The Challenge Faced by Black Women Accusing Black Men

When Meredith Watson decided to publicly accuse Virginia’s lieutenant governor of raping her, she knew she would face a backlash — most women who accuse powerful men of sexual assault do.

But she also feared that as a black woman, she would face added scrutiny because the prominent politician she named, Justin E. Fairfax, was African-American, too.

“You’re not supposed to betray your race,” Ms. Watson, 39, said in her first interview since she accused Mr. Fairfax last month of assaulting her when they were in college together at Duke University nearly two decades ago. Mr. Fairfax has denied her allegations.

The #MeToo movement has brought into the open the challenges all women face when they say they have been sexually assaulted. Their accusations are disbelieved. Their motives are questioned. Their pasts are examined.

Read more at The New York Times

Got Consent Takeover by A Long Walk Home

A message from A Long Walk Home:

We would like to thank all of our participants for joining us for Got Consent Takeover by standing in solidarity with Black girls and survivors everywhere as R Kelly made his first appearance in court for sexual abuse charges on March 22. We will continue to put survivors first and fight for justice as the trial continues, and as Black girls and women continue to share their stories. Here is a snapshot of some of our A Long Walk Home family, friends, and allies, as they stand in solidarity with Black girls & survivors!

Check out photos from the takeover below:

Naomi Wadler Continues Her Activism for Black Girls One Year After Walkouts

Young activist Naomi Wadler’s fight for Black girls didn’t end after the March for our Lives

“Black women [are] really what I like to focus on because we’re not really seen as women. We’re seen as things,” she stated. “I love treating people like people.”

Wadler, whose speech and activism made waves after the school shooting in Parkland says the attack really accentuated her point about gun violence and people of color.

“When you have mass shootings in Chicago you don’t really see that getting all this attention,” she explained. “But when Parkland, which happened to some white kids, that’s suddenly the biggest thing that’s ever happened to us and that’s unacceptable.”

Since staging her elementary school’s gun violence walkout, Wadler was a guest on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” made Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21 list, and spoke at events like the Women in the World Annual Summit. She works with multiple organizations, including holding a seat on the board of Georgetown Law’s Initiative on Gender, Justice, and Opportunity.

Learn more at Now This News

What We Risk When We Fail to Protect Black Girls

Last month, the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly elevated the claims against the R&B singer as a serial abuser of women and girls. Kelly was charged in Illinois on Friday with ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

But what also became apparent from the docuseries was the number of adults—from Kelly’s manager to parents of the minors he is believed to have violated—who were complicit in his systematic abuse of underage Black girls. Beyond the pain his alleged victims suffered, the docuseries highlighted that these girls were not afforded the protection they deserve as children, much like Black girls at large.

Such disregard for Black girls and women’s safety has public health consequences. Notably, emerging research implicates this systematic lack of protection in the disproportionately high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Black girls and women. This was also evident in the docuseries: One woman said she acquired an STI from Kelly.

Read more at Rewire News

The Legal System Has Failed Black Girls, Women, and Non-Binary Survivors of Violence

Following the airing of Lifetime’s six-part docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly,” — which describes decades of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse he allegedly perpetrated against Black girls and women — many of Kelly’s fans and supporters continue to rally around the singer-songwriter and even place blame on his accusers for being “fast.”

This is not surprising. Studies have shown that Black girls, women, and non-binary people are hyper-vulnerable to abuse. About 22 percent of Black women in the United States have experienced rape. Forty percent will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. And Black women are killed at a higher rate than any other group of women. A 2015 survey of Black trans and non-binary individuals found that 53 percent have experienced sexual violence, and 56 percent have experienced domestic violence. At least 16 Black trans people were reportedly murdered in 2018 alone.

Read more at the ACLU

4 Black Middle School Girls Allegedly Strip-Searched At New York State School

A community in New York state is loudly protesting after four Black girls, under suspicion of having drugs, were allegedly questioned and strip-searched by the school nurse and assistant principal at East Middle School in Binghamton.

According to the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin, almost 200 community members packed into a school board meeting, demanding why the board had taken no action in response to the alleged searches that apparently occurred after the girls, who are Black, appeared “hyper and giddy during their lunch hour.”

“The children were instructed to remove their clothing, and felt shamed, humiliated and traumatized by the experience,” said Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow, a local organization in the area.

The school said that they investigated the incident, citing the current law and policy which allows students to be searched in a school building by an administrator “when the administrator reasonably suspects that a student’s health is in danger or is in possession of a substance that may harm themselves or others.”

Read more at Essence. 

On The Criminal Justice System And Its Biases Against Black Women And Girls

Black girls and women are more likely than any other group of people in America to become victims of sexual violence, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Another crushing reality is the vast majority of sexual assault victims don’t see their offenders brought to justice in a court of law. It’s even harder for Black girls and women to get the justice they deserve. There’s a crucial reason for this: Black girls and women are not believed in court.

During my legal career, I’ve served as a public defender and private defense lawyer. I’ve represented clients in criminal matters including murders, rapes, high volume drug cases, sex crimes, and federal offenses. What I’m going to lay out here may be disheartening, but one of the most important aspects in any trial is believability. The judge or jury’s ability to believe one side versus the other is often the determining factor between a guilty or not guilty verdict. In the law, we use the term believability interchangeably with the term credibility. As for Black women and girls, believability and credibility are not assigned to us the way it is for others. This may sound anecdotal, but research proves it.

Read more at Essence. 

How Societies View Black Girls and Women

Black women and black girls are disproportionately subject to prejudices, stereotypes and violence on an ongoing basis.

Social activist Lovelyn Nwadeyi, Soul City Institute CEO Lebo Ramafoko and Sunday Times lifestyle editor Pearl Tsotetsi share their experiences of surviving the world in a black woman’s body with Talk Radio 702 host Eusebius McKaiser.

The discussion refers to a ground-breaking study on the erasure of black girls’ childhood, which puts data behind the lived realities of many black women.

Learn more at EWN. 

Women and Girls of Color Need Justice Too

A growing number of individuals have expressed support for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ harmful Title IX proposed rules on sexual harassment, including sexual assault, in schools by pitting the rights of sexual assault survivors against efforts to further racial justice.

By doing this, these individuals—often white, self-identified feminists or conservative men—erase the experiences of survivors of color, particularly Black women and girls, who are frequently disbelieved and blamed when reporting sexual assault, pressured to stay silent about their assaults, and pushed into the criminal justice system (referred to as the “sexual abuse-to-prison pipeline”).

As survivor-advocates of color working at the intersections of racial and gender justice, we understand that women and girls of color are disproportionately targeted for sexual harassment and assault in schools. The blatant disregard for the lives of survivors of color is a common and misguided tactic that creates a false choice between protecting survivors and protecting against racially biased disciplinary practices.

Read more at ReWire

On R. Kelly and How We Fail Black Girls

Earlier this month, two million viewers tuned in for the premiere of Lifetime’s six-part documentary series, “Surviving R. Kelly”. The docuseries chronicled the R&B musician’s reported legacy of alleged abuse, predatory behavior and child pornography charges throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. Episodes prominently featured the testimony of R. Kelly’s victims, as well as clinical specialists and activists like #MeToo founder Tarana Burke. Among this wide swath of voices, a common observation was situated at the center of nearly every interview. Survivors and commentators alike remarked that Black women and girls aren’t seen as victims in situations of sexual violence as a result of societal misogynoir. This documentary reveals a disturbing pattern of racist institutional failings endemic to the American criminal-legal system—failures only further complicated by the state violence that Black citizens routinely face from the same law enforcement officials that claim to protect the public from abusers like R. Kelly.

Read more at the Duke Chronicle