As activists, we’ve additionally witnessed this firsthand. Twenty years in the past, after we helped the filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons make “No! The Rape Documentary,” she was initially rejected by each main distributor. An govt from HBO even wrote to her in 1998, “Let’s face it, very unfortunately, most people don’t care about the rape of Black women and girls, and therefore we’re concerned that there won’t be many viewers who will tune in to watch No!, were we to air it on our network.”
Even in the present day, as #MeToo continues to dominate headlines, black ladies have been invisible in the motion. Instead, the media has primarily centered on white Hollywood actresses who’ve come ahead with their allegations of systemic abuse and harassment in the business.
But we discovered via our work with A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit we based in 2003 in response to Salamishah’s personal expertise of rape when she was 17, that considered one of the most missed but efficient methods to create social change is to simply imagine the tales that ladies and younger girls of shade inform us. And since black ladies stay at the crossroads of gender and racial violence, if we would like to empower them, we’ve got to confront and dismantle every system of oppression that impacts them.
This previous summer time, for instance, younger artists and activists in our group, which works to finish violence towards women and girls, led their first public artwork marketing campaign, referred to as “The Visibility Project.” They selected to take over Douglas Park in Chicago, the place a number of ladies from their college had been kidnapped and later sexually assaulted. It’s additionally the place 22-year-old Rekia Boyd was killed by an off-duty police officer in 2012.
As the ladies shared their tales of sexual assault or gang violence, they refused to separate the impression of sexual violence, gun violence and political brutality on their lives and on their metropolis. And there was a ripple impact. We’ve seen in our work that black ladies are very highly effective organizers; they recruit boys, different ladies, their mother and father and finally, their group, into the motion. That’s another excuse we have to be sure that this present second of listening to and believing black ladies and younger girls is sturdy. If it’s fleeting, the#MeToo motion will fail.
This requires new types of collaboration and coalition-building. Legacy civil rights organizations should prioritize sexual assault and home violence with the identical ardour that they create to voting rights or felony justice reform. White feminists ought to set up for equal pay and reproductive rights round an anti-racist framework. Victim rights organizations should provide culturally particular assets and elevate up the work of organizations led by black girls which have lengthy been on the entrance line of those points like Black Women’s Blueprint, Girls for Gender Equity, Love With Accountability, Project Nia and the Sasha Center.
With every passing day, extra younger girls accuse R. Kelly of sexual assault. That means extra individuals and establishments — with the obtrusive exception of his label, RCA data — are taking their voices, and, by extension, ladies who appear to be them, severely.
We’ve been ready for this second for a very long time. Let’s not squander it.