In the wake of Billy Cosby's recent rape conviction, Kenni York, the founder of The Let Your Voice Be Heard Foundation, Inc., has released this official statement:
Today is an interesting day. Today is a day that marks a milestone in the realm of sexual violence and justice for survivors while also giving way to a whole new debate featuring the inferiority of abuse and sexual violence to racism where controversial issues are concerned. As an African American woman who is also a sexual assault awareness advocate and a sexual abuse survivor I am sickened by the insinuation that I should be outraged by the fact that an African American celebrity was convicted and sentenced for sexual abuse versus empathetic and elated that a woman received justice for an unwelcome violation of her body and undoubtedly her spirit. I am disheartened that people, irregardless of race or gender, are victim blaming and questioning the validity of a survivor's testimony simply because of the length of time it took for her to speak out or seek retribution. Are we then saying that there should be a mandated window of time in which a person MUST develop the courage to speak out otherwise their claims will be dismissed as frivolous or of ill intent?
When your go-to argument for the unjust sentencing of Bill Cosby is reminding the nation of how Donald Trump was accused of sexual abuse but still won the presidency and has yet to be impeached; or that Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh shouldn't even be considered in light of the sexual abuse allegations he's facing.. When these scenarios serve as the basis for your objection to a convicted rapist's sentence, the survivor in me can't help but wonder how YOU view a woman's rights. Until you've been tormented with memories of being violated, dealt with the psychological and social issues that come courtesy of being abused, had to be given the third degree in an effort to weaken your credibility because you dared to speak out, had your life on public display AFTER being violated (as if adding insult to injury while standing naked and vulnerable before a crowd), and had to face your abuser again after the initial incident has come and gone how can you dare to question the survivor's "win"? Instead of downplaying what's happened to her and overlooking the strides being made in this #metoo era, why not be of the mindset that demands that the Trumps and Kavanaughs of the world be held to the same standards versus wishing that an abuser be given the same pass? With this shift in the conversation, there's no wonder why women DON'T speak up more often. Even when there is a ruling and the survivor receives a form of justice, we're still questioning her timing and her story's validity. We're still making the convicted rapist out to be the victim.
Why make this a racial issue? When anyone is sexually violated we see not color, race, gender, creed, or ethnicity. A victim is a victim; a perpetrator is a perpetrator. Period point blank. You're outraged? Great. Do something about it. Make your voices stronger; vote for laws that make these high-earning, high profile predators unable to get away with their crimes; create a movement that forces the government to act in favor of victims; participate in such movements which already exist. I don't see Bill Cosby as having been targeted because of his color. I see the situation as one in which women gained their strength to say enough is e-damn-nough and that bravado gained results. Don't believe me? R-Kelly has "admitted" to his sexually deviant behavior yet there are still millions who support him as if he's done nothing wrong and he's still out there touring and doing his thing...much like Trump is still presiding over America and doing his thing. Simply, it's all an abuse of power and status. But, if enough noise is made and enough people showed up to support the survivors who find the courage to speak up and speak out then more astounding moments of justice can be realized. But sitting behind a computer screen screaming out injustice while turning a blind eye to it the next minute and doing NOTHING only serves to perpetuate the cycle of increasing tolerance of rape culture. We are all responsible for this truth in some way or another. Wouldn't you rather be on the end of the spectrum that encompasses those who are trying to end this ugly epidemic?
As an advocate in the trenches fighting to end sexual violence, I refuse to wash my hands of the situation or turn my nose up at a survivor's justice. My thought is, let's go for the big wigs. Let's get their asses! And it doesn't matter whether they are purple or gray for no color should be seen or considered in the case of assuring justice for any and all survivors. My opinion may not be popular, but I stand soundly upon it. While the tweets and statuses fly I'll continue to reach out to those in my community as well as national entities with my ideas and views on how to combat sexual violence; I will keep teaching individuals and organizations how to recognize sexual abuse; I will keep providing resources and comfort to survivors who battle with the strength and confidence to speak out. I will keep doing the work to ensure that rape kits get tested, victims of all backgrounds get heard and are provided with equal rights, and simply raising awareness.
I have an obligation to the community I serve to help silenced voices be heard. A conviction was made...a voice was heard...let's keep doing the work!
CEO, The Let Your Voice Be Heard Foundation, Inc.