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Rapper Afrika Bambaataa Is OUR Problem.

May 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Health, Music, News, Weekly Columns

( I wasn’t alive in the 80’s, or when Hip Hop truly began to emerge. I’m a late 90’s baby and to many I don’t know much, or about the “good old days.” Although I don’t know much, I know enough. There are some people that you are conditioned to know are great, artist that through time will always be legends, Afrika Bambaataa is one of those artist. He is the founding father of Hip Hop. The first time I ever heard his name in passing was on Jay-z’s smash single, “Empire State Of Mind.” I’m going to let you know a secret, I have never once heard any of Afrika’s songs, but I will not dispute that he is great or his contributions to globalizing Hip Hop. Greatness doesn’t purify the dirty deeds of celebrities though, in recent news Afrika has been accused of molesting “hundreds of boys”—this allegedly has been happening for decades. Whether these allegations are true or not, we will soon find out. At this time though, I ask people to pause the “he was going to buy NBC” jokes, and focus on the bigger discussion at hand, sexual abuse of black males.

Afrika’s image has always been of a pious man who for years has spread love in his community- nobody expected him to allegedly take advantage of young boys due to his status in the community.There’s always a boy in his house,” “said Shamsideen Shariyf Ali Bey, a man claiming to be his former bodyguard.”When he leaves and gets home, there’s always a boy there. I’ve seen them camped, asking him for money. He travels with late teens, those areafrika-bambaataa-2016 the ones he takes overseas with him. When I went with him on tour in the states, I’d stay in one room, and he would have boys in the room with him … since the ‘70s, it’s been hundreds.”

1 in 6 black males are abused before the age of 16, did you know that? You didn’t know that. That means sexual abuse amongst black men is more than common, that means that a male in your family has been sexually violated before, that means that you could pass a victim, multiple victims at any given time. This rate is actually dramatically higher in African- Americans areas plagued by systemic poverty, broken homes, high unemployment rates and sociological problems. That means that sexual abuse is OUR problem, it has been happening long before Afrika Bambaataa and will continue to happen unless we openly talk about it and remove the stigma.

I don’t have many fears, but the biggest one I have is the safety of my brother. When my brother when born I was only eight, but I knew I had to protect him from this unforgiving world. He’s ten now, since he was eight I have always taught him about rape, and molestation. He hates when I say molest and he hates when I say rape. Those are words that he doesn’t want to hear, but I know it’s important for him to hear them. I fear the day that he reveals he has been molested or raped by someone who he was suppose to trust, I try my best to prevent it by telling him if anyone touches his private areas, to let me know. Do you think that will save him? It won’t, but it was ease the pain a bit. When we hear stories of men or anyone coming forward about being molested or rape, we quickly give suggestions about what we would have done. Frankly, both you and I know, you would have done nothing. Imagine someone you trust and look up to violating you in the most heartbreaking way, taking advantage of your innocence. Victims at times freeze when they’re sexually abused, they are so shocked that they can’t do anything. The first step to combatting sexual abuse is education. On an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, Lil Wayne remarked about losing his virginity at 11, “The girl was older than me. She cut the lights off, and I don’t know what happened. She pulled my pants down.” says Lil Wayne. At the age of 11, you have very little knowledge of the opposite sex, so this would honestly constitute as rape. Sadly, many people see this as a “right of way” to manhood, “masculinity” but it all contributes to a toxic community we have encouraged for years.

All of this goes hand in hand with this toxic unspoken rule for black men to always be strong.Compared to white men, they don’t get the freedom to express their emotions freely. You always have to be tough and be the protector for the family, no matter what age. So how does it look like when a young boy comes forward with tears forming in his eyes about being sexually abused? That’s why many don’t come forward——sexual abuse is common, but the amount of men who come forward are not as common. Young black boys are taught very young to bottle their emotions in. Many of Arika’s alleged victims are coming out after decades because after a while you can’t live with such a secret. One of his alleged victims Hassan Campbell says, “how do you tell the world a grown man molested you? How do you tell your mother that a n**ga touched me, and you’re a boy and he’s a man.” Being sexually abused infringes upon the hypermasculinity that is engrained in young black men, it also makes them question their sexuality. They are afraid to tell people due to the fact that people will assume they’re gay.

We as a community have to remove this stigma and talk openly about sexual abuse in the black community, for years many people protected Afrika. People knew, but how come they didn’t do anything? We talk about unity in the black community, but why do we sit back and allow things like this to continue to happen? We hear so many stories in the news of black pastors molesting young boys, pastors we have trusted for years. Sexual abuse happens overtime, they gain the trust of the young boys and then the abuse slowly begins. We hear about coaches taking advantage, but yet we don’t teach our young boys how to protect themselves? 78% of black sexual abuse victims know their attackers. We have this asinine notion that boys can protect themselves due to their strength, but it’s not about fighting on the outside, it’s the emotional internal fight that they will sometimes not overcome. Sexual abuse is a cycle, 80% of attackers reported that they themselves have been abused. It’s a cycle that will continue unless we prevent it before it happens.

These allegations against Afrika have sparked a conversation we should have with all young black boys, and even young women. We need to teach them how to protect themselves, or alert an adult if it happens to them. We talk about sexual abuse like it’s a distant topic, but it’s all too common, as I finish this sentence someone will be raped or molested. That same someone will not come forward, why? Because of the shame. Stop being so hard on young boys, allowed them to have emotions and allow them to be human.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

Written by Evelyn Atieno

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