Stop forcing your daughters to hug the family molester. The molester that every adult in the family knows about but swept it under the rug years ago, because we as black people already have enough issues to deal with, so we HAVE to keep the family together, right? Wrong.  

This idea that we are protecting the family structure is something I like to call ‘Politics of the Black Family.’

So let’s talk about it. I mean really really talk about it. Let’s talk about how 60 percent of black women experience sexual abuse from the hands of a black man by the age of 18. Talk about what message we are sending… one that doesn’t uplift the entire family structure, it instead messes up the minds of black people and the main victim is the black woman. It sends a message to not break up the family with these ‘allegations.’ It sends a message that her pain is the lesser of the issues. It sends a message that we as black women have to be more black than we are woman.

This year I attended the Young People For National Summit. As always, it poured into my life and I got a chance to listen to perspectives that I hadn’t heard before. One that stuck with me was the idea that we, as Americans, don’t value personal space and we actually devalue it  so much that we take it upon ourselves to hug as we see fit and if someone doesn’t embrace us back they are considered rude.

Taking this a step deeper, we send that same message to children. I know this is true for the black family where we’ve grown up hearing “Go give your grandpa a kiss or give your uncle a hug.” And if a child doesn’t want to do those things that is followed up with “stop acting like that,” and we are then forced to do it anyway. Taking the power away from the child could then cause them to internalize a message that they don’t have control of their own body.

So then, if that same uncle, grandpa, family friend or stepdad becomes the perpetrator…if they become the monster, what does this child know to do when she has been told she doesn’t have control of her body anyway. She has been told to “be nice” as if it is mean to not want to give someone access to your body — whether it is an innocent hug or not.

Then abuse occurs, pain occurs, silencing occurs and a cycle repeats. So question what we have all grown up in. Question what messages you send, no matter how innocent the intentions. Think deeply about the structures we fall victim to, even within the black community. And don’t ever be so black that you forget to be woman. Protect your woman, it is as much you as your melanin.

Regennia Johnson is a 21-year-old black woman attempting to decolonize and disengage from the system that tells her she isn’t worthy. She is from Oklahoma City, and is a senior at the University of Oklahoma. She loves Black people & of course she hates white supremacy and all of it’s amazingly organized systems. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.