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One of the issues that I have been addressing lately is the issue of domestic violence, with a particular focus on domestic violence in the Black American collective.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [the CDC] analyzed 18 years of data from 18 states, compiled by the National Violent Death Reporting System between 2003 and 2014. The CDC found that the overall homicide rate for women was 2 per 100,000 women.
When researchers reviewed the statistics for Black women, the homicide rate jumped to 4.4 per 100,000 women. The rate for American Indian and Alaska Native women was 4.3 per 100,000. 1.2 for Asian women, 1.8 for Hispanic women, and 1.5 for White women.
According to the CDC, domestic violence played a key role in the majority of female homicides. Their report found that at least 55.3% of female homicides were related to domestic violence, which means that the victim was murdered by her current or former partner or caught in the crossfire of a domestic violence homicide.
In a 2007 report by the United States Department of Justice, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that Black women are four times more likely than White women to be murdered as a result of domestic violence.
Although Black women only makeup about 13% of U.S. women, they compose a staggering half of all female homicide victims — the majority of whom were murdered by current or former boyfriends or husbands.
While domestic violence affects every class, geographical area, religious creed, and ethnic group — those of us who regularly engage Black women cannot and should not ignore that Black women–an under-served, vulnerable population–experience domestic violence at a disproportionately higher rate than women of other ethnic groups.
In light of this, I think it is important to observe and address the ideas and beliefs that Black women and men are being taught that foster an abusive mentality (I will explain what this is later on in another article), render Black women susceptible to domestic violence, and possibly contribute to the disproportionately higher rates of domestic violence that Black women experience.
What are Black Women and Men Being Taught in Hebrew Israelite Groups?
Let’s turn our attention to the teachings of a specific Hebrew Israelite group called “Israel United in Christ” [IUIC]. Their official website can be found here israelunite.org.
On the IUIC official website, there is an article titled, “JUANITA GOT BEAT DOWN TO THE GROUND.” According to Google, this article was created or last modified on October 26, 2012.
The article begins with an excerpt from another article titled, “JUANITA BYNUM: Beat Up from the Feet Up” which was originally posted on AOL Black Voices by Karu F. Daniels. Note: I see no evidence that Karu F. Daniels is a Hebrew Israelite, a member of IUIC, or endorses any of their teachings. According to Daniel’s official website, he is a digital media producer, freelance journalist, and published author.
The Context Behind Karu F. Daniel’s Article
On August 21, 2007, Juanita Bynum and her then estranged husband Thomas W. Weeks III, met up at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel near the the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, GA to discuss their marital problems and try to reconcile, according to the Atlanta police.
They began arguing in the parking lot around 4 a.m., and according to police reports, Weeks choked Bynum, threw her to the ground, and began kicking her, leaving bruises on her neck and torso. The assault ended when a bellman at the hotel pulled Weeks off of Bynum.
Weeks fled the scene and turned himself in to the police at the Fulton County Jail two days later. He was released on $40,000 bond and ordered to have no contact with Bynum. In court, Weeks pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and simple battery.
After maintaining his innocence for six months and reaffirming his not-guilty plea in February of 2008, Weeks eventually admitted in Fulton County Superior Court before Judge T. Jackson Bedford that he grabbed Bynum, threw her down and kicked her in the parking lot. He pleaded guilty and was indicted by the Fulton County grand jury.
As you can imagine, this domestic violence scandal rocked the church world, and the secular media swooped in on this story like vultures on a carcass. There was no shortage of unsubstantiated theories and
gossip “gospel tea” about what led up to the assault and “domestic violence apologists” asserting (without any evidence) that Bynum initiated or provoked the assault, and/or that she deserved to be assaulted by Weeks because she is a false prophetess and exhibits domineering behavior in the pulpit.
I affirm that Bynum is a false prophetess and I have publicly stated this in the past on my platforms. However, the fact that Bynum is a false prophetess does not mean that it’s okay to make up unsubstantiated theories about her, fill in the blanks with speculation, falsely accuse her of things for which there is no evidence, or take pleasure in her troubles. She is still a human being made in the image of God and did not deserve to be assaulted. I do not support the heretical theology, unbiblical practices, and sinful behavior of Bynum. But neither do I support domestic violence, whether a woman is or is not a godly woman.
Indeed, I found it very interesting, and disturbing, that so many people (both women and men) took the position that Bynum “deserved” to be assaulted by Weeks, and that her loud, flamboyant preaching style means that “she must have been abusive towards Weeks behind the scenes” and “provoked him” into assaulting her or that he assaulted her in an act of self-defense. Many people were not able to set aside their feelings for Bynum as a false prophetess and look objectively at the facts of the domestic violence case. But I digress.
An IUIC Member’s Response to Thomas Weeks Assaulting Juanita Bynum
Let’s take a look at how an IUIC member (the author of the article in question) responded to Thomas Weeks assaulting Juanita Bynum.
Did he educate his audience by providing them with a clear and concise definition of domestic violence?
Did he provide a clear and concise description of the mentality of a domestic abuser so that women (and men) know what to look out for?
Did he unequivocally condemn domestic violence and rebuke domestic abusers?
Did he put all of the responsibility, blame, and guilt for domestic violence on perpetrators? Or did he shift some of the responsibility, blame, and guilt onto victims?
Did he express a desire to see victims of domestic violence receive justice and for domestic abusers to be held accountable?
Did he provide any spiritual counsel or support to victims of domestic violence and encourage them to report their abuse to civil authorities?
Did he guide his audience to seek professional help (domestic violence advocacy, professional domestic violence counseling, medical care, legal help, financial/material resources for transition and recovery, etc) if they are in a domestic violence relationship? Did he refer them to any community resources?
Did he express a healthy (Biblically sound) view of women and men?
The answers to these questions will tell us whether the IUIC has a solid understanding of domestic violence and is making a serious effort to help victims of domestic violence, rather than harm them. Let’s keep this in mind as we examine this article.
The author begins by saying that Bynum has professed that women are equal to men. Does he not believe that women are equal to men? He also claims that Bynum has professed that women are “over the man,” however, there is no evidence that Bynum has ever said such a thing. So the article is starting off with a false accusation, and it only goes downhill from here.
The author says that it was reported that Weeks refused to argue with Bynum and he walked out of the hotel, but she “had to get her point across so she ran him down. You know how some Negro women do.“
Where was it reported that Weeks “refused to argue” with Bynum and walked out of the hotel, and then she “ran him down”? In the police reports? In Bynum and/or Weeks’ own personal accounts? By an eyewitness? This is hearsay. . . a rumor. . . designed to portray Weeks as a victim who was seeking to avoid an argument, and Bynum as the aggressor. . . . even though the photos of Bynum’s injuries, the police reports, and Weeks’ own guilty confession prove that he was the aggressor.
I find it interesting that the author said that, “she [Bynum] had to get her point across. . .” when, by nature, an argument is two individuals trying to get their point across and passionately disagreeing. According to police reports, both Bynum and Weeks were arguing with one another, so they were both trying to get their point across. Making a one-sided comment that Bynum “had to get her point across” when the facts show that both parties were trying to get their point across shows bias and ignores the police reports.
The comment, “You know how some Negro women do” alludes to a common and pervasive negative anti-Black woman stereotype – the “angry Black woman” trope which paints Black women as aggressive, combative, and argumentative. This negative stereotype is rooted in misogynoir (a strong dislike or hatred for Black women), and it is one of the reasons why some Black women are reluctant to come forward and report domestic violence, because they don’t want to be perceived as an angry Black woman, disbelieved, or falsely accused of provoking their own victimization based on a negative anti-Black woman stereotype that they were the aggressor.
A “UFC move”? Is the author trying to inject humor into a domestic violence assault? This is entirely inappropriate. Then he says that “this aint funny.”
“. . . why couldn’t she learn to be quiet?”? This question is a form of victim-blaming, and also sexist. It’s a form of victim-blaming because it blames victims of domestic violence (particularly women) for provoking their own abuse by talking, responding verbally, or arguing. The assumption here is that domestic abusers wouldn’t abuse their partners if their partners would just be quiet, which is utterly false and demonstrates gross ignorance of the reasons why domestic abusers abuse their target(s). No amount of women being quiet and acquiescent is going to prevent domestic violence. In fact, silence empowers abuse and emboldens domestic abusers. So what the author is advocating here (women being quiet and acquiescent) is actually dangerous.
The question is sexist, because it is primarily directed to women based on an unbiblical gender role belief that women are to be silent. Men are rarely told that they provoked violence against themselves by talking, responding verbally, or arguing. Men are rarely told that they need to be quiet in order to avoid or prevent any sort of violence against themselves – be it domestic violence, bullying, battery at the hands of other men, or police brutality. Yet Black women are repeatedly told that they incited domestic violence against themselves by “talking back” or arguing, as if Black women are supposed to be docile slaves who should be silent, “seen and not heard,” and only speak (in unwavering agreement, of course) when spoken to. Women who “talk back” are seen as provoking domestic violence against themselves and deserving to be assaulted.
The author claims that he is “not making no excuses for the husband,” but this is untrue because earlier in the article, he made a veiled attempt to rationalize Weeks’ violent behavior by painting him as a victim who was seeking to avoid an argument, but was provoked by Bynum [the aggressor, in the author’s eyes] who “ran him down” to “get her point across.” Then he asks, ” . . .why couldn’t she learn to be quiet?” which implies that Weeks assaulted Bynum because she kept talking. This is making an excuse for domestic violence. Just because someone claims that they didn’t make an excuse for sinful behavior doesn’t mean that they didn’t do so.
The author said that “article after article has excused Juanita Bynum of any wrong.” He says this as if he wants her to be mutually responsible and share in the guilt and blame for Weeks’ behavior. The evidence indicates that Weeks’ is fully responsible for the assault and Bynum is not. Bynum is responsible for teaching heresy, promoting false practices, financially exploiting professing Christians, and walking in the flesh. She is not, however, responsible for Weeks’ choking her, throwing her to the ground, and kicking her.
The author said that “this world is under a Satanic feminine spirit.” No. Scripture says that the world is under the influence of the evil one–Satan–the spirit of antiChrist, the adversary, an evil fallen angel who opposes God, the Church, and all of humanity (1 John 5:19). Nowhere in Scripture does it say that the world is under a “Satanic feminine spirit.” Scripture does not teach that Satan, the spirit of antiChrist, is a feminine spirit. The Bible refers to Satan as a HE, not a SHE. Satan is called the PRINCE of the power of the air, not the PRINCESS of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). The idea or belief that the world is under a Satanic “feminine spirit” stems from the sin of misogyny.
The author said, “. . . there has been a rash of beat downs upon women with big mouths. . . “ Once again, he victim-blames by implying that Black women are being assaulted because they have “big mouths” (a negative anti-Black woman stereotype).
He then admonishes Black women to remember a few passages from the Book of Sirach. Considering that Thomas Weeks was found guilty of domestic violence, why would the author of this article share religious texts about wicked women? Why is his focus on “wicked women” when the perpetrator in question is a man? Why are women being admonished to remember these passages?
Women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence, and Black women suffer the highest rates. . . How do any of these passages help Black women recognize the red flags of domestic violence, the mentality of an abuser, and how to escape from a domestic violence relationship? Do any of these passages aid in the recovery of a domestic violence survivor or give them any comfort?
Hebrew Israelite groups like the IUIC go hard in the paint on Black women who wear weave, blonde hair, immodest clothing, pants, women preachers, “loud mouth” Black women, Black women who date and marry non-Black men, basically every Black woman who isn’t a member of their religious group. Yet they have far less to say about Black men who abuse Black women, and what little they do say is poisoned with out-of-context Scriptures, victim-blaming, sin-leveling, scapegoating, sexist and misogynoir language, domestic abuser defending, and twisted spiritually-abusive “reproof” directed at women.
Black women have the highest risk of being murdered in a domestic violence homicide, and sadly, this article was a total and complete failure to educate a high-risk population and provide faith-based advocacy. I see no evidence anywhere in this article that the IUIC takes the issue of domestic violence seriously, has a solid up-to-date understanding of domestic violence, and has an interest in assisting victims of domestic violence and seeing perpetrators held accountable.
Follow this blog and stay tuned for the next article which will examine another IUIC article about domestic violence.