NEW!: “NO!” Study Guide

14 10 2007

Unveiling the Silence: NO! The Rape Documentary Study Guide

Created by Salamishah Tillet, Ph.D. and Rachel Afi Quinn

With the Creative and Editorial Direction of Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Producer, Writer, and Director of NO!The Rape Documentary

Graphic Design by Kavita Rajanna & NO! Logo Design by Traci McKindra

Funded by the Ford Foundation

NO! The Rape Documentary Study Guide  (available as for free as a downloadable pdf in its entirety and in sections; and for purchase)

A tool for educators and workshop facilitators. This study guide may be used within a workshop, class session, or semester-long course. You may decide to screen the documentary film in its entirety or use segments integrated into a broader course addressing race, gender, and sexuality. Viewing the film in segments allows for discussion related to themed sections. You may choose to work through the study guide chapter by chapter, or use it as a jumping off point for student-led exercises or longer activities.

A tool for everyone. Our hope is that this study guide will be used as a companion to the film NO! by all individuals who are taking action in their communities to educate themselves and each other about rape and sexual assault. The film will get conversations going in your communities and on your campuses. You might host a screening of the film as a one-time event in your dorm, classroom, church, mosque, rape crisis center, shelter, correctional facility, living room, or in a community space, and facilitate a group discussion immediately following the screening or in the days following.

This 100-page guide includes:

• Producer/Director Statement

• Summaries of the different DVD chapters of NO! The Rape Documentary

• Excerpts from the transcribed testimonies of rape survivors and quotes from the documentary to spark discussion

• Myths and facts about rape and sexual assault so participants in discussions have relevant information regarding the truth about sexual violence and its impact

• A glossary of terms useful for talking about sexual assault in the African-American community

• Discussion questions about the subject of sexual assault to promote positive and informative conversations for participants

• Worksheets and handouts for participants to use to reflect on what they think they know about rape and sexual violence in their communities

• Additional essays on the role of religion in violence against women and the role of dance in healing sexual violence

• Production stills from the documentary.

• A bibliography of books, journals and articles on sexual violence

• A detailed listing of national organizations that address all forms of sexual violence

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD


http://www.NOtheRapeDocumentary.org
http://www.myspace.com/afrolez

“A Song for New Orleans” featuring Monica Dillon
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14097457

Check out the most recent media coverage on Aishah and NO! (The Rape Documentary) http://www.notherapedocumentary.org/reviews_press.html

“I have seen a lot of documentaries about sexual violence in my 15 years as a film programmer, and ‘NO!’ is by far the most well made, riveting, and poignant… The strength of ‘NO!’ in reaching its viewers is significant, it’s scope and ability to compel are astounding- all women can relate to this film.”
KJ Mohr, Film & Media Arts Programmer, National Museum of Women in the Arts

“If the Black community in the Americas and in the world would heal itself, it must complete the work [NO!] begins.”
Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author, The Color Purple





In These Times: “Stories of Survival”

6 08 2007

original article located here

Features > June 29, 2007

Stories of Survival

NO! explores rape within the African-American community and fights society’s instinct to focus on the racism outside while turning a deaf ear to gender violence within

By Cynthia Greenlee-Donnell

The documentary NO! chips away at the myths and silence surrounding sexual assault it he black community

Filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons didn’t miss a beat when a white, female student told her at a 2003 Boston College screening of her documentary NO!, “Until I saw your film, I didn’t know that black women could be raped.” Simmons, a Philadelphia resident, calmly asked the young woman why she believed such a thing. The student replied that she didn’t think black women, simultaneously praised and pilloried for their strength, would stand for such a violation—as if sexual-violence victims are able to negotiate with attackers or deter them with a hefty serving of attitude.That wasn’t the case with Simmons, now 38, who was sexually assaulted in 1989, when she was a 19-year-old Temple University sophomore on a foreign exchange program to Mexico. A clandestine date—outside the dorm and the curfew hours—turned into a rape that left her pregnant and so devastated that she dropped out of college. Nor was that the case with the women whose stories Simmons has included in NO!, which explores rape within the African-American community.

Among them is a woman who was raped by her mentor, the university’s highest ranking black administrator; another whose fraternity boyfriend wouldn’t take no for an answer; and yet another who struggles with bulimia decades after her first boyfriend beat and raped her after she refused to have sex outside.

For Simmons, NO! has been a labor of love to make the film she wanted, regardless of how long it took. Simmons began filming interviews in 1994 with co-producer Tamara Xavier, but the documentary wasn’t released until 2006, largely because of the struggle to find $300,000 in necessary funding.

With NO!, Simmons hopes to chip away at the myths and disquieting silence surrounding sexual assault in the black community, which has traditionally been so attuned to racism outside that it has largely turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to gender violence within.

“There’s this notion,” says Simmons, “that when black women come forward [and say they’ve been raped], that we’re a traitor to the race. I wanted to show these women, their faces, their names. I understand privacy and shame, but shame should be on the perpetrators.”

Simmons followed the case of Desiree Washington, the beauty queen who accused boxer Mike Tyson of raping her in 1991 in his hotel room. (Tyson served three years in prison.) Then came the campaign to “save” Tyson and discredit Washington—complete with T-shirts proclaiming his innocence. In NO!, Simmons includes footage of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan asking what Washington expected when she went to Tyson’s room as other faith leaders cackle in agreement.

Simmons wondered why those leaders and others never acknowledged that rape isn’t typically a crime committed by a stranger and that, for most black women, the perpetrator is an acquaintance who looks like them. The lack of critical reaction from the black community in the wake of the Washington case, combined with a 1994 trip to South Africa, where she met activists working on issues of sexual assault, galvanized her to make NO!. It is estimated that as many as half of all South African women will be raped in their lifetimes.

American women are also vulnerable to sexual assault. According to a study by the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control, one in every six U.S. women will be subjected to sexual assault or an attempted assault during her lifetime. The organization’s “Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey” estimates that 18.8 percent of black women will survive a rape or attempted rape—making them only slightly more likely than the general population (17.6 percent) and white women (17.7 percent) to experience such a crime, but much less likely to be raped than Native Americans.

Numbers alone don’t express the full extent of rape or sexual assault in the black community—a topic that has probably been discussed more extensively in novels such as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple than in real life. Black women must deal with competing interests—protecting one’s self versus protecting the image of black men in a society where black men are the usual suspects of sexual crimes, facing the distrust of the police versus the need for personal security—that reduce the chance they will report rape.

With the help of anthropologist and former Spelman College President Johnnetta Cole, historian Beverly Guy-Sheftall and former Black Panther Elaine Brown, NO! examines the historical forces that foster sexual violence—and suppress dialogue about it—in black communities. In a country built on slavery, which was predicated on control of black labor and reproduction, black women have been regarded as perpetually sexually available or “unrapeable.” They have never fit easily into the “good girl” mold.

“I realized that I couldn’t talk about sexual assault in the African-American community without talking about slavery,” says Simmons. “If somebody owns you, how do you have the right to consent?”

NO! is generating discussion within the black community. In 2003, writer Kevin Powell (who is black) showed an unfinished cut to a crowd of hundreds—including many African-American men—on a wintry Friday night in Harlem. Men are a vital part of the solution, says Nia Wilson, the associate director of Spirit House, an arts and cultural nonprofit in Durham, N.C. “This is not about going after black men,” she says. “This is about uncovering something we need to address, and we need to address it together. Men are the only ones who can stop rape, no matter what we say, no matter how much light we shine on it.”

Wilson, who is black and a sexual-violence survivor, is also a member of UBUNTU, a coalition that combats racism and violence. Simmons allowed UBUNTU to use NO! to foster dialogue around North Carolina. Wilson recalls a screening for a white audience that was disengaged from the topic. All of the reactions Wilson had learned to expect—tears, outrage, personal testimonies—didn’t happen. The audience members acknowledged the violence, but their comments and lack of emotion told her that they couldn’t relate to this type of violence.

Wilson told the audience, “I can watch a Lifetime movie with a cast full of white people and cry because I’m conditioned to relate to you. But you are not conditioned to relate to me. You, especially this group who thinks you’re so politically correct, you cannot watch a movie with people with brown skin and see yourself.”

Bryan Proffitt, a 28-year-old white schoolteacher and UBUNTU member, says that talking about rape and race requires starting from a framework that acknowledges a history of interracial violence, white supremacy, male domination and myths that need debunking. “There’s always a good bit of anxiety about how white folks are going to see this film. ‘Oh, look, black guys are rapists. We knew that.’ We’ve always tried to be careful of framing this film beforehand because we recognize that white people come in with that particular narrative and we want to challenge that before they see it.”

Before each screening, the UBUNTU facilitator reads a statement that lists 27 reasons the film is being shown, including: “Because the stories of survivors of sexual assault are powerful and sacred.” “Because there are survivors here.” “Because this film holds us all accountable for the world that we comply with and perpetuate.”

This April, NO! was selected as a featured resource by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. “Everywhere I’ve shown the film,” says Simmons, “someone comes up and discloses she’s a survivor. I could be the only black woman in the room—me and the women on the film—in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, women stand up and say, ‘This is my story.’”

For more information on NO!, visit www.notherapedocumentary.org.





J: AMC Follow-up – thoughts on grassroots publishing as a response to sexual violence

26 06 2007

At the AMC this weekend, Lex and I ran a workshop called Wrong is Not My Name: Poetic Healing as a Response to Sexual Violence where we shared our experience creating our interactive anthology Wrong is Not My Name: A Tribute to Survival Via June Jordan. Here’s a description:

This hands-on workshop will highlight the theory and practice of grassroots publishing as a response to Sexual Violence. Participants will learn about how this form of media fits into the work of UBUNTU, a women of color/survivor-led coalition committed to replacing gendered violence with sustaining transformative love. Based in Durham, NC. UBUNTU is practicing a model of community creation centered around healing, expression, sustainability, internal education and awareness raising. Participants will experience the UBUNTU model of community creation, through the production of a group publication during this workshop.

In the course of preparing to lead the workshop, we had some really interesting conversations about grassroots publishing in the context of our work – I wanted to share some thoughts from these as well as some things I learned about zines and resources for exploring further.

Grassroots publishing (by which I mean to include a wide range of mediums that allow writers to share their words without going through commercial publishing institutions – independent presses, zines, community newsletters, booklets, brochures, blogs, etc.), can be a powerful resource in the context of personal and community healing because:

The process of creating and writing – ‘coming to voice’ on paper – can be an accessible and concrete way for survivors to engage in healing. For some of us, the processes of emotional and physical healing can feel intimidating (big, mysterious, painful) and we often cope by avoiding and shutting down emotionally. Survivors of sexual violence are sometimes silenced by feelings of isolation, shame, self-doubt, and fear. Talking through experiences of violence or their aftermath with another person or people that we trust is a crucial element of the healing process (click here for information on supporting a survivor of sexual assault). Writing is no substitute, but healing is an ongoing process and putting things down on paper can be useful at any point along the way. Writing – journaling, poetry, freeform, essays, or really in any form – allows us to acknowledge and express feelings and thoughts at whatever pace and time feels right. When it is just us and the paper (or the screen) we don’t have to worry about being judged, or blamed, or disbelieved. We can share our truths, or not share them – either way, in writing we learn to hear and honor our own voices.

    …and when we speak we are afraid
    our words will not be heard
    nor welcomed
    but when we are silent
    we are still afraid

    So it is better to speak
    remembering
    we were never meant to survive

    Audre Lorde
    ‘Litany for Survival’

    When we publish our writings (on blogs, in zines, or elsewhere) it is a way of meeting the world as a part of healing – this is important because we honor eachother’s humanity by speaking our truths, and because as Lex reminded us, “silence is already a form of death.” Speaking truth is also a powerful and transformative act of resistance within the context of a rape culture that demands our silence. Research tells us that there are an estimated 21 million survivors in this country today, and that every 2 1/2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted – yet, too often people speak about rape as though it were a rare occurrence and isolated to back alleyways and “other” people. When survivors speak up, we challenge popular misconceptions about rape. We also make it easier for other survivors to do the same.

      Being part of a writing community within UBUNTU has allowed us to connect to other survivors, to support and celebrate eachother. And in sharing our stories and experiences with eachother we are able to bring our analysis of sexual violence to a systemic (rather than individual) level. When we observe the commonalities between these experiences, we can clearly see the structural roots of sexual violence and understand rape culture as situated within the context of interlocking racial, gendered, sexual, and class-based oppressions. Taken as a body of work, the writings of survivors (in UBUNTU and elsewhere) speak to and document the prevalence of sexual violence and to the physical and emotional costs of rape culture for real people – both survivors and our loved ones. In this way, these writings are also a political resource or tool that can be useful in educating and calling for change. Through the use of grassroots publishing methods we are able to share our writings quickly, easily, and widely with little or no overhead costs – making the process accessible to all who know ‘it is better to speak’.

        What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?
        The world would split open.

        Muriel Rukeseyer
        ‘Kathe Kollwitz’





        J: Allied Media Conference – beautiful!

        25 06 2007

        This weekend Yolanda, Lex, and I had the revolutionary joy of attending the Allied Media Conference in Detroit. There is so much to say that I won’t try to recap in one post but I do want to say that it was amazing, inspiring, and truly beautiful. We learned about how folks are using a wide spectrum of media forms to connect movements, educate, empower, and create possibilities. Many many thanks to BFP for organizing the Women of Color bloggers caucus and bringing us all together in one place. I am smiling just thinking about it. Please look for more about the AMC (and general brilliance) from:

        BrownFemiPower
        BlackAmazon
        Hermana Resist
        Fabulosa Mujer
        A WomynEcdysis
        No Snow Here
        The Primary Contradiction
        A Book Without A Cover
        Dangerous and Moving





        Updated Social Forum Info – Check Us Out in ATL!

        21 06 2007

        NEED

        [TIME CHANGE!] time: Friday at 3:30pm
        location: Horizon Theater room at the Little Five Points Community Center

        This workshop will invite participants to interact with a performance
        of Audre Lorde’s Need: A Chorale for Black Women’s Voices as a forum
        to discuss the war on women and how we can overcome the silence that
        perpetuates violence in oppressed communities.

        We want the participants to leave with strategies for breaking silence
        in their communities. We want them to leave enabled to use art as tool
        to engage with issues and problems in their own communities,
        relationships and personal lives. We also intend for participants to
        take away their own copy of Need and the sample curricula that we have
        developed and the art that they will have created in conversation with
        the piece.

        The presenters will perform the piece NEED and lead a discussion in
        which participants discuss their responses to the piece. Then the
        participants will break into groups to explore sample workshops that
        they may be able to use in their communities.

        Our workshop/performance will be conducted in English. We do not have
        a sign language interpreter or a vocal translator who has signed on so
        far. We are very open to being paired with people who could provide
        these services.
        (This workshop is co-facilitated by SpiritHouse and UBUNTU. And is listed in the USSF schedule under SpiritHouse)

        note: This workshop is completely different than the one UBUNTU did at the southeast social forum. It is an acknowledgment of the healing process we are developing in this beautiful community PLEASE come out and bring your friends (big smile).

        Feminism: Gender, Race and Class

        [TIME CHANGE!] time: Saturday at 1:00 PM
        location: Atlanta Ballroom B room at the Renaissance Atlanta Hotel Downtown

        The Feminism: Gender, Race and Class workshop will initiate a
        strategic process for rebuilding/building the women’s liberation
        movement. Solidarity, a national co-sponsor of the USSF, is lead
        organization. This workshop acknowledges attacks on the gains of the
        women’s liberation movement and the impact of gender, race and class
        contradictions inside the women’s liberation movement. This workshop
        will educate on the intersection of the women’s movement with the
        civil rights, labor and peace movements of the past 40 years.
        Historical analyses will illustrate how gender, race and class have
        been factors in the struggle for unity in the women’s liberation
        movement.

        This workshop is co-sponsored by Solidarity; Centro Obrero (Michigan); Circle Connections; NOW; PEP (New York); SisterSong; Ubuntu; Project South; Black Radical Congress; SpiritHouse; Highlander Center and is listed in the USSF schedule under Solidarity)

        Traveled Bodies – Policing Blackness and the Technology of State Violence

        (A HERstorical Artistic Reflection)

        location: Task Force for the Homeless, 477 Peachtree St

        Traveled Bodies – Policing Blackness and the Technology of State Violence (A HERstorical Artistic Relfection) is a multimedia meditative collaboration on the pervasive tapestry of police brutality as it progresses from slavery to now. The artists pay homage to the evolutionary women arts movement, our resilient bodies who continue to create under this haunting violence, and our sisters and brothers locked up in modern day plantations here and abroad.

        ~~~

        Also look for Southerners On New Ground in ATL – their Social Forum schedule can be found at: southernersonnewground.org





        Social Forum: A radical LGBTQ calendar from SONG!

        20 06 2007

         
        day of truthtelling
        (Above:  Alexis Pauline Gumbs with her lovely art)

        (Want more info on anything below? Go to SONG’s website)

        Building a Queer Left Meeting: Pre-Conference Convening with Queers for Economic Justice and SONG to vision a LGBTQ movement from the bottom and to the left. Tues. June 26

        Southern Hospitality BBQ for LGBTQ Folks! Come party with us before the forum on the night of Tues. June 26 to celebrate LGBTQ movement makers. All participants from the above meeting and the Transformative Justice pre-forum meeting will be invited. This will also be a pass the hat fundraiser for SONG! Bring your friends!

        Address: Cara Page and Kai Gurley’s House: 692 Elbert St. SW, Atlanta, GA, 30310 (5 minutes drive from Georgia Tech, and a short walk from MARTA West End Station-please email if you are taking MARTA, so we can try and pick you up, as we are told the walk is not the safest)
        Time and Date: 7:30 pm on Tues. June 26
        Please Bring: If you are local to ATL please bring side dishes and desserts, and if you are from out of town please bring drinks. Veggie and meat hot dogs and burgers will be provided.
        Contact: We will do our best to help you get there, though we will be a bit crazy ;). So, please mapquest if you can and carpool, but if you need help getting there please email the contact person by Monday, June 25. Thanks! We hope to see you there! (Contact: Caitlin Breedlove, Caitlin@southernersonnewground.org)

        Two SONG workshops during the forum: One focuses on stories and movement building beyond and outside the 501c3 industrial complex, and the other focuses on Colonized Bodies as a site of Liberation

        SONG/Audre Lorde Project/FIERCE Welcome and Queer Visibility Table We are hosting one little table to welcome folks. Just to extend our welcome to the peoples! If you want to host a table for your queer group, go directly to the US Social Forum Site

        Other events:
        (From a calendar prepared by Atlanta’s Queer Progressive Agenda)

        • USSF contingent in the Atlanta pride parade before the forum
        • Stonewall re-enactment in forum’s opening march
        • ZAMI Party: A party for queer women of color on Saturday June 30
        • Mondohomo is organizing arts, music and cultural events all over Atlanta during the forum–check out the Mondohomo website
        • For more info go to Queer Progressive Agenda’s site above or directly to the SONG site, which we will keep updated up until the forum!




        Check us out at the Social Forum! (Updated!)

        19 06 2007

        NEED

        time: Friday at 20:30 PM (8:30)
        location: Horizon Theater room at the Little Five Points Community Center

        This workshop will invite participants to interact with a performance
        of Audre Lorde’s Need: A Chorale for Black Women’s Voices as a forum
        to discuss the war on women and how we can overcome the silence that
        perpetuates violence in oppressed communities.

        We want the participants to leave with strategies for breaking silence
        in their communities. We want them to leave enabled to use art as tool
        to engage with issues and problems in their own communities,
        relationships and personal lives. We also intend for participants to
        take away their own copy of Need and the sample curricula that we have
        developed and the art that they will have created in conversation with
        the piece.

        The presenters will perform the piece NEED and lead a discussion in
        which participants discuss their responses to the piece. Then the
        participants will break into groups to explore sample workshops that
        they may be able to use in their communities.

        Our workshop/performance will be conducted in English. We do not have
        a sign language interpreter or a vocal translator who has signed on so
        far. We are very open to being paired with people who could provide
        these services.
        (This workshop is co-facilitated by SpiritHouse and UBUNTU. And is listed in the USSF schedule under SpiritHouse)

        Feminism: Gender, Race and Class

        time: Saturday at 18:00 PM (6:00)
        location: Atlanta Ballroom B room at the Renaissance Atlanta Hotel Downtown

        The Feminism: Gender, Race and Class workshop will initiate a
        strategic process for rebuilding/building the women’s liberation
        movement. Solidarity, a national co-sponsor of the USSF, is lead
        organization. This workshop acknowledges attacks on the gains of the
        women’s liberation movement and the impact of gender, race and class
        contradictions inside the women’s liberation movement. This workshop
        will educate on the intersection of the women’s movement with the
        civil rights, labor and peace movements of the past 40 years.
        Historical analyses will illustrate how gender, race and class have
        been factors in the struggle for unity in the women’s liberation
        movement.

        This workshop is co-sponsored by Solidarity; Centro Obrero (Michigan); Circle Connections; NOW; PEP (New York); SisterSong; Ubuntu; Project South; Black Radical Congress; SpiritHouse; Highlander Center and is listed in the USSF schedule under Solidarity)

        Traveled Bodies – Policing Blackness and the Technology of State Violence

        (A HERstorical Artistic Reflection)

        location: Task Force for the Homeless, 477 Peachtree St

        Traveled Bodies – Policing Blackness and the Technology of State Violence (A HERstorical Artistic Relfection) is a multimedia meditative collaboration on the pervasive tapestry of police brutality as it progresses from slavery to now. The artists pay homage to the evolutionary women arts movement, our resilient bodies who continue to create under this haunting violence, and our sisters and brothers locked up in modern day plantations here and abroad.

        ~~~

        Also look for Southerners On New Ground in ATL – their Social Forum schedule can be found at: southernersonnewground.org