Ethnoviolence is exposure to violence due to someone’s ethnic or racial background or gender. It is looked upon as a main form of social fear and control by hierarchal systems. Black women who have twofold, dual identities carry burdens in both current social and political ladders.
Ethnoviolence in media is displayed by its exclusion of Black women when it comes to them being victims of crimes including, murder, assault, rape, kidnapping, domestic violence, sexual abuse, police brutality and other forms of violent crime. This is not only a microaggression in its message that Black women’s lives and deaths have no value, this form of exclusion also falls under the category of direct and vicarious cataclysmic events where the witnessing of an identity-group’s encounter with severe racism that are both life-threatening, murderous and ignored can be traumatic for the viewer because it reinforces a sense of vulnerability. When Black women are focused on, it is usually in dehumanizing and judgmental ways that invalidate their right to be seen in a sympathetic, empathic and humane light.
The full story has yet been told of the health-related implications of Black women due to daily exposure of microaggression, including verbal, non-verbal assaults, insults as well as environmental microaggressions in the form of the media. This constant barrage puts Black women at a higher rick for health-related complications and mental health concerns such as stress, diabetes and heart disease.
Media representations of Black women that paint them in a denigrating light by blaming, placing unfair judgment or excluding them altogether is engaging in the act of ethnoviolence. This includes print media, television and film images that focus on aspects of their attractiveness and objectified promotions of them that has its foundations in a colonized socio-historical and political context. It also includes shows that harmfully reinforces stereotypes of Black women providing a foundation of disrespect; even more damaging is when the ethnoviolence is committed by of all groups, Black men.
Black male actors and comedians such as Tyler Perry, Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Fox and others have all acted as Black women. These actors frequently depict Black women on television/film as aggressive loud, violent, sexually undesirable, physically unattractive; through cross dressing. These are all examples of ethnoviolence which in the form of microaggressions and microassaults, encourage and promote discriminatory views and behaviors against Black women. Most of the men listed above have considerable authority over the images of the Black women in their shows, yet they have chosen to present and mimic the same images that contribute to and support harmfully negative stereotypes of Black women presented in the dominant culture.
Black men, we have a responsibility to uplift our Black women. Black women deserve our support, honor and respect; not to be treated as enemies. Black women are a part of us and help make us who we are. If they oppressed, we are oppressed. Let’s learn to love and cherish our Black women for the queens they truly are.