Black Girlhood, Interrupted – Chapter 7
In this chapter, Cottom shares her experiences of being a young black girl. She shares how society perceives Black young girls and women. From a young age, Cottom realized that it was not easy to read about girls, let alone about Black girlhood. As she was going through school, she read mostly about heroic man, or fictional characters, rather than about girls and their experiences. It was not until college that Cottom had the chance to read about black girlhood and the life of black women. While reading about Black girlhood, she realized that the easiest way to locate a girl in a story about a woman is connecting her to sexual trauma. Black girls and women’s stories oftentimes contained experiences about sexual assault which is tied into what Black womanhood is. Growing up Cottom learned the power dynamic between sexual assault predators and sexual assault survivors/victim work in the black community and in society as a whole. After experiencing misogynistic comments and having two defining incidents with her cousin and dad, she realized that Black girls can never be truly seen as victims of sexual predators. Men and women excuse violence against black women and girls. If a man, or society, perceives a black girl as “ready” for what a man wants from a girl, then by just existing she has consented to his treatment and she will never be the victim. This notion of a black girl or woman being “ready” is highly problematic, especially since researchers have proven that black girls are perceived as more adultlike than their white peers. Adults perceive black girls to be more knowledgeable about sex, they perpetuate this idea that a black child is responsible for the desires that adults project onto her. If black girls are never perceived as a child, they will not receive the protection of childhood. This system of neglect and abuse is mostly ignored in social and education policy. This perception of being “grown” from a young age, exposes black girls and women to more incidents of sexual assaults without having the means to defend or protect themselves. Cottom shares how legally reporting sexual assault, abuse, or violence is a disadvantage for all women, but it is especially unfavorable for black women. Cases of rape, sexual assault, abuse, and violence are proven in court by “evidence-based” proof which means that one has to have physical evidence of a bruise or a wound. The tools used to capture these bruises are not built to find marks in dark women, this automatically puts black women in a position of disadvantage. The system fails black women by design.
Girl 6 – Chapter 8
In this chapter, Cottom writes about her thoughts on how she wants black women to have a full-time job as an opinion writer at a prestigious publishing company. She shares the barriers and difficulties black women would have to go through to make it in the industry. All throughout the chapter, she uses David Brooks, a prestigious journalist for the New York Times, to point out what is inherently wrong with the industry. Cottom explains how Brooks wrote an article on deli meats and used it as a metaphor to convey how the upper-middle-class Americans had left everyone else behind. She points out that even if this essay had no real substantial meaning or it failed, Mr. Brooks will be back to his job because that’s what he did, write for the New York Times. She wanted black women in the world to have the freedom to be banal as a matter of course for her job, wanted them to be well compensated, protected, and free to fail. She wanted Black women to talk about whatever they desired for a publication where whatever it said mattered, just like David Brooks did with the deli meat. She knows they are black women journalists that have columns in some magazines or newspapers, but writing is their 4th or 5th job. The industry has many flaws when accommodating black women in the industry. One of the flaws with getting a job in this industry is how writing is democratic. Writing well required costly and time-consuming resources that are mostly achieved by having a prestigious job. Another barrier is the required experience for these jobs. Most companies seek employees that have had previous internships in media. Most internships in media or unpaid, which puts in a huge disadvantage low income, first-gen college students, immigrants and children of immigrants, and black people. Statistically and systematically these demographics are unlikely to sustain an unpaid internship to gain experience. One way of overcoming these barriers can start from within the company. Prestige employees can start engaging more with talented black women to learn from them and see how they can add a different and valuable perspective to their company. As Cottom points out, even following more black women on Twitter matters. Twitter is easy, it cost nothing to gauge with someone who won’t move into your neighborhood or sit beside your desk. The world needs writers that provide different views of an unfair and unjust world, even if some people don’t like it, and black women can bring these different perspectives.
- In Chapter 7, Cottom shares different ways people treat young black girls more adult-like than their peers. Loretta Ross also talked about this during her discussion of Reproductive Justice. How does this treatment towards Balck girls affect their development and social interactions? What types of disadvantages or barriers do these girls face?
- This article from Georgetown Law goes more in-depth about this situation in America. If you would like to read more on this topic I highly recommend it. https://www.law.georgetown.edu/poverty-inequality-center/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2017/08/girlhood-interrupted.pdf
- How is the argument “black men are too oppressed to oppress” in Chapter 7 problematic? How did this argument help notorious men like R Kelly, Myke Tysons, and Charlamagne the god, be defended by many in the black community?
- In Chapter 8, Cottom shares some examples of articles that she would write if she were free of judgment and repercussions, what audience did these articles target? Why do you think Black women haven’t gotten the opportunity to earn a living wage off writing articles for prestigious publishing companies like the New York Times?