“When Emily Doe’s victim impact statement was published on BuzzFeed in June 2016, I read it in one breathless sitting. The previous day, she had read her statement at the sentencing hearing for Brock Turner, who was found guilty of three counts of felony sexual assault by a California jury. The maximum sentence for such a conviction was 14 years, but the judge, Aaron Persky, sentenced Mr. Turner to six months in county jail. He served three. Emily Doe’s statement went viral, read aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives and on CNN, and fueled public outrage over Mr. Turner’s lenient sentence. Later that year California imposed mandatory minimum sentences for sexual assault crimesand in 2018, voters recalled Judge Persky.
I connected with Emily Doe’s fury over Mr. Turner’s lack of remorse and how the legal system dehumanizes survivors of sexual violence, from Mr. Turner’s father arguing that his son’s life was ruined by “20 minutes of action” to the defense lawyer interrogating the victim about her clothing choices and drinking habits. This month, Chanel Miller revealed herself to be Emily Doe, and her memoir, “Know My Name,” was published this week.
When I learned Ms. Miller is white and Chinese-American, I realized I’d first assumed that Emily Doe was white, a reminder of how often we internalize whiteness as a default in America. Ms. Miller is more than her racial identity alone, but the knowledge that she is Asian-American necessitates a new understanding of what she experienced and how she was perceived — as a woman of color, assaulted by a white man, trying to obtain justice in a courtroom presided over by a white male judge.”
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