Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Will Be Speaking Today On KPFA 94.1 FM With Byron Hurt & Weyland Southon About The Richmond Gang Rape, Male Responsibility, And More. 4pm.

(***please see link for archived KPFA recording. Our segment starts at the 26 min mark. Available until Nov. 17th. http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/55809) 

Most people who live in the bay are reeling from a very recent heartbreaking and horrendous case where a 15 year old girl was gang raped after a school dance at Richmond High. 10 boys assaulted this young woman while another 10 boys watched, laughed and took pictures. So far, 7 boys have been arrested, but that offers me little consolation. 

This event has broken so many of our hearts. And many of us are not content to just be sad about it and then go on with our day. Something is happening. I have always been trying to galvanize men of color around these issues, and all of a sudden, quality men are responding to the call, knowing that something has to be done, and that it is time to step up. At a meeting I had yesterday, one brotha said that even though events like this happen all the time, for some reason this hit like "The 9/11 for people of color". 

I invite you to tune in today at 4pm to Weyland Southon's show Hard Knock Radio on KPFA 94.1 FM where an ongoing conversation has been going on with the brothas about rape, male responsibility, sexism and more. I was on with Byron Hurt, an incredible anti-sexist activist / film maker brotha who made "Hip Hop: Beyond Beats And Rhymes" which is an iconic documentary about masculinity, misogyny and homophobia in hip hop. Since the inception of this blog, i have featured video clips of this and other works of his in the right hand margin. It was an honor to be on the same show with him, and to build alliance with people like this. 

If you miss the show, it will be archived online. And there are great shows that have already passed that have dealt with this subject.

I am glad to see men stepping up, and that I am not the only one who sees that it is imperative for us to Man Up in this way, right now. This should not be the inheritance of our daughters. We must be able to say that we did SOMETHING about it. We should want to do this. For the humanity of our sons too. 

There used to be a time when black bodies would swing from trees while white folks sat underneath it and merrily had picnics. Talk about a toxic bystander culture. Well, thanks to the work of white people of conscience and a lot of struggle from black folks, this is no longer a cultural norm. Men need to step up NOW, to do the work required to move towards making rape and violence towards women something that is no longer a cultural norm. We need to connect with men and boys on this. Model compassion, vulnerability, respect as strengths. Model intervening in street harassment, critiquing sexism in everyday life in their presence. And so much more. I also recommend the book "Transforming A Rape Culture", which is a text book i chose for one of my classes. And for sure, i'm waaaaaaay behind in schoolwork cuz i have chosen to actually "do" work on these issues instead of "study" them. It feels like the thing to do. But i still hope i can finish this term!! Wish me luck people....

Giving thanks to the men of conscience who are steppin up. Sending prayers of healing and light to the humanity of everyone involved in this rape case. And their poor parents. 

The brothas gonna work it out....

**March For Peace this Saturday November 7th, 11-2pm. Richmond High School, 1250 23rd St. 


Anonymous said...

This is really heartening. Thank you.

And good luck with your class! :)

tallon nunez said...

Hi Richard,

I went to the vigil for the richmond high school student, so wasn't able to listen to the program, but I hope to be able to do so in the archive.

One thing that stood out for me at the gathering, was that right next to where it was occurring, the football team was practicing. I don't understand why the coaches of ALL the organized sports teams wouldn't have insisted on the players being at the rally. They were right next to it while it was happening, it would have been an enormous display of good faith for the young men to show solidarity by attending the vigil, instead of practicing football. Unfortunately, I thought of this, when I was already in my car on my way back home, too late to approach the coach about it.

I was out of the country all last week, but when I got back on Sunday, I found I had received over 400 emails, all asking what women can do to protect ourselves, what we can do to support the young woman, etc. I realize that I'm absolutely fed up with asking myself those kinds of questions, and am much more interested in making sure that every woman asks every man she knows, what MEN are gonna do to end/prevent violence towards women.

It is a truly oppressive world that we women live in. We are targeted for abuse, sexual assaults, murder, and exploitation from birth. We are consistently denied equal opportunities in education, health care, and compensation for our work, and when we are attacked as with this recent gang-rape, we are then forced to spend our already limited resources on taking care of the victims.

I have been fundraising for Jane Doe, the young lesbian who was gang-raped and beaten in the brutal hate crime, last December, for almost a year, and 99% of the funds which are donated, come from women, and most specifically lesbian women, the people who can least afford the resources.

I greatly appreciate that you are part of that one percent who has given support, but I am calling on ALL men who truly wish to show support, and solidarity with women, as well as to connect to their own blessed humanity, to recognize that your/their brothers are systematically terrorizing women, dehumanizing women, killing, and raping women.

In September, hundreds of women were raped in broad daylight by Guinea soldiers, in South Africa, more than 80% of lesbians have been victims of what is known as "corrective rape", where men decide to rape a woman they perceive as being a lesbian, to show her that she should be with men. MANY, of these women, have been gang-raped multiple times. Just today, we are learning about the bodies of several women found at a house in Cleveland. These things are happening all of the time, and even if they aren't happening to every woman, not a single woman escapes the very powerful message that all of these acts send, not a single woman isn't frightened by them, even if she doesn't admit it to herself, even if she is in denial about it.

We have developed strategies, and rules to help us feel safe, but it is a false sense of safety, because the fact remains, it doesn't matter if we follow every rule to the T, we are still being brutalized, and the rules only serve to give society a way to blame us for the brutality we endure, by stating that if we'd followed the rules, it wouldn't have happened. It doesn't occur to most people that women shouldn't have to do anything that men don't in order to live our lives. When men are beaten, mugged, robbed, or murdered, they are not told they shouldn't have been drunk, or that they shouldn't have been where they were, when they were. The blame/responsibility is put where it belongs, on the head of the perpetrator.

So men, what are YOU going to do about it?

richard said...

@softest bullet: Glad that this was heartening for you. And thanks for the good wishes for school! imma neeeeed em!

@tallon nunez: Wow... that practicing football team image IS disturbing. Thank you for reporting that. I wish i was there, would most likely have made an intervention of sorts.

One of the things that i have been thinking about (and talk about in the radio spot- here's the link for easy access at your leisure, from the 26 min mark on: http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/55809 ) is that the position of the sports coach needs to be completely overhauled. boys are taught to use their bodies to dominate, win by any means necessary, and even target the "enemy" for injury in order to win. The fact that boys then approach girls looking to "score" by any means necessary (with sports lingo no less) should come as no surprise. We need coaches that excel at sports instruction, but are also anti-sexist, and make clear that the dominating behavior stays ON the field. Coaches need to model compassionate masculinities as well, and teach respect for girls. Coaches need to intervene on locker room behavior. Coaches need to be clear that if you love girls (insert picture of battered abused girl) you don't do THIS to them. That is not love. It is hate. For all the homophobic taunting that happens, this same picture should be used to say that he would rather have a son that was gay than would do *this*. While contextualizing that nothing is wrong with being gay. I could go on... basically i see high school sports coaches as gatekeepers to how gender is formed in our kids. I have friends who are in education, I want to talk to them about this idea, see if it can reach a policy level.

I am glad to have been one of the men who have contributed to JD's recovery. ANd i salute you for your ongoing hard work. I know you must be so soulfully exhausted with all of this... with patriarchy really. I am definitely doing my best to take the momentum that this new horrible incident has caused to rally up the men. My heart goes out to this poor girl who must have wondered where God was that evening (and JD too). I want to make sure that her soul searing experience doesn't just fade away into another statistic, especially since for some reason, men are finally responding, waking up, activating.

Thank you again Tallon. Know that this is something I am dedicated to, and plan to keep working on. May it ease your load and others in some way. Stay up, stay strong. Blessings.

tallon nunez said...

Hey RIchard,

Just wanted to say again, that I enjoyed meeting you on Saturday, and also wanted to let your readers know that they can now make automatic monthly payments of $10/month to help support JD, and it only takes 2 minutes to do. I'm pretty sure that most people throw $10 away on fairly trivial stuff all the time, how cool would it be to give it to someone who has been traumatized beyond what most of us can imagine, someone who really needs it and is immeasurably grateful for the help, eh?