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  • Writer's pictureChris Siders

For What It's Worth, Redemption

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

I finally did it.

I written and performed a poem I avoided for years regarding the time I was falsely accused of sexual harassment.

I was so distraught and fucked up over the situation that at the time I written a poem from her perspective to check my privilege and gained insight on where I probably fucked up.

Thing is I was blaming myself and putting a larger target on my back by going around performing that piece.

This past Sunday, I had a feature performance at The Sunday Jump in Historic Filipino Town, DTLA. Aside from performing it, it took a lot to simply memorize the piece. It usually takes 2-3 days to get a good handle on a poem, but it took up until the day of to get somewhat of a good grip on performing the poem.

Along with the sexual harassment story, I also talked about my family’s history of abuse, my anger/history with inflicting violence on others, white feminism and the mental/emotional turmoil with sharing my feelings towards others because I fear that simply saying “I like you”, “I have feelings for you” or “I find you attractive” is somehow going to turn into “Chris is hurting me.”

I tied the piece into the concept of Harper Lee’s book “To Kill A Mockingbird” which is about a black man who gets falsely accused of raping a white woman. The mockingbird represents the innocence of an individual; with that I break down the steps of how to kill a mockingbird using my situation as an example. The piece is also inspired through a conversation I had with by a spoken word legend, Joe Limer in San Diego last month in June.

After performing the piece however I was a bit on edge. First came the typical, “I didn’t do good as a performer, I could’ve done better, I’m losing my drive” self-talk, then it transform to “No one believes me. Everyone thinks I hurt this person. Why did I perform this piece? I’m such a horrible person.” Someone after the performance at a new friend’s place asked me “How are you feeling?” I just ended up vomiting the whole story to them. I apologized then was in my head the rest of the night. Someone kept telling me they love me and I’m so in my head about it. I don’t like being this way. I don’t want to, but I’m terrified. I never want to go through that again.

I didn’t do shit for 4th of July (for obvious political reasons) but I didn’t even get out of bed. I’m currently in isolation mode with thoughts of cutting everyone off. I don’t have capacity for anything. I even been thinking that people I performed for got something against me for performing that poem. It wouldn’t be the first time someone had a vendetta against me for performing a poem.

February 2020, right before the pandemic at CSU Monterey Bay’s All Black Gala. I was hired to open up for the co-writer of BlacKKKlansman, Kevin Willmott. I decided to use this platform as an opportunity to once again talk community issues that constantly get swept under the rug. How this university prides itself on innovation and diversity when there’s been a ton of racial discrimination lawsuits since the university’s inception. The micro aggressions. Police harassment. Suicide rates. The lack of care for people experiencing sexual assault and harassment. My personal experience with being sexually assaulted in the workspace etc.

I was fearless in the middle of doing this in front of 500+ people. As soon as I got off stage I felt someone was out to get me. I caught glares off stage despite getting a standing ovation. I had to stay outside during Kevin’s speech because i had a panic attack. I missed him shouting me out. Last time, I’ve done something like this divided the community and was a bit controversial. People loved it, hated it or cut me off completely.

I don’t want to relive that again. Where I’m sharing my feelings is going to be ultimately controversial and divisive. I’m truly just trying to be human the best way I know how.

Part of me wants to cancel these last couple performances I got and disappear for awhile.

“How could you idolize me, when I’m just a mess myself?”

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