Monday, 19 January 2015

Quote of the Week - Williams

"Understand that although the divide and conquer tactics of pitting black against white, christian against muslim against jew, can bring worthwhile debate and heightened understanding, it doesn't take much to realize that the true and only fight is against that which has kept women subjugated to men, and poor subjugated to rich. The sooner we understand this without brandishing overtly blind-siding terms like "terrorist" "lazy" the sooner we realize that we are all, in fact, on the same team and that the movement towards a more educated, better fed society should not be side-lined by such petty constructs as race, identity, and that which has kept many groups disenfranchised, silenced, and in debt." 
~Saul Williams
I am forever grateful to Saul Williams. Something changed for me when I saw Slam at Sundance that first time and that second time - yes, twice in one festival. I don't know that I knew what it was, or even that I know now, but it was a signpost on the journey to finding voice.

Williams' voice is breath-givingly clarifying -- connected to source, heart, intellect and the world simultaneously. I've seen him enthrall a roomful of youth poets hanging on his every word and I've seen him celebrate the same poets as they took stage to share their truths. His voice remains a clear channel to his being, to our consciousness.

Today, MLK Day, I woke with no voice. Only heavy heart. Guantanamo and the going on fifteen years of detainments of hundreds of men very much in my thoughts after reading of the Guantanamo Diary. How could we allow this in our name? How could we let this live in shadow so long? How could we hold no one accountable for the thousands of lost days in each man's life?

I woke heavy. I woke tired. It is MLK Day but all the quotes have been quoted. Dr. King is popular for inspiring, Selma is in the movie theatres. And yet, has there been meaningful change?

Since the shooting of Michael Brown, well, things have been heavy and tired. We have begun to add up the injustices, to tally the accountability. We are finding ourselves at odds with how to proceed and who belongs to which fight. We are working on being good allies - men to women, white to black, privileged to oppressed, Christian to Muslim. We don't even have the language for this yet. We are building it brick by brick. Like walls.

Yes, we have been divided by others, but we also divide ourselves, and I have wanted to say this. But I also understand why we are, so I haven't said it. We all want to speak for ourselves. We all want to come to our own voices. None of us anymore wants telling what is good for us or what our place is. Yes, we all must speak for ourselves, but we all must work together. Together together. Not in name only.

Williams' piece contains words we need now. We have learned so much from the Indian struggle for independence from the British, from the civil rights movement, from South Africa. This moment we are in, is a different struggle,  a new one. It requires different words to facilitate tremendous community-building. It requires us to see through the limiting beliefs of those who choose to define us as other. Defining any living being as other is not the way forward.

Remembering MLK to me means continuing the work, following the steps from awareness to accountability to change. There is clearly so much further to travel on this journey.

(Image - Shepard Fairey in Wired)

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