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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

the art of politics

What with contemplating (1)racism, capitalism, and free speech; (2)feminism and women; (3)justice and incarceration in the US; (4)whether or not Hillary's got a shot; and (5)the state of democracy, not to mention Orgo, Cosmic Connections, thesising, and whatever else has been occupying precious brain space lately, a person can get worn down. With this in mind, here's a different kind of political/philosophical text that will still get you thinking, but in a rejuvenating sort of way.

If we want to foster heartfelt social transformation, we must remember to honor the contributions of artists in our personal/political struggles. As Mike noted in the discussion on boycotting, "...much of [Martin Luther King, Jr.'s] speeches--particularly his "I Have a Dream Speech"--were emotional and appealed to emotion. We cannot have perfectly logical reasoning all the time in the social realm." And as my featured artist and renowned intellectual describes in her essay, "Poetry Is Not a Luxury," "Poetry is the way we give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives."

From her collection Black Unicorn, Audre Lorde's "A Litany for Survival": (more in expanded post)

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
futures
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours;


For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.


And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
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
remembering
we were never meant to survive.

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