NO! The Rape Documentary and #LoveWITHAccountability creator Aishah Shahidah Simmons is the Spotlight Feature in Hematopoeisis Press, Issue 4 - Perricardium.Read More
Aishah Shahidah Simmons was featured on NBC News with a piece covering the recent news that Whitney Houston's survived child sexual abuse.
"It seems that Houston’s childhood sexual trauma and her decision, conscious or not, to not fully disclose what happened and receive support was also a festering wound that she could not heal.
Despite all of the powerful, survivor-affirming awareness around sexual violence that has been growing, child sexual abuse — especially in families — remains a very taboo topic."
You can read the full piece here.
Join Aishah Shahidah Simmons for Take Back the Night at Dickinson College Wednesday April 11th at 6:30pm in Allison Great Hall.
Aishah will kick off April's Sexual Assault Awareness month in Tuscon, Arizona with a fundraiser screening of NO! The Rape Documentary on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 7:30pm.
All proceeds will go towards the planning of Tucson Take Back the Night 2018, the annual march and event raising awareness around sexual assault and empowering survivors.
Aishah was also featured on a local news segment.
On International Women's Day, Aishah Shahidah Simmons released the Essex Hemphill segment featured in NO! The Rape Documentary as a separate stand-alone video.
Cassius Life Magazine's news and culture editor Stephanie Long interviewed Aishah and published their conversation on March 14, 2018.
When NO! The Rape Documentary first debuted at the Pan African Film Festival in 2006, it was received with critical acclaim. Among the 50 documentaries and short films invited to be a part of the Open Frame Film Festival in 2009, NO! took home the Audience Choice Award and a Juried Award at the 2006 Sandiego Women Film Festival. It also won the award for Best Documentary at the 2008 India International Women’s Film Festival.
Now, for the first time, the film’s Essex Hemphill segment has been made into a stand-alone video. “I decided to make it a stand-alone short video this year because I believe it’s very important that we hear from Black men who are unwavering about the imperative need to address and end sexual and domestic violence in our communities,”Aishah Shahidah Simmons, director of NO!, told CASSIUS. “I worked with my friend and colleague Dr. Kai Green, who helped me create the stand alone video in his office at Williams College.”
C.: What went into making the decision to release this segment this year? Was it meant to be released sooner?
A.S.: The decision to release the Essex Hemphill segment as a standalone video separate from and still related to NO! The Rape Documentary was based on my desire to celebrate Black women in Women’s Herstory Month, and to lift up Hemphill’s radical vision of a world that respects and cherishes Black women long before it was trending. Hemphill’s poem, “To Some Supposed Brothers,” is a powerful acknowledgement of the wounds that so many Black women have to live with. Written almost three decades ago, his words and delivery have a compelling way of drawing you into a painful reality, while simultaneously calling the viewer into action to co-create a world without violence. Hemphill’s work was so piercing. He didn’t feel the necessity to sugar coat his words or images in order to make the audience feel good. His intention was to make you uncomfortable in order to affect radical social change.
C.: Can you tell us a little about raising funds to have the segment edited back in 1997 and why that was important?
A.S.: Fundraising for the making of the film was a hardcore Black feminist and LGBTQ grassroots effort. In the early days of the 12-year journey, I relied heavily upon the communities from which I come to support this vision. Award-winning poet and activist Sonia Sanchez and longterm activists Inelle Cox Bagwell and Pat Clark were the first people who gave major donations in support of the making of NO! The Rape Documentary. The Astraa Lesbian Foundation for Justice was the very first foundation who said, “YES! to NO!” Their collective funding enabled me to create two trailers, which featured the Essex Hemphill segment and testimonies from Black women rape survivors. I screened these trailers extensively across the United States and in several European countries including England, The Netherlands, France, and Italy at numerous educational fundraising screenings. The money raised at those screenings went directly into the making of the feature length documentary film.
Click here to read in its entirety here.
Aishah Shahidah Simmons was the keynote speaker at the Five College Queer Gender and Sexuality Conference, which was be held March 2-3 at Hampshire College. The title of her talk was AfroLezfemcentric Perspectives on Race, Gender, and Sexuality.
WomanPreach!, Inc. and Children of Combahee's co-hosted the groundbreaking “For the Sake of Our Children: Confronting Sexual Violence in Church Spaces” weekend convening at Eden Seminary in St. Louis (October 20, 2017 - October 22, 2017). Aishah Shahidah Simmons gave an interactive presentation on #LoveWITHAccountability -- it's origins and work. Deep full body bows to Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman and Ahmad Greene-Hayes for their visions and their work.
[AUDIO] “How do you move beyond sharing about your trauma to healing it?” asks child sexual abuse survivor, adult rape survivor, NO! The Rape Documentary producer/director and #LoveWITHAccountability creator Aishah Shahidah Simmons on Episode 2 of Feral Visions: a decolonial feminist podcast with producer/host Anjali Nath. Feral Visions is also available as an iTunes podcast. Resources listed below.
***The interview was conducted on August 14, 2017 and released on October 19, 2017. Aishah and her father were finally able to have a seismic, transformative conversation on October 16, 2017.***
Links to resources referenced in the interview.
“[...]I’ve been pruning in the gender based-violence forest since the early 1990s — for more than 20 years — and yet it wasn’t until the beginning of January 2015 that I was able to cultivate the strength to dig up my child sexual abuse roots. And as is the case with so many victim-survivors, this digging up inevitably leads to questions of love, accountability, and family.[...]”
THREE WOMEN RISING, the journey to ending childhood sexual abuse on Episode 19 of Rythea Lee's 'Advice from a Loving Bitch' series. Rythea invited expert artists, activists, and cultural workers author Donna Jenson and #LoveWITHAccountability creator Aishah Shahidah Simmons to join her to help her tackle this child sexual abuse with passion, grace, and maturity. Rythea, Donna, and Aishah each answer "How do we heal? How do we fight back? How do we break the cycle? How do we find joy?"
This project took several months, tons of patience, lots of trust, deep compassion and much love.
In September 2016, Aishah Shahidah Simmons had the opportunity to participate in her friend/comrade/sibling survivor Ignacio G Rivera's The HEAL Project's "Outing CSA (Child Sexual Abuse)" campaign, which features the voices of a range of diverse individuals publicly naming their status as CSA survivors. Aishah’s video was posted on March 21, 2017 on The Heal Project’s site. #LoveWITHAccountability is truly grateful for Ignacio's vision and dedicated work to pull up the roots of child sexual abuse in a variety of educationally interactive, media-based ways.
Please visit the video archive here. My video is below.
CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Child sexual abuse, survivor, rape
A hard truth: only about 10% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child.
Over two years ago Dylan Farrow wrote a powerful open letter about her Academy Award-winning prolific filmmaker father Wood Allen. Many apologists for Nate Parker and Jean Celestin point to the fact that he, Woody Allen, is still making films as a celebrated auteur. Like Nate Parker wasn’t convicted of rape, Woody Allen wasn’t ever convicted for child molestation.
Does that mean that Nate Parker didn’t participate in a gang rape with Jean Celestin in 1999? Does that mean Woody Allen didn’t molest his biological daughter and marry the step daughter he helped to raise?
Yes, clearly racism and white supremacy work in favor of white celebrities who are accused of crimes against women and children. Without question Black celebrities are scrutinized in ways that white celebrities are not.
What is the goal? Is the goal that Black men should be afforded the same “rights” to (allegedly) rape, molest, and murder women and children with impunity. Is that what equality looks like?
Imagine Otherwise podcast episode 014 features an interview with #LoveWITHAccountability creator Aishah Shahidah Simmons. During the 45-minute interview, which can be heard online or on iTunes, Aishah shares about her journey to make the internationally acclaimed, award-winning film NO! The Rape Documentary during the height of Mike Tyson trail, Clarence Thomas hearings, and OJ Simpson trial, feminist filmmaking, receiving a Just Beginnings Collaborative funded two year fellowship to focus her full time on ending child sexual abuse, Queering Sexual Violence, and more.
As part of a collaborative piece on The Establishment in conjunction with the Queering Sexual Violence anthology release, four contributors to Queering Sexual Violence share their personal healing paths, envision what healing could look like, and shift the narratives of what surviving and thriving actually can be.
The late Black feminist author, cultural worker, organizer, and one of my teachers, Toni Cade Bambara, asked the timeless question, “Are you sure, sweetheart, you want be well?” in The Salt Eaters, her award-winning 1980 novel. I consistently ask myself this question, because being an unapologetically out Black feminist lesbian who is both an incest/child sexual abuse survivor and an adult rape survivor is extremely difficult. One of many things that I have experientially learned is that healing and being well—emotionally, psychologically, mentally, psychically, and physically—are ongoing journeys and processes, not permanent destinations.
In my essay for Queering Sexual Violence, I wrote about three non-negotiable tools that are an integral part of my healing work. These tools helped me move from victim to survivor and engaged participant in movements to end violence committed against women and queer people, most especially those who are Black/People of Color. These tools are: 24 years of work with a licensed clinical Black feminist psychologist, Dr. Clara Whaley-Perkins; a 14-year practice of vipassana meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka; and 25 years of consistent involvement as an activist/cultural worker/filmmaker in global anti-gender-based violence and LGBTQIA movements.