Christy Tucker Sims and the "Fire, shut up in her bones"
I am very proud to be a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. However, I was especially proud to be a member of my sorority on Saturday, April 12, 2014. That’s the day I had the pleasure of watching my childhood friend Christy Tucker Sims walk down the aisle of a hotel ballroom to receive the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.'s first Fortitude Award. Christy received the honor along with Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Jordan Davis’ Mother, who is also a member of Delta, Lucia McBath. The journey to Christy’s walk was and remains a long and painful one.In February of 2013, I finally received my Master of Science in Health Communication degree in the mail. Christy, who attended Southwest Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia with me, was one of the first people to congratulate me on my accomplishment. I recall the words she typed on Facebook during one of our typical banter sessions as working, single mothers trying to balance job, life and even romance. She said, “Sis, I am right behind you in May!” We called each other “Pretty girl!” but, in my opinion, it is Christy who was the real stand-out. She was the freckled-faced and dimpled school beauty queen with a quiet demeanor. Facebook served as the conduit for our budding friendship and as a true sister, she celebrated me, my journey, and my milestone. I, in turn, looked forward to celebrating hers. Well, that day never happened. Instead of viewing the exciting photos of her graduation, I along with the rest of Christy’s Southwest Atlanta classmates and friends awakened to a horrific story in vivid detail on Facebook—boyfriend….acid…face disfigured….tears…pain. There was no graduation and no happy moment. The story of this tragedy spread like wildfire throughout our community, and then spread to the local news and eventually national media. Close friends galvanized to host fundraisers, Facebook was a flurry with details of the incident, and a few phone calls came in from concerned brothers from across the country who wanted to know just two things—a name and an address. Yes, street justice, was about to ensue. Christy would have none of that. Through her tears she begged for patience and tolerance. Through her pain she summoned a call to action. One of Atlanta’s daughters had been harmed and her community, our community, was in an uproar. Over the months we all watched a very private, unassuming, and reticent woman burgeon into a verbose, assertive and courageous warrior. Many of us traveled along her road to recovery through her candor, wit and transparency as her Facebook page emerged as a form of a blog. There is no one among us who knew Christy before this attack who has not been transformed emotionally or spiritually, including me. As a woman of Delta, I am called to seek justice where justice has been denied. In Christy’s case justice was both delayed and denied. This beautiful woman was burned with industrial grade acid over 20% of her body and rested in a coma for two months while her alleged attacker walked free. In listening to the 911 tape of the incident, it became apparent to many of us that Christy’s attack was premeditated. Even worse was listening to a man, who was supposed to be her boyfriend, ignore the advice of the 911 operator to rinse the chemical off her body to prevent further damage. He, instead, told her not to move and let her burn. I cried, I mourned, I became depressed, and then I just got down right angry. Moreover, I was scared at the reality that this same thing could have happened to me. As months went by and Christy began to get physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger, I began to think of ways that I could support her. The answer came across in a whisper. So, I heeded the call and nominated Christy for the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter’s Fortitude Award. You see, some leaders are born and other leaders are called. Through her willingness to tell her truth, Christy Tucker Sims has emerged a loud voice in the call to support victims of domestic violence. She held up the torch and now my goal is for my more than 200,000 Sorors across the world to carry her message against domestic violence with fire, “NO MORE. I say NO MORE because #ChristySims.” When Christy’s nomination was accepted by my chapter’s Celebration of Women committee, I called her personally to share the good news. Christy was most gracious but her recovery was, understandably, foremost on her mind. She had been waiting on reconstructive surgery for months and it was planned for the spring. She said, “Desiree’ I’m going to pray about it and get back with you on tomorrow.” I was anxious about her response for a moment until I reminded myself of the whisper that came in my spirit. When “The Master” has his hands in it, everything works out for the good. Christy’s call came the next day and with great authority she stated, “Desiree,’ I’m coming to get my award! I realized that if I don’t, this will be one more thing this man took away from me.” I rejoiced like never before! However, the most remarkable thing wasn’t just her acceptance but the revelation of God’s plan. I didn’t know why God told me to nominate Christy until she mentioned that April would be a year to the month that this tragedy happened. God was bringing my friend full-circle. A year earlier Christy would often break down during interviews as she told her story of being a survivor. A year later, Christy speaks boldly and confidently about being an over-comer. Christy Tucker Sims now has “fire shut up in her bones!” Christy’s acceptance of the Fortitude Award gave the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter the opportunity to promote her story in the news both locally and nationally. Who, but God, could have made all of this happen just before her grand jury hearing? Who, but God, could have had this man indicted just two days before Christy received her award? The answer simply is “No one, but God.”Monday, April 28th marks the one year anniversary of Christy’s transition from being a freckled-face and happy mother of two beautiful children who was embarking upon a new chapter in her life as a counselor. Yes, she was dedicating her life to help others struggling with addiction and in search of a new beginning. Today, as she sits with her mouth wired shut from her first of many reconstructive surgeries to restore her appearance, I want her to know that I love her and her community loves her. I want her to know that the women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and other social and civic organizations stand behind her. I want her to know that there are many good men, our brothers, who embrace her and the rest of our sisters lovingly. I want her to know that her suffering will not be in vain. I want her to know that legions of women who suffer silently from domestic violence need her to be their voice. I need her to know that through her voice people are delivered. I need her to understand that she has ignited a revolution, a revolution that will be televised.Please visit http://christysims.org/donate-to-christy-tucker-sims.html to donate to Christy’s recovery and find out how you can volunteer.