Paying Homage in Queering Sexual Violence


Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Sexual Violence Movement edited by Jennifer Patterson

Paying homage to a true survivor who preceded me - Great Aunt Jessie Neal Hudson and working to create a world where my nieces Zari, Avye, Kylin and nephew Ameachi along with all children of their generation and younger are safe and free from sexual and physical violence in their lifetimes.

More information on the website.

“Removing the Mask: AfroLez®femcentric Silence Breaker” in Queering Sexual Violence Anthology


In late February 2010 white queer feminist sibling survivor Jennifer Patterson asked me if I would contribute an essay about my child sexual abuse for her anthology in process Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Sexual Violence Movement (QSV) I didn’t know Jennye very well and she definitely didn’t know the details of my incest herstory. She reached out to me both because of [my film] NO!’s impact on her life, but also because of my publicly identifying as an incest survivor. I was both horrified and terrified at the thought and told her as such. I essentially told her that I would consider the invitation but doubted that I would be able to participate. Less than one month after Jennye’s invitation, the life of the beloved family member who molested me over a period of two years in grave danger.

That was a major turning point in my life. I began taking the small steps, which over time became giant strides and leaps in my own rebirthing process. I took an unflinching look at my incest herstory and its last imprint on my life. Through that process, I put pen to paper or key to screen and for the first time in my life I took an unflinching and yet, deeply compassionate look at what happened to me as a child and the subsequent latter years (three decades) of the man who molested me never being held accountable by my parents in his lifetime for what he did. This is not a mommy/daddy dearest narrative but instead an opportunity to reflect upon what #LoveWITHAccountability looks like in the most compassionately humane ways.

My essay “Removing the Mask: AfroLez®femcentric Silence Breaker” is one of over twenty-five essays and poems written by radically diverse LGBTQIA activists, scholars, healers, cultural workers who center queerness while we/they write about sexual violence. This anthology is a paradigm shifter in a society and dare I say frequently pathologizes queer survivors.

There are no words to express the depth of my personal gratitude that Jennye never ever gave up on her vision because there were many reasons along her six-year journey to just throw in the towel.

The anthology is hot off the press and available for purchase TODAY. For more information about the anthology and the upcoming readings (May 10, 2016 in NYC at Bluestockings is the launch), please visit the website.


Silence is Broken


James Baldwin was speaking to white people in response to all of the white supremacist lies told/taught about Black people in AmeriKKKA

I also apply this profound quote to those who overtly and covertly blame survivors of incest, child sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence for breaking their silences. When we are able to break our silences, even if it means completely relinquishing family loyalty, we are often called crazy, liars, delusional, and/or mentally unstable by any and everyone who has a need to protect themselves, protect the ones who violated/battered and the ones who condoned it. Sometimes it is the same person, often there are many directly and indirectly involved. No form of violence happens in a vacuum.

‘Being Well Ain’t No Triflin Matter’: On Romantic Relationships

Three years ago today, I made a conscious decision to get off of the (extremely unhealthy for me) romantic relationship track to solely focus on digging deep to get to know the “me” that I know as Aishah Shahidah Simmons in this lifetime. This conscious and intentional digging and digging and digging through therapy and vipassana meditation along with the love, encouragement, and support of many–most especially my Dad– led me to unearth the profound imprint of the impact of child sexual abuse on my life. I had absolutely positively no idea that this is where the journey to take me. To be honest, had I known, I may not have taken it. I’m not solely talking about what happened repeatedly to me over a period of two years from the ages of ten to twelve. I’m also talking about my being taught to love and care for my beloved perpetrator *without* him ever being held accountable by the two people whose responsibility it was to protect me. What messages did I learn and completely embody from the mental and emotional acrobats I did to wear a mask for decades to both protect him and my beloved parents for over three decades? While this is about the past, it’s also grounded in the present. This isn’t about demonization of my grandfather or my parents. We can’t continue to “equate criticism with assault” (Toni Cade Bambara). It’s about speaking/writing the complicated truths to acknowledge, explore and be accountable to the painful contradictions. No one, no one is all good or all bad. To be human is to be fallible.

I am not anti romantic relationships – not by a long shot. I am ALL about romantic love. I experientially know that one can do incredible work on themselves and with their partners while in relationship. I also know that I couldn’t have done (or begun) this specific work partnered. Yes, during my relationship sabbatical I crushed hard. I am grateful for that magical experience, which taught me love with accountability and without strings attached. It also led and fully supported my own eWOMANcipation from the shackles holding down my mask, which was slowly suffocating me. No, I haven’t committed my life to being single, but I also am not pressed if that’s what ultimately happens.

Today – the first day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the U.S. – I will embark on a fairly intense travel schedule across the country to screen NO! and to also talk about rape and other forms of sexual assault. For the first time ever I will be very intentional with sharing my experiences as a survivor of child sexual abuse to underscore my evolving understanding that the deafening silence around child sexual abuse in the familial institution plays a pivotal role in co-creating rape culture in all other institutions – religious, academic, activist, political, and professional. These institutions are not separate and as long as we move as if they are separate and not interconnected, I do not believe we will ever get to the root of eradicating the violence. I am grateful to be in an incredible national and international community of survivors who are engaged in healing justice through activism, all forms of cultural work, scholarship, and theology. They teach, challenge, and inspire me every single day.