The issue with Patrice Brown exuding sexiness is bigger than one woman’s clothing choices. In a statement to address the issue, the Atlanta Public Schools said, “Atlanta Public Schools can confirm that Patrice Brown is a paraprofessional employed with the district. She was given guidance regarding the APS employee dress code, the use of social media, and Georgia Code of Ethics for Educators, and she has been cooperative in addressing her presence on social media.”
Brown’s dilemma serves as a vivid reminder of how there has always been an attempt to control Black women’s sexuality.
Over 200 years before Brown became characterized by the “teacher bae” hashtag, Sara Baartman dealt with a more vicious struggle when it came to sexual control. Born in South Africa, Baartman’s voluptuous figure caught the eye of European colonists and she eventually became a circus exhibit where her body was put on display. After she died at age 26 due to syphilis, her genitals were dissected and placed on display at a museum in Paris.
The objectification of Black women’s bodies was occurring at the same time in America as Black women were sexually exploited by slave owners. As a result, the wives of slave masters developed a disdain for young Black women who were blamed for their husbands’ infidelity. Post-slavery, Black women continued to be viewed as oversexed and always sexually available. Black women were rarely allowed to express their sexuality on their own terms.
Brown, who is currently a paraprofessional and working to become a teacher, caught flack because of the outfits she wore while working at an Atlanta-area school. The backlash has little to do with the clothes she’s wearing in front of 9-year-olds. There are teachers who may not be considered to be dressed provocatively, but they are being arrested for having sex with students — and their criminal conduct has not been scrutinized like Brown’s clothing.
According to Brown’s Instagram page, she appears to have a true dedication to helping kids learn. If helping students reach their full potential is Brown’s life mission, she shouldn’t be ridiculed because of the way she dressed.
But those who have attacked Brown are attacking Black women who have always dealt with horrific sexual stereotypes.