On Brokenness, Junot Diaz, and a Big Wheel

My hard road to recovering a repressed memory of childhood assault

Donald Earl Collins

--

Ingo Maurer’s Porca Miseria! (a porcelain shards chandelier, 1994), Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, October 18, 2014. (Paddu Rao via Flickr).

There’s no denying that what was once just the Harvey Weinstein story has taken on a life all its own in #MeToo. While Tarana Burke has been working on Me Too as a social justice cause for more than a decade, it took the coming out of harassed and abused White women of relative privilege for it to become a movement. That White women have empowered themselves to reveal the abuses of powerful men is a step in the right direction for eradicating sexual harassment and abuse.

The lengthy sentencing phase for convicted sex abuser Larry Nassar in January was but one example of this fact. More than 150 women gave statements of the abuse they suffered at the hands of this once well-respected sports doctor for Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. So, too, were the recent trials and last week’s conviction of America’s Dad, the great comedian and rapist Bill Cosby. It took a Hannibal Buress joke and 60 accusers (mostly White women) to bring the story of Cosby’s drug-fueled rapes over a five-decade period from the rumor mill to a jury willing to put him in prison. If one is a White female or has a platform from which to speak out, #MeToo is one way to get justice, or at least, some conclusion to years of brokenness and pain.

One story that went underreported in the rush to single out Weinstein’s crimes was Terry Crews’ Twitter revelation. Crews admitted that an unnamed Hollywood executive groped his genitals at a public event. And, like so my of Weinstein’s victims, Crews chose to not pursue a legal case against the executive. ““Who’s going 2 believe you?,” Crews explained in one of his tweets.

Like Crews, most Americans deal with their brokenness through harassment and abuse by either burying the experience or by lashing out at others, morphing from an abuse or rape victim to a perpetrator. Novelist Junot Diaz’s piece “The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma” in The New Yorker last month is an example of both responses. Diaz’s story of being raped twice at the age of eight was raw, gut-wrenching, and traumatic and triggering for anyone who’s ever been sexually assaulted or raped. But while many see his unrelenting admission as courageous or brave (and in many…

--

--

Donald Earl Collins

Freelancer via @washingtonpost | @TheAtlantic |@AJEnglish | @Guardian; American Univ. & UMUC history prof. Invite me to write/speak: donaldearlcollins@gmail.com