Historically within America, anti-black racism has been constructed through a lens of whiteness, the result of which is a racialized aesthetic of humanity. Specifically, societal constructions of blackness have dehumanized these non-white subjects, viewing them as hyper-resilient, and almost superhuman. This mythological construction of Blackness as pain resistant perpetuates a culture of policing and violence against Black bodies. Blackness plays a sacrificial role within American society: a scapegoat for crime, punishment, and other forms of oppression such as police brutality, racism, economic exploitation, and mass incarceration.
In August of 2016, the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance will launch a 3-day multi-disciplinary conference that will feature workshops, key note addresses, and networking sessions with the goal of engaging communities in learning and adopting healthy and constructive methods to respond to and prevent violence in African American communities. This conference will present and encourage the process of decolonizing the minds of those who attend in order to help end the perpetuation of oppression through ignorance and violence. This conference will establish an environment that serves to acknowledge Blackness as precious and worthy of respect and protection, as well as acknowledge the many different ways in which black individuals respond to and heal from trauma.
As a trans, black queer who is also a survivor of violence I am extremely proud and excited to be a part of this conference especially during this crucial period of black movements. This conference is not only an opportunity for me to practice self-love but also an opportunity for me to represent and fight for black folk, especially black queers, and to help to prevent harm so that black joy, safety, and comfortability can stop being such a fleeting experience. This conference is a ray of hope in a time when my body is seen as both a target and a trigger, when 6 feet under feels so close, when my laughter, cry, and pleas can still be mistaken for gunshots, and when I am told to endure my pain because I am not afforded any luxury other than the burden of resilience. With this conference I am not only reclaiming autonomy, but also the audacity of hope and joy.
Selu Sky Lark is an intern within the Advocacy and Training Program at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. Selu is a survivor and activist for racial and gender justice, equity and equality.
For more information on our upcoming conference; The Warmth of Other Suns: Multi-Disciplinary Strategies to Prevent and Respond to Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence in African-American Communities. This conference will establish an environment for diverse professionals working to address and prevent sexual and intimate partner violence to work together with community leaders to increase our understanding of factors that increase vulnerability for violence and decrease access to conventional survivor support mechanisms for African-American communities across Virginia.
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