Updated: Dec 19, 2018
We are living in tumultuous times. Every time I turn on the news, there is usually a breaking news story about something every hour. According to some recent statistics by Gun Violence Archive, there have been 271 reported mass shootings since January 1, 2018. That same archive also reported that 1,641 people have died at the hands of a police officer. Additionally, since April 2017, there have been 219 politicians, celebrities, CEOs, etc, accused of sexual misconduct. Once again, we are living in tumultuous times. If there could be a light moment in these dark times, however, it would be that the accusers (women and men) have garnered tremendous courage speaking out against those individuals who at one time did believe they had the power to do what they wanted with no repercussions.
While it is important to acknowledge the accusers for their bravery, let us acknowledge the truth for it is. Rape culture is not a pop culture pandemic, but an uncured disease that has plagued humanity for years. The issue is not rape, but the idealism that certain humans like entitled to take what they want dating back to 1492. Does that year sound familiar? We were taught in school that in 1492, Christopher Columbus founded the New World, which eventually became the land we know as the United States of America. Yet, that statement could not be farther from the truth! Studies have shown that there were already indigenous people thriving around the land from east to west. The Europeans have a very dreadful past of driving out the original inhabitants to make claim on land that did not belong to them. The worst historical account to date will always be the infamous Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears was the forced relocation of most of the Five Civilized Tribes of the Southeastern United States to Indian Territory under the Indian Removal Act of 1830 signed by United State president Andrew Jackson clearing former Native American lands for white settlement. The forced relocation included all tribes east of the Mississippi and they were forcefully pushed west. It is estimated that 4,000 Cherokee people died of cold, hunger, and disease on their way to the western lands.
Another group under oppression during the same time were the Africans who were forced from their homes and brought to this land on ships, during the time we all know as Slavery. In the 200-year period, the death toll during the Transatlantic Slave Trade estimates to about 60 million people. That does not include the people who died on the ships or who fell overboard and drowned. There is no need to rehash the grim details of slavery as we are all familiar with the truth of slavery in the United States. If you are not, then I suggest you find your nearest African-American History teacher.
So where does rape culture fit into this history lesson that was just given? My professional opinion is the only reason that people are paying prominent attention to these sexual predators is that the majority the of accusers speaking out are white women. Before recent events, the last time sexual harassment claims made national news was because of Monica Lewinsky’s accusation to President Bill Clinton in the late 90s. Black women and Native American women have accounted for over 60% of sexual assault in the workplace, home, or even church. Studies show, during slavery, the United States had a lower infant mortality rate versus other countries who had slaves. The reason was that black women were raped so, they were pregnant by their slave masters and the babies would have to be killed so the slave master’s wife would not find out.
Women (and some men) of color overall have been subjected to sexual violence for generations. Once again, this article is to not take anything away from the current accusers, but simply to acknowledge that older men (mainly white men) have abused their power and supremacy for years. As lights are being shed on current situations, let us also take a step back and remember those from years past who took their unfortunate experiences to the grave. May we remember them and continue to walk into this new light where women and men can walk free without the fear of being sexually assaulted.