Opinion

When the narrative changes…

OPINION By | Aba Hammond

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It is 2018 and we are at the pinnacle of the reconstruction of the cultural concept of the black community globally. After years of being deprived of an equitable share in the economic, social, and political development of the United States, there are strides being made in major industries from entertainment, politics, business, and the like. The black community has been recognized as a powerful force of nature. There is no denying that the black community have made permanent contributions to the history and culture of America. Throughout the years, stories of the black community have been passed on from generation to generation. And often, we work against powerful narratives that are rooted in the predominant white American culture.

But, our narratives have power. They have the power to justify what we consider the norm and the power to enact change. For example, using our narratives to expose police brutality, racial injustice, or talk about what it is like to be feminist and black in the US has helped us regain power. Stories have always been used as a way to make sense of the pandemonium in our world dating back to the old days. We now live in the postmodern era where people on a daily basis are combating social, political, and economic issues that plague us. And though these issues require a systematic approach toward rectification, it is quite evident that the narrative behind the issue is absolutely vital.

Cultural crusading, in this case, plays role in policy change, particularly for groups interested in influencing dogmatic narratives. It can also play a role in making ourselves visible and challenging narratives at the level of culture (and popular culture in particular). A lot of people currently learn about people who are different from pop culture. Many representations are based on cultural stereotypes, especially when it comes to racial groups and ethnicities.  So, why are narratives of social inequity and inequality always at the verge of being changed negatively and what happens when some narratives are continually being attacked and are most of the time skewed or reversed? I am including the movement to eradicate sexual abuse because sexual abuse and violence not only happens to just white women.

Sexual violence affects Black women at high rates. More than 20 percent of Black women are raped during their lifetime, a higher share than among women overall. So, why is it that when a person says, “Black Lives Matter” there is the rebuttal “All Lives Matter”? Why do people still make statements such as “Why are you making it a race thing?” or blame victims of sexual abuse/assault based on what they wear or other trivial reasons. Why do black women disproportionately experience violence at home, at school, on the job, and in their neighborhoods?  Not to mention, experience institutionalized racism and are funneled into the criminal justice system after surviving physical or sexual abuse?

The BLM movement is not separatist and definitely not anti-police. It does not promote hatred or violence against any ethnic group but rather is in place to highlight how undervalued the life of an African American is., just like the “Me Too” movement, which highlights how stifled and undervalued the female voice has been when it comes to speaking up about sexual abuse. Society is more inclined to view societal problems of the black community as specific problems of African Americans instead of problems that plague all Americans. Why do the black community and women constantly have to justify their stress, their torment, and the fact that they are just inexplicably tired of dealing with the same old issues over and over again?

There is an African proverb that says, “The wise create proverbs for fools to learn, not to repeat”. And right now, history is repeating itself, which means we weren’t wise enough to learn from the past. I do not know the answers to a lot of my questions, but I am hopeful that the narrative will change for the better. I’m hopeful for a much more diverse and inclusive community.  For centuries, people of color have been taught to think too poorly of themselves. Women have been pushed to the back burner and their voices have been muted. Now that approach has changed. We now live in a world where people of color and women are recognizing their value and worth and are standing tall. Realistic representation and connectivity is within reach and it is such a beautiful thing to see and experience.  


Aba Hammond was born in Ghana and moved to Tulsa in 2006. She received her undergraduate degree in Government from Oral Roberts University and is working on an MPA from OU-Tulsa. Aba currently works at ONE Gas Inc. in the Inclusion and Diversity Department. She is an advocate for immigration, educational and racial equity, and female empowerment throughout the state and the nation.

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Categories: Opinion