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What’s Missing From The Brownsville Rape Case

According to the law enforcement, an 18-year-old girl was allegedly raped at gunpoint by a group of five teenagers while walking through the park in Brownsville, Brooklyn with her estranged father.

According to her father, he fled the scene at the gunman’s orders and after denied access to a telephone by several local bodegas, he found police officers in a squad car and led them to the scene. But, it was too late. The group had fled and his daughter had been raped.

The alleged rapists do not deny a sexual act took place that night. However, according to them,  there was no gang rape and whatever took place in the park was entirely consensual.

So many voices have spoken out to offer an account of the alleged crime however, the most critical voice — that of the victim — has been lost in a web of murky details leaving the public with more questions than answers.

Sadly, the silencing of victims of sexual assault is the chronic symptom of an archaic ideology that exploits and abuses female sexuality. These patriarchal patterns of thinking perpetuate the notion that a woman’s body does not belong to her and reinforces a culture of rape where sexual violence is trivialized and a woman can find herself on trial for her own rape.

“Individuals often talk about the woman,” New York City councilwoman Lauren Cumbo told CNN in response to the Brownsville case. “They rarely talk about the individuals who committed the rape.”

Such was the case, last month during the trial of former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw for 36 counts of sexual battery, rape and other offenses. Not only did the 13 alleged victims who took the stand find their personal histories presented as evidence against them in court, they found their characters being questioned in the court of public opinion.

Some of the women offered brave, albethey brief, statements to the press in the days after Holtzclaw was found guilty on 18 counts and sentenced to 263 years in prison. Still, less than a month after the media circus surrounding the case, the women have retreated back into relative anonymity. Their voices have once again been silenced and their stories have been buried deep in the archives of the blogosphere.

Literary legend and sexual assault survivor, Maya Angelou once said that “there is no greater agony than an untold story inside you.” With up to 96% percent of all rapes never reported to the authorities , countless survivors find themselves in excruciating emotional and psychological pain. Until we create a culture that respects the female body with the same voracity that scrutinizes it, these women will never be taken out of their misery.

There’s a chorus of voices just waiting to be heard. All we have to do is listen.

Rape101

Photo by Jordan Confino /CC BY 2.0

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The New Year’s Resolution Every Black Woman Should Make

resizeimageBeing Black in America is no easy feat, but to be Black and a woman is a unique dilemma.

African American women bear the double disadvantage of racism and sexism, making them prime targets for both racial terrorism and gender-based violence

According to a report by The Black Women’s Roundtable, no woman is more likely to be raped, beaten or murdered in America today than a Black woman, a point proven sadly accurate in the legion of tragic headlines in 2015. Whether it was Sandra Bland on a Texas highway or Dajerria Becton at a Texas pool, we were bombarded with images of Black Women as victims of senseless violence this year. And with each reported incident, we experienced the trauma anew, persistently picking at our blistering wounds.

As race and gender bias intersect to threaten the lives (and sanity) of Black women in America, it is more important than ever that we prioritize both our physical and psychological well-being. In 2016, there is one resolution Black Women should definitely make: Self-care.

Here are 5 simple ways to treat yo’self in the new year — as told by Beyonce ;).

MAKE YOUR BODY YOUR TEMPLE

Whether you make a choice to eat right, exercise regularly or prioritize sleep in your schedule, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial to becoming your best self. Your body is your temple. Treat it accordingly.

WORK HARD, PLAY HARDER

Don’t be so consumed with your responsibilities that you forget build a life of your own. Be sure to set aside time to turn up and celebrate your accomplishments regularly. If you’re more of an introvert you might prefer to visit an exhibit you’ve been meaning to see or simply set aside time to read a chapter in a new book. When it comes to self-care, it’s the small things count.

GET CREATIVE

Creative arts can be a mindful way to express yourself and, more importantly, DESTRESS. Start a journal or invest in an adult coloring book, but whatever you do, quit consuming and start creating.  

STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES

It is easy to get distracted with the everyday mayhem of bad news, but it’s important not to let it overwhelm you. Take care to find moments to relax and center yourself. Try meditating or signing up for a community yoga class. And, if you’re feeling really fancy, book an impromptu massage or spa date.

STAY CONNECTED

While self-care is primarily about your personal well-being, you don’t have to go at it alone.   It is essential to maintain connections with the outside world in order to foster a sense of support and belonging. Spend some quality time with your friends and family in the new year. You wont regret it. 

How do you practice self-care in your life? Share your routine in the comments below.

Photo by chandlerchristian /CC BY 2.0