Letter from Yulanda D.A. Williams

(This letter is in response to What Does It Mean to be a “Survivor”?an article by Laura Johnston Kohl. Leslie Wagner-Wilson also wrote a letter, and Laura Johnston Kohl wrote a reply to both.)

To the Editor,

I continue to experience difficulties with individuals who presume that the word “we” applies to more than their own individual opinions or thoughts. I do not need anyone to speak about me or for me. I maintain my own voice, and I’m able to vocalize as well as command the English language.

One definition of a “victim” is as someone’s prey which requires the pity of others, or as someone who has low self-esteem. Neither of these describes me. I desire no one’s pity, and my self-esteem is phenomenal. I seek dignity and respect, and I give it to those I encounter who are deserving of the same. Therefore, with all due respect, I would appreciate no one ever referring to me – a survivor of Peoples Temple and Jonestown – as a “victim.” I will never be anyone’s “victim.” I have been a Victorious Lioness, which I know comes from my strong conviction and faith in God and family.

I am soaring with my wings expanded, for I believe I can fly like an Eagle and roar like a Lioness, praising God, glory, honor, virtue, divinity, prudence and fortitude.

Laura Johnston Kohl does not speak for me.

–– Yulanda D.A. Williams