A Black Man Protected My Sexuality

Sunday, January 20, 2019 @ 9:29 PM

There is a lie that has inundated our society. It can be insidious at times if we are not aware of it. But, the injustice infuriates me and calls me to action in every way I know how, no matter how small. My reality is starkly in contrast to the lie that society continues to feed us. The lie that Black men are rapists.
The Truth

My truth is so contrary to the overwhelming LIE we've been inundated with for more than a century in the USA. Today, one specific experience has welled up in my chest and I feel compelled to share.
Incident 1

Undergraduate Statistics class was set up so that everyone taking the class attended a large lecture and then we were broken up and assigned to small classes in computer labs to apply our knowledge. By three weeks in to the class, I found myself the target of sexual harassment by another student in the class. He was huge and intimidating. It didn't matter how I dressed, each class got worse. It didn't matter where I sat or who I sat next to or how many friends and alibis I formed, each time he became more daring and belligerent, louder and more vulgar. It got so bad that I got up and left in the middle of class, making eye contact with the TA (Teaching Assistant; a White man) as a cry for help as he stared back, frozen in silence in his chair as I was taunted out of the classroom. I never returned to that lab. The following week I missed, I emailed the TA why I missed and he replied with understanding. I never said anything else to him. All of our assignments were through the lab class and I never turned another one in. I should have failed that class. The TA gave me a 100. This was swept under the rug and handled poorly, rewarding victimization and leaving me powerless.
Incident 2

During the same semester, a large man at church had begun making me feel very uncomfortable and eventually unsafe. He would request several hugs and would hold on way too long and in a ways that I couldn't break free. He would comment about my body and what he wanted. I tried sitting with a friend's parents and he sat right behind us and continued his behavior. I contemplated running out of the church and not returning. I feared he knew my car or would follow me to the parking lot. I Loved this church. It was more important to me than statistics class and I did not want victimization to win and run my life! But, I did not know the right course of action. I tried skipping church and that wasn't for me. I couldn't let such a good thing go; I loved it and it was right where I needed to be. I determined to try something different and decided to set up a meeting with the pastor.
My Expectation

I don't know what I was expecting from the meeting. I was just going to tell him my experience and what I felt; maybe he could pray the target off my back or give me insight into men that would help me keep creepers away. His reaction took me by surprise. He took notes on the man and exactly what made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

Let me be clear: my pastor was a Black man. He was not racially ambiguous looking; not tan and not pretending to be anyone other than who he was and still is. Pastor Don Leavell did NOT tell me it was my fault. He did not condemn me, slut shame me, or comment on my clothes. He made a plan and executed it to perfection. He told me I would no longer have to worry about the predator and to keep coming back to church. This pastor, this African American man had a team of trusted men stationed strategically around the church. He told them to watch me and watch the predator. The scary man never spoke to me or touched me again. I do not know the extent of the plan in place and I really don't care. The important part to me was that it worked. I tell this story to tell the truth. A Black man protected my sexuality. An African American man made me feel safe when I was scared. A Black male saw a vulnerable White female and clothed me with fatherly love.
Race Is Not The Issue

Race is not the issue. In the Church, the new race is Christianity. He was my pastor and loved me as part of his flock. It was not until recently that I felt compelled to tell the story through the eyes of race. The lie is that African American men are rapists; it keeps us all down and in shackles. The Truth sets us free. Telling our stories -the truth- counters the lie. Entrusting him was an excellent decision and consequently allowed me to remain, grow, and thrive as a person responding to Jesus with my life.
Now What?

Today, on Martin Luther King Day, remember that there are still some lies about race in American Culture. Amanda Golden de Duke serves as a bilingual christian counselor at Acorn Counseling Education Services. She brings her clarity of sight to all her interactions. Need someone to talk to? Schedule online or call 940-222-8703 x 702.