There isn’t much more to be said about Congressman John Lewis than has already been said or shown in his deep legacy, so I want to share a personal story from my days at the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, AL.
Somewhere in the early 2000s we were honoring Congressman Lewis at the Annual Freedom Flame Awards. I had just finished redoing a number of exhibits in the museum and had done some extensive research about that Nashville movement connection.
Folks like John Lewis, Diane Nash and my beloved Rev. CT Vivian had studied under Rev. Lawson there and I found pictures of John Lewis’ very first arrest that he had never seen! I was so excited to put together a slide show for his awards presentation and worked hard on it.
A few months ago my dude was looking for a tote bag to carry some things to the post office. I gave the biggest bag I had which happened to be bright pink and red. He saw the bag and immediately asked for another one. When I asked why he just insisted on a different color bag.
His insistence annoyed me and I started in on him fussing about it being sexist and homophobic, even to reject a bag based on thinking it’s too effeminate!
He let me fuss at him for a minute and then finally she said “Baby, please stop. That’s not it!”
He said “I’m a 6’3 Black man. If I’m walking down the street with a bright pink bag I could look like I stole it from a woman - which could attract police attention. I’m never trying to give these cops a reason to stop me. Ever.”
Never occurred to me.
One of the most amazing things about working at the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma was meeting random, interesting people. Folks would often just wonder into the museum and have fascinating information or artifacts from the Movement. #MalcolmXDay
One of the greatest example was this man who came in and told us that he was in Selma reporting on the Movement when Malcolm X came to speak. For those who don’t know the story there was a bit of happenstance that led to that visit. Bro. Malcolm wasn’t originally scheduled.
He was in Alabama to speak at Tuskegee Univ and SNCC organizers heard he was there and pleaded with him to bring his message to Selma where the Voting Rights struggle had heated all the way up - that is both the organizing AND the police terrorism.
Those defending Joe Biden by saying that he’s a “good guy” and therefore could never harm anyone are instead harming survivors and this movement. Relying on him being “the only hope” against Trump wouldn’t excuse his behavior either.
We need to beat Trump. We also deserve to hold our own candidate to a higher standard. Joe Biden needs to speak for himself. Not through surrogates or statements. If he wants to be electable, he has to be accountable.
I took a moment away from work and movement-related issues to be present where I was needed as my family was affected with COVID. But, I know many of you are wondering about my “take” on the Tara Reade story.
My stance has never wavered: survivors have a right to speak their truth and to be given the space to heal.
The inconvenient truth is that this story is impacting us differently because it hits at the heart of one of the most important elections of our lifetime. And I hate to disappoint you but I don’t really have easy answers.
I went back and forth about talking about this but my partner has Covid and the last two weeks of my life have been some of the scariest. The reason why I’m sharing is because I’ve read so much information but the most informative has been first person accounts of folks with it.
We were both exposed in mid-March. He was deemed an “essential worker” because he works with the homeless and was exposed again at work. It took about three days to figure out that we were probably dealing with Covid. In 3 days he went from feeling a little weak to 101.5 fever.
Along with the fever he had something we had not read about: sensitive skin. His skin felt like it was burning - even when he barely had a fever of 99+ We literally used aloe gel for sunburn to soothe it. The NP later told us she had heard others say that too.
I met @Ava in 2010. I was Managing Director of a Black Arts Org in Philly and we partnered with other local orgs to promote #IWillFollow movie by getting people to the theater on opening weekend. I remember her laying out the plan in a small meeting and I thought it was brills.
I became an admirer. Loved the film and was STOKED when #MiddleofNowhere was released and she won Sundance. Bc of her Philly ties we knew a lot of the same folks so we saw each other at events locally.
Annual Holiday reminder for Survivors of sexual violence to be gentle with yourself. It’s a hard time of year for so many who are returning to the places where they were harmed, being around the harm doers, or who are reminded why they no longer are close with family.
Take it easy, have a plan in place for how you will cope with triggers (or avoid if possible). Things like having a friend to call on standby or giving your partner a code to let them know you are not okay could be helpful.
Also...give yourself the permission you need. It could be permission to leave a triggering situation or start new traditions but allow yourself the space you need to feel safe and loved. You’re not alone. 💕
While we are very excited that #MeToo was FINALLY introduced into the presidential debates tonight - thanks to the efforts of our #metooVoter campaign, it is disappointing that @maddow didn’t open up the floor and pass the question to other candidates to respond.
Getting the question into tonight’s debate was our FIRST goal and we did that with the support of #metoovoter survivors and our allies. Thank you!!
But be clear - we are not done.
The presidential candidates, in particular, owe survivors a clear response on where they stand on dealing with sexual violence in this country and we will demand that they do so. #MeTooVoter#Metoomovement#metoo
So my friend @RonanFarrow released his book yesterday! Ronan is the kind of journalist that activist like myself rely on. He is consistent, determined, honest and intellectually curious. Catch and Kill will underscore all of that for readers in page after riveting page!
It’s so masterfully written and goes into the nuances that so many of us wondered about in the uncovering of these monumental stories. His care and compassion for the survivors stories that he was trusted with shows in how diligently he investigated each claim.
After all of the work he has done to carry these stories forward I am also excited for the world to hear *his* story. This guy is pretty amazing. Low key - a genius - but he will pish posh that. :-)
Still reeling from last night's debates and thinking about the various ways sexual violence could have been introduced into the conversation as opposed to rehashing the same ol' issues and a random round of 'what about your friends?' #MeTooVoter
The Be Heard Act. There is legislation introduced right that would completely overhaul workplace harassment laws. Do the candidates support it? #MeTooVoter aclu.org/blog/womens-ri…
States are grappling with statute of limitation laws right now and there is no federal guidance around it. #MeTooVoter
So now he’s making jokes? This is disrespectful and inexcusable. People have been asking me all week if what @LucyFlores experienced was worth coming forward about. My answer is YES. I support her wholeheartedly. And here is why:
What she experienced, in her own words, made her feel embarrassed, shocked and confused - at the hands of the VP of the United States. She described her deep discomfort with this level of intimacy and most important she described how *powerless* it made her feel.
Remember, it wasn’t a lingering hug, it was an embrace and kiss on the back of the head from a powerful man who she didn’t feel the power to say no to. In a situation with ‘less stakes’ like teacher/ student or coach athlete maybe we could see it more clearly.
Events in the news have some people questioning @metooMVMT and our stance on believing survivors so I wanted to speak up and add some thoughts...
I’ve always said this movement was about centering survivors and not about scandals, no matter what the headlines say. Before you ask, see my ted talk here in case you’re looking for how I talk about this work. t.ted.com/NIcGuBm
The reality is that one of the biggest hurdles in speaking up is a central question: will anyone believe me?
@MeTooMVMT has always centered the survivor's journey. It’s how we begin the hard work of transforming a culture where sexual violence is permissible into one where bodily autonomy is universal. We must shift the narrative.
Today, I’m excited to launch our Survivor Stories on a number of digital platforms, a suite of powerful videos produced with @DeutschInc that feature the journeys of individual survivors. See the announcement on Refinery29 here: refinery29.com/en-us/2019/01/…
When you hear #metoo often people envision a powerful perpetrator ducking accountability. Instead, we should imagine a survivor on their path to healing and what we all must do to clear the way. If we are more invested in following scandals, we will never truly SEE survivors.
A year ago today I thought my world was falling apart. I woke up to find out that the hashtag #metoo had gone viral and I didn't see any of the work I laid out over the previous decade attached to it. I thought for sure I would be erased from a thing I worked so hard to build. +
I remember calling my friends frantic and trying to figure out what to do. I didn't know whether to go online and say - THIS ALREADY EXISTS! Or to just let it go, but then I realized letting it go wasn't an option in this moment.
What we witnessed yesterday in this moment was immediately recognized by women everywhere. It’s in your face but subtle, it’s demeaning but ‘a joke’, it’s love from an elder but it’s an abuse of power. So many of us are so conditioned that we saw it, cringed and moved on. #metoo
When I lived in Selma I met many elders from the Movement. They almost *always* found a way to hold me close or squeeze me in some way. I started calling it the Civil Rights hug.
Some of y’all know just what I mean.
Anyway, I won’t go on and on. I’m glad folks called it out and there is discussion about ALL of the misogyny we witnessed yesterday. I’m just gonna add...this is why we have to dig into sexual violence in our community openly and honestly from all sides. #therearelayers
I’ve said repeatedly that the #metooMVMT is for all of us, including these brave young men who are now coming forward. It will continue to be jarring when we hear the names of some of our faves connected to sexual violence unless we shift from talking about individuals [+]
...and begin to talk about power. Sexual violence is about power and privilege. That doesn’t change if the perpetrator is your favorite actress, activist or professor of any gender.
And we won’t shift the culture unless we get serious about shifting these false narratives.
My hope is that as more folks come forward, particularly men, that we prepare ourselves for some hard conversations about power and humanity and privilege and harm. This issue is less about crime & punishment and more about harm and harm reduction.
I can’t say enough good things about @jsmooth995 on a normal day but today I’m at a loss for how to describe what a big statement of solidarity and humanity he has made by leaving his radio home of almost three decades in protest of them hiring Leonard Lopate.
For those who don’t know Lopate is a long time radio host fired from WNYC last year after an investigation into YEARS of sexual misconduct towards women. @WBAI decided they were ok with that and gave him another show. 😡
@jsmooth995 I appreciate you brother. I know you said it’s not about you and I hear you - but you’ve set a bar for male allyship here that should be recognized. 🙏🏾💕
At first the quote from #HenryCavill regarding #metooMVMT just annoyed me because it reinforced the ridiculous notions I hear constantly from men and trivializes the lived experience of people who have bravely spoken up...
...but here is the OTHER thing that is annoying. The way the media talks about the #metooMVMT in relation to men whose sexual misconduct has been exposed. We all know language matters. Look at this language from the article on #HenryCanvill
I haven't said much publicly about the horror happening at our border because it's *almost* too hard to get my head around, but now this new policy masquerading as a fix is just a bridge too far. #STOPDETAINMENT#ReuniteFamiliesNow
Snatching kids in TX and bringing them to HARLEM! It's enraging. They're making it so these families will have an even harder time locating their children!! It's hard enough to navigate the child welfare system as a citizen. Imagine as an immigrant. abc7ny.com/politics/hundr…
Here are a few ways that folks can help. Please take note of the smaller, more local/regional organizations first.