January 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Today we should do more than remember MLK, we must also listen to the voices that he spoke against and between. Systematized racism is an enduring American and global reality. Let’s consider the notions of peace, love, hate, and violence in a more effective context. I think that this brief clip of Angela Davis speaking on the idea of Black violence offers one of the most articulate and accessible responses I’ve ever heard.
Thanks to this site, here is a transcript:
The best part of The Black Power Mixtape is the glimpses it shows of the Black movement at this magnificent high point, as important as the civil rights struggle that came before it. The segments with Black Power leaders themselves, in both public and private moments, are riveting. There is one interview clip with Angela Davis that would make the movie a must-see even if the film only lasted for that four-and-a-half minutes. The interview took place while Davis was in prison, facing trial on trumped-up murder charges in California. She was asked by a reporter how she felt about the “violence” of the movement–
When you talk about a revolution, most people think violence, without realizing that the real content of any kind of revolutionary thrust lies in the principles and goals that you’re striving for, not in the way you reach them.
On the other hand, because of the way this society is organized, because of the violence that exists on the surface everywhere, you have to expect that there are going to be such explosions. You have to expect things like that as reactions.
If you’re a Black person and you live in the Black community, all your life, you walk out on the street every day, seeing white policeman surrounding you. When I was living in Los Angeles, for instance…I was constantly stopped. The police didn’t know who I was, but I was a Black woman, and I had a natural, and I suppose they thought that I might be a “militant”…
You live under that situation constantly, and then you ask me whether I approve of violence. I mean, that just doesn’t make any sense at all.
Whether I approve of guns? I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Some very, very good friends of mine were killed by bombs–bombs that were planted by racists…From the time I was very, very small, I remember the sounds of bombs exploding across the street, our house shaking. I remember my father having to have guns at his disposal at all times because of the fact that at any moment, we might expect to be attacked.
The man who was at that time in complete control of the city government–his name was Bull Connor–would often get on the radio and make statements like “Niggers [sic] have moved into a white neighborhood, we’d better expect some bloodshed tonight.” And sure enough, there would be bloodshed.
Davis then talked about the four African American girls, aged 11 to 14, who were killed in the racist bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963:
One of them lived next door to me. I was very good friends with the sister of another of them. My sister was very good friends with all three of them. My mother taught one of them in her class. In fact, when the bombing occurred, one of the mothers of one of the young girls called my mother and said, “Can you take me down to the church? I have to pick up Carole, we heard about the bombing, and I don’t have my car.”
And they went down there, and what did they find? They found limbs and heads strewn all over the place. And then after that, in my neighborhood, all of the men organized themselves into an armed patrol. They had to take their guns and control our community every night because they did not want that to happen again.
I mean, that’s why when someone asks me about violence, I just find it incredible. Because what it means is the person who’s asking that question has absolutely no idea what Black people have gone through–what Black people have experienced in this country since the time the first Black person was kidnapped from the shores of Africa.
And if you haven’t seen it, the Black Power Mixtape film is currently available on Netflix instant.
October 1, 2011 § 13 Comments
I’ve been anxiously waiting for a Slut Walk to come to Minneapolis, and this afternoon I was finally able to participate. I woke up excited and only slightly morose over having to go alone. As much as I want to share action and feel supported by my friends, being by myself provided a calmer mental space. I biked over the stone arch bridge worrying that there wouldn’t be very many participants. There were. Plenty. Just as there have been in cities around the U.S., taking Canada’s cue.
Before writing a bit about my experience, I’d like to recommend reading up on rape culture and offer the mission statement of the Slut Walk MPLS:
1. The Walk is inclusive to all. Period.
2. People are not required to dress “slutty” or reclaim the word “slut”. That is entirely up to each individual. Dress in what’s comfortable for you.
3. We will emphasize the motto: It’s not “don’t get raped”, it’s “don’t rape”
4. We will encourage people to think about the Rape Culture and how it is mostly propagated by men against women, although rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone.
5. We will ally ourselves with the people in the sex industry (strippers and prostituted women and teens) and those who were in the sex industry, as we realize that they are very vulnerable to sexual assault/rape by the very nature of their work.
6. We will expect our SlutWalk participants to be respectful of all our Walkers. All diverse groups are welcome here: “radical feminists”, “riot grrrls”, “dudes”, “punkers”, “rockers”, “new wave feminists”, moms, grandmas and grandpas,GLBTQ folk, high school and college kids.If you don’t see yourself represented here, give us a shout! We want to acknowledge you. We welcome people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, and religious and non religious beliefs…there is no ticky box involved. All respectful beliefs are valid.
You can also read the wiki on Slut Walks here,
I decided to dress in my running attire, because, although I consider my workout gear to be straightforwardly pragmatic — I am often made most uncomfortable by men when I’m running through parts of my neighborhood. The remarks are unsettling, especially cumulatively. Where I once wore running tops, I now layer shirts. Where I once wore leggings, I now wear oversized shorts. To the Slut Walk I wore my former favorite running combination, including a fitted sports top and running shorts.
At first, with this decision, I felt out of place. I didn’t look particularly radical, I wasn’t wearing my informed feminism outwardly. I didn’t anticipate my clothes mattering, but somehow they did. I recognized three women who I’d met a year prior and approached them to thank and acknowledge their presence, but they were cold, bothered, and did not return my gesture of solidarity. They scanned my body vertically and seemed to not recognize anything of themselves in me, and turned. I was genuinely hurt by their hypocritical (re)action to a fellow Slut Walker. There were men. I was angry with myself over how I felt that their presence validated our walk in ways that we could not on our own. I am angry with how that is probably true. I am grateful to the man who told me “You have nothing to be sorry for, don’t ever be sorry,” when I apologized for getting some of my sign’s remnants on his own. I was, however, able to thank two of the central organizers for their diligent work and they reciprocated warmth and love.
Since I was alone I was able to reposition myself in the stream of walkers several times. I walked for a long time next to a young man with a shirt that read, “I was 12,” along with a sign reading “I begged for it to stop.” Later, I passed an older woman whose chest declared, “I was 7.” Through my contributions to PussyWedgy I encounter a fair share of Slut Walk imagery and discourse, but I had not expected to see so many survivors, staking their experience openly, bravely, on their bodies. A young woman pinned a sign to her (unremarkable) shirt, reading, “This is what I was wearing when he raped me.” These messages affected me most of all. I tried to compliment as many signs as possible, and to echo the whistles and honks of passing cars.
I passed numerous young women who, through comments and nervous laughter, expressed their discomfort with chanting and unfamiliarity with how to walk in the “right” way. I hope that being there turned something inside of them to know that, at least, their presence and caring matters. There is no right way to walk. There is no hope without each other. In realizing the depths of sexism, racism, homohatred, ableism, ageism, and broad social apathy, we often feel at a loss, in despair. But it is absolutely possible to live your life against these sociocultural truths. And once you start, you’ll see that you aren’t alone. The following endures as a motivating reminder for me:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead
June 15, 2011 § Leave a Comment
In search of alternative sources of inspiration and support,
I subscribed to Make/shift magazine. I value the publication, its design, content, contributors, and ethos. Their mission statement is as follows:
“Make/shift magazine creates and documents contemporary feminist culture and action by publishing journalism, critical analysis, and visual and text art. Made by an editorial collective committed to antiracist, transnational, and queer perspectives, make/shift embraces the multiple and shifting identities of feminist communities. We know there’s exciting work being done in various spaces and forms by people seriously and playfully resisting and creating alternatives to systematic oppression. Make/shift exists to represent, participate in, critique, provoke, and inspire more of that good work.“
Mmmmmmgood, right? I’ve been wanting to share the letter from the editors in a recent edition, one that articulates a lot of very honest ideas about living the life “we” (feminists? thinkers? women? lefties?) purport pursuing sustainably. I’ve been playing with the notion of what constitutes a Political Body, considering my skin’s relationship to its collective counterpart (a community), or just thinking about bodies more plainly and their (in)actions. I get lost quickly. As we all should. I am willingly making a messy bed of thoughts, so I can roll around and discover new pockets of creativity… it’s fun. Reflexivity demands interruption. But in any case, here, my point is: the thing is worth reading if you have time. You’ll also get a glimpse into the publication in case you too decide to subscribe (obviously I’d recommend it).
For legibility’s sake:
April 11, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I decided to scan these for the blog.
Have you read it? Abbie Hoffman’s work is worth reading too, if you’re interested in the yippies and their civil rights movement strategies and rhetoric.
Food for thought, anyway.