From New Black Man/Mark Anthony Neal — I was too busy raising my two daughters, aged thirteen and eight, to pay much attention to Amber Cole, but the truth is that Amber Cole is my daughter and the daughter of so many of us.
Unlike Jimi Izrael’s recent suggestion, I have not seen the so-called Amber Cole video. That so many have—and in the process downloaded and trafficked in illegal child pornography—speaks volumes about how we, as a society, think about Black girls. For that reason alone, Amber Cole is my daughter.
I suspect that for far too many, who have voiced displeasure and alarm about Amber Cole, and or the parenting skills of the adults responsible for her, it is less about real concern for Cole and more likely about the collective shame that she evokes. Unfortunately it is such shame, and the politics of respectability that go hand-in-hand with Black collective shame, that often keeps us from having honest discussions about sex and sexuality in our communities—often to the detriment of our children.
Ironically, this shame is seemingly always directed towards the women and girls in our communities and rarely extended to the men and boys who are complicit in sex acts. It goes without saying, that in the case of Amber Cole, such complicity is indeed criminal; under the law, a 14-year-old cannot consent to sex acts. Too often our conversations with our boys is not to discourage underage sex acts—indeed such acts viewed as a rite of passage for boys—but rather, to caution them about impregnating a partner, whether she consents or not. Few have mentioned rape in response to this case, the reality of the act over-shadowed by the resentment and ire that Amber Cole has drawn from many.
As such there are some who will claim that Amber Cole’s behavior is the product of slack parenting, single-parent households and the continued erosion of values within Black families.