The First-Ever Black Survivor Week of Action: Monday, April 26–Friday, April 30

Black survivors have been a key part of defining moments to call out sexual violence. (We As Ourselves)

Monday, April 26, marks the beginning of a five-day virtual week of action to center and amplify the voices of Black survivors of sexual assault and harassment. The joint initiative of ‘me too.’ International, the National Women’s Law Center and TIME’S UP Foundation, Black Survivor Week of Action follows the February launch of We, As Ourselves—a culture and narrative change campaign in support of Black survivors.

Black survivors have been a key part of defining moments to call out sexual violence. Yet, as movements to address sexual violence have emerged, Black survivors’ experiences and stories have gone underexamined—and worse, Black survivors have been silenced or received backlash when they speak out.

Black women (particularly trans women) are uniquely vulnerable to sexual violence. “Black women are subjected to both racism and sexism—a double bind that puts black women at higher risk for sexual violence,” according to a May 2020 report from TIME’S UP, “Black Survivors and Sexual Trauma.” “The combined and compounded effects of sexism and racism can heighten depressive and PTSD symptoms.” Evidence shows these mental health symptoms are compounded dramatically by sexual trauma.

Yet that same report also sounds the alarm on “low rates of outpatient mental health use in general by black Americans, combined with a general distrust of the mental health profession and concerns about ‘betraying’ one’s race when the perpetrator is also black,” which lessens the likelihood that Black survivors will seek treatment.

Still, the fight is needed, as recent studies reveal:

  • Black women report experience workplace sexual harassment at three times the rate of white women.
  • For every Black woman who reports rape, at least 15 do not report.
  • A report showed prosecutors file charges in 75 percent of the cases in which a white woman was attacked, but when the victim was a Black woman, prosecutors filed charges just 34 percent of the time. 
  • Half of all Black transgender women are survivors of sexual violence, and two-thirds of Black transgender people said they would be uncomfortable asking the police for help.

Clearly, we still have a long way to go in the movement to address sexual violence.

From Monday through Friday, each day will highlight a theme centered on the specific needs and support essential for Black survivors.

Monday, April 26: Center Survivors

The urgent need to center Black survivors and shift the dominant narratives about Black survivors

Action: Watch the Love Letter to Black survivors and take the pledge.

Tuesday, April 27: Reimagine Survivorhood

Defining and reimagining what it means to be a Black survivor

Action: Artists are shaping new narratives—ones that upend historical and cultural myths that harm and silence Black survivors. View and share the collection of narrative-driven works created by featured artists and content creators in collaboration with the Center for Cultural Power. (Learn more about the Center for Cultural Power’s cultural strategy work here.)

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Wednesday, April 28: Build Community 

Building community in support of Black survivors

Action: Check out the list of direct actions to see how you’re showing up for Black survivors everyday and share with your community. 

Thursday, April 29: End Sexual Violence

Elevating leaders in the movement to support Black survivors

Action: Share these graphics to spotlight and support organizations that work tirelessly to support Black survivors.

Friday, April 30: Shift the Narrative

The role media plays in centering Black survivors and shifting the narrative

Action: Amplify Black journalists who are doing the work to center Black survivors stories. And stay tuned for the release of a new media guide on Black survivors.

Throughout the week, follow and use hashtags #WeAsOurselves, #BlackSAAMweekofaction and #BlackSAAM to join or bear witness to the voices of Black survivors.

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