could think is that “Why is a shallow portrayal of women as gold diggers being presented to us as entertainment?”

As I watched the show I became far more interested in their background narratives, I felt myself wanting to hear them discuss the abuse that they suffered that has caused them to try and pursue healing through obtaining material items.

Material and or human beings can’t fill God sized holes.

I got my answer. In this month’s Essence, Denene Millner interviews Nene Leakes and Lisa Wu-Hartwell of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Millner writes,

Leakes recalls the first time she spent the night at the man’s house, just a short time into their relationship. “When we got ready to go to bed, he took out a gun and laid it on the nightstand,” she says. “I’d never been around a gun before. It really freaked me out. My thoughts were, Okay, I need to do what he says. I need to be really nice tonight. That should have been my warning.” But Leakes failed to heed her own intuition.

This reminded me of Rihanna and her intuition.

I told Birkhold that if a dude put a gat on my dresser, the countdown would be on for me to figure out how to get out of that bedroom alive.

We began to discuss the different ways that women assess danger. He pointed out that the way my intuition works isn’t necessarily the way intuition works for other women. His explanation was that if I came up with a brother, father or boyfriend, who carried a gun, and if when he had that gun I felt protected while I was out in the street, then it may not be that odd, to me, for a man that I am dating to take a gun out and set it on the dresser the first night I stayed over.

I was floored. I never thought about it that way.

We talked about how when a woman decides to leave an abusive relationship, that it isn’t black and white. That women attempt passive resistance, they attempt to leave and that many feel compelled to stay because they may have children.

All I could think was, I hope Chris doesn’t have to kill her in order for more of us to start taking this issue seriously.

Black women are killed by their partners at a disproportionate rate.

Do you think it would be different if it were Malia?

What has to happen for us to change our boys will be boys thinking?

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

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