You know that conversation that we’ve been “saving for another day”?
Today is another day. Another day where a black life is lost. Another day in which we have been failed.
OLUWATOYIN SALAU (19), also referred to as “Toyin” and “Queen”, is another BLACK WOMAN who has been failed. In the physical sense, she was a young black woman from Tallahassee who passionately fought for the many causes, including the Black Lives Matter Movement. In her personal life, Oluwatoyin had suffered abuse at the hands of her own parents and been exiled from her home in the middle of everything that has been occurring in our world.
In her time of vulnerability, Oluwatoyin seeked help and shelter only to end up being molested and eventually murdered. Now one may be thinking, what do the personal experiences of one protestor have to do with the whole movement, but Toyin is so much more than a protestor. Aside from what she physically was, she is and will always be the reason we protest. She is a black woman and a black life, failed by the same people she fought to protect. Her situation is proof that many people fight for black lives without realizing that black women live them too.
Toyin’s story is so important because it represents how black women, who countlessly and wholeheartedly fight for what we love, are not being protected. While Toyin’s rapist and murderer have not been confirmed, she posted descriptions on Twitter of the man who molested her prior to her death. As of now, a suspect by the name of Aaron Glee has been discovered. As a writer and representative of the Paradigm Press, we will try our best to deliver accurate and timely information.
I want those reading to know that OLUWATOYIN SALAU’s death is so much more than one woman being abused and murdered by our own. It is terribly unfortunate that she has to represent the pain that many black women have experienced and continue to experience. Toyin’s story calls for a conversation that is long overdue and directed to black men. Toyin’s rapist was a black man and her murderer is suspected to be as well. This article is not to incriminate black men, but it also isn’t going to hold back and sugar coat on changes that need to be made.
Black men, without a doubt, are the second most oppressed group of people on this earth. Our men are being shot, hung, raped, attacked, and so much more than words could ever say. Black men, we see your pain and we stand by you always and forever. Now we need you to do the same. The signal demanding your help has been up forever.
While black men suffer from a plethora of woes in this country, they still benefit from the privilege of manhood. Patriarchal views in this country have been used to bring down women since its start and many black men feed into this patriarchy just to attack their own women. From America’s corrupt foundation to now, it’s as if black people were programmed to despise our own. Many black men internalize that hate and combine it with their patriarchal privilege in order to tear down the black woman.
Black men may not have many privileges across the globe or in their own country, but they do in the black community and should be using these privileges to ensure black women are protected. When a woman is raped, especially a black woman, she is always questioned before she is understood. That is because not only are we stereotyped as incompetent women, but we are also stereotyped as promiscuous and aggressive due to our blackness. This is just an example of how a black woman’s pain is overlooked.
The role of men in society usually involves overlooking the issues of women because they are rarely affected by said issues. As men, many black males overlook the way black women are mistreated. Our shared skin tone provides some sense of support amongst the two genders, but black men tend to be very complacent when it comes to issues that affect black women because their manhood gives them the upper hand.
Many black men claim to love black women, but their passion is derived from personal experiences whether sexual or familial. Privileged individuals usually only fight for the underprivileged individuals they associate themselves with because that is their only connection to the problem. So this is for the black men that are only fighting for their mothers, sisters, girlfriends, or whatever other personal title you can cling to. A black woman’s right to live does not and should not feed off of how she serves you or provides for you.
There is no way we can fight for black lives, if we aren’t giving every black person a reason to live. You cannot preach your love for the cause; or better yet, black women, while bashing a black woman for every last thing she says, does, or feels. Many black men make black women feel lesser than in all aspects of life: love, work, sex, sports, and the list goes on. How can you fight for my life just to turn around and make it a living hell? How can you tell police officers to stop killing me when your homeboy is just as lethal?
The problem is, black men do not understand womanhood and only seek to protect black women for the things that make us alike or the things that benefit them. What black men don’t realize is that we are black women, through and through. Our struggles with patriarchy and racism don’t segregate themselves, they coincide and mix to the point where you cannot separate a black woman from her womanhood or her race without omitting her completely.
To my black men, we need you to love us for both the reasons we are alike and not alike. There’s a difference between just being on our side and actually being against everything that isn’t. Fighting for us is more than sympathy and awareness, it is taking the time to weed out any enemy of the black woman even if that enemy is as close to you as yourself. It needs be more commonly understood that any attempt to bring down a black woman, whether it be sexual humiliation or flat out rape, is part of the problem.
When you reject a black woman because you purposely mistake her passion as aggression in order to demonize her, you are part of the problem. When you make a singular black woman’s life a nightmare because you find pleasure in her pain, you are part of the problem. The oppression of black women starts with the smallest things. Calling us bitches, hoes, birds, or any other microaggressive term may not seem like it’s doing damage, but in the bigger picture it is. You may feel like your poor social interaction with black women doesn’t tie into a bigger issue but it does. Any drop of disrespect you feed to a black woman, whether it be personal or general, makes you a weak link. And for my black men that think their attraction and “respect” for black women is enough, I have news for you. You cannot say you support someone if you are supporting them for your own internal motives.
Black women are beautiful, our sex is amazing, and we’re the best damn relatives you’ll ever have. Take that all away, and your respect for our lives should not change. You shouldn’t only protect us or fight for us because of our looks or the role we play in your life. You should protect us because we are people. We are so much more than the ways we make your life better, those are just EXTRA reasons as to why we matter.
Many men mistake their infatuation with us as love and that needs to stop. If you only respect me as your significant other but can turn around and talk down on any black women, you are part of the problem. If you can’t love one, you can’t love none. Learn to love black women wholeheartedly and unconditionally. Seek knowledge and understanding instead of dismissing black women. Give us space to emote and express ourselves without labeling us. Give us space to try new things and explore. Give us space to embrace our sexuality for ourselves. Give us space to be human.
If you are the kings you claim to be, call out the jokers in your life that have done something to oppress your queens, even if that joker might just be you. Check your surroundings,check your privilege, and check how you speak to and about black women. Make it your mission to protect and love black women the same way you protect your pride and homeboys.
OLUWATOYIN SALAU got raped by yet another black man who was not held accountable for his actions. She got murdered by yet another black man whose friends probably let him hold onto his aggression for black women. We may never know what truly happened to her in her last moments but we can prevent anything of the sort if we start treating our women like the queen Oluwatoyin was and is.
I hope that the black men reading this can take this piece for what it is and create change without a rebuttal. For the community as a whole, I urge you to keep fighting and stay educated on all issues that pertain to us, including the aftermath of Toyin’s death.
As I close this article, I send my prayers and condolences to those deeply affected by this tragedy. OLUWATOYIN SALAU did not deserve this form of betrayal and I pray that her soul is at rest and free from the great amounts of pain she endured on this earth. R.I.P. Queen. You WILL get your justice. #SayHerName #JusticeforToyin