Friday, September 30, 2011

AF3IRM and A.R.P., among many others, stand with the Black Women's Blueprint statement about "Slutwalk"

image of poster is from here

This was sent to me by email. I stand in solidarity with AF3IRM and Black Women's Blueprint as radically critical of the use of the term "Slutwalk" to represent any movement of women against men's violence and other degradations of women. I believe it is racist, classist, heterosexist, and anti-Indigenous, among other things. I have blogged about this twice before and will speak out again on whites' racism and misogyny against Asian, Black, Brown, and Indignous women, as such racist misogyny is grossly demonstrated by whites (far too often, with little to no accountability to women of color regionally or globally).

Please see the bottom of this post for actions you can take in your area to support Black Women's Blueprint and the on-going effort of women of all colors to end sexist and racist violence against women.

Please see *here* for more, at

AF3IRM Endorses Critique of Slut Walk

by Ninotchka Rosca on Saturday, September 24, 2011 at 2:11pm

September 23, 2011
An Open Letter from Black Women to the SlutWalk
by Black Women's Blueprint

We the undersigned women of African descent and anti-violence
advocates, activists, scholars, organizational and spiritual leaders
wish to address the SlutWalk. First, we commend the organizers on
their bold and vast mobilization to end the shaming and blaming of
sexual assault victims for violence committed against them by other
members of society. We are proud to be living in this moment in time
where girls and boys have the opportunity to witness the acts of
extraordinary women resisting oppression and challenging the myths
that feed rape culture everywhere.

The police officer’s comments in Toronto that ignited the organizing
of the first SlutWalk and served to trivialize, omit and dismiss
women’s continuous experiences of sexual exploitation, assault, and
oppression are an attack upon our collective spirits.  Whether the
dismissal of rape and other violations of a woman’s body be driven by
her mode of dress, line of work, level of intoxication, her class, and
in cases of Black and brown bodies—her race, we are in full agreement
that no one deserves to be raped.

The Issue At Hand

We are deeply concerned. As Black women and girls we find no space in
SlutWalk, no space for participation and to unequivocally denounce
rape and sexual assault as we have experienced it.  We are perplexed
by the use of the term “slut” and by any implication that this word,
much like the word “Ho” or the “N” word should be re-appropriated. The
way in which we are perceived and what happens to us before, during
and after sexual assault crosses the boundaries of our mode of dress.
Much of this is tied to our particular history.  In the United States,
where slavery constructed Black female sexualities, Jim Crow
kidnappings, rape and lynchings, gender misrepresentations, and more
recently, where the Black female immigrant struggle combine, “slut”
has different associations for Black women.  We do not recognize
ourselves nor do we see our lived experiences reflected within
SlutWalk and especially not in its brand and its label.

As Black women, we do not have the privilege or the space to call
ourselves “slut” without validating the already historically
entrenched ideology and recurring messages about what and who the
Black woman is.  We don’t have the privilege to play on destructive
representations burned in our collective minds, on our bodies and
souls for generations.  Although we understand the valid impetus
behind the use of the word “slut” as language to frame and brand an
anti-rape movement, we are gravely concerned.  For us the
trivialization of rape and the absence of justice are viciously
intertwined with narratives of sexual surveillance, legal access and
availability to our personhood.  It is tied to institutionalized
ideology about our bodies as sexualized objects of property, as
spectacles of sexuality and deviant sexual desire. It is tied to
notions about our clothed or unclothed bodies as unable to be raped
whether on the auction block, in the fields or on living room
television screens. The perception and wholesale acceptance of
speculations about what the Black woman wants, what she needs and what
she deserves has truly, long crossed the boundaries of her mode of

We know the SlutWalk is a call to action and we have heard you.  Yet
we struggle with the decision to answer this call by joining with or
supporting something that even in name exemplifies the ways in which
mainstream women’s movements have repeatedly excluded Black women even
in spaces where our participation is most critical. We are still
struggling with the how, why and when and ask at what impasse should
the SlutWalk have included substantial representation of Black women
in the building and branding of this U.S. based movement to challenge
rape culture?

Black women in the U.S. have worked tirelessly since the 19th century
colored women’s clubs to rid society of the sexist/racist vernacular
of slut, jezebel, hottentot, mammy, mule, sapphire; to build our sense
of selves and redefine what women who look like us represent. Although
we vehemently support a woman’s right to wear whatever she wants
anytime, anywhere, within the context of a “SlutWalk” we don’t have
the privilege to walk through the streets of New York City, Detroit,
D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, L.A. etc., either half-naked or fully
clothed self-identifying as “sluts” and think that this will make
women safer in our communities an hour later, a month later, or a year
later.  Moreover, we are careful not to set a precedent for our young
girls by giving them the message that we can self-identify as “sluts”
when we’re still working to annihilate the word “ho”, which deriving
from the word “hooker” or “whore”, as in “Jezebel whore” was meant to
dehumanize.  Lastly, we do not want to encourage our young men, our
Black fathers, sons and brothers to reinforce Black women’s identities
as “sluts” by normalizing the term on t-shirts, buttons, flyers and

The personal is political. For us, the problem of trivialized rape and
the absence of justice are intertwined with race, gender, sexuality,
poverty, immigration and community.  As Black women in America, we are
careful not to forget this or we may compromise more than we are able
to recover.  Even if only in name, we cannot afford to label
ourselves, to claim identity, to chant dehumanizing rhetoric against
ourselves in any movement.  We can learn from successful movements
like the Civil Rights movement, from Women’s Suffrage, the Black
Nationalist and Black Feminist movements that we can make change
without resorting to the taking-back of words that were never ours to
begin with, but in fact heaved upon us in a process of dehumanization
and devaluation.

What We Ask

Sisters from Toronto, rape and sexual assault is a radical weapon of
oppression and we are in full agreement that it requires radical
people and radical strategies to counter it.  In that spirit, and
because there is so much work to be done and great potential to do it
together, we ask that the SlutWalk be even more radical and break from
what has historically been the erasure of Black women and their
particular needs, their struggles as well as their potential and
contributions to feminist movements and all other movements.

Women in the United States are racially and ethnically diverse.  Every
tactic to gain civil and human rights must not only consult and
consider women of color, but it must equally center all our
experiences and our communities in the construction, launching,
delivery and sustainment of that movement.

We ask that SlutWalk take critical steps to become cognizant of the
histories of people of color and engage women of color in ways that
respect culture, language and context.

We ask that SlutWalk consider engaging in a re-branding and
re-labeling process and believe that given the current popularity of
the Walk, its thousands of followers will not abandon the movement
simply because it has changed its label.

We ask that the organizers participating in the SlutWalk take further
action to end the trivialization of rape at every level of society.
Take action to end the use of the word “rape” as if it were a metaphor
and also take action to end the use of language invented to perpetuate
racist/sexist structures and intended to dehumanize and devalue.

In the spirit of building a revolutionary movement to end sexual
assault, end rape myths and end rape culture, we ask that SlutWalk
move forward in true authenticity and solidarity to organize beyond
the marches and demonstrations as SlutWalk. Develop a more critical, a
more strategic and sustainable plan for bringing women together to
demand countries, communities, families and individuals uphold each
others human right to bodily integrity and collectively speak a
resounding NO to violence against women.

We would welcome a meeting with the organizers of SlutWalk to discuss
the intrinsic potential in its global reach and the sheer number of
followers it has energized. We’d welcome the opportunity to engage in
critical conversation with the organizers of SlutWalk about strategies
for remaining accountable to the thousands of women and men, marchers
it left behind in Brazil, in New Delhi, South Korea and
elsewhere—marchers who continue to need safety and resources, marchers
who went back home to their communities and their lives. We would
welcome a conversation about the work ahead and how this can be done
together with groups across various boundaries, to end sexual assault
beyond the marches.

As women of color standing at the intersection of race, gender,
sexuality, class and more, we will continue to be relentless in the
struggle to dismantle the unacceptable systems of oppression that
designedly besiege our everyday lives.  We will continue to fight for
the development of policies and initiatives that prioritize the
primary prevention of sexual assault, respect women and individual
rights, agency and freedoms and holds offenders accountable.  We will
consistently demand justice whether under governmental law, at
community levels, or via community strategies for those who have been
assaulted; and organize to end sexual assaults of persons from all
walks of life, all genders, all sexualities, all races, all ethnicity,
all histories.

Signed by: The Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, Black Women’s Blueprint | Farah Tanis, Co-Founder, Executive Director, Black Women’s Blueprint | Endorsed by: Toni M. Bond Leonard, President/CEO of Black Women for Reproductive Justice (BWRJ), Chicago, Illinois | Kelli Dorsey, Executive Director, Different Avenues, Washington, D.C. | S. Mandisa Moore | The Women's Health and Justice Initiative, New Orleans, Louisiana | Black and Proud, Baton Rouge, Louisiana | Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program at Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts | Population and Development Program, Amherst, Massachusetts | Zeinab Eyega, New York, New York | Black Women’s Network, Los Angeles, California | League of Black Women, Chicago, Illinois | African American Institute on Domestic Violence, Minneapolis, Minnesota | Brooklyn Young Mother’s Collective, Brooklyn, New York | Women’s HIV Collaborative, New York, New York | National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault (SCESA), Connecticut | Girls for Gender Equity, Brooklyn, New York | My Sister’s Keeper, Brooklyn, New York | The Mothers Agenda New York (the M.A.N.Y.), Brooklyn, New York | Sojourners Group For Women, Salt Lake City, Utah | Dr. Andreana Clay, Queer Black Feminist Blog, Oakland, California | Dr. Ida E. Jones, Historian, Author, The Heart of the Race Problem: The Life of Kelly Miller | Willi Coleman, Professor of Women's History, member of the Association of Black Women Historians, Laura Rahman, Director, Broken Social Contracts, Atlanta, Georgia | Marlene McCurtis, Director, Wednesdays in Mississippi Film Project | Issa Rae, Producer, Director, Writer, Awkward Black Girl, Los Angeles, California | The Prison Birth Project| Ebony Noelle Golden, Creative Director, Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative & The RingShout for Reproductive Justice | Yvonne Moore, Southern California, Sexual Assault Survivor | Kola Boo, Novelist, Poet, Womanist | Jessicah A. Murrell, Spelman College C'11, Candidate for M.A. Women's Studies | Shanika Thomas | Cathy Gillespie | Kristin Simpson, Brooklyn, New York | Mkali-Hashiki, Certified Sexological Bodyworker, Certified Sound, Voice, & Music Healing Practitioner, Owner & Operator of Body Enstasy, Erotic Wellness Facilitation | Linda Mizell, Ed.D., Assistant Professor School of Education, University of Colorado at Boulder| Sherley Accime, President, C.E.O. ANEW, NY, SeaElle Integrated Therapies | Diedre F. Houchen, M.A. Ed., Alumni Doctoral Fellow, Black Education, University of Florida | Hanalei Ramos, Co-founder, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, NYC | Minh-Ha T. Pham, Cornell University Professor | Cynthia Nibbelink Worley (W.A.R., Women Against Rape) | Wendi Dragonfire, | Sydney Kopp-Richardson Urban Policy Analysis M.A. Candidate, Milano the New School for Management and Public Policy Research Assistant, Social Justice Initiatives | Radha McAlpine | Desi K. Robinson, Executive Producer, Women in the Making: Tomorrow's History Today | Laura E. Polk, Anthropologist, Washington, D.C. | Sfirah Madrone, Olympia, WA | AF3IRM | Rev. Raedorah C. Stewart, MA aka RevSisRaedorah, Queer Womanist Scholar Poet Mother | Jacqueline A. Gross, Oakland, CA | Devorah Hill, Media Educator, Manhattan Neighborhood Network, New York City | Elizabeth Lipton, Member, Pitzer College Feminist Coalition | Robin Morgan | Charlene Sayo, Member National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada | Elizabeth C. Yeampierre, Esq, Executive Director, UPROSE | Mandy Van Deven, Writer, Speaker, Changemaker | Wendy Ruiz |

To endorse this letter, email us with Subject: “Add My Name” to:

To be part of the broader conversation, learn more and to participate in our “Live Free” campaign to end sexual violence, email: Farah Tanis, Executive Director, Black Women’s Blueprint,

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