Female leaders from around the globe trade notes on building a new women’s solidarity movement.
On December 5, 2015, female activist leaders from Somalia, Palestine, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Colombia, the United States, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, and China, came together at Columbia Law School in New York to plan a new feminist revolution.
The event, “Bodies of Revolution: Women Rise Against State and Police Violence and Empire,” was both a gathering for the sharing of experiences, strategies, and conditions and a call for women to join across imagined borders to articulate and design a vision of a future not predicated on domination, violence, racism, war, oppression, and injustice. Joining me on the panel were: Fartuun Adan, a humanitarian; Suad Amiry, a writer, conservation architect, and activist; Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School and a leading authority on race, racism, and the law; Frances Garrett, the founder and former executive director of the African American Hispanic Health Education Resource Center; Nimmi Gowrinathan, an expert on gender and violence and the creator of deviarchy.com; Yanar Mohammed, the co-founder of the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq; Lu Pin, program manager of Media Monitor for Women Network and chief editor of Feminist Voices; Thenmozhi Soundararajan, a transmedia artist and activist; Sara Milena Ferrer Valencia, a human rights expert and researcher at Dejusticia and Racial Discrimination Watch; Monique Wilson, Director of the One Billion Rising campaign; and ZOYA, a women’s rights activist who has worked extensively in refugee camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The panel was moderated by Laura Flanders, host of The Laura Flanders Show on teleSUR.
The consensus among panelists was that those in power have failed us—in their escalation of fear, greed, and aggression; in their refusal to address root causes of the potentially catastrophic crises we face; and in their imperial quests and manipulations keeping the world in a state of economic instability, with perpetual war on the streets, in the air, and in our terrorized consciousnesses.
Now is the time for women to write a different story, grown from the everyday struggles and experiences of those who are most often at the receiving end of disastrous policies and ventures, who clean up the messes and transform the destruction, who build the secret shelters, rescue the raped, stand for the dead, hold town halls for the voiceless, and give presence to the invisible.
It is our hope that this vibrant conversation will serve as a catalyst for the next stage of a global women’s solidarity movement, born of an understanding that the deep connections between our individual struggles form the bedrock and power that can sustain us as we remake the larger story that affects us all.
—Eve Ensler for Guernica
Laura Flanders: The story that comes to mind today is the story of an international women’s gathering against the outbreak of World War I, where women sailed across stormy waters of the Atlantic to participate in a conference in the Hague, where they called not only for the end of war, but for their right to vote, their reproductive rights, their right to earn enough of a living to feed their families, and their right to participate in foreign policy decisions.
You’re going to hear from the most extraordinary women—women who are finding ways to resolve conflict without violence, who are up against wars named and unnamed, who are making peace and forcing themselves to the table. We need them, and we need to be working together now more than ever.
We are learning. We are learning with the help of our sisters how to work in intersectional ways, how to make alliances, how to build sisterhood in a new way. To me, we have accomplished something in the last century; if not stopping war, then at least practicing intersectional politics and sisterhood. You’re going to see it in action. I want each of you [panelists] to start: bring into the room for us an image that enables us all to get better at understanding how our situation relates to your situation.
Monique Wilson: My snapshot is about the issue of sovereignty. I see a Filipina indigenous woman, probably in our national outfit, being chained and dragged in shackles by an eagle—an American eagle. We’re not really at war, supposedly, but we are in the thick of an economic and globalization policy war, because we have the intervention of the United States causing havoc in all aspects of life, particularly for our women and girls. The United States comes [to the Philippines] on the premise of training our army, but we know that the American soldiers are there not just to protect the mining companies, but also to torture, arrest and kill our political leaders who resist the pillaging of our natural resources.
Along with the very, very intense militarization in our country, so many of our cities are becoming brothel cities, where, because of such abject poverty, our women and girls are subjected to forms of prostitution and trafficking. A year ago, Jennifer Laude, a trans woman who was a sex worker, was killed by a US Marine, Joseph Pemberton. When he found out she was a trans woman, he got her by the neck, shoved her head down the toilet and drowned her in a local bar. She died within thirty minutes. We lobbied to get him—at least—to a local court. The US totally protected him. It took us days to even get him out of the base.
He actually got a conviction recently, so our legal process worked in the Philippines, but because of agreements our government signed with the US, he cannot sit in a Philippine jail. We can’t have justice for Jennifer Laude because of this very unequal agreement that we have. It’s really an issue of sovereignty.
Lu Pin [via translator]: In China’s media, you see all these central government leaders. They are nine men, and they all are the same age and wearing the same kind of clothes. I’m very concerned with the situation. If a country is governed only by powerful men, I don’t think that it will respond to women’s needs and concerns, women’s rights. I don’t mean that women have to be in this government system; my point is, it is a patriarchal system and country. In this whole development story, the story of China’s economic growth, women’s contributions and their needs are invisible. We need to change this picture. We need to let people see women’s power. The anger should be heard, because anger is the expression of power.
Sara Milena Ferrer Valencia: My snapshot would be a woman, an Afro-Colombian woman, in Cauca, which is one of the richest states in Colombia. This woman is dreaming of the past, where regardless of the structural discrimination we have in our country, she lived in a peaceful place. In reality she’s fighting against different armed actors, such as the guerrillas, the paramilitaries, the government itself, and multinationals who pay these guerrillas and paramilitaries to try to keep their businesses in her land. Those lands where the government used to say that only animals could live, now we’re being forced to leave these places. Now, her family is far away. She is one of more than 6 million displaced people. Out of this displaced population, we have more than 1 million people who are Afro-descendant. That is what the state says—we think the percentage is even higher. She, and I—we are all suffering from the situation, especially because of being historically discriminated against by different actors.
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw: I guess my photo is something that I’d like to create here. I would like everyone to put their hands up in a minute. I’m going to ask you when you hear a name that you don’t recognize to put your hand down. Don’t put it back up if you hear another name after that; once your hand is down, your hand is down.
Mike Brown. Eric Garner. Freddie Gray. Tamir Rice. Michelle Cusseaux. Shelly Frey. Kayla Moore. Rekia Boyd. Tanisha Anderson. Aura Rosser. If we look around and just take a moment, this is a snapshot I want to take. How many hands are still up? About a half dozen or so. This is a picture of intersectional erasure. Every woman’s name that I mentioned was a black woman who was also killed by the police.
We say “say her name” as a way of broadening the movement against state-sanctioned violence, but the reality is we can’t say their names if we don’t know them, and we don’t know them unless our movement lifts them up, unless the media report on them, unless we demand to know. My picture is quite frankly this. This is an audience of people who are motivated to know these names, motivated to lift up women who’ve been killed by the police, but that’s not enough in terms of actually being able to lift up the names. We have to take far more agency in discovering, uncovering, and speaking into the invisibility that makes so many women vulnerable to state-sanctioned violence.
Nimmi Gowrinathan: My image is from Sri Lanka: a Tamil woman who is wearing a sari and beautiful makeup and big jewelry and flowers in her hair, and a number of women around her, who look exactly the same, in a beauty salon. These are all former fighters, former terrorists, former guerrillas in the resistance movement that ended a few years ago.
Then, behind that, there’s a soundtrack playing from an interview with a military captain. He’s big, he’s got a mustache, and he’s saying, “No, no, sexual violence doesn’t happen here. Actually, what we did is help these women find their femininity. We made them women again.” Once the military took over the territory, the former fighters were entirely in their control. Why does an occupying military get to decide what a Tamil woman is, what she looks like, how she behaves? Because of militarization. People think of militarization as a necessary aspect of conflict, but it is not. It is a calculated political act, and it seeps into society, into the most private, intimate spaces. That’s where women exist. That’s where Tamil women exist. When they go to the bathroom, where they go to the bathroom, how they get their groceries, whether their kid walks to school, are they safe, is all determined by the military.
This image is really important to me because when we look at women in the developing world, we tend to see either the victim, the sad refugee, the widow, the rape victim, or [an individual] woman who becomes a superhero, the Malalas of the world. We can’t quite see that most women exist somewhere between a victim and a superhero at any moment. Those are the women that have to be seen to get to resistance.
Fartuun Adan: When I see a picture in Somalia, I see a Somali woman who has been fighting for twenty-five years. When you go to the hospital, the women are suffering. What I see is the silence, the victim of rape. I see struggling for justice. We are fighting to come out, to talk about the issues we are suffering in Somalia, especially rape, because we don’t talk about the rape. It’s the stigma. Talking about it is going to be more difficult than gaining any justice or rule of law. Having that power is one of the things I’m really looking forward to in Somalia: for women to come out and say, “That’s enough.” We have been suffering enough for twenty-five years, and now we want change. That’s the change we’re looking for.
Laura Flanders: Fartuun, tell us a little bit about your story, your family, how you ended up being the woman you are today.
Fartuun Adan: I run an organization called Elman Peace and Human Rights in Somalia. I have three girls. My husband was a human rights worker in Somalia. He got assassinated. We left the country, and I went back in 2007. That is the time we started a program called Sister Somalia, which was for the women who are getting raped when the country was saying, “We are Somali, we are Muslim, we don’t rape women.” Which was so horrible. Our staff was, every day, seeing so many women. That’s when we started the crisis center and the safe house. We’re doing a lot—not only me, but a lot of organizations. But we need justice and rule of law, and we don’t have that in Somalia. That is what we’re fighting.
How are you going to be a decision-maker if your tribe will say, “Are you going to represent your husband or your father?” To make a change, you have to be a part of the decision-making.
Laura Flanders: Eve, Fartuun talks about not having a tribe. You’re creating a tribe. Do you have a picture of this tribe of women?
Eve Ensler: In many ways, I think the vision I have of the tribe is represented here today. So many of the stories we hear lately are humiliations within terrors within humiliations within terrors. They’re so multi-layered in the kinds of violences women are experiencing. I think my vision of a tribe is the antithesis of the story I’m going to share.
I was in the Payatas in the Philippines, a garbage site where many people are living literally immersed in garbage. When I was there, I kept thinking about how they are the remains of what the US empire has left behind for people to live in. Women literally spend days in the garbage dumps searching and scavenging for pieces of plastic which they will wash in toxic streams and maybe get, if they’re very lucky, after eight hours of scavenging, a dollar a day. Even those dump sites have been privatized, so that women have to get licenses to scavenge. Can you imagine? The young girls who don’t have the money would go to the dump sites early in the morning and the private truck drivers would rape them and give them licenses to scavenge. That, to me, somehow epitomizes the state of the world so many people are living in. Humiliations.
We haven’t ended the situation of the dump sites but, working with local activists, girls are now protected there. I think that is the antithesis: how do we join our strengths? How do we join in solidarity? How do we know our stuff and resist with our bodies on the line, rising, dancing, and refusing those kind of humiliations?
Where racial justice is seen as a trickle-down project, women are often marginalized and left behind.
Laura Flanders: Kim, do you want to talk about your connection to what has been said?
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw: So many connections. I think the one that resonated so much is the connection with what happened to the women Tamil fighters after the war in Sri Lanka was over, as a consequence of not having an anti-patriarchal center in many of our struggles. Here in our country, in the fight against anti-black racism, we often talk about how black women are at the center and have always been at the center.
But that’s not necessarily sustainable, as we know, because one of the ways in which the movement moves after it’s suppressed is back into patriarchal forms of the family, patriarchal forms of leadership, patriarchal notions of whose injury and whose suffering matters, and who can wait. Where racial justice is seen as a trickle-down project, women are often marginalized and left behind. We see this across the board. It’s not a matter of how revolutionary the initial battle is.
When we talk about black bodies who are being subject to state-sanctioned violence, it’s not just men. It’s not just boys. It’s not just driving while black. It’s having a mental illness while black. It’s being homeless while black. It’s being poor while black. This is a broader frame that includes women as well as men. I see connections in all of these examples where women are simply invisible. Making them visible is one of the most important ways of being able to build far more solidarity and a far more progressive world movement.
Laura Flanders: For empowerment, you need the ability to make a living. Lu Pin, you talked earlier about economic growth in China. You commented that this growth had not been shared with women. What about access to education, to development, to everything that comes with the picture that we have of the new China? Are women getting their fair share?
Lu Pin [via translator]: People hear the story often that for the past thirty years there’s been a huge economic growth in China. According to a recent report, women contribute 41 percent of this growth. Twenty years ago, the gender wage gap was 80 percent. Ten years ago, it was 70 percent. Now it’s 60 percent. I’m really sorry to see this extremely unequal share of the economic growth.
Women now occupy 50 percent of China’s higher education system. This demonstrates women’s capacity, but the Chinese education system thinks there are too many women there. They are reducing the ratio.
Laura Flanders: Nimmi, you told us that the women Tamil fighters were essentially told, “You don’t get freedom and independence, but we will give you beauty salons.” The message is: we will give you development, not freedom. How is it working out?
Nimmi Gowrinathan: Arundhati Roy said it best: NGOs are depoliticizing resistance. There are fads in the development world, and right now the fad is women’s empowerment, which essentially means the transfer of power from one group to another, right? Or “capacity-building”—all these terms that take power away from women and assume that there is no power within them to start with. Where there is no power, there is no politics. Particularly in warzones, the humanitarian approach is always some strange, re-feminizing approach. Shockingly, chickens and cows don’t end sexual violence.
Laura Flanders: What do you mean?
Nimmi Gowrinathan: A large part of our approach to women who have been raped all over the world is to say, “Here are a couple of chickens, you’re going to make a dollar a week and that’s going to lead to financial independence,” which it’s not. “That’s going to give you a greater political voice and then you’re going to end sexual violence because you have a greater political voice because of these three chickens.”
One of the practical elements that emerged today is this question of storytelling. In order to do this work, you necessarily have to ask a woman about the worst thing that’s happened to them. Then you have to ask for the details of the worst thing that’s happened to them, whether it’s a rape or a forced abortion. I fear, and I think most of us fear, that you’re pulling these horrible stories out of these women, and what are we doing with them? Why are we asking them to tell these stories when there is stigma, retributive violence, all kinds of backlash? The most that you can usually say is we’re going to try and tell your stories for justice—a broader justice for all women. It’s something that I worry about a lot, this idea of constantly pulling these stories out. I think the ethics of storytelling is a practical concern, something to raise as a collective.
Maybe we rely on the stories and the patterns we already know. We know what’s happening in some of these areas. But there are the missing stories of daily violences; issues we don’t think of as human rights issues. What about boredom in refugee camps? What about the fact that you have to sit there for ten years? What does boredom do to people, what does lack of information do to people?
You have Tamil women in Sri Lanka who are walking around holding this photograph of this person who has been missing for years. They see him in newspapers and they swear they’ve seen him on TV, that he’s alive, but that’s psychological torture. Information, knowing the truth—perhaps these are the types of justices you can actually achieve.
Laura Flanders: Insofar as we tell our own stories, the focus remains on us, as you said. Let’s tell the story of who or what we think is responsible. Monique, where do you place responsibility?
Monique Wilson: I think part of the story also has to be the roots and causes. If we don’t look at all the policies that are above us, that are forcing, for example, 12 million of our Filipinos to go abroad to find jobs. Our young [people] have been fighting for their right to education, but even if they get their college degrees, there are still no jobs here because the global policies and agreements with the West are keeping everybody subservient, dependent and economically tied to what the West is telling us we need to do.
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw: Part of what we are fighting is a story. It’s a bunch of stories that we’re fighting. Much more of what we are trying to do is change the narrative. Some of changing the narrative is telling stories that haven’t been heard or putting stories that are usually heard in one context in a context where we’re not used to hearing them.
There is a narrative that women and girls of color are doing okay, or women and girls of color don’t really suffer in nearly the same way as their brothers and their fathers or their sons. That’s a story that says that the problem in these communities is not a problem of racism, it’s not a problem of institutional and structural injustice, it’s a problem of their family formation. It’s a problem of an inability to really adapt to the norms of patriarchy.
How do we resist that story? We talk about what’s happening to women and girls of color in an economy that’s no longer shaped in a way that supports the ability of mothers to support their children, so that they have to be dependent on another income. We tell stories about how women of color are the last ones to actually be taken up in this new economy. We tell the story about how vulnerability to intimate partner violence and rape actually is one of the greatest risk factors [that can lead] to being incarcerated.
Laura Flanders: Nimmi, you kicked us off on this subject of telling a different story. Is there anything you want to add at this point about the work that you do?
Nimmi Gowrinathan: When you’re talking about solidarity, I think, to get past the superficial solidarities, you really have to get at the narratives that we are all contesting and the tensions that may cause. For example, the female-terrorist profile now emerging from San Bernardino and Paris. The narrative comes through the picture we’re trying to create of a female terrorist—of who she is, who we should be afraid of, who is suspicious, who is a threat. How does that map onto the profile of other women of color—the narrative about the black woman, the narrative that she’s more resilient and doesn’t need any help?
There are ways to contest these narratives, collectively. How does the surveillance state and police brutality affect women of color in different, but equally difficult, ways? These are narratives that are a little more difficult. They’re more complicated, but so essential to address. What are the stories that we’ve purposely kept very far away from each other? Now everybody asks, “Why did this woman blow herself up and why was she angry, and why did she engage in violence?”
Why did you wait for this moment and then go looking for all these tiny details of this woman’s life—that she had blonde hair, that she listened to Coldplay—when you have millions of women fleeing Syria who are begging you to hear any of their stories, the details of their lives? Why do we think these women, their experiences and reactions, are not connected to each other? How do you draw these two narratives together?
Laura Flanders: Eve, maybe you could also talk a little about solidarity.
Eve Ensler: I think part of developing any movement now is, what leads people to feel so violated, so humiliated, so desecrated that they’re willing to die? If we’re not willing to examine what’s underneath that, we’ll never end violence on this planet. The repression of women is a global virus. It’s so amazing how you can listen to how [this repression] has evolved and applied itself and escalated in each country in its particular way. What’s also true is that women are fierce, empowered radicals, smart and feisty in every country. What we need to do is listen to what they are telling us.
Laura Flanders: Let’s take a few questions.
Speaker 1: We touched upon NGOs and how westernized NGOs are. I would just like to learn more about what someone like myself can do to make sure that we’re not adding on to that dependency that many of these women don’t really necessarily need. How can NGOs be helpful versus harming?
Nimmi Gowrinathan: I think one of the things that people don’t realize is how many NGOs receive funds from the US government. That there was a moment under George Bush where the Office of Foreign Policy and USAID, the government development arm, formally came together.
The tie to US policy is problematic in many ways, among which is that all the local NGOs that US groups give money to are bound by the rules of US Homeland Security and the Patriot Act. I think you look at an NGO politically: does it work in a way that supports your politics?
Then, there is a bigger question about the ideology behind the humanitarian apparatus. It is easier to find the underlying colonial ideology, but which feminism is driving humanitarian policy? Is it third world feminism that’s driving it or is there another feminism that serves other interests? We don’t realize that the temporary space, and temporary chaos, has entrenched disaster militarization.
NGOs are mediating that conversation between women and the State. Nearly every NGO claims to uplift women’s voices. They’re uplifting their voices and putting in our conversations, but what are their conversations? That’s what we have to be able to hear. I think one of the bigger shifts would be to get rid of this language—“capacity building” and “empowerment”—and start over again completely.
Sara Milena Ferrer Valencia: A friend of mine who’s Garifuna—that is an Afro-Indigenous community in Honduras—said to me that once there was this feminist organization there, and they saw that Garifuna women made Kasawi, which is like this traditional food, and it took them so long to make it. The organization decided to give them money so they would buy an electronic tool to make the Kasawi. My friend said to me that the result of this intervention was that the woman didn’t have a time to speak of their problems, which is what’s all around making Kasawi, you see. They said that due to the intervention of this NGO, they will spend their time watching soap operas.
I think for us to build a better world together, we have to respect each other. You have to ask the other person, how is their world? It is key that we consider the other person. Their voices matter; you have to hear their voice, let them make their own choice. You don’t make violent interventions and reproduce the cycle of violence.
We have to serve. Doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, an actress, a teacher. We all have our roles to play.
Speaker 2: What I hear from a lot of these stories is the failure of governments to protect their people. While it’s an issue in America, I feel like it’s another in developing countries or non-Western countries because we are submitting our power to Western countries. I feel like when we have officials in power who are for the people, they are either assassinated or gotten rid of. How do we stop government officials, especially in the developing world, from handing over their power, their health, and their people to Western nations?
Monique Wilson: I think number one is that we have to educate ourselves about what our own governments are doing, and what other governments are doing to our State. Part of my answer to that question is that we have to join movements. There is no other way to do it; we can’t do it individually. I think of our history in the Philippines—we toppled a twenty-year dictatorship because of People Power on the streets. We did it peacefully, with no violence, and we were able to topple him, and we toppled two other presidents after that, also because of People Power.
Also, I think, we can’t be subsumed with what is happening now in the world, which is apathy and ennui. I hear so many of my friends and family say, “Well, it’s too big…we can’t change it.” Well, who says? Historically we’ve proven that we can change things. I always tell my friends that when you go to the grassroots community, who are surviving daily, it’s hand to mouth for them, its life and death. They don’t have such luxury of saying there’s no more hope in our struggle, there’s no more hope. Part of being in a movement that is attached to the grassroots communities is you are awakened everyday to what realities are there. You get inspired to move, and there is no other option but to serve. We have to serve.
Doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, an actress, a teacher. We all have our roles to play. I think that is what solidarity is. That also is what standing with each other means—that your story is also my story and it’s everyone’s story and we cannot separate ourselves from that.
Fartuun Adan: I agree with Monique because we’re the same, whatever place we’re living in. The grassroots is very important to change. You can be organized and be a politician, but not have the grassroots-level support. We are very strong women in Somalia and we want to be part of peace-making. Having a few guys saying, “This is what we want” is not going to work, and it doesn’t work so far. That is why we want a woman to be part of the peace-making in Somalia.
Nimmi Gowrinathan: One of the things that I noticed working on peace talks was that when there were seats for women, it was like they had “peace” written on the back of the chair. It’s like your politics were sort of predetermined, and that was the seat you were supposed to sit in, because if you were a woman, then you were the one who’s going to advocate for peace. I do believe that, fundamentally, women will be the ones to lead us to a more peaceful world—but plenty of the women who have been involved in most of these conflicts were fighters and were hard-line nationalists. You don’t have successful peace through a certain number of women, a certain number of men. You have it through a diversity of politics and diversity of perspectives.
I think the question of militarization is really important because it’s something that leads to solidarity. The militarization is insidious, so you don’t see it with it a gun all the time. You don’t see it in front of you. The fact that our police, here, can print out 3D drones—that is militarization.
Lu Pin [via translator]: I would like to say that, in many cases, militarism is under the cover of nationalism. This whole narrative that China is now powerful, is growing, rising—it prevents people from critically thinking about the policies of the government. Nationalism is a game of this system. In history, many times, it’s a way to exploit women. Virginia Woolf said that women do not have a country. In the past several years, I understand this saying more and more deeply. Only when we don’t have a country can we end endless conflict between countries.
Eve Ensler: One of the things I think we’ve been seeing in America, particularly since 9/11, is the implementation of the military in place of care. We can look at Katrina, for example. When people were waving from the rooftops in desperation, we sent in the National Guard to police them and criminalize them rather than care for them.
That, then, becomes imposed and projected outward in our international policies. I think this mentality of militarism over care, bombing over investigation, is something we really, as both international and local activists, have to begin to look at in a very serious way.
Laura Flanders: How has social media impacted discussion of women’s rights?
Lu Pin [via translator]: Our organization is working with social media and communication. Our platform has about 100,000 subscribers, and this is the largest in China. I’m not talking about social media that is being used in the US like Facebook, Twitter, because it’s all blocked for Chinese people. We have totally different tools. A public debate agenda is really set by the mass media, but social media provide clues and resources and it gives us opportunities to bring our women’s issues to mass media. Without social media, our voices cannot be heard. Many, many times, our social media has successfully shaken the poll debate and many mass media agendas. Also, social media helps us to form a community of feminists who identify with women’s issues. We have to constantly fight with the censorship of speech because the government very quickly deletes what we post on the social media.
Fartuun Adan: In Somalia, even though we have been at war for the last twenty-five years, [society] is really advanced in technology. The people use the Internet and Facebook and all that to do the messaging, especially young generations. It’s very important to get the message out, internationally and locally. That’s how we get the support also from the international community, because always when you are in war, you need support from outside. You need someone who can [speak about] the war, [in case] you can’t say it. Sometimes we’re not allowed to say some of the things we are against. To have people saying that for you, it’s very important for us.
One of the young girls who was sexually abused was looking for justice. She couldn’t find anything. She was in our center for three months, just staying there. She couldn’t go back her house because she was afraid of them. She can’t go back to her family. She has kids. Now she’s in Canada, she got asylum, and she’s advocating for other woman in Somalia. In this kind of way we’re connected to many places, and that’s how we can get the change. Revolution is going to come. It might not come now, but that is where we’re starting.
Monique Wilson: I believe in revolution, and I think it will happen, we’ve seen it. We’re seeing it every day. What we have to ask ourselves is, what does revolution really mean? I think it really means change. Not just superficial change, but systematic change. We have to look at a system that needs to change. To begin with, we have to radically shift our consciousness and our understanding of things. Once our consciousness has shifted and we are awakened, there is no other way to go but forward, into the revolution. I think the operative word is radical. Let’s not bastardize the word “radical” as we are doing now with bombings and terrorism. We’ve all been radicalized in our work; it’s a great word. We have to reclaim it. I think it is that radical shift and contrast that’s going to get us to do radical actions to be able to put ourselves and our bodies and our ideas and our creativity and our talents on the line, to be able to contribute to the change we want to see.
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