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No More "Me, Too's" {Part 2}

Jan 16, 2018 — Categories: , ,

At the recent Golden Globe Awards, the Cecile B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement was received by Oprah Winfrey. In her response, Oprah “preached.” And I mean she really preached! In her remarks, she called forth Recy Taylor, a young wife and mother on her way home from church who was kidnapped in 1944 in Alabama by 6 white men. Taylor was gang raped and left by the side of the road. She reported to the police who, even in the face of confessions from several of the men, never indicted anyone. She went to the NAACP for help and her case was assigned to an advocate, Rosa Parks. The NAACP proceeded to organize a national campaign in support of Mrs. Taylor to no avail.

At the recent Golden Globe Awards, the Cecile B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement was received by Oprah Winfrey.  In her response, Oprah “preached.” And I mean she really preached!

In her remarks, she called forth Recy Taylor, a young wife and mother on her way home from church who was kidnapped in 1944 in Alabama by 6 white men. Taylor was gang raped and left by the side of the road. She reported to the police who, even in the face of confessions from several of the men, never indicted anyone. She went to the NAACP for help and her case was assigned to an advocate, Rosa Parks. The NAACP proceeded to organize a national campaign in support of Mrs. Taylor to no avail.

As a white girl growing up in the South in the ‘50’s, I never heard the name Recy Taylor. I didn’t know that a national campaign seeking justice for her had been a precursor to the Civil Rights Movement. She was a key figure in the early search for justice for women who were systematically violated, abuse, and ignored—one of the countless victims of our brutal racist and misogynistic history. Now I can’t not know Recy Taylor. She is one of the heroines of our work on whose shoulders we stand. Oprah’s point is to remind us of the thousands and thousands of women in U.S. history who have been sexually assaulted, some of whom did speak up and got no justice. Until 2011.

In 2011, the Alabama legislature formally apologized to Mrs. Taylor with this action:

“BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOUSES THEREOF CONCURRING, That we acknowledge the lack of prosecution for crimes committed against Recy Taylor by the government of the State of Alabama, that we declare such failure to act was, and is, morally abhorrent and repugnant, and that we do hereby express profound regret for the role played by the government of the State of Alabama in failing to prosecute the crimes.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we express our deepest sympathies and solemn regrets to Recy Taylor and her family and friends.

At least Mrs. Taylor received some sense of justice, although too long delayed (see Luke 18:1-8).

Recy Taylor died in December, 2017. Her experience and the terrible injustice she experienced have been made into an award-winning documentary, “The Rape of Recy Taylor” which was released last year.

In the words of Kimberle Crenshaw:

“Since violence is used to control women in patriarchal societies, it is important to understand the nature of patriarchy and its relationship to other forms of oppression such as racism, colonialism, heterosexism, etc. Violence against women of color is affected by the intersection of racism and sexism and the failures of both the feminist and antiracist movements to seriously address this issue.”[1]

Yes, violence is the common thread woven through all women’s lives. But also, Oprah called for an organized response and action.

This is what we began to see at the Golden Globes. Perhaps this is the tipping point we have waited for: every woman attending dressed in black in solidarity with #MeToo; Tarana Burke who originated the #MeToo movement was invited as a special guest; Oprah using this platform; awards to movies and series addressing gender based violence; the initiation of the “Times Up” response and the Sexual Harassment Commission which is chaired by Dr. Anita Hill and funded by Hollywood executives and brings some influential people to the table. Perhaps these will move the conversation beyond our individual experiences to an institutional response which can gather women and men committed to changing the culture of the entertainment industry.

It is also encouraging that women in Hollywood are recognizing a solidarity with women who have been addressing sexual assault and harassment for decades, and perhaps the #Times Up response will inspire some of the most influential women to throw their power (and money) behind these existing organizations.

It was no surprise that the Golden Globes event was overtaken by the #MeToo and #TimesUp efforts.  This was the perfect time, the perfect venue, and the perfect platform for a highly visible display and a reminder that Hollywood, with all its flaws, also, at its best, is a window into our culture with the potential to educate and to change minds and hearts.

For those of us whose work has focused for decades on faith communities addressing (or failing to address) sexual and domestic violence, it is also powerful now to see the #ChurchToo and #SilenceIsNotSpiritual social media movements take the outrage, pain and shame of abuse to the doorsteps of our faith communities.

Oprah’s vision is the day which she suggests is on the horizon (please God, let it be so)— the day when there will be no more “Me-Too’s”. The question I set before us is what would an unvarnished, institutional response look like in our churches, synagogues, sanghas, and mosques? What would that vision look like in our faith communities?

Stayed tuned for Part 3.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
www.faithtrustinstitute.org
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[1] Crenshawe (1994) Intersectionality, Identity Politics, & Violence Against Women of Color

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No More "Me Too's" - Part 2

Posted by Andrea Gadson at Jan 18, 2018 02:56 PM
I'm in agreement with you. Someday sexual assault of women, men and especially our children will end. My heart says because of the flesh it will be with us until Jesus returns, but another part of me says "in the meantime". In the meantime, awareness, education, victim support, and prayer are the tools we'll need to use extensively. My prayer is for these tools to open people's eyes so that before they think of hurting others, especially our children, they see the pain it will cause. Then we can see fewer Me Too’s.

No More Me Too's Pt. 2.

Posted by Pastor Ron Henderson at Mar 19, 2018 07:15 PM
I quite heartily accept and approve of actions taken to stop the abuse of women, men, boys, girls, and the disadvantaged. As humanity it is extremely necessary that we seek to stop this behaviour. The only caveat I have is that I am 'tired' of hearing 'race', 'race', 'race'. Abuse cuts right across the line of humanity irrespective creed, ethnicity, or class. It would be a breath of fresh air to hear American blacks say in the same breath that abuse against women and others regardless of colour or ethnicity is an evil that must be dealt with for the sake of unity. It reminds me of the words of someone who said, "If I had a son I would call him..." while many other sons of other ethnicities including the majority one, are being abused in front of his and our eyes almost with impunity. As a human race we are all in this together. We have no alternative but to 'press together' for the common good or we perish! Thanks for the article, very well done.