Usually Women’s History Month is spent celebrating the heroics of icons such as Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm and Marsha P. Johnson, but one new project aims at honoring everyday black women who also deserve to be acknowledged for their tireless contributions to the community.
Created by Frederick Joseph, who also launched the Black Panther Challenge, To Black Women With Love showcases a series of short videos by black men who are uplifting and affirming black women.
“You’re always there, whether it’s in the community or the movement fighting for our freedom, fighting for our respect, or whether it’s to fight to keep our families together … you are appreciated, black women,” New York City Hot 97 DJ Ebro says in one vignette.
“When I think about the black women in my life, I automatically think about my mother. The strength and the resilience, it’s just everything. To her, to all the black women out there, you’re beautiful, you’re intelligent … we love you,” participant Frank Abney says in another.
For Joseph, who launched the series March 1, these messages of affection, admiration and gratitude are few and far between, which is shameful given how much black women have historically done and continue to do for the community.
“I had a group of black female friends who wanted to create content around black men’s mental health and I kept thinking, ‘black women are always doing stuff for us, they always ride for us, even when they don’t think we love them back,” Joseph told NBCBLK.
He added that it’s “heartbreaking” to keep hearing black women express feelings of abandonment and disrespected by men they support and fight for.
“It’s heartbreaking when black women say to one another ‘we all we got,” because they don’t think black men care, protect or celebrate them,” he shared.
“So many of us love you all so deeply and it became clear to me that as black men, we have to step up and communicate that love more often. Staying silent is also part of the problem."
It’s from there, Joseph conceived To Black Women With Love, which he describes as much needed “love letters” that can create change.
“I hope this platform will change the narrative that we don’t care and push back against the misogyny and toxicity that does exist in our community,” he said, adding that while he knows “these videos won’t fix all of these issues," they are however a step in the right direction.
In addition, Joseph stressed that another major goal of the series is to create a safe haven for black women online, which is crucial given that past studies have found that women of color experience higher rates of abuse on social media.
According to a 2018 Amnesty International report, black women are 84 percent more likely than white women to be disproportionately targeted on Twitter, with one in 10 tweets mentioning black women was abusive or problematic, compared to one in 15 for white women.
“The harassment, the verbal abuse and the bad [hateful] takes I consistently see on Twitter are disturbing. So no matter what happens, what a black man does to you or what the world says about you, this site is a constant reminder that your community loves and appreciates you regardless.”
While Women’s History Month may only be 31 days long, Joseph envisions his project to surpass that. He plans to develop it into a yearlong effort curating hundreds of new videos he can later turn into a short film.
“Right now, we have roughly 20 videos, but that’s not enough. I literally want the site to crash,” he laughs.
Most importantly, Joseph hopes that To Black Women With Love will show black men and boys how to express love and appreciation without fearing vulnerability.
And for men interested in submitting their own videos, Joseph shares the following advice.
“Come as you are and don’t hold anything back. You want to sing, sing. Cry, cry. Go ahead and even sing a song if you want,” he suggests.
“Black women need you and this is a wonderful opportunity to show up for them in the same way they always show up for us.”