May 3, 2014
Bring Back Our Girls - Edited Text of Aishah Shahidah Simmons’ Remarks at ‘Rock a Gele for Our Girls’ Rally in Philly

On Saturday, May 3, 2014 we gathered in Philadelphia in solidarity with and support of ALL efforts to identify, locate, rescue and return the abducted Nigerian School Girls  back to their families. 

Following is an edited version of my remarks at the rally. ~ Aishah Shahidah Simmons

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First, I want to thank my Sister/Comrade Tarana Burke who, on late Wednesday night,(April 30, 2014), began beating the cyber drum to bring many of us to gather today in support of ALL EFFORTS TO #BringOurGirlsBack!!!!

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There is a global, relentless daily war going on against women and girls. It takes the form of incest, child sexual abuse, rape and other forms of sexual violence, battering, human trafficking, forced marriages…. the list of atrocities goes on and on and on. This war is happening every single moment of every single day. It knows NO racial, ethnic, religious, socio-economic, ethnic or national boundaries. Tragically, however, white supremacy places values on the lives on some women and girls while completely ignoring the realities of other women and girls.

This is most evident in the reason why we are gathered here today. We should not be gathering to demand that almost 300 Nigerian girls who were abducted two weeks ago, two weeks ago, let me say this one more time TWO WEEKS AGO  are located, rescued and returned to their families.

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Up until very recently, we have relied upon social media to find out almost ANY information about these innocent girl children prisoners of a war whose origins are rooted in colonialism, imperialism and Western Nations desire to have absolute control over Nigeria’s oil.

Black Girls Matter!!!!

The abduction of 300 Nigerian schoolgirls should be newsworthy globally. We know that if these girls were White American or White European in the US or any part of the world, their abduction would be THE story everywhere. Governments everywhere would make it their business to support their rescue and safe return.

However, because it’s somewhere between 234 and 300 Nigerian/Black/African girls, it’s taken the relentless pressure of grassroots, on-the-ground activists in Nigeria and other parts of the world to make this atrocity headline news.

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We must continue to hold our mainstream news outlets accountable to document this story every single day, multiple times a day until ALL of the girls are rescued and returned home. WE MUST hold our elected officials accountable and DEMAND that they to put pressure on the Nigerian government to locate and rescue these girls immediately.

WE MUST ALSO DEMAND that this ATROCITY is NOT USED as a SCAPEGOAT for a US/Western invasion of a sovereign nation (troubles and ongoing destabilization not withstanding). In the US, we can look to our not too distant past to recall how rescuing girl children and women from the Taliban was used as one of the reasons to invade Afghanistan. Rescuing the girls and women was the excuse not the reason. The real reason was for US/Western control of the region for their resources.

We MUST NOT ALLOW ISLAMAPHOBIA cloud our vision. There are numerous reports that state that the girls have been trafficked into forced slavery (under the guise of marriage). Some reports link this inhumane behavior to Islamic traditions. Make no mistake the origins of forced-marriages are equally connected to Christianity and Judaism as they are to Islam. The Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney wrote a brilliant article on May 2, 2014 for the online publication Religion Dispatches detailing the painful ancient origins of this contemporary practice.

Regardless of their rhetoric, the militia group Boko Haram that many cite as being responsible for this (among so many other) unspeakable crimes is not practicing Islam. They are an opportunist, heavily armed militia whose objective is political and not religious or spiritual. This mass kidnapping is NOT connected to Islam. Let’s not allow the media, elected officials, colleagues, comrades, family, and/or friends lose focus. The issue is the return of the girls as swiftly and as safely as possible.

Let’s resist any attempts to sacrifice these girls for a larger (US/Western control of Nigeria’s oil) agenda, which could result in an invasion in their names and on their bodies.

We call for the rescue and safe return of our girls without additional or as little bloodshed as possible.

We demand that western nations refrain from scapegoating the kidnapping of our girls for a larger agenda. Keep the focus on bringing our girls back.

From Nigeria to North Philadelphia and every place in the world in between, we must keep the focus on the fact that Black Girls Lives EVERYWHERE ARE VALUABLE AND THEY MATTER. Their lives shouldn’t EVER be an afterthought on the global agenda as well as on any US national, state and local agendas.

Bring Back Our Girls. Bring Back Our Girls. Bring Back Our Girls.

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"We Are An African People" (photo credit: Bill Holmes)

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For more information about efforts to #BringBackOurGirls, please visit the #BringBackOurGirls Facebook page.

For more information about Rock a Gele for Our Girls, please visit the Rock a Gele for Our Girls Facebook page

April 30, 2014
We Need An Intersectional Approach To END ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE

Charlotte Pierce-Baker, Ph.D.,(photo credit: Wadia L. Gardiner)

Today is the last day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It is not the last day of raising awareness, breaking silences, and doing everything possible to eradicate the GLOBAL ATROCITIES of incest, child sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, human trafficking…all forms of gender-based violence perpetuated against human beings — especially ALL children, cisgender women, trans women and men, and Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual people.

In an African-American context, I long for the day when our non-monolithic community will be as RIGHTEOUSLY OUTRAGED about DL Hughley’s APPALLING, SEXIST, MISOGYNIST comments about Tuere (aka Tanee)McCall-Short (Columbus Short’s ex-wife) as we are when Donald Sterling or ANY White person makes EGREGIOUS RACIST/WHITE SUPREMACIST comments.

If racism ended RIGHT NOW (and Goddess knows I wish it would!), I, as a Black Lesbian Woman, would STILL NOT BE SAFE from incest, rape, other forms of sexism/misogyny, homophobia AND heterosexism. We must have an intersectional approach to ending ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE.

No One Is Free While Others Are Oppressed! ~ Aishah Shahidah Simmons

"The way out is to tell: speak the acts perpetrated upon us, speak the atrocities, speak the injustices, speak the personal violations of the soul. Someone will listen, someone will believe our stories, someone will join us. And until there are more who will bear witness to our truths as Black women, we will do it for one another. For now, that is enough." ~ Charlotte Pierce-Baker, Ph.D., Author, Surviving the Silence: Black Women’s Stories of Rape, featured in http://NOtheRapeDocumentary.org/


April 14, 2014
The Men Who Left Were White by Josie Duffy (Absentee Fatherhood in Black communities began during Slavery)


http://gawker.com/the-men-who-left-were-white-1562473547



April 4, 2014
Sexual Economy of American Slavery

#SAAM #BelieveSurvivors #NOtheRapeDocumentary

Adrienne Davis, J.D., Black Feminist Legal Scholar (photo credit: Scheherazade Tillet, NOtheRapeDocumentary.org)

"…I started describing American slavery as a sexual economy to really foreground and emphasize the way that Black women’s reproductive and sexual relationships were an integral part of the political economy. What American slavery did was it really did construe childbearing by enslaved women and their sexuality as market and economic relationships that actually created White wealth. And I think people are pretty familiar with reproductive expropriations. But I also think it’s helpful to understand that the White slaveholders themselves understood it, perceived this, and organized their lives around it…And in fact, some very prominent White slaveholders defended American slavery because it meant that White women were freed from the burden of unwanted sex…” Adrienne Davis, J.D., interviewed in NOtheRapeDocumentary.org

Actors Eddie Dean Dobbs, Leah Diane Brown, and Abby Wexler (photo credit: Wadia L. Gardiner, NOtheRapeDocumentary.org)

April 22, 2013
Across Liberation, Toward Difference

Today is Day 1 of The Feminist Wire’s 10-day Forum on Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism within Feminism.

Across Liberation, Toward Difference: An Introduction to TFW’s Forum on Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism within Feminism" by Aishah Shahidah Simmons and Heather Laine Talley


"…This is an attempt to reexamine race and racism from multiple feminist perspectives. To be sure, this is not a Black-white dialogue. This is not a cisgender dialogue. It is not exclusively academic in nature nor entirely activist in spirit. It is multi-voiced, even as it is not representative. It is a conversation that pre-dates all of us, even as it is a dialogue that is no less important now than in previous iterations of feminism, from the suffragettes exclusion of African-American women to the whiteness of the sex wars, to white feminism’s response to and engagement with transnational feminism.

A theme emerges in this Forum–white folks will be called out. And not just because of white silence to recent events, but also because our time is one that is shaped through and through by white supremacy. White privilege may be diluted by class, geography, ability, sexuality, gender identity. And yet, the structural underpinnings of the institutions that inscribe our lives and everyday patterns of seeing and talking are bound together by a legacy of racism, the overvaluation of white bodies at other humans’ expense, and policies intended to promote thriving for white folks.

This Forum is certainly not meant to be the definitive statement on race, racism, and anti-racism within feminism. TFW is committed to cultivating an ongoing dialogue, and so even as we start this Forum, we know that this is only the start of a long-term and potentially difficult conversation, part of which we will continue to publish. We offer these essays and love notes as a beginning and invite you to continue to journey and engage with us.

Racism in feminism exists. This fact is not up for debate, not here not now. But we ask you to consider: what actions and inactions, words and silences make it possible for racism to breed? Morphing in response to logics like colorblindness and thriving through co-optation of words like “diversity” and “multiculturalism.” Enduring because of cowardice and privilege rather than courage seems to be the default mode of operating. For the next ten days this Forum seeks to interrupt this dynamic. We invite you to join us.”

http://thefeministwire.com/2013/04/across-difference-toward-liberation-an-introduction-to-tfws-forum-on-race-racism-and-anti-racism-within-feminism/

March 30, 2013
"I wish we could be as passionate about ending rape & rape culture as so many of us are about protecting those who rape or those who promote rape. In the specific instances of people of color and anti-racist white people, it’s uncanny how so many us are absolutely clear and razor sharp with our analyses about the horrid impact of racism and white supremacy upon our communities. And yet, when it comes to sexism, misogyny, and gender-based violence perpetrated against cis/trans women and all gender non-conforming people, the response is too often a combination of crickets, a rush to blame the victim/survivors, and/or a rush to protect/contexualize the behavior of perpetrators."

Aishah Shahidah Simmons

June 5, 2012
One Million Manuscripts ~ Visually Challenging White Supremacist Lies about Africa

"EUROPEANS TAUGHT FOR CENTURIES that Africa had no written history, literature or philosophy (claiming Egypt was other than African). When roughly 1 MILLION manuscripts were found in Timbuktu/Mali covering , according to Reuters "all the fields of human knowledge: law, the sciences, medicine," IT DID NOT MAKE MAINSTREAM NEWS as did the lies taught by Europeans concerning Africa."  ~ Timothy Taylor (via Facebook)

—> on.fb.me/NePwYR <—

SPREAD THE WORD!!!! CHALLENGE THE EUROCENTRIC MYTHS & LIES ABOUT THE AFRICAN CONTINENT!!!

May 24, 2012
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[…] As feminists, we don’t want to participate in the use of oppressive force or reproduce any system that legitimates this force. As white people born in the U.S. who work at a university, we’ve benefited enormously from this very system we oppose. These contradictions will not be resolved in silence and, unless we work on recognizing and addressing them, we don’t expect for it to be easy for anyone who hasn’t shared our experiences to work with us…” ~Theresa Warburton and Joshua Cerrett, “What We Aren’t Talking About When We Talk About ‘White Privilege’” for The Feminist Wire

Read in its entirety here > http://bit.ly/MJIBXn

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May 24, 2012
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[…] These challenging conversations are necessary because, in the age of intensive plurality and diversity, any movement worth being part of is going to involve organizing across many forms of difference. Notice how we say ‘across’ and not ‘in spite of.’ We say that because it’s likely that most people in these movements will have at least one identity that provides systematic, unearned advantages – whiteness, maleness, heterosexuality, citizenship, able-bodiedness, etc. – and those same people will have other identities that provide systematic, unearned disadvantages. We need to recognize that the vast majority of people are both oppressed and oppressive in different ways, in different contexts, and in different moments…” ~ Theresa Warburton and Joshua Cerretti, What We Aren’t Talking About When We Talk About ‘White Privilege’ for The Feminist Wire

Read in its entirety here > http://bit.ly/MJIBXn

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April 27, 2012
None of Us are Free until All of Us are Free

Who Will Revere Us? (Black LGTBQ People, Straight Women, and Girls)

From April 23, 2012 through April 26, 2012, The Feminist Wire published Aishah Shahidah Simmons' four part series titled “Who Will Revere Us? (Black LGTBQ People, Straight Women, and Girls).” Through a comparison of selected cases, Simmons interrogates why Black/African-American/African descendant communities have tremendous difficulty addressing various forms of violence perpetuated against LGTBQ people, straight women, and girls. Following is the introduction to the series.

Introduction

The title of this four part article is a metaphorical nod to the legendary jazz singer, songwriter, actor, and activist Abbey Lincoln (also known as Aminata Moseka) whose essay, “Who Will Revere The Black Woman?” is featured in the ground-breaking anthology The Black Woman. Edited by Black feminist author, screenwriter, and visionary activist Toni Cade Bambara, this all-Black woman anthology focused on the issues most pertinent to Black women and our communities. Originally published in 1970 and reissued in 2005 with a forward by Dr. Eleanor W. Traylor, The Black Woman was the literary wo/manifestation of the impact of the intersection of the Civil Rights/Black Power movements and the second wave of the Women’s Rights movement on Black women’s lives. In short, Ms. Lincoln’s ageless essay is a demand for justice and protection for Black women. In her concluding paragraph she writes,

[…]Who will revere the Black woman? Who will keep our neighborhoods safe for Black innocent womanhood? Black womanhood is outraged and humiliated. Black womanhood cries for dignity and restitution and salvation. Black womanhood wants and needs protections, and keeping and holding. Who will assuage her indignation? Who will keep her precious and pure? Who will glorify and proclaim her beautiful image? To whom will she cry rape?

In her 1983 prophetic and timeless essay, “There Is No Hierarchy of Oppression,” self-defined Black feminist lesbian mother warrior poet Audre Lordewrites,

I cannot afford the luxury of fighting one form of oppression only. I cannot believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group. And I cannot afford to choose between the front upon which I must battle these forces of discrimination, wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you.[1]

I am struggling to find the right time to discuss inter and intra-racial gender-based violence in the midst of the justified outrage about the rampant and virulent racialized violence perpetrated against straight Black boys and men. Even with this being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, now doesn’t feel like the best time to write about the gender-based and state-sanctioned violence perpetuated against Black straight women, girls, and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) people both inside of and outside of our racial/cultural communities. I fear that sharing what’s on my heart and mind, might be construed as my taking away from the “real” issue at hand in most Black communities, which seems to be solely white supremacist and/or state-sanctioned racist violence against straight Black men and boys. Audre Lorde’s writings remind me, however, that discussions on oppression within Black communities should never be taken up within an either/or frame. The diverse herstories/histories and contemporary realities of Black straight women, girls, and LGBTQ people have consistently revealed that the issues that directly impact us often take a back seat, if they even make it into the metaphorical car on the freedom and liberation highway. There is a collective understanding among many in multi-racial, radical progressive movements, that the white supremacist, patriarchal, heterosexist, imperial, and capitalist power structure is the root of all oppressions in the United States. While I believe that to be true, even in the company of other oppressed people, Black straight women and LGBTQ people are still under attack. Too often we are caught at the intersections of race, gender, and if we identify as LGBTQ, sexuality. In spite of our shared his/herstories of oppression, struggle, and perseverance against the odds, not enough Black people view sexism, patriarchy, misogyny, heterosexism and transphobia with the same kind of activist passion that we view racism, white supremacy, and state-sanctioned violence perpetuated against straight Black men and boys. The reality is this: when Black straight men and boys are beaten, brutalized, and/or murdered as a result of state-sanctioned and/or white supremacist violence, it becomes (as well it should be) a national issue in the Black community and in a few, definitely not all, instances, the outrage moves beyond the Black community. Yet, when Black straight women, girls, and LGBTQ people are raped, sexually assaulted, beaten, brutalized, and/or murdered as a result of misogynist, patriarchal, state-sanctioned, and/or white supremacist violence, it is too often the victim’s individual issue.

Shepard Fairey illustrator

There are so many egregious, known and unknown, cases of racial and gender-based violence perpetuated against all Black people, regardless of their gender, gender identity, and sexuality, that it is literally impossible to write about all of them. I want to highlight a selected few of the far too many, however, to ask Black/African-American/African descended people to consider our responses when any of us have been railroaded into the prison industrial complex, sexually or otherwise assaulted, or murdered. I want us, Black/African-American/African descended people, to consider our responses to issues that affect many as opposed to those issues affecting someof us based on our gender, gender identity, and/or sexuality.

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Part 1, which was published on April 23, 2012, can be read in its entirety here. On April 24, 2012, Ebony.com aggregated part one. You can read it here.

Part 2, which was published on April 24, 2012, can be read in its entirety here. Part 3, which was published on April 25, 2012, can be read in its entirety here. Part 4, which was published on April 26, 2012, can be read in its entirety here.

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