Liberation from Within
I wish we could be as passionate about ending rape & rape culture as so many of us are about protecting those who rape or those who promote rape. In the specific instances of people of color and anti-racist white people, it’s uncanny how so many us are absolutely clear and razor sharp with our analyses about the horrid impact of racism and white supremacy upon our communities. And yet, when it comes to sexism, misogyny, and gender-based violence perpetrated against cis/trans women and all gender non-conforming people, the response is too often a combination of crickets, a rush to blame the victim/survivors, and/or a rush to protect/contexualize the behavior of perpetrators.
Remembering and Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Aaronette M. White

by Aishah Shahidah Simmons for The Feminist Wire 

It is with deep sadness and profound devastation that I share that radical Black/Pan-African feminist activist and social psychologist Aaronette M. White, Ph.D., recently made her physical transition. While there is presently uncertainty about the exact date and time of her sudden death, no foul play or harm was done to her in the last hours of her life. Her body was found in her apartment on Tuesday, August 14, 2012. The belief is that she suffered an aneurysm. She was 51-years old.

 

Aaronette was one of my dear and close friends who was also a trusted confidante. I first met her in September 1996 at the Black, Male & Feminist/Womanist conference, which was organized by Black Men for the Eradication of Sexism, a student group at Morehouse College. At that point, I was barely in year two of the twelve-year journey to make my feature-length film NO! The Rape Documentary. Thanks to radical, trailblazing Black feminist scholar-activist, and Big Sister-friend Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Ph.D., who is the founding director of Spelman College’s Women’s Research and Resource Centerand their Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies, I was invited to be a presenter at the conference. In remembering that historic gathering, Beverly wrote,

[…]Though not many of us were at Morehouse in 1996 (bell hooks was also there as the keynote speaker), it was a critical moment in the development of a young cohort of brothers who claimed unapologetically their allegiance to [B]lack feminists and FEMINISM!!!!

It was a powerful moment in which some friendships, camaraderies, and allegiances were formed and are still going strong today.

When Aaronette heard that I was making a film about intra-racial rape, other forms of sexual violence, and healing in the Black community, she immediately came up to me at the conference to ask how could she be involved with this project. Shortly after my return home, she sent me a package, which included a donation towards the making of NO!, her curriculum vitae, extensive resources directly related to her ground breaking research and scholarship on anti-rape activism in the Black community. The package also included a letter offering to be involved, for free, in any way possible. This past June, we laughed hysterically during one of our many Sister-friend marathon phone conversations remembering her first mailing to me. Little did she know at the time of sending me her very extensive package in 1996, I was desperate for any and all assistance and expertise in support of the making of NO!.  Aaronette literally thought she had to convince me that she would be a wonderful resource for the project.  Shortly after receipt of her first of many packages over the years, she became one of the five Black feminist scholar-activist advisors[1] to NO!. Equally as important, Aaronette, was a featured interviewee who shared both her testimony as a survivor of rape; and her scholar-activism on sexual violence on camera. Without expecting anything in return, Aaronette worked tirelessly in support of NO! always looking for ways for me to secure funds to help me cross the finish line; and to spread the word about the making of the documentary. She most generously gave her time both as a scholar-activist and also as one of the consistent trusted shoulders upon which I leaned for ten out of the twelve years it took for me to make NO!. Aaronette’s activism, scholarship, and writings were frequently ahead of the curve. She constantly championed unsung warrior feminist women who were predominantly of African descent. However, she celebrated the resiliency and (sometimes armed) resistance of all women she defined as freedom fighters…

CLICK HERE TO READ IN ITS ENTIRETY

afrolez:

“I am gay and I am normal.” ~ Aishah Shahidah Simmons

*Trigger Warning* I discuss my rape/pregnancy/abortion, which, in addition to being the result of misogyny and patriarchy, is also the result of internalized and externalized homophobia and heterosexism.

(Filmed in 1995 and subsequently) Produced and directed in 1996 by Aishah Shahidah Simmons and edited by Joan Brannon, ‘In My Father’s House’ is a documentary short about Aishah’s Black feminist lesbian exploration of her coming out process through self reflection, and candid conversations with her father, Michael Simmons {http://raday.blogs.com/}, her younger brother, Tyree Cinque Simmons, and Yvonne Marie Jones, one of her best friends from high school. 

In My Father’s House’ was grassroots guerrilla style videomaking. It was a no budget Hi8 video project, which is very evident in the production value. At the time, what small funds Aishah had went towards the making of her feature length film NO! The Rape Documentary {http://NOtheRapeDocumentary.og

Celebrating Father’s Day and LGBTQ Pride’ by Aishah Shahidah Simmons for The Feminist Wire gives more background information on the origins of In My Father’s House

{http://thefeministwire.com/2012/06/celebrating-fathers-day-and-lgbtq-pride/}

afrolez:

Day Two of three days of events focused on eradicating and healing from Gender-Based Violence in Denver, Colorado (http://bit.ly/LjgPLi).

TONIGHT just us at Redline Denver where I will read from my essay for the forthcoming anthology Queering Sexual Violence (h/t Bones Patterson). A reception will follow. Also, check out the featured exhibit, “Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women, and Art,” 7pm at 2350 Arapahoe Street, Denver, CO 80205 


It took a village to make this happen, but I want to extend my ongoing gratitude to my beloved Sistren Linda Mizell and Rachel Elizabeth Harding for taking the lead in February 2012; and Carolyn Cunningham Ashfor her generous hospitality in her beautiful home…

THE INTERSECTIONAL SPONSORS:
* Veterans of Hope 
* INCITE! Denver
* Su Teatro
* African American Studies Program at Metro State
* Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center
* Community Re-entry Project
* Coy Cunningham Memorial Scholarship Fund
* Denver Center for Crime Victims
* Ethnic Studies Dept at UCD
* It Takes a Village
* Rape Assistance and Awareness Program 
* Redline Denver
Aishah Shahidah Simmons, NO! The Rape Documentary, and Healing in Denver, Colorado

Three days of events focusing on both eradicating gender-based violence and healing from gender-based violence, featuring Aishah Shahidah Simmons and her cultural work in Denver Colorado from June 7, 2012 - June 9, 2012.

On Thursday, June 7, 2012, ‘XicanIndie Thursday’ presents:

A screening and discussion of NO! The Rape Documentary, the award-winning, internationally-acclaimed, groundbreaking feature length documentary, which explores the international atrocity of rape and sexual violence through the first testimonies of Black women survivors, the scholarship, activism, and cultural work of African-American women and men.

The screening will be held at 7pm at the Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center. Doors open at 6:30pm

721 Sante Fe Drive, Denver, CO 80204

Admission: $7 (Call Tanya for info on discounted & community tickets 303.296.0219)

On Friday, June 8, 2012, at Redline Denver, Aishah will read from her essay for the forthcoming anthology Queering Sexual Violence. A reception will follow the reading. There is also an exhibit “Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art.”

The reading will begin at 7pm.

2350 Arapahoe Street, Denver, CO 80205

On Saturday, June 9, 2012, there will be a healing and activism retreat, which will focus on spiritual and ritual healing resources for women of color. This retreat, for women of color, will highlight the tools Aishah Shahidah Simmons has used and uses on her ongoing healing journey from victim to survivor; and Sofia Chavez Frederick who will (re)introduce participants to Curanderismo and Ancient Traditions.

The retreat will be held from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm at the University Park United Methodist Church, 2180 S. University Boulevard, Denver, CO 80210

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Please contact: DenverNo2012@gmail.com or call 303.931.9737

These three events are made possible through the support of:

  • Veterans of Hope
  • INCITE! Denver
  • Su Teatro
  • African American Studies Program at Metro State
  • Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center
  • Community Re-entry Project
  • Coy Cunningham Memorial Scholarship Fund
  • Denver Center for Crime Victims
  • Ethnic Studies Department at University of Colorado, Denver
  • It Takes A Village
  • Rape Assistance and Awareness Program
  • Redline Denver