NO! The Rape Documentary at the 2011 American Academy of Religion’s Annual Meeting

November 9, 2011

“’NO!’ Breaking Silences Around Black Women and Rape”

A Film Screening and Panel Discussion
Co-Sponsored by the Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Group, and the Black Theology Group at the
American Academy of Religion’s 2011 Annual Meeting
November 19, 2011
Marriott Marquis (Session A19-407)
San Francisco, CA

An intergenerational panel following the screening of NO! The Rape Documentary, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning feature length documentary, which unveils the reality of rape, other forms of sexual violence, and healing in African-American communities. NO! also explores how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia. The featured panelists will discuss how religion, race, and politics can both negatively and positively influence attitudes and solutions to end rape and other forms of sexual violence. They will engage in a conversation that will explore some of the issues highlighted in the documentary, which include; Black feminist/womanist Christian and Islamic perspectives that address the wrongfulness of the rape of women; Black men as pro-feminist/womanist allies in rape prevention; Rape as a community issue that reinforces interlocking systems of oppression, such as racism, sexism, classism, and heterosexism; and Activism and spirituality as healing modalities. Gender-based violence is an international atrocity that knows no boundary.  This panel will address these global acts of violence through the first-person testimonies, scholarship, activism, and cultural work of African-Americans. As 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 ‘NO!’ begins.

Rev. Carla Jean-McNeil Jackson, Esq. is an administrative law attorney, who also provides pro bono legal services in housing law. She is also an ordained minister and an accomplished vocalist, including a tour of Italy in the musical “Sister Act 2.” Her sermon, “Managing Life’s Challenges,” is published in Those Preaching Women: A Multicultural Collection, edited by the late Ella P. Mitchell and Valerie Bridgeman, with a foreword by Katie G. Cannon.

Aishah Shahidah Simmons, is the producer, writer, and director of NO! The Rape Documentary. Since its official release in 2006, this award-winning, internationally acclaimed documentary been used as an educational organizing tool across North America, and in numerous countries throughout the world. Ms. Simmons is a Black feminist lesbian incest and rape survivor whose writings on cinematic activism, gender-based violence, queer identity from an AfroLez®femcentric perspective, and the impact of the intersections of race, gender, and sexual orientation on the lives of Black women are featured in several anthologies and journals. She facilitates workshops, teaches classes, and lectures extensively throughout North America and internationally.

Rev. Traci C. West, Ph.D., is Professor of Ethics and African American Studies at Drew University Theological School in New Jersey. A featured interviewee in NO!, she is the author of Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women’s Lives Matter (Westminister John Knox Press, 2007), Wounds of the Spirit: Black Women, Violence, and Resistance Ethics (New York University Press, 1999), and editor of Our Family Values: Religion and Same-sex Marriage (Praeger, 2007). She is currently working on a project interviewing activists in Ghana, Brazil, and South Africa on their strategies to address gender violence against women and girls.

Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Ph.D., is Senior Lecturer in African American and Religious Studies at the University of Florida. A featured interviewee in NO!, her research, teaching, and anthologized writings focus on Women and Islam; and the role of religion in the African American Struggle for Justice. She is presently under contract with The New Press, for a volume in their new religion series titled, ISLAM does not equal FUNDAMENTALISM. Additionally, for over 45 years, she has worked globally in the areas of civil rights, women’s rights, human rights, and peace work. This work includes her 23-year tenure on the staff of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker peace, justice, human rights, and international development organization.

Obery M. Hendricks, Jr., Ph.D., is one of today’s most provocative commentators on the intersection of religion, politics, and economic and social policy in America. He has been featured on MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, BBC, C-SPAN, PBS, and the Bloomberg Network. A former Wall Street investment executive and former seminary president, he is currently Professor of Biblical Interpretation at New York Theological Seminary and Visiting Scholar in Religion and African American studies at Columbia University. His newest book is The Universe Bends Toward Justice: Radical Reflections on the Bible, the Church and the Body Politic (Orbis, 2011).

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