A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an eye-catching Instagram picture of a lady next to a beautiful chalk art piece that read “stop rape educate”. Chalk art is becoming prevalent through social activism; However, there was something about this particular drawing that stood apart from the rest.
I soon found out that the lady in the picture was Amber Amour, the Founder and CEO of Rising Minds Foundation. But that’s not all she does! Amour is also a poet, artist, and social activist who travels to many places, sharing her story of sexual assault and spreading a positive message to reassure other victims that they are not alone. Amour is a role model for people who have trouble speaking about their own experiences.
Amour is also a role model for social activists. Many so-called activists sit behind a computer screen all day, not truly contributing to their causes. Amour is not afraid to get her hands dirty, going on the streets and writing her message for everyone to hear, and there to take criticism and answer questions.
1. I saw on your Facebook that you went to the Feminism in London Conference. How was it?
FIL2015 was phenomenal. So much happened that I can hardly put it into words. For two days straight they offered a variety of workshops on: women’s history, street harassment, how to end the wage gap, recruiting male allies, etc. I suggest every person who identifies as a feminist go next year!
2. I see that you have done chalk art in very popular places. Have you ever been told to stop?
Once or twice. It can be upsetting and it reminds me of the culture of silence we live in where we are told not to talk about sex or rape. I generally brush it off and continue elsewhere. No one can ever truly silence me.
3. In one of your videos, you talk about many people sharing their stories with you. What was the most memorable story you heard and did it impact your drive and determination to make a change?
In my first few months of chalking there was a 12-year-old girl who saw me doing chalk art in the streets of New York City and she came up to me crying and said that she was raped when she was seven years old. I was the first and only person she had ever told. I’m not sure if it changed my determination. I was already motivated. It was, however, validation that I should stay on this path & that this movement is needed.
4. What gave you the idea for chalk art?
I was raped by my roommate on September 8, 2014. He confessed the next day but the NYPD said they would call me in a few months and that hey needed to collect more evidence. Knowing that they were going to probably throw out my case, I was desperate to do something but I didn’t know what. On September 11, 2014 I went to pay my respects at Ground Zero. As I was leaving, I saw a piece of chalk art that said “You are gone but never forgotten.” Later that night I was supposed to meet up with my ex. Since he was running late, I decided to go buy some chalk. I did my first pieces that night and since my ex was a photographer, we took pictures of the art & sent them out to big feminist pages on Facebook. We got such a positive response that I decided to keep on going. Today, just one year later, #StopRapeEducate is an international movement.
5. It says you’re a Globetrotter on your facebook page, where have you been? Was it for Stop Rape Educate?
I started traveling the world as soon as I was done with high school. I moved to Paris, France when I was 18 and lived there until I was about 23. I traveled a lot while living in Paris. There are too many places to name but I’ll try and remember them all: Spain, England, Holland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Morocco, Egypt, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Turkey, Canada, I went to most of these places before #StopRapeEducate but the world tour is taking me to new places I’ve never been before like New Caledonia, Australia, and South Africa!
6. How much controversy do you think your activism has stirred up?
I’m not sure. I don’t pay attention to what people say. I’m not in it for notoriety, good or bad. I just want people to pay attention.
7. Before your sexual assault, how educated were you on rape and rape culture?
Before my first assault or last assault? I suppose either way I wasn’t that educated about it. It wasn’t until hundreds of people started reaching out to me telling me their survival stories that I learned about the dozens of ways it can happen.
8. How do you feel about musicians, movies, television and entertainment overall that perpetuates rape and rape culture?
It’s awful. They could be doing something good with their art but hey choose to spread hate, violence, and negativity. It’s a waste of talent.
9. How does it feel to speak openly about the sexual assault you went through? Was it hard at first? Did it get easier?
It feels liberating. I think it was hard at first but I had to get past that fear and just tell my story. Today, it’s easier and I can talk about it for hours without shedding a tear. I’m not longer affected by what happened to me because talking about it helped me heal.
10. Do you think there is enough support in society at this time for rape victims to speak up about what they have gone through?
Unfortunately society still blamed survivors for what happened to them. I remember not feeling supported when I reported my rape to the police and they asked me if I was drunk, if I was wearing underwear, and if I said “no” loud enough. They put all the blame and responsibility on me and in the end, the case was thrown out.
11. What is your goal for the #stoprapeeducate world tour?
To inspire as many people as possible, let people know that we mean business, and to instill a sense of hope in those who have none.
12. How is the world tour going so far?
Incredible! I’m on the last day of our European Tour and leave for South Africa tomorrow. Europe was almost easy. I don’t know how Africans are going to take this message and even though I’m nervous, I know that this is what I have to do to change the world.
13. For only being a year old stoprapeeducate is doing very well. Why do you think that is?
For one, people in general want to stop rape. This is issue is personal for so many and I think we are all fed up with the state of society today. Social media really helped propel this movement, as well.
14. You are very vocal about how “Rape knows no Gender” have you met many men who are rape victims? Does it concern you that men are not as vocal about rape?
I have met dozens of male sexual assault survivors. They know that they can come to me because I will listen and be there for them. I can only imagine there are many more who never spoke up to me. It’s unfortunately normal for male survivors to think they don’t have support but I want them to know that #StopRapeEducate supports all survivors of sexual assault.
15. What is the hardest part when you are trying to teach about rape and rape culture?
Some people don’t listen or care. Others are so blinded by rape culture it’s difficult to get through to them. I understand what it’s like, though because I once, too was blinded by rape culture & patriarchy. It took me years of unlearning and thanks to feminism, I’m able to see the truth.
Amber Amour is definatley an activist to watch, you can see if she’s coming to city near you here. Don’t forget to subscribe to her youtube channel, follow the muscian on soundclud, and donate to her organiation.