Black Latinidad: Love in Sisterbrotherhood
As a 2016-2017 Just Beginnings Collaborative (JBC) fellow, Luz Marquez Benbow is re-imagining the concept of sisterhood and brotherhood with adult survivors of child sexual abuse in her Black Latinx/Afrodescendant community. Her project, Black Latinidad: Love in Sisterbrotherhood, is about creating a space for Black Latinx/Afrodescendant adult survivors of child sexual abuse to give voice to our experiences while building in sisterbrotherhood and to build our capacity to make community and systemic political change.
The International Day of Afro-Latin American, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women is an activity of Black Latinidad: Love in Sisterbrotherhood.
Child Sexual Abuse:
Our Black Latinx/Afrodescendant Community needs to have critical dialogues about our responsibility to end child sexual abuse, and we need to create action strategies, not because child sexual abuse is worse in our community than in other communities, but because we must hold ourselves accountable for ensuring the safety of all our Black children.
Shame and judgment are huge barriers that cause many survivors of sexual violence to be isolated from their community. This isolation prevents disclosures and simply hinders critical dialogue about complex issues such as child sexual abuse, which allows for further vulnerability.
Historically, we as Communities of Color, including Black Latinx/Afrodescendants, have operated as collective communities. However, as Black Latinx/Afrodescendant communities we are losing our community-centered way of life, our connection to one another, which is true for many other Communities of Color. I was raised in Harlem (El Barrio) at a time when all my elders paid attention to my behavior and held me accountable. Yet, despite this, I still experienced child sexual abuse. We must be intentional about critical dialogues focused on child sexual abuse in our communities.
Given this loss of connection and the silence in our communities about child sexual abuse, I believe this statement by the revolutionary Assata Shakur should be applied to the work to end child sexual abuse: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other.”
It is without question our duty to rebuild our communities’ capacity to provide Black Latinidad: Love in Sisterbrotherhood. The late human rights warrior Grace Lee Boggs once stated, “We have to change ourselves in order to change the world.” Not because something is wrong with us, but because the revolution begins with self and flourishes in community with each other.
Black Latinidad: Love in Sisterbrotherhood:
Black Latinidad: Love in Sisterbrotherhood is a tool for rebuilding our lives, breaking the cycle of abuse, dispelling the shame and guilt many of us live with and supporting survivors in our communities to do the same.
My project has a two core values: survivor activism and building sisterbrotherhood within Black Latinx communities and the Black Diaspora. It is at this intersection of survivor-leaders and in community/sisterbrotherhood that we will find the answers to end child sexual abuse.
Centering survivor activism and community are powerful strategies for ending child sexual abuse:
By facilitating the release of the shame and guilt that many survivors carry. We as survivors have the answers within us. Our bodies and our memories represent a road map to all that should not have happened in the first place. And yet, despite all that has happened, we still push forward finding ways to create a different reality for our children.
At the core of child sexual abuse lies our families and our communities. It is here that critical dialogue needs to occur and the work to end child sexual abuse must happen.
Black Latinidad: Love in Sisterbrotherhood has a multi-pronged approach:
This project is hosting Sisterbrotherhood Survivor Circles to have critical dialogues about our abuse, our stories and healing modalities
Survivor Activism: This project is exploring the formation of a Survivor Network to address national and international systems of advocacy and social change
In collaboration with Casa De Esperanza National Latin@ Research Center on Family and Social Change, we are using information from these circles and a survivor survey to develop a culturally specific tool focused on adult survivors of child sexual abuse from Black Latinx/Afrodescendant communities.
If you would like to participate in a sisterhood circle (and survey) or you want more information about my Black Latinidad: Love in Sisterbrotherhood project, please contact me at Sisterbrotherhood1@gmail.com.
Note: The Just Beginnings Collaborative (JBC) is a movement building platform designed to initiate, cultivate, and fund strategic efforts to end child sexual abuse. It is grounded in the practice of survivor leaders, organizations and funders working together to build a vibrant, sustainable movement. This initiative grew out of a groundbreaking multi-year partnership between the NoVo Foundation and the Ms. Foundation for Women from 2009 to 2014 that helped to establish a national network of leaders and organizations working to end child sexual abuse.
As of May 2017, this fellowship has been extended for another two years. Please stay tuned regarding the next phase of Black Latinidad: Love in Sisterbrotherhood to end child sexual abuse.