Wednesday, March 14, 2012

'What Can the White Man Say to the Black Woman?' ~ Alice Walker

What is of use in these words I offer in memory of our common mother. And to my daughter.
What can the white man say to the black woman?
For four hundred years he ruled over the black woman’s womb.
Let us be clear. In the barracoons and along the slave shipping coasts of Africa, for more than twenty generations, it was he who dashed our babies brains out against the rocks.
What can the white man say to the black woman?
For four hundred years he determined which black woman’s children would live or die.
Let it be remembered. It was he who placed our children on the auction block in cities all across the eastern half of what is now the United States, and listened to and watched them beg for their mothers’ arms, before being sold to the highest bidder and dragged away.
What can the white man say to the black woman?
We remember that Fannie Lou Hamer, a poor sharecropper on a Mississippi plantation, was one of twenty-one children; and that on plantations across the South black women often had twelve, fifteen, twenty children. Like their enslaved mothers and grandmothers before them, these black women were sacrificed to the profit the white man could make from harnessing their bodies and their children’s bodies to the cotton gin.
What can the white man say to the black woman?
We see him lined up on Saturday nights, century after century, to make the black mother, who must sell her body to feed her children, go down on her knees to him.
Let us take note:
He has not cared for a single one of the dark children in his midst, over hundreds of years.
Where are the children of the Cherokee, my great grandmother’s people?
Where are the children of the Blackfoot?
Where are the children of the Lakota?
Of the Cheyenne?
Of the Chippewa?
Of the Iroquois?
Of the Sioux?
Of the Mandinka?
Of the Ibo?
Of the Ashanti?
Where are the children of the Slave Coast and Wounded Knee?
We do not forget the forced sterilizations and forced starvations on the reservations, here as in South Africa. Nor do we forget the smallpox-infested blankets Indian children were given by the Great White Fathers of the United States government.
What has the white man to say to the black woman?
When we have children you do everything in your power to make them feel unwanted from the moment they are born. You send them to fight and kill other dark mothers’ children around the world. You shove them onto public highways in the path of oncoming cars. You shove their heads through plate glass windows. You string them up and you string them out.
What has the white man to say to the black woman?
From the beginning, you have treated all dark children with absolute hatred.
Thirty million African children died on the way to the Americas, where nothing awaited them but endless toil and the crack of a bullwhip. They died of a lack of food, of lack of movement in the holds of ships. Of lack of friends and relatives. They died of depression, bewilderment and fear.
What has the white man to say to the black woman?
Let us look around us: Let us look at the world the white man has made for the black woman and her children.
It is a world in which the black woman is still forced to provide cheap labor, in the form of children, for the factories and on the assembly lines of the white man.
It is a world into which the white man dumps every foul, person-annulling drug he smuggles into creation.
It is a world where many of our babies die at birth, or later of malnutrition, and where many more grow up to live lives of such misery they are forced to choose death by their own hands.
What has the white man to say to the black woman, and to all women and children everywhere?
Let us consider the depletion of the ozone; let us consider homelessness and the nuclear peril; let us consider the destruction of the rain forests_in the name of the almighty hamburger. Let us consider the poisoned apples and the poisoned water and the poisoned air and the poisoned earth.
And that all of our children, because of the white man’s assault on the planet, have a possibility of death by cancer in their almost immediate future.
What has the white, male lawgiver to say to any of us? To those of us who love life too much to willingly bring more children into a world saturated with death?
Abortion, for many women, is more than an experience of suffering beyond anything most men will ever know; it is an act of mercy, and an act of self-defense.
To make abortion illegal again is to sentence millions of women and children to miserable lives and even more miserable deaths.
Given his history, in relation to us, I think the white man should be ashamed to attempt to speak for the unborn children of the black woman. To force us to have children for him to ridicule, drug and turn into killers and homeless wanderers is a testament to his hypocrisy.
What can the white man say to the black woman?
Only one thing that the black woman might hear.
Yes, indeed, the white man can say, Your children have the right to life. Therefore I will call back from the dead those 30 million who were tossed overboard during the centuries of the slave trade. And the other millions who died in my cotton fields and hanging from trees.
I will recall all those who died of broken hearts and broken spirits, under the insult of segregation.
I will raise up all the mothers who died exhausted after birthing twenty-one children to work sunup to sundown on my plantation. I will restore to full health all those who perished for lack of food, shelter, sunlight, and love; and from my inability to see them as human beings.
But I will go even further:
I will tell you, black woman, that I wish to be forgiven the sins I commit daily against you and your children. For I know that until I treat your chil dren with love, I can never be trusted by my own. Nor can I respect myself.
And I will free your children from insultingly high infant mortality rates, short life spans, horrible housing, lack of food, rampant ill health. I will liberate them from the ghetto. I will open wide the doors of all the schools and hospitals and businesses of society to your children. I will look at your children and see not a threat but a joy.
I will remove myself as an obstacle in the path that your children, against all odds, are making toward the light. I will not assassinate them for dreaming dreams and offering new visions of how to live. I will cease trying to lead your children, for I can see I have never understood where I was going. I will agree to sit quietly for a century or so, and meditate on this.
This is what the white man can say to the black woman.
We are listening.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

what does it mean to be RADICAL?

i was watching a lecture from Melissa Harris-Perry she gave at a university about her book, Sister Citizen, where she talked candidly about the plight of Black women and what it feels like to be in our position in this society (if not all universal political spheres). i agree with everything she had to say, and i have a lot of respect for her.

recently, Harris-Perry snagged a spot for a new show on MSNBC where she talks politics and other social issues with a Black Feminist edge. doing a little research on her, i see that her first book, which received little to no recognition was followed-up with Sister Citizen : Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America in September of 2011. prior to that, and currently, she is a professor of Political Studies and African American Studies.

my question is : how is it that Harris-Perry has been able to rocket to the top of the media, become a political analyst, and be rewarded with a show of her own on a major news network so quickly? not only that, but she doesn't seem to be saying anything other Black Feminists haven't said prior to her. she has not produced any shocking statistics or studies or theories on the struggle of Black womanhood in this country, yet MSNBC is asking her to tweet her opinions on The Help?

this is not a criticism of her. the fact that a Black woman is actually speaking to our realities is radical, in and of itself. her metaphor about 'The Crooked Room' (in the first link above 12:50 in) is so on point and true. however, these are not things i have not read somewhere in the pages of a bell hooks or Toni Cade Bambara piece. she is radical, in that she speaks. for a Black woman, in a post-colonial (arguably) society, that alone is radical.
however, i personally have a narrower idea of what radical is. radical, to me, is scaring white people. it seems to be very easy, and for some whites, it is. but to scare even the liberal white people who date Black people, love Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles and listen to Wu-Tang and Outkast is a feat upon itself.

take the slight dichotomies of the past and present. W.E.B. DuBois experienced so much animosity that he retreated to Ghana. whereas, Booker T. Washington was sharing crumpets and tea with Alabama political figures who probably lynched and castrated Black men on Saturday afternoons. although he was assassinated, white people LOVE Martin Luther King Jr. so much so that they even have a holiday reserved in his honor. Malcolm X, on the other hand is still regarded as a militant, violent, racist who hated white people. even on a global scale, in Africa, many who posed a geniune threat to the white supremacist platform, have been assassinated : Nkrumah, Lumumba, Sankara and The Mau Mau. Obama-not a threat. Louis Farrakhan-a threat. Henry Louis Gates J.r-not a threat. Assata Shakur-a threat. bell hooks-a threat. the education of Black youths-a threat. an African American/African connection-a threat. solidarity amongst all people of color-a threat. John Africa-a threat. Michael Steele and Herman Cain-about as much a threat as Taylor Swift.
those who talk about whiteness, white supremacy, and colonialism and even suggest resistance and/or self-defense are the real threats to white people. and off that, it is clear to see why Harris-Perry received a show so quickly from MSBNC - because she isn't a real threat.

from now on, i'll be looking for the people that scare white people. white people love Obama just as they all love tokens that pose no threat to them. i can't wait for the person to run for president, write a book, become a professor who's dodging bullets and has to hire Suge Knight as a bodyguard. maybe we shouldn't wait for someone to do be that, and should just be them ourselves.

and i think, most importantly, we have to be aware of these things and learn to question and criticize those people that are picked to be our representatives by white people. we have to ask ourselves, whenever someone Black wins a political position, gets a television show, or gets national recognition for something, what have they sacrificed or diluted or stay silent on and why are white people okay with them?

with all that said, i have yet to read her book. i plan on doing it soon and maybe writing a review about it. if anyone has read her book and would like to give some insight, feel free.

"He got the peace prize, we got the problem. ... If I'm following a general, and he's leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him. Especially if he gets a peace award before the war is over." - Malcolm X on Dr. Martin Luther King after he received the Nobel Peace Prize

comment. think. criticize.