The isms: All my life I had to fight

White-Ebony-art-by-Angele-Etoundi-Essamba, The isms: All my life I had to fight, Behind Enemy Lines
In this stunning piece of art by Angele Etoundi Essamba, we are pulled into the dichotomies and dialectics of classism, racism, sexism. We stand at a moment of reckoning in this country compelling us to reimagine the people’s tools needed to dismantle these various isms and build a world based on liberation, self-determination and shared humanity. Audre Lourde said: “It is not the destiny of Black America to repeat white America’s mistakes. But we will if we mistake the trappings of success in a sick society for the signs of a meaningful life.”

by Tasha Brown

I feel like Sophia, the character played by Oprah Winfrey in “The Color Purple,” “All my life I had to fight.” Born onto this physical plane with the double status of Black and female, I frequently find myself defending my right to be self. 

I’ve waited on the sidelines long enough begging for you to see me – now I am making you see me. 

Racism

In the words of Che: “A country that murders its own children and discriminates because of the color of their skin, a country that allows the murderers of Negroes to go free, actually protects them and punishes Negroes for demanding respect for their lawful rights as free human beings claims to be a guardian of liberty?” 

Che was assassinated in 1967 and America still identifies with this contradiction. 

Firstly, your Black, Negro and colored terms to describe me were coined to strip me of my identity. Did you not think I would find out? 

Race was created in an attempt to assert control. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “The only race is the human race.” So you can bury that lie along with your three-fifths of a human, your lies about your revolutionary war, your idolized presidents and your organized religion. 

Your revolutionary war was about some rich American Caucasian men not wanting to be taxed by the king. England, or “Big Pimpin’,” funded your expedition so you could come “civilize” the indigenous people – aka brutalize, colonize and exploit. 

Oh, and I almost forgot – used your religion for the purpose of the conquest and enslavement for economic and political power. What ever happened to the inalienable rights of all members of the human race? 

Black women comprise the largest proportion of women in the criminal injustice system. 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, Article 6, reads, “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.” 

Let us talk about your law. State and government agencies use colorable law to ensure slavery of another kind – mass incarceration. 

American terrorism in the form of law enforcement – the thin blue line – has long plagued communities of color. You call it police brutality, we called it a norm. 

From hoses, K9s, batons and tasers to 9 millis, they are weapons of mass destruction. 

Back to mass incarceration though. Let’s take California, for example: California incarcerates and releases more people per capita than any other state. And while we are on California – Black women comprise the largest proportion of women in the criminal injustice system. 

Sexism 

The attack on my womanhood isn’t endemic. Woman. Wombed man. I am wounded, man, over-sexualized, exploited, humiliated and relegated to third class status. 

I am challenging gender violence and your decaying timeworn standards. And by the way – your use of judgments designed to compare one person to another using artificial standards is played out. 

Light skin, pretty hair, big booty and light eyes, anyone? Your sexist ideology that reduces me to my vortex is an ism. 

Classism 

I’m talking to the upper 1 percent that controls 40 percent of this nation’s corporation’s wealth. You are the benefactors at the expense of the rest of us. 

While us poor folk battle like donkeys kicking each other – we need to learn how to buck like horses, kicking back. Bacon’s revolt anyone? 

It is you that the Trump administration prioritized – and the poor, disillusioned Caucasians believe he is making America great again. 

If by great you mean tearing apart families at the border, he did an excellent job! While us poor folk battle like donkeys kicking each other – we need to learn how to buck like horses, kicking back. Bacon’s revolt anyone? 

Just make ‘em fight each other and they’ll never figure out who the real enemy is. 

To make America great would require a redistribution of economic and political opportunities. We could start there. 

There are no perfect solutions to end centuries of intolerance and injustice. However, what doesn’t help is ignoring it or making excuses – we can’t close our eyes and wish it away. Society itself must be reformed. 

Solution

I read somewhere, “Liberty is an individual responsibility.” In other words, we must attain our own cognitive liberation by awaking from our mental state of lethargy. 

“Talk is cheap like daydreams.” The fact that anti-Blackness has its knee on our necks does not absolve us of our responsibility – Our responsibility to form multi-racial solidarity, our responsibility to educate ourselves and our children, our responsibility to call piss – well, piss. 

You will no longer piss on my foot and tell me it is raining. Underneath the perfume of pretty speech, I still smell urine. 

We must learn about liquid assets such as CDs, savings, money market funds, life insurance, pensions and financial securities such as corporate stock. Hand back consumerism and passivity.

 Otherwise, we are not victims – we become volunteers.

Send our sister some love and light: Tasha Brown, X08560, CCWF 506-08-03L, P.O. Box 1508, Chowchilla, CA 93610.