That night in L.A., I met a young woman named Chrissy Chambers, who went through an awful ordeal. Her ex-boyfriend secretly taped himself sexually assaulting her. After they broke up, he posted the video online without her permission or knowledge on more than 30 pornography sites. She said that the experience made her feel like she’d been “stripped of her dignity.” No one should have to endure something like that.
When are Black women allowed to be vulnerably open and express to others that we are suffering without the risk of people downplaying the intensity of our pain or dismissing us completely? When are we allowed to label our struggles as psychiatric disabilities without people chastising us for not following close enough to God or buying into “White people’s nonsense”? Rarely are we given space, as a Black woman, to say “I can’t move. I can’t breathe. I can’t see two feet in front of me. There are voices telling me things. I don’t want to be here anymore.” No one wants to hear that we might be in a psychological state that weakens us or renders us unable to serve them; we must be strong at all times and no one wants to hear otherwise.
There aren’t many places where people of all ages, all races, all backgrounds, all beliefs come together in common cause, but service is one of them. And that’s one more reason why I think it’s so valuable: because it helps us to reconnect with each other, and to feel more a part of our shared American life.