photo by: Julie Yarbrough

photo by: Julie Yarbrough

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Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning Black feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker, educator, activist, cultural worker, writer and international lecturer. An incest and rape survivor, she is the producer, writer, and director of the Ford Foundation-funded, internationally acclaimed and award-winning feature length film NO! The Rape Documentary. Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, says, “If the Black community in the Americas and in the world would save itself, it must complete the work that [NO!] begins.”

Aishah is one of the 2016-2019 inaugural cohorts of the Just Beginnings Collaborative (JBC), a group of eight fellows and ten grantee organizations that addresses these issues. Funded by the NoVo Foundation, this movement initiates strategies to end child sexual abuse. Her JBC-funded multimedia work #LoveWITHAccountability journeys deeper than NO! to pull up the roots of child sexual abuse. Aishah is unequivocal in her belief that if we do not collectively pull up those roots, we not only allow the most vulnerable to be sexually victimized, but we will also never ever end adult rape.  #LoveWITHAccountability examines how accountability is a powerful and necessary form of love needed to address child sexual abuse (CSA). #LoveWITHAccountability also examines how the silence around child sexual abuse in the familial institution plays a direct role in creating a culture of sexual violence in all other institutions—religious, academic, activist, political and professional.

Aishah is also a 2016-2019 Visiting Scholar at the School for Social Policy and Practice (SP2) at the University of Pennsylvania. While in residence at SP2, she continues to develop her #LoveWITHAccountability project under the auspices of her four-year JBC Fellowship. This work includes editing an anthology of writings by diasporic Black child sexual abuse survivors and advocates, and hosting a national convening. The interlocutors that she engages with at SP2 include the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Violence and Abuse in Relationships, the Slought Foundation, Penn Violence Prevention, and CAMRA, an interdisciplinary collective of researchers and educators committed to participatory and experimental media-making.

Previously, Aishah was the 2015-2016 Sterling Brown Professor of Africana Studies at Williams Collegean Adjunct Professor in the Women’s and LGBT Studies Program at Temple University, an O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department at Scripps College, an Artist-in-Residence at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, and an Artist-in-Residence at Spelman College’s Digital Moving Image Salon.

Her essays and articles have been published in several anthologies including the recently released Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Violence Movement anthology edited by Jennifer Patterson and Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence anthology edited by Lisa Factora-Borchers.

Committed to archiving, documenting and telling Black women’s herstories and contemporary realities, Aishah curated and lead-edited The Feminist Wire’s (TFW) “Global Forum on Audre Lorde.” She co-curated and co-edited, with Heidi R. Lewis, TFW’s “Toni Cade Bambara 75th Birthday Anniversary Forum.” In March 2016, she co-curated and co-edited, with Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Heather Turcotte, Heidi R. Lewis, Tc Tolbert, and Mick Powell, TFW’s “June Jordan Forum.”  In October 2016, she curated end edited the #LoveWITHAccountability Forum, which featured essays, poetry, video and audio pieces by 29- diasporic Black child sexual abuse survivors, advocates, and one former bystander, Aishah’s mother, who wrote publicly for the first time about what happened to Aishah and the three-decades cover up..

Aishah is both an Associate Editor of TFW and a member of  the editorial board of The Feminist Wire Books Series at the University of Arizona Press. Her cultural work and activism have been documented extensively in a wide range of media outlets including CASSIUS, The Root, Imagine Otherwise, Crisis, Forbes, Left of Black, In These Times, Ms. Magazine, Alternet, ColorLines, The Philadelphia Weekly, National Public Radio (NPR), Pacifica Radio Network and Black Entertainment Television (BET). Click here for an in-depth listing of Simmons' writings and media coverage from 1994 -- to the present.

Aishah has screened her work, guest lectured, and facilitated workshops and dialogues to racially and ethnically diverse audiences at colleges and universities, high schools, conferences, international film festivals, rape crisis centers, battered women shelters, community centers, juvenile correctional facilities, and government sponsored events across the United States and Canada, throughout Italy, in South Africa, France, England, Croatia, Hungary, The Netherlands, Mexico, Kenya, Malaysia, India, Switzerland, St. Croix U.S.V.I, Germany, and Cuba. You can follow Aishah on twitter @AfroLez and #LoveWITHAccountability at @LoveAccountably.

Filmography

"To Some Supposed Brothers"  © 2006, 2018, USA Color/Digital/Video/3-minutes

"Deconstructing Rape Myths"  © 2008, 2016, USA Color/Digital/Video/30-minutes

“Feminist We Love”: Linda Janet Holmes © 2014,  USA, Color/Digital Video/60-minutes

“Feminists We Love”: Gloria I. Joseph, Ph.D. © 2014, USA, Color/Digital Video/60-minutes

“Feminists We Love”: Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins, M.D., M.Sc. © 2014, USA, Color/Digital Video/60-minutes

Breaking Silences: A Supplemental Video to NO! © 2008, USA, Color/Digital Video/112 minutes

For Women of Rage and Reason © 2006, USA, Color/Digital Video/4:45 minutes

NO! The Rape Documentary © 2006, USA, Color/Digital Video/94-minutes

NO! A Work-in-Progress © 1997, 2000, 2002, USA, Color/Digital Video/8-minutes, 20-minutes, and 74-minutes\

In My Father’s House © 1996, USA, Color/Video/15-minutes

Silence…Broken © 1993, USA, Color/Video/8-minutes