Letter of Solidarity

Two years ago, The Bridge was founded with the primary purpose of being a shared campus publication between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University that showcases the creative talents of Black and Latina women. Since then, we have not only expanded and developed into a family, but also a space in which we can share our experiences, confide in one another, and take charge of our own narratives. Our focus for the month of March is on Women’s History, but we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that Black women, such as Victoria Holtzclaw, have been taken advantage of for too long by members of our own community. While 1 in 5 college-aged women will experience sexual assault on campus, more than 4 in 10 Black women will experience physical violence from a partner during their lifetime.This can come in the form of coercion and manipulation, physical assault, and so many other false variations of intimacy that are forcibly imposed upon women today. Furthermore, Black women are less likely to report than other demographics because of various stigmas regarding their sexuality . This is unacceptable.

Malcolm X once said,”the most disrespected person in America, is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman.The most neglected person in America, is the Black woman,” and that still rings true today. However, what we fail to realize is that the source of this disrespect does not stem solely from non-Black individuals and it can take on many different forms. We call upon our community to stand with survivors and to believe Black women, the very women who are the backbone of the community and put themselves in harm’s way for their brothers, fathers, and so many others. We call upon Black campus leaders and Black men to hold one another accountable on a daily basis for their complicit bystander behavior, rather than holding sporadic discussions once every few months about sexual assault. We are calling for a culture shift with the Black community here at UNC that inspects who and what we are prioritizing as well as why. For too long, individuals who have been heralded as leaders have gotten away with these heinous acts.  As an organization, we strive to amplify the voices of women of color while dismantling and challenging any and all systems and institutions that try to supress us, and we will continue to do so. Victoria, we stand with you. Let’s work to change the narrative surrounding sexual violence and make a lasting impact on Women’s History.

Victoria Holtzclaw