We want to deliver a message to Ms. Nafissatou Diallo and the world: We believe you! We support you! We pray for you!
If the question were asked, “Do you know Ms. Diallo?” the answer would be “No” and “Yes.”
No, I do not know her. I don’t think I’ve ever met her or seen her outside of the media’s pictures. But yes, I know her. She’s African, my kindred; bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood-birthed in the same magnificent, enslaved, exploited and foreign-dominated continent from whence my forbearers came. She is my sister. Her pain is my pain. Her isolation and character assassination are my feelings.
Moreover, at an even deeper level than race is the human connection. I know her because she is a human being and I am human. She’s a human being who is hurting and crying out for understanding and help. My humanity responds as I have responded to a thousand appeals-spoken and unspoken-in a thousand places. I urge all who believe her story to make their feelings known.
If the question is, “What about her past?” I know there have been stories circulating regarding a questionable past. I do not know the truthfulness of the rumors. What does her past have to do with the credibility of her story? Is there anyone here today, or elsewhere, who would want the veracity of his or her contemporary statements rejected or impugned because of past words or actions?
If that were the case-Oh Lord, nothing, no word or action would be ac”eptable. For, as the Bible says, “Oh Lord, if thou should mark iniquity, who should stand?” Again, the Bible says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God…But there is mercy with thee, Oh Lord, that Thou might be feared.”
The question is, “Is she telling the truth about the incident that took place at the Sofitel Hotel on May 14?” As for me, I will shout my answer from the mountaintop: “Yes! She’s telling the truth.” Again, I urge everyone to believe Ms. Diallo as I believe her.
There is another question, about a conversation she is said to have had with an imprisoned friend in which she is alleged to have said some incriminating things. Given the fact that she was speaking in her native tongue and translation was needed and, given the fact that accuracy in translation is difficult to achieve-most of us have difficulty understanding each other even when we speak the same language-any fair-minded person should question the communication between Ms. Diallo and her friend.
There is also the question of context. I suspect that most of you have been victimized by words and/or statements taken out of context. I know I have. I’ve had misunderstandings when my friends have taken words I have said out of context. If this is true regarding friends, it’s even more so regarding enemies or critics.
Who can really say what she intended to say as she communicated with a supposed friend? What she did say was crystal clear: She was sexually abused.
Finally, I urge District Attorney Cyrus Vance not to drop the case, but to pursue truth and justice and let the chips fall where they may. Bring this matter to the public and let a jury of her peers decide her case. I am fully confident that, if this were to happen, Ms. Diallo would be completely vindicated. My research reveals that everyone I’ve spoken to believes that she is telling the truth about her experience.