World News: We, As Ourselves: The Landmark Campaign to Support Black Survivors
*Trigger warning for discussion of sexual assault and sexual violence against women*
Research on sexual violence has exploded within the past twenty years. Within the past three years, specifically, there has been an increase in the efforts made to listen to and protect survivors of sexual violence. Going viral in 2017, the #metoo hashtag demonstrated the magnitude of the issue to individuals around the world.
However, despite these timeframes and signs of progress, data and national conversations continue to overlook and dismiss the disproportionate effects of the epidemic against a community of individuals who have been and continue to lead the fight against sexual harassment and violence. Tarana Burke, the founder of ‘me too.’ International, recently stated, “concrete change has been incremental at best -- and especially for Black survivors.”
This reality, among others, has led to the establishment of a new initiative that focuses on Black survivors of sexual violence. Called We, As Ourselves, the initiative is a collaboration between the Me Too Movement. We, As Ourselves plans to confront narratives that harm and silence Black survivors and intentionally create safe spaces where Black survivors are believed and supported. Concrete plans of the coalition thus far include the release of “rapid-response tools” to support Black survivors who come forward and a week of action during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.
Sexual violence perpetrated against Black women is often ignored due to cultural and societal myths about Black women’s sexuality, the adultification of Black girls, and the complexities of speaking out within the Black community. A 2017 Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality study found that Black girls are often viewed as more adult-like in comparison to their white peers, resulting in harsher treatment and a lack of empathy for Black females starting from a young age. Such impacts and historical trauma have caused the stories and experiences of Black survivors to be silenced and neglected.
While work regarding the issue has been done on the local level by grassroots community organizations, a national campaign specific to Black survivors of sexual violence was previously nonexistent. Addressing sexual violence against Black women is a critical part of addressing the failure of systems and institutions to acknowledge and deeply comprehend the intersection of race, gender, and class in our society and its direct impact on Black women.
To learn more about We, As Ourselves, visit https://weasourselves.org/.