My girlfriend is a feminist. And feminist is a word that I’ve had an interesting relationship with during the past few years of my life, even more so now that we live together. I would liken it to going through the seven stages of grief. Two days ago, I made it through the last few.

Daniel Holtzclaw is found guilty — this guy is definitely getting locked up. That’s amazing news in the midst of a tragedy. Twitter is focusing on the positive, the memes begin to fly, and I love a good meme. Such as this one:

But then something else happens. Something that I did not, could not, and never would have expected. Mostly because I was ignorant and, instinctually at my core, only really care about myself, which I think is true for everyone on a certain level. My girlfriend and many other people are in a tweet, mention and retweet frenzy, with one phrase being central to the conversation: “Black men contribute to rape culture.”

To be completely honest, I consider myself an above average guy. I’m nice for no reason. I try to be helpful. I usually listen before I speak — all that jazz. So I found it hard to understand the argument, especially with regards to this specific instance, albeit, I did not have many facts. This lack of education, which I think is a really big part of the problem, was extremely troubling to me, at least subconsciously. So I did what I always do in situations like these. I started a passive-aggressive conversation with my girlfriend about it, trying to reverse engineer the conclusion I’ve already come to in my head.

Black men? Rape culture? Nah. 

If you’re a really good guesser, I’m sure you can imagine that this talk did not go the way that I intended. It took hours of explanation, which is due more to my denial that this could be possible/my depression that is actually is, than my lack of comprehension skills. Black men actively and inactively contribute to rape culture every day. I’m an inactive contributor. I never speak up, publicly or privately when people around me, and in my life, actively contribute to rape culture. And I have no good reason. Literally, not one.

Now that I accepted this as fact, I did this:

And then I experienced what it was like to be a black man that cares about black women on the internet. My mentions were infiltrated by trolls and, even more frighteningly, people who actually believe that black women don’t deserve to be protected, fought for, respected, and loved by black men or literally anyone else.

I don’t know if I’m woke now or not. But do know that I have an understanding that I did not previously have. And like with all new information that’s presented to us, it changes our perspective. The eyes that I see the world through are now tinted with a different context, especially pertaining to black women, and my part in being a voice for them. I figure that’s pretty good for now. So until the next time I realize that I’m messing up, I’m going to do my best to keep my promise.

I hope other black men will join me. 

Ira Hobbs, II: 20-something, miracle man, content creator. From MD, living in ATL. Personal thoughts and fire memes. @spikehobbsjr.