Alice Walker on Democratic Womanism, Color Purple, Justice and the Election

I know this sounds like I live under a rock, but I have yet to read the Color Purple. I’ve heard of this book so many years ago and watched the movie, but never read the book. Nor can I say I have ever read literature by the great Alice Walker. Watched her lectures and read articles, yes. But books, no. After watching her interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, I was reminded about how much I have missed out on. I am a huge fan now and am so much in awe of her, that I can’t wait to read more of her work. Even Amy Goodman seems a bit giddy by interviewing Alice Walker. The full interview can be found here (It starts at 16:23 and it’s well worth the watch, simply brilliant!) but I wanted to share the poem she read at the end of the interview. Just Amazing.

(More on Alice Walker, NPR does a section on Alice Walker’s rediscovery of Zora Neale Hurston found here. Visit Alice Walker’s Website and be inspired!)

Democratic Womanism A Poem by Alice Walker

You ask me why I smile
when you tell me you intend
in the coming national elections
to hold your nose
and vote for the lesser of two evils.
There are more than two evils out there,
is one reason I smile.
Another is that our old buddy Nostradamus
comes to mind, with his fearful
400 year old prophecy: that our world
and theirs too
(our “enemies” – lots of kids included there)
will end (by nuclear nakba or holocaust)
in our lifetime. Which makes the idea of elections
and the billions of dollars wasted on them
somewhat fatuous.
A Southerner of Color,
my people held the vote
very dear
while others, for centuries,
merely appeared to play
with it.
One thing I can assure
you of is this:
I will never betray such pure hearts
by voting for evil
even if it were microscopic
which, as you can see in any newscast
no matter the slant,
it is not.
I want something else;
a different system
entirely.
One not seen
on this earth
for thousands of years. If ever.
Democratic Womanism.
Notice how this word has “man” right in the middle of it?
That’s one reason I like it. He is right there, front and center. But he is surrounded.
I want to vote and work for a way of life
that honors the feminine;
a way that acknowledges
the theft of the wisdom
female and dark Mother leadership
might have provided our spaceship
all along.
I am not thinking
of a talking head
kind of gal:
happy to be mixing
it up
with the baddest
bad boys
on the planet
her eyes a slit
her mouth a zipper.
No, I am speaking of true
regime change.
Where women rise
to take their place
en masse
at the helm
of earth’s frail and failing ship;
where each thousand years
of our silence
is examined
with regret,
and the cruel manner in which our values
of compassion and kindness
have been ridiculed
and suppressed
brought to bear on the disaster
of the present time.
The past must be examined closely, I believe, before we can leave
it there.
I am thinking of Democratic, and, perhaps
Socialist, Womanism.
For who else knows so deeply
how to share but Mothers
and Grandmothers? Big sisters
and Aunts?
To love
and adore
both female and male?
Not to mention those in between.
To work at keeping
the entire community
fed, educated
and safe?
Democratic womanism,
Democratic Socialist
Womanism,
would have as its icons
such fierce warriors
for good as
Vandana Shiva
Aung San Suu Kyi,
Wangari Maathai
Harriet Tubman
Yoko Ono
Frida Kahlo
Angela Davis
& Barbara Lee:
With new ones always rising, wherever you look.
You are also on this list, but it is so long (Isis would appear midway) that I must stop or be unable to finish the poem! So just know I’ve stood you in a circle that includes Marian Wright Edelman, Amy Goodman, Sojourner Truth, Gloria Steinem and Mary McLeod Bethune. John Brown, Frederick Douglass, John Lennon and Howard Zinn are there. Happy to be surrounded!
There is no system
There is no system
now in place
that can change
the disastrous course
the Earth is on.
Who can doubt this?
The male leaders
of Earth
appear to have abandoned
their very senses
though most appear
to live now
entirely
in their heads.
They murder humans and other
animals
forests and rivers and mountains
every day
they are in office
and never seem
to notice it.
They eat and drink devastation.
Women of the world,
Women of the world,
Is this devastation Us?
Would we kill whole continents for oil
(or anything else)
rather than limit
the number of consumer offspring we produce
and learn how to make our own fire?
Democratic Womanism.
Democratic Socialist Womanism.
A system of governance
we can dream and imagine and build together. One that recognizes
at least six thousand years
of brutally enforced complicity
in the assassination
of Mother Earth, but foresees six thousand years
ahead of us when we will not submit.
What will we need? A hundred years
at least to plan: (five hundred will be handed us
gladly
when the planet is scared enough)
in which circles of women meet,
organize ourselves, and,
allied with men
brave enough to stand with women,
men brave enough to stand with women,
nurture our planet to a degree of health.
And without apology —-
(impossible to make
a bigger mess than has been made already) -—
devote ourselves, heedless of opposition,
to tirelessly serving and resuscitating Our Mother ship
and with gratitude
for Her care of us
worshipfully commit
to rehabilitating it.

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Could you survive on a weekly paycheck? Play spent and find out

I saw someone post this game on twitter called “Spent” from Urban Ministries of Durham. I am not familar with the organization, but was deeply taken by the game. I played it twice, before deciding to share it here and let others also experience it for themselves. The first time I played it, I cashed out on day 8. Damn, I would be homeless. I know it is only a game, but it is very scary and eye opening, because it is real life for many folks and allows us to “experience” such an experience. It is one thing to read reports as I often do and I do deeply care about these issues, but a whole different ball game to put yourself in that situation. Even when you think you know, reality is you don’t know jack and this game just showed it to me.

Reminded me of the book Nickel and Dimed and how author Barbara Ehrenreich took on the role of a minimum wage worker. I encourage you to read that book if this subject is of interest to you, it’s short and very informative.

The game throws at you, real life situations (as also described in Nickel and Dimed), such as paying for health insurance, medications, or your child’s after school programs just to name a few. What was interesting is that I ran out of money by doing the “right thing”, such as paying for any loans, putting the kid in after school programs, or going to the doctor before it was too late. My money ran further when I skipped those things in order to buy food or pay rent/gas, however this choice led to my debt increasing, car being possessed, unhappy kid, and putting my health in danger. Either way, I couldn’t win.

Try it for yourself here and let me know how you did.

The Moth Presents Anthony Griffith: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

A good friend of mine had sent me the radio link about a year ago. I was moved to tears by this powerful tale. This week, I’ve seen the video being shared in various blogs and thought I’d share it here also. Please listen to this powerful, very touching story.

Balpreet Kaur, a powerful message

Saw this great post today. Such a powerful and positive message from this young lady Balpreet.

Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture. I actually didn’t know about this until one of my friends told on facebook. If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled However, I’m not embarrased or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positve] that this picture is getting because, it’s who I am. Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will. Just as a child doesn’t reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying ‘mine, mine’ and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a seperateness between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions. My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can. So, to me, my face isn’t important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are. So, if anyone sees me at OSU, please come up and say hello. I appreciate all of the comments here, both positive and less positive because I’ve gotten a better understanding of myself and others from this. Also, the yoga pants are quite comfortable and the Better Together tshirt is actually from Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that focuses on storytelling and engagement between different faiths. I hope this explains everything a bit more, and I apologize for causing such confusion and uttering anything that hurt anyone.

Fore more see http://jezebel.com/5946643/reddit-users-attempt-to-shame-sikh-woman-get-righteously-schooled

Dances With Ignorance

Good message.

“The best way to learn about any people is to drop your preconceived notions and approach them with an open mind and heart.”

Are we a paranoid society?

Usually I take one main road from home to school, and from school back home. About half way during the trip on several occasions, I have noticed this woman, who was carrying grocery bags and walking home. Our state has no transit system at all. There are buses, but even so one would walk a long distance.

So I see this woman perhaps several times on my en rought and each time that little voice tells me give her a ride, but there is also that other voice that says maybe she doesn’t want your ride, after-all I am a stranger. I wouldn’t take a ride from a stranger.

Yesterday, I saw her again on my en rought and she was struggling big time. I couldn’t take it, so I stopped my car, pulled down my window and asked her if she needed a ride. I expected a polite no thank you, but she seemed relieved. I helped her with the groceries and asked her for directions to her home. Turns out she lives in a neighborhood close to our business and that is why I usually see her when I am driving down that road. We talked for a bit. She seemed like a nice lady, who fell on hard times. Since I can be very sensitive, I was trying hard not to be overly emotional while talking to her, because people don’t like pity, but it’s hard to see someone alone and struggling on their own.

I gave her my number and told her to call me if she needed to do grocery. I thought I did the right thing, until I narrated the story to my family and our friends, who were at the business where I stopped before going home. Let’s just say they managed to scare the shit out of me. They seemed to have an example after example of a person, who was being a good Samaritan only to be taken advantage of, robbed, or even killed. One story, involved a guy, who used to give rides to one of his co-workers. One day he told the co-worker he was unable to give him a ride and had business to take care of. The co-worker got so angry that he shot him dead. This story, in which I don’t even know if true was to designed to scare me and encourage me to not get involved after this point, because eventually this lady would expect rides from me and if I don’t deliver then I’m going to be hit. And I don’t mean Bruce Lee hit.

I know it may sound silly to some of us, but you should’ve heard them tell those stories. I do think their opinions are reflective of our society. We are paranoid. We think people will rob us, stab us, rape us, or do some other horrible thing to us. We are so paranoid that we even withhold our kindness to our fellow human beings, because we are afraid it may backfire on us. We view kindness/friendliness from strangers towards us as some kind of a cover-up for their evil intentions. We are paranoid of what strangers may do to us. We are paranoid if we get involved, we may suffer the consequences. I don’t agree with this outlook, but I can’t say I am not affected. I’ve been conditioned to be paranoid. What’s the cure? There is a thin line between caution and paranoia perhaps.

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All

This is a very long, but interesting article that maybe of important interest to many of us, women and men. I am still reading it myself and was going to tweet it, but rather I thought to post it here. There is a lot to think about and may I say it is not comfortable sort of thinking. This is an old debate about balancing motherhood and a demanding career, but it’s a fresh and resourceful perpective that is different this time around.

Quote: They have an answer that we don’t want to hear. After the speech I gave in New York, I went to dinner with a group of 30-somethings. I sat across from two vibrant women, one of whom worked at the UN and the other at a big New York law firm. As nearly always happens in these situations, they soon began asking me about work-life balance. When I told them I was writing this article, the lawyer said, “I look for role models and can’t find any.” She said the women in her firm who had become partners and taken on management positions had made tremendous sacrifices, “many of which they don’t even seem to realize … They take two years off when their kids are young but then work like crazy to get back on track professionally, which means that they see their kids when they are toddlers but not teenagers, or really barely at all.” Her friend nodded, mentioning the top professional women she knew, all of whom essentially relied on round-the-clock nannies. Both were very clear that they did not want that life, but could not figure out how to combine professional success and satisfaction with a real commitment to family.

Full length article found here on the Atlantic: http://m.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-can-8217-t-have-it-all/9020/1/

The Paradox of our age

 

The “Religious” and their war on women.

What religious extremists have in common, apart from hating everyone that doesn’t agree with their world view is their war on women.

The “religious” are obsessed with women and their bodies. If they, these good men of God could have their way then the first order of business would not be to feed the poor, or to heal the injured, or to take care of the orphans in society. You know all of those good deeds that the Holy book teaches.

Oh no. Their greatest moral duty on earth would be to cover up women’s bodies under yards upon yards of fabric and exclude her from any participation in society. This would mean for women, no schooling, no working outside of the home, and none of that nonsense of pursuing her own destiny.

Sit down, don’t talk back, stay in the home to protect your purity and when you are of age give birth to the next generation of good religious men.

“Religious” nutcases in all faiths and cultures love to control women. Controlling women is the 11th commandment or sixth article of faith. Going by their actions when they have power, the need to control women is actually the most important commandment.

It is a strong moral duty they all share, from Kabul, to Mogadishu, to Utah, to Beit Shemesh. http://youtu.be/I5HKtaaws-g

When I hear of some religious interpretations that these so called people of God advance, I can see why there are atheists and folks that want to abolish religion all together. A person of God is supposed to be about serving humanity with kindness, compassion, and mercy for everyone. Yet often you will see people that call themselves “religious” being the harshest, the most unkind, and merciless to others.  Not to mention suffocating the hell out of people and taking away their rights.

I am just happy I learned about my religion before I came across these good men of God.

 

 

Questions to ask yourself

I found these questions very important to ask oneself. Credit goes source

There are hundreds more found on their website, I picked these few that I found important after a few minutes on their site, not that all other questions are not important and many more we ask (or should ask ourselves).