Violence & Silence: Opening Remarks
Let’s really talk about some things here. I’ve been dropping comments about brothers in the movement. I assume that when I use the word movement, everyone understands that I mean the countless years of struggle that people of color have been fighting for their lives and political (personal, spiritual, mental, etc, power). Good? Alright so let’s go in.
As previously mentioned, there is a very foul undercurrent of misogyny and abuse going on in this movement by seemingly conscious brothers and sisters who are disrespecting and violating sisters, in some cases brothers. Not only is this going on but to make matters worse, it’s being swept under the rug, perpetuated and no one has the balls to call these things out or make a statement about it.
Recently, a brother of mine from the Acentos Foundation, Rich Villar, wrote a statement about brothers in the literary community who have made womyn feel unsafe and in some instances scared into silence about the behavior going on that no one is saying anything about. I wish I could have made a ticket tapper parade and made him the Grand Marshall for that statement. I have heard whispered in my ear and confessed over drinks stories of heartbreak and abuse too many times to count. And while this problem is not confined to the arts or social activist community, it is detrimental to the movement and the condition of our womyn.
(For the sake of this blog, I will use the word “womyn” as the targets of this abuse but I am also aware and conscious of all genders in this movement that experience this violence and intimidation)
It’s a problem first for the obvious. Abusing a human being is wrong, period. Secondly, arts and revolution go hand in hand. Aside from these avenues being used to bring about change on a large scale, these platforms also provide creative outlets for expression, dialogue, community building and family. Some of us come into our art and revolution because it is supposed to be safe from all the other things that threaten to kill us outside of it.
Let me clear. I am not saying that being an artist or “revolutionary” exempts you from the human condition and all the baggage that comes with it. I can still be a bitch. I still have internalized oppression. But, I am saying that many of us are hoping to create a safer and better world for ourselves, our friends, family and future generations. By allowing this to continue without calling it out the same way we march in rallies, debate with each other at panel discussions and lobby our politicians for change, the same way we should be calling out brothers making sistas feel unsafe. If we’re fighting for a better world, we need to fight for healthier relationships and restoration of safety in our intimate and public spaces. The same way we are asking politicians and governments to be held accountable for their crimes, the same way we need to start holding each other accountable for the crimes occurring within the community.
That’s all I’m saying.