My name is Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture, my pronouns are she, her, hers, and I am a long-time anti-imperialist organizer, revolutionary Pan Africanist, and Socialist Feminist.
I am here to share my statement about the lies, gaslighting, and sexual irresponsibility I experienced with Carlito Rovira. Carlito and I dated from March 2014 to December 2015, one year and nine months. When we first started seeing each other, he was 61 and I was 57.
Why are you telling your story?
I decided to come forward after receiving via email a statement from the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home on September 14 that detailed his long history of abuse and five years of harassment of a much younger Black woman from 2014 to 2019.
As I read the graphic details, I felt sad, angry, and very disappointed to learn that someone I once dated could do something that horrible for such a long period of time.
Although what I experienced with Carlito was not nearly on the level that the Campaign statement described, it confirmed what I went through with him– shocking sexism behind a radical veneer, lying, and gaslighting that was indeed emotional abuse.
What was the pattern of unethical behavior that you noted?
We argued often over sex. On our first evening together, we had an argument about the use of condoms. He didn’t want to use them even though he had seen the seriousness of the HIV up-close through a relative. But his personal pleasure was more important than my safety. He insisted he was “clean.” I asked him how did he know, when was the last time he had sex? When was the last time he was tested? He said he didn’t remember the last time and he didn’t remember when he was tested. I told him no. He then complained, “I can’t feel anything with that on,” but I refused to be coerced. I told him no condom, no sex. I also told him that our argument made no sense, given that we were a couple in our late 50s, early 60s. But my grown person concerns were cause for guilt trips, dismissal, and ridicule.
He used his sexual history to undermine me and pressure me to level up. The next day, as we were getting ready to go out, he bragged about how he really likes sex and he once had sex with an 18-year-old woman when he was in his 50s. I asked him why would he do that with a much younger woman and he grinned and said, “well, she liked me and I liked her.” What kind of person talks about their sexual exploits to the person they’re dating? It shows disrespect and a lack of empathy for their partner. Later in another conversation, he seemed to boast about the first time he had sex when he was 13 or 14 years old and the woman was 18 or 19 years old. When I told him due to the age difference and the uneven power dynamics that this meant he was sexually exploited, he laughed and said, “no I wasn’t, I enjoyed it.” Carlito’s hypersexuality and constant reliving the glory days of his sex life and obsession with using Viagra were red flags that went off for me.
What were the elements of your relationship that you experienced as abuse?
Gaslighting was a constant. Whenever we had arguments about his sexism and sexual crudeness, he made me into the one with the problem; “Asantewaa, you need to relax!” “Why are you so uptight about things?” “I’m not perfect and neither are you!”, etc. I told him I felt disrespected and that he really didn’t respect women as much as he said.
Carlito can be very sweet, funny, charming, witty, intelligent, and fun to be with. He is great in conversation and he is very knowledgeable about current events, world history, and various historical figures in revolutionary movements around the world, including our beloved Puerto Rico. And of course, as we all know, he’s a very talented artist. I as well as many others have long admired his artwork that is on murals and banners across New York City. His charming side is also his most dangerous because it can also hide his manipulative, selfish, narcissistic side.
Twice early on in our relationship, he asked me to send him nude photos of myself; “send me a picture of your clit, I’ll send you a picture of my dick!” I told him I would never do that and that he’s the one that needs to grow up. I asked him had he ever heard of lawsuits for sending porn, even for personal use, or had he ever heard of revenge porn. He replied, “Oh, I would never do that, this is just for me!” I told him that it would be a stupid thing to do, your phone could be lost, stolen, or hacked and then a person, usually the woman, would face all kinds of embarrassment and public humiliation. I told him to never ask me that again, that I felt hurt and disrespected he would even ask that. “Asantewaa, loosen up, you’re too serious!”
We argued a lot during the course of our relationship. But I must also add, he’s very skilled at what appeared to be a sincere apology but it was not, blowing up my phone to apologize three or four times a day for three or four days, something known as “love bombing.” But soon after his apologies, I found him to be a liar that never kept his word. A red flag.
What did you notice about his attitude towards movement women?
Despite his declarations of respect for women in history he seemed not to like or respect some very prominent women in our movement in New York City. He seemed to reserve derogatory comments for women, never men. One evening we were talking on the phone and he said something to the effect of, “they don’t know everything.” He said something else, I didn’t hear him clearly, but it sounded like he called them “bitches.” I asked him what did he say, then he got quiet, then he said, “oh nothing.” I told him it sounded like he called them “bitches”; women that are well respected, well-liked that I also considered friends and comrades. These women include hip hop scholar and journalist Rosa Clemente; Campaign to Bring Mumia Home organizer and college professor Dr. Johanna Fernandez; tenant organizer Nellie Bailey; and a Palestinian woman Samia whose last name I do not remember. I quickly told him he is never to use the words, “bitches”, “niggers”, “pussy”, “tits and ass” etc., in my presence— because these terms debase women and Black people. I made it clear I would not tolerate such language. He got angry and said he didn’t say that and then he quickly changed the subject.
There was another time, February 2015, we were talking about our many mutual friends and comrades in NYC and Dr. Johanna’s name came up. He said that he thought “she just needs to get laid, she needs some dick really bad!” I told him that was a very crude, sexist thing to say, especially about someone you are supposed to be a friend and comrade with. I asked him why would he say such a thing; he shrugged and said, “well, we ARE friends, we got it like that.” We went back and forth for a few minutes and then I left him at the bus stop as my bus had arrived for me to go back to Washington, DC. We didn’t even say goodbye. Another red flag went up.
When did you start to suspect that Carlito was seeing multiple women?
He didn’t seem to want to be seen with me in public in Washington, DC or New York City as we both had mutual friends and comrades in both cities. Over time I began to think he was seeing someone else and didn’t want to go out in public together as he would risk being seen. He would promise we would spend weekends together in WDC or NYC, I would purchase my ticket to go visit him, reserve a hotel room for a Friday and Saturday night, go back to pay for the reservation, and find out he had changed it to only one night without telling me first. We would make plans to go out to dinner, then at the last minute he would change his mind, saying, “oh I’m just tired, let’s get take out, eat in the room, spend time alone and fuck all night long.”
I asked him about us meeting each other’s friends and family as I had never met his daughter or his grandson. He would say, “ok, we will do that soon, but stop pressuring me to do that, I don’t pressure you!” Or he would say, “we’ll do that in good time”, but that time never came.
This confused and hurt me and it soon became very clear he used me for sex and the thrill of seeing more than one woman at the same time; this was not a loving, caring relationship, and I was used as his one-night stand jump off.
Can you be specific about the timeline?
Carlito and I dated spring 2014 to the end of 2015. He sexually harassed the young Black woman for five years from the beginning of 2014 to 2019. He was also engaged to Ana Bentancourt some time from 2015 (or sooner) until she passed away in the fall of 2017. That’s a lot of overlap in relationships that we know of, not to mention whatever else we don’t know. This concerned me because in spite of my due diligence about using condoms, the last time we were together was October 2015 at the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, DC and we did not use condoms.
I reached out to Ana in April 2016 on Facebook with a note to try to inform her. My intent was not to harm or embarrass her, but to inform her of my safety concerns. I don’t know if she received or read the note, but in June 2016, I gave a copy of that note to Carlito at the annual Left Forum Conference in NYC. When I told him what it was and put it in his hand, he was speechless.
How did it end? What were the aftershocks in your life?
By the time I broke up with him in December 2015, it had become very clear he was not going to change, he never loved or cared about me and he lied and manipulated me about several things during the time we were together.
I felt used and deeply ashamed of myself because I had never been treated so disrespectfully by a man, not even when I was in my young and foolish 20s. It also became clear to me I didn’t love him either; at the time I was between jobs, housing insecure, I hadn’t dated in 10 years and I was just looking for more stability in my life.
This experience took me to a very dark place for the first time in my life. I was very sad, angry, ashamed, and developed alopecia although my dermatologist insisted it was not due to stress. I decided to go into therapy, which I did for almost a year. It was very helpful and helped me to see things more clearly; it also taught me that my poor decision about him did not make me a bad person or a person undeserving of love, care, and support.
While I did tell a few friends about how Carlito treated me and had their support, looking back, I sometimes wish I had told more people. But I didn’t because the abuse was emotional and verbal, never physical or sexual and while painful, I didn’t think it warranted more alarm.
What do you want movement people to know?
I regret we as a movement have not protected survivors better than we have thus far. But with everything coming out now about abuse in our radical political spaces, the young people in the MOVE Organization that have courageously shared the abuse and manipulation that happened to them; the ongoing saga with Bro. Gazi and the Black Hammer Organization, etc., I hope we all can see the urgency of stopping the abuse and exploitative relationships in our movement. We must collectively assert the political will and courage to have ongoing political education against all forms of abuse and exploitation in our movement AND we must seek to be consistent examples of what healthy relationships look like. We deserve better, most of us know better, let’s do better . . . for our future.