Five years ago we took to the stage to shine a light on the place where gender, racial, caste, sexual, economic, political, cultural apartheid meets in a place where all the walls of apartheid meet. We took to a five hundred seat theatre of a college in the shadow of New York City’s skyline in the borough of the Bronx.
We took to the stage in the shadow of a village in the Congo being captured in silence as women were raped over and over for thirty days by rebel soldiers. We took to the stage after a brave woman shattered the silence in Iran with a scream for human rights before a screaming bullet shattered her fire and pierced her throat. We took to the stage in the shadow of seven-year-old African-American Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley Jones’ home being invaded by a clan of policemen waking a sleeping child to the nightmare of racial terrorism, only to leave a dream silenced captive in the struggle as a bullet inscribed an empty school desk of the answer to our discontent, “a dream deferred.”
We took to the stage as villagers gathered with their stones outside Asha Saini house to leave love drenched in the crimson tide of a so called ‘honour killing’. We took to the stage as the knife of FGM was sharpened against the rock in Senegal and the rock of the home place was shattered by the fist of domestic violence in France, and a boat of refugees from Iraq sank off the coast of Australia. We took to the stage as Angie Zapata cold blooded murder was ruled the “first hate crime of a transgender woman” despite the long list of hate crimes against transgender women of color. We took to the stage when Zhang Miao was stabbed to death in China after being run down by a cab leaving her job as a waitress.
We took to the stage with the spirit of indigenous women demanding their right to their land, to women in confrontation with multinationals throughout South America, as the choking gun smoke ended in landscape painted in the bodies of too many Sri Lankan women and children, we took to the stage.
We took to the stage and focused a light on five hundred patrons in a living and breathing confrontational ritual in ethnographic theatre of the largest crisis, a human rights scandal, one that eludes no district, region, state or continent. We took the light and we shined it on the audience, no barriers, as we said, keep your whitening creams, stop corporatizing women’s bodies into institutional profiteering and labeling it as liberation to sell your products, your fetishes, your fantasies, your idea that a woman’s body is an object of your entitlement.
We took to the stage to dismantle the Islamophobia, to echo the bravery of women in apartheid Palestine, in Gaza, the West Bank, and throughout the Middle East occupation. We took to the stage gripping to history slamming our bodies against the hardwood in the name of Syria’s daughters. In the name of armed women throwing their bodies into the bullets in the name of liberation.In the name that no liberation on earth from an occupying force, colonizing force, has ever stacked their spine into the posture of resistance without the women on the front lines.
We came armed with histories muted that raged though our veins and echoed through our mouths in the tongues diverse in the wisdom of states joined together on the continent of Africa.
We banged our feet on the floor in the unrelenting drumming and humming, buzzing of women laboring and slaving in so called “free trade zones” in Bangladesh.
We tuned the landscape of buzzing, manufacturing, laboring, exploiting, and pillaging of dignity spinning our globe in potential unraveling in the threads sewn into clothes made in the lands of femicide in the Juarez desert under the clouds of imperialism, the common thread.
Then three years later. We walked onto the stage in the name of Jyoti Singh Pandey. We left in tears because in Jyoti’s name we pulled together the lost names, dreams, lights and lives who for diverse reasons of unreasonable gross intersections of misogyny ended at the shaking inadequacy of hyper-masculinity in a patriarchal world that looks away in silence.
We walked off the stage and took the light into the streets, classrooms, wherever we were invited, where we weren’t invited, with friends, and opposite some enemies too.
In so doing, we made friends around the world who said from where we are to where you are, in all those speaking up, speaking out, standing up, standing out, from the concrete to the dirt roads, we stand united on the same plateau, flat on the grassroots. It was from that looking place we turned up together at a vision of wisdom rolling from waves crashing together in the centre of the ocean, and saw a sky with no borders, no east, no west, no more.
Never since that day three years ago have we taken a break because violence against women has not taken a break, injustice has yet to break, the idea that a court or law can bring a woman back to life is still breaking news next to the headline, “Justice For…” Yet “…” isn’t alive to live her justice, because “…” is buried in the ground, because “…” lives in a society in which justice for “…” isn’t proactive, its retroactive, and “…” names is donned in the mesh of every woman’s name.
We haven’t taken a break because the breaking of too many women hasn’t taken a break. The breaking sound of the latest rape, FGM, domestic violence, forced marriage, denial of food, denial of sanitary pads, denial of a pad and pencil keeps us up at night.
The ignorant responses in lame-stream media have not taken a break. The diversions on marketing, public relations and corporate culture have not taken a break. So we will march on till we find that breaking point between us and artificial institutions that break too many of us.
Since we have embarked on the journey of Price of Silence from the stage to the streets, we have never taken a single day off. We have worked 365 days a year, nonstop for the last three years.
Recently, some activists have had their Facebook accounts silenced, we weren’t impervious to this and we don’t know the reason for this, but whatever the reason is, it won’t stop us.
Social media is the medium and the medium is not the message. The message is all women’s rights right now.
The message from the stage to the streets, the world round, under the stage lights, street lights, guiding lights of women taking back the nights, from our shows to this page there is no dichotomy, no spectrum of worth, we are diversely wonderful, endless in potential, human, and worthy of every resource for access to the path in the direction of equality.
We can be muted from one medium and we’ll find another, the message goes on.
The women who screamed “Amandala” (Power) in the streets of apartheid South Africa, Johannesburg to Durban that trickled through the rain of tears when they got the message, cause of death, “she slipped in the prison shower” dripped into the oceans only to catalyze the tidal wave of citizens of the world into action in a current of consciousness shouting back, “Awethu” (Truth). Together, five fingers of five continents formed the fist that gripped the brush of art in resistance and chronicled in blood the names lost in a global quake.
When the world comes together, it takes one precedent to rock unity into a hammer against the walls of prison cells, to shatter the mind and free the ironic stagnation of movement standing still to a movement in action.
When women, Dalit women, stood as firm as they did in the fight against caste oppression, culminating the trust of the future in the rally cry, “Buddham! Dhamman! Sangham!” Educate! Agitate! Organize!
You cut down a school girl in Afghanistan; we take simple action that collectively shines the light on our resistance. We don’t let you pull the lights until the next tragedy happens. The Huffington Post is not the message. The Guardian is not the Message. No magazine, print or blog from Lebanon to Australia is the message. The message is women’s rights begin in the eyes, the right to existence, and the life of the individual the inherent dignity of the individual. Women’s rights begins in diverse dialogues, in diverse languages, in unity in action, to create a diverse foundation for a bridge built on inalienable, intersectional, rights from where all humanity can cross and meet at the centre.
When you cut down the school girl in Afghanistan, when you suspend the black girl from school in the United States, when you threaten the garment worker in Indonesia with sexual violence, when you deny maternal, reproductive rights or deny that poverty is a man made weapon targeted and aimed at women, you don’t put out the lights. You can’t turn out the lights of one woman, because in every awakened artist and activist, organizer and feet marching on the ground, we extend our candlelight in that woman’s light and take to the night as a common torch. Amandala! Awethu! Educate! Sangham!
It takes one act of courage, one stand, one precedent to change the dynamics of our struggle, to frame the foundation we need to come together and fight for every girl and woman to not just to realize their innate human dignity, but to realize their innate dignity in the resources to actualize their potential in vision of a society, their nation, and the global community to rise to that level of dignity and respect and then reach its potential as a human society.
Social media isn’t going to do it, but it is a place where can unite as people fed up and get down to getting it done. Awethu.
Social media is a way for us to connect as a global society, in recognition that for diverse socio-cultural, economic, structural thin reasons of ravaged social ideology , from diverse histories, from interconnected histories, from histories of being conquered, histories of being colonized, from a legacy of attempting to pilfer the pages of women’s vast contribution from the consciousness of humanity, from the omission of history books, from robbing the stories of righteous women paving the way to this moment.
Right from the Queens of Ethiopia, Candace of Meroe and her defeat of Alexander the Great (332 B.C.), Amanirenas, Amanishakhete, Nawidemak, Amanitore Shanakdakh, and Malegereabar, to Fatima al-Fihri founding the first university, to Yennega, an emblematic figure in Burkina Faso, who was the mother of Ouedraogo, the founder of the dynasties of the Moose chieftains, the poet Shangguan Wan’er, to the Aztec women who defined history in defiance, Glory of the Morning only known female chief of the Hocąk nation, Queen Nanny rebel leader of leader of the Jamaican Maroons, Truganini Aboriginal Tasmanian (Palawa)- negotiator, diplomat and guerrilla fighter, Rani Lakshmibai who defined the term freedom fighter dying combating British Colonialists with her son on her back, Harriet Tubman, suffragette Sophia Duleep Singh, Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last queen of Hawaii, Lucy Gonzales Parsons helps screeches across the Alamo for women workers of the world as Hilana Sedarous recommences the medical practice in the name of women in Egypt, “Jam’iat e nesvan e vatan-khah” Society of Patriotic Women in Iran founded by Mohtaram Eskandari. Women’s Union in Syria, to the women fighting Jim Crowe.
Our resistance, the fire this time, is anointed in oil ravaged war from which oppression has so called fueled development. Our resistance shatters pages of lies in the fire this time burned into history from which we charcoal out our iconography in murals painted over in flames powering torches through this endless night. Angelia Davis, Leila Khaled, Amrita Pritam, Sylvia Rivera, women lock and step in the streets of Dhaka on Language Day, AMNLAE- Asociacion de Mujeres Nicaraguenses Luisa Amanda Espinosa Sandinistas as Women and the Armed Struggle in Nicaragua, women’s power in struggle in the streets of Lahore.
Patriarchy has spun our world backwards. It has reversed the global pull to misaligned industrial, corporate capital, with that of human capital, social capital and the capitalization of the individualization of infinite potential in one girl, one woman, anywhere and everywhere.
Patriarchy is the ultimate scalpel, the bloodletting of humanity, running rivers of blood through streets into oceans. Yet that red blood of commonality scripts the disposition of the dispossessed’s discontent. Now we must integrate the black wax, the molded clay of the earth’s first peoples, indigenous peoples, diverse languages, into a common red blood curdling rally call summonsing waves of surging diversity into a common blood of oppression circulating, guiding the blood pressure of currents toward a meeting crests of unity of the alienated, marginalized, subjugated.
Yet, we must be prepared for a rough tide. Through the night, the storm, our lights, our torches, our cry, will meet, in the lines, “you can cut down the flowers, but you can’t stop the coming of spring.”
Awethu, truth, begins by recognizing history and supporting the history scripted now. Sangham, organize, in the burning solar powered essence that resistance collides with the truth and wisdom of history in the intersection where the present discontent finds vision. We aren’t here to integrate Hollywood. There are enough talented women, black screen writers, Muslim directors, artisans of Hindu faith and atheists, Trans and LGBTQIA. Hollywood has had over hundred years to integrate and it hasn’t because the medium is the message. The medium as white as the board of its Academy. It has been the cultural vanguard of bigotry and plastic standards of beauty. Just the same as Bollywood has sold whitening creams and misogyny, Hollywood has sold lies and guarded those lies with the public relations of once a year giving us a movie about a woman, told through the narrow sanitized lens of the medium.
When in the history of humanity has an institution changed till it has been bent over the chair of paucity in the challenging of it by the awakened in narration of a boycott? Never. People stood up faster for Jennifer Lawrence not getting paid the same as her male counterparts than they did for a woman in poverty working in a garment sweat shop. We are rallying against trickle down economics, culture, liberation, by trickle down activism. No more the trusts over the sociocultural capital of our world are coming together in the currency of activism. It is speaking a golden age of resistance toward a golden future of human rights.
We come closer when rape isn’t something we talk about only when it is perpetrated by a celebrity. It is closer when one rape is enough to say enough. It is enough when we say a rape of a migrant, a domestic worker, a woman at a bar, a woman in her college dorm, a woman living on the street. It is enough for us to charge our ideas on the electricity transferred from the age of stagnation, marketing and public relations to one in which we say “Anti-misogyny treaty now.”
A treaty in which all genders learn women’s histories, caste histories, gender identities, reproductive and sexual rights and education. It’s an education in which we get creative and say we want children from differing districts and economic statuses, different identities coming to work together in field studies, learning cooperation and humanity. It’s an education where we teach conflict resolution. It’s an education where we teach diversity. It’s an education where the lost pages of history are glued and bound back into the books of time only to change these times.
A treaty in which mechanisms of funding are created, as jobs are created, to pull resources into a fund to bring diversity to our cinemas, theatre, and galleries. Not based on multimillionaire artists but our students in the art coming together with ideas and perceptions as diverse as their experiences to expand our social understanding of living through the lens of creativity.
We can revolutionize humanity in the reflection of women blending in diversity into a rally of resistance to dismantle the global conspiracy of silence.
In the courage that a 14 year old Fatime Sughra climbed the ladder of history and took down the Union Jack and Bree Newsome took down the flag of the Confederacy, so shall we build the ladder from which every child, indigenous, melanin rich, Dalit, Palestinian and Darfurian can climb toward the sky carrying the flag of all girls, all women’s, all genders, all sexuality, all people, all shades of melanin’s, liberation.
Now is the time to shatter the 21st Century to reconfigure its coming storm in the image of women everywhere. The revolution will not be brought to you by Facebook, by Twitter, by the Guardian, by TIME, the New York Times, NGO complexes, the Global Citizens Concert of Corportatocracy, or USAID.
The revolution will be brought to you by you taking your talents to your district, your state, your city, your town, village, street and home in the name of revolution. The only way one can do this is through the support of you and in the support of one another, instead of one and “other” that we waken the soul of the history that has propelled us to this day when revolution is in our reach. Amandala! Awethu! Buddham! Dhamman! Sangham! One diverse intersectional movement in culture for the people.