What does justice for hundreds of black women and girls look like?
National media has paid no attention to the case of Jason Roger Pope in South Carolina, arrested on August 29th, 2019 on multiple counts of human trafficking, sexual assault, and criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Pope, a white man in his mid-30s known in Florence County as “DJ KID”, by his own accounts on social media and messaging, is living with AIDS and deliberately targeted 639 underage black girls and black women for unprotected sex. Like so many predators, Pope coerced the young girls and women with “gifts”, money, drugs, and promises of fame. That Pope is facing charges now despite years of reports of his conduct is owed to the girls, some as young as thirteen, who came forward with their experiences. Local news outlets have reported on two girls, 13 and 16, who brought attention to Pope’s patterns of behavior when they sought medical care as rape survivors. While the case is truly horrific and shocking, we see Pope as emblematic of a larger culture of misogynoir and attacks on black life. As a survivor-led and centered organization, we at BWB extend our thoughts to the women and girls impacted by Pope’s monstrous actions. We will continue to pay attention to the handling of this case and to any of the women who may come forward to speak in their own voices about their needs as survivors.
Black Women’s Blueprint is committed to ending rape and to affirming all survivors, including any survivor whether or not she has come forward in this case. A trial against any person who rapes creates the critical space needed for public reckoning in all communities, in our silo'ed movements and in relationships fueled by a persistent competition between race-based and gender-based violence where Black folks are concerned, this is about Black women who sit squarely across several intersections. When survivors speak their truths, and Black survivors in particular, they speak for our past and our present. They create that space of listening, rage and affirmation and insist that critical attention, justice and a dismantling of any exploitative, capitalist, white supremacist, patriarchal culture is not only required, it is necessary. Our survival depends on it.