Tag Archives: feminism

Women

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I”m reading The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson about the great migration. Millions of African Americans escaped the Jim Crow south — fanning out to the northeast, midwest, west — for the promise of a better life and opportunities theretofore unthinkable. And I’m reminded of this poem by Alice Walker. Walker included this poem in a collection about whom she calls “revolutionaries and lovers”.

The Women
by Alice Walker

They were women then
My mama’s generation
Husky of voice—Stout of
Step
With fists as well as
Hands
How they battered down
Doors
And ironed
Starched white
Shirts
How they led
Armies
Headragged generals
Across mined
Fields
Booby-trapped
Ditches
To discover books
Desks
A place for us
How they knew what we
Must know
Without knowing a page
Of it
Themselves.

© Alice Walker, in Revolutionary Petunias, 1973
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Intifada Incantation: Poem 38 for b.b.L.

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So, you probably are wondering why I would choose an intifada incantation as a love poem. If you’re already familiar with June Jordan, you’re likely just happy to see the poem and are already reading it. I was first introduced to June Jordan in a college Women’s Studies class. Learning about feminism and activism, finding a language for my experience of being Black and Female and Poor — June Jordan gave me a way to think about LOVE as a source of power and connection – a place to fight from and a force to fight for.

June Jordan’s work is beautiful when read out loud…

June Jordan

I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED
GENOCIDE TO STOP
I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED AFFIRMATIVE
ACTION AND REACTION
I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED MUSIC
OUT THE WINDOWS
I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED
NOBODY THIRST AND NOBODY
NOBODY COLD
I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED I WANTED
JUSTICE UNDER MY NOSE
I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED
BOUNDARIES TO DISAPPEAR
I WANTED
NOBODY ROLL BACK THE TREES!
I WANTED
NOBODY TAKE AWAY DAYBREAK!
I WANTED NOBODY FREEZE ALL THE PEOPLE ON THEIR
KNEES!

I WANTED YOU
I WANTED YOUR KISS ON THE SKIN OF MY SOUL
AND NOW YOU SAY YOU LOVE ME AND I STAND
DESPITE THE TRILLION TREACHERIES OF SAND
YOU SAY YOU LOVE ME AND I HOLD THE LONGING
OF THE WINTER IN MY HAND
YOU SAY YOU LOVE ME AND I COMMIT
TO FRICTION AND THE UNDERTAKING
OF THE PEARL

YOU SAY YOU LOVE ME
YOU SAY YOU LOVE ME

AND I HAVE BEGUN
I BEGIN TO BELIEVE MAYBE
MAYBE YOU DO

I AM TASTING MYSELF
IN THE MOUNTAIN OF THE SUN

Originally published in The Witness magazine, October 2002

that one’s for some one(s) who say you love me. I hope you know who you are.