This will be one of my last blog posts before Tuesday's U.S. presidential election. Borrowing from our sisters over at Document the Silence blog (on violence against women of colour), I feel the need to quote my Caribbean-American lesbian sister, Audre Lorde: “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” You said a mouthful, Audre.
Like myself, writer/activist Barbara Smith and many, many others who (through our people's spiritual, physical and political evolution rather than random, superficial "change") over and over again, daily - cumulatively - over three long centuries in & of what is now the U.S.A., the veteran and former Democratic congresswoman from Georgia, CYNTHIA MCKINNEY, is yet another Black American woman who not only has understood, intuitively & explicitly, but repeatedly - so often virtually fearlessly - has ACTED UPON this deep mantra on (social) environmental- and self-knowledge. This evolution and regular willingness to take action in spite of fear are just part of the experiences and ethnic/cultural characteristics of Black Americans, and of Black American women in particular, that have been ridiculed, censored and 'disappeared' in the course of this 2006-2008 U.S. presidential election cycle. Martin Luther King affirmed, "We shall overcome." And yet, noting the endemic sexism toward Black women over three centuries (not one election cycle) of the Black Liberation Movement that is native to what is now the USA (as well as in the current presidential selection process), it is entirely possible that Dr. King may have got this phrase from someone else, much like "I HAVE A DREAM" actually came from the lips & mind of Mississippi native daughter FANNIE LOU HAMER. In addition to being a member of the Black ethnic population of the USA, Mrs. Hamer was not MALE, and like most Black Americans, nor did she have a PhD or any kind of college/university degree. And yet she was an eloquent, timeless, courageous and effective leader. Unlike almost all of his Movement Sisters whom I will call the "Movement Women Elders" and the "Movement Young Sistas," Dr. King is consciously and constantly remembered, enshrined, re-enshrined and re-interpreted, even as hundreds and thousands of incredible Black American women remain obscured and unknown, and too often even ridiculed, derided, discounted, and finally left behind; most often quite deliberately. In this context it's worth noting that this contempt and disrespect which Black American women encounter comes from all around us: from White women & men alike (regardless of nationality), from people coming from other countries & societies, from more than a few Black men, again of varying ethnic & national backgrounds, and, most sadly and most intimately, often from some of our own sister Black women whether of U.S. or other backgrounds. Some of us know exactly whom I'm talking about. And yet, in spite of the course of Election 2008, following this most historic 2008 U.S. Green Party presidential ticket of CYNTHIA MCKINNEY AND ROSA CLEMENTE, the obscurity, derision and media whiteout will NOT be the enduring characteristics of this campaign nor of these two sistas and all the People who are choosing to support them at the polls on Tuesday, 4 November. (Power to the People 2008 - www.runcynthiarun.org) This dual candidacy not just of two women (which is significant), not only of two women who both are women of colour, but more precisely and most historically both are Afrodescendant Women of the Americas, is at least three (3) centuries overdue for the Black people of what today is the United States of the Americas (i.e., Black Americans) and for all the Afrodescendants of the Americas. It is also high time that on Tuesday, November 4 (as opposed to an essentially empty promise to "some day" vote for someone like ourselves (another Black woman, another Black American woman) in a non-specific, non-existent future) seemingly discounted but significant numbers of Black women voters will actively choose to put ourselves first, go to the polls and vote for ourselves. The 2008 U.S. presidential election is time for everyone to vote in favour of our own most deeply held values (as opposed to a common "logic" of voting the lesser of various "evils"). For more and more of us, our values - no matter how much money a candidate raises or how he smiles and speaks in chosen tones - do NOT include either so-called "Clean Coal" (i.e., Mountaintop Decapitation/Removal) or "nuclear power" (i.e., Uranium Mining, Uranium tailings, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, massive amounts of lethal, radioactive nuclear waste, groundwater contamination, radiation - including contamination of the Navajo Nation (and other Indigenous communities) and uranium miners suffering from uranium-induced cancer). The original quote about needing to exploit coal & nuclear power was made by the 2008 Democratic candidate.
In 2008, simply by choosing to work together, Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente and the U.S. Green Party have modeled for us all that not only is it better, it's now imperative (to quote Rosa), for us to run for office, participate in society, to vote, and also to speak.