The Revolution Will Be Blogged
Commentary , Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Nov 23, 2009
"And when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
so it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive."
-- Audre Lorde, "A Litany for Survival"
If capitalism slept, it would have nightmares about us. Those of us who pilfer office supplies, trade DIY fashion tips, write love poems to Palestine, remember why Claudia Jones was deported during the McCarthy era. Those of us who have orisha-powered blogs with drums playing on imeem, who invoke lines from poems in long-since out-of-print books, who do reiki across time zones from Egypt to Detroit, releasing trauma, reactivating souls, who trade single mami advice all day on twitter.
But capitalism doesn't sleep. So neither do we. We stay up all night, or wake up early and refresh the screen. We live on each others' words and prove the lie of the hourly news story about our worthlessness. We speak for far-flung intimate audiences, and when we wind up wounded, we don't stop because slowly we learn that these words are salve. We stay up, stay connected, send love letters every way we know how. These words are salve. Halfway to salvation.
The energy transmitted through the radical women of color blogosphere (a.k.a. those of us who are seeking to build community and create transformation across space and time, bringing ancestors and babies every step of the way) is a life-giving force. This magic, this potential is also why we are punished for loving each other. This is not the glorification of a scene, this is a distinction between scene and community, a reminder of what is at stake.
UBUNTU and the Day of Truthtelling
The reason I learned to make a blog was to share the work of my community of women of color and survivors of sexual assault in Durham, North Carolina during the media attack on women of color, sex workers and all survivors of sexual assault that accompanied the Duke Lacrosse rape case. We needed a media outlet worthy of our love when everyone from ESPN to BET was stepping up their ongoing game of shaming our names.
In April 2007, UBUNTU, a women of color survivor-led coalition committed to ending gendered violence and creating a community filled with sustaining, transformative love, helped to organize a National Day of Truthtelling. Beyond the hate speak, we found out who our people were. People documented their own National Day of Truthtelling events and vigils on their blogs. They broke the silence about gendered violence that they had survived or witnessed.
Reina Gossett from Queer for Economic Justice came to the National Day of Truthtelling and used the model of healing direct action to inform the vigil she helped design to remember Sanesha Stewart, a black trans-woman who was murdered in the Bronx.
Noemi Martinez from Hermana Resist wrote to say how she was using the interactive journal of healing that we made in her writing workshop for survivors of domestic violence. Philly's Pissed posted our zine about survivor support on their website. Fallon Wilson commented on every single one of many blogs we created for our survivor-led community projects and asked how to make a blog for the Be Bold Be Red Campaign to respond to the violence in Dunbar Village and against Megan Williams. It was the radical women of color blogosphere that taught me that our community, while deeply local, was also intimately scattered everywhere. We refused to be isolated from each other.
SPEAK!: Women of Color Media Collective
Once I learned there were blogs by loud, trouble-making women of color all over the internet, I rode the Radical Women of Color blog ring like a merry-go-round. This what you do when you find your people, you spin around until you fall out with dizzness, cry and think you are still dreaming. A Womyn's Ecdysis. Taking Steps. No Snow Here. These were paths I was walking. These were places to live. Blackamazon? Brownfemipower? Little Light?Tigera Consciente? CripChick? Fabulosa Mujer? Mamita Mala?
The women of my dreams were real and alive and writing about it almost everyday. Like my grandmother used to say, "I thought I went to heaven and didn't die!"
And when some of us were able to come together at the Allied Media Conference (AMC),Adele Nieves had the brilliant idea that we could record a CD with poems and pieces from our blogs. We used the album, SPEAK: A CD by Radical Women of Color, to teach about the intersections of our experiences and raise money so that moms could afford to come to national gatherings, like the AMC, and bring their young revolutionaries.
The links are more than hypertext. This is a love story about how women who are truly different from each other can imagine and build solidarity out of listening, out of bravery, out of extreme exposure, out of loving past the frustration of online intensity when tone, inflection and meaning don't carry across, no matter what font you use. Long-distance love is hard work, but as Audre Lorde reminds us, "We are worth wanting each other."
And our ongoing conversation creates a political place to stand.
Or maybe it teaches us that when we stand where we are with purpose and passion our faith reverberates. How else would the geniuses at Meem (an organization for queer women in Lebanon) or the Shakti Center (a queer community center in Chennai, India) know about thebrokenbeautiful press zine model? How else would the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind sessions that happen on my porch every month explode into sessions in D.C., Chicago and Ethiopia?
What other network, when I asked for help for my loved ones who were being unjustly held by the NYPD, would galvanize so many calls from people from as far as Australia and Greece that the commissioner had to change his outgoing message to emphasize that this was "a local issue," before he finally released my friends?
As radical women of color bloggers, we understand that survival happens in community and connection is not about career boosting; It's about mental, physical and spiritual survival. Mai'a Williams created the Divine Survivors Clinic, a free online reiki clinic based on exactly this logic.
We need online relationships that affirm, enhance and sustain the ongoing work that we are doing to transform, lead and defend our families, neighborhoods and geographic communities. We need each other. It is better to speak, vlog, gossip, share skills, comment, repost, strategize and send sideways emoticon love. Remembering, we were never meant to survive.
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