The Color Spectrum Teaches Us About Justice
On September 20th, I wore black. I wore black, as many Black people did, in solidarity with the Jena 6, who are quickly becoming the 21st century’s Scottsboro Boys. I am wearing black, even though I have the profound urge and desire to wear red, a Maoist, seductive, bold red – on this, the possible new dawn, of what Al Sharpton has begun calling the “Civil Rights Movement of the 21st Century.” I am wearing black, even as I have conflicting thoughts and emotions. I am eager for this moment of solidarity – a chance to acknowledge the injustice of inequitable sentencing. So, for today, it is my lipstick that is crimson.
But on Wednesday October 31, 2007 I will be wearing red; that uncomfortably womanish shade of scarlet that suggests a certain looseness, appreciation of blues, likelihood to walk the streets at night, willingness to be loud, dedication to self, and a deep refusal to be rendered invisible. Red, the color so many of us are told to avoid, because of its Western association, with the marked, fallen woman; red, that rich, rapturous, full, so-bright-it-looks-as-if-it’s-had-a-good-meal ruby color, red so intense, it’s nearly purple. Yes, that color – that’s the one I want to mark my outrage at the rape and torture of Megan Williams, a 20-year old woman in West Virginia; the sexual assault of a Haitian woman and her son in West Palm Beach, Florida; and the continued violence visited upon women of color.
Red is the color I choose, because I am not interested in being invisible. I am not interested in being forgotten. I am not interested in being a sidebar conversation. I am not interested, because I will be the womyn, who walks into the room wearing the color red, who makes the conversation stop, and gently suggests another topic – the role of violence and abuse in women’s lives perhaps? I am interested in being seen. I am interested in hearing what communities of color, so recently outfitted in black to mark the injustice done to the Jena 6, will do to mark the violence and injustice done to Megan Williams.
For me, the color red is about boldness. It is a vibrant color that cannot be ignored. Beyond the pink of feminism, and even the purple of womanism, red is a color that says, “stop and see.” On October 31st, we ask women of color and their allies, to break the silence and invisibility surrounding violence against women of color, by choosing to be seen. By choosing to be vocal, to be brave, to be bold and work to stop violence against women.
So, the question is Why Are You Wearing Red on October 31, 2007? Please leave your comment below.