MorningJoy Podcast is a biweekly podcast that focuses on education, mental health, and the music we use to cope in this crazy world. It highlights folks of color doing amazing work. 
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#MeToo & Christian Concerts

#MeToo & Christian Concerts

Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

I went to a Christian rap concert with an old friend. He had an extra ticket and we had reconnected at the church we both recently began going to. He was a year or so younger than me in school but I still remember having P.E. and a Bible class with him in junior high or high school. I never thought much about him, other than he was someone else’s younger brother and he didn’t get on my nerves too bad compared to the other boys.

            So when I ran into him at this new church, I was excited because we were one of the few Black folks who were involved in the young adult ministry at this “mega-church.” Seeing a familiar face made it a little less “huge.” I loved Lecrae at the time so of course, when I was offered a free ticket, I was down.

            We met up at the venue—meaning we drove separately. I was pumped. This was going ot be my first concert since I saw the Jonas Brothers in the Cowboys Stadium when I was a senior in high school. I was now a junior in college so I felt it was time to experience another concert, and what is the worst that could happen at a Christian rap concert.

            The concert was amazing. We had decent seats. It was at a local college and it was cool to be surrounded by folks who loved God and had a slight ratchet side. I mean you can praise God while rapping (my pops would disagree though lol).

            I had recently transferred to another university so being doing anything that involved me going out and socializing was something that I needed. I was trying to create relationships and friendships. Bonding between God and rap music seemed like a no-brainer, and even safe even because it was not like some party that involved alcohol or anything. It was not like anything bad could happen.

            So I thought.

            The concert ended and everyone was leaving the venue. I realized I parked closer to the door than my friend did. So me being the nice southern girl I am, I offered him a ride to his car. This is a choice that I replay in my head all the time. I have asked myself did I ask for what came next. Did I invite this to happen?

            We are in the car. We are talking about the concert and how awesome it was. We talked about how weird it was that it was still not that many Black folks at this rap concert. Then we start talking about school and just life as I am driving him to his car. It really was far. His tone starts to change. More disengaged.

            Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his hand moving. In my head, I thought “no, this can’t be what I am seeing.” I look over to have an actual view, all while I am driving, and to my shock, I see that he has taken his penis out of his pants and began to masturbate in my passenger’s seat.

            I slam on the breaks! I am angry. I am in awe, in a bad way. I am almost in tears. I begin yelling and ask what the fuck he is doing. He begins to say nothing. And try to downplay what he was doing. I am literally a parking lot over from his car and I just let him out on the street.

            I know that to some this may seem like nothing. Yes, I have seen a dick before. They did not scare me. But I don’t like to see dicks that I didn’t ask to see. What part of the conversation made him feel he could pull his penis out? Did I wear something wrong? Did I say something wrong?

            This was 2013, almost 5 years ago and I am still triggered by males riding in my passenger seat. I rather have you drive my car with me in the passenger seat than have you sit in the passenger side. I make the excuse that I hate driving, but really it is the only way that I can see where your hands are at all times—the steering wheel.

            I was barely turning twenty, I had already been through an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. I was just trying to enjoy some good Christian music and go home. I was not expecting to sexually harassed in my own car. I know that I was not raped or assaulted physically, but for me I had just began feeling safe in who I was and in my own space and all that went out the window in that moment.

            The next day they tried to text me and apologize. I don’t even remember if I responded. I can remember after seeing that, I said to myself “I need a drink!” I was not even legal to drink but I was traumatized and I wanted to forget. Thankfully I just went home and I couldn’t sleep but I watched Golden Girls and scrolled through twitter until I fell asleep.

            In that moment, I was reminded that I was not truly safe around anyone. I went into the night thinking I was going to be safe around someone who had the goal as me—to have a great night at a Christian concert.

            If I am being really honest, I do not think it was until the #MeToo movement went mainstream that I was able to truly reflect on this incident and understand that what happened was harassment. I actually tried forget it happened to me. I tried to block it out. Put it in that part of my brain with all the other terrible memories.

            I already had a distrust of men due to past relationships; however, this increased that. For months, I was on my “not looking for a relationship” tip. I was fine with being someone’s sidechick after this (that’s another story for another day). Basically, I just lost all confidence in myself even though just from looking at me you would never know.

            Like I acknowledged earlier, I know that I was not physically assaulted; however, I was harassed. I was so confused to how a guy could think that pulling out your penis and jacking off in someone else’s car was okay. Especially after hearing this awesome sermon in between songs about how God changed someone’s life. This guy was active in the church. He was friends with the daughter of the young adult ministry pastor. He had been to their house. He held a leadership role in the church to an extent, and this is what he was doing.

            In my head, I could not rationalize how that was okay. I still am going through my battles of wanting to be a part of a church fully. Somedays, I just do not want to go. A lot of negative memories are attached to the institution of church. I know that is ironic because my now boyfriend is a pastor, but nothing like the guy I am talking about in this story.

            I look back and I wish I would have spoken up; but, I also do not know who I would have told. What would have I said? It was not a church event. I know if I said “he pulled out his penis in my car when I was giving him a ride to his car!” The response would have been something like “you know you shouldn’t’ be alone with a man at night.” I am sure they would have said it was the devil and etc. I mean that is what the church does when it comes to sexual assault and harassment. Whether it is a Black church or white church, folks do not like to acknowledge that their favs are problematic.

            This happened to me over five years ago, but it still haunts me to this day. It took many journaling sessions to realize that I did nothing wrong. That I did not bring this upon myself. It hurts me to say #MeToo but I know that I am not alone. And unfortunately this is not my only #meToo story.

            I know that we have heard many stories like this and even worse that have surfaced recently on different social media platforms. The saddest thing, next to the stories, are the responses to these stories blaming the women for what happened to them. And I always wondered what would happen if these same people read a story of someone they loved and how they were abused, assaulted, and or harassed sexually?

            I know my story is not as heavy as others, but it is heavy. I thought I had found solace and safety in a friend who was actively involved in the church I was growing to love. In that moment, I felt that safety and security and even hope ripped from me. I could not even pray for weeks because I didn’t see the point. I am in a better place, but it is time that I get this off my chest.

 

Second-Hand Sorrow

Second-Hand Sorrow

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