I had the opportunity to speak with Rosalind Jones, an LA-based activist, and poet. She currently works in the fields of climate justice, reproductive health, sexual violence prevention, and menstrual equity. She is an organizer with the Los Angeles collective #MeToo Survivors, which works on empowering survivors of sexual violence. She also serves as the Deputy Director for the youth-run, grassroots nonprofit Operation Period, which is dedicated to ending menstrual inequity worldwide.
Rosalind is heavily involved in her community and communities all across the nation. Today, Rosalind will be sharing her life’s story and powerful moments that led to her electrifying spirit, grit, and passion for correcting injustices.
So, let’s hop right into it:
“I write about sexual violence, womanhood, feminist theory, and lesbianism as if I am pressed for time, and I can never get all the words on the page before the clock runs out. It feels as though there is always more to say, always something to expand on, always another perspective to find and analyze. The journey leaves me excited, invigorated and exhausted.
I joined the #MeToo movement almost instantly when it exploded on social media. The words of Tarana Burke, the grit in her presence, the persistence in her practice, it was inspiring. When you work in sexual violence advocacy, you lose a lot. You have to learn how to stay in the arena and continue your battle after you’ve been dealt a defeat. I had much to learn about this when I was 21. I was just wide-eyed and filled with gratitude at the idea of someone fighting for survivors. I wanted to be that person too. I wanted to have that kind of strength.
I threw myself into grassroots advocacy when I was 22. At the time, I was broken in all senses. I was reeling from discovering that I was a survivor of rape and that I had buried the emotions for six years before allowing them to surface. The pain was fresh and vicious. I was lonely, I knew I was gay but I didn’t know how to say that. I was desperate, a rapist was about to be approved to the bench of the Supreme Court and a ferocity coursed through my veins. I wouldn’t let that happen.
This was in late 2018. Many of you remember how that saga ended. Brett Kavanaugh, a pro-life, conservative, anti-feminist man with a history of sexual violence, assumed the highest role that his career could provide. It was my first political fight that I was involved in on a local level. We screamed in the streets, we called our representatives, we rallied, we swore, we danced, we sang, we demanded better. I thought we were going to win. I truly thought there was no way we could lose.
We were met with a muzzle and a slap in the face.
The moment that I knew this fight was lost, I felt all of my insides plummet and I couldn’t halt my tears. I cried uncontrollably. I cried like my heart had been thrown from a rooftop.
I was raped when I was 16 by my boyfriend. At the time, I did not have the language to speak about what happened. I genuinely thought that was just how sex was. It was painful. It was bloody. It was something you wanted to forget about afterward. It wasn’t until the weight of my sexual orientation began to press on me, which was probably the week before I turned 22, that the memories of my assault began to bubble up. And once they saw the light of day, there was no stopping them.
I’m 24 now. I’m gay. I’m dating a wonderful, kind, gorgeous woman. I’m healing every day. I’m nowhere near where I want to be on my journey, but I am so far beyond anywhere I dreamed I could be. And with my regained strength, I hope to help others begin or make progress on their healing journey too. As if running one grassroots organization isn’t enough, I decided to join another. My dear friend, Manju Bangalore, the executive director of the grassroots nonprofit Operation Period, introduced me to the world of menstrual equity organizing. I haven’t looked back since. Working in sexual violence and gender equity advocacy at the grassroots level, where there is no funding except for whatever people donate and any spare cash you have lying around, has taught me more than I thought possible. I can make a dollar out of fifteen cents. I can churn out written material like a machine.
The most important lesson I have gleaned from the tumultuous last couple of years is that you have everything you need within you. The strength, the voice, the power, the resolve, it’s all there. It’s in your heart and bones, waiting to be of service. If my 16-year-old self could see the woman I am now, a fighter, a leather-jacket wearing, lipstick-loving woman with passion, she wouldn’t believe that we were the same person. And I honestly think this is a good thing.
The other lesson that is equally as important is to listen and to always open up your mind to learn. We don’t just learn in classrooms with books and academic papers. We learn from each other, from the pain we have seen and the mountains we have braved. We learn from the joy that others exude. We learn how to care for each other when we open our hearts and minds and we allow ourselves to listen and truly hear the words of our community members.
When people ask me why I’m involved in the #MeToo movement, why I work in sexual violence, why I fight so adamantly for gender equity and reproductive health, I don’t always have a good answer. I’m stuck, truly, when I try to respond. The only idea I can come up with is that everyone deserves healing. Sexual violence and reproductive health are not limited by race, gender identity, class, ability or sexual orientation. Nobody is immune to sexual violence, and everybody benefits from increased reproductive health measures. Beyond the legislative and advocacy specific goals, my work is rooted in the practice of compassion. I seek to learn how to be gracious, how to incorporate care and love and peace into my work, and how to pour into my own cup as I pour into others at the same time.
My work in feminist thought and action will consume the rest of my life. I look forward to fighting for the rights of sexual violence survivors with zeal. I embrace the struggle for reproductive health and ending period poverty. To me, these are not issues I can compromise on. And I have been told I must, but I refuse to back down. I will not accept less than a world where each individual is free to live their lives safely and is encouraged to become all that they are capable of being. For me, there is no other way”.
Let me know your thoughts on Rosalind’s powerful words in the comment section, chat, or on Instagram.
If you would like to support Rosalind, then check out her first book, And in the end, on Lulu.com and barnesandnobles.com. Do not forget to check out her website at www.rosalindhjones.com and her poetry Instagram at @rosalind__jones__poetry.
Remember that you are more than capable and you are a powerful being! Your story is worth being told! Your words are needed. Your voice is needed.