Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stop Violence Against Women of Color

Recent events in the United States have moved us to action. Violence against women is sadly, not a new phenomenon in our country or in the world, however, in the last year women of color have experienced brutal forms of violence, torture, rape and injustice which have gone unnoticed, received little to no media coverage, or a limited community response. We are responding to:

--The brutal and inhumane rape, torture, and kidnapping of Megan Williams in Logan, West Virginia who was held by six assailants for a month

--Rape survivors in the Dunbar Housing Projects in West Palm Beach, Florida one of whom was forced to perform sexual acts on her own child.

--A 13 year old native American girl was beaten by two white women and has since been harassed by several men yelling “white power” outside of her home

--Seven black lesbian girls attempted to stop an attacker and were later charged with aggravated assault and are facing up to 11 year prison sentences

Today, people around the country are, among other acts of protest, wearing red, gathering, and reading aloud this litany.

Out of the Silence, We Come: A Litany
Out of the silence, we come
In the name of nuestras abuelas,
In honor of our mamas
In the spirit of our petit fils,
In tribute to ourselves
We come crying out
Documenting the torture
We come wailing
Reporting the rape
We come singing
Testifying to the abuse
We come knowing
Knowing that the silence has not protected us from
the racism
the sexism
the homophobia
the physical pain
the emotional shame
the auction block

Once immobilized by silence
We come now, mobilized by collective voice
Dancing in harmonious move-ment to the thick drumbeat of la lucha, the struggle

We come indicting those who claim to love us, but violate us

We come prosecuting those who are paid to protect us, but harass us

We come sentencing those who say they represent us, but render
us invisible

Out of the Silence, we come
Naming ourselves
Telling our stories
Fighting for our lives
Refusing to accept that we were never meant to survive

Monday, October 22, 2007

The McCann Sisters Perform

Here are our geeky, goofy girls (Catherine is 2 and is rarely still long enough to comb her hair; Frances is 7 and lives for the spotlight) giving a command performance for their parents.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My Inner Angela Davis

It's been pointed out to me by several folk (well, really, only one folk and she knows who she is) that this space has been rather quiet lately. There's a long, boring story about tenure and new responsibilities at work, coupled with my indecision about exactly what to do with this space that explains it all--but I won't bother you with that. Instead, I'll venture into the always fraught world of black women's hair.

Since May I've been sporting cute, shoulder-length single braids. I had braids in grad school and when I first got married and I loved them, primarily because I couldn't be lazier when it comes to doing anything to my hair. I stopped wearing braids for a number of reasons, including being too impatient to sit for the 8-10 hours it takes to do my hair, but also because I concluded (as does mainstream culture) that I looked less young and more professional without them.

My innate hair laziness took over this summer, though, and the braids returned. I loved them. I kept them in for our vow renewal in June and for the start of classes in August. And was all set to get them redone last week when a minor catastrophe occurred.

When I undid my braids, my hair was tangled at the roots, so much so that I became convinced that I would need to cut it all off. I have really thick, shoulder-length hair, so cutting all but an inch or two off is drastic. But I was willing to do it, reading the moment as the universe's way of telling me it was time to start growing a sweet Angela Davis 'fro.

The only problem was that I couldn't find anyone in Charleston to cut my hair. Admittedly, after the first two people, both black women, refused (both very matter-of-factly telling me I was mistaken about wanting to cut all my hair off), my resolve weakened. Maybe the universe wasn't telling me to find my inner Angela Davis. Maybe it was saying I needed to go back to my chemically-enhanced soccer mom ponytail.

Brian wound up having to untangle my hair. The third woman I went to relaxed and trimmed my hair, ooh-ing and aah-ing through the entire four hour process.

I wish I'd had the courage to cut it all off myself.