Asking Strategic Questions: Preparation for the Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Sexual Assault

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Faces of 9 black women in variuod poses and expressions with black background Witness ahistoric Tribinal The Black Womens Turht and Reconcilition COommission on Sexual Assault April 28, 2106-May 1, 2016As someone dedicated to the prevention of sexual violence, I recognize that we still have much to learn. We need truthful and transformative conversations about the impact and origins of sexual violence in our country, in our communities and in our homes. We need to explore what actions we can take to transform our communities and our country in order to prevent sexual violence. As President Obama said in his Presidential Proclamation for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month “This month, we reaffirm our commitment to shift the attitudes that allow sexual assault to go unanswered and unpunished, and we redouble our efforts to prevent this human rights violation from happening in the first place.”

But talking about how and why sexual violence happens is not easy, and certainly not always comfortable. In order to prevent sexual violence, we must understand the context of sexual violence and center how legacies of racism, classism, patriarchy, and heterosexism collide and collude to create conditions ripe for the violence to occur in the first place.

I recently returned from South Africa where I was part of the Move to End Violence International Learning Exchange. I learned about South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission from the 1990s that looked at human rights violations that were committed during Apartheid. Farah Tanis, one of my colleagues whom I traveled with, has been inspired to create a truth and reconciliation process here in this country. Her organization Black Women’s Blueprint is convening the Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Sexual Assault that will take place April 28 – May 1, 2016.

 

A recokening - Truth and Reconcilation as Prevention - display of YOuube channel - screen shows Black Women's Truth and Reconcilitiion Commission in white letters with black background with logo of a black woemen and gold backgroundI encourage all prevention practitioners to engage in this process of asking strategic questions that are posed in Black Women Blueprint’s Digital Reckoning videos. These questions can jump start honest dialogue about the latent belief systems we, and others might carry in our hearts and minds and which affect how we think about, develop, and implement prevention efforts to end violence in our communities.

As it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, this is the time to engage in discussions and ask the questions posed in the videos as we build multiracial coalition to truly change the landscape of gender-based violence for good in this country.

CALCASA Executive Director Sandra Henriquez will be attending the Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Sexual Assault in New York at the end of the month. We hope other prevention practitioners will join us at this historic event.

A Reckoning: Truth and Reconciliation as Prevention Cklcik here to see playlist (Black Women Truth and Reconciliation COmmission oval logo with Black Women with yellow backgroundLearn more about the Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Sexual Assault and how you can take action to support this effort and to create change in your communities.

David Lee

David S. Lee, MPH, is the Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) where he provides training and technical assistance on prevention. David manages the national project Prevention Connection, an online community of violence against women prevention practitioners, funders, researchers and activists. For over 29 years David has worked in efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

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