On Black Men Showing Up for Black Women at the Scene of the Crime

Two nights ago I showed up to the Brecht Forum in Brooklyn ready to have a conversation about what we mean when we say “ally, privilege, and comrade.”

I showed up to have that discussion after months of battle testing around these issues in my own crew. Over these months I’ve learned that it is far easier to be just to the people we don’t know than the people we do know.

So there I sat on a panel with a white woman and a Black man. As a Black feminist, I never quite know how political discussions will go down with either of these groups. Still I’m a fierce lover of Black people and a fierce defender of women.

The brother shared his thoughts about the need to “liberate all Black people.” It sounded good. But since we were there to talk about allyship, I needed to know more about his gender analysis, even as I kept it real about how I’ve been feeling lately about how much brothers don’t show up for Black women, without us asking, and prodding, and vigilantly managing the entire process.

In a word, I was tired.

I shared that. Because surely, a conversation about how to be better allies to each other, is a safe space.

This brother was not having it. He did not plan to be challenged, did not plan to have to go deep, to interrogate his own shit. Freedom-talk should’ve been enough for me.

But I’m grown. And I know better. So I asked for more.

I got cut off, yelled at, screamed on. The moderator tried gently to intervene, to ask the brother to let me speak, to wait his turn. To model allyship. To listen.  But to no avail. The brother kept on screaming about his commitment to women, about all he had “done for us,” about how I wasn’t going to erase his contributions.

Then he raised his over 6 foot tall, large brown body out of the chair, and deliberately slung a cup of water across my lap, leaving it to splash in my face, on the table, on my clothes, and on the gadgets I brought with me.

Damn. You knocked the hell out of that cup of water. Did you wish it were me? Or were you merely trying to let me know what you were capable of doing to a sister who didn’t shut her mouth and listen?


Left to sit there, splashes of water, mingling with the tears that I was embarrassed to let run, because you know sisters don’t cry in public, imploring him to “back up,”   to “stop yelling,” to stop using his body to intimidate me, while he continued to approach my chair menacingly,  wondering what he was going to do next, anticipating my next move, anticipating his, being transported back to past sites of my own trauma, traumas that have been especially fresh and difficult this Domestic Violence Awareness Month…

I waited for anyone to stand up, to sense that I felt afraid, to stop him, to let him know his actions were unacceptable. Our co-panelist moved her chair closer to me. It was oddly comforting.

I learned a lesson: everybody wants to have an ally, but no one wants to stand up for anybody.

Eventually three men held him back, restrained him, but not with ease. He left. I breathed. I let those tears that had been threatening fall.

Then an older Black gentleman did stand up. “I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS MALIGNING OF THE BLACK MAN…” his rant began. While waiting for him to finish, I zoned out and


Wondered what had happened here. Did this really happen here? In movement space?


Tiredness descended. And humiliation. And loneliness. And weariness. And anger at being disrespected. And embarrassment for you. And concern for you and what you must be going through – to show your ass like that. And questioning myself about what I did to cause your outburst. And checking myself for victim-blaming myself. And anger at myself for caring about you and what you must be going through. Especially since you couldn’t find space to care about me and what I must be going through.


Later, with my permission, you came in and apologized. Asked us to make future space for forgiveness. I didn’t feel forgiving that day. I don’t feel forgiving today. I know I will forgive you though. It’s necessary.

After being approached at the end by a Gary Dourdan-looking macktivist, who couldn’t be bothered to stand up to the brother screaming on me, but who was ready to “help” me “heal the traumas through my body,”  –as he put it (yes you can laugh)—I grabbed my coat and schlepped back to Jersey.

On the long train ride home, and in these days since, I have been reminded that this is not the first time that I have been subject to a man in a movement space using his size and masculinity as a threat, as a way to silence my dissent. I remembered that then as now, the brothers in the room let it happen without a word on my behalf.


Is it so incredibly difficult to show up for me – for us—when we need you? Is it so hard to believe that we need you? Is solidarity only for Black men? As for the silence of the sisters in the room, I still don’t know what to make of that. Maybe they were waiting on the brothers, just like me.

I do know I am tired. And sad. And not sure how much more I want to struggle with Black men for something so basic as counting on you to show up.

269 thoughts on “On Black Men Showing Up for Black Women at the Scene of the Crime

  1. Ugh. I’m so sorry for this changing same. But thank you for modeling an awareness that a range of responses, intellectual and emotional, are valid. I especially appreciate your noting that we can victim-blame ourselves. Yours is an important voice. Thank you for using it in all the ways you do. For as long as you are willing to do so, and within the boundaries you determine, I will accept it as the precious gift it is for me and so many others.

      1. According to online stuff promoting the event, his name is Kazembe Balagun, and he’s part of the Brecht Forum… though it’s possible it was a participant not listed in any promotional material.

  2. this is what happens when people see themselves as “just and ally.” that man did not see himself as part of the same oppression that you go through. in fact, he took his place as one of the oppressors when you had the gall to engage him in critical thought. i wrote a piece called “More Than an Ally: Internalizing the Effects of Oppression” on the For Harriet site where I discuss how being just an ally opens the door for all these assertions of power. it’s a shame that this guy became physical and no one physically stood up for you. not violently, but in turn used their bodies to stop his attack until it was going to get out of control. this is why we have to see ourselves as oppressed and fighting together. not doing each other a favor by showing up. i’m so sorry you had this experience and hope you can build relationships with various people in the future who exhibit the ‘more than an ally’ framework.

  3. I wish I had been a fly on the wall to see how that scenario played itself out. It sounds so painful and unfortunate the way the author describes it. I can point to many instances in my lifetime where I witnessed black men “not showing up.”– my mysoginist, incarcerated-for-half-my-life father; my gang-banging uncle; my wife-beating grandfather… But I can also point to several where they have– my 6th grade teacher, my college sweetheart, my brother-in-law, my husband…

    If the discussion is truly about allyship and healing and understanding, then we too as women should be careful about how we express what all “Black Men don’t do…” The same way it irks me to hear a sentence or headline begin with “Black Women Are,” (because who is anybody to tell me who I am??? I am an individual. I define Me!) I can imagine, for black men how painful it is to be repeatedly handed a flat narrative of who they are, with no acknowledgement of those who fight to be different.

    Allyship. Bottom line is, we have to be an ally to gain an ally. And it seems both sides have some valuable lessons to learn.

    1. Here is my issue with, “being careful” on how we express ourselves. I am so tired of watching how I speak, sit, and share my opinions. If men really want to be allies to the experience of Black woman, they need to REALLY hear our voices. The down and dirty voices, the angry blaming voices, the scared and tired voices. They need to hear it, ALL OF IT and not just what validates them as being good allies. Because even if we have 3 out of 10 Black men who say they are allies, there are 7 who are not. And out of those three, how many will react the way this man did when challenged?

      1. Agreed, Cyn
        its perfectly fine for us to tell our stories without a filter, North American Black Men are welcomed to vent, slander, defame, mock and degenerate us through their “music” aka rap and hip hop. I digressl

        Sister has the right to tell this story without saying … my uncle is a good NABM, etc. Heck no.

        Hit dogs hollar, this story is going to EXPLODE as BM and their SIDEKICKS flow to DEFEND THE HONOR OF NAMB… instead of saying, SORRY THAT HAPPENED TO YOU, SIS.

      2. You’ll scare away any “ally” if you’re not being understanding of them. Blaming a person born a man (didn’t chose that, did he?) for crimes toward women by other male individuals, or for patriarchy itself sounds like a childish hissy fit to me. Be an ally to them as individuals and they might continue to be an ally to your cause. if you want to say anything and be accepted for it, see a therapist. Don’t shame people for how they were born just because you view it as a privilege, especially when they’re there to HELP you and your cause.

      3. I’m sorry about what happened to the woman in the forum. It’s hard to believe yet at the same time not surprising to see a woman not defended or at least assisted in a public space where one of the men is popular and well known…No one wants to be condemned for the actions “of someone else”, but this man’s reaction proves he is in fact guilty of what the woman challenged men on…Speaking clearly and truthfully and effectively is progressive, and should be seen as progress in all circles (ideally), not as an invitation to a reactionary return to displays of male over female domination.

      4. Why is no one talking about the seven who are not? Those are the ones that need to get on board asap. I know and understand that about %50 of the male population is not morally, spiritually or scholastically ready for elevation and change. Within this personal and communal evolution is healthy love and respect for all humanity. Until then it doesn’t matter if it is a woman or a tree. If I cannot understand what it is why should I care?

      5. Sure, as soon as Black men begin, as a group, to listen to the “down and dirty voices, the angry blaming voices, the scared and tired voices” of Black women.

        That hasn’t happened yet, so I’m not sure why Black women should be expected to listen to Black men without in turn being heard.

      1. Well said.

        I’m so sorry this happened, Crunktastic. Nothing you could have said would have justified physical assault and intimidation.

    2. This piece hit me in the gut like a Mike Tyson Body Shot. And, from my seat, as a BM, who has done nothing but Loved, Respected and fought for Black Women all my life, the comment here by the Chittlin Circuit really hits home. I could and did write a 2000 word essay in an attempt to express what the above paragraph here so eloquently states…. “The same way it irks me to hear a sentence or headline begin with “Black Women Are,” (because who is anybody to tell me who I am??? I am an individual. I define Me!) I can imagine, for black men how painful it is to be repeatedly handed a flat narrative of who they are, with no acknowledgement of those who fight to be different”………. I’m a witness to this, I search, pay attention and “hold out hope’ to see 1 positive tweet or post out of a 1,000 negatives on BM, and when I do, I’ve let the Sista’s know. Whether that be via a comment or a donation to their blog. Unfortunately, since it rarely happens, it’s only a few times a month. Long story short, we do exist. Now, on a seeking allies note, and with my “add value, helping orgs. and causes grow hat on”, when potential allies pass by a space, some with open checkbooks and unlimited resources and they never, ever see a positive word, What do you think most do, they “keep it movin”. Speaking for myself, I may never see a positive word, but I don’t need to, because I have unmitigated Love and Respect for my Sista’s, so I’m not going anywhere. But others who can or are looking to be an ally, they may not get past the first look at the Timeline, and I would like another Brotha or two to join me. Thank for your patience, time and consideration. Michael

      1. Michael,

        I’m with you brotha. But I’m also one of those BM’s that avoid this blog due to titles that are usually snarky, smarmy, and down right condescending to BM’s. I typically avoid this blog altogether.

        Keep up the good fight though!


    3. Stop excusing what he did. He attacked her. He attacked her because she pointed out something he didn’t wanna hear. Those were decisions he made. You talk about black men standing up for black women but you seem perfectly happy to let one attack a black woman who points out how she’s been hurt by them.

    4. Hmmm . . . on my first read – I was thinking that this is one of those extreme case – but then again, with some of the “conscious Brothers” that I have known/associated myself with through the years I can see this.
      I would like to think that I would have reacted as an audience member. But who knows – shit happens all the time and we look back and say – “I should have done something differently.”
      If nothing – else – this is an awareness raising piece. I consider ours as a common struggle – not as an ally – or associate – but one struggle. Let my actions demonstrate that.

    5. For some years, starting at age of 18, I did and participated in “Men Against Rape [of women]” work. Then, I often referenced myself as a “womanist” (despite the stares in response), and worked aside other men in ‘Men Against Violence Against Women (MAVAW)’ educational and activism efforts. That work and the intentionality of it remains crucially important, because disproportionate violence against and the rape (and killing) of women/females still persist.

      At least in the places I showed up to do MAVAW work, not many, especially community-based, Black men were involved. It was mostly White men, with maybe an Asian, Native, or Latino male or two also present. Typically, the few other Black males involved either had a White female or male partner, or seem to feel more at-ease then me surrounded by White men who did not “see color.” I was not comfortable.

      Though I concurred with the theory, realities and premise behind MAVAW work, that violence against and the oppression of women, and the impulses and conditioning among males to impose violence should be intervened. Still, I often felt violated as a Black male in these activist circles. This predominantly White male movement did not deal with racism effectively or the excessive violations of, violence against and systemic annihilating and/or compromising attacks on Black males. Internalized racism, prevalent among the Black, Latino and Asian men involved, was also an apparently untouchable topic. Also, I had apprehensions with the wholesale, un-interrogated use of the phrase “male privilege.” I would have had no issue with the phrase “White male privilege.” But, to imply that “male privilege” was this multi-racial, all male encompassing phenomenon, I did not and do not agree with that.

      I understood that society is historically and predominately patriarchal, which can be oppressively beneficial to most males. I understood that most males have more physical strength and acculturated ability to exact violence than most females. Yet, I could not, and still cannot put my mind around, in the absolute sense, the concept of Black males in America, simply having [Black] “male privilege.” This is a nuanced issue that rarely had space allowed space for the nuance. I do not see much privilege in being the first to die prematurely, the last hired and first fired, incarcerated, legally murdered, misrepresented, homeless, begging, dismissed and compromised. That these co-factors contributed to much of the violent acting-out occurring by and between Black males often was treated as irrelevant, like racism (essentially). When I would raise these issue for consideration in engaging the spectrum of violence, it often was dismissed as my exerting male privilege and ignoring the plight of females/women.

      This perspective did not work for me, and was also a co-factor in my expanding my approach to social change and anti-oppression work. I still support the crucially important effort to bring awareness to males about to the plight of women/females. And, there is a population yet to have a movement against its defamation and demise. That is the plight of Black boys and men, a plight recently crystallized with the profiling, tracking, stalking and legally sanctioned murder of young, 100% innocent Trayvon Martin.

      I do not know who the man is that apparently disrespected the “Crunk Feminist Collective” writer/Sister telling this story. And, I regret that the apparently intimidating and aggravated Brother performed like this in public. It was unconstructive. I do believe I understand the mindset behind his dysfunction, pain and the silenced, multi-centuried context that was likely driving his frustration and rage. It is likely the same mindset that kept resulting in my being one of few Black men initially willing to address and help resolve violence toward women in the midst and wake of brutal violence toward me (Black males) still being ignored.

      No time soon will that approach to violence prevention lead to more ‘Black Men Showing Up for Black Women at the Scene of the Crime.’ And that is unfortunate.

      Cleo Manago

      1. Version with no typos:

        For some years, starting at age 18, I participated in “Men Against Rape [of women]” work. Then, I often referenced myself as a “womanist” (despite the stares in response), and worked aside other men in ‘Men Against Violence Against Women (MAVAW)’ educational and activism efforts. That work and the intentionality of it remains crucially important, because disproportionate violence against, and the rape (and killing) of women/females still persist.

        At least in the places I showed up to do MAVAW work, not many, especially community-based, Black men, were involved. It was mostly White men, with maybe an Asian, Native, or Latino male or two also present. Typically, the few other Black males involved either had a White female or male partner, or seem to feel more at-ease than me surrounded by White men who did not “see color.” I was not comfortable.

        Though I concurred with the theory, realities and premise behind MAVAW work; that violence against and the oppression of women, and the impulses and conditioning among males to impose violence should be intervened. I often felt violated as a Black male in these activist circles. This predominantly White male movement did not deal with racism effectively or the excessive violations of, violence against and systemic annihilating and/or compromising attacks on Black males. Internalized racism – prevalent among the Black, Latino and Asian men involved – was also an apparently untouchable topic. Also, I had apprehensions with the wholesale, un-interrogated use of the phrase “male privilege.” I had no issue with the phrase “White male privilege.” But, to imply that “male privilege” was this multi-racial, all male encompassing phenomenon, I did not and do not agree with that.

        I understood that society is historically and predominately patriarchal, which can be oppressively beneficial to most males. I understood that most males have more physical strength and acculturated ability to exact violence than most females. Yet, I could not, and still cannot put my mind around, in the absolute sense, the concept of Black males in America, simply having [Black] “male privilege.” This is a nuanced issue that rarely had space allowed for the nuance. I do not see much privilege in being the first to die prematurely, the last hired and first fired, incarcerated, legally murdered, misrepresented, homeless, begging, dismissed and compromised. That these co-factors contributed to much of the violent acting-out occurring by and between Black males was often treated as irrelevant, like racism (essentially). When I would raise these issue for consideration while engaging the spectrum of violence, it was dismissed as my exerting male privilege and ignoring the plight of females/women.

        This perspective did not work for me, and was also a co-factor in me expanding my approach to social change and anti-oppression work. I still support the crucially important effort to bring awareness to males about to the plight of women/females. And, there is a population yet to have a movement against its defamation and demise. That is the plight of Black boys and men, a plight recently crystallized with the profiling, tracking, stalking and legally sanctioned murder of young, 100% innocent Trayvon Martin.

        I do not know who the man is that apparently disrespected the “Crunk Feminist Collective” writer/Sister telling this story. And, I regret that the apparently intimidating and aggravated Brother performed like this in public. It was unconstructive. Yet, I do believe I understand the mindset behind his dysfunction, pain and the silenced, multi-centuried context that was likely driving his frustration and rage. It is likely the same mindset that kept resulting in my being one of few Black men initially willing to address and help resolve violence toward women in the midst and wake of brutal violence toward me (Black males) still being ignored.

        No time soon will that approach to violence prevention lead to more ‘Black Men Showing Up for Black Women at the Scene of the Crime.’ And that is unfortunate, because we should be allys against violence.

        Cleo Manago

      2. Can you generally walk down a street at night or through a dark parking lot without worrying about being abducted and raped? Without clutching your keys between your fingers just in case you have to protect yourself? Do you have to guard your drink at the bar so that no one slips you a drug? At work, do you have to be careful to not be too aggressive or outspoken for fear that people will label you a “bitch” and end up disliking you? When you get ready for work, do you have to worry about wearing enough makeup to look professional but not enough to make you look sexy/”slutty”? Do you have to worry about getting pregnant and not being able to make choices about how to deal with your own body?

        This is not an accusation, nor is it a “my life is worse than yours” competition. I know that Black males face many problems, which are very important to address. But they don’t have all the problems. And in most cases, they don’t have the problems associated with being a woman (not that addressing several aspects of gender dynamics couldn’t also help many men who are victims of violence, rape, etc).

        The point of intersectionality is realizing that no privilege trumps any other. You have a mixture of privilege based on the way you look, your financial circumstances, your family situation, education, etc. But not having one set of privileges does not preclude you from having another, either. Black Men in general are definitely at a disadvantage in US culture. But as a man you do share some privilege with other men that many women do not have. As an ally you need to own that. You need to acknowledge that there are some issues that you, personally, do not have to worry about every day of your life.

        Yes, nuance is important. Yes, intersectionality is important. But not every space has to be *about* race. Just as not every space has to be *about* gender or economic status, etc. It doesn’t mean that those issues aren’t important and shouldn’t be considered in the discussion, just that it shouldn’t be the forefront of the discussion. No discussion about justice should ever exclude a group of people from the “solution” reached/proposed, nor should it throw anyone under the bus. However, if I’m discussing justice for domestic violence victims, then I’m sorry but I don’t care about violence against black men in any context outside of the home. I’m concerned about issues inside the home and I need to make sure that the discussion is inclusive of male and female victims; gay and straight victims; adult and children victims; black, white, latin@, Asian, etc victims.

        Sure, if you want to discuss origins of violence, then the conversation becomes broader and we have to start talking about the causes of violence inside the home, which are probably linked to the causes of violence outside the home. But each space has to have a focus or else nothing will be accomplished because there are too many injustices in the world to try to pick which one is the *worst.* So find the space you want to inhabit, and when you go into another space, be respectful of their purpose without trying to push your own agenda. Be mindful of your agenda, absolutely. You represent a voice that is impacted by these discussions. But don’t change the conversation.

      3. To be quite honest your story is a perfect example of using your privilege to derail important discussions, to the issues that you deem important. THE SAME EXACT THING YOU ARE DOING HERE. This is a space where people were in discussion about a BW who was violated by a BM in a public forum on allyship. This is not a space for you to assert that BM privilege does not exist. Its not only delusional to make that assertion in this space, but also insulting to Dr. Cooper’s experience. So do yourself a favor before you assert your non-existent allyship to BW. Read the materials that were so kindly provided to you and take a seat.

  4. “As for the silence of the sisters in the room, I still don’t know what to make of that. Maybe they were waiting on the brothers, just like me.”

    I am not proud to say this, but if I had been there I probably would have been terrified. He used his man-ness and his size to intimidate and threaten, and even though I would not have been his target I would have been afraid to speak up, afraid that he would turn that gaze to me. I can look back at my own interactions with men in general and black men in particular and see where that fear comes from. And even though logically I know I probably have nothing to be afraid of and that the right thing to do is to stand up, my first reaction is to freeze and cringe and hope I’m not next.

    1. I was there. I apologize to Brittany for not showing up to the best of what I believe was my ability. I was just shocked and didn’t know what to do. I have known this man for a while–I wouldn’t call him a friend, but an acquaintance. At one point as he passed by me and started to move again towards you, I very nearly did jump up. My legs were literally twitching. But I didn’t actually move. And for that I’m sorry. I am also a survivor of domestic violence and have a lot of experience with men in my bio family using their voices and size to intimidate, threaten, and harm. I am sure that this also impacted my reaction. But in retrospect, I do feel that I could have done more, and I wish that I had.

      It is bananas how perfectly the panelist’s actions illustrated absolutely every point you were making Brittany. Afterwards, my friend said to me that she thought at first that maybe this was planned, that perhaps it was an example of some sort of guerilla performance art/theatre to depict these dynamics. I wish so much that that had been true.

    2. @ProphetessEssie, I chose not to out the offender because Brittany, the author of this post, and the person towards whom the aggression was targeted, chose not to out him. I figured there was a reason behind that and was trying to respect that.

  5. Hi,
    I very much enjoy reading your blog, and I’d like to assign parts of it as readings in my class. Do I have your permission to do so? I’m an adjunct and I teach Introduction to Women and Gender Studies at a community college in New Jersey. In your post, you mention going back to New Jersey, and this made me wonder if you could perhaps consider visiting my class or my college? Please contact me by email, I’d greatly appreciate it. Again, thank you for your honest and informative posts.

  6. I’m not going to tell you that you “shouldn’t have had to go through that”. This you already know. But “would have, should have, could have”, we could “should” ourselves to death, because things really aren’t what they ought to be, that’s why you are trying to have these discussions, to try to make life more what it ought to be, not just for you but for all black people, as well as other people of color perhaps. However, these discussions between men and women MUST take place, whether the brother likes it or not, and standing up and intimidating you, shouting and raising his voice, which I’m certain can get deeper and louder than yours, and other men stepping into the melee, or worse, staying out of it, not helping you when a man acts out in this way, such behavior is unacceptable in such an atmosphere. Whomever is the mediator of this group must, and I mean this, MUST contact him and lay out some ground rules on acceptable behavior and perhaps tell him that he is not allowed to return until certain things have been done. perhaps some anger management workshops, perhaps some other things, whatever you decide is appropriate for him, but DO NOT allow him to return without doing something to atone for this absolutely unacceptable behavior. He should pay for her dry cleaning bill. How dare he fling water, or whatever it was, on a fellow speakers clothing like that? What gives him the right to act out in such a way? Now I don’t know if she (the woman involved here) came off as sounding challenging to him in some way. That may be. But that does not give him the right to respond in this manner. You respond to a challenge by stepping up to the challenge, my brother. You don’t beat it down, you step up to it. You do not lose control. The moment you lose control, you have lost your message, whatever you were trying to impart to people. They have no longer heard what you came to tell them. Your message is gone. All that they remember of you now is an angry black man who can not control himself when a woman challenges him. That is sad, because he may have had something good to say, before he acted out on her. And then they may not have heard the good message that she brought, because they then saw her as a victim, and could not hear what she had to say, caught up in the scene that occurred. What a mess. I hope that you have a chance to go back and try again, to discuss this again with more rational people. People who may be able to explore these valuable concepts, and especially important the male-female, female-male relationship issues in black culture, which have become very complex today, and need to be discussed openly among black people, or else black women and black men will not be able to get along outside of the bedroom. Maybe not even there. And wouldn’t that be sad?

    1. #raiseshand >> All that they remember of you now is an angry black man who can not control himself when a woman challenges him << Although, i'm wondering if it was because the challenge was coming from a black woman? At any rate, you made great points Jesse, I concur.

    2. In the same breath did you just criticize his behavior (which you acknowledge may have been in response to a challenge) but not the author’s? What part of that is okay?

      1. A “challenge” is never a reason to become physically or verbally abusive towards someone. In fact, Brittany WAS challenging his words and ideology in a very real way, and he just could. not. handle. it. This is too common with male-identified people in movement work and spaces.

      2. “A “challenge” is never a reason to become physically or verbally abusive towards someone.”

        And being yelled at is never a reason for someone to feel like crying. If you want to submit people’s knee jerk emotional reactions to stimulus as being rational, you’re going to be arguing that one until the cows come home.

        “, and he just could. not. handle. it.”

        Evidently you were there AND in his head.

        “This is too common with male-identified people in movement work and spaces.”

        Sometimes, just sometimes, I like to think that someone would read what they wrote and think “hey, there’s a trend here. What can be done to work with this data rather than just declaring it an incurable problem with a massive group of people?” It never happens though.

      3. I WAS there–see my comment above from 12:36 pm. Were you? it is obvious from your other comments that you believe that men have some inherent right to not be “emasculated,” which shows how absolutely unevolved you are in your gender politics. It is not the right of any gender to not be challenged on or have to defend their words or actions.

        It’s also hilarious that you are characterizing Brittany as the one who was emotional. She did not cry until Kazembe had left the room, and good god a good portion of the audience felt like crying too, and some did. Kazembe was the one being emotional–splashing a cup of water on a co-panelist, storming out, and repeatedly yelling the words “You have no idea…You have no idea” over and over again. After getting up to leave, he even tried to come back to yell “You have no idea” some more. He truly didn’t say much more than that in the conflict. Brittany was calm and rational and was making coherent, cogent points. But she’s a woman so she’s obviously emotional, right? (sarcasm!)

        Anyway, the whole thing was filmed so you don’t have to take my word for it. Go track down the video and hunt for your evidence that Brittany was at fault somehow.

      4. Whoa wait a minute! It is NEVER ok to use your man-ness (ie height, voice, body space infrigement) to intimidate someone. And to thow water on her. What was that if not a symbol of what he would of did to her if no one was watching? I get it, people lose it sometimes, but his behavior was out of line. The author was the victim of his behavior period!

      5. what part of saying something someone doesnt like is not the same thing as physically intimidating them and throwing things at them is ok? victim blaming much?

      6. Bobzie – you might want to do some reading on the subject of validity prisms. You’ve got yours out regarding how people ‘should’ react to being yelled at and I’m going to respectfully disagree with you that crying is an inappropriate response (even though crunktastic did not react to the yelling with tears) especially when the yelling is paired with other behaviors that can be interpreted as designed to intimidate.

      7. Bobzie,

        Trying to control how a victim of aggression responds to aggression is basically one of the cornerstone of patriarchal control.

        How about you do not mistreat people so they do not have emotional reactions?

        Ever thought about that?

      8. Him not being able to prove or deal with conflict is not attacking him. If he cannot defend what he has to say without getting all emotional, he shouldn’t be speaking at all. His behavior was completely inappropriate. Do you ever see anybody else acting that way while presenting information. Stop justifying what he did. Black men need to be able to control their selves. She should of called the police.

      9. @Bobzie”Sometimes, just sometimes, I like to think that someone would read what they wrote and think “hey, there’s a trend here. What can be done to work with this data rather than just declaring it an incurable problem with a massive group of people?” It never happens though.”

        I actually think that the conversation about allyship described above, and this blog post for that matter, was an attempt to address the issue. By talking about privilege and intersectionality we can talk about abuses of power like using your size to intimidate people who disagree with you. No one is calling this incurable.
        I get the sense that you are actually suggesting that because it is a common behavior it is somehow justified, which is pretty horrifying. What if he had taken it a step further and caused physical harm. That is a pretty common behavior. Would that be justified as well? Is that simply what you get for voicing a dissenting opinion around someone larger than you?

    3. If the person is who I think it is, he is one of the facilitators of the space. Wonder what is the position/reaction of the others.

      1. Kazembe Balagun left the Brecht Forum this past summer… before we moved to Brooklyn. So he is no longer an employee of the Brecht Forum.

        Several times in the past he has “moved” on Sisters or “went off” or stormed out of meetings. The Brecht Forum Board had strongly suggested that he seek help for his periodic individualistic and ofttimes chauvinistic meltdowns. We as a board of trustees were liberal with our tolerance of his behavior… even after we have talked with him to seek some counseling because it appeared that he was working on his “snapping out/rage” issues.

        Here is the Brecht Forum’s Director’s statement which can be found on our facebook page:
        Dear all,
        As executive director of the Brecht Forum I just want to say that what happened during our Wednesday night on privilege and allies is inexcusable and indefensible. We also need to clarify that no individual on the panel is a current employee of the Brecht Forum. We are currently a one person staff and I am working diligently to process this in a way that is loving and honest.

        Since Wednesday night, along with others, I have have been and continue to be in a space of reflection, processing what happened, as are most of you I’m sure. I have reached out to all of the panelists and are in conversation with activists and other organizations to try to develop a process of moving forward in a way that allows all people in our space to feel safe while engaging in challenging conversation. It is our hope that, collectively, this can be used not only as a moment of accountability, but also as a way to deepen our understanding of how radical social change requires the recognition of trauma, healing, personal transformation, and paths by which those processes occur.

        If you are interested in playing a role in moving forward, please contact me at matt@brechtforum.org.

        With love,
        Matt Birkhold

      2. Apologies if I’m not replying to the right person – I’m trying to respond to icopeS E Anderson but there’s not a reply button specifically for that comment.

        So this guy has a known history of this kind of aggression towards women, yet The Brecht Forum keeps allowing him back into meetings and events? That may even be more fucked up than his behavior.

      3. Why was he allowed to be an employee that was able to go off “several” times on women? Why did you not get rid of him the VERY FIRST TIME?? See, this is what I’m talking about. You condoned his behavior by not coming down hard on him the first, second or even the third time. SMH. You are just as scandalous as he is in my book. If you ain’t for women, you are against us. Tolerating that nonsense shows you were more concerned about him and his feelings than the women he berated and verbally abused.

      4. OK so he is “no longer an employee”. Why was he even on a panel of that nature, in view of his past history. Sounds like a set -up at worst and negligence at best. I will no longer consider it a safe space.

      5. What he did was wrong. I do reflect on if excommunicating a person like him, does anything to curb or change his actions, or thought process that drove him to those misogynistic tantrums and assaults. Would we in effect be condemning other communities to deal with his toxic behavior. Where would it stop? Or do we simply “get rid of him” and ignore the fact that he may be going home or to another space to repeat his verbal and physical bullying. I think about this because my initial reaction was to remove him from community as well, but that doesn’t feel like the real solution. Terrible incidents like this make us deeply reflect on what is justice and how can we really break the habits of oppression that are so intensely ingrained in us. I truly don’t know what the solution is, maybe getting rid of him is the most realistic best case scenario…

  7. Damn! Sorry this happened to you. Have had such experiences in the past, though not on a panel and attempt to humiliate me in public. So much so, i try and avoid these conversations, because, many of the time, it feels like an exercise in futility with bm or wp if racism is the discussion.

  8. This is awful! I am so sorry this happened to you. I am left really sitting with thinking about the sisters-peoples not in the room, like myself: I didn’t go because of not great experiences with many of those characters (I can guess who you are talking about) but mainly because I knew the conversation would not be helpful at all to me personally. I didn’t think it would become so harmful tho; I’m shocked and outraged and I’m so sorry I guess I was wrong about that. I was happy when I saw that CFC was involved but I am so upset this happened to you and I am so sorry I wasn’t there, and as I know a few other people also made choices not to attend.

    Thank you for writing this. I hope you take lots of whatever you need and want.

  9. It sounds like this man was not so much down with the people as he was down with patriarchy and violence. He acted a natural fool. I’d like to think that people were shocked that he was behaving that way, so that is why no one jumped to defend you. But I don’t know. . . I’m just so sorry that happened to you.

  10. I’m sorry this happened to you. On the other side of that though, responsibility is a two way street. Or, better put, responsibility for what goes on must always be examined at the personal level before a person dare tell another where they erred. So, I think you and everyone you’re speaking to needs to ask some questions fo yourself and do some of the introspection you accuse black men of failing to do. That is, you need to ask yourself what about you inspires people to not want to show up for you? What about your method of presentation, your tone, your body language, or your actions inspired that response from him? Is it possible this was an individual who was a raving lunatic just waiting to blow? Absolutely! What are the chances of that versus you having done something to exacerbate the situation (whether you acknowledge that impact or not)? You talk about black men not showing up for black women. How do you think your interjection appeared to him? Here you are telling us your narrative of the black man that never shows up and here a black man is with you living out the counter-narrative of the black woman never showing up for the black man. Always derailing, challenging, impugning, and certainly failing to trust the black man to show up for them in the first place. The narrative of the black woman who has taken it upon herself to try to be both man and woman in any given interaction, to out-man the men and still be in touch with her femininity, and in the process disempower and emasculate her counterpart. If the black man that never shows up for the black woman is what you saw that night, then I think it’s a fair bet that what he saw that night was the black woman that throws on a facade of masculinity to cover her vulnerability and doesn’t know when to let it down (which, in my opinion, would be all the time). The same one that disrupts other attempts at unity, community, family, growth and empowerment.

    I hope I gave you an alternate lens with which to view the night’s events.

    1. It’s never appropriate to hold a woman responsible for a man’s aggression toward her. It should go without saying that the author should have the freedom to say what she needs to say without being interrupted, let alone physically assaulted. By shifting blame toward the author you are reproducing the kind of environment that would allow something like this to happen without anyone intervening.

      There is no possibility of unity as long as long as we continue to use violence and intimidation against women instead of actually addressing the issues they have raised.

    2. Hey—can you chill with the gaslighting and victim-blaming? Even the Brecht Forum leaders are clear that this man’s actions were out of line. If you’re here to defend violence, you’re being abusive, full stop.

      1. Questioner. He was in the wrong. I’m not debating that. Also, it would be nice if every conversation about responsibility didn’t magically transform into an issue of victim-blaming. I’m not blaming her for what happened. I’m asking that she take a moment to do what she is asking everyone else to do and evaluate what went on, what goes on, and what is going on in these types of interactions. If I act in a verbally hostile manner towards a police officer and they physically harm me, it’s in no way right, but there is responsibility to be taken in my actions. If you’re not up to investigate what role you play in the equation, you’re not really here with solving it in mind. You’re here to make them the bad guy and continue doing what you’ve always done. Thorough investigation is the only means of reaching real solutions. Get that. Full stop.

      2. replying to bobzie below, not questioner: telling that you would analogize this to a police officer. a police officer is not a comrade, they are the human representative of the state monopoly on violence. you are right–i expect violent unresasonable responses from police. nobody should have to ‘expect’ that from comrades or ask what they did wrong to deserve it. you say you are not victim blaming, yet then you do.

      3. Someone spoke of not expecting comrades to respond this way. I think that as long as we see ourselves as on the periphery to each others struggles, privilege and reclaimation of societal power will happen more times than not. I am not an ally, I am affected by oppression. The effects may be felt differently at different times, but as long as I see myself in the same fight against injustice as others, there’s no way I can treat ppl like that. I’ve been involved in movements focusing on immigration, education, gun violence, gay rights, etc. and I see us all as fighting one fight against injustice. That’s how comrades treat each other.

      4. Crunktastic take your time with the scar tissue forming over that inconsionable wounding.
        A coalition is not a home. Bernice Reagon, I believe.

    3. wow, you just don’t get it do you? You only see issues from the ‘male’ perspective and truly that is the problem here, we live in a male dominated world and although as a “ppl” we suffer racism collectively, there still exists sexist and misogynistic behavior on the part of our BLack brethren. It is this problem that a lot of our men fail to not only address, but they don’t even want to acknowledge it and those who do so, tend to be a lot more gentle with men and harsh with women.

    4. Victim blaming at it’s finest. You the type that would blame the woman if her husband beat her to death by stating, well maybe if she wouldn’t have burn those eggs she would have been alive today.

    5. It is very simple, if someone is arguing with you, the proper response is to either argue back *in kind* or say nothing at all. You don’t jump up and get in their face. Ever.

      No woman is under any obligation to be “vulnerable” to a man she doesn’t know. It’s not “masculine” to refuse that vulnerability–dude has not EARNED it, and at the rate he’s going he never will, either.

      Tell you what, he’s been ID’d in this conversation. You go take HIS behavior up with HIM. The lady he attacked (might as well call it what it is) was not guilty of any threatening behavior. NO ONE in that panel or in the audience felt threatened by her EXCEPT Idiot Boy. That should tell you where the problem really lay.

    6. Poor guy can’t take it and he did so much for women so she bears the responsibility for his aggression.

    7. With or without Crunktastic flaws, dissenting opinion and flat out disagreement is really understandable, but throwing water and insinuating violence? Why-and really? This too from a “black & left-centered radical activist” who probably claims to stand against all types of oppression including the oppression of women? There are fits of rage-and then there is straight up foolishness/madness. As for outspoken women with the courage to speak up disrupting unity, community, and other things, if the often valid POV of one side or the other is not given consideration genuine unity, community, and all of that other stuff is at best fragile/non-existent to begin with. I also wonder that if this was disagreement between two black men, two black women, him and a non-black man/woman, would some people defending “this man” give him a pass were that the case? I also wonder would the same black men complaining about the over-assertiveness of black women care if she was defending black men, calling out whites for racism, or defending an issue the black man agrees with? I am really not (at all)not aiming to flame throw/offend or anything(although I am not aiming to please either- just be honest truthfully), I am genuinely, honestly(very) curious? I do think that tone, content, and presentation should be considered in dialogue because that is simply fair, just and fulfilling “the Golden rule”, but speaking from personal observation, black men assertively in touch with their masculinity often “do not” have the best track record for tact themselves-at all. Yet few of the same type of detractors of Crunktastic, make an effort to criticize them in this matter/with the same gusto they don’t hesitate to do to Crunktastic/or other women. Some assertively male centered men that “are loose canons” also have a penchant for pointedly attempting to disempower and “defeminize(I know it is a made up word) their female counterpart; and no, NOT ALL, but A LOT of black men do this regardless of the tone, presentation, etc…of the black woman in question. Which leads me to this thought, considering that Crunktastic has probably personally experience this a lot of times, who is to say that her possibly “abrasive” response do not stem from experiencing this herself or seeing this with other women. I am not excusing uncalled for hostility when this is the case so I am not saying here response is always right/called for in every situation, I am just throwing out another angle to consider myself. I do think tone, and other things , do contribute to constructive discourse and the lack of it adds to already serious disputes, but although “I do not think women should always get a pass for being unnecessarily offensive no more than men” in cases that they may be, the burden of proof is not disproportionately on Crunktastic in this situation. IMVHO-this man shares considerable responsibility for his own response when he moved from verbal responses to throwing water and insinuating violence regardless of what or how she said it.

  11. I’m disgusted that this happened to you. Yet, not in the least bit surprised. And, I’m not surprised by a poster above who is defending this abusive behavior by telling you that you, as a black woman, should be careful about saying what “black men don’t do.”

    So, if my research is correct, the person who did this to you is Kazembe Balagun, a self-described activist. I know you want to be polite, but I believe in naming your oppressors and abusers, especially since he did this to you in a public setting. And Mr. Balagun’s partner is a white woman. So, basically, he exhibited typical behavior of so-called pro-black male activists aka negroes with ankhs.

    1. I didn’t say anything about being careful. Don’t impose what you think I said over what I actually said. i said that responsibility is a two way street and that asking people to take responsibility for their actions and reactions (like showing up for black women) is something that everyone must do if anyone is expected to do it at all. Please refrain from strawmanning people in the future.

    2. you comment made me laugh so much!

      But for real, “Negros with Ankhs” are highly invested in patriarchy and male domination. They are never our allies. And so many of them marry non-black women, while espousing to be so “pro-black”. I wish I knew of people doing academic work around deconstructing this facet of black masculinity because I’ve encountered it sooooooooo much.

    3. why do you say his partner is a white woman? As far as I know he is married to a black woman.

      In any case–i am not sure why the OP didnt want him named here. It seems the Brecht has issued an “apology” of sorts (the trauma, accountability etc sort) I guess it remains to be seen if that accountability has any meaning and if the aggressor in this situation has any plans to actually BE accountable and make restitution.

      in any case Im sorryt his happened. its sounds awful to have htat happen in public and have nobody respond in a way that would be normal and appropriate in your defense. shows the danger of politics based on the much lauded “affinity”–whoever has more friends wins! and gender and race play into that in a big way.

    4. “Kazembe Balagun is an uptown boy who enjoys subverting the downtown scene as program and outreach coordiator at the Brecht Forum/NY Marxist School. His has been featured in the New York Times, Time Out NY, UK Guardian and The Indypendent. He is also part of the Red Channels Collective and has served as a guest curator at the BAMcinemtak. He is currently at work on a long form essay, Queering the X: James Baldwin, Malcolm X and the Third World. Balagun lives in Co-Op City with his cat Jack Reed and partner Claudia Copeland.” http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/177361

      I am here with you in solidarity, sis, and had I been at this event, I would like to think I would have jumped to my feet to defend and protect you as best I could. I am disgusted and deeply saddened by the responses of this Bobzie character who continues to post in the most unfeeling and apologist ways. This person may be a troll posing as Bobzie and actually may be Kazembe himself. What a shame. What you need right now is support, not condemnation or “questioning” … you have the right to speak and to be heard. You have the right NOT to be assaulted, and that was not honored. Shame on the organizers and every. other. person. there. Shame.

    5. I agree with everything above but not a fan of the generalization and assumption in “typical behavior of so-called pro-black male activists aka negroes with ankhs.” Though it is funny I must admit.

      1. In defense of the poster above, this observation may not apply to every single conscious man or even most conscious men, but it does apply to a ” noticeable enough number of pseudo-pro-black self-styled posers,( i.e.) I mean alleged righteous teachers.”

  12. I think it’s important that Black women begin a more earnest effort to build coalitions with Black LGBTQ people, who are pretty much engaged in the same struggle for recognition and awareness. There is strength in numbers. If Black women and the LGBTQ communities join together to combat sexual violence and gendered discrimination, we won’t be so alone when confronting the Black community as a whole.

  13. So sorry this happened and so sorry there were not other to stand up for you. I believe, just for purposes of clarification, that the person referenced on the panel is no longer associated with the Brecht Forum but was a former staff member.

  14. As someone who was present and who didn’t intervene, I owe you my apology. I am deeply sorry that I kept quiet even though I had to make my hands into fists and grip my pen and glue my mouth shut, because I didn’t feel confident that my involvement would be appropriate or wanted. I’m new to community building and movement work, and I try to listen more and talk less and stay out of notice when I think that spaces are better owned by PoC, especially WoC, so I have the habit of keeping my head down, but on Wednesday that was my mistake, and it cost you, and I am so sorry.

    I wish I could take that pain off you. I was desperate for someone to help you, and when you cried, so did I. I was also feeling my own fear in the face of male anger and power, and I lost my clarity, my right priorities, in that moment. When I saw your deep honesty and vulnerability in addressing the crowd, and how competently you gave your analysis of the situation, I was afraid intervening might have communicated a lack of trust in your ability to handle the situation, and imo you did an amazing job–my friend and I had nothing but praise for you all the way to the end of our subway ride. But it came at the price of you carrying the emotional burden for every single person there, and that is not right.

    I will do better, for all of us. Thank you for your contributions to the discussion, which were so rich and dense and valuable.

  15. Typical, and so sorry that happened to you.
    I know from personal tragedy how little BM in general think of BW, my mother was elder abused then died, a sister died at a house full of BP and they left her body… for two days.


    I state it freely using my full name, the majority of Black North American men have let down BW, don’t protect them and only want to use us as mammies, mule, side-kicks… lets help a brotha! The man is holding a bruh down! Lets help a brotha… get a white girl.

    Seriously, what you wrote is the reason why I now take my BP on a person to person basis, no group loyalty, no helping a brother out, one sided loyalty is for suckas!

    I can count on one hand the number of condolances I got from BM about the elder abuse/death of my Mother.

    Miss me, bros. You’re on your own, your pain is not my pain, your ish is not my ish.

  16. I want to respect your healing practice around this situation Brittany, whatever that may mean for you. But I’m also like, why not name names? Are we not talking about Kazembe Balagun? Given his impact in certain spaces, I think accountability from him should be required (and Brittany shouldn’t be required to spearhead something like that, frankly). I’d be open to drafting an open letter if anyone is down to support that…

  17. I find it amazingly ridiculous that folks are actually blaming this woman for the actions of that man. And yes, I want to know his name, and YES, he should be held accountable for his actions. Lastly, NO, he should not be invited to anymore panel discussions, until he acts like he’s aware of his actions, and makes active steps towards fixing his attitude, and his behavior.

  18. I’ve been doing work around anti-oppression for years and years. And years. And you are absolutely right, most people are not willing to stand up for others. Even in the space you were in, assumed to be a safer space for frank conversation, this fact was glaring. People are unwilling to be challenged especially around their privilege and around their own prejudice. I am interested to see the next steps to be taken by the Brecht Forum, the organizers of the event, and community at large.

  19. The man whose conduct is being discussed here is a comrade of mine. I think he’s a beautiful and generous person, and I’m really saddened that this discussion played out this way. I hope, beyond the internet-world, that the author of this post feels supported and powerful coming out of this situation. But I also hope that the other person being discussed here comes out of this situation with a better understanding of himself and with a community that remains by his side and supportive in dealing with ways to understand and better express his frustrations moving forward. I wasn’t at the event, but if I was I’m sad to say that I haven’t yet figured out how or if I would intervene in that situation, and I hope this piece informs and emboldens my action in the future.

    1. Thanks, BM. I appreciate your comment because you model being able to see your comrade’s humanity without undermining or victim-blaming Brittney. There is indeed a way for you to hold your comrade accountable, while believing in his capacity to change and grow, and while also refusing to ask the person he harmed to do/lead that work.

      I encourage you to engage him further (in a process with others, as I’m sure is happening), because often it is our comrades who can best hold us accountable for our harmful actions and help us accept their consequences. Because of the relationship and trust you already have.

      That is a really important role in this process, and it puts the work in the hands of your comrade and his community, and not on the shoulders of those he has harmed. It also removes the onus from Brittney, who has her own process and community in which to find support and healing. Helping him to see the consequences of his actions is not Brittney’s job, but the work of his peers and community members who care. Thanks again for modeling accountability and allyship.

    2. Ask him why he acted a complete and total fool. Ask him why he was throwing water on the woman like a bitch. Ask him why he made black men look like violent animals. Ask him what the hell he was thinking or if he was thinking at all. Jam his ass up!!!

      Tell him it is men like him that give black men a bad name world over because they cannot control themselves and come across as immature, tantrum-throwing children.

      Tell him it is men like him that make black men look sub-human to people around the world, noncivilized beings who cannot have a conversation without resorting to behavior towards women that speaks of violence and hate.

      Tell him that if he ever does anything like that again, you will cut all ties because you cannot ever be associated with someone who believes that type of behavior is okay because you have sisters, you have a Mom, or daughters, or nieces and other women you love and you would kill someone that talked to and treated them in such a manner.

      That is what you need to do. All men of quality need to stand up to those who do not exhibit such traits towards black women.

      Because as long as black men treat black women in this shoddy, disrespectful manner, the black community will not grow and will continue to be decimated by violence towards women at the hands of black males.

      1. Believe me, if a woman screamed like a banshee, stood up and walked menacingly toward this black man, threw water at him, and came back for more abusive shouts, EVERYONE, male and female, would be questioning her sanity.

        I have been involved in activism for twenty years. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many scenes just like this one, to the point that I no longer am interested in collaborating with black men. The goals of black male activists, in my opinion, are not the same as ours. We want to destroy the system of racism and patriarchy. To many of these folk simply want a higher position on the continuum of oppression, where they will receive personal relief from it, and status for not being on the bottom. When you challenge the system that benefits them, they respond with the same hate and violence that slaveholders did.

        Our constant coddling, hand-wringing, and navel gazing over the uncivilized, hateful and violent behavior exhibited by black men is the biggest cause of the degeneration of the black community, period, full stop. You can’t make an ally someone who is highly invested in being more powerful than you are.

  20. I’m horrified! Women have enough wounds to heal from already! This guy’s an absolute disgrace to women of color, to black people, progressives…really just to humanity. Too many men are like him posing in public as activists but re-wounding others. In my view, he knows the rhetoric and the rules. He should’ve known that there would be penalties–for threatening you he’d be called out, ostracized, and that all the men who physically could get up would stand in his way (Certainly women could stand up as well, but if men are to be allies they need to get their as**s out of their da*n seats)! The man who sat on his ass and then wanted to “heal” you after the event’s equally disgraceful. As a black man, I’m ashamed, embarrassed and infuriated. He has NO right on any panel or in any movement. I’m saddened for you and furious at him. What’s worse is I can absolutely understand why, after incidents like this, you’d be hard-pressed to believe I mean what I say.

    Rather than just talk I’m looking this guy up, contacting him directly to tell him what he is, and will be watching out so I can do whatever is in my power to keep him from what should be safe spaces for women. I’m directly contacting the Brecht forum to demand he be suspended from membership and not allowed to be on any panels. EVER. If he was so bold to threaten you other men must be committed enough to call him out for his actions and seek concrete penalties for him treating women in this way (you can’t be the only one if he was this bold in public). If it’s going to take time for you to heal then a few months off or some BS like that is nothing.

    If, however, you or anyone else in Crunk Feminist believes I should approach this situation differently, please post here and I’ll abide by those suggestions in hopes that it’ll show support and play a modest part in your healing. Forgive me if I sound over-zealous but I want to do something concrete to help as well as say I’m sorry to hear of this madness you faced…

    1. To be clear, I meant if you need time to heal then “a few months off or some BS” for HIM is nothing, a slap on the wrist. He shouldn’t be allowed to be on panels again, period….

  21. Wow, there are no words. This is tired and old and I am so sorry you had to go through this. Being right doesn’t ever make it easy. Thanks for making sure that black freedom doesn’t ignore black women or black feminism. I am just so angry that this meant antagonism and threats and all around awful behavior.

  22. Is there a third party account of this event? Video, Audio? I ask not to question Brittany’s experience, but to make sure that this is a community issue and not framed as an issue between two individuals…

    1. Jason, please look above and you’ll see one person present at the event posted an apology for not doing more which sounds to me like it confirms the story. More importantly by asking for a “third party account” to see if it’s ‘a community issue” rather than “between two individuals” then it does read like you’re questioning this person’s experience. Her account of the story on her post should be enough if it’s about her healing.

      1. I would just love for there to be some actual transformation to come out of the harm caused. I haven’t heard anything about how to take steps to go about that. Honestly I’m a little surprised and disappointed that an entire room of “activists” witnessed this, and, from what I can tell, there has been zero action thus far.

      2. The Brecht Forum taped the whole thing (I was sitting behind the camera and the person operating it). Whether or not they’ll make the tape available is another story.

      3. lets not rush to “transform” things–the aggressor hasnt even knowledge let alone apologized etc yet. why are you putting pressure on the victim to make “something positive” come out of this? she didnt sh*t in the nest.

      4. @Lucy, I’m pressuring myself and *US*, the community that is witnessing this harm, to respond. I believe that there are ways to do that without doing further harm to Brittany, or enabling the harm perpetuated by Kazembe. Whether he has apologized or not, whether he acknowledges the harm he caused or not, he is accountable to a larger community. If WE are not invested in recovering, healing and transforming from this event, why are we even discussing it?

      5. @Jason and @Lucy, I think you’ve both made important points. @Jason I responded abrasively about the “third party account” because it’s important to believe survivors of attacks like this (but on re-reading your post I see you do). Also, I worry that sharing the video would re-traumatize. @Lucy, I value your point about not responding hastily. But how much should hinge on his apology when it’s likely he won’t apologize and, on top of that, who can believe he’s sincere if he does apologize?

      6. @jt I agree that Brittany shouldn’t be exposed to further harm, but audio/video or other documentation of the event could be useful for the broader community in terms of establishing accountability. Brittany needs the solidarity and support to heal on self determined terms, but the truth is a larger community was also harmed by kazembe’s actions. There are ways to address that without asking Brittany to risk further trauma and emotional labor.

      7. Im not saing “lets not heal” but the rush to move ahead, in my experience often becomes a rush to figure out how to make “bring the perpetrator/agressor back’ etc. In reality this incident showed that the brecht is a safe space for this one guy, and not for women particularly black women. The question to my mind is not “how do we heal, transform etc” but how do we make a safer space for WOC out of one that clearly currently is not such a space. Its particualrly disturbing to read from a board member (?) above that this has been a repeated problem, though this too is a pattern on the left when it comes to gendered violence.

      8. My thing is, I don’t want to be reactionary. There’s no reason to “wait” for kazembe’s apology or action from the Brecht forum. If we don’t do anything proactive regarding this, we are just as culpable as the spectators in the audience that did nothing.

      9. Possible Action Avenues:

        *Visible and Active support of Brittany. What would this look like in a tangible sense? A multigenerational Sisterhood Circle of love?

        * Some kind of black feminist intervention at the BC. They need accountability too. They only spoke out on this after the news broke this morning. It was two days ago. They should be pressured to do some kind of speak out/speak back/community forum. Pressure could be an email campaign, open letter or petition online. Or it could be a tumblr or hashtag campaign…

        * The BF has six week classes. They should have a six week class on the very topic of the symposium aimed at changing the culture of the organization. Not as an additional workload to drain and strain already overtaxed Black people. Of course the entire culture of the movement needs to be changed but maybe this could be a small start. Political Education.

        * Expressions of outrage directly to perpetrator.

        *A formal buddy system for those who speak out while feminist and Black.

        * Targeting support for Black grassroots feminist organizations, like Black women’s blueprint in Brooklyn, Girls for Gender Equity etc.

    2. those seem like some great suggestions. As for not waiting for his apology, I agree, but somebody who does that and isnt sorry is not somebody who should be welcome in movement spaces, IMHO. so that seems like a first step. And jason you posted elsewhere that “shaming” is counterproductive –im just wondering what accountability restitution means to you. i fear/forsee a public therapy session for the aggressor unless people do some of hte stuff M2S suggests.

      1. A “therapy session for the aggressor” is not at all what I had in mind. In fact, his presence isn’t at all needed for an accountability circle with Brecht staff, which would be an important next step IMO.
        To me, true transformation, recovery and healing needs to be for all *willing* stakeholders in an incident. While the healing space and process for any survivor must be respected, expelling and shaming a perpetuator of harm without resources or a team to hold them accountable in their recovery and restitution fulfillment (male allies, or anyone who feels they have the capacity to serve in this way) doesn’t seem restitutive, but retributive. You may as well file a lawsuit or a restraining order.

        If it turns out that kazembe acknowledges the harm he’s caused and commits to Brittany’s restorative terms great; but none of that is needed to hold the Brecht forum accountable as an institution.

      2. Every minute that the ticking clock passes is another minute that the brother has NOT accounted for himself. Given the history and deep roots of his behavior discussed above and the entrenched way the Bretch forum has given cover to it in the past then this is not a surprise. If his personal comrades are intervening behind the scenes, more power to them. Personally, I don’t want to hear about him anymore. Focus is on Brittany and the Brecht. And not just them. I am personally taking this a mandate to challenge every movement organization I am part of to have these discussions, personally and internally; and publicly. This shit has got to stop.

      3. jason–without a team to hold someone accountable, NOT expelling them seems more dangerous to me. My idea–make the space safer by keeping known agressors out, then deal with the flaws that led to this, support the victim, make a new plan. then if there are resource left over use them to facillitate whatever accountability is possible. ALL that should come before forgiving forgetting and bringing this guy back around.

  23. I feel like if I had witnessed something like this there would have been two equally loud streams of thought going through me: 1. Use my white privilege, stick up for this woman who no one is standing up for, even if it means making an ass of myself and making the male even madder. My own abusers have all been white, but have used their bodies in the same way and with the same intent, and frankly, I’m not afraid anymore. or 2. Is this a Black community issue that I have no place and/or say in? Should I mind my own business; there are others here who could help who would be better received than me. Like others who were there on this thread have mentioned, perhaps to just sit immobilized in shock would have been what actually happened. But I thank you for your account of this situation, your honesty, your bravery- because it will make me walk through this day and days to follow with an eye on myself being in situations where I can help someone. His actions are deplorable, but to not have support from an entire room of people makes me very scared indeed.

    1. While there are certain scenarios in which I (a white woman) ask myself the same question for the same reasons, I think once there is violence, or a meaningful threat of violence, it is past time to take action. (Which is not to say that it is easy to understand, especially in the heat of the moment, what the most effective action will be!) I would rather apologize later for presuming too much than apologize later at the hospital.

      I am so, so sorry this happened to you, Brittany.

    2. I have to second what Sarah E. is saying, as a black woman, the threat of violence or the use of intimidation is a moment when “allies” need to show up and show support in the moment. Full Stop.

  24. I am so sorry you had to go through that. So sorry. And I thank you for sharing. I realize this isn’t about white women having your back, but your fellow BM. As a white woman I’m not really sure how to be a [useful] part of such a conversation. Is there a way us white folk can support issues like this? Without high-jacking things? Without doing more damage?… That said, I would like to think that I would have stood up for you in that time and place. As much as I would be concerned I may be overstepping boundaries as a white women I’d rather have to defend my actions later than do nothing to intervene someone being treated like that. No one deserves to be victimized, and when they are I think anyone with the ability/opportunity to do so needs to take a stand so the person under attack doesn’t have to shoulder the abuse on their own. I’m sorry no one did that for you. It is really disappointing. No wonder you’re tired and sad.

  25. I hope you’re finding the support that is most helpful to you on and offline.

    This incident is disgusting and deeply disturbing while also not at all surprising to me, not because I know him. But because I have seen over thirty years how men respond abusively against a woman who has the courage to call one man or many men out. Or speak truth publicly about men’s lack of political support, lack of accountability, and lack of basic respect to women, all the while engaging in misogynist male-bonding bullshit. When a man isn’t taken care of emotionally by a woman, there’s usually hell to pay. Including in progressive and radical circles. But the hell to pay should be billed directly to him.

    As a white male, I feel that an appropriate response, if I were there, would have been to intervene, verbally. To say “Stop abusing her!” and “What you’re doing is fucked up and violent as hell!” I believe that not intervening when a woman of color is being abused reinforces both male and white supremacy.

    Regarding Lucy Logan’s response above: DITTO!

    The ‘healing’ comes from men stopping their own and other men’s abusive actions. The healing occurs when men call each other out on power-hoarding and privilege-protecting. The healing becomes possible when the colonial male supremacist abuse and violence ends once and for all. What men want is understanding, empathy, and forgiveness in a cycle of violence where they get to do the same old shit over and over. And where they never take the time to understand or empathise with the woman calling the guys out. Mending activist relationships founded on men’s permission to do violence against women is fucked up.

    If there’s anything I can do using my blog to support you and to assist in the effort to hold him accountable, I welcome you to let me know what would be helpful. I will pass along the link to this post to other activists so they are also aware of what went down.

    I hope no one victim-blames you. Ever again. I applaud you for challenging him. I just wish you hadn’t been so alone in doing it.

  26. This has touched me so deeply that I can barely express the emotions that it has brought up for me. But, in case I don’t get to express all of my opinions and reactions to this, I just want to say thank you! You truly spoke words that have been in my heart and it’s so important that you so eloquently expressed this experience. I pray to God that black men & women can receive and understand this. We are so broken.

  27. My dear Crunktastic, words continue to fail me in thinking about this incident. For now I’m just sending you so much love in this moment and hope you feel this outpouring of support from our crunk community as we move forward. We have your back, sis.

  28. I’m sorry that you had to go through that.

    I don’t know anything about this man in question but I wonder where such aggressiveness comes from. Sure it would be easy to just write it off as trying to oppress women (as some here have said) but I wonder if its that clear. In my early times when getting into social justice there were times when I was shut out no the basis of being male and bursting out like he did really did seem like the way to correct it (and sometimes I did, not going as far as tossing a drink mind you, just strong words).

    In my experience a common reason people don’t stand up for others is because no one would stand up for them. Maybe he thinks he had to take that agressive stance because he thought he was a lone despite being in the physical company of other people? Maybe folks in the crowd didn’t say anything because they were scared of him or maybe because he they’ve been in place (where they wanted to outburst). Not sure. (Mind you I’m not trying to say that he was right to do what he did. But until the reasons behind such behavior are unraveled progress will be slow.)

  29. Thinking about silence. The silence that Brittany had the courage and power to break publicly. The silence of the organizers, the Bretch forum. Until today, when they issued a statement, doubtlessly spurred by Brittany’s article this morning. It’s two days later. WTF. And the silence on the part of the perpetrator of this misogynistic bullying.

  30. This saddens me so much.

    I’ve been following your work for over 3 years…I watched you interview my all time idol Michelle Wallace. I know how devoted you are to healing people, unleashing people’s voice and supporting our people.

    I have recently been under such violent attack (and death threats) from Black men that the FBI had to get involved. Mine is because I married a White man. And after 2 months being attacked by Black men for that…I lashed back by cursing out Black men….which caused things to explode even worse. But I stood my ground.

    I have completely different views about our social standing and what is needed….than Black American women do. I for one think we should be building our own revolution, one that caters to Black women and the creation of a new son. So I am not one to sit with Black men and discuss “ally” and all that. Frankly, I believe that the majority (not all but the majority) of Black American men hate Black women. Fully and completely. I truly believe that. So I think we’re wasting our time trying to partner a movement/agenda with them.

    But I love you sister and I’m so sorry that you were treated this way….and had to feel that level of fear and unknowing from your own kind. It’s sick.

    I wish you so much love and continued inspiration and motivation for your work. You are doing such important work. And you are saving lives even if you don’t know that yet.

    I hope you’ll be protected and appreciated. You deserve so much praise, sister.

    Please be well and think more concisely about who your real friends and loved ones are….and how you can connect with their energy. Because a huge problem with Black American women is that they have this delusion that what **SHOULD BE**…is actually what is. And it’s not. We’re really on our own and have been for a long time.

    The Black man’s revolution that we’ve been fighting…is all about HIM and his privilege and his dream woman (who is almost never Black). It’s not really for or about us. And a big part of why it’s for or about us…is because we’re too available, too loyal, too worshipful.

    The only way to CHANGE a man….is to leave him.

    We as Black women should be off to ourselves…reinventing ourselves…and producing a NEW son.


    I truly admire your genius and your hard work …and most of all…..your heart.

    1. “Frankly, I believe that the majority (not all but the majority) of Black American men hate Black women.”

      Not sure if I would go that far, but it certainly is true that Black men put their interests above the interests of Black women. They will defend their “brothers” no matter what. Black women need to start looking out for their own interests and stop worrying so much about collaborating and working together with men who do not look out for them. I don’t differentiate between Black men who hate Black women and White men who hate Blacks as a whole.

    2. Love you Ms Kola and thank you so much. I have purchased one of your books and I hope your enjoying your newlywed status still : )

    3. I for one think we should be building our own revolution, one that caters to black women and the creation of a new son.

      I think we’re wasting our time trying to partner a movement agenda with them.

      Kola, I think you are on to something because I have felt this way for a while. I do NOT think that you are alone. More black American women seem to be coming to this too.

  31. I actually don’t go to conventions alone. Ever. I always have back up in the audience and I am well versed in the art of putting foot to ass. I am so sorry that this happened to you, though I can’t say that I am surprised. If we are ever in the same space I hereby promise back up & booze. Damn. I’m so sorry.

  32. It is still hard for me to understand how Kazembe could have acted this way. I don’t know him that well, but he has always seemed genuine and caring and committed. I didn’t witness the event and I completely believe this account and I feel terrible that the author had to endure such abuse and I think there is no excuse for it. But also I feel confused about Kazembe.

    1. It makes sense that you’d be confused. Kaz is a sweet, sensitive, and intelligent guy. I think that’s how most people who know him would describe him. But there’s this powerful anger in him too. When he gets triggered, he just flies off the handle and becomes this bullying jerk. It really is a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde sort of thing. I think this is best understood as a mental health issue, and therefore a social issue. I’m not defending his actions, which were obviously unacceptable. But we need to try to understand where this comes from. I don’t have any great insight on that; maybe others do. Best I can say is that we live in a society that produces this shit—including in our own ranks as progressives—and we have to figure out how to address it without also tearing ourselves apart and letting it create more disunity in what is already a fragmented and marginalized movement.

      1. I also know Kazembe as a sweet, compassionate, inspiring person. This article was difficult to read as someone who finds these actions unacceptable, but who also cares deeply about Kazembe. His actions weren’t okay, but we just can’t throw him out. There is nothing radical about that.

      2. Actually, throwing out one of ‘your own’ instead of using placating words would be the most radical thing that you could do for him. We’ve seen enough ‘compassion’ for men who brutalize — and the entitlement that technique brings. We have ‘supported’ enough men who use threats and actual violence to last us many centuries. Hold your own friends completely accountable, or risk being yet another hypocrite who is all talk and no walk.

      3. If the most radical thing we can do is throw Kazembe out, then forget about all the black men locked away in our prison industrial system. We’ve adopted the same logic as the state: we’re afraid — discard him. If we truly think the only way to seek justice for Brittney is to publicly ridicule or arrest (which people are suggesting) Kazembe, there is no hope for this movement.

        This conversation has a fundamentalist edge to it that’s disturbing (e.g. right and wrong ideology as more important than the humanity of everyone involved). I’m sure it comes from trauma, but it also comes from righteousness and self/other thinking that has fueled genocides. If you think you’re on the “right” side of this conversation yet you couldn’t care less about Kazembe because he is the “bad guy,” I would be afraid to live under your revolution.

      4. Damn-straight. FUCK those who have raped, robbed, beaten and screwed over the weak in their own community. Abusers are not our allies, and if you disagree, I suggest that you spend one day alone in an all-male prison block to fully understand exactly where their loyalties lie.

        Exactly what historical genocide has been perpetrated by black women? None. However, I can name several femicides both current and past, carried out by the same raciomisogynistic mentality that we find in your “sweet” endearing friend. Yes, two can play that silly game.

        The point is not labeling people, but being clear eyed about who is friend and foe. Someone who is shouting down the very cause of equality is not an ally, period. Nor are the people who continually protect and shield them from the full, complete, and appropriate cost of their actions.

      5. “If we truly think the only way to seek justice for Brittney is to publicly ridicule or arrest (which people are suggesting) Kazembe, there is no hope for this movement. “

        Not only is that not what “we” think — because you don’t speak for us all — but the fact that you come out with all that enabling language (and any psychological or communications professional will tell you that’s exactly what that is) instead of an active search for solutions to support Britney … I don’t even have any words left for that.

      6. Tumi and Sophia—I also know Kaz personally. Not all that well, but I know him nonetheless. In each setting I was in with him, he came across as sweet and caring and intelligent. But seriously? Why does any of that matter now? Can we just deal with the fact that we’ve known a guy who was serially abusive to women of color, and leave it at that? Can we focus on how we can listen to and support Brittany Cooper in this time? Can we focus on how we can hold our movement fellows accountable for their interpersonal behavior, so that violent assaults like this don’t happen again?

        Seriously—anything that focuses on healing the perpetrator rather than supporting and attending to the survivor is just more enabling of abuse. Period.

      7. Sophia every has some form of prison system. Men who rape, gang bang, molest kids, deal drugs or whatever else are in prison to protect the others in society. We cannot save everybody. It is a choice of criminals or a safe society. I am scared to live in your society where men are released from prison and free to rape, murder and do whatever. And that is what they typically do when they are released.

      8. The Questioner: Yes, we need to “deal with the fact that we’ve known a guy who was serially abusive to women of color.” Dealing with it means understanding how and why this shit shows up in our movement and among even our friends, without excusing it. That’s what I was trying to suggest. I don’t think we actually disagree.

        Meanwhile, of course we should listen to and support BC and hold comrades accountable (although I don’t support calling the cops on dude, as some are suggesting). That goes without saying. From the looks of the comments on this blog, folks definitely have her back, and that’s good to see. And I hope the BF will take the necessary steps to regain the community’s trust and continue as the critically important movement space that it has long been.

      9. He should be held accountable by the community – especially by those who were hurt. But certainly not by the violent police.

        Brittney herself felt safe enough for him to return and apologize. For people who were not there to make this out to be something it wasn’t – so as to put a really good (but apparently troubled) person’s life in jeopardy – that’s really dangerous.

      10. Sophia, I respect and applaud you for being a compassionate person. However I disagree somewhat. I may not have considered prison as the first choice, but I am not investing thought in dissenting that idea completely either because in some cases, hesitating to hold people accountable may/can be/is half the problem. Especially when some people take leniency/kindness for weakness instead of using it as an opportunity to constructively do things better next time around. In his case, it does not help that he did not catch the “hint” when he made the mistakes several times before with the anger management suggestion. I am a “firm” believer in root causes .I personally think many problems are as much systemic as individual.I too think solutions are better solved when you look at the big picture instead of just the little picture, and I do think that most/many people(at the least) are not beyond redemption/hope. But I can not kid myself.”At times” in “certain noticeable instances”(again certain instances)-swift/tough disciple -at least in the short term- is the way to go because there are some individuals-often a small percentage-that will not be saved or will not be helped for the better until they learn the hard way.In those cases, kindness/leniency can be unfortunately enabling by default-and the sad thing is that it is seen that way by them even if you-the helper- don’t personally. A slap on the risk don’t always help with these types of people because in certain cases, the aggressor don’t respect the target because they benefit from having an upper hand over the target; often don’t like the target and,if you have less power/influence the aggressor have a sense of entitlement/superiority because they see the target as beneath them. So coddling don’t get results, tough love and iron discipline does. Now you do have a point about fundamentalist types. They do have a penchant for punishment without any constructive help ever, because a lot of them don’t understand/care enough to help people so I don’t blindly endorse much of what they say. But in having a altruistic group-centered view, I think progressive folks at times do themselves a partial disservice when they offer a slap on the wrist to people who while they also need/could use some wound patching up along with a helping hand in the near future often could stand to use a punch in the face/a swift kick in the head in the immediate present. I am rambling so I will stop here.

  33. My feeling towards the Angry Water Throwing KneeGrow is the same thing I feel towards everyone who stood aside and watched it all go down: You either with me or against me. Either we are rowing in the same boat towards a common destination of equality, respect and communal strength OR we are not. No half stepping. No half hearted attempt at being the ‘good guy’. Your good ain’t no good if it does not include doing the right thing in situations such as the one you experienced. This Angry Water Throwing KneeGrow knows that Black men back each other….that the Brothahood is far more important than Blackness. The moment you and any other Black woman takes a stand you stand alone…go in with your strength ready to protect yourself….weariness is real BUT every present adversaries are also at the ready. I am sorry you experienced this…just reading it makes me sad….but not surprised. This is the fruit of rhetoric that so much of Black America has lived that makes it clear….Black women are Black first, women a distant second…and when you deviate from that there will be hell to pay.

    1. Thank you, i am pissed at those who saw this go down and sat on their hands, men and women alike. Bawled like a baby when the old man joined in the denial and attack, just sad beyond words. Smfh

  34. I was there and spoke to you briefly afterward. I was the person who commented on how familiar this kind of incident is across communities I belong to. Such a familiar pattern of defensiveness upholding privilege and cutting off the possibility of reconciliation. I experienced it as a young, working class feminist woman in elitist activist communities, as a person of color among white so-called progressives, as a queer person among straight and narrow-minded folks, and now as a trans person among cisgender-privileged folks, and a disabled person working in communities that pathologize and demean my body.

    I wish we could find space to recognize that privilege is intersectional and dynamic, as much as identity can be. That it requires more than a single static assessment to achieve a liberatory foundation. That it means being pushed sometimes – and that if one truly believes in a more just world for all of us, then one understands that it’s a gift to get our privilege challenged by someone who we’ve hurt without expecting forgiveness. That’s accountability.

    Thank you for your grace and your challenge.

  35. This is horrible. Not just the events that transpired but some of the comments here as well. I think there is also some room in this conversation to talk about how much we expect Black women to coerce and massage allies into allyship. The result is that Black women are routinely relegated to bosom management rather than truly being considered on equal terms as respectable human beings. If Black women fail to do this, they are somehow causing negative reactions, forcing people to not be allies with them. I ain’t used the word mammy yet, but… mammy. I’m sorry as hell that this was your experience. But on the real, tough titty no milk to the haters.

  36. I am so sorry to hear this, but as some of us have been saying for a while now…theres just no changing stupid. I commend you for continuing to participate in “discussions” about black unity and collective thought even though I truly believe it to be a waste of valuable time for a progressive Black women. But really what can I say? This type of attitude is one that is rampant in many BM, I went thru something similar at a friends house last year, when I dared talk about a BWs “issues” and DARED to mention sexism amoungst BM in the BC… I too was attacked. And Yes, one male even tried the physical intimidation tactic as well in order to shut me down, but I stood my ground and even became physically threatening as well (I’m 5’8 so it came off well! lol!). That was the last time I thought to discuss the subject with Black men. I am off doing productive, meaningful projects now and I am around persons that appreciate me and my opinions. Needless to say, they are not Black males. It is what it is Sister, leave it alone and find your own space. We are here and support you. Isn’t there a saying: Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door?”

  37. Hi there. I was appalled to hear about this happening and I am disgusted with the room full of “progressives” who apparently were too paralyzed by this man’s superpowers (?) to intervene on your behalf. Please let me know if I can be of help.

  38. I’m sorry that you had to deal with that shit and that at that moment and even seemingly now peeps didn’t have your back. Because of similar experiences I also avoid going into spaces unless I have people with me that I know will step up and many times my dear friends have. But fuck, the fact that this shit happened makes me angry and I’m even more angered that just as this has happened in the past it will probably happen again until people and organizations do some serious ass work

  39. Oh if only I had been there. I love a fight. I love protecting women. I fight like a boxer – I throw deadly punches in places that count. And I would have bum rushed the stage and knocked the fugg out of him had he touched you. Threaten all you want to black fool, come any closer you will be looking up from the floor wondering what happened. These guys are cowards. Throwing water? That is a bish move. Straight estrogenic. But I run into these types online every day. They want total control of all that is black, all that is female, and cannot stand that a black woman has a controverting opinion. In their little lizard brains, a woman who does not agree with them is viewed as a threat, a challenge to their manhood, emasculating. Since she does not submit you see.

    If he damaged any of your equipment, I would suggest that you file a claim in small claims court of NY for the full retail value of said equipment. The fact that you have the transgression on video would remove any and all defense he might have. With a judgment you can garnish his wages and/or attach any real property or bank accounts he may have until the judgment is satisfied. That would show him that he best learn how to act.

    Fight on sistah.

    1. I love our attitude! Maybe turning 50 did something to me, but I agree more and more with your way of thinking.

      Question, though: why do you use terms like “bitch” and “estrogenic” to degrade something? To me it sounds like you are using so-called womanly characteristics as something bad. Lke there’s nothing worse than doing something like a woman would do it.

      1. You know me by another name on your blog where I’ve commented (and in other spaces where we both have).

        I too had a problem with Deborah’s phrasing, but as another WOC I not only think I have a better understanding of why she said what she said how she said it than you might – but I also really think if you think critiquing her language is the most important thing you could be doing here, then your focus is seriously misplaced (and that’s the most “civilized” way I can think of to put it).

        You have more nerve than an aching tooth as a white woman coming in here to chastise her, but not offering any concrete ideas whatsoever as to how Crunk can be supported in the wake of this incident.

        What happened to the Women Back Each Other Up project? The BackUp Ribbon Project? All those ideas – and people – that came pouring out of the woodwork to support Genevieve Valentine after her ordeal at Readercon? Weren’t you one of the most vocal and creative commenters on remedial steps to be taken following that mess of an Open Source Boob Project?

        All those things had to do with actively combatting the harassment of women by men. Irrespective of the color of either.

        Where are all those bright ideas now?

        I want to suggest that you refocus. The sooner the better.

      2. “What happened to the Women Back Each Other Up project? The BackUp Ribbon Project? All those ideas – and people – that came pouring out of the woodwork to support Genevieve Valentine after her ordeal at Readercon? Weren’t you one of the most vocal and creative commenters on remedial steps to be taken following that mess of an Open Source Boob Project?”

        You have me confused with someone else. I am not familiar with what you are talking about. i do not have a blog.

        And not denigrating ourselves, or other women, IS one way to support all women, including Crunk, who are harassed, abused, or otherwise treated badly by men. If we use men’s denigrating language to describe ourselves, then on some level we agree with them about what we “deserve” as women.

        I don’t use gendered slurs. I wish other women wouldn’t, either. It’s not “supportive” to do so.

  40. I am genuinely sorry to hear about your experience and pain. I think sharing it was brave and important and hope that the duress and triggering that this has caused for you heals soon. I am disgusted with whomever this person is and they know nothing of radical love or even solidarity or even basic respect.

  41. *GASP* I am soooo sorry this happened to you. This is…. unbelievable to and totally believable at the same time, I’m stunned and disgusted. ((HUGS)) I… *hugs you tighter*

  42. I’m amused at the amount of white women around the ‘net who are offering their sympathy when they did not offer their help. “What should I have done, as a white woman, while this black woman was being attacked?” Not “What should I have done as a woman…” or “…as a small woman…” or “…as a bystander…” but “…as a WHITE woman?” Well, if you considered Brittney to be a real, actual woman – which means you consider black women to be human beings as opposed to sassy caricatures – you wouldn’t have to ask yourself that dumb ass question.

    Brittney, is there any way you could press charges for assault (if you wanted to, that is)? I don’t care if it was just water – a message needs to be made that this won’t be tolerated. If your allies aren’t up to the task, maybe the law will be.

    1. I don’t think it’s a dumbass question. I can’t pretend that the dynamics of my interactions with black women aren’t colored by our different races. I do not want to presume to act or speak for a black woman who is perfectly capable of acting or speaking for herself. Nor do I want to appear to be attempting to exert authority over a space for black people based on my white skin. It can be difficult at times to decide whether my intervention in a tense situation would be seen as welcome support or as hijacking. In this situation, I think the answer is clear (both from my own judgment and from the message of the post), but it’s not always.

      Obviously, how a white woman would have felt/what she should have done should not be the center of the discussion here. What happened should be. But there seems to be a substantial discussion going on around that, and thus probably room for a thread or two on this point: that is, how SHOULD an ally best respond in this situation? There may actually be a different answer for other black men, for white women, for white men, etc. If the author prefers, of course, it can be shut down…

      1. You need to take a step back and think about what you are saying….The threat of violence or physical intimidation from a man toward a woman is never acceptable in any circumstance, and as a HUMAN BEING you should have felt compelled to act if you do in fact see that woman as a human being. Couching this in terms of “well I’m a white woman, is that appropriate for me to respond?” is hugely problematic and not how a true ally would conduct themselves. This was a forum on allyship for christ sakes!! I’m done.

      2. I don’t get it, Sarah. Along the same lines as Jeanine’s comment: Black, white, male, female, trans, cis: if I’m a person in the room, and I see someone being abused, I intervene, if I care. I do what I can do, given my own limitations, strengths, privileges, and experiences of trauma and resistance. I invite you to respond at a new blog post I just put up here: http://radicalprofeminist.blogspot.com/2013/10/why-do-some-white-folks-ask-what-we.html

      3. Jeanine, Julian: if you read my comment higher up on the page, as well as what I said here (“In this situation, I think the answer is clear”), I think you will see that I agree that this situation was well past the point at which intervention would be called for. Violence should never be tolerated. What happened here was appalling (and saddening), and I hope that I would have had the courage to stand up if I had been there. But not every situation is as clear as this one. I could give examples but I don’t want to divert the conversation completely.

      4. Hi Sarah,

        I appreciate this: “I would rather apologize later for presuming too much than apologize later at the hospital.” And also I do hear your assertion that this situation was clear for you, in terms of how to respond. I guess it was the other stuff you said, in the context of this post about this situation that threw me off. But I also here you owning that as potentially problematic.

        Again, I invite you to discuss this further on my blog, as doing so here I think would become inappropriately off-topic or at least beside the point. And if I’ve misrepresented you there, I will certainly correct what I’ve said and also give you space to state your own views. (A Radical Profeminist blog.)

    2. No, they are wondering if they should intervene. But nobody intervened at all on her behalf. Let’s not shift the blame. The question is why didn’t the black men do anything? Are white women expected to tackle the black man down. What could a white woman do? Why do you expect white women to protect black women?

      1. anyone at all could have stood up and said “what you’re doing right now is unacceptable. stop it. leave and collect yourself and dont come back.” i get why that might be scary, but someone could have.

    3. “As a white woman”… THIS.

      Also to my fellow white women, why why WHY do you think this post is your teachable moment to learn something from? Not everything is about us. Please stop.

      1. f.—-I’m having a hard time with your comment. Yes, I’m a white woman, and yes, I am using this post, and all the comments, as a teachable moment which I may learn something from. Because, I am working to become an ally, and I have been told over and over again by WOC that I is MY RESPONSIBILITY to EDUCATE MYSELF about my privilege and the myriad ways it is used to oppress others. So, I read, and I listen, and I try to analyze situations like this. Without making it all about me, I think I can still question, and learn from others, and think a lot about what my role is/could have been/should be in standing up to violence against other women.

        No one, really, except the original poster, has said anything about the other panelist, who was apparently a white woman. I have been trying to put myself in her shoes, and all I can come up with is that I think I would have been able to do what she did, which was to move my chair closer to Brittany, or maybe even encourage her to move physically away from the situation. But I’m not at all sure I would have been able to step in any closer and protect her physically, partly because I am scared shitless of violent men in close proximity (and I kind of believe that all men have it in them to be violent.) But also because of what Sarah E. said, that I am leery, as a white woman, of making a personal judgement about what my sisters of color need for their own protection. I tried, once, to stand up as an ally in a situation where the audience was mostly white, to protest what I heard as racist language. I was (no big surprise) completely shot/shut down by the white women, but I got no response or reaction one way or another from the few women of color who were present. So, I had no real idea whether my actions were appropriate or not, in terms of my demanding that this occasion be a “safe” one for all present. So now, I tend to keep reading and listening and learning as much as possible, but haven’t really been able to figure out the best way to put my knowledge and feelings into action. I certainly would have been interested in hearing what the white woman on that panel had to say about the original topic (as well as about what transpired.) I wonder if she even got a chance to say anything?

  43. Thank you so much for your honesty and courage. I wasn’t there, but I’m guessing if i had, I would have sat there scared and silent.

    So i’ve been sitting here visualizing what I could/will do in the future. Maybe stand up and say “this is not ok, your behaviour is not ok”, maybe say “you need to leave”, there are so many different ways to respond. But I think it’s important for all of us to take this generous sharing and seriously think about what we will do with it.

    So although my instincts would be to shrink down, try to be invisible, I hope that my practicing/visualizing will mean that I will remember words, that I will jump up, because this will definitely happen again in my life and I hope that I/we will stand with you/us.

    1. Yes. Sometimes you have to jump out of spectatorship, out of your academic headspace and just do something/anything. Shove that person out of the way of the moving bus. It was that serious.

      Simply standing up in the audience. Or booing. Or yelling. Or singing. Or stomping feet or clapping. Or going to stand/sit next to Brittany. Whatever it took to disrupt. I can understand why some people felt frozen in the moment but for the whole audience of movement people to do nothing that was visible/tangible/disruptive of the power dynamics of that moment is hard for me to swallow.

      I’m thinking about Fannie Lou Hamer raising a freedom song in the face of her abusers. I’m not saying it’s easy. Visualizing, practicing and steeling yourself may indeed help. Damn shame to have that armor on in movement spaces but that is where we are. It’s necessary. Otherwise, damn. Where is our humanity?

  44. BC you continue to inspire many to speak up and not be silent bystanders. You could have carried this on your own but you took a public issue and made it more public for others to grow from it. Thanks for shining light even when it made you vulnerable and if nothing else standing up for yourself to let him and others know his shallow thinking and quick temper are not going to be tolerated. I’ve given you personal virtual hugs, now for the grand public hoodie stance “I got ya back BC”.

  45. Its the state of our black people that has led us this way. We have been condition as a society to hate our black sisters, and our black brothers. You hear it in our songs we glorify riches even though our audience is lower class. We degrade women in our music even though we love you. The powers that be have brain washed us to fight one another. Black women separate themselves from black men all the time. How many times have women saw a handsome well-dressed, polished, intelligent black guy and thought he was gay. A gay man is the lowest of the low. So off top before you even get to know that guy you are thinking he is gay, so what women would want to associate with someone like that. How many times have black men saw a women with a nice figure, graceful, pretty, and eloquent and said man all I am trying to do is f-ck this b-tch! Black men will degrade, disrespect, abuse and take advantage of our young black sisters just to make themselves feel like somebody. We are doing it to our selves! I think the forum should have been more about finding solutions to our problems, rather than complaining about them.

    1. Nice of you to derail a thread about men’s violence against women with some tired comment about interracial dating.

  46. This is assault. If black men(or any men) conduct their selves this way call the police. If they put handcups on him or he was all over the news for assault. He would think twice before throwing water on someone else. She can still call the police on this negro.

  47. This is typical. Attack of a black woman is basically not considered a crime, and not even WE give a damn when it happens. And these same men sitting there watching this happen to this woman, SEEING it happen and not give a damn, are the same men who are going to ask you to fight on their behalf over what some phantom white man that they haven’t met might be thinking of them. If you were a white woman, I PROMISE you, GUARANTEE you, and will BET MONEY that these same men would have seen a crime and would have beat him down before he could run to the door….. and that’s if he would have had the nerve to disrespect you at all.

  48. Deep…

    Unfortunately, I can relate, all too well.

    Could it be that we (black america, BA) are so quick to protect the ego of the black man, sometimes, that we do it at the cost of the dreams, hopes, security and empowerment of the black woman?

    Could it be that we (BA) are hyper-sensitive to the perceived elevation of the black woman by white america over black men that we use that as justification for the anger that black men express towards us when we dare speak our minds?

    The emotional dressing down and resulting spiritual cowering at the aggression expressed by black men seeking to shut you up because you dare to assert your opinion is so demoralizing.

    The manipulation and wheeling and dealing done to diminish the character of a “lesser” important female so to protect the power (perceived or real) of the black man is justified by looking at the bigger picture, the grander scheme, is profoundly belittling

    Enduring all of this and not having anyone come to your defense when you are at this weak place is so harshly isolating.

    Could it be that our humanity is carelessly disregarded at the cost of the black man’s need to have a higher self esteem, that is so badly damaged by a system that depends on their choice to fail?

    Could it be that we are so tired of not being protected, by some, that we now fight so desperately to protect ourselves?

    Could this be the motivation for caricature of the angry, independent black woman that black men ridicule and deplore?

    Also, could the sacrificial actions of the black mother play a part? Where we pander to our sons, sacrificing self to provide for a lack of a male presence in both of our lives – that then puts the consideration in their minds that ALL black women should then sacrifice self for the sake of the all important, and “woefully” neglected black man?

    I ask these questions out of a deep seated frustration to dealing with the condescension felt when I express what I personally witness as not being as “serious” as I make it out to be… and being told to suck it up and get over it, that because I am a black woman – I just don’t understand what it means to be a black man.

  49. Since I have seen this ‘wilding out’ behavior too many times by black male activists (who, strangely enough, can somehow can hold their temper when the offending party is another male) I have given much thought to what I would do in these situations.

    When I was a young girl in college, I too, sat frozen in fear when a BM screamed himself hoarse two inches into the face of a young woman who disagreed with his unassailable, exalted opinion concerning the ‘black woman’s role’ in ‘the movement’. I was deeply angry with myself over my own cowardice and vowed to do differently in the future.

    The following year, I witnessed a young man physically beating his girlfriend senseless in the MIDDLE OF THE STREET on campus. My ‘enlightened’ boyfriend who actually had the nerve to call himself a feminist, physically restrained me from calling the cops — claiming that it ‘wasn’t our business’. That was my wake-up call that the statement ‘bros before hoes’ was not some catchy joke, but a real thing.

    I’m now a licensed gun owner. I do NOT play with aggressive men. I am sorry that I was not there. I would have called the police, and stood behind the author with a no-nonsense look and my hand on my holster until they got there. That is what an ally does. Intervention requires forethought — most people must plan on what they are willing to do in situations that require an immediate response. The LEAST that people should have done is called 911.

    1. Agree 100%. I have to say I hate the “police are agents of the repressive state, they should not be involved in our affairs” line that is thrown out by some men when women are being beat senseless. Communities sometimes do defend men and women from violence but not enough. Hell, if in this example the community at the BC defended her, things would have been “resolved”, in a limited sense anyway.

  50. I do not want to excuse this asshole’s actions, but I want to explore a different perspective. What it sounded like–just from the only source I have–is that he caught feelings because his place in “The Movement” was called into question, no matter how minutely. Our revolutionary spaces have become objects that need to be protected and maintained, instead of places of generative thought and action. So, in these so-caled movements, folks get elevated into positions of power and influence and believe that they should never be questioned. If we decentralized this shit, stop putting it in display; concretizing it to the point where the once fluid idea of movement has become a spectacle, maybe this shit will cease. I believe that every single person (man or woman) who allowed this cat the space and endorsement to believe that he was somehow ‘greater than’ is just as responsible for his actions as he is. We have to steer away from the pseudo-glamour of the movement/revolution/change and remake it into the labor intensive COMMUNITY ACTION it is meant to be.

  51. Brittney how unfortunate that you had to experience that. My heart goes out to you.Some black men voice their love for black women, their understanding of us, their appreciation for all we do. Yet ,when it comes down to it they are intimidated when we voice our opinion
    when it is not what they want to hear. It’s their issue. Not yours. However you had to feel the brunt of his insecurities. Stay strong.

  52. This is heartbreaking even as it’s unsurprising. I’m ashamed that this happened in what was supposed to be an honest discussion about allyship in a progressive space, but it just goes to show how dirty our own hands are. As always I’m in deep awe and appreciation of your transparency. And while it should not always be on sisters to create defensive actions, you and other women who speak truth to power do deserve to be supported and protected. Perhaps we need to organize a roaming defense council so that we roll deep for one another to prevent and check such abuse at live events. In the meantime, I’m sending you much love.

  53. This experience further proves that black women are on their own. Nobody is there to defend, or come to the aid of those bw in trouble and in need. I knew this a long time ago, which is why I don’t expect much from any man; black, white, latin, asian, whatever…
    Sistas, get in where you can fit in, on an individual basis…just cuz we ‘share something’ in terms of skin color, sexual organs, etc., don’t mean that we’re automatically allies.

  54. OK. I don’t know you people, but the dude in question is damaging the hell out of your cause. He should be shunned for that reason alone. It is my experience and observation that black men do not consider black women’s opinions, perspectives, analyses, experiences, or intellect as having any value unless they serve the black man’s interest and ego. To all else they are patronizing or dismissive, at best; violently antagonistic, at worst, as apparently was demonstrated at this forum.

    You were assaulted. I hope you’re doing what you need to do to restore your peace of mind.

  55. I’m sorry this happened to you. When the old man stood up I cried. I’ve seen this happen too many times in too many ways. We need to have responses as communities and above and beyond all else we cannot tolerate this behaviour any longer. I’m strengthened by your bravery in speaking out and I thank you for that and I am so sorry no one fought your corner, sister.

    1. Same, i thought i was the only one who burst in to tears, i was almost hopeful that he was about to tell the guy off. Instead he joined the jump on her. I cried as i have felt all of it before.

  56. Your account and some of the comments of the other black women in attendance really did affect me and other women that I shared this post with. There are some black women that have left the idea of being an activist in the black collective years ago because of what you were trying to share at that forum.

    The man that assaulted and intimidated you is not a rare find in the black community and just proved your point. Not only did he prove it but, so did the whole audience by their lack of response. The black women afraid with you were victims to the Blackistan(broken black American mindset) system that you were referencing.

    Interesting that this was acted out like a manual for everything you were bringing that night. Many of us black women are looking at the black collective as the hoax it has been for a long time. It essentially is for the benefit of black men.

    Meanwhile, those that watched him, that weren’t part of the system that Black women and men are used to, also proved what our worth is to them from a non black perspective. if they aren’t used to people assaulting women, as I am assuming is the case, why in the world was the response non existent for a woman panelist that is black? It makes me think of the poignant words of “Ain’t I A Woman”. Sigh…..I can’t…I am about to get upset all over again. Hugs to you and the women there that night.

    1. I am one of those women who left “Blackistan” once I fully realized that my humanity was slated to be sacrificed on the altar of black male empowerment by many so called ‘activists’ (male and female).

      I do think that it’s really important to recognize that three men did intervene, (perhaps late in the game). This fact should not be erased from the dialogue. I do not know who they were, but by the title of the post, I doubt that they were so called ‘brothers’ in the struggle. I would really like to hear their account, how they processed things, and what made them stand when others wouldn’t.

      1. Glad you and other black women are finding their way to safety and higher ground.

        I did see see her mention of their intervention. Late in the game, as she described, could have been the difference between a glass of water and a fist.

        Not being there, and from her description, I took it as she still felt she really wasn’t protected until the damage was done and that she might have endured more if he chose to inflict more of his anger. Even one of the ladies that commented here made it sound like there was ample time for another type of assault to occur and was fearful herself.

        I may be wrong in reading her wording in the last statements she made that very much sound like Dr. Cooper was still wondering who valued or was interested in her safety even after the three stepped up.

  57. I really think this whole thing was a set -up, to trivialize and make Black feminist women look crazy or bad. Why else would someone with his history be put on such a panel, if not to provoke some craziness?

    1. Good point. Somebody out there is laughing and amusing themselves at BW constantly putting the lives on the line simply for exercising their freedom of speech. Which is why BW must vet, vet, VET all people they deal with on a regular and on an occasional basis. Not just their romantic partners but all so-called friends or “allies” man, woman, white, black, Asian, Latino/a, Native American/First Nations, gay, straight, bi, trans, cis, old, young, rich, poor, atheist, “believer”, alive or dead! Screen these people out as much as possible to avoid their toxicity!

  58. He shouldn’t have even been invited given his history. Security should of been hired given the history of how men can react in environments like this. Security should be utilized quickly during situations. Too much placating to the feelings of men. I hate allies. But if you feel you must have him I would ask of you to recognize the fact that men who do not feel comfortable in spaces where they’ll be thrown out when they verbally abusive (and by this account) damn near assault Black women then you should feel happy they don’t feel comfortable and don’t come. You do not need those people. They are poisonous and WILL infect other members of your safe places/communities until it rots.

    There needs to be a higher standard than simply “being there”.

  59. Hold up! You just sat there after a dude poured water on you and you didn’t defend yourself? No mace, spray, no knife, no taser. Pssssttt…you’re crazy! I wish a motherfucker would…

  60. Girl, what?

    That’s the response I am left with. I’m so sorry this happened to you and I hate that it isn’t uncommon. Too many stories and too many times I’ve seen this power play happen at these kinds of panels, which is why I now avoid them. My “Iwishamuthafuckawould” gene activates, and well…that becomes problematic.

    I know how I would have responded because I’ve had to respond in similar ways in other settings. I’ve stood up, yelled back, approached, and moved in on people who have intimidated panelists in similar ways. I understand that I have a certain stature that’s equally intimidating and I generally leave all of my fucks at home, so there’s that.

    I’m interested in his future appearances, as I’d like to see if he can handle himself against someone he’d likely never encountered before. I totally understand why some women don’t respond; past trauma is paralyzing. I don’t understand how anyone can ever justify someone intimidating someone else in any way. Bullying is horrible, no matter WHO does it.

    Some of us are willing to take the L to stand up for others and we got ya back.

  61. Whats ultimately bothersome is overlooking the fact that this was a Black man and you a Black woman was that NO ONE stepped up to shut that down..The whole room should’ve been outraged.. Everyone witnessing this should’ve stood up, made noise, stepped forward and expressed zero tolerance to thuggish behavior.. That says to me they didn’t see you as a fellow human being.. and thats more painful..

  62. A silly forum with no concrete goals featuring smug speakers “debating” about issue that don’t reflect any reality on the ground. What ever could go wrong?

  63. For people here excusing his behavior here, I say this…if he disagreed with her he had other options for stating this clearly and honestly without resorting to violence and intimidation. Sure we all have blind spots and lessons to learn but we menfolk especially cannot afford to create idealized visions of ourselves in our heads without real feedback from those around us…not unless we want to be self-alienated plus building off such dishonesty or unreality leaves us hobbled in our learnings paths ( hopefully on the way to being mature, loving and authentic men). Terror is inculcated in the brain of young boys in Patriarchy at such a young age that most of us ( think fathers slapping 4 year old boys to make them “stop being a little b—h” kind of violence) divorce that part of ourself. At root, it is this old humiliation that creates the most danger for those who get close to us or who need to have us hear feedback we feel threatened by. Real maturity means acknowledging our strengths and where we have failed others too…and it allows us to reclaim our authenticity…rather than be hijacked by our own terrors into perpetuating yet more violence. We have to go back and find still whole little boy inside we left behind and acknowledge the pain and terror we could not name or process in the shadow of our father and patriarchy…only then can we be truly safe allies!

    Sorry you violenced upon Sister.

  64. So you don’t think it’s racist to make negative stereotypes about “black men” and talk about how you’re threatened by a “big brown body”? And yeah, a bourgeois black woman can be racist against blacks.

    1. @karennovotny: I don’t care if she (or he) was a flaming racist. Violence and intimidation is NOT acceptable behavior towards one who happens to have a difference of opinion to you, it is NOT the professional and adult reaction to simple debatable differences in opinion, it should NOT be considered acceptable behavior at a professional forum, AND it is quite possibly an attack that warrants a chargeable offense with the approprate law department.

  65. I’m a Black woman. And I hate when other Black people hold long-winded conversations trying to analyze/rationalize/explain why a violent jerk acted like a violent jerk. I don’t understand all these long-winded posts, when really all that needs to be said is that he was an unprofessional jackass that should have had his ass handed to him by everyone in that room – particularly the organizers of said event – and then kicked the hell OUT of that panel.

    There will always be ideas and concepts that panelists disagree with – vehemently so. Doesn’t give them the right (morally or LEGALLY) to in any way intimidate or attack.

    This Brecht Forum sounds like an unprofessional and GHETTO forum (and possibly racist forum) that needs to be called out, have the whistle blown. If the organizers of Brecht took a cavalier attitude to the actions you described, then they are not adequately professional, intelligent or concerned enough with the safety of their guests. Personally, I would never bother with such a body again.

  66. And Janice Palmer had it right! I wish a “muthafuckawould”! I might add that I also “wish a so-called professional forum would” stand back and allow this type of treatment of one of their guest panelists. Reeks of unprofessionalism, and the acceptance of bad behavior during it’s programs.

  67. I must say that I am amazed at the amount of hate I’ve seen strewn across this blog. Some of the responses have been truly helpful, but far too many are concerned with lumping black men into a particular category and spewing venom at a people that many here seem uncomfortable with seeing as human.

    IMO, this energy would be better served helping people develop spaces where they can work to heal themselves from the universal pain that is life. Until we work from a place of love and empathy, folk will continue to come onto internet blogs and complain about being assaulted, even as their work created the very environment for that assault.

    *flamesuit on*

    1. Some of the responses have been truly helpful, but far too many are concerned with lumping black men into a particular category and spewing venom at a people that many here seem uncomfortable with seeing as human.

      Forgive me if I might be misreading you but if I am not, did Kazumbe? respect the “humanity” of Crunk tastic when he threw water on her and threatened violence? If I am not missing anything, where “is” the “love and empathy” in that? If I am not misreading you if a progressive space that aims to consider racial, class, and gender issues is not the place to have any say about issues concerning women, what space is there for that?

      I am “no fan” of the stereotyping of black men at all, and “I particularly detest when black men as a group are used to bash the black community as a whole.” I do feel that non-blacks do underhanded things towards black men. But that does not make all black men allies-not even. Black men are not above denigrating and gas-lighting black women because they are no more immune to patriarchy than any other man. In too many spaces, it is par for the course w.hen it comes to some of these Black men. Black men, for all the loyalty a lot of black women have for them, have no qualms about throwing black women under the bus; and, if there were two women that were falling off, he had a choice between picking one with one being non-black and the other black, he would “not” hesitate to pick the non-black one leaving the black one the risk of falling to the ground if she is not somehow able to pull herself up. In fact, in this day and age, I can see “some” black men kicking the black lady off with there foot “for the heck of it” out of spite and would laugh at the sight of splattered blood and shattered bones on the ground.

      Black class bias or not, would this be okay if the victim was non-white, non-affluent, or non assertive?

      1. Somehow, you’ve taken my post as support for that gentleman’s action. It’s not. I can’t, and won’t try and explain his action or lack thereof.

        “I am “no fan” of the stereotyping of black men at all, and “I particularly detest when black men as a group are used to bash the black community as a whole.” I do feel that non-blacks do underhanded things towards black men. But that does not make all black men allies-not even. Black men are not above denigrating and gas-lighting black women because they are no more immune to patriarchy than any other man. In too many spaces, it is par for the course w.hen it comes to some of these Black men. Black men, for all the loyalty a lot of black women have for them, have no qualms about throwing black women under the bus; and, if there were two women that were falling off, he had a choice between picking one with one being non-black and the other black, he would “not” hesitate to pick the non-black one leaving the black one the risk of falling to the ground if she is not somehow able to pull herself up. In fact, in this day and age, I can see “some” black men kicking the black lady off with there foot “for the heck of it” out of spite and would laugh at the sight of splattered blood and shattered bones on the ground.”

        Is there any proof of this, or is this your personal feelings and experiences thrown around as fact? How does this particular statement heal wounds or move people forward?

  68. “Eventually three men held him back, restrained him, but not with ease”
    “but no one wants to stand up for anybody”
    Three guys DID stand up for you, and by your own admission it was not easy for them to physically do this.
    “the brothers in the room let it happen without a word on my behalf.”
    Are none of them allowed to be victims of traumatic experiences? Why do the brothers get more harsh words for their silence when the sisters silence just gets confusion. Three of the brothers in the room stepped in on your behalf, yet they get no credit from you, “eventually”.

    Have a go at your sisters too and remember that whilst it was a man who intimidated you, it was three men who removed him and only a couple of sentences and chair movement from a woman.

  69. Wow! I am not entirely surprised, but disheartened again. They do not show up enough, and if/when affronted, they will use their very maleness in attempt to first intimidate, then silence, us. Troubling. In my circle, I can count two wonderful men who WILL and DO show up- my husband and my pastor. They will not let the likes of this a*hole bully a woman in this way. I’m disturbed by the bystanders who simply sit and wait for things to boil over and refuse to see their own accountability in situations like these.

    Thank you for sharing your awareness, albeit under these circumstances.

  70. I would call the police, demand that Brecht Forum turn over the video to them and demand that assault charges be pressed against the offender. That will send a clear message that if you attack a Black woman publicly, there will be consequences. I doubt the offender would get away with attacking a White woman so publicly. Throwing water on another person is physical assault.

    It’s alarming to see how many Black men have made comments defending the offender here. A very clear message is being sent that Black women are on their own.

  71. I’m a stranger to NY, the BF and this blog — but not to the issue. I read about this incident in an editorial at The Feminist Wire Collective an hour ago and followed a link to this source. I’m disgusted, outraged for Dr. Cooper and intolerant of ANY attempts to blame the victim or excuse any aspect of Mr. Balagun’s behavior.

    I’m an old white woman in Texas and it’s been a couple of decades since I exercised my onlooker’s impulse to physically intervene in a man’s physical and verbal intimidation of a fellow woman. I used to do it as the need arose, in a kind of pay-it-forward protective impulse.

    I promise you, Dr. Cooper, that your painful experience will not be wasted on me: I have been reminded that ACTION is the real proof of being an ally and I promise that I will be vigilant and ready to act on the behalf of other women in your situation. Someone — hopefully a succession of someones — will get some support unlike your experience at the Brecht Forum.

    I’m too old to give a damn about propriety, alienating progressive or racial norms or pissing off a man. Anybody who’s offended can argue with me afterward.

  72. This was a terrible situation. Just horrible. I am wondering why you didn’t stand up for yourself the way you expected your. Allies to stand up for you. You deserve that…to defend yourself.

  73. I’m a NYC -based activist and a friend of Kazembe’s. I’m also a survivor of abuse and misogeny at the hands of “progressive” men in the movement here. I’m angered by what he did to you. It was inexcusable and I support you 100%.

  74. First off – I’ve known the brother for almost 20 years and I’ve never seen him associated with any acts of violence or aggression. He is one of the most gentlest brothers I’ve ever met. I’ve also been a part of the Brecht Board and have never seen or heard of the previous acts, as described, by Bro. Anderson.

    I think that Kazembe and Brittany should meet up again to reflect, apologize, forgive and heal. But it has to be a real talk and I think the Brecht Forum should be the neutral place for that. This is also a teaching moment if both Kazembe and Brittany want to use this – together – as an opportunity to enlighten young women and men, in our movement.

    I’ve seen white men & women get away with far more in this movement and they don’t even get the same type of heat that this discussion is getting when a Black man is involved – and I do understand why.

    Lastly – when we have conflict like this in mind – is this a conflict that is antagonistic or non-antagonistic? Meaning – is this between people that need each other to fight against the bigger enemy together or is this a battle with the intent to destroy each other? This conflict should be thought of in that light. A movement for the better world needs to make critical corrections with each other – with the intent of love. It is not the same when we are critical of the enemy that is trying to destroy us and we are trying to do the same with them.

    No criticism w/o self-criticism.

    – O’ Jesus

    1. I’m sorry…wut?! I don’t care what his past offenses may or may not have been. He was violent. And abusive. There is no reason to talk that out! And no. Just because white ppl have gotten away with such atrocities doesn’t justify it. I don’t care how long you have known him. His actions were disgusting.

      1. @MM So what is the best way to go forward in your perspective?

        This is both a Black female and Black male issue.

        His actions were bad. Everyone would agree with that.

        This topic has gone from two individuals to where it’s a community discussion and issue.

        Community healing is important even if the two parties reconcile. It’s past the two individuals now when people are bringing up institutional names and proposing security teams.

        So what is your solution – I tried to propose one and haven’t offered an alternative.

        -O’ Jesus

  75. Secondly, I really disagree with an earlier post that asked for assault charges and then the PD to seize anything from the Brecht.

    If we have to go to the system to solve our issues then what kind of movement are we building?

    Third, I saw a comment that put out where Kazembe lived and his associations. That is really f’*cked up because he’s a family man and that puts safety at risk for people that have nothing to do with the incident.

    People can’t be reckless with their comments because there are some really psychopaths who read all this shyt.

    -O’ Jesus

  76. I agree entirely with Shades of Blackness on here regarding hiring security in public spaces where these conventions, both small and large in size, are to be held. This is for the author of this post/thread and any others: hire an off-duty police officer (or two for large crowds) to be the security at these public events. This comes from the advice of a former blogger and author whose words I hold the utmost respect for because of her sensibility and honesty. This former blogger also said that hospitals in Chicago hire off-duty cops to be their security all the time.

    If anybody at this Brecht Forum or similar organisational meetings work “over the table” and actually pay their taxes then they are paying the wages of the law enforcement. It’s a necessary cost that’s sadly needed if adults who are not in control over their own impulses come to such events and it is important just like how renting out a space and spending on refreshments and possibly other items for these events are important.

    No black, white, Asian, Latino or Native American men should be lunging at or physically attacking anyone. No black, white, Asian, Latina or Native American women should be lunging at or physically attacking anyone.

    The USA not unlike other similar Western countries have freedom of speech. Hire the police as security for these events to protect attending women and men from those who do not understand this! And press charges within the full extent of the law. These organisations should make, publish and circulate literature stating that charges will be pressed against those acting unlawfully and harming others! This is the only way to drive the message home to anybody including Negros With Ankhs to stop attacking black women and any women physically or sexually.

    1. Question: What is the number of incidents to justify a security group and the entry of the police into left-wing radical movements events?

      Especially within the context of the history of COINTELPRO.

    2. I think dundada’s comments should be considered very seriously, so we have a clear idea about how to weigh the radical difference between the people who are commenting on these threads that are seeking ‘safety’ through a system that uses armed force and the threat thereof to maintain class society, white supremacy and heteronormativity, and the people who seek liberation and understand that this work will always be dangerous. The vision for liberatory accountability is building trust and confidence among one another so we can be dangerous together, so we can be powerful enough to uproot and end these structures of dominance that maintain and renew patriarchy and racism; not to maintain ‘peace’ where there is no justice. If dundada’s comments are indicative of the common sense on this blog – which I truly hope is not the case, and that more people are willing to struggle openly about rather than let slide – then this is a feminism that will continue to uphold a system that surveils, punishes, cages and kills women of color at higher rates than anywhere else in the world. If this defines Black Feminism (TM) for some, I hope they will also consider the leading role that black feminists such as Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Angela Davis, Beth Richie, Mariame Kaba, and countless others have played in resisting and overturning the logic that policing, punishing and caging people makes any of us safer.

      If the Brecht Forum or any movement space that prioritizes ‘safety’ welcomes police who perpetrate violence on a daily basis before they consider the possibility for the accountability and transformation of their own, then the Brecht Forum has sadly lost its vision, and in doing so may have lost its hope.

  77. While I appreciate the men who have commented here expressing concern for BC and holding Kazembe accountable for his horrible actions.

    Reading the responses from some of the other men read like a broken record of abuse and disrespect BW have endured for so many years, re-victimizing the victim by shifting the blame and responsibility for healing onto BC shoulders.

    Reinforcing the idea, for me at least, that we BW are better off on our own.

  78. This blog post is a gift to all of us fighting for social justice, and I’m grateful for the chance to add to the conversation. I’m so sorry that the writer experienced such an awful act of aggression, and it warms my heart to see all the comments here supporting her and pledging to have each other’s back in the future.

    I wanted to respond to the few comments here suggesting that the police should be called now in response to this incident. I think most people commenting here don’t agree with that, and I am in awe and respect for the writer’s empathetic statements that she felt concern for her aggressor and what he must be going through, and that she will forgive him when the time is right for that.

    I’m also not sure if everyone commenting here is clear on what transformative justice is. There are definitely moments when I would call the police, like in the above comment when a woman said her boyfriend physically restrained her from calling the police when another woman was being beaten in front of them. We’re not at the point where transformative justice could have helped in that moment. We don’t have a strong enough movement to offer alternatives to the police in situations like that.

    In the situation described in this blog, transformative justice can help way more than the police could, without sending anyone to jail. It’s not about going easy on the perpetrator — it’s about making sure the perpetrator doesn’t do something like this again, and that the survivor is supported. The police aren’t going to do either of those things. For more information, here’s a document from INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence, called “Community Accountability Within People of Color Progressive Movements” which goes into detail about accountability processes that can be used: http://www.incite-national.org/media/docs/2406_cmty-acc-poc.pdf

    Hope this is helpful.

  79. I am sorry this happened, and I hope everybody learns from but this woman is wrong on so many levels she says “But I’m grown. And I know better. So I asked for more” and got she got more than she bargained for. The panel discussion was about being better allies, not “I am tired” and I want you to justify black men lack of action to me” The black man/woman debate was best suited for the next panel discussion. His response was wrong and should be held accountable for his actions, but “grown” person should she be held to the accountability standards? Let me say this again he was wrong, but it is the 90’s “you anit no real man because you (didn’t do what i wanted you to do)….” all over again. He and every other man still wasn’t “real man” because they show up at the at the discussion in the 1st place, took a interest in how to better their neighborhood, and by default at least attempt to be allies. No they weren’t “real man” because they didn’t defend her honor quick enough. I am not going to get started on how when it is convent to her, she uses scene of the crime, intimidate, menacingly and domestic Violence Awareness Month to describe a black man. I guess it is only stereotypical when white woman and the newspapers do it? it anit easy being a black man or woman, but how can you expect black men who do try to stand up for black woman by showing up and still get reduced down to being criminals at the scene.

  80. I can’t say I’m the least bit surprised. But I cannot understand why Black women continue to believe that black men are our allies. Black men have gender privilege they are not willing to acknowledge nor relinquish. This us why when challenged they react like that dude did. Because acknowledging their privilege means Black women will take note and start realizing that, that very same privilege is used to step on the backs of black women for their own benefits as a group.

    Black women need to wake up! Black men are only interested in activism that benefits BLACK MEN and BLACK MEN only. The same applied to White women.

    It seems every group is able to do thus except black women who are always trying to align with groups (I.e. Black men and white feminists) who are not going to relinquish the privilege they have to help black women in any way.

    Once black women get thus and STOP with the aligning if people and groups who could care less about our struggle, then these types of things won’t be so confusing as to why no one stood up to defend a black woman in harms way.


  81. Shout out to all the black men and women forming great intimate relationships and remaining courageous enough to love, and to be loved. Love, in all it’s forms, is about vulnerablity, but I am thankful to all of you who believe in it and pursue it with strength and vigor.

    Thanks for being great examples of life, lived, and remain open to leading the hurt by example.

  82. As a group, African Americans are not homogeneous, and by extension, neither are African American men. To move forward into positive space and healing, no more generalities in our thinking and writing. The men who disrespected you arrived at the meeting with pathos intact. The white woman, did she have an opinion? Or was she sitting back enjoying the fracas.

  83. I have had several experiences like Brittany’s, in circles and environments that think of themselves as conscious and progressive. Most of my interactions with Black men are positive and respectful…but I am not raising feminist critiques in most of my interactions with Black men. When I do, I often get anger and resistance which, though it does not always reach this level of violence and intimidation, it still serves to silence me because in retreating to angry indignance they consistently refuse to engage with my critique, finding it more convenient to cast me as a Black-man-hater and to draw attention back to their own experiences and pain. I am well aware of Black men’s experiences and pain, and would never seek to dismiss them, but why can’t Black women ever remain central to conversations about racial violence and injustice, why can’t we be focused on outside of the kinds of tributes and celebrations of Black womanhood with which so many brothers are more comfortable. I have found that hitting up against this kind of anger and being unable to engage in intelligent conversations about gender and sexism and heterosexism with “conscious” brothers as caused me to either refrain from bringing the issues up when I don’t have the energy to deal with it or become less and less sensitive, nuanced, and careful in my treatment of such subjects, as so many on this blog post are urging us to do; what’s the point if I am going to get shouted down or dumped in the Blackmanhater boat regardless. But our feminism doesn’t do us any good if we keep it to ourselves. No Black men are not a monolith, and I will continue to seek ways to convey this in my criticism, but there are many Black male scholars and activists and progressives who use the accusation of us treating them as monoliths to defend their determination not to listen.

  84. I’m not about labels…. But the term “Mactivist” is awesome… I’ve been looking for a handy word to describe these fake activists in conversations with others… Sorry for your experience but thank you for sharing…. This is a great blog!

  85. This was a great blogpost and yes the term Macivist is awesome.. We all have to wake up black men and women at the end of this day the both of us thrown under the bus, enslaved and beaten down..

  86. I am a young African-American female who came across this blog after being verbal abused by a strange black man today. After 3 hours of crying, 2 hours of being at the police station and 2 hours after an intense headache, I am now okay to write. Can you please take a moment to listen to my vent?
    This morning, a young, belligerent black man approached me. I was smoking a NewPort, coming from the store, minding my business. I politely told the man I didn’t want his time. He kept asking me what my name was. I kept walking. I was 3 blocks away from home when I relieved he was following me. I asked him could he find a life and stop bothering me. He then became filled with rage. Threatening me. I didn’t want him to know where I lived so I didn’t go in the house. (I should have) He picked up the phone and said he was going to call his sisters to “beat my ass”. All because I didn’t want to talk to him?!? I told him that I had enough of his harassment. I threatened to call the police. He said that I was “a snitch ass bitch” for having to get the law involved. I called him a bitch for harassing a female. He then joked and laughed that I was so ugly that I resembled a man. I retorted that if I were so repulsive, why was he standing in my face bothering me?
    He charged at me. I pulled out my pepper spray and didn’t hesitate. I got him in the left eye; it was so windy I couldn’t get both of them. He kept cursing obscenities at me. My neighbor phoned the police and they came immediately. The man kept threatening to kill me even as he was being hauled off in the back of the police car. I pressed charges. The police knew him by full name! They thanked me for calling them. He had several warrants, it turns out.
    This is NOT the first time this has happened to me. When black men are frustrated at their own lives, they tend to take their frustration out on women.
    The next time my mother asks why she never sees me with a black man, I will tell her this story as my explanation.

  87. He is a bully who wouldn’t of tried that with another man he thought might take a piece out of him. I’m impressed the writer could have sympathetic feeling for the bum.

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