Grappling With ‘The List,’ By the DMC Board

Daniel Silva (Faculty Advisor for DMC):

Current circumstances have provided, and indeed, pushed for a long-overdue discussion within DMC concerning its role in relation to the college community and larger society. Thankfully, the current board is overwhelmingly supportive of not only the sexual abuse awareness movements, but also of making DMC a space for critical reflection and deconstruction of the role played by masculinity, particularly heteronormative masculinity, throughout history, and the different forms of violence it has perpetrated and reproduced, including within communities of color. Aside from taking measures of accountability regarding its own members, DMC leadership will promote a cultural shift in which masculinity will no longer imply a practice of identity based on exclusion and violence towards other identities. The organization will break from its past and begin to become a social space where masculinity and its intersections with race, sexuality, and class can be redefined.

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Geovanny Martinez: 

As Co-President of Distinguished Men of Color (DMC), I was asked by alumni and students what will the organization be doing in response to the “List of Men to Avoid” that came out last semester. I did not know what we could do. Often during board meetings we reflect on past events to guide us through our planning. However, this is first time such an event has occurred while any of us have been on campus. Then it occurred to me that the question isn’t what are we going to do in response to this list. The question that the DMC board and everyone should be asking themselves is, what are we going to do in response to the fact that women on this campus and this world are sexually assaulted every day.

During Alumni of Color Weekend, I was sitting in a table with a female alumna at the career lunch. As we were conversing, the list came up and the men at the table (there were three of us) began to tell her how we do not know how to support the women on this campus. We expressed how much we care for the issue of sexual assault and wanted to provide some form of support, but we just didn’t know how.

After a few stories were shared, the alumna took a pause and said that she was close to tearing up because she is so proud that men on this campus are beginning to think of ways to support women on issues like this. She went on to explain that if this had occurred during her time on campus, no man would even consider speaking out or writing an op-ed. This took me by surprise — to think that only 20 years ago, women on this campus did not feel any support from men.

Then I realized that this is the case still today. As a collective group, men on this campus are not doing the best job in showing support to victims. I ask every man on this campus to hold themselves accountable, to hold their friends accountable. This issue is bigger than this list.

As a friend of mine told me, “Every man should be in that list.” The way we treat women, the way we speak about them, and the way we think about has to improve. It begins with us.

I would also like to point out that men are also sexually assaulted and this is a topic that isn’t normally talked about. We would hope that more men begin to feel comfortable with speaking out. Sexual assault is wrong, period. So to all the victims, the board of DMC would like to let you know that we are here to support you in any shape or form. We hope that more men begin to feel comfortable speaking out.

We are planning on having a meeting regarding this issue. We hope that beginning the discussion will be a great first step to a better community. I ask you all to join us and be part of the conversation. All people of color know what it is to be silenced by a society which often ignores our pain, so we privileged men must not do the same to the many survivors. Angry men (or men angry at women for speaking up for themselves) need to understand that #metoo and the general sexual abuse awareness movement is not a movement about hunting down men, but about women who have been hunted by men and are fighting back.

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Julian Joseph:

We are writing as DMC but also as people who feel a responsibility to speak to other men about our rightful place in the #MeToo movement. I think beginning with a brief story would do well to elaborate my point. During Alumni of Color Weekend two weeks ago, I remember sitting down watching the performances at Verbal Onslaught. Everyone went up and spoke eloquently and powerfully. I noticed that most of the male-presenting individuals who spoke were able to speak at length about their own experiences of oppression. To me they seemed passionate and trustworthy. After watching some past members of DMC perform, I figured it would be a good idea to ask how they would have dealt with sexual misconduct allegations, largely towards men of color, and what these allegations would mean for the organization in general. The response I got was that, and for some reason this was not to my complete surprise, I should just brush it under the rug. I was essentially told that we should not touch the issue because it was too “messy.”

Here I realized something. We men of color can speak to no end about how systemic racism affects us, and we feel deep frustration towards those who ignore or deny the reality of our circumstances. Yet we can turn around and do the same thing to women of color who are simply seeking the same justice we seek? How can one not see the blatant hypocrisy in that?

When this former board member told me to ignore the pain of survivors, I realized this is what white supremacy has done to POC throughout history, and this is what we, namely cis-men of color, are constantly doing and must stop doing. We need to stop reproducing colonized relationships between genders. I would say that starts with first recognizing the trauma men have caused, and what historical traumas we have reproduced. Denial, anger and intimidation are not the means through which this process starts. Such responses only silence survivors, causing both them and the POC community on the whole even greater harm than we have already endured.

It is disappointing to see so many reactions like this. I think there are some simple ways men of color and men in general can start to break this cycle and be supportive. Mainly, stop calling victims liars. This invalidates experiences and causes survivors to feel even more pain than they already have. Also, if you have been accused of sexual misconduct, understand exactly what you did. One article I saw on theestablishment.com (a multimedia website with excellent articles that I would highly suggest) advises that to this end, abusers should research how sexual harassment actually impacts victims. It also recommends researching rape culture and the lasting effects of sexual abuse and assault on individuals. In general, educate yourself. It is that important. There are informational resources on campus and online. This is for both the growth of yourself and the community.

 

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Grappling With ‘The List,’ By the DMC Board