Monday, October 09, 2006

Because We NO! On Aishah Simmons' Documentary as Community Accountability

Because we...:

The UBUNTU education working group has chosen to use NO!, Aishah Simmons’ groundbreaking film about sexual violence in African-American communities because it exemplifies, informs and pushes our struggle to create a world that is free of sexual violence and full of community accountability and a sustaining, transformative love.

This is our collective reasoning for using this film and our vision for its impact on our communities.

NO! Because we love this film. Because this film is made up of warriors showing up for their own liberation, starting with Aishah Simmons, a survivor who created this film through 10 years of sustained community work to raise awareness about rape. Because the stories of survivors of sexual assault are powerful and sacred. Because there are survivors here. Because this story speaks to and for all of us. Because this story pushes us beyond words. Because this story has the power to heal. Because men need to be aware of the effects of sexual assault. Because this lets you know what you need to know fast. Because you have shown up and you will recognize your own fears and experiences here with a new clarity. Because you have shown up and you have survived and you are not alone. Because this film will make you think about sexual assault in your own community and in your own life. Because the history of sexual assault matters. Because you have shown up and this film might provoke you to demand and create your own freedom. Because this film can make you recognize your own situations and your own actions. Because this film will remind you that you can act. Because this film is brave and honest about fear and asks us to be brave and honest with each other. Because this film is real and encourages us to be real in this space. Because this film can push us all to acknowledge and share our emotions. Because this brings this issue home to all of us. Because this film insists that all oppression is connected. Because this film holds us all accountable for the world that we comply with and perpetuate. Because this film encourages us to change the way we respond to sexual assault on an institutional level. Because this film shows us how to hold our communities accountable without always buying into the flawed legal system. Because this film is about responsibility and not blame. Because this film teaches us something new every time. Because this film shapes and propels our analysis and our action. Because this film demands that we reimagine the whole world. Because we believe that the best place to make a new world is right here, together, with you.

So we challenge you as you watch this film to see yourself, your own fears and your own responsibility. This film is not about other people. This film is not about some pathology that is unique to the black community. This film is a specific and necessary examination of the manifestations of sexual assault in black women’s lives, but it calls all of us to recognize our own survival, our own silence, our own complicity, our own violence and our shared responsibility to create a world that honors us.
UBUNTU Education Working Group


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