Opinion: Friends who like 2UrbanGirls weigh in on sexual harrassment claims in the Black community

Sexual harassment ruled 2017 but isn’t new.  2018 was declared the ‘year of the woman’ and women are being hit with allegations too.  The public seems to be more forgiving of individuals accused of sexual harassment vs sexual assault.  2UrbanGirls reached out to members of our “Friends who like 2UrbanGirls” Facebook group for their thoughts. 

The idea for this article came about last month when it was announced Dr. Anthony Samad was selected Executive Director of the Merv Dymally Institute housed at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH).  Although he has settled previous claims of sexual harassment, CSUDH still selected him and chose to allow his present actions to dictate his time on campus.  One of his biggest supporters was Lynn Dymally, the daughter of Merv.

She previously levied sexual assault allegations at the mayor of Carson, CA, yet quietly settled her case.  She provided 2UrbanGirls with a lesson on the difference between her allegations of assault vs harassment claims against Dr. Samad.  In legal terms, they weren’t the same.  The public rallied to Samad’s defense, which included women.  He is also a regular lecturer for incoming classes of the Los Angeles African-American Women’s Political Institute (LAAAWPPI).  He is loved for his academic brilliance and his ability to fundraise.  I was told he is the reason a lot of black folks live in the Baldwin Hills/View Park/Windsor Hills trifecta.  He was their loan officer.

Throughout it all he is still supported and his actions are dismissed to either “disgruntled” former employees or a woman with an ax to grind.

Should we be quick to forgive accusations made against people in power, without regard to their gender?

LeMeika Horton, Planning Commissioner for the City of Compton

In my opinion and in some cases, some members of the Black community forgive eagerly because they do not believe the allegations majority of the time. Most of us know that the system is flawed and you have to use wisdom and discernment as it relates to this topic. In the cases where the convicted confesses to misconduct, I would say that we are JUST very forgiving people by NATURE. And yes the act is more forgivable if it’s just harassment in my eyesight.

Workplace sexual harassment is defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that explicitly or implicitly affect an individual’s employment, unreasonable interferes with an individual’s work performance; or creates and intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”

Chris Petit, former candidate for Compton City Council

I don’t think the Black community is eager to forgive sexual misconduct.  I do think we tend to be suspicious concerning claims of sexual misconduct against our prominent leaders, especially when they come from other races.

Historically it’s not hard to see why.  Famous cases like The Scottsboro Boys, Emmett Till and the Central Park Jogger illustrate how easily Black men can be accused, tried and convicted of sexual crimes.  Each of these cases also highlights racial prejudice, racial profiling, forced confessions, rushed trials, corrupt judges and juries.

In terms of harassment my view is that the Black community has been traditionally more spiritual/religious than other communities.  Therefore the tendency is to also analyze the victim and their morality.  “Why did she go to his room?”, “Did she dress like that every day”, “She knew he was married”, “She’s just trying to get money!”

Sexual misconduct, the “oversexed” Black male, has been weaponized since before this country was formed.  Quite frankly it’s still the easiest way to convict, demean and attack the character of Black men.

Because of this we tend to first look at the accusations as a trap that was meant to be sprung.  I wouldn’t confuse an eagerness to forgive, with an unwillingness to pile-on and participate in the oldest trick in the book when it comes to knocking down Black men.

In the case of former Compton Unified School District Board Trustee Skyy Fisher he was vilified for sexual assault allegations he faced from a male friend.  The public called for his removal from the dais, and the one leading the charge was his fellow trustee Micah Ali.  

No one in the community publicly stood up for Fisher, including his political friends.  People who truly knew Fisher could assume his sexual preference was for men, yet didn’t attribute the situation to a “disgruntled lover” but labeled him a sexual pervert.  2UrbanGirls spoke with the lead detective on Fisher’s case, who was adamant of his guilt due to the rarity of a man reporting sexual assault against another man.  The jury agreed and sentenced Fisher to six years in prison.

Fisher publicly came out as gay months before sentencing.

Now come allegations surfacing of men accusing women of sexual harassment.

In 2015, 6,822 sexual harassment claims were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  17.1 percent of those cases were filed by men.

In 2016 Assemblywomen Autumn Burke and Cristina Garcia fell into that category.

(note at the time commenters submitted responses, the public was only aware of the investigation of Asm. Burke).

Both women are supporters of the #MeToo movement which encourages women coming forward with claims against men, but who is looking out for claims by men against women?  Can women be bullies and abuse their power too?

Marvin McCoy, political consultant

What is so alarming about this [Asm.]  Autumn Burke situation is in one breath she acknowledges her responsibility and or actions in this situation but yet she also presents a dismissive yet defiant role in her response.

If you look closely at her statement and replace Autumn Burke’s name with a Male legislator one could reasonably assume that there would be huge outrage and a demand for resignation.
Looking at her statement broken down, look what her message conveys.
She attributes and or attempts to normalize the subject of the conversation by attributing it to the experience of a young gay male who is employed by her.
She then goes on to state that the conversation was held after hours.
So in essence she is saying that her responsibilities as an elected official are subject to traditional standard business hours?
So is her position that elected officials shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions after ” work hours”?
If that’s the case then we should hold harmless other elected officials because other allegations of sexual harassment and or assault didn’t occur in a traditional workspace and or hours?
In fact by detailed accounts a lot of these allegations occurred in non traditional work settings, @ democratic retreats or fundraisers.
If that wasn’t bad enough she then goes on to take a defiant tone by stating the only reason the allegations came to light was behind a “disgruntled” employee.
What in essence, she has done,is inadvertently created a hostile atmosphere in which if there are any allegations of abuse and or harassment in her office in the future that the claimant will be dismissed as being “disgruntled”.
In fact out of all the cases of allegations of abuse and harassment in the State Capitol, Autumn Burke’s cavalier, dismissive attitude is a perfect example as to why you can’t reasonably expect legislators to police themselves and is indicative of a broken system.
The one who sums this all up is Shirley Moore, political observer, who says the true test of determining forgiveness lies in the place we most likely are not looking.
First of all, we appear to have Two Dichotomy of minds, we’re too overly critical of those we’re familiar with, while justifying the wrongs of Two dimensional objects, specifically if they’re African American.
Wrong is wrong, and it’s time to eliminate excuses: thus, holding all wrongdoers accountable, specifically those in authority.
No more immunity, that should be a standard rule across the board.
I’ll add, specifically Democratics, it’s time to start examining elected officials voting records, as that will be a pertinent deciding factor, in determining forgiveness.

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