Black women applaud TIME’s Person of the Year 2017

Statement of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda Founder and Executive Director Marcela Howell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – TIME Magazine has named “the silence breakers’ as its 2017 Person of the Year, celebrating those who championed the #MeToo movement and came forward publicly to name and condemn sexual assaulters.

Marcela Howell, founder and executive director of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, issued the following statement:

“What a difference a year makes! Last year TIME’s Person of the Year was a sexual predator. This year, the movement of women to stop sexual assault and harassment have earned the title. These brave silence breakers have shattered the system that allows abusers to prosper. The power of our collective voice is proving its strength as we witness the ostracization of powerful men.

“TIME prominently features the Black women of the movement on the cover and credits Tarana Burke with initiating the “MeToo” campaign nearly a decade ago – long before hashtags were possible. While we applaud TIME for its inclusivity, the fact that it took a celebrity white woman to get national attention about sexual assault underscores the intersection of sexism and racism.
“Black women are experts in combatting gender-based violence, which is intertwined with racism, white supremacy, patriarchy and related institutions of oppression. According to a national poll, half of Black women in this country have experienced some type of sexual pressure or force. Our lived experiences can inform a progressive agenda. We witnessed this when 94% of Black women said no to Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

“Listen to us. To make real policy change, invest in the leadership of Black women and support campaigns like #MeToo that educate on these issues early on. Black women face heightened barriers to reporting abuse. Despite this, we are movement leaders in addressing sexual violence. Let’s carry on the momentum of #MeToo and confront all types of oppression head on, this time before sexual violence is normalized to the point that it is given a seat in the oval office.”