“We Are the 44%” Coalition Challenges Sexual Violence Against Black and Latina Teens #ItsBiggerThan2Short

Media Contact:
Rosa Clemente

Public Statement - For Immediate Release
February 21, 2012

“We Are the 44%” Coalition Challenges Sexual Violence Against Black and Latina Teens 

Online and offline Activism Spurs XXL Magazine to Suspend  Digital Editor Over Too Short’s So-Called “Fatherly Advice” 

Last week popular hip-hop magazine XXL posted a video on its website (XXL.com) from Too $hort, a 45-year old rapper who came to prominence in the late 80’s for his raunchy lyrics and videos. In what was called his “fatherly advice” video, the rapper instructed 12, 13, and 14-year-old boys on how to “turn out” their female classmates. In a transcript from the video, he said: "A lot of the boys are going to be running around trying to get kisses from the girls; we’re going way past that. I’m taking you to the hole. …You push her up against the wall. You take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens."

As a response, a coalition of outraged Black and Latina activists, artists, and writers – all of whom have a long history in social justice activism – have come together to ensure that this does not happen again and have named themselves the We Are the 44% coalition. The coalition’s name aims to give voice to the many teen survivors of sexual assault. Too $hort’s video specifically targeted adolescent students. This group is consistent with the appalling statistic that 44% of sexual assault survivors are under 18 years old (visit the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network website: www.rainn.org/statistics). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports that 1 out 5 women in the United States have been raped in their lifetime (www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/sexualviolence/index.html). Because Too $hort’s video blatantly promoted sexual violence against girls, and because boys are also being advised to develop irresponsible, abusive and ultimately criminal behavior compelled, the all-women coalition decided to take pointed actions (see demands listed below).

The coalition recognizes this video—and the fact that XXL gave it a platform — as part of the larger issue of sexual assault against our women and children, particularly Black and Latina girls. The coalition also recognizes that the aforementioned statistics do not reflect the countless abuses that go unreported, including that of teenage boys who are often the unrecognized survivors of sexual assault. And most importantly, the coalition recognizes the urgent need to create heightened awareness and broad, uncategorized support for the eradication of sexual violence against children.

The community of people who have been sexually assaulted in the United States is one that includes millions of people.* In fact, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, a person is sexually assaulted every two minutes

It is also true that sexual violence disproportionately affects Black and Latina girls. For this reason, We Are the 44% coalition has decided to focus its work on this marginalized segment of the larger community, for it is one that is often unrecognized and unheard.

Because February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention month, the coalition will also highlight and support various anti-sexual violence organizations, including:

1. A Long Walk Home [www.alongwalkhome.org]
2. Just Be Inc. [www.about.me.com/justbeinc]
3. Girls for Gender Equity [www.ggenyc.org]
4. GEMS [www.gems-girls.org]
5. Sex Crimes Against Black Girls Project [www.sexcrimesagainstblackgirls.com]

* * * *

Since the video’s release, online activism has kept the pressure on the media outlet’s Editor in Chief Vanessa Satten and on Too $hort: A number of petitions (including http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/protectgirls/?source=coc_website) have been created and signed by thousands of people. And the hashtags #FireVanessaSatten and #ItsBiggerThan2Short both generated significant activity on Twitter. As a result, XXL removed the video from the site on Sunday. On Wednesday night, in response to escalating pressure, Satten suspended the digital editor allegedly responsible for putting up the video.

The We Are the 44% coalition acknowledges that both Too $hort and Satten have issued public statements about the video. We firmly believe that because the threat of sexual violence was levied against Black and Latina girls – whether or not is was meant as a joke and whether or not it was uploaded with approval – there must be amends in order for the apologies to be relevant and meaningful. Today, the coalition will deliver the following demands to Too $hort and Harris Publications in the hopes that they will demonstrate their willingness to end sexual violence. 


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