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Pornography, Rape and Sexual Assault

But Some of Us Are Brave: In Support of the April 28, 2007 National Day of Truthtelling in Durham, North Carolina

Aishah Shahidah SimmonsBut Some of Us Are Brave—In Support of the April 28, 2007 National Day of Truthtelling in Durham, North Carolina
By Aishah Shahidah Simmons

While there are many folks who are rejoicing that Imus was fired, I fear that we may have won a battle but could have *temporarily* lost this relentless racist/sexist war against Black women in the United States. While most eyes were focused on the outcome of Imus’ fate, the accused members of the Duke Lacrosse team were exonerated. Very, very tragically, many of the same Black (overwhelmingly male) voices who were demanding the firing of Imus, haven’t said a peep about the recent dropping of charges against the accused members of the Duke Lacrosse team. Additionally, in the ongoing mainstream media discussions about Imus calling the predominantly Black women’s basketball team at Rutgers University “nappy headed-ho’s,” there hasn’t been any mainstream media correlation/analysis/commentary
/discussion about the fact that:

1. Some of the (White) Duke Lacrosse team members called the two (Black) women “niggers” and “bitches”;
2. One of the (White) Duke Lacrosse members threatened to rape them with a broomstick;
3. Another (White) Duke Lacrosse team member spoke of hiring strippers in an e-mail sent the same night that threatened to kill “the bitches” and cut off their skin while he ejaculated in his “Duke-issued spandex;” and
4. Another (White) Duke Lacrosse team member shouted to the (Black woman) victim as she left the team’s big house, “Hey bitch, thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt.”

Instead there were subtle and not-so subtle racist implications that hip-hop is the cause of Imus’ racist/sexist comments; and that the Black woman stripper/whore (not daughter, not mother, not college student, not sex worker) lied on/set up the innocent White Duke Lacrosse team members (who hired her and her colleague to perform for them).

So, in this very direct way the corporate owned media message to the American public is that Black people, especially Black women, are the perpetrators of violence against White men (and I would argue Black men too).

Based on the overwhelming deafening silence from mainstream Black (predominantly male) ‘leaders’ and organizations about the documented racist/sexist comments made by the White Duke Lacrosse team members, it’s clear to me that no one will speak for us– Black women–but ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rape survivor, a child sexual abuse survivor, a domestic violence survivor, a stripper, a prostitute, a lesbian, a bisexual woman, a heterosexual woman, a single mother (especially with several children from different fathers), on welfare, a high school drop out, college educated, working in corporate America, working at a minimum wage job with no health insurance, or working in the film/music/television entertainment industry. Yes, I placed what some people would view as very different/distinct categories of Black women in the same category because I firmly believe that if any of the aforementioned Black women are at the wrong place at the wrong time (which could be at any time), we, Black women, will be left to heal our very public wounds alone.

I was the young Black woman who in 1989, at 19 years old six weeks shy of my 20th birthday, said “Yes”, while on a study abroad program…I was the Black woman who broke the rules of the university where I attended by agreeing to sneak out, after hours, to meet the man who would become my rapist… I was the Black woman who after breaking the university enforced rules started to have second thoughts but was afraid to articulate them and was afraid to turn around because my friends were covering for me… I was the Black woman who paid for the hotel room where I was raped…I was the Black woman who said to my soon-to-become rapist, “I don’t want to do this. Please stop.” I didn’t “violently” fight back. I didn’t scream or yell to the top of my lungs” because I was afraid. I didn’t want to make a “scene.” I blamed myself for saying, “Yes”…for breaking the rules…for paying for the hotel room.

I am one of countless women, regardless of race/ethnicity/national origin, age, sexual orientation, class, religion who experientially learned that the (often unchallenged) punishment for women who use poor judgment with men is rape and other forms of sexual violence. And the reward for those same men who perpetrate the sexual violence that we (victim/survivors) experience is the opportunity to perpetrate again and in turn say “WOMEN LIE.”

“For all who ARE survivors of sexual violence…For all who choose to BELIEVE survivors of sexual violence…For all who KNOW WE CAN end rape culture…” come to Durham, North Carolina on Saturday, April 28, 2007. Join the numerous individuals and organizations from across the United States who will come to Durham, North Carolina on Saturday, April 28, 2007 to participate in “Creating A World Without Sexual Violence – A National Day of Truthtelling.”

This mobilizing event is organized by a coalition of organizations including North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Ubuntu, Men Against Rape Culture, SpiritHouse, Raleigh Fight Imperialism Stand Together, Southerners on New Ground, Independent Voices, Black Workers for Justice, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization/OSCL).

For more information on the National Day of Truthtelling, visit:
http://truthtelling.communityserver.com/
http://iambecauseweare.wordpress.com/
www.myspace.com/ubuntunc

Aishah Shahidah Simmons is a Black feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker, writer, and activist based in Philadelphia. An incest and rape survivor, she spent eleven years, seven of which were full time to produce/write/direct NO! (The Rape Documentary), a feature length documentary which looks at the universal reality of rape and other forms of sexual violence through the first-person testimonies, activism, scholarship, cultural work, and spirituality of African-Americans.
www.NOtheRapeDocumentary.org
www.myspace.com/afrolez
*******************************************
Following is a non-exclusive list of books by Black feminists who address Hip-Hop and Feminism
(There are many more books than those that are listed):

Pimps Up, Ho’s Down: Hip-Hop’s Hold On Young Black Women by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting

Prophets in the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip-Hop by Imani Perry

When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down by Joan Morgan

 From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism by Patricia Hill Collins

Gender Talk: The Struggle For Women’s Equality in African American Communities by Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Beverly Guy-Sheftall 

Thanks to Mekhit for sending this to me.

Heart

Discussion

14 thoughts on “But Some of Us Are Brave: In Support of the April 28, 2007 National Day of Truthtelling in Durham, North Carolina

  1. Thanks for posting this. And the other things you’ve posted, which I’ve mentioned and linked to Elsewhere (but I think you’ve seen that)?… anyway.

    Yeah, every time over the past several months that I’ve heard somebody interviewed on NPR who would moan about giving Duke Lacrosse a bad name, tarninshing the whole team, the boys were so obviously innocent, everybody unfairly thinks they’re racists…

    Every single time, the cotton-shirt remark played in my head.

    Oh, the women weren’t subjected to any abuse? Well, I beg to differ, because abuse was OPENLY ADMITTED TO with that little remark.

    Posted by funnie | April 18, 2007, 7:42 pm
  2. 1. Some of the (White) Duke Lacrosse team members called the two (Black) women “niggers” and “bitches”;
    2. One of the (White) Duke Lacrosse members threatened to rape them with a broomstick;
    3. Another (White) Duke Lacrosse team member spoke of hiring strippers in an e-mail sent the same night that threatened to kill “the bitches” and cut off their skin while he ejaculated in his “Duke-issued spandex;” and
    4. Another (White) Duke Lacrosse team member shouted to the (Black woman) victim as she left the team’s big house, “Hey bitch, thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt.”

    Good ol boys just being good ol boys.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | April 18, 2007, 7:56 pm
  3. thanks for this.

    similarly, april 28th, 2007 also happens to be the WALK AGAINST RAPE in san francisco. anyone is welcome to walk with us.

    additionally, if anyone would like to donate/sponsor me, i’m only a little over a hundred bucks shy of my $1250 goal. the money raised goes to help sexual assault and rape survivors. http://www.firstgiving.com/msjared2

    Posted by ms. jared | April 18, 2007, 8:56 pm
  4. Wow, I had no idea.

    I am interested in this National Truthtelling Day and I’m going to look at the link.

    My blog is about incest and who I am as a result. It’s a little different than some people’s take. For me, there are no victims. To identify that way is to lose our power completely.

    Thanks for posting this! Ann

    Posted by Ann O'Johnson | April 18, 2007, 9:35 pm
  5. CM you’re damn right! I just wanted to second third and forth your statement.😉

    Posted by Divine Purpose | April 18, 2007, 9:40 pm
  6. You’re welcome, Heart! I’m glad I could help.🙂 If you’re thinking of going but aren’t sure about rides, etc., the best link to go to is at
    http://truthtelling.communityserver.com/

    The site deals with all the logistics of the event, like helping people find rides, accomodation, etc. They even have a nifty survey where they ask you about your needs for the event as far as housing, transportation, accessibility, etc.

    Also, if anybody can give rides, it’s a good place to post that as well — so far there are just a few requests and no offers!

    Posted by mekhit | April 19, 2007, 12:13 am
  7. It may be of interest to note that SWOP East, North Carolina, myself and my SWOP East, NC colleague Jessica Land, who has been in contact with and collaborting with UBUNTU on this event, strongly and openly endorses this event and that we will also be there as supporters of this event. This is a great event and I am very proud of UBUNTU for their work on this event, am very happy to be the Program Coordinator of SWOP East that authorized our endorsement and support of this event and very proud of Jessica Land for all of her effort related to our collaboration with UBUNTU in supporting their event. I’m very happy to find common ground and to take stances against oppression and support the fight against patriarchal oppression and honor those that have survived it and those that stand up to it.

    Posted by jill brenneman | April 19, 2007, 12:25 am
  8. Yes, the documented behavior of the Lacrosse players has been largely ignored in the “OMG THE B**** LIED!” attitude about the rape.

    Posted by Miranda | April 19, 2007, 12:09 pm
  9. The “But Some of Us Are Brave: In Support of the April 28, 2007 National Day of Truthtelling in Durham, North Carolina” is a crucial event here in Raleigh/Durham. There was always extensive backlash against the victim here from the outset because of her race and that she was an exotic dancer. The public sentiment was awful from the outset against her. When the charges were dropped it was this horrible euphoric atmosphere of victory and celebration like somehow some personal victory for Raleigh/Durham was gained by the charges being withdrawn. It’s completely disgusting.

    To say that the victim was courageous by trying to take on Duke, law enforcement and the good ole boys culture still so dominant here is a massive understatement. Brave does not describe it well.

    This is an event where those of us who do believe her and oppose the horrible misogyny of the southern good ole boys network, the hatred of sex workers and the endless belief in the south that any woman alleging rape is lying, especially if she is not white and worse, a sex worker.

    This is a very important day in the fight against sexual violence in Raleigh/Durham and hopefully a sense of solidarity for the victim that there are many who do believe and support her.

    Posted by jill brenneman | April 19, 2007, 5:55 pm
  10. I would like to link this story!

    Love it.

    Posted by DivineLavender | April 21, 2007, 4:46 am
  11. I’ll be attending this on Saturday. This is a very positive event that I am honored to endorse and attend. If anyone is interested please let me know, I am happy to provide a synopsis.

    Posted by jill brenneman | April 27, 2007, 4:44 am
  12. I want to thank the 9 amazing agencies/groups who organized the National Day of Truthtelling: Black Workers For Justice (BWFJ), Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organización Socialista del Camino para la Libertad (FRSO/OSCL), Independent Voices, Men Against Rape Culture (MARC), the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA), Raleigh Fight Imperialism–Stand Together (FIST), SpiritHouse, Southerners On New Ground (SONG), and UBUNTU.

    You all are AMAZING!

    Posted by endrape | April 30, 2007, 12:29 pm

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