Over the next year, we will be launching four informational campaigns to explore the root causes of sexual violence: oppression. We will take a journey to understand oppression, our history, and the way these play out in our current lives and political climate. To read other parts of this series, click here and here, and follow us on social media at #AtTheIntersections.
Dear Garden State,
As we move into a new year, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting all survivors across New Jersey. To do this with the highest level of integrity, we will question the messages taught about our history, and specifically, how historical decisions affect survivors across New Jersey. We know historical events and symbols mean different things to different people. Most often, the mainstream narrative about holidays, events, and symbols reflect the dominate culture, and often that happens at the expense of marginalized communities. Not only are the perspectives of marginalized communities not considered, but the historical events that mean the most to these communities often never hit the mainstream narrative.
Recorded history is intentionally crafted to tell the story dominate groups want told -one that reflects positively on them – even if it’s at the expense of marginalized communities. This is how we come to hear stories about suffragettes who fought for women’s equality, but leave out how they supported racist practices and policies, limiting their advocacy to white women and actively harming Black men and women. These stories lead us to believe the people we honor as American heroes were beyond criticism, that they were perfect and without flaws or shortcomings. We are taught historical decisions were made for the benefit of all people, and that history as told to us is true. We aren’t taught the ways powerful people throughout history intentionally wrote oppression into the foundations of our country and what the implications of those decisions are in our modern, lived experiences.
To build a better future for the generations that follow, we have to understand how we got here and how our past affects people differently depending on their community's role and experience in history.
A painful reality of our country is that we weren’t all afforded the same opportunities. Some of us were forced to live here because of the slave trade, some of us had our ancestral lands stolen, and some of us benefited from the exploitation of thousands of people. Those are legacies we can’t just run from or ignore. We have to look our history in the eye and grapple with what all of that means, for ourselves, for our neighbors, and for our communities. What one person sees as a symbol of freedom and opportunity may reflect a symbol of a violent and painful history for another person. Instead of refusing to engage in that conversation, we have to ask ourselves why facing the dark side of our history makes us so uncomfortable.
Over the next three months we ask you to join us on our journey into the past. We’ll explore how major policies influence our current circumstances, reflect on different perspectives not shared with us through mainstream education, and learn what skills we can all further develop to be critical consumers of not just information, but our own history. We’re going to lean into the discomfort together, shedding light on the hidden secrets of our communities and shared history, so that together we can create a safer, more equitable New Jersey.
The NJCASA Team
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