A Time For Outcry: A Letter to Men of Color
To all men of color,
Time has given us a chance to test the limits of our manhood. We are living in an age where our country is headed by a man whose actions and words permit the assault of our bodies, our spirits, and our minds through various forms of violence. Our collective outcry has since then been loud and just. We have showed up time and time again to the frontlines to wage war against this manifestation and execution of violence against us. We have inwardly critiqued, uplifted, and carried the burdens of our brothers on our backs time and time again. We have turned to others with a roar, addressing their complicity in our assault. Whether it be white men, white women, or other men and women of color, we have roared that their silence is an act of complicity. With determination, we shout that their silence aids our oppressor, and not us. Us, the victims.
We must ask ourselves what have we, ourselves, ignored? When our outcry is aimed towards racial violence, where is our silence felt? To whose oppressor is our silence aiding? And even more inwardly, are we manifesters of oppression? The same man who consents to this assault upon us upholds, embodies, and vocalizes support of assault on the bodies and minds of women. I soon started to ask myself, “Where was my outcry?” “Where is my roar?” Time and time again, I was told that this—sexual assault —was and is a woman’s issue. And although I did not believe this notion internally, I produced no external actions in response to these questions… No voice. No action. No protest. I was complicit.
I did not become aware of the epidemic of sexual assault on Swarthmore’s campus until after I committed to attending. Placing my feet on the campus grounds, I distanced myself from the epidemic by telling myself that this is not my community. That since I am a stranger, a visitor, it wasn’t my space. My roar became a whisper. My whisper became silence. I chose to be voiceless. Again, I became complicit. As I continued to run and hide from the epidemic, it found me. It found me through readings for class, in conversations in Sharples, in the BCC, and in the hidden corners of McCabe. Like many epidemics, it continues to spread. I use the word epidemic not to suggest in any way that it is a disease, nor that any one group is more prone to invoke in its action.
It is now time for men of color to recognize our complicity. It is time to decide whether to continue to dwell in our complicity. It is time to learn about the ways in which we continue to submit women to physical, emotional and mental violence. It is time to attend workshops to listen, to educate ourselves. It is also time to talk about the fact that sexual assault happens to us, too. It is not only a women’s issue. It is an issue of humanity. It is time to recognize our pain, and the reproduction of our hurt at the expense of others. As I write this, I think about the messages I received in my youth. The messages of masculinity that blinded me, eventually keeping me from recognizing, defending, and questioning the multiple assaults upon my body. It is time for the outcry. And the outcry must lead to change.