Sisters, What Are You Willing To Destroy?(Speech and Video from the St. Louis Nat’l Women’s March)

Treasure Shields Redmond is center wearing the “Assata Taught Me” hoodie.

When I was first asked to participate in the national women’s March, I declined because I thought it was just another example in the long line of examples of wrongheaded white feminism.

You see I knew the history, and I knew that the sorority of which I am a member, Delta Sigma Theta, marched with white suffragettes in 1913 as their first political act.

No sweeping feminist collaboration followed.

I knew that Fannie Lou Hamer, a fellow black woman and Mississippian, helped to found the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971.

No sweeping feminist collaboration followed.

So when this march was proposed, the words of genius humorist, Moms Mabley rang in my head: “If you see a fool. Bump his head. If you see a damn fool, bump it twice.”

You see, I’ve come to find the white feminist narrative of “equality” increasingly troubling.

When my ancestors walked off of plantations in order to join and the Civil War. They didn’t walk off for equality. Slaves did not want to be equal enslavers. They wanted to disrupt a system.

So I ask you Sisters, what are you willing to disrupt?

When Trans women of color led the charge for our collective humanity at Stonewall, they didn’t want to be equal brutalizers, silencers and disappearers.

So I ask you Sisters, what are you willing to disavow?

When Native women led the fight for our life aka WATER, they didn’t want to be equal polluters.

So I ask you Sisters, what are you willing to destroy?

I’m going to leave you with a vision before I end with a poem:

It’s a Monday morning and people are wiping sleep from their eyes. They go to the daycare and there are no women there to keep the babies. They go to the school and there are no teachers on the platform to teach the children. They go to enter a bus. No women are driving. They go to the financial district and no women are bartering and trading. Imagine the policies that we could influence if we withdrew ourselves in this way on a workday week?

So I ask you Sisters what are you willing to strike for?


oath:1957

all they saw

were the whites of her heels

winking back at them

her dark elbow

shoulder high

the wrench — a blur

above her nappy plaits

as she whirled it

as if to wring its neck

as if to sanctify it

as if to show it to the ghosts

as proof of her oath: “i swear

‘fo god”

they say the sound

she made — more like warning

than a scream

slingshot soprano, returning

going away

reappearing

like fingers

moving

from cotton sack to row

they say the sound

was a choctaw vibrato,

undulating

water moccasin

across a clay bottom creek

wail rising

spine through skin

[you can wail here]

“i swear ‘fo god”

they say the sound was a tearing/

birthing herself

breech, feet first

pulling the ankle

of her own twin soul

[you can moan here]

they say the sound was birthright/

takeback sound

[you can clap here]

the clap of a generation

righting itself

the sound she made as her yellow legs

carried her out of the screen door

away from the man

she thought she killed

away from the tableau

of 3 terrified colored babies

away from the dazed living room

away from the sound of a system’s head cracking open.

Sisters, what are you willing to destroy?

Originally published on www.femininepronoun.com