They play tough positions on professional football teams, hold high political offices, supervise construction shifts and preach in the pulpits of spiritual places of worship. They are leaders of street organizations, captains of corporate industry, hardcore rap stars and short-order cooks. Who are they? They are Black males who were molested as boys.
While the rape and molestation of females has spawned a plethora of preventive programs and inspired international dialogue, the ever increasing rape of young boys is still a taboo subject. Statistics say that the abuse of young boys is on the rise, but I wonder how accurate those stats could be given the fact that most men who have been abused would never discuss or admit it.
As a Black male in America I have never had a friend, associate or family member confess that they were sexually abused. As an activist, I have assisted many with different types of criminal cases, social issues and problems. However, I have never received a phone call from a male stating that he had been sexually violated. It can be likened to the proverbial bowling ball underneath the living room rug; you can’t see it, but you can’t stop tripping over it. We know it happens every day, but because of the embarrassing process of justice it too often goes unreported.
The recent myriad of allegations levied against Afrika Bambaata is just an example of how pervasive this perversion has become in our community. Bambaata, an icon who was head of the Universal Zulu Nation, has been accused and virtually “exposed” as a pedophile who used his influence to molest young men and boys. Who knew that even in the ultra-masculine culture of hip-hop that this type of abuse was being perpetrated against young boys? Bambaata’s accusers, now grown fathers and grandfathers, are now telling the stories of how the abuse impacted their lives. Bambaata has long been branded the “godfather of hip-hop.” I have to be honest; I was shocked. However, many industry insiders and people who knew him personally said they’ve known this about him for years. Why didn’t they say anything? More importantly, why didn’t they DO anything? Would the hip-hop community remain silent about such sickness in order to preserve the brand of hip-hop while young men suffered, having their very lives destroyed?
How many Black men walk the streets of America suffering from such an unfortunate past? How many of them fear society’s ridicule if they should choose to talk about it? How many sick molesters of boys depend on this very fear to remain unpunished and continue their victimization of the innocent? And how much of America’s financial resources, time, energy and organization is invested in programs that identify, support and promote the healing of men who were molested as children?
Years ago, famed movie director/actor/entrepreneur Tyler Perry personally went on record about being abused as a young boy. Hundreds of news reports quoted Perry’s sentiments about a deceased man whose family asked that Perry pay for his funeral. Perry reportedly refused, but later regretted it. He said that there would have been something powerful about burying the man who molested him.
Whether people agreed with Perry’s sentiments or not, you have to respect his courageous address of his past in hopes of inspiring someone else’s future.
While the Catholic Church has for years been marred by scandal on top of scandal surrounding this issue, I contend that child molestation has no religion. While it happens every day in the Black community, it is very seldom discussed. Too often the pain and embarrassment of the community is made to be more important than the pain of the victim. So while we are able to put on a good face for the community, in the end it comes back to haunt us. The truth is, most boys who have suffered this type of abuse will never speak out. They would rather take this pain to the grave than endure the embarrassment of sharing it with the proper authorities, even if it means their abusers will go free. Look at how long it took Afrika Bambaata’s accusers to come forward. Some of them are now grandfathers. This is a sad reality in our community, but someone has to address these issues.
Psychologists say that boys who have been molested tend to suffer from depression, repressed anger, emotional confusion and fear. Many suffer from identity crises, drug addiction, alcoholism and the inability to maintain good relationships. Many go on to become molesters themselves repeating the very horrific acts that inflicted such great pain in their lives. Some end up committing suicide leaving their families with unanswered questions and visible teardrops.
While it should be clear that we as a community must do more to protect our young girls from rape and molestation, we must not forget to sharpen our collective eye to protect our boys. We must be mindful of their surroundings at all times and be careful whose hands we leave them in.
Parents must teach little boys regarding appropriate contact versus inappropriate contact with others. This conversation is no longer just reserved for little girls.
If you are a man who has suffered this kind of abuse, seek refuge in God for He is the master healer of all wounds. Be encouraged and know that the abuse from your past makes you no less of a man. As a matter of fact, your strength to persevere in the name of God makes you greater than most men. We must protect young boys and girls from the pedophile element in our community by any means necessary.