Listen to this article here
After a Black woman in Houston says she was hit with a brick for refusing to give a man her number, a viral video of her feeling unprotected has attracted mixed reviews from Black men about the role they play (or don’t) in protecting all Black women.
“Literally a man asked for my number. I said no, and he picked up a brick in front of so many men,” a woman named Ro Bashe “Roda” said from a hospital room in a video that has gone viral on Tiktok. She’s a single mother, a Somali immigrant and graduate student at Columbia School of Journalism.
Another video posted by The Shade Room shows Roda calling out the Black men around her who watched the encounter and did nothing to intervene.
One side of her face appears to show a bruise from being beaten with the brick. Yet in her short video, what pains her the most is the lack of response from the other men around her, all of whom were Black.
“And then he hits me in my face and they all just watch. They let that n*gga get in the car. How is this O.K.? Is this what y’all doing,” Roda asks through tears.
The response from social media users has illuminated a deep divide. Some have responded by saying the incident provides proof that Black women continue to go unprotected by Black men. Meanwhile, others have brought up the woman’s past actions to claim she deserved what happened to her.
On May 22, 1962 in Los Angeles, Malcolm X gave a speech that still resonates today.
“The most disrespected person in America, is the black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman.”Malcolm X
Are men afraid of other men?
In another video that appears to be directly after the incident, Roda records a video asking the Black men around her why they didn’t do anything to intervene.
“What do you want us to do,” one of them responded.
Deflecting from the discussion, some have claimed that the men in the video were Black immigrants with a different custom. Yet violence against Black women by American-born Black men has been ongoing for decades.
Curiously, just a few weeks ago Black men on social media proudly boasted they would’ve joined in on the Montgomery brawl to protect a Black man being jumped by a group of white people. Yet when it comes to the idea of protecting a Black female stranger from a single, violent man, the superhero capes have been put back into the closet.
Conscious Lee, a progressive social media influencer who often speaks on race and gender, said the quiet part out loud in a recently posted video.
“Most of the time we talking about protecting women, we talking about protecting women from other men,” Lee said. “And most of the time as a man, when I’m walking and moving in these streets or even on the internet, I’m not worried about the other gender or genders trying to mess me up. I’m worried about my other fellow cisgender straight men.”
Meanwhile, some have gone as far as to say that since Roda identifies as a queer woman who has accused Black men of not protecting Black women, she should’ve protected herself.
The numbers don’t lie: Black women most disrespected, unprotected and neglected
Ultimately, the data shows that regardless of the circumstances, the words of Malcolm X in 1962 ring true in 2023. Black women remain the most unprotected group of women in the United States.
In recent years, homicides against Black women have risen at a rate similar to those against Black men. Killings of Black women increased by 30% just in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Gun-related homicides have targeted Black woman at a higher rate than any other gender group.
The “Say Her Name” hashtag was created specifically because police killings of Black women haven’t gained as much attention as police killings against Black men, according to the African American Forum Policy.
Broken down by both Republican and Democrat-led states, a grim picture emerges.
And in both Chicago and Los Angeles, the rate of killings of Black women remain high. Black mothers in New Orleans continue to die from bullet holes, and Black women across the country go missing at a rate far above women of other ethnic groups with less media coverage.
How do we protect Black women?
In a nation where political leaders and online influencers create divisions between Black and white, Black immigrant and Black American, straight and queer, reversing these deadly trends perpetrated against Black women remains difficult.
Yet action is being taken.
In Minnesota, the state legislature has created the Missing and Murdered African American Women Task Force to address a decades-long issue. Others, such as Brookings Institution, see a solution in electing more Black women to elected office.
“In a democracy, having the ability to legislate, run governments, and shape public policy is the primary way to gain protection, not only for Black women but the country as a whole,” researchers for Brookings wrote in a July 2020 report.
Meanwhile, others see believing Black women and supporting them in times of crisis as a temporary solution that doesn’t require much effort.
“Didn’t nobody get this man’s license plate. Didn’t nobody say anything to the man. He popped a woman and then left?” Conscious Lee said. “Forget arguing with these people. What we gone do about finding the individual that hit this woman with the brick?”
A GoFundMe for Roda has surpassed its goal of $25,000.