I’ve been doing a little bit of thinking about Icons and the dangers that come with worshipping them. Given that this era is reflecting on the past 50 years, I’ve been thinking about the civil rights commemorations that have occurred–as well as those to come–the names we honor and sometimes, the violence their names shield. Specifically, I’ve been thinking a great deal about adultery as the violence of “nonviolent” activism. Adultery has been attributed to most of the men’s names heralded from this era of history, black and white, but as with all human beings, these men have faults. This idea emerged for me most recently when viewing a documentary that notes James Bevel’s role as an activist. Bevel, while praised for his idea to train children in the methods of nonviolent direct action, the quirky, strident man that his old friends lovingly recall was not only an adulterer, he was a convicted child molester.
While reading about Aaralyn Mills’s decision to press charges against her father, I couldn’t help but consider how hollow the ring of Danielle McGuire’s claims regarding the primacy black women’s bodies held for generating, maintaining, and fortifying civil rights activism around black women’s vulnerability given Bevel’s crimes. Men who love the black women who live in these bodies don’t shame us, molest us, beat us, rape us. Today, when reading Sikivu Hutchinson’s precise and cogent analysis of the silence of white feminists as mostly poor and working class black women have been victims of the “New Jim Crow” police officers, like Daniel Holtzclaw, still employing antebellum, slave-holders’ practices of maintaining control over black women’s bodies, I decided that Alabama can issue as many apologies as it wants to: “Recy Taylor” remains unsafe (for more evidence, see the L.A.P.D.’s claim to racial blindness in handcuffing black actress, Daniele Watts, after mistaking her for a prostitute).