Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-05-13
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Black women anti-rape advocates unite at UIC
by Liz Baudler

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

"After Rosa, Before #MeToo"—a panel of the history of Black women's anti-rape organizing efforts—was a chance for four powerful women to commiserate on a subject they knew intimately. Organized by Keisa Reynolds of the University of Illinois at Chicago's ( UIC's ) Women's Leadership and Resource Center as part of its "Take Back the Fight" programming, Reynolds was inspired by reading a piece about how #metoo was not benefitting Black women, and realizing the author seemed unfamiliar with Black women's crucial efforts in the fight against sexual violence.

Mary Scott-Boria—a former member of the Black Panther party and, later, a women's health organizer—remembered not feeling like she had a language to talk about the rape she'd experienced when she was 20. "I did it because I was a community organizer," Scott-Boria said of her early anti-rape work. "I didn't even think of myself as a survivor."

Scott remembered "stumbling" into anti-rape organizing, a feeling the entire panel concurred with. Two of the women, Vickie Sides and Rachel Caidor, did not even feel like organizers, though Caidor said in college her dorm room was the unofficial rape-crisis center. "When I graduated high school, I didn't even know rape crisis counselor was a job you could get," she said.

Activist Mariame Kaba remembered calling a sexual-violence hotline she found in the phone book, and asking to be connected to other teen survivors. "You are in crisis and you need to figure out what is wrong with you," she remembered being told. "We have no place for you." Both she and Scott-Boria had spent formative years inside Black Nationalist movements that were highly sexist: Kaba's consciousness was raised in college by Angela Davis' Violence Against Women and the Ongoing Challenge to Racism.

All of the women had to confront both misconceptions about the work they started to do and internal struggles within their various communities. While the other panelists recalled forming a community around the YWCA, Kaba remembered feeling isolated from other women of color in her non-profit work, and increasingly uneasy about the role the state played in her work. The cops were never the first thing survivors asked for, she said, often because they didn't want their partners incarcerated. Had she continued in a non-profit space, Kaba said, she would have eventually stopped doing the work.

Through her work with social service agencies, Caidor began to see the way conversations about domestic violence and rape were siloed, and among women of color, survivor identity was still developing. Working as a counselor in Logan Square, she found she "had to unlearn what they were taught," as clients treated her space more as a community center rather than for counseling. Caidor found that communities were already doing the healing and organizing she was supposed to provide. "Disabuse yourself of what you think people need," she advised the crowd, saying it was better for nonprofits to provide space and resources in communities of color than inserting themselves.

Scott-Boria, meanwhile, had been asked to grow the presence of rape-crisis services in Black communities, but she soon realized that to "create a consciousness around rape enhanced the criminalization of Black men." Furthermore, she found her task literally impossible because of the belief that funding should be spread equally throughout the state. And the conversation about rape was historically understood to be private in Black communities, although the panel agreed that approaches to that conversation are changing. Scott-Boria's granddaughter has followed in her footsteps as an anti-rape organizer, unaware that her grandmother once did the same work, and her 13-year-old grandson recently asked her to explain rape. "Boy, you asked the wrong person," Scott-Boria joked as the room exploded with laughter.

Kaba delineated the history of rape conversations in the Black community. While Black men were often accused of raping white women, which led to powerful anti-lynching activism, and Black women were often victimized by white men, the conversation about intracommunity sexual violence "didn't exist," Kaba said.

Sides recalled observing her partner in a 40-hour training in which part of the agenda involved disclosing survivorhood. Initially Sides recalled wondering why the participants, all Black women, were using the training as "a therapy session." Her partner reminded Sides, no stranger to working in these worlds already, that this was an opportunity and space which Black women were rarely afforded. "Why didn't I see the beauty of what was happening there?" Sides asked, and went on to say the space probably was so effective because it was all Black and no one was offering justice, instead just the space itself.

Audience questions saw the women discussing R&B singer R. Kelly, soon to make an appearance at UIC's campus. While saying of Kelly, "that child molestor makes really good songs," Caidor critiqued Jim DeRogatis' journalism about Kelly, saying it seemed "self-interested," and recalling that on his radio show DeRogatis had once discussed Ike Turner's career without mentioning his spousal abuse."Where were you for Tina Turner?" Caidor asked rhetorically. Kaba agreed, calling the DeRogatis's pursuit of Kelly "Ahabization," and wondering on a broader level how perpetrators can repair harm.

"If there's no way back, a lot of people are going to deny they're rapists," Kaba pointed out. She continued this point in response to a question about how to restore perpetrators to communities. "We don't have a culture that encourages people to take responsibility," she said, and pointed out that we should still reward people for being accountable. Fear of punishment, Kaba continued, leads to collusion, where communities hide their wrongdoers and nothing get solved. "Communities are not going to agree to throw their people to the state," Kaba said.

Sides pointed out that artists and storytellers like R.C Riley and E. Nina Jay, who talk about their histories of sexual violence in their work, are finding ways to engage without organizing. Sides, who currently works at U of C, saw hope in a student she worked with who wanted to draft a curriculum to educate her rapist rather than go through a disciplinary process.

"People are starting to think beyond criminal justice," Sides said.

"Take Back The Fight: Resisting Sexual Violence From the Ground Up" runs through May 15 at UIC's Pop Up Just Art Gallery, 1344 S. Halsted St.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Phase 3 guidelines for reopening of businesses/workplaces are unveiled 2020-05-24 - Governor JB Pritzker released industry-specific guidelines that allow for the safe reopening of businesses as the state progresses into the next phase of ...

Gay News

Chicago House forum looks at coronavirus, HIV overlaps 2020-05-23 - Illinois state Reps. Lamont Robinson and Greg Harris joined local advocates for an online discussion about the intersection between coronavirus pandemic and the ...

Gay News

COVID-19 Lightfoot: Chicago on track to open in early June 2020-05-23 - Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, alongside the Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH ), announced May 22 that Chicago is on track to ...

Gay News

Buffalo Grove residents all-in on Pride displays after complaint 2020-05-22 - A family whose activism was crucial to bringing a Pride parade to suburban Buffalo Grove were admonished by an anonymous neighbor who inferred ...

Gay News

U.S. Supreme Court backs Idaho trans woman's reassignment surgery 2020-05-22 - The United States Supreme Court denied Idaho's application to stop a transgender inmate's reassignment surgery, East Idaho News reported. The court order ...

Gay News

Affinity to mark 25th anniversary virtually 2020-05-21 - Co-chairs and the Affinity Community Services board of directors recently announced that Affinity's 25th-anniversary event will be a virtual experience taking place the ...

Gay News

Broadway In Chicago reschedules 'Frozen' 2020-05-21 - In response to the COVID-19 ( coronavirus ) pandemic, Broadway In Chicago announced that the upcoming engagement of Disney's Frozen—originally scheduled to run ...

Gay News

Chicago Pride Fest going virtual 2020-05-21 - Chicago Pride Fest will mark its 20th year with a virtual festival format. On June 20-21, the Northalsted Business Alliance will bring Boystown ...

Gay News

Report shows impact of pandemic on LGBTQ communities of color 2020-05-21 - The Human Rights Campaign ( hRC ) Foundation—the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign—released new data outlining the economic impact of COVID-19 ...

Gay News

Trevor Project releases report on mental health of trans, non-binary youth 2020-05-21 - The Trevor Project's research team has published a new peer-reviewed article titled "Understanding the Mental Health of Transgender and Nonbinary Youth" in the ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.