Kim Crenshaw: I’m Kimberlé Crenshaw, and this is Intersectionality Matters.
On March 26th, the African American Policy forum organized a panel in partnership with the Hammer Museum, “Black Women and the #MeToo Movement.”
(EVENT RECORDING) Kim Crenshaw: Good evening everyone. Let me get to it, this is a long overdue conversation about an issue that doesn't get the attention it deserves either in the Black community or in the broader community, and that frankly is the sexual vulnerability and victimization of African American women.
Kim Crenshaw: The panel was part of AAPF’s annual week on the status of Black women and girls, Her Dream Deferred. Every March since 2015, we’ve devoted the last week of March to lifting up the particular experiences and barriers facing Black women. This year’s Her Dream Deferred took place in LA, so with Hollywood as a backdrop, the experiences of Black women in entertainment became a centerpiece of the week.
Kim Crenshaw: There is a deep history behind this Me Too movement that is all too often erased when the movement becomes part of the political mainstream. One of the things that AAPF has been committed to for the last several years is lifting up the voices and the experiences of black women, girls, and femmes, and also fighting the gentrification of issues like Me Too.
The panel brought together six incredible women, who we’ll hear from throughout this episode: actor and Times Up WOC activist Rashida Jones, supermodel and Bill Cosby accuser Beverly Johnson, cultural critic Jamilah Lemieux, historian Stephanie Jones-Rogers, #MuteRKelly co-founder Kenyette Tisha Barnes, who you’ll remember from Episode 2 of Intersectionality Matters, and Dee Barnes, my co-host for today’s episode.
(EVENT RECORDING) Dee Barnes: Show of hands, if you guys are familiar with the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Well, my story is Dr. Dre and Andre Young. Andre Young is a friend of mine, he was a friend of mine, big Brother, would've followed him anywhere, trusted him.
Kim Crenshaw: Dee Barnes is a recording artist and television personality known for her performance in West Coast hip hop duo Body and Soul, as well as for her role as former host of Fox’s video music show Pump It Up.
(EVENT RECORDING) Dee Barnes: We did an interview with the group NWA, by this time Ice Cube had left the group so there was a lot of tension there. But the producers mixed an interview together, which showed Ice Cube in a rebuttal against NWA, and the retribution was on me. They felt it was a personal attack because I had known them.
Kim Crenshaw: She is also known for surviving the brutal violence of Dr. Dre, also known as Andre Young, who publicly attacked Dee in 1991 over a perceived slight on Dee’s show, Pump it Up.
(EVENT RECORDING) Dee Barnes: There was a record release party, a Def Jam Record Release Party, full of industry people, lots of drinks, free drinks, and he was there, Dre was there. But I wasn't in fear because I felt he would never do that to me.
Kim Crenshaw: Since the attack 28 years ago, Dee has been the punchline of numerous jokes and song lyrics, and has essentially been blacklisted from the industry that she built a career in. Dee bravely spoke out about the harrowing attack a few weeks ago at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
(EVENT RECORDING) Dee Barnes: I ran into the women's restroom and he followed me in there, trapped me in the bathroom, I was on the ground. He had his knee in my chest, foot against the door to keep people from coming in, so he was on top of me. One of the things that people never ever ask me is what happened to you in that bathroom? They just assume that it was just a physical assault.
If you guys have recently seen The Defiant Ones where he said he was out of his fucking mind, he was. He was definitely out of his mind, but he knew exactly what he was doing.
Kim Crenshaw: A few weeks after the event, Dee joined me at UCLA to catch up, and reflect on some of the highlights from that evening. After joining me in one of my law school seminars, the two of us sat down in the studio to delve further into her story and rebroadcast some of what had happened during the panel. Here’s what we talked about:
Kim Crenshaw: Today I'm delighted to bring Dee Barnes on as co-host for this episode of Intersectionality Matters. Now I have to tell you I'm a little nervous because she has way, way more experience than I do hosting. Dee is a former VeeJay and a host of Fox's Pump It Up which is legendary in the hip hop world. Hey Dee.
Dee Barnes: Hey Kim, what's up? What's up world?
Kim Crenshaw: So Dee, it was such an honor when-
Dee Barnes: The honor was mine, let me tell you, to be amongst those women, those powerful women. All of you guys together and sharing our experiences, it was amazing.
Kim Crenshaw: First of all I was pinching myself because you answered the call. My girl Jamilah was ....
Dee Barnes: Oh Jamilah, shout out to Jamilah. She pulled me in, she pulled me in.
Kim Crenshaw: Jamilah Lemieux, so we were wanting to have this conversation for a while particularly bringing together some of the sisters who had had ab