Thursday, November 17, 2011

whirlwind for the warrior healers

to the warrior healers organizing trust

notes from post-tornado Durham

with Audre Lorde in transition

after Gwendolyn Brooks

“You have enabled yourself to prove of incalculable aid to many, many women—not just today’s women, but women down the ages...I am have been and always will be proud of you.”

Gwendolyn Brooks to Audre Lorde

“This is the urgency: Live!

and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.”

-Gwendolyn Brooks “Second Sermon on the Warpland


brook open stream woke

this is how we conduct our blooming

brash and gentle at kitchen tables

falling apart

on living room floors

noise and whip and head turned around

did you just say…

something scattered here

(our several dreams)

played into particles

stepped and stepped over it

trip and trip over

trip over



something flew apart

arrival is in the instant of yes

glitter your hands with the grace of grief

knot your hair with knowing

never meant to hold money

never meant to braid it into noose

never knew another way was



warrior healer be we

who know

how to go there

and when

warrior healer be we

who wont be who we are

until we are

warrior healer be

we who don’t know what

to say

until we say

who speak

when voice shake

better be


say this

warrior healer be


just be

warrior healer be


salvation salvaged

medication defined

stylized splendor

for Bessie and we


warrior poet be watching

smiling sometime


warrior mother poet be

looking down

picking up




Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'Indigo Was the Folks': Afterschool Brilliance

"There wasn't enough for Indigo in the world she'd been born to, so she made up what she needed. What she thought the black people needed.

Access to the moon.
The power to heal.
Daily visits with the spirits."

-Ntozake Shange on little sister Indigo in her first novel Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo

We are in my car with the top down dodging the falling leaves when Assata drops knowledge on the subject of grades, a new clarity gained during this first term of 6th grade: "Grades are bullying the alphabet." The girls find out that their hands can bend in ways they never knew. They read outloud parts of the books they are reading. They punch each other very lightly at the sight of a volkswagen bug. And this is just the car ride.

The Indigo Afterschool Program was an idea that 11 year old Alex Lockhart shared with her mother, using the words: "I want to go to an afterschool program at Alexis's house." Inspired by Ntozake Shange's character "Indigo" from her first novel Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo, the Indigo Afterschool TeaParty is a place to share dreams, make art, blow bubbles and investigate Indigo's practices of healing, self-love, dream interpretation, doll-making, compassion and full self-expression! Girls from 3 Durham middle schools participate!

We check in over tea and snacks letting a deep breath out at the end of our check-ins by blowing a real or imaginary bubble. We make dolls that listen, healing remedies for emotional emergencies, books for our dreams, collages for our visions, love notes for each other in the name of Indigo who used all these things to create the world she needed when she was right in the arena of the menstrual transformation.

It is an honor to participate in the building of community and sisterhood among these brilliant young women, and as the Crunk Feminist Collective reminded us with their development of a women's studies 101 workshop for high school students (
the intentional support and nourishment of the love, transformation and brilliance that is already living and growing and possible in young people can never start to early.

Indigo Afterschool uses the model of Indigo...just one of many audacious, inventive, complex, community accountable and wise young Black characters created by Black feminist writers to give young folks a chance to love each other and explore their own magical skills, a space to critique the norms they are noticing at school, and a validation of the practices of breathing, creating and listening.

As people around the country reclaim space in their communities to activate their visions I am proud that the space that these 11 year olds (who have just proposed an expansion of the program to bi-weekly sessions) have decided to takeover my living room with their dreams.

(Here is what Alex left on the chalkboard)

Indigo Style Remedies:

Yesterday we read some of Indigo's remedies that she creates after difficult experience and share with her community of dolls so that her growth can also benefit them. Oh Indigo!!!

Rock in the manner of a quiet sea. Hum softly from your heart. Repeat the victim’s name with love. Offer a brew of red sunflower to cleanse the victims blood and spirit. Fasting & silence for a time refurbish the victim’s awareness of her capacity to nourish & heal herself.
-from "Emergency Care For Wounds That Cannot Be Seen" in Ntozake Shange's Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo

The Indigo After School crew also wrote their own remedies yesterday (they also wrote a healing recipe for popcorn, getting past writers block and "boredness").

Here is some of their advice...that I recommend keeping on hand or enacting right now for your own healing:

Emergency Care for the "the funk"
by Bailey
(i.e. like on Glee, when they were in a funk because they were afraid their singing group wasn't good enough)

Surround oneself with loved ones, then go on top of a tall object and scream to hearts content all of ones deepest feelings. If this does not work, go in private room and listen to songs that mention only of happy things, then write down all of ones problems and think of a way to turn them around.

Emergency for Sadness
by Assata

1. go to the bathroom and turn on hot water. let it steam.
2. get your favorite incense and burn it
3. get a robe and put it on
4. put the incense in the bathroom
5. put a stool in the bathroom
6. write all the things you are sad about on a piece of paper
7. write on the steamed mirror all the things that are peaceful
8. sit in the bathroom and be peaceful with the steaming and the incense

Forged by Fire (for hard experiences that change you forever):
by Alex

Bathe in a tub of warm water without bubbles. Slowly lie down and let all the bad energy out. When you get out, don't dry off, instead go to a silent room and let the peaceful air dry you off. Next rub your skin with soothing lavender oil. Now go outside and let the sun wrap its loving rays around you.

Amazing! Priceless and here is how you can support this space!

1. Of course donating to the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind one time

or becoming a monthly sustainer helps infinitely to sustain this free program for superhero youth.

2. This community of readers is the best thing ever. Want to send as a winter break gift 1 or 3 copies of your favorite young adult book from when you were around 11? The Indigo afterschoolers are self-identified "cool nerds" and will need a lot of reading material when school lets out next month to keep their brains engaged! Email for the address.

3. Or contribute to the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Library that surrounds and uplifts the participants and their parents and grandparents and younger siblings and friends by donating a book from the Eternal Summer amazon wishlist!

Keeping it quirky, eternal and off the hook!

Monday, November 14, 2011

"I Know What That Is": Coming Out as Undocumented

Amnesty International Conference: Come Out, Rise Up and Join the Movement
Lunch Plenary on Coming Out in the South as Queer and Undocumented

Dedicated to Ms. Vera Martin

To get to Ms. Vera we faced our greatest fear. We drove through Arizona. Scarier even than the Mississippi police who separated us for questioning when we told them we were driving across the country interviewing visionary Black LGBTQ feminist elders, was that drive through Arizona in the middle of the night. The closest my partner Julia and I, raised in North Carolina and Georgia, have ever come to the segregation stories we've heard all our lives about travellers scared to stop for gas, to pee, to talk to a stranger, especially after sundown. When we finally did stop, because hail and fog and the presence of elk made it impossible to keep driving through Tonto national park, we put signs on every side of our purple and turquoise RV explaining that we didn't want to stop and we weren't trying to tresspass, but we just couldn't keep going.
We knew where we were: Arizona in the era of the state bill that is a hate bill, where it is illegal to be a person of color, standing still, on land, asking for help. That night was the closest we have come to the stories that make our parents and grandparents shake at the words "police," "highway," "bathroom," "night." The reason my mother tracks our queer black deviant adventurous behinds on Google latitude every step of the way. Probably the reason that Ms. Vera, living in Apache Junction Arizona in a retirement RV park full of white lesbians doesn't get many visitors and in fact laughed out loud at the concept of us, two queer black young people willing to drive through Arizona just to see her, to sit and talk with her in person.
For us, the scary thing about Arizona was that we knew that conservative copy-cat laws would pop up in our region, taking us back to the good old days that give our relatives nightmares, that still turn my father into a completely different person if he gets pulled over by a white Georgia cop. Our folks that know that no amount of hard-boiled eggs and fried chicken packed lunches can save us from that knowledge in the pit of your stomach that for us there is no such thing as home that cannot be taken away, that for us, for generations it has been about trying to move through undetected our queer selves our colored selves in a land where it is illegal to be us and to be loved and to be here all the way, where anyone might notice us and be transformed.
That cop that stopped our purple and turquoise love-mobile in Mississippi was flabbergasted. Queer, feminist, black and intergenerational? What do you mean your "elders"? He squinted. And then he called for back-up.

To love who we love, to claim who and were we come from is dangerous and possibly contagious. We are counting on the contagion of queer Black intergenerational love which is why we would go through Mississippi and Arizona and hail and hell to get to Ms. Vera. Who knew better than anyone why we cannot allow the laws that would pre-emptively and comprehensively invalidate our families. Including anti-immigration laws and includes narrow marriage amendments and includes anti-choice legislation and suggestions to legally say there is no such thing as rape. Ms. Vera knows best of all why we cannot believe for one second the lies those laws would tell about us and must in every moment recognize those attacks as the desperation they are against our brilliance, our unstoppable power against how radiant we are that we inspire even those who try so hard to hate us. We are love and we know it and we are contagious.
And so it makes complete sense that when Ms. Vera told us about her trip to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Creating Change conference, the first thing she spoke of was her love for the young undocumented activists speaking out. "Because I know what that is," she said. Ms. Vera was born in Louisiana in 1924. "I know what that is," she said. Where there is no law that will protect you, only laws to hurt you. Where there are people who so can't deal with you that they want to be able to get away with raping you or killing you and throwing you in a ditch. Where there are people who can see that you are human and don't want to know it, so they try to make you illegal. "I know what that is," Ms. Vera said. "And I love those young people because they're not gonna take it."

Friday, November 04, 2011

Making Majority: Majority Consciouness and Black Feminist Protest Poems (For the Raleigh Reclaimers)

Making Majority:  Majority Consciouness and Black Feminist Protest Poems
For the Raleigh Reclaimers   
Nov. 3 2011

Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Let’s make some noise to stay warm out here!!!   Make some noise if you are part of that 99% they keep talking about on the news!  Make some noise if you love how our people in Oakland took over the highway and closed down a major port in their general strike yesterday!   Make some noise if you grew up working class.  Make some noise if you are queer.   Make some noise if you are in college now or if you have a college degree.   Take a deep breath and make some noise if you are a black feminist!!!!!!!   And make some noise if you are a white person…
            Yeah.  Majority is complicated.  And it can be exhilarating.  And it can be facist.  And it can tell the truth.  And it can lie to our faces.   The truth is that we are profoundly interconnected.  We are bigger than ourselves.  We are sharing something that we don’t know how to describe, right this second with all the people who live now and all the people who have ever lived.  We are sharing something right now with every energetically linked piece of matter on the planet.   We are huge.  We are more than 99% we are cosmic eternal quantum dust crashing into itself.   The vibration we just made from shouting is more than we can know it is.
            At the same time, majority is complicated.  I live in Durham, North Carolina.  A majority people of color city with a majority white occupy movement.  Majority is complicated.  Because the tricky statistics of majority has been used as a tool of white supremacy to create norms for a long time, it is not merely a coincidence that one of the largest, most compelling, media-effective and participatory convergences of direct action that I have witnessed uses the colonizing military language of occupation.   This is where white descendents of settler colonialists get off calling themselves native North Carolinians, for example.  And this is an important question, not just of terminology, but also of mathematical understanding, because it is not merely a coincidence that the most marketable direct action we are participating in right now coincides with many actual imperialist occupations by the US around the world and the ongoing occupation of this land that something now called the United States stole through genocide.   I’m a black feminist nerd,  I teach about black feminist poetry and when it comes to our power, when it comes to our revolution I care a lot about what words we choose and what numerical reality we imply.  But I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  It matters to me that what makes folks love this movement of reclaiming our lives and protesting against the violence of capitalism is a deep and grounded energy, tapped into a planetary connection which is actually not the same thing as whatever energy has caused white people to believe that they are normal, straight people to believe that they are normal, middle class people to believe that they are entitled to whatever the abject poverty of women of color around the world and finger breaking work of  working class people in this country invisibly buys us.   These two things, the majorly transformative power of interconnected struggle and love and the majorly status quo affirming reproduction of normalcy, in my mathematical opinion , are not equal.  They are not equally powerful.  The first one just might get us the unimaginable world we deserve, and the other one will at best case get us back to the messed up place we were 5 years ago.
            It is the statistically significant difference between  saying.  “Hey! I am part of the 99%.  Everyone else is just like me and I am just like everyone else and I deserve the job and education I always thought I was entitled and damn the 1% fat cats for still being able to maintain what I always thought I deserved and could get if I worked hard enough and was smart enough and white enough and straight enough for long enough.”   It is the difference between saying that and saying  “I am part of this planet and I am interconnected with all life.  I refuse to continue to contribute my energy to a system that is killing all of us.  I refuse to consent to the fragmentation of capitalism and I commit to building power creatively with everyone and everything that is different to me towards our common survival which could also be called love.   I am interconnected with everything and I am promising with my body to reclaim the truth.  I am connected to you from a deeper palce than I can see and I am doing my best to act accordingly.”
            Y’all see how these are not the same things?  And I care about this movement.  And so I am bringing what I love most into this conversation, that which has brought me most clarity and refined my actions.  Also known as the longstanding intersectional super stars of keepin’ it complicated all days in all ways…I am bringing Black Feminist Poets into the mix, towards the movement we deserve.   Drawing on a very different tradition of Majority Consciousness coming out of the anti-colonial movements in the Caribbean and in Africa and in Asia, Black Feminist in the United States were part of the third world consciousness raising movement, affirming the reality that the majority of the people in the world are people of color, the majority of the people in the world are women, and yet, the most consistently oppressed category of almost person on the planet is this same powerful group:  women of color.     So as you think about this, think about your interface with the movement of the 99% not so poetically called “occupy” and think about what the role of women of color has been in the segment of this movement that you have seen.   Think about whether and how the absence, presence, form of labor, forms of leadership, interventions of women of color have been received by the false majority and whether that honors the majority of people in the world.    On New Year’s day 1989 thinking about the prospect of a black presidential candidate to the White House (named Jesse Jackson),  Black feminist lesbian warrior mother poet icon Audre Lorde felt compelled to bring out fractions.  About how the US and USSR (at the time the main interlocuters in the debate about the destiny of the planet) were only 1/8 of the population, actually.  And that African people were also 1/8 of the population and that ½ of the people in the world were Asian.   Lorde breaks it down, slowing to the methodical tempo of white supremacy and then speeding up :
“So most people in this world/
are Yellow, Black , Brown, Poor, Female
And do not speak English.”
Most of you, probably all of you, know this intellectually.  It goes without saying.    So why does Audre Lorde bother to bring the math into it, in a poem, in English.   The language I am using now, which as she points out most people on the planet do not speak.   Because the question of majority is always at stake.  This is why the “I am the 99% campaign” has been so important as a way of actually talking about the experiences of most of the people when television and the songs of the radio seem to come from the experiences of only the super-rich in order to encourage consumerism.  If I were to believe the “I am the 99%” posts that I have seen on the internet it would seem that the majority of the people in the world have massive student loans.   And while I certainly worked my way through college and took on major student loans in the process and I think it is very important to unpack meritocracy and throw off the shame that is associated with debt.   We also have to remember privilege.  It is not that the majority of people in the world are oppressed by student loans.  The majority of the people in the world are oppressed by capitalism such that college is not an option.  The majority of this generation of college students may have student loans, but these two things are not the same.
   Because another important thing about Lorde’s poem is that she maintains difference.  She is not arguing that everyone on the planet is the same, she is giving us the fractions.  There is actually so much difference on the planet that is completely left out of the conversation.  So the liberatory question is not how can we all lump together as the same thing, the real question is the one Audre Lorde asked in her essay on the creative power of difference, and which, incidentally Angela Davis, black feminist freedom fighter raised at the Wall Street encampment a few days ago:
"How can we come together in a unity that is complex and emancipatory? Differences must not be merely tolerated but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which poles creativity can spark like a dialectic."

And indeed, as many people before me have said the most important and exciting thing about this whole movement that we are participating in is that it truly has brought different people who are not generally in the same spaces and not generally speaking to each other, together in powerful ways, and asked all of us to be creative in our listening through the demands of direct democracy.   It inspired Angela Davis to say last weekend that “The old majorities are the new majorities,” that there is something, awakened, referenced, remembered by this contemporary movement that precedes it, that the majority that we invoke is not simply the breakdown of American wealth among the living, but actually includes our collective ancestral power, including the power and resilience of the indigenous inhabitants of this land and including the power of the enslaved people who build and bled into this structure and loved anyway, and including all of those movement warriors who have burnt out, gotten sick and died, been killed via hate violence or by police.  It means when we invoke majority we are also saying, we are all here, our mandate for changing the world is certainly bigger than those of us who have the time to be here physically and is bigger even than the combined bodies of those of us who have survived this system to this point.  Our mandate to change the world is old and it honors our ancestors and it calls up their energy.
            Nikki Finney, a black feminist lesbian poet from South Carolina believes that there is such as thing as ancestral rage.  That oppression in the present not only disrespects and dishonors those of us living through it, but it also disrespects the work and truth and brilliance of those who came before us, who deserved better than what they experiences and who expect more from us than this.    In her first collection of poems On Wings Made of Guaze,  Finney has a protest poems that speaks out against the Atlanta Child murders, a rash of murders and disappearances of Black children in Atlanta, the city where I grew up, and where Finney lived at the time of the murders which began in 1979, the same year that  closer to home in Greensboro, the KKK opened fire on economic and racial justice organizers at a rally in the middle of the day.   Which is also the same year that in Boston 12 black women were found dead day after day in 3 short months.  In each case the police did not respond to the murders as murders.  In the case of the Greensboro massacre the people who were attacked were the ones brought up on charges.  What does one do in a year like 1979 where the lives of black women, black children and black activists are so clearly devalued by the state, and how is it related to what we do this year, when Troy Davis is sacrificed to the right of police officers to threaten people to get false testimonies and to fulfill their so-called justice agenda by choosing an oppressed person to prosecute for any crime that happens?  When those who are having to face the music about the low value of their lives are more  and more of the population that used to feel safe and worthy all the time.
            Nikki Finney invokes a majority constructed of time and the natural world to do something related to what we are doing here today and in the next couple of days when we move whatever little money we have out of the big banks and into the community credit unions, asking for a new set of accounts.   In a poem that she dedicates to “the children of Atlanta, the children we claim who died, who are dying because they are Black….for the children whose lives we claim and whose deaths now claim us”  Finney calls on a higher sense of balance and justice than what the world bank would use to classify debt and who is a drain on the system.  For those, who like me, were not born yet in 1979, we have to remember that 1979 is the same year that Ronald Reagan won the presidential election with a campaign that centered on the characiture of the welfare queen and the untrue projection that the majority of people on welfare were black women who were cheats, that the primary beneficiaries were black children who were a drain on the national budget and didn’t deserve anything.   It is a major year for the growth of what we now understand as global neoliberal capitalism, a system of debt-making in the name of restructuring on the planet.  1979 is also the year that the major institution that laid the groundwork for what we know of as the Radical Right  was created, called the Moral Majority.   See what I mean.  Majority is complicated, and everyone invokes it when they feel like it   So what kind of Major are we?
      Nikki Finney calls on the world to witness the violence against Black children saying:
don’t ever come to us again
heart in hand
hoof in mouth
ancient eyes in full bloom
don’t even look this way
asking to replenished
to be restocked
we are paid in full
for this
and for the next millenniums

incensed enough we are
until this world ends
and something else begins
paid up we are
tell your hands world
sign it out to your fingers
insist that your eyes remember
how this time
we have overpaid you

we owe nothing
no more
pass this word on
to the rivers behind you
for the next one thousand years
we are paid in full

In the economic frame of 1979, this is a big deal.  In fact in the current economic frame where most of us are in debt, and those of use who don’t have the credit to get any more debt are positioned to conceptually owe something to the society that profits off our lack of choices this poem is very revolutionary.   Look at the violence we are experiencing, Finney’s poem says, what kind of balance is this?  What kind of accountability.   Forget it.  We do not owe anything.   Not only because our lives have been unjustly sacrificed in many ways, not only in honor of those ancestors who were forcibly removed from this very places, or those other ancestors who were forcibly brought to the place and built it for free without freedom, but also because we are beyond the economic calculations that make up our lives.  We are more than a market.   And as Finney’s poetics reveal, we persist beyond that which would crunch us into numbers as debt.  The “We are” of the poem moves out the normal position within a sentence.   In the second to last stanza of the poem she offers “incensed enough we are,  paid up we are”  instead of we are incensed enough, we are paid up.  The “we are” the stubborn miracle of our existence, is still there, yoda like, after the descriptive action.  And actually, the original construction that she starts with “we are paid” leaves poetic ambiguity about who we are actually , the first line “in full we are paid”  is an archaic construction that leaves questions about what is the subject of the sentence.   We, paid.  Is paid an action, an adjective.  Is full a place to be.   Looking at Finney’s poem about reckoning accounts makes me wonder about the economic arguments we have been making from a poetic standpoint.    We have been affirming that we are the 99%.  Individualizing:  “I am the 99%”  Now is the time to look critically 99% percent we are.   To truly examine what we are part of beyond the desperate gratitude of being part of something is the task before us.   What is truly major about this, and how does it impact what we do.  To use Nikki Finney’s language who claims us, where is the accountability that transcends how disgruntled we are about our bank accounts?  Who do we honor with these actions?
            What this movement is demonstrating is that where we place our bodies is a question of accountability, honor and claim.   In Philadelphia and other places explicit solidarity with, and leadership by homeless Philadelphians who have been criminalized for claiming space in the streets has been crucial.  What does it mean for people with homes to place their privileged bodies between the action of the police and the right of a homeless person to sleep somewhere.  What does it mean for the outrage at police acts of repression and violence in several cities to be linked in the news media, in the form of images and focus, on the fact that so many white people are being arrested, so much of the population that the day before they became protesters, were inequitably over-served by the violence of the police against more traditionally oppressed communities?   Tear gas canisters and billy clubs, rubber bullets and the training language among the police that the non-violent orchestrated protests around the country should be treated as riots?  One way the Wall Street incarnation of this movement responded to some of these questions was to use the mass of people reclaiming the street create a direct action in Harlem, specifically challenging the violent racist practice of the police stopping and searching black people on the streets.   June Jordan, black feminist poet with intimate and violent experience with the actions of the New York City police department, again invoked what I call black feminist math, the alchemy of poetry and proportions to look at the meaning of police violence, in one of her most famous poems;  Poem on Police Violence:
On the heels of the acquittal of police officer Thomas O’Shea  for the murder of a 10 year old unarmed black boy named Clifford Glover who was running away from O’Shea.   The agreement by a jury that Thomas O’Shea was justified in his action because of how threatening black children are to grown white police officers  with guns.  Thomas O’Shea was recorded saying while his police radio was on: “die you little motherfucker” as he shot 10 year old Clifford in the back.  In court he defended himself by saying “I didn’t see the size nor nothing else.  Only the color.”
    So June Jordan asks:
“Tell me something
what you think would happen if
everytime they kill a black boy
then will kill a cop…
you think the accident rate would lower
And she goes into the math of it;
“18 cops in order to subdue on man
18 strangled him to death in the ensuing scuffle (don’t
you idolize the diction of the powerful: subdue and
scuffle oh my) and that the murder
that the killing of Arthur Miller on a Brooklyn
street was just a “justifiable accident” again
How do we live in a world where our bodies are not equal.  Where the life of a police officer and the life of a black child are not equal.  Where to be honest, the white body of a college student and that body of color of a college student are not seen the same as police or school administrators.   Where safety means different things for those of us who have survived sexual violence.  Where the bodies of homeless people and the bodies of students, where the bodies of students and the bodies of workers do not balance out into any kind of equation.  How do we use our privilege? Where do we place our bodies?  Who should get arrested? Where should we stand in order to stand up for each other? Who should do what kind of work?  18 to one or one to one?  Beyond Jordan’s propositions about proportions are the places where she falls out of rhythm and reveals that actually what a life is equal to cannot be quantified.  It only be approached by poetry.  She says
“sometimes the feeling like amaze me baby
comes back to my mouth and I am quiet”
“sometimes thinking about the 12th House of the Cosmos
or the way your ear ensnares the tip
of my tongue or signs that I have never seen
Our bodies are possible futures that end when we are sacrificed by the state or by each other. Amazement.  Signs that we have never seen.   Our bodies are places where love gets actualized and electrified.   That one body that you live in, the body of a person that you love is not interchangeable with anything on a one to one or eighteen to one basis.  How do we hold the math and the meaning together in a way that honors everyone here and everyone who is not here for any reason and everyone we remember and everyone we hope will be born.  Majority is complicated.
            And finally how do will fill this time, activate our purpose, understand the interconnected issues that my not be calculable into unpaid bills or percentages of debt to be decreased, or lost retirement savings or years left to work? How do we hold the ongoing violence of genocide in mind while insisting and benefiting from the language of occupation on stolen land?  How do we account for the needs of the majority of us who are survivors or co-survivors of sexual violence and many other forms of trauma in an anarchist or directly democratic space like this.   The last black feminist poem I will bring is Ntozake Shange’s With No Immediate Cause.
Where she reminds us what is going on in our society most of the time:
“every 3 minutes a woman is beaten
every five minutes a woman is raped
every ten minutes a lil girl is molested”
She goes through her day encountering the traumatic repetition of system violence, using the statistics generated by the movement to end violence against women to create another majority, the perpetual presence of violence, and the perpetual traumatic reawakening of survivors to the trauma they have experienced.   As a survivor and a person who is horrified by any act of gendered violence, she has to wonder if each person she encounters participated in the routine practice of violence at some minute, three minutes ago or 30 years ago.  And when she reads her newspaper outraged that they report:
“there is some concern
that alleged battered women
might start to murder
their husbands & lovers with no
immediate cause”
We should think about those in this movement of the 99% who dismiss the concerns of survivors of sexual violence about what it means to truly create safety, not only from the police, but also within our progressive movement where gendered violence is still an issue as it is within all communities.  We should think about what it means to dismiss those concerns in favor of more “immediate” priorities, like how to look badass and have an encampment.   We should think about those who despite the critique of the language of occupation brought by indigenous activists and allies again and again feel like at this point the brand is more important than our outrage. That the immediate issue is the banks and that settler colonialism is an issue that is somehow over, when the land is still occupied, when genocide is a traumatic violence that we experience right now in the present through the continued disrespect and refusal to acknowledge indigenous presence and history all over this continent.   And we should learn from Shange when in response to the nonsense about no immediate cause, and the administrative inconvenience that the self-defense of survivors of gendered violence would cause she says,
“I spit up I vomit I am screaming
we all have immediate cause
every 3 minutes
every 5 minutes
every 10 minutes
every day…”
We have cause to stand up for each other.  Immediately.  And ethical majority, means acknowledging that time is full with reasons to listen to each other, to support each other, to transform ourselves towards true solidarity with each other across so many differences.  Thank you for finding immediate cause to act on what you believe in.  Thank you for filling your time with this experiment of how we can live and for how long together.  For asking how solid our solidarity can be.  You are more than 99%.   You are the whole future.  You are doing this in the sight of our ancestors and the trees that used to be here and the sun that could rise.  And history will ask us what was this mostly about, will ask, while making major history, what kind of a majority did we make together?   And when it adds up and we answer I hope all my black feminist ancestors and elders will be prouder than a math problem, proud like a poem beating in the middle of your heart, in the ground and all around.  I hope you will be proud of who we were.  This complicated majority.  All of us.
 Thank you.