Releasing Bill Cosby with no strategy for a Restorative Justice process drives home the message that systems not made for us can never deliver justice. We heal from wounds of rape en masse everyday and this moment points to a longstanding legacy of injustice within a canon of catastrophic moments. Prisons have once again proven to be obsolete.
Black Women’s Blueprint is committed to ending rape and to affirming all survivors. A trial against any person who rapes creates the critical space needed for public reckoning in Black communities, in our siloed movements and relationships fueled by the fierce, persistent competition between race-based and gender-based terrorism, within Black communities.
When survivors speak their truths they create that space of listening and affirmation that violence is violence and that violence is terror. When survivors speak, they create a much needed space of learning and speaking for everyone, even if in a whisper to themselves that they too endured sexual assault.
This case and sexual assault cuts across all communities, all races, however we are at this moment gravely concerned with our Black communities for which acknowledging rape as unacceptable and non-negotiable is a problem which must be addressed. Our experiences reveal that Black women in particular have been forced to keep their mouths shut, choose race over their own body sovereignty when these cannot be separated. We are told to think and say what is most popular in such cases like Bill Cosby. Black Women’s Blueprint reaffirms that believing survivors is what we owe each other and ourselves as survivors of intergenerational sexual trauma. Whether rape is committed by one in our midst under a patriarchal system which says our bodies are to be drugged, beaten, deceived and molested, or by a white supremacist upholding a racist system that says Black bodies are property, a rape is a rape.
The rape apologists cheering #BillCosby’s release in its current form, without a process, without the spirit-mending work that should be required of Cosby and by all of us, without a contract with Black communities for an apology, and without making amends to the women he admitted to raping, are manifesting what they’ve been taught early on—that
none of us, including Bill Cosby, have any value.
As Alice Walker reminds us, “Healing begins where the wound was made”. In their actions, the state and the community are abandoning the survivors, the harm-doer and future generations. They are abandoning the healing process that is needed.
For too long, we have been taught through violent speech and violent acts that the degradation of survivors is inconsequential. For too long we have been taught that Black men are to be uplifted at any cost. We as Black women are taught to give it all, sell it all, sacrifice it all, hand our bodies over to the state and to various members of our communities. The price is the bodies of our Black daughters and the war-torn bodies of Black women, at least here, in this U.S. context.
For many of us this is too painful to admit, but our rage is constantly repressed and our cries habitually muffled with literal hands over our mouths. We will not allow the overturning of this conviction to script survivors out of existence and to stop us from demanding justice as we define it. We have a duty to truth, healing, justice and radical restoration now.