The Black Women's Truth and Reconciliation Commission

today is no coincidence and we are not nor have we ever been isolated incidents some of us have been holding our breath for 400 years we are seeking justice as we define it we are seeking healing as we define it today is about what has happened to black women's bodies to their souls if it feels disruptive be prepared if it feels disruptive it is because rape is destructive if our testimonies are painful to hear it is because rape is painful to bear because the United States is one of the few places in the world where mass rapes have occurred systematically against an entire race of people and the black women among these people and there is vindow outcry no processes for justice and still little to no acknowledgement no resources no recognition of such violations officially and its impact on black women and girls today that's unacceptable so today because it is unacceptable unapologetically today we do not ask we expect truth and justice we declare a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and make it manifest right here on this soil we have to talk about what black women have endured what we continue to endure and what we continue to face we have to talk about it 60% of black women and girls in the United States have experienced sexual violence this violence impacts our communities for generations and generations we will not allow this nation to continue to be silent it was built on our backs and with our rooms and with our hands and without us there would be no United States of America any conversation about this nation known as the United States of America must include all of the ways in which black women specifically have been abused objectified exploited oppressed invisible eyes traumatized infantilized dehumanized we have to talk about the ways in which black women specifically are targeted for specific types of abuse and violence and denied access to our own definitions of what it means to live in our bodies so what does this nation Oh black women everything the narrative that was expressed to me growing up was you are nothing you come from nothing you'll never be nothing your life has no value your body has no worth no one will ever love you nurture or respect you and you will never ever be good for anything else but sex from the age of ten until twelve my pastor molested me daily then at 12 he began to violently and repeatedly raped me I tried to tell and my grandmother's response was just what pastor said pastor is good to this family and whatever he wants that's what you better do and so I did my new narrative for my life is to repurpose redefine and realign my life I made a conscious choice to change my narrative I understand today that I am NOT the tragedy I am NOT a mistake I am NOT a victim I stopped saying I went through this and began saying this is what I came out of I came from what I thought was an ideal family five brothers two sisters eight kids mom and dad I thought it was ideal when I was 14 my mother allowed my 27 year old cousin to babysit me and this married man somehow thought it would be a better idea to have sex with me it was in telling my mother that I was pregnant that she found out about the rape and she beat me I'd never seen my mother so incandescent ly mad at me ever I didn't find out until I worked at the rape crisis center and I was 35 years old seven years after I'd left the center my mother calls me and she says Loretta I think you're the only child I can tell this to listen what mom she's like you know I had incest too from age 8 to 16 that's why I married your father to get away from home and all of a sudden I started to reimagine what had happened to my mother and why she beat me because she never had no England you know and I was the manifestation of her helplessness and her rage and everything she tried to protect me from and I was a manifestation of her failure to protect me and so she took it out of me and I like I say the mom was dead mom why'd you tell me this what I needed to know you know 20 years was almost 20 years old by then I'm just finding out about this but she told me when she could tell me so what does like women oho I think the number one thing is to tell the truth about our lives I have been sexually assaulted five times by five different people each time was forced the most significant time for me would be the last one the most emotionally painful I was 24 it happened at my friend's house I had been friends with him for many years I believe it was six at this point and never expected anything to happen like this I am a lesbian and he knew that my girlfriend at the time was there with me along with his wife we were hanging out as we've done many times before I wasn't tired but she was and his wife was so they went to bed he and I stayed up playing video games and then started working on music we both played the violin and this was the thread that tied us together as friends and musicians I really had a terrible wisdom tooth problem at the time and it flared up really bad that night he said he had morphine from a dental surgery of his own and he gave me one I'd never taken it before so it was quite strong and I became quite very very loopy the next thing that I know he started fondling me I said no over and over but he kept insisting I ended up conceding to hopefully get him to leave me alone it was completely uncomfortable and I hated it I put down my violin and I couldn't pick it up for the past five years touching it gave me flashbacks literal flashbacks of that I visually saw his face every time I held it my night terrors got worse I had lost one of the most important things in the world because he decided to violate me and take it

4 thoughts on “The Black Women's Truth and Reconciliation Commission

  • I attended this event. There are no words to describe how powerful, painful and necessary it was & it was and how grateful I am to the organizers of the Black Women's T&RC. We need to talk about this every day. Violence against black women, just like the violence perpetrated against all people of color, is integral to the design and the culture of this nation. That's why we need to become informed and once we become informed, we need to act. Throughout the event, I kept thinking about something Alice Walker wrote:

    "At the root of our denial…[is] our deep, painful refusal to accept the fact that we are not only the descendants of slaves, but we are also the descendants of slave owners.” Book: "Living By the Word"; Essay: "In the Closet of the Soul"

    In that essay, Walker was responding to the criticisms and the backlash she received after writing "The Color Purple". Many (but certainly not all) of her works have been focused on bringing child abuse and sexual abuse in the Black community out of the shadows.

    WITH THAT HAVING BEEN SAID, I also apply her words more broadly. When she says that we are descended from slaveowners, she is focusing on all Americans just as she is focusing on Black male responsibility to fight violence. All of us—in our manner of thinking—are philosophically connected to slavemaster ideologies. The notion of the patriarch leading the family and controlling wife& kids; the dream of owning property; the subjugation of other's humanity in the pursuit of one's own individual property, happiness, ambitions. These are all part of the elitist and violent thinking that we've inherited from the slave system of old.

    SO I think when we reflect on sexual violence and its connection to old systems of slavery and human bondage/exploitation, we have to look deep within ourselves, deep within our nations history to see how we inherit oppressive ideas from the past.

    SO much more can be said on this issue, but i'll leave it there.

    Thanks again to the Black WOmen's Blueprint. Peace.

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