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#WeKnowWhatYouDid

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Written by Da’Shaun Harrison

 

I woke up on Wednesday morning, November 8th. It was around 8:30 am. Expecting it to be just another Wednesday, I checked my emails, then my texts, and then social media.

What I found when I scrolled through Twitter, however, was that this was not just another Wednesday. This was the day that someone, or several people, decided to do what most survivors often want to but opt-out of due to fear, lack of protection, antagonism from apologists, and a host of other reasons.

Student survivors from the Atlanta University Center (AUC)—which consists of Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University—plastered Morehouse and Spelman’s campuses with sheets of paper. On these sheets were the names of various assailants throughout the AUC and organizations they were affiliated with.

When I saw the first tweet, my heart sank. I was excited about the labor that survivors were putting in; labor that both institutions have proven they were unwilling to, and maybe even incapable of, committing to. However, though the action was both humbling and refreshing for me as a survivor, I also knew that Twitter would soon be set ablaze by the many assailants and their apologists who have also proved that they are unwilling to put in the labor to combat rape culture. I took several deep breaths, sent out various texts, and then I waited.

 

 

At 8:30, there were a few folks talking about the incident, but there was not yet too large of a conversation. 9:00 came and chatter had increased, but still nothing tremendously outrageous. By this time, I was reading tweets stating that Morehouse’s campus police had already begun to remove the sheets of paper. I thought, for a moment, that this protest would prove to be unsuccessful. And as an organizer, that reality was disappointing. I am always in full support of organizers who take such radical, bold, and strategic steps toward justice. However, as a survivor, I could not help but to feel a little excited. Thankful that I would not have to bear witness to the inundating ignorance of people who refuse to hold sexual abusers accountable for their actions.

 

Then 10:00 came.

 

Suddenly, a rush of tweets began to flood my Twitter timeline with more pictures of the white sheets of paper and the names of assailants typed onto them. Some names I knew and expected, others coming as a total surprise. And with these pictures came the commentary I originally expected. “How do we know these people are actually rapists?” some asked. “Are we sure we know what they did?” others asked. It was as if rape apologists rushed to Twitter in droves to make unapologetic claims about the survivors’ actions while not daring to condemn the men and women who were accused. Many of them even dressed their bigotry in the guise of solidarity with survivors.

 

#WeKnowWhatYouDid quickly became more than a hashtag, much like the origin of #BlackLivesMatter. This became a national campaign in a matter of hours. Tons of survivors took to Twitter to share their stories with names of their assailants, and Twitter pages, designed with the purpose of naming perpetrators, were created.

 

That day was spent having long, tough and painful discussions about rape culture and sexual assault. Survivors forced to argue the indispensability of our humanity. For hours, I was stuck deciding when choosing to be quiet to protect my sanity made me complicit in the silencing of my voice and when not being vocal aided in the erasure of my narrative.

 

I was finally able to laugh again at the end of the day. Barely, but I did. After hours of fighting through triggering responses to combat harmful beliefs about survivors, I was able to smile again.

 

Then Thursday came.

 

And with this new day came a second action. This time, a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, which stands at the front of Morehouse’s campus, had been spray painted with the message: “Practice what you preach Morehouse. End rape culture.” In yet another frenzy, Twitter users quickly tweeted out their thoughts on the action. Just as the majority focused on condemning the survivors and not the assailants the day before, many people focused on the vandalism of the chapel and not the reasoning behind it.

 

 

Almost as quickly as the vandalism was discovered, Morehouse’s campus police covered the work with a tarp. As many folks pointed out on Twitter, this was an emblematic gesture—be it intentional or otherwise—of how Morehouse, and HBCUs in general, respond to sexual violence. It depicts, almost comically, how swiftly those with the power and privilege to make real, structural change are committed to silencing survivors and covering up our stories. Fixated on damning those who have experienced trauma for the ways in which they choose to seek justice over condemning those who caused the trauma.

 

That very same Thursday morning at Crown Forum, which is a college-wide student assembly, the interim president of the college, Harold Martin Jr., addressed the students and the recent actions. Within this statement, he says: “This will be the last time anyone ever defaces the chapel on this campus.” A moment that could have been used to have a raw discussion about sexual violence with a room filled mostly by men was, instead, used as a moment to, yet again, focus on the property that had been painted over.

 

He used the word “deface,” which can translate to “damage” or “ruin,” to describe the spray painting of the chapel. And while it is true that students defaced property, it is also true that the Church has attempted to deface many survivors as it has been a place of deep-rooted violence towards queer folk and women. In a piece I recently wrote, I discussed my own experiences with sexual violence and the Church’s role. The Church—specifically, the Black Church—has long aided in the silencing of survivors and has been committed to molding and shaping assailants. Morehouse is an institution built on old baptist morals and ethics and has been a product of two institutions, Christianity, and the cisheteropatriarchy, with a dedication to protecting perpetrators. And what better place to attack that than the one place that represents both institutions on campus?

 

This forced me, and a lot of other survivors and advocates, to revisit and reintroduce the fact that though rape culture is prevalent throughout the rest of America—as patriarchy is not confined to Morehouse and Spelman’s campuses—HBCUs have a deeply painful history with and connection to sexual violence that cannot be ignored. A violence that is often silenced and, thus, exacerbated, by a belief that Black people must handle our intracommunal issues “in-house.” That, as a community, healing must come on the terms of the abuser(s) and at the expense of the survivor(s).

 

#WeKnowWhatYouDid acts as a catalyst to a much larger moment, not conversation, that requires us to daringly hold responsible the various men, women, and people who have violated others in unimaginable ways. The hashtag, the movement must push us to not be fixated on the tactics of survivors looking for justice, but on how we work to hold the perpetrators accountable while prioritizing the healing of the survivors.

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For The Culture

LeBron James Opened an $8 Million School?!

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TIME

LeBron James just opened an $8 million public school called I Promise, where kids will have access to free bikes, free meals, free uniforms, free transportation within 2 miles, and much more! The school is for at-risk students in Akron, Ohio who are usually overlooked.

Twitter loved this news. A few even called for LeBron to replace Betsy Devos, the current Secretary of Education.

While many celebrated the opening of this school, many also rightfully noted that no one person should have access to that much money or be in control of the lives of that many students. This led to many discussing socialism and what this type of school could look like if not funded by a private citizen.

 

What are your thoughts on the school? This is overall a great thing, but do you think celebrities, or any rich person, should be able to hoard enough money to do this on their own?

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Huffington Post’s ‘Black Voices’ Gets Called Out For Having White Writers

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Lara Witt-Twitter

Lara Witt—editor of the feminist publication, Wear Your Voice Magazine—pointed out on Twitter that majority of the writers for the Huffington Post’s Black Voices editorial are…white.

The editor for Black Voices, Taryn Finley, is a Black woman, a Delta, and a Howard University graduate. How is it that the company felt comfortable enough hiring what seems like a token Black person to run the site, but did not feel the need to pay other Black writers to be a contributor? Black Voices claims to be sharing “our news” and “our voices,” but this cannot be true when it is non-Black people who are writing the stories. No matter how much Taryn edits for them, the stories are still not ours.

We have seen time and time again how white people will slap the word “Black” on a source of entertainment and feel justified in keeping their voices centered in that space. We’ve seen it with Viacom through BET and now we see it through Black Voices, which is owned and, apparently, operated by white people. If Huffington Post wants to fix this, they need to hire Black writers. There is nothing else to it.

 

Thoughts?

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A Black President Before A Black Photographer: Vogue, This Ain’t It

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126 years and Vogue has never had a black cover photographer… The United States of America and all of its racism elected a Black president before Vogue allowed a Black photographer to shoot for their cover.

I’m not sure if this is even something we should celebrate. Congratulations to Beyoncé for getting on the cover of the September issue of US Vogue and reportedly having “unprecedented access” to create whatever she wants apparently. But had it not been for this, when would Vogue have decided it was time for a Black photographer?

The United States of America and all of its racism elected a black president before Vogue allowed a black photographer for their cover. Click To Tweet

Come to find out this may be Anna Wintour’s last cover as CEO, according to Huffington Post. Beyoncé has hired Tyler Mitchell, a 23-year-old from Atlanta, GA. He will be the first Black photographer to shoot a cover in Vogue’s 126-year history. The photographer and filmmaker has worked with several known brands from Mercedes Benz to Marc Jacobs and Givenchy. This is an amazing opportunity for Mitchell and I’m confident that he will shake the f*ck out of the table in September.

To learn that he will be the first is a proud and sad moment for me. When first hearing the news and the details, I was ecstatic and wanted to know what Bey would be cooking up for the girls this fall, but then I sat in my bed and read some of the titles again and “first Black” and “126 years” kept coming up. I sent a quick text to Taryn Myers—an editor and writer for KingofReads.com—and told her how I felt. It didn’t come to her at first, but the wheels started to turn and she shared something important: “Vogue has been one of the primary messengers about what beauty, wealth, fashion and culture is right?” So to know that they’ve been pushing what is beauty for many years, even in this supposedly “progressive” state we’re in now, and we’re just now getting a Black photographer cover in 2018 speaks volumes.

“The First Black” I expect when we’re talking about government, since America has been ran and founded by white men. I shouldn’t be surprised since most of the publications are ran by those who are for Black and Brown people when capitalism calls them to it. These companies don’t truly care about us because and I don’t think they all of the sudden got it or it hit them. The beautiful Beverly Ann Johnson was the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Vogue in 1974 and even she probably wasn’t allowed to hire a Black photographer.

Nonetheless, Beyoncé and Tyler will create some Black magic for the September cover and Vogue will think that they have done something “progressive” to help them sleep in their white sheets at night not realizing that given tardiness is about as damaging as white sheets with two holes in it.

 

 

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