While visiting historically Black colleges and universities across the country, Burke, Blay, and special guests dialogue about how rape culture impacts the Black community and how this in turn permeates onto HBCU campuses.
During a fireside chat at the Ray Charles Performing Art Center, the quartet balanced humor with anecdotes to drive a candid conversation about rape culture. By the end of this chat, there was a sense of healing through activism.
Accordingly, issues we see in our community are duplicated on HBCU campuses. To this effect, Burke and Blay talked about R. Kelly.
When Burke said this, the audience of mostly Black women chanted or nodded in agreement. By saying this, Burke was breathing life into a truth we all know painfully well: at young ages, Black girls are assigned maturity so that they become responsible for the predatory actions of grown men.
In addition to a culture of non-believing, universities generally do not respond well to reports of sexual assault. Recently, Australia Say, Miss Fisk University, shared a letter on Twitter documenting her experience reporting a campus assault.
For survivors at HBCUs, our pain is two fold. On one side, we have the rape culture from America seeping onto our campuses. On the other, we have a battle within our own campus community to be heard. On all sides, we lose.
Really, the work that Burke and Blay are doing is imperative and timely.
Immediately after, I began experiencing loss: I lost friendships that I valued deeply, I lost the sense of purpose I was just beginning to find, and I lost faith in institutions that I expected to lift me up.
Since I reported my assault, I was supposed to be exception. Alas, I became the rule; I joined the long list of survivors who seek justice and fail.Yet, on the same token, I was failed – by my old friends who sided with someone they never met, by a University that let an accused rapist live in the same apartment complex as his victim, by a larger Black community that protects abusive Black men.
I decided to never stop speaking on what happened to me, for fear that silencing myself would set a violent precedent for other survivors. I decided to make noise, and that is a freeing feeling that I refuse to redact.
Javanna plummer, rwebel in chief
Javanna is the editor of “Rwebel Magazine,” the architect behind “Rwebel Radio,” and the pioneering force of “Xscape.” Through her words, Javanna hopes to inspire creativity, passion and forward-thinking.
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