January 21, 2016
Today people will gather together from all over the country in Oklahoma City to Stand with Survivors of Sexual Violence as a judge sentences a former Oklahoma City police officer convicted in December on 18 charges including rape and sexual battery of 13 African-American women living in the neighborhood he was assigned to protect. The former police office is white. Race and gender were and are at the center of this story.
Black Women’s Blueprint organized this national protest from their base in New York City—using the networks of sexual violence advocacy organizations, networks of black women’s advocacy organizations, social media and the mainstream press to send out a call to “symbolically stand with every survivor of sexual assault, rape and other sexual brutalization by State agents across the country.” While this case is particularly abhorrent, the grim reality is that those of us who advocate at the margins—with victims of sexual violence, on issues of racial justice, in impoverished communities—are witness to many versions of this same story over and over and over. Individuals using their position of authority to perpetrate sexual violence against those who are easily dismissed by the mainstream as “untrustworthy” or “partly to blame” for their own victimization.
Black Women’s Blueprint asserts that “racial justice movements will be stronger if we include gender-violence, sexualized brutality, and if we include the experiences of women, trans-people, gender non-conforming people and girls…”
The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance stands with survivors in Oklahoma City today. We urge our members and supporters to recognize that our movement to end sexual and intimate partner violence will be stronger if we recognize and listen to the experiences of African-Americans and all people of color, including trans-people and gender non-conforming people and if stand with others against hate violence and State violence.
Kristi VanAudenhove is the Executive Director of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. She has been a leader in coalition work, advocacy and policy for nearly 40 years.
Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335.
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