Timed with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a group of activists has launched #31forMarissa, a letter-writing campaign for Marissa Alexander, the Florida mother sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot to deter her abusive husband from harming her. On each day of October, a different man will write Alexander a supportive letter and upload it to a Tumblr called theSWAGspot. At the end of each week, organizers will mail the letters to Alexander.
"Our society makes women responsible for the violence they suffer at the hands of men. We want to know what she did, what she said, how she said it," says campaign co-organizer* Esther Armah. "We are training our lens on men; #31forMARISSA asks the men to share what the men in their family, circle, community did or did not do. Blame, deflection, avoidance and guilt are ways men deal and have dealt with domestic violence. #31forMARISSA challenges that reaction."
An excerpt of a letter by activist Darnell Moore:
"Marissa, I write to you as the son of a black mother who was abused. ... My mother's story is her story, but I've inherited the pain that comes as a result of vicarious abuse, of violence. Today, I write and speak and do work connected to these issues because I want you and other beautiful black women to live, Marissa. Not live in the dry unimaginative sense of the word, but live as in thrive, smile, love, exist in abundance without the force of our hands, our unwieldy male privilege, our sexist gaze, our desire to maintain patriarchal power pressing down upon you. That is my work. Indeed, it is the work that all black men must engage so that you don't have to use a gun to protect yourself from the very persons who are meant to love you."
Last week, Alexander was granted a new trial due to flawed jury instructions.
*Post has been updated to reflect multiple campaign organizers.