Left photo: Stevante, myself, and Yusuf Salaam at the Congressional Black Caucus Gala, 2019. Right photo: Myself holding a banner reading “Jail Killer KKKops. #StephonClark” on the Sacramento Fashion Week runway, 2019. My decision to hold this banner was mine alone and does not represent the positions of SACFW nor the designer.
Stevante and I became close after a peaceful protest at Sacramento Fashion week went viral, and was even shared by nationally acclaimed civil rights lawyers. In the fall of 2019, he visited DC and invited me to attend the annual Congressional Black Caucus Gala. There we linked with a few notable Black people, Al Sharpton's daughters, a couple of senators and house members, even kiki-ed it up with Korey Wise and Yusuf Salaam of the Central Park 5 who’s stories reverberated and reignited demands for police reform as the predatory tactics of DA offices became more and more exposed. I was impressed with Stevante’s ability to network with such influential people. If you want to get anything done--in DC or the world really--networking is key. We headed to the bar and started chatting, I asked what he wanted to see accomplished in the future for Sacramento. What he wanted to get done in our city. He talked about a community foundation and establishing a resource center in Stephon’s name. “Stephon’s House”, as he called it.
Fast forward to the summer of 2020: the nation was consumed by protests beginning late May, surging in early June and resiliently continuing into the rest of the summer months denouncing the state-sanctioned murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmad Aubrey. People were in the streets standing against police brutality and people were strategizing behind the scenes on how we can use this momentum to influence tangible and sustainable change in our respective cities. It was time to launch a foundation that addressed local police issues, that provided resources for the community to progress itself, that galvanized and organized those tired of how the system treated Black Americans. It was time to launch IAMSAC.
Much of my time with IAMSAC was spent as a community relations director. In this role I engaged with various facets of the Sacramento community: reached out to potential sponsors; coordinated fundraisers; cultivated a relationship with local businesses and the Sacramento creative community. This beautiful dedication mural, pictured left, located behind the boutique store on R street was generously painted by artists from this group.
I resigned from IAMSAC in late August due to claims on the IAMSAC Instagram page pointing out Stevante’s abusive and manipulative behavior. I have seen articles refer to this incident as the page being “hacked”, however, the person who posted that information was given the login and granted access. These claims are attempts to silence the victims and prevent the foundation from addressing the actual abuse experienced by many from my fellow peers and board members to volunteers and marchers.
[Link to Instagram post with resignation: https://www.instagram.com/p/CEPm5hPFdvu/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link ] 3
I cannot say that I personally experienced some of the same actions, behaviors, and condescension that my colleagues have. Though I did not have such nasty rhetoric directed towards me, and though my experience was different than others, that does not mean he is not capable of being misogynist, manipulative, and malicious to others. I can recall instances of Stevante referring to women in marches as “bithces”, misgendering transgender women and men and calling them slurs like “trannies”. He has exploited the labor of women organizers on multiple occasions, attempting to claim the work as his own. The IAMSAC mission statement was written by a woman. The IAMSAC “2020 10 Point Program” was written by a woman. The business plan for Stephon’s House was written by a woman. An incident in Vacaville, organized by a woman, where Stevante tried to hijack the event as a “Stephon Clark Sunday” also resides among other heinous examples.
7.19.2020 | Candlelight Vigil | Vacaville, CA
[Link to incident in Vacaville: https://twitter.com/sweepee99/status/1287149071887503360?s=20]
Misogyny within the IAMSAC foundation manifested in numerous ways including hostility, belittling of women, upholding patriarchy, verbal and psychological abuse. Being a local “celebrity” is no excuse to be silent about abuse. Being Stephon Clark’s brother does not entitle you to anything. It surely does not grant a free pass to inflict harm on the people, especially women, of Sacramento. Rather than ignore him, the Black community--or rather the Black male leaders in Sacramento--needs to step up and demonstrate some real leadership. After years of not really being checked by anyone locally, Stevante’s ego ballooned to a point where he believes he is untouchable. “I’m Stevante Clark, get it right,” he arrogantly touted when talking to a reporter at the national March on Washington, embarrassing Sacramento. Stevante is obviously not well. His disparaging and belittling text messages to the IAMSAC member shared by Black Zebra Production’s “Community Voices” is not a lie, it is not a case of someone trying to “bring down the Black man”, but it does reflect a mere fraction of the misogynist abuse endured by women in the foundation.
A quick google search defines misogyny as a “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”, an attitude of hatred for women, because they are women, as a fundamental basis for their oppression”. Some men recoil at the accusation of being sexist or a misogynist, similar to how white people jump back when called a racist even after a blatantly racist act. Hostility towards women can never be tolerated, especially in activist spaces, otherwise we risk indirectly teaching these actions are okay. Typically misogyny and sexism is protected in public spaces and as much as we want to believe this reality is changing, it's not. Misogyny works in tandem with patriarchy, serving to protect the man, and even now as I write this, I am critical of my own behaviors and actions which further protected Stevante. Why do I feel guilt in calling out his hateful actions? Why did I enable his toxic behavior with my own silence? Why did I wait before coming forward? Why did the other women who served in executive roles repress themselves from speaking out on their experiences? Some of my own questions can be answered by the anonymous post submitted by a fellow IAMSAC board member: “My first question to myself was why I stayed. I think it’s because I wanted to help. I wanted to see him change. I wanted to sacrifice my safety for something and someone I believed in.”. Unfortunately, regardless of how much we talk about dismantling patriarchal and misogynistic structures, women remain the sacrificial lamb of the movement who place their own safety and experiences upon the altar in effort to protect “the work” from distractions.
Now we enter an intersection requiring us to critically take a look at what “the work” is, including why “the work” and “the movement” have been placed above the safety of women. Have we prioritized “the work” above ensuring the protection and support of women? Should the protection and support of women in our space not be a given end goal of “the work”? If not, what even is “the work”? Can we conceptualize how that future looks? It’s harmful how vaguely the liberation movement is described as it fails to allow us to tangibly see it.