Monday, November 9, 2009

The Feminists Will Never Be Satisfied...

I originally wrote this for a Women’s History class a few years ago. It is written to be a spoken word piece. In light of the recent blow to women's health care and choice with the Stupak Amendment I decided to go find it and post it as a sort of rally cry.

The Feminists Will Never Be Satisfied.

The other day someone said “those feminists will never be satisfied”. And I thought …“you’re right”.

As much as I would like to nod my head and say "thank you" for all the rights that I have, and as much as I would like to smile, just be pretty and clap my hands,

I know that the freedoms I enjoy today were taken- radically- by the foremothers before me.

Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Sarah Winnemucca, Frances Harper, Ida B. Wells, Mary Kenney, Carey Thomas, Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony.

Each of these women fought with their minds, words, and bodies for people's sovereignty.

They weren’t satisfied with the prescription of what it meant to be a woman. Black women on their back, in the house- not their own house- and domesticated. Brown women invisible, killed off, bred out and assimilated. White women, quiet with no voice or opinion, their words negated.

No. They were not satisfied.

This country was built on the backs of women and born from between their thighs. Yet they had to wait for over 150 before they even had basic citizen’s rights.

And they weren’t given it. They took it.

As nice as it would be for me to nod my head and say “thank you” for all of the rights that I have, and as much as I would like to smile, just be pretty and clap my hands,
I know that rights I enjoy today were not taken easily.

Rosa Parks, Margaret Mead, Gloria Anzaldua, Angela Davis Audre Lourde, Fannie Lou Hamer, bell hooks, Dolores Huerta, Aice Walker, Mary Daly.

These women have changed world dramatically.

The un-satisfaction of these women is why we are all free to sit in this room together, and it is out of respect for these women and the sacrifices they made, the voices they projected, the bodies they exhausted, the tears they shed, the hands they held, the breathes they took and gave that I call myself a feminist.

See, it’s a respect thing.

Because I realize that it is not something god given that I walk down these streets freely.

I do not believe in grace or chance or luck or wishing. I believe in talking and shouting, in standing up by your sister, in voting, in being seen and heard, in not being a passive by-stander, in letting people have choices, in writing, and protesting, in projecting and in being… un-satisfied.

Because it is not complacency that will give my daughter freedom, and it is not apathy that will give me rule over my own body, and it is not melancholy that will make my mother proud.

And no, we will not be satisfied.

So complacent, apathetic and melancholy is not what I will be, because I am afraid of the continuity.

Women still make less than men for the same job, gender roles still exist, rape is still one of the hardest crimes to prosecute, girls are still getting their clitorises cut off, sexual harassment is still rampant and our government is at war with women’s bodies.

So as much as I would like to nod and say “thank you” for all of the rights I have, as much as I would like to smile, just be pretty and clap my hands-

Instead I stand beside the women of today: Adrienne Rich, Jee Yeun Lee, Jennifer Baumgardner, Amy Richards, Kathleen Hanna, Rebecca Walker, Catherine Orenstein, Naomi Klein and all the others that say “I will not be satisfied”.

Because satisfaction did not get us here, and we are not turning back.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I live in a place...

I live in a place where the people struggle to find their own identity between what the past and present dominant cultures tell them they should be. I live in a place where people are commodities, and it has been that way for centuries. Here, there is a new-age slavery "bend over, touch your toes, show your teeth, lift her titties, exam his balls- damn near sounds like a (dancehall) song, but it's slavery at it's peak"*.

I live in a place where women are the hardest working and least respected. Where sexual harrassment is so ingrained in the culture that most people don't even understand the reason for or the consequences of their words and actions. I live in a place where sexuality, for girls, often is not discovered but rather forced on them.

I live in a place that is not safe for women.

I live in a beautiful place, palm trees and sea. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful people- bodies, mind and soul. Vibrancy and pulse trying to break through the sound of the pre-recorded "caribbean" music playing for tourists coming off ships and planes to discover this exotic land where they have "no problems". I liven a place that those tourists will not see, because they don't hear my girls singing so loud and on a key all their own,because they don't see the tears streaming from Aunt P's eyes as she laughs at every situation because "so it go".

I live in place where the people are commodities, take a picture of them, talk to them like they are a facinating part of this "exotic" culture, try to convert them to your religion, let them play with your "good" hair, but don't listen to their journey and absolutely don't try to see yourself in them because that would be too real. Then you might have to feel something, do something...

I live in this place. Where do you live?

*Song Lyrics taken from Sunni Pattersons "We Made It"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

When did YOU become a feminist?

Recently a friend and I had the "when did you become a feminist?" discussion. For many feminists I have spoken with, if they were not raised with the idea of feminism in their family there usually was an "aha" moment of putting together the pieces of all the injustices and inequalities around them and that eventually (or sometimes immediately) evolved into feminism.

Here's my story: Like every high schooler all over the United States of America I had body image issues of not being pretty enough/ thin enough/ cool enough, etc. I thought I was alone in these thoughts, that I was the only person in my high school who was struggling with these insecurities. Then, my senior year my college credit English teacher introduced me to Jean Kilbourne and her book Can't Buy My Love. Suddenly I realized that not only was I not alone in thinking I was not a good enough person because I didn't fit the beauty standards shown in my Seventeen magazine, but in fact advertisers were actually trying to make me have lower self-esteem so that I would buy their products to make myself more "adequate" to society. This was a revolution in my mind. During this time I also discovered The Vagina Monologues and the V-day campaign. I knew that as soon as I got to college I had to find a safe place to express my views and help me grow in my feminism.

Enter: the Women's Center. This was a place where I truly grew in my college career. I had the opportunity to be in and co-direct the Vagina Monologues, hear internationally renowned advocates speak on women's rights, march with Take Back the Night, have conversations with other people interested in human rights in all capacities, etc etc etc. It was truly a growing experience for me.

I now dedicate my life to working toward human rights for all people, especially women and girls. Feminism has made something positive and wonderful out of the negativity that society throws at us because of greed- and this is why I am a feminist.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Traveling home.

Recently I went back to my home. I enjoyed spending time with my family and friends while there... and of course I enjoyed the art and the vibe of the city.

Check it out:

The road "home" (actually to my grandfather's house):

(I'm a city girl from country stock)

Here is some of the art from the an exhibit at the Nelson-Adkins titled "Beloved Daughters":

This exhibit was one of the most powerful I have seen. The artist did research and interviews to better understand the life experiences of women and girls in India. The exhibition is eye-opening. If you live in KC I suggest you check it out before it ends. Also, you can see the exhibit online here.

Next I went and saw an exhibit entitled "black is, black ain't" at the H&R Block art space here are some highlights:

This one is called "It's About Time"; I can't help but think it looks a lot like Obama's hand :)

Next I visited the Byron C. Cohen gallery and viewed paintings by Deng Wushu entitled "Through the Eyes of a Child":

On Monday I tried to go to the Town Hall meeting with Claire Mccaskill about Health Care Reform. I didn't get in because I was too late, but I did get to experience the vibe by seeing all the people with signs outside the building:

And to wrap it all up, here is some graffiti on a wall off 19th street in the cross-roads:

Much peace.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Art :)

Here are some pictures from Kingston On the Edge. This project was developed by community members in Kingston to bring all the awesome underground art (song, dance, painting, sculpture, poetry, etc) to the foreground of the city.

I (unfortunately) only got to attend two days. However, I did get to hear some amazing sounds (the first picture is of the songstress Brina) and see some amazing transformation in the city.

Go to for more information on art happenings around the Caribbean.

Until then, enjoy the pics :)



We all live up

Let love reign