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End Rape on Campus (EROC) is a survivor advocacy organization dedicated to ending sexual violence through survivor support, public education, and policy and legislative reform.

We provide free, direct assistance to all survivors of gender-based and sexual violence on campus interested in filing federal complaints, organizing for change, or drawing public attention to hold their schools accountable.

We have assisted hundreds of students at dozens of schools file Title IXClery Act, and other civil rights complaints to seek justice and reform.

EROC Blog

I realized I could not celebrate Father’s day. I had no ability to dance for him. I could not celebrate the countless fathers who have caused pain directly and indirectly to their children through sexual violence.

Meet Jess: EROC's Assistant Managing Director

End Rape On Campus

Meet Jess Davidson, our newest member of the EROC team, and Assistant Managing Director! You can read her bio here, but we sat down with her to get to know a little bit more about who she is. Want to say hi? Shoot Jess an email at jdavidson@endrapeoncampus.org!

End Rape on Campus (EROC): So Jess, tell us a little about yourself!

Jess: I’m a Colorado girl -- I grew up in Fort Collins and then went to the University of Denver. I studied Political Science, International Studies, and Leadership. I had an amazing experience at DU: I was really involved in Student Government and Student Life, studied abroad on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, and did university-sponsored research in rural southern Uganda and Havana, Cuba. I traded in my Colorado adventures and Denver sunshine for DC and moved here about a year ago. I love politics, podcasts, feminist theory, live jazz, running, skiing, and being in the mountains.

EROC: We have to ask, what kinds of Colorado adventures are you talking about?

J:  I’m happiest when hiking, trekking, skiing, and ice climbing -- or just basking in the mountain #viewz. Colorado’s 14ers -- mountains over 14,000 feet -- are some of my favorite hikes in the world. Fun fact: I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, a few years ago with my Dad!

EROC: You interned at The White House before this. Can you tell us a fun fact about your time there?

J: Instead of Taco Tuesday, the White House has Taco Wednesday. Nobody knows why it’s a day late, but Taco Wednesday was hands-down the best day of the week. Also, the marble in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building is so old that you can see real fossils in the floor!

EROC: Can you tell us a little bit about what brought you to EROC?

J: Over the last year, I’ve gone from Student Body Vice President to a fellow for the National Campus Leadership Council to advising student leaders with It’s On Us and finally to interning at The White House, working on the team of the Chair of The White House Council on Women and Girls and attending meetings of The White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault. The same two threads have consistently wowed me in each of these experiences: 1) Believing and empowering survivors can transform their lives, and, 2) Inclusive, survivor-centric policy can make survivors feel something they typically do not -- seen and supported by systems of power in our country. EROC’s approach to these two things (and to everything, really) has always been one I’ve looked to. As I started out as an activist a few years ago, my greatest inspirations were the work of The Obama White House and EROC, so to go from one to the other in my career is honestly beyond my wildest dreams, and I feel so, so honored to be here, and ready to get to work!

EROC: What is your go-to karaoke move?

J: I know it’s a bold move, but Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing is ALWAYS a crowd pleaser.

EROC: Anything else we should know about you?

J: My caffeine addiction is a little out of control, but will serve me well as I get coffee with EROC’s many incredible partners over the next few weeks. I’m so excited to be a part of this amazing team and continue my work in the sexual violence prevention space!

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End Rape On Campus Statement Concerning Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of The Office for Civil Rights, Candice Jackson

End Rape On Campus

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End Rape On Campus (EROC) is among numerous organizations that are concerned about the appointment of Candice Jackson as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education. Fulfilling OCR’s mission — “to ensure equal access to education...through vigorous enforcement of civil rights” —  requires an unwavering commitment from, and scrutiny by, the federal government. Jackson’s previous public statements discrediting the impact of race discrimination serve to further marginalize survivors of color. Furthermore, publicly calling individuals  “fake victims” when they accused President Trump of sexual assault calls into question Jackson’s ability and commitment to fulfill the mission of her office. EROC believes survivors, no matter who — or how powerful — their assailant is.  


To the survivors who fear for their rights, and that campus safety will no longer be a priority for the federal government under Acting Assistant Secretary Candice Jackson, EROC wants you to know: We hear you, we believe you, and your experiences and fears are valid. The Office for Civil Rights —  and the greater Department of Education — is sworn to protect students and their civil rights to ensure equal access to education, no matter what. Candice Jackson’s record indicates that she has not done so in the past. EROC urges Candice Jackson to listen to survivors, and commit to protecting student survivors of gender-based violence in the spirit of her role as a public servant.

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END RAPE ON CAMPUS ANNOUNCES OPPOSITION TO TEXAS SENATE BILL 576; APPLAUDS SENATOR WATSON’S “NO” VOTE

End Rape On Campus

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On Tuesday, Texas Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin) took the courageous action of opposing Senate Bill 576, a dangerous piece of legislation that would disempower countless sexual violence survivors and discourage students from coming forward about these incidents. Under SB 576, colleges would be obligated to institute a mandated reporting requirement for certain incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking, and stipulates that if these incidents are disclosed to either a student leader or an employee but not reported to the school, then that person will be suspended or expelled, or in the case of an employee, charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense.

Though this legislation comes from a well-intentioned effort of attempting to hold schools accountable for sweeping sexual assault under the rug, the consequences of this legislation would actually harm the survivors that we are trying to serve, and create a chilling environment that discourages them from seeking help. In fact, the University of Texas recommended the opposite of this bill in its recent climate survey, observing that more confidential resources and fewer mandated reporters would encourage disclosure. As Kaileigh Phillips, a survivor from Trinity University, observed: “Truthfully, being assaulted was not the most traumatizing moment of my sophomore year of college. Rather, the investigation and subsequent conduct board hearing had the most damaging and lasting impacts on my mental health.”

Perpetrators of sexual violence commit these acts out of a desire for power and control. In the aftermath of having experienced this loss of autonomy, the best way we can help survivors is to empower them to decide what is best for them, including the decision about whether or not to report. This is a position that countless victim advocacy organizations have taken. We are heartened that Senator Watson listened to survivors and experts in the field, and we encourage the rest of the Texas State Legislature to do the same.


End Rape on Campus (EROC)  is a national non-profit dedicated to ending gender based violence on college campuses through survivor support, prevention through education, and policy advocacy. To learn more about EROC you can visit www.endrapeoncampus.org or follow us on Twitter: @endrapeoncampus.

Please direct any inquiries to Sofie Karasek at info@endrapeoncampus.org.

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EROC Australia launches new report on sexual assault

End Rape On Campus

"Connecting the dots: understanding sexual assault in universities communities" is a major new report launched by End Rape on Campus Australia. The report paints a damning picture of how Australian universities treat rape survivors, including cover-ups, victim-blaming, and institutional betrayal. The report contains the voices of multiple rape and sexual assault survivors, one of whom says: "Make no mistake, I consider the events of my sexual assault and this University's response to be equally despicable. There is a shocking correlation between someone not listening to you say 'stop' and an organisation not listening to you scream 'help.'" "Connecting the dots" was submitted to the Australian Human Right's Commission as part of their University Sexual Assault and Harassment Project, which aims to gain greater insight into the prevalence, nature, and reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities.

The submission provides detailed analysis of the problem of sexual violence in Australian educational communities, and includes a comprehensive suite of recommendations for change at the level of individual universities, as well as at state and federal government levels.

To download a PDF copy of the report, click here

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Happy International Women's Day

End Rape On Campus

Today is International Women’s Day. We stand with women around the world in celebrating what it means to be a woman, and in advocating for equality. While sexual violence affects all genders, women are disproportionately affected — particularly women of color, those in the LGBTQ community, and women with disabilities, among others.

Today, we hope you will join us in committing to the following:
 

1. Believe survivors.

Sarah Ogden Trotta, a licensed psychotherapist, said it best: "We have absolutely nothing to lose by believing a survivor’s words, and a survivor has everything to gain through the experience of feeling trusted and validated. Even if the details seem confusing, we must stand firm in knowing that their account of sexual assault is rooted in truth."

As an ally, when a survivor comes forward, you must tell them that you believe them, that the assault isn't their fault, and that they are not alone. Sexual violence is about control, and we must empower and restore control to survivors. Allies must support the choices survivors make.

2. Be intersectional.

We cannot talk about women’s issues without talking about race, gender identity/expression, sexuality, ability, documentation, economic status, and all intersections of identity that often  instigate compounded marginalization. We must center and amplify their voices in our conversations and in our actions.

Here are some tangible ways you can help support organizations and initiatives dedicated to uplifting women at these intersections:

Sexual violence organizations:

Campaigns:

  • #GiveYourMoneyToWomen - Lauren Chief Elk, an activist, prison abolitionist, and advocate for survivors, created the campaign to demand payment for much of the unpaid emotional labor women are expected to provide. Although, this campaign originally focused on unpaid emotional labor, Chief Elk explains that #GiveYourMoneyToWomen is inclusive of addressing inequality in the wage gap between women of color and white women, compensation of all unpaid labor such as household chores, and payment of women creatives whose work is often stolen and unpaid for their work.
  • #SayHerName - created by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), a think tank which connects academics, activists, and policymakers to dismantle structural inequality. #SayHerName, a campaign that is often co-opted, is intended to address state-sanctioned violence against Black women and girls who are often erased from narratives around police brutality. In addition to #SayHerName, the AAPF is also responsible for other campaigns such as #BreakingtheSilence, #HerDreamDeferred, and #WhyWeCantWait.
  • #YouOkSis - Feminista Jones, activist, writer, social worker, and creator of #YouOkSis created this campaign to address street harassment and bystander intervention from an intersectional standpoint. Jones focuses on those who are most vulnerable to the harshest types of street harassment, Black women (both cisgender and transgender) and offers a realistic and comprehensive tool for bystanders to intervene — by simply asking “You ok sis?” For more information, please visit here.

Other Women’s Centered Organizations:


3. Support organizations that promote women's rights.

We have seen an unprecedented attack on women’s rights over the past few months. This is an important time to support organizations that promote the rights of women. We recommend doing your research and supporting grassroots, small nonprofits where every dollar counts.

Sexual violence on college campuses overwhelmingly affects young women. Our mission is to end gender-based violence on college campuses, and every aspect of our programming is dedicated to our vision in which all students will have equal access to education. You can support EROC by visiting endrapeoncampus.org/donate.   

Here are some other phenomenal organizations we hope you will consider supporting with your time, money, and/or talent:

4. Practice everyday activism

Everyday activism is the radical notion that everyone can play a part in ending violence and oppression by resisting rape culture, supporting survivors, and challenging our institutions.

Rape culture is built upon a series of pervasive microaggressions, acts that normalize sexual violence in our society such as objectifying, racist, transphobic, homophobic actions. We must counter rape culture in the same way — through constant, proactive assertions believing survivors and condemning the actions that constitute rape culture.

You can learn more about everyday activism here.

5. Find the intersection of where your talents meet an important need in our efforts towards equality.

Everyone has a role in countering sexual violence and advocating for gender equality. Beyond practicing everyday activism, we hope you will consider directing your talents towards these efforts. Whether you are an artist, a community organizer, an athlete, a carpenter, a social worker, a musician, or a professional volunteer, organizations like ours are constantly seeking folks with varying skillsets to assist with different initiatives.

You can learn more about volunteering with EROC and other organizations like ours here.

Happy International Women’s Day.
 

Sign the pledge. Commit to these 5 actions.

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Alexander “Bear” Goodrum: Black Trans Excellence

End Rape On Campus

Alexander “Bear” Goodrum was a Black disabled, bisexual transgender man, activist, and orator. Though known as an LGBTQ rights activist, particularly advocating for trans and gender nonconforming civil liberties, Goodrum also worked in each of these marginalized communities. Beginning his work in 1980, Goodrum was originally from Chicago, but made several moves to San Francisco and Tucson working as an activist for LGBTQ and social justice rights. Once in Tucson, Goodrum created, founded, and directed the TGNet Arizona, a grassroots transgender advocacy and resource center. He was also a board member of the Tucson GLBT Commission and the Funding Exchange’s OUT Fund, which provides grants  (one of which is named after Goodrum) to LGBTQ community organizing projects. Goodrum made himself well known within the Arizona LGBTQ advocacy community and was instrumental in creating meaningful change for LGBTQ individuals in Arizona.

In 1999, Goodrum was able to include his work on gender identity for a non-discrimination law. He is also well known for his groundbreaking work with the Arizona Transgender Workplace Project, an educational workshop for employers to foster inclusive and safe working environments and understand the needs, challenges, and rights of transgender and gender non-conforming employees and applicants. Goodrum published a number of papers and articles and is widely known for Gender Identity 101: A Transgender Primer, which is still published on the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance’s website. In September 2002, Goodrum died by suicide in a psychiatric hospital in Tucson. It is important this Black History Month that we continue to uplift Black activists who have influenced incredible change for marginalized Black communities. Similar to the other activists featured in this month’s campaign, Bear Goodrum was aware of the need to have an intersectional approach to social justice issues. We must follow his lead in creating inclusive spaces for trans and gender nonconforming folks, people with disabilities, and LGBQ members in order to ensure the liberation of everyone.

For more information on #BlackTransHistory and other historical Black trans men figures please visit: The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition

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Barriers for Black Survivors

End Rape On Campus

During Black History Month, we celebrate the accomplishments of the Black community and give thanks for the sacrifices our predecessors made to seek justice and resist ages of oppression. It is a time to rejoice, but also, to reflect on the ways that Black people continue to be persecuted. And it’s impossible to discuss these violations against Black people without talking about sexual violence.

About one in five Black women have been raped at some point in their lives, according to the most recent data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. Meanwhile, nearly four out of every ten Black men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner.*

If we are to fight sexual violence, we must be intersectional in our efforts. One narrative cannot dominate the conversation about sexual violence, especially when certain demographics have been disproportionately harmed. We do a disservice to Black survivors when we fail to address the unique challenges they face in the midst of sexual violence, as well as their everyday lives. Consider some of the factors that coalesce to prevent Black women, men, and non-binary folks from reporting and healing from sexual violence:

Financial strain

Sexual violence can be devastating for survivors emotionally, physically, and even financially, regardless of race. The White House in 2014 issued a report estimating the economic costs of rape, with figures ranging from $87,000 to $240,776. (For a look at the costs of rape broken down even further, read the New York Times piece “What One Rape Cost Our Family.”)

But not everyone can afford such care, however necessary. The financial toll of rape may be even more debilitating for Black survivors. According to a 2015 report from Wider Opportunities for Women, Black women earn just 69% of men’s wages, compared with 82% of white women working full-time. (Latina women earn a paltry 61%). Reporting sexual violence is no easy feat, and does not guarantee justice. It can come at a huge cost for some Black survivors — one that may be prohibitively expensive.

Access is another obstacle, with few resources allocated for low-income people. Even if Black survivors are able to access care, the resources available may not be specific to their needs.

Negative stereotypes

Racist depictions of Black people are nothing new, with roots in the slavery era. In a piece for Ferris State University’s Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, sociology professor David Pilgrim discusses one of the most repulsive depictions of Black women that persists to this day: the oversexed, lustful Jezebel. The Jezebel archetype strips Black women of their agency, hypersexualizing them without their consent. To add insult to injury, this caricature perpetuates the dangerous notion that Black women are inviting sexual assault. (It should go without saying that sexual assault is never welcome, because it does not involve consent by definition.) When such disgusting images are used to denigrate Black women, there is little incentive for survivors to come forward.

Black men aren’t immune from negative stereotypes either, having long been portrayed as brutish and lascivious, as this primer from the University of Michigan’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center explains. Such malicious depictions of Black men make it harder for those who are victims of sexual violence to be taken seriously. For Black survivors of all genders, reporting rape may seem futile when they’re told they can never be victims.

These stereotypes cause further harm to Black survivors and their communities, perpetuating a cycle of violence and shame. Black survivors who have been assaulted by other Black people may feel a responsibility to protect members of their community, fearing that speaking out will affirm negative stereotypes.

Need for self-care

Self-care is a crucial part of healing for survivors. However we choose to soothe ourselves and recharge is our right to pursue. But Black women and femmes in particular may be forced to put self-care on the back burner. (It’s worth noting, however, that Black women in caregiving roles have been depicted throughout history as some form of the racist mammy caricature.)

As Essence Gant explains in this BuzzFeed article, Black women regularly wear multiple hats in their daily lives:

Even in all its magic, being black and a woman is exhausting. Whether it’s organizing social movements, devoting our lives to public service, or live streaming systematic violence our community regularly deals with, black women face extraordinary challenges every day […] Sometimes it feels lonely and overwhelming, which is why self-care must be a part of our daily regimen.

We expect so much from Black women, but let them down when they need support most. Black women are often the backbones of their communities, sometimes helping everyone but themselves. Experiencing the trauma of sexual assault is all the more draining. Whether through protesting the unjust treatment of Black people or other expressions of solidarity, allies need to take the burden off of Black women to let them practice much-needed self-care.

Distrust of law enforcement

Given the strained history between the Black community and police, Black survivors may be wary of seeking help from law enforcement. Recent high-profile cases of police violence against Black bodies have shed light on the negative encounters Black people have long experienced with police. It’s understandable that some Black survivors may hesitate to report their assaults, feeling safer avoiding law enforcement altogether. Further, police may not have the appropriate resources or training to help Black survivors in a sensitive manner.

We must also keep in mind that Black women have largely been ignored in the conversation about police violence against Black bodies, an omission that activists such as the scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw are making known. To understand why we need to #SayHerName when discussing police violence, watch Crenshaw’s TED Talk on intersectionality — the term she coined to describe overlapping identities.

Shame

Shame is a powerful force that pushes Black survivors into the shadows. Writing for The Body Is Not An Apology, Aabye-Gayle Francis-Favilla discusses how shame silences those whose voices need to be heard:

[M]y silence is not unique — especially among women of color. Remaining anonymous as a victim of sexual assault is common. And, black women are even less likely than their white counterparts to report that they’ve been raped.

When shame takes hold of survivors, they can be made to feel like they don’t matter, when they deserve nothing less than unwavering love and support. Black survivors feel that shame, coupled with a legacy of racism that deepens their suffering and makes it so hard to access care.

Where we go from here

The challenges will always be greater for Black survivors, no matter who they are or where they come from. We must also remember that these hurdles will be especially taxing for Black people who are LGBTQ, live in rural areas with few resources, are low-income, lack support networks, or are otherwise disenfranchised.

But there is hope. Black people have long been at the forefront of anti-sexual violence efforts, from Rosa Parks to Angela Davis. While the work of dismantling rape culture is far from over, there are incredible figures leading the cause.  

If you’re a Black survivor feeling worn down or burned out, know this: You are loved. You are worthy of respect. You are not alone. If you are a Black survivor seeking additional resources or relevant information, check out the following:

*Comparable data was not available for Black men and women in terms of rape. The only reportable estimate of rape was for White non-Hispanic men, at 1.7%, or 1.3 million men in this group.


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JULIA HASKINS (pronouns: she/her/hers) is a writer, editor, and reporter dedicated to stamping out sexual assault and shedding light on rape culture. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing at Northwestern University, Julia has used her journalism background to inform readers about the issues most important to her. She is especially passionate about media related to health and feminism. Julia's writing has appeared in outlets such as ReadersDigest.com, People.com, Healthline, Parents.com, and more. 

You can reach Julia at jhaskins@endrapeoncampus.org.


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Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson: The Queen Mother of the Stonewall Riots

End Rape On Campus

Marsha P. Johnson was a Black transgender woman, activist, model, sex worker and mother figure to New York City’s LGBTQ community who advocated for LGBTQ rights during the 1960s and 1970s. Originally from New Jersey, Johnson was born as Malcolm Michaels Jr. In her early years, Johnson would often take the train from New Jersey to New York City and transform from Malcolm to Marsha. In 1966, she made the transition permanent, moving from Jersey to Greenwich Village —a large LGBTQ community at the time — and also legally changing her name to Marsha P. Johnson. Known for her exotic hats and jewelry, Johnson was full of life and loved being her authentic self, which attracted much attention. However, she used her hypervisibility as a Black trans woman with prominent masculine features to make a statement and take a stand for the LGBTQ community. In fact, whenever people would ask Johnson what her middle initial stood for she would often reply, “pay it no mind.” This response was intended to be a sarcastic comeback to frequent questions about her gender. Speculated as being a genderfluid individual and drag queen, Johnson would sometimes go back to being Malcolm as her male persona and was also well-known as a drag performer. Many people speculate that because there was not much nuanced conversation around gender identity and expression during this time, Johnson was often categorized as trans and could not articulate her full complex self due to a lack of terminology.

Johnson’s activism stemmed from firsthand experiences of discrimination and hate towards LGBTQ individuals, particularly trans folks. She experienced the inequalities — many of which continue to occur today — that trans women of color face, including homelessness, forced sex for pay living arrangements, and violence perpetuated by both the police and heterosexual communities. Johnson felt that LGBTQ people had the right to exist and be themselves without the threat of violence. The Greenwich Village area was steadily growing with LGBTQ people, which created a supportive community of acceptance and salvation — something that was nearly impossible to obtain in a heterosexist society. However, early in the morning of June 28, 1969, the police raided the a known gay bar, The Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village. It was then that Johnson and other activists declared that enough was enough, and took a stand against police harassment of the LGBTQ community. Their actions ignited the famous Stonewall Riots, now known as the catalyst of the LGBTQ rights movement in the United States.

After the riots, Johnson collaborated with a Puerto Rican transgender activist, Sylvia Rivera, and cofounded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a local community organization to assist homeless and runaway transgender people. Johnson also joined the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), an organization that sought political action and protection for people based on sexual orientation or behavior against oppressive laws and unequal ethics. Johnson became influential in the community and was later asked by Andy Warhol to pose for a collection of paintings and photographs.

On July 6, 1992, Johnson was found dead in the Hudson River, in what authorities ruled a suicide. However, many close friends insisted that she was not suicidal and many witnesses noticed that she was being harassed earlier in the day. The police, however, never completed a full investigation.

Through her life and death, Johnson faced many challenges trans women of color, particularly, Black trans women, still face today, such as violence, poverty, and an indifference to their murders. Despite Johnson’s contributions to the LGBTQ community, her legacy continues to be erased and white-washed by transphobic Black people and racist, anti-Black LGBTQ people due to her identity as a Black trans woman. However, it is our responsibility and duty to honor Black ancestors like Marsha P. Johnson just as much as those such as W.E.B. Du Bois. Marsha P. Johnson has paved the way for many Black trans youth, and without her work and that of other trans women of color, the state of the LGBTQ rights movement would look very different today.

For more information on #BlackTransHistory and other historical Black trans women figures, please visit: The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition

#BlackTransHistory #BlackHerstory #BlackGirlMagic #BHM


CHARDONNAY MADKINS is a womanist and activist serving the Los Angeles area. She received her Bachelor's of Arts degree in Psychology and Urban & Environmental Policy from Occidental College. As one of the few black women leaders on Occidental's campus, Chardonnay Madkins played a prominent role in the institution's Black Student Alliance and also co-founded the Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition, where she shed light on issues involving survivors of color and mobilized students and faculty to demand administrators appropriately handle sexual assault cases. She dedicates her time advocating specifically for Black survivors and changing policies around sexual assault. She maintains a passion for knowledge and aspires to continue her education of human rights and womanist politics in order to give voice to the voiceless.

You can reach Chardonnay at cmadkins@endrapeoncampus.org

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How to Be an Ally

End Rape On Campus

“Ally” is a word that gets thrown around a lot in activist circles. Sometimes, it’s used to denote those who are down for the struggle for justice, liberty, and equality. Other times, it’s used derisively to describe charlatans who simply pretend to care about issues facing marginalized communities.   

Certainly, the outcome of this last presidential election brought even more attention to the term “ally” once some folks started wearing safety pins for “solidarity.” It goes without saying that wearing a safety pin, while well intentioned, is hardly sufficient for doing the actual work of solidarity. If one wants to survive and resist against the forces of tyranny, it requires work and sacrifice beyond what one would usually expect. When it comes to sexual assault survivors and allyship within the Black community, it’s no different — wearing buttons and t-shirts will never be good enough. After all, Black people, particularly Black women, face a greater risk of sexual assault than white people and don’t receive a fraction of the belief, assistance, and protection. This means that there are a lot of survivors within our community who are in desperate need of support.

So how does one become a proper ally for Black survivors of sexual assault, especially during Black History Month?

The first thing anyone striving to be an ally should do is listen to survivors. Not listening created problems for survivors in our community in the past, where law enforcement would ignore (or perpetrate) sexual violence against Black women. As such, the last thing anyone wants is for you to simply speak over those who have been doing the work and who are most impacted by sexual violence. Regardless of intentions, interrupting or speaking over survivors is a recipe for disaster. You devalue and invalidate other people’s experiences when you drown them out or ignore them. We constantly decry the lack of solidarity with our community when it concerns police brutality or racist vigilante violence; we can start leading by example by listening to Black survivors.

It would be wise not to attempt to take over spaces. This is a particularly pertinent suggestion because a lot of times, some “allies” will attempt to take over spaces of any group. Sometimes, this is a well-intentioned mistake, since allies think they have the solutions and courses of action. This is especially the case with men, since we are socialized (to a fault) to take on leadership positions — even if we’re completely unqualified to do so. Just as it is important for allies to listen, it is important to take a couple steps back to prevent yourself from needlessly dominating spaces. The last thing we should want is a repeat of sexist Civil Rights Movement politics, where heterosexual Black men would intentionally silence Black women while assuming leadership roles.

Other times, “allies” will take over a group for more selfish reasons, such as political gain, financial gain, and/or personal ego. If you’re someone who is attempting to take over a group for these reasons, it would be prudent of you to cease before you even get involved. You will not only damage your own reputation, you will be doing immeasurable harm to already vulnerable survivors who placed their faith in you. Don’t believe me? Look at the case of Hugo Schwyzer,a self-proclaimed male feminist who violated people’s trust and ruined valuable work through selfishness.

Finally,  being a good ally means never giving up while you’re still able to take a stand. Fighting against sexual assault and rape culture can be draining and even feel hopeless at times. It can be akin to trying to burst through a brick wall with a bum shoulder. But never forget that survivors within our community face these barriers every single day. Their shoulders are burdened with a multi-headed dragon of white supremacist patriarchy. They have no choice but to resist. As such, it is necessary for allies to stand alongside them and accept the challenges ahead.

If any of the above seems too demanding or too difficult, then it is best not to get involved. Don’t waste survivors’ time by being a quarter of the way in. However, if you’re so disgusted with sexual violence and the unjust treatment of survivors within our community that you feel the urge to act, then remember to take the time to listen, not to dominate spaces, and to keep pushing forward.  

As Frederick Douglass, a notable ally to women’s liberation, once said, “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!” Allies to Black survivors should do nothing less.

David Pino is a freelance writer who runs his own personal blog, The Black Organic Intellectual. You can check out his Black History Posts on his Instagram @davidapino.


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The Combahee River Collective: Openly Queer, Unapologetically Black Women of the ‘70s

End Rape On Campus

The Combahee River Collective was a Boston-based organization of Black feminists, many of whom were lesbians. Active between 1974 and 1980, the Collective was critical of mainstream white feminism, pointing out the discrimination and bigotry that many White feminists directed toward women of color, poor women, LGBTQ women, and others during the second wave period of feminism. For the first time in history, Black women openly and unapologetically embraced their sexual orientation in their social justice and political work and played a key role in the influence of social and critical race theory and black feminism.

Inspired by the National Black Feminist Organization’s regional conference, the Collective began to meet on their own in Boston. Embracing black feminist roots, the Collective commemorated the Combahee River Raid of June 1968 in South Carolina. This resistance, led by Harriet Tubman, freed more than 750 enslaved Black people and was the only military campaign in U.S. history conceived of and directed by a woman. The Collective created a space apart from White women and Black men and established itself in black feminist history.

The collective successfully developed an innovative black feminist ideology, which explored the shortcomings of white feminism’s exclusive focus on gender discrimination against White women, as well as the Black community’s exclusive focus on racism against Black men. Coining the term “identity politics,” the Collective articulated the simultaneity of oppressions, and how race, sex, sexuality, and class cannot be ranked or separated from other oppressions. The Collective created a foundation for intersectionality and womanism.

Best known for the Combahee River Statement, the Collective emphasized Black women’s liberation -- developing a novel approach to  community organizing, a strategy that continues to be used today by movements such as Black Lives Matter. The Combahee River Statement emphasizes centering the most marginalized group (in this particular case, Black women) in liberation work because their freedom guarantees everyone’s freedom, and would mean the dismantling of all oppressive systems. The statement further recognizes the contributions and lives of Black women ancestors, such as Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mary Church Terrell, and others , whose work carved a path for the Collective.  

The Combahee River Collective was a necessary and important group of Black feminists who created a community organizing approach that organizations continue to use today. The Collective’s work inspired later contributions to black feminism and womanism, other women’s liberation movements, it also influenced EROC’s Centering the Margins initiative.

#BlackQueerHistory #BlackHerstory #BlackGirlMagic #BHM


CHARDONNAY MADKINS is a womanist and activist serving the Los Angeles area. She received her Bachelor's of Arts degree in Psychology and Urban & Environmental Policy from Occidental College. As one of the few black women leaders on Occidental's campus, Chardonnay Madkins played a prominent role in the institution's Black Student Alliance and also co-founded the Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition, where she shed light on issues involving survivors of color and mobilized students and faculty to demand administrators appropriately handle sexual assault cases. She dedicates her time advocating specifically for Black survivors and changing policies around sexual assault. She maintains a passion for knowledge and aspires to continue her education of human rights and womanist politics in order to give voice to the voiceless.

You can reach Chardonnay at cmadkins@endrapeoncampus.org


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EROC Official Statement on Transgender Guidance

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Dear transgender and gender nonconforming students,

Today, the Departments of Education and Justice rescinded the 2016 Dear Colleague letter that clarifies schools’ obligations to provide you with an education free from discrimination and violence.

We, like many of you, are sad, angry, and frustrated. Some of you may be afraid of the possibility of escalated violence to come as a result of this discriminatory act, and your fears and feelings are valid.

We know that you, transgender and gender nonconforming students, experience disproportionately high rates of sexual violence, and that those rates are highest among trans women of color. We also know that your voices are often silenced when they deserve to be heard. We hear you and we are here for you.

Know that even without the guidance, your rights under Title IX stand. Whether you live in North Carolina or California, your state does not determine your civil rights.

You have the right to an education free from violence and discrimination. You have the right to have your gender identity and gender expression respected. You have the right to be yourself.

If the federal government refuses to enforce your rights, we will be there to fight by your side.

In solidarity,
End Rape on Campus

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ICYMI: Frederick Douglass, One of the Greatest Figures in U.S. History

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Abolitionist, orator, writer, and a great example of a Black male ally, Frederick Douglass was a pioneer in advocating for racial and gender equality during the late 19th century. Born into bondage, Frederick Douglass later wrote of his childhood, growing up into the dehumanizing and violent culture of slavery. Speculated to be born  of a White slaveowner raping his mother, Douglass’s traumatic early childhood sparked his desire to become a free man. Frederick Douglass was a figure of resistance, from his large kinky fro to his daily actions, constantly challenging white supremacy and the institution of slavery. He learned how to read and write, despite strict laws prohibiting Black people from receiving an education, and escaped slavery by around the age of 20 (Douglass never knew his exact age). Douglass moved to New York, where he soon became known as an intellectual for his resistance.

By 1841, Douglass had joined an abolitionist movement as a public speaker, his brilliant oratorical skills gave him a platform at the American Anti-Slavery Society. Between 1845 and 1847, Douglass published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and an abolitionist newspaper, The North Star, establishing himself as an icon in African American literature in the 19th century. (A must-read for anyone interested in the persuasive writing of Douglass’s slave narrative).

By 1848, Douglass was invited to the First Women’s Rights Convention where he showed commitment to the women’s suffrage movement. Shortly after the convention, he wrote, “We hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man […] right is of no sex, truth is of no color.” Douglass continued his work and joined Black women activists such as Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women’s rights activist who delivered the famous “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech highlighting the hypocrisy of the women’s suffrage movement and exclusion of Black women.

Douglass continued his work into the Civil War and influenced Black men to enlist to fight for the freedom of enslaved Black people. Douglass worked to persuade both President Lincoln and President Johnson to extend suffrage to all. In fact, Douglass was very critical of Lincoln when he did not publicly endorse black suffrage. During Reconstruction, Douglass held several political positions and became the first Black vice presidential nominee of the United States (although he was unknowingly nominated and never campaigned). Overall, Frederick Douglass’s life and contributions make him a symbol of allyship and mark him as one of Black Americans’ greatest ancestors.


CHARDONNAY MADKINS is a womanist and activist serving the Los Angeles area. She received her Bachelor's of Arts degree in Psychology and Urban & Environmental Policy from Occidental College. As one of the few black women leaders on Occidental's campus, Chardonnay Madkins played a prominent role in the institution's Black Student Alliance and also co-founded the Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition, where she shed light on issues involving survivors of color and mobilized students and faculty to demand administrators appropriately handle sexual assault cases. She dedicates her time advocating specifically for Black survivors and changing policies around sexual assault. She maintains a passion for knowledge and aspires to continue her education of human rights and womanist politics in order to give voice to the voiceless.

You can reach Chardonnay at cmadkins@endrapeoncampus.org

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Survivor Love Letter from EROC's Chardonnay Madkins

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Dear Fannie Lou Hamer, Billie Holiday, Maya Angelou, and all the other unnamed and unknown Black women survivors of sexual violence, whose stories are disregarded, ignored, and forgotten due to racism and sexism:

This is my #SurvivorLoveLetter to you this Valentine's Day. However, I also want to dedicate this love letter to the countless other Black women and girls who have been subjected to sexual violence. For the Black survivors struggling to stay in school after an assault, for the ones who can't find culturally competent resources in their community, for those whose perpetrators will never be held accountable because of your identity as a Black girl — and potentially other intersecting oppressions —for those who need support, concern, and care, but are met with hostility, disregard, and hate. You are loved. Although you may often feel isolated and afraid, especially with the current political state, please know that we are here and we're not going anywhere. We believe you and you are not alone.

Black activism and social justice movements have always centered around love and affirming Black people's right to justice, life, and freedom. The Combahee River Collective expressed in its statement the inherent value of Black women and the necessity of Black women's liberation as observance of our right as autonomous humans. The Collective further stated that "love for ourselves, our sisters, and our community" is what drove its politics and motivation. Similarly, in my #SurvivorLoveLetter, I would like to express my love to my people, my culture, and especially my sisters. It is the love that I have for Black people that drives me to continue our struggle and work towards dismantling systems of oppression. Black History Month is the most exciting time for me because every year I am reminded of our greatness, magic, and resilience in the face of injustice. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors as we celebrate their economic, social, and political achievements against all odds. Our ancestors, within the entire diaspora, have made the impossible possible. Let me say that again: Our ancestors, within the entire diaspora, have made the impossible possible — and I intend to follow in their footsteps. Many thanks and much love to all the womanists, Black feminists, and just regular Black women who came before me and gave me the language and knowledge to articulate and affirm my experiences. This Valentine’s Day, I commemorate Harriet Tubman, Assata Shakur, Sandra Bland, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Sojourner Truth, Aiyana Jones, and all my unknown and unnamed Black sisters and survivors; regardless of whether you’re gender non-conforming, trans, poor, queer, or undocumented, I love you, you are supported, and your life matters.

In love and resistance,

 

Chardonnay Madkins

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EROC Official Statement on Betsy DeVos' Confirmation

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Dear Survivors, Students, and Allies,

Yesterday, with the tightest margin in United States history, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the next U.S. Secretary of Education. We, like many of you, remain deeply concerned that Ms. DeVos has refused to commit to protecting students from discrimination and sexual violence by failing to protect and enforce Title IX.

When survivors first filed a complaint against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2012, they were told that no one would listen and that they would inevitably lose against such a powerful institution. But survivors’ voices are powerful. Within a year, hundreds of activists and survivors across the country began holding their schools accountable for discrimination and mishandling cases of sexual violence.

We haven’t stopped since, and we’re not going anywhere.

Senator Bob Casey read from two survivors’ testimonials from the Dear Betsy Campaign on the Senate Floor

“If [DeVos] is confirmed as Secretary of Education, she is not some independent operator. She is a servant of the people. The people are her boss, [survivors are] her boss. She has a sacred duty that she cannot escape to give answers to these survivors and to the advocates who so bravely support them.”

We will hold Betsy DeVos accountable. We will continue to advocate alongside survivors. We will continue to ensure that all students understand consent, sexual violence, and healthy relationships. We will continue to hold institutions accountable for discriminating against students with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community. Most importantly, we will continue to ensure that survivors are heard, supported, and believed.

Together, we have started a movement that cannot be stopped. No matter what happens, we will continue to push for progress.

Join us.

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Unanswered Questions: An Open Letter to Betsy DeVos

End Rape On Campus

Dear Ms. DeVos,

At your confirmation hearing this week, Senator Murray said, “We are joined tonight by several sexual assault survivors who are brave enough to come here tonight because this issue is so important to them.” I was one of those survivors, representing End Rape on Campus, a national advocacy organization that aims to eliminate violence and support survivors. But I left the hearing with more questions than I had answers. I was not alone.

In the past 48 hours, our organization has heard from countless mothers, fathers, and students whose hearts are piqued with concern that crucial questions that directly affect their civil rights, safety, and well-being remain unanswered. We hope that, as a parent, you can see how not having the answers to these basic questions about the safety of students is frightening.

We respectfully request answers to the following questions:

  1. Do you believe that transgender students deserve to have access to education free from discrimination?

  2. Do you believe that it’s important for high schoolers to understand healthy relationships and consent?

  3. Do you believe parents have the right to know which schools are being investigated for failing to keep students safe from campus sexual violence?

  4. Do you believe parents have the right to know if their child’s school has requested a religious exemption from laws that protect students from gender discrimination?

  5. Do you believe that students of color deserve to have equal access to education free from sexual violence and discrimination?

  6. Do you believe that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disability worthy of accommodations in school?

We thank you for your time and consideration, and we look forward to a continued conversation.

Respectfully,

 

 

Sofie Karasek
Director of Education, End Rape on Campus

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2016: A Year in Review

End Rape On Campus

Below you'll find a recap of what we accomplished together in 2016. Thank you for making our work possible. As we press forward into the new year, we hope you will continue to stand with us, and in doing so, with survivors.

Survivor Support
We directly told over 700 survivors that they were believed, supported, and heard. We worked with over 20 survivors to file federal complaints to hold their institutions accountable for protecting civil rights. We referred many more to our extensive network of legal support and mental health professionals.

Prevention Through Education
Through speaking engagements alone, EROC reached 40,674 people, emphasizing the importance of believing survivors and engaging in every activism to end campus sexual assault.

Policy Reform
EROC had great success in policy reform in 2016 at the local, state, and national levels. Most notably, in Virginia, we helped pass HB659 which mandates that students in health and family life curriculum learn about sexual violence, domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and healthy relationships.

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Rape: The Other Four-Letter Word

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Republished with permission from Indian Country Today

My name is Cierra Fields and I am 16 years old.

This article is from my perspective as a rape survivor. And, yes I am worried that I might not connect and convey my thoughts as well as I would like. But before I get all serious about it, I also want people to know it did not break me – I still laugh at life and consider myself to be a proud a mother of cats, a breaker of rules, and a freer of minds.

As I am sitting down to write this, my state court in Oklahoma just upheld a trial judge's interpretation that alcohol intoxication equals consent in rape cases. The judge literally stated that if you drink and pass out, then sodomy is not rape.

Rape. What a small word for such a life-altering, soul-crushing and traumatic event. Rape knows no race, culture, creed, religion or sexual orientation. Male. Female. It’s all the same to the victim, no, make that survivor.

In our modern culture, we struggle with rape and rape-culture every day. It all starts with how the victim is questioned. First we ask, should he or she seek medical treatment and/or press charges?

The victim is then questioned relentlessly, as if the rape was their fault.

What were you wearing? How much were you drinking or smoking? Why did you invite him or her back to your place? Why did you ride home with them? Why didn’t you fight back? Why did you shower before reporting? Why did you wait so long to report it?

These questions are not just asked by the doctor, sexual assault nurse, detectives or district attorneys, These questions are also asked by the victim’s family, friends and tribal communities. These questions are sometimes asked to your face or sometimes they are said behind your back.

All of this questioning and acceptance of rape culture in our communities has created silence among victims. It’s better to stay silent than speak out which leads to those questions.  

Our rapists depend on our silence. They use it to their advantage.

I, for one, am damn tired of being silent. I was only 15 when my rapist attacked me. Not that I owe anyone this explanation but I was wearing a slouchy t-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. I was not drinking but I did have a migraine and took my meds to control it. It was the middle of the day and I was in an elevator when it happened.

But, I digress. I was lucky. Instead of asking me those asinine questions, my parents immediately said, “I believe you.” They didn’t need or want to hear a single detail. They immediately believed me. Those three words are the most powerful words you can say to a survivor of rape. “I believe you” can’t take away those memories or the pain or the smells or the flashbacks, but it can give a survivor a lifeline to hope.

I believe you.


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Cierra Fields is a member of the Cherokee Nation and a proud 2014 Center for Native American Youth Champion for Change and 2016 UNITY 25 under 25.

You can follow her on twitter at @CierraFields918


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4 Things You Can do Right Now to Support Survivors of Sexual Violence

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It’s OK to be scared right now. Many of us are frightened, and with good reason. Sexual assault has been at the forefront of our national conversation as of late, but not because survivors’ voices are being heard. Sexual violence has been normalized, ridiculed even. Political figures and celebrities have flaunted their predatory behavior with no legal repercussion. Rapists on college campuses have escaped their crimes with little more than a slap on the wrist.

I would be lying if I said I haven’t been feeling hopeless these days. But the one thing—and perhaps the only thing—that has helped me get out of bed is knowing that there is some small action I can take every day: a charitable donation here, a kind word to someone struggling there. Maybe it doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve been empowered by millions of other people who are coping the same way.

Even at our most downtrodden, we can still make a difference. It will take time and unwavering strength. Yes, we are scared. But we must keep going. If you’re not sure where to begin helping survivors, here are some ideas for inspiration.

Listen to Survivors

Now more than ever, we must listen to survivors of sexual assault. For too long we’ve questioned, harassed and shamed them. But no longer. We’ve seen what’s happened when we refuse to listen to people who have suffered sexual violence. We must embrace the mantra of supporting survivors, no matter what: “We believe you.” That means coming to survivors free of judgment or shaming, and vowing to keep fighting for them.

There are a lot of survivors who are experiencing anxiety right now, having been triggered by recent events. Help those in your life access critical resources, or if they prefer, simply offer an empathetic ear.

Educate Yourself and Others

Knowing the challenges facing survivors is key to strong allyship. Don’t be embarrassed if you’re not sure how to broach issues of sexual violence. Just taking the time to educate yourself shows your commitment to standing with survivors.

Some Advocacy 101 topics to delve into: smashing stereotypes about survivors and rapists. Considering how you may be perpetuating harmful myths about rape. Learning how rape culture plays into our media, politics, and social interactions. Hell, learning what rape culture is. Being an ally requires some heavy lifting. But we all share the responsibility to educate ourselves for the sake of survivors.

Donate Your Money, Skills, or Time

Charitable donations to organizations that support survivors are critical right now. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to donate to a wonderful cause, now is a great time. End Rape on Campus is currently holding a Giving Tuesday fundraiser to continue its mission of providing direct assistance to survivors and their communities, offering educational training and resources, and advocating for policy reform on the campus, local, state, and federal levels. You can help fundraise on Tuesday by creating a page here, or just chip in on Tuesday.

If you aren’t able to contribute financially, there are still many other ways to take action. Think about the skills you have to offer: Can you write or edit social media posts? Do you know how to draft policy recommendations? Do you have experience planning events? You likely have more to give than you realize.

Take Care of Yourself

There is so much work to be done, but your activism can’t get in the way of your mental health. Remember, you have to allow yourself to recharge to participate in meaningful work. If the news is too much to handle, take a break from social media. If you feel exhausted, get some rest. Call a friend to vent. And seek help right away if you have thoughts of self-harm. Sometimes the most you can do is be kind to yourself, and that’s a radical act in and of itself.

Know that you are not alone. So many people are hurting right now and so many people understand your pain. But we will get through this, one day at a time.


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Julia is a writer and editor based in Washington, D.C. Her passions include creating media for social good, feminism and pizza. She has written for USA Today College, People.com, Parents.com, Healthline and more. Keep up with her writing and random thoughts @Julia_Haskins


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Self Care in an Online Era

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"Distancing yourself from the internet may you need to return energized. Deactivate your social media accounts for a while or simply keep your computer turned off if possible. There is no timeline for when you should go back online—take as long as you need to heal."

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