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By now most fans of “Scandal,” the ABC drama featuring Kerry Washington as D.C. fixer “Olivia Pope,” have heard the news that Columbus Short, who played “Harrison Wright” on the show, will not be returning for Season 4.
Though no reason was given, observers have made an educated guess that his swift exit at the height of the show’s popularity is due, in large part, to allegations made by his estranged wife, Tanee McCall Short, that he choked her and placed a knife to her throat, all while threatening to kill her then himself.
During a recent episode of his radio show, comedian D.L. Hughley, who once said that black women were the angriest people he’s ever met, weighed in on the story. This black man, who for some reason has been given a platform that reaches millions of people, used that platform to viciously attack McCall-Short by calling her a “thirsty bitch” and a “thirsty hoe,” who should have kept her mouth closed to get more money from her impending divorce.
“I think that broad shouldn’t be telling all his business if she gone take him to court,” said Hughley.
He dismisses the concerns of his female co-host, Jasmine Sanders, to converse with male co-host Steve Wilson because he has “nuts.” As Wilson intermittently laughs in the background, Hughley stops just short of calling McCall-Short a liar whose friends posed as witnesses to her abuse. “I don’t think you believe half the shit you saying right now, Jasmine,” said Hughley as Wilson laughed. “This bitch was thirsty. The bitch was thirsty. What, she gone go back to dancing? She gone f**k her money up?”
In a shockingly sexist move, he played the “emotional” card to silence Sanders, who continued to inject seriousness into the conversation, by repeatedly asking her what was wrong with her, even going so far as to feign concern and ask if she needed a hot water bottle.
Laugh it up, folks. Abused black women are the joke of the day.
What D.L. Hughley did on air to his female co-host and to every woman who has ever been a victim of domestic violence went well past the boundaries of misogyny and sexism, and into the realm of psychological and emotional abuse.
Not once did Hughley, a father of two daughters, give any weight to the allegations. Not once did he seriously denounce domestic violence or consider that Short’s wife was in very real danger. Instead, he called her a “thirsty hoe” and a “thirsty bitch” who should have kept her mouth shut.
“When you’re very young, you’re very volatile,” Hughley said. “I’ve been in situations where the police were called. I don’t believe that every time someone says something in the heat of anger, they actually mean it. Everybody want a thug dude, a passionate dude, until you gotta live with your mother in an undisclosed location. You know what kind of dude you picked. Stop it.” Sanders chimed in and said, “I don’t think that’s always the case.” Hughley’s response? “Well, you’re dumb.”
The entire segment should have come with a trigger warning.
According to the Institute of Domestic Violence In The African American Community (IDVAAC):
• As with other abusive men, African American men who batter are higher in jealousy and the need for power and control in the relationship.
• As with women of other races, among African American women killed by their partner, the lethal violence was more likely to occur if there had been incidents in which the partner had used or threatened to use a weapon on her and/or the partner has tried to choke or strangle her.
• Among African American women killed by their partner, almost half were killed while in the process of leaving the relationship, highlighting the need to take extra precautions at that time.
In “Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism,” bell hooks spoke about the tendency within communities to silence female victims of male violence while showing unwavering support for the men who abused them and the reluctance to hold black men accountable. And it was Audre Lorde who spoke of black women being “particularly vulnerable to the false accusation that anti-sexist is anti-Black.”
D.L. Hughley is following in a long tradition of failing black women, and he owes all women who have been victims of domestic violence an apology. For every young woman who has ever been told to keep her mouth shut, he owes them an apology. For every woman who has ever been told that it was her fault, that she should have known that her attacker was violent, he owes an apology. For every Black woman who feels unprotected in her own community, and ashamed of being assaulted, he owes an apology. For every woman who remained silent for too long, whose fears were dismissed, and who, subsequently, ended up dead, he owes an apology.
Black America Web, which so brazenly titled the clip they ran: “Why Columbus Short’s Wife Should Keep Her Mouth Shut,” should also be held accountable. It’s not as if the site, which ironically ran an article on black women and domestic violence in last October, is oblivious to the very real dangers that black women face. And the fact that they know makes their willingness to ignore those painful, lived experiences for a cheap laugh even more egregious. Hughley’s comments and the site’s support of them, does nothing but add fuel to a blazing fire already filled with the discarded bodies of black women.
Black women have been silent. We are known to be loyal to men who abuse us without conscience and rape us without apology, all because of the fear of being cast as the villain.
And we cannot, we will not, be silent any longer. We will continue to speak out and stand up -- even if D.L. Hughley and other cowards like him refuse to stand with us.