#MeToo International, the National Women’s Law Center and the Time’s Up Foundation have teamed up to amplify stories of Black survivors of sexual violence, and the lasting impact on their communities.
The “We, As Ourselves” initiative, launching toward the end of Black History Month, aims to “create spaces where Black survivors can safely share their stories and experiences.” It also aims to repair and change harmful norms that silence Black survivors, while creating new, healthier practices to change the conversation surrounding Black survivors across the gender and sexuality spectrum.
“Given how disproportionately vulnerable we are to sexual violence, it’s crucial for our work and efforts to be centered on the demographic that needs it the most,” Tarana Burke, founder and executive director of #MeToo International, said in a statement announcing the initiative.
Nearly one in five Black women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Black women also experience higher levels of psychological abuse than their White counterparts, according to statistics from Time’s Up, and they report sexual harassment at work three times more often than White women.
According to a recent study, prosecutors filed charges in 75% of the cases in which a White woman was attacked, compared to just 34% of the time when the victim was a Black woman.
Half of all Black transgender women are survivors of sexual violence.
The organizations are launching their partnership with a website as well as a video tribute called “A Love Letter to Black Survivors.”
In the video, Jurnee Smollett, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Valerie Jarrett, Tamron Hall and other Black female leaders across industries address their audience directly, telling them: “I believe you.”
“Thank you for risking it all to come forward and share your truth, even when it meant doing it alone,” Hall and Union-Wade say in the video.
Goals of the initiative include the creation of resource guides to spark discourse about Black survivorhood and a “rapid-response campaign” that would call out the suppression of Black survivors’ voices while amplifying those stories.
A five-part event series is also being launched during Women’s History Month to explore what justice for Black survivors looks like, along with a “Week of Action” to highlight the roles everyone could play in rooting sexual violence out of their communities.
Time’s Up President and CEO Tina Tchen said in the coalition’s press release that the mission of “We, As Ourselves” is clear: “This Black History Month, and beyond, this is no longer happening on our watch.”
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