Sunday, February 7, 2010

thingsimreading: Black American Women You Need to Know Day 06:...


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via guerrilla mama on 2/6/10


Black American Women You Need to Know

Day 06: Assata Shakur

This post has taken me longer to start than any of the previous ones. i LOVE all of the women i've profiled so far, but of Assata, i don't know where to start to speak due to the sheer awe she inspires in me.

Although i've been hearing about Assata Shakur from A LOT of women i respect for a few years, i only just read her first autobiography recently (and have her second on order). Reading her words… i could identify with a lot of what she was saying, and i am completely amazed at her strength and the love that emanates from her despite all that she has been thru. And you know what? i'm not even gonna try to tell you her life story, because if you never read another book in your life, you need to read hers. What i will do is give you some tastes of her wisdom:

So many of my sisters are so completely unaware of who the real criminals and dogs are. They blame themselves for being hungry; they hate themselves for surviving the best way they know how, to see so much fear, doubt, hurt, and self hatred is the most painful part of being in this concentration camp. "Anyway, in spite of all, i feel a breeze behind my neck, turning to a hurricane and when i take a deep breath I can smell freedom.

We had to learn that we're beautiful. We had to relearn something forcefully taken from us. We had to learn about Black power. People have power if we unite. We learned the importance of coming together and being active.

Part of being a revolutionary is creating a vision that is more humane. That is more fun, too. That is more loving. It's really working to create something beautiful.

above three quotes taken from Assata Shakur's official site

Black brothers, Black sisters, i want you to know that i love you and i hope that somewhere in your hearts you have love for me. My name is Assata Shakur (slave name joanne chesimard), and i am a revolutionary. A Black revolutionary. By that i mean that i have declared war on all forces that have raped our women, castrated our men, and kept our babies empty-bellied.

I have declared war on the rich who prosper on our poverty, the politicians who lie to us with smiling faces, and all the mindless, heartless robots who protect them and their property.

I am a Black revolutionary, and, as such, i am a victim of all the wrath, hatred, and slander that amerika is capable of. Like all other Black revolutionaries, amerika is trying to lynch me.

from her tape made in prison, To My People, on July 4, 1973.

This next part of the same tape is chilling in that it was spoken almost 40 years ago, and yet remains just as true today as it was then.

Black life expectancy is much lower than white and they do their best to kill us before we are even born. We are burned alive in fire-trap tenements. Our brothers and sisters OD daily from heroin and methadone. Our babies die from lead poisoning. Millions of BLack people have died as a result of indecent medical care. This is murder. But they have got the gall to call us murderers.

Every group fighting for freedom is bound to make mistakes, but unless you study the common, fundamental laws of armed revolutionary struggle you are bound to make unnecessary mistakes. Revolutionary war is protracted warfare. It is impossible for us to win quickly. To win we have got to wear down our oppressors, little by little, and, at the same time, strengthen our forces, slowly but surely. I understood some of my more impatient sisters and brothers.

from Chapter 17 of Assata: An Autobiography

Every day out in the street now, i remind myself that Black people in amerika are oppressed. It's necessary that I do that. People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.

from Chapter 21 of Assata: An Autobiography

It was also clear to me that without a truly internationalist component nationalism was reactionary. There was nothing revolutionary about nationalism by itself - Hitler and Mussolini were nationalists. Any community seriously concerned with its own freedom has to be concerned about other peoples' freedom as well. The victory of oppressed people anywhere in the world is a victory for Black people. Each time one of imperialism's tentacles is cut off we are closer to liberation. THe struggle in South Africa is the most important battle of the century for Black people… Imperialism is an international system of exploitation, and, we, as revolutionaries, need to be internationalists to defeat it.

from Postscript to Assata: An Autobiography

She also speaks to the importance of loving community to heal from our traumas:

Suddenly, i was flooded with the horrors of prison and every disgusting experience that somehow i had been able to minimize while inside… My comrades helped a lot. They were so beautiful, natural, and healthy. I loved them for their kindness to me. It had been years since i had communicated with anyone intensely, and i talked to them almost compulsively. They were like medicine, helping me to ease back into myself again.

from Postscript to Assata: An Autobiography

There was no doubt about it, our people would one day be free. The cowboys and bandits didn't own the world.

from Postscript to Assata: An Autobiography


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