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Finding freedom and healing in the hashtag #MeToo

By in Press Enterprise on November 5, 2017

By Nikia Chaney

As I read story after story of women coming forward to name those who have harassed or abused them, and I see again and again #metoo in my friends’ social media posts I find myself getting angry.

Red hot, uncharacteristically mad as hell.

I want something physical and tangible, I want to shake one of these attackers, show him the damage done. And I want to pull one of the victims close and hold her, fix her hurt with my own hands.

San Bernardino poet and teacher Nikia Chaney is literary laureate of the Inlandia Institute.

An action, anything, more than just a hashtag, more than just telling my own story. Even as I knew how necessary it has been to write my own story down, to witness and bear witness, I just feel so ineffective. So helpless in the chorus of pain.

Vievee Francis, this year’s winner of the Kingsley Tufts award, has a beautiful poem, “A Small Poem” that describes the way in which “a word unanticipated” becomes physical, enacts upon the listener a delight and growth. I keep thinking of the last of this poem, “How a single word can set the world turning from one moment into the next in startlement.”

Francis explained her poem by telling the story of being described as “sexy” by a good friend and how that word, just that one word made so much difference. That word gave her power, made her feel desirable and wanted, changed her very life. It’s a beautiful sentiment; the idea of personal empowerment; of knowing worth. It speaks to Francis’s own vulnerability. I wonder why such a lovely person would ever think she was not desirable in the first place.

I wanted to add my own story. Post the hashtag, say me too and join in solidarity with my sisters […]    

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