By Guest Contributor Sikivu Hutchinson; originally published at Feminist Wire
When I was five years old I was sexually assaulted by neighbors. Ours was a tranquil post-white flight neighborhood of beautiful single family homes, obsessively tended lawns, and keeping-up-with-the-Joneses home improvement. It was the mid-seventies, before black women’s experiences with rape had come into broader public consciousness through works like The Color Purple and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
The term “sexual assault” was largely unknown. The language that rape-prevention activists now use to validate the everyday terrorism girls and women deal with was not a part of our vocabulary or classroom curriculum. In my critically conscious upbringing I was raised to clearly understand the racist police who abused and murdered us, the racist criminal justice system that jailed us, and the racist cultural history that rendered us invisible. I was taught to revere the black warriors who crusaded against the holocaust of slavery and its aftermath. But I was not taught to know, understand, or identify the casual predators that moved in and out of our lives without detection or censure; the parasites who posed as strong, upstanding black men in the light of day and terrorized with impunity behind closed doors buttressed by violent silence.