The Sport of Attacking Black Women

Historically, the travails of African-American women have always played second fiddle to those of black men, Brittney Cooper observes at Salon, following the uproar surrounding the now-pulled "Harriet Tubman Sex Tape."

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Russell Simmons (Mike Windle/Getty Images)

At Salon, Brittney Cooper urges the media and the black community to end unrelenting attacks on black women, following the uproar surrounding the now-pulled "Harriet Tubman Sex Tape" video on Russell Simmons' YouTube network. "With a scarily consistent frequency," she writes, "black women's political histories and needs are not only minimized but utterly discounted in service of a narrative of black male racial victimhood."

Earlier this month, Russell Simmons was outraged with Don Lemon for having such a limited view of black struggle that the latter would suggest that ceasing use of the N-word, a halt to wearing sagging pants, and a reduction in teen pregnancy and absentee fatherhood are the solutions to what ails black communities. But Simmons has absolutely no moral authority with which to critique Don Lemon, if he himself finds it reasonable to propagate these stereotypical narratives of black women as hypersexed, unrapeable, cunning and devious creatures.

Yet just two weeks later, he put his imprimatur on this unfortunate Harriet Tubman venture. His disrespect for the broad histories of violence that black women endured during slavery illustrate the profound limits of any form of black politics that have not grappled with the enduring problem of black male sexism. While black nationalist politics (and by nationalist, I mean race-conscious, not "we want our own nation") has long taken issue with the myth of the black male rapist, it has been far less vocal on the various forms of violence done to black women. The myth of the black male rapist was propagated to justify lynching. The murders of young black men like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, and the improper presumption of their criminality by their attackers, recalls and perpetuates this long history and understandably animates black politics.

Read Brittney Cooper's entire piece at Salon.

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