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The Girls With Their Backs Against History

When the unstoppable force of a girl’s voice shakes the immovable history of complicity, pages burn and new anthologies are unwritten in anthems of defiance.

CNN’s town hall on gun policy in America at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida

Emma Gonzalez – one girl, one mic fired her anthem, “Never Again” at the National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch, as complicit senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson braced themselves from the recoil of the self-determination of one girl’s defiance. We throw around these quotes, “One girl, one book.” In reality, it is millions of girls and young women – black women, Afro Latinx, Women of Color – across communities and continents, connecting the dots, contouring the world to expand the shape of consciousness. They aren’t playing by the rules of systems and societies that have failed them or co-sponsored the atrocities against them.

They are safeguarding their potential with fire – and anyone who comes near their innate human rights is being met with that fire.

There will always be a place for critical analysis, internal reflection and external questioning.

Censuring the questions “Why not then” and “Why now” can never be authorised by those who were silent then – and are tweeting or standing up now.

We carry the names of a long list of dead black girls and black women who too were killed by gun violence – more often than not at the hands of the state, or by the impunity of the state ‘injustice’ provisions and mechanism.

We carry the names of the black women who were murdered while calling the police for protection or for assistance, or while just driving to work.

This toxic man’s disease of entitlement runs through all men – and all men will be called to answer for themselves.

Marissa Alexander was indicted by the same state where the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting transpired – Florida – for firing a warning shot from a gun that was used to intimidate her, from a man who beat her and threatened her with that gun. The state of Florida indicted her, first for 20 years. Then the DA tried to push for a 40-year sentence. That was another missed warning shot. The myopic racism of empathy and action, when it’s injustice against a black woman, is a murderer.

Emma Gonzalez speaks in the aftermath of the Florida school shooting. (Image source: CNN/YouTube)

Nonetheless, just as every man will stand trial, the State will also stand trial. The fourth estate will stand trial.

These girls, these young women will censure them as they build a new world free from the State and renovate a fourth estate on the wisdom of social questions silenced.

Do you think there would be a march against gun violence today, if Black Lives Matter hadn’t marched?

Do you think there would be a space in society for tough questions if Black Lives Matter hadn’t asked them?

Do you think there would be a civil disruption or disobedience if Ferguson hadn’t ignited the Missouri sky by throwing tear gas canisters back at the militarised police complex?

Do you think it would be a young woman leading the fight if it hadn’t been for the fight (of the last six years) to combat gender-based violence, rape culture and women’s exploitation?

Do you think anyone would be held to account if it weren’t for our families in India, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, Palestine, Tunisia and Kashmir – who gave a resounding “No more” in the face of state or social oppression, only to have the countries double down on their investment of state oppression?

We see the juxtapositions of our sisters being murdered for defying caste, being murdered for who they love or for having sex and whom they marry.

We see Saudi Arabia in Yemen. We see the Christian genocide of Muslims in the Central African Republic.

We see Syria – and we see the shelling of  political convenience obstructing the conversation about culpability, the rule of international law and your UN conventions.

As people ask questions about the fortunes of Wakanda, the histories of the Congo, Togo, Senegal, Benin, Sierra Leone, Liberia will reclaim their place in the tradition of human existence and the multinationals will fall. They will fall and fail their mandate in the Sudan.

The Western propagation of interference and war crimes in Somalia will fall. The Western propagation of war crimes in Iraq will fall. It will fall like the largest Berlin Wall – and histories will be emancipated, impacting and empowering the world back from the World Bank, IMF and the WTO towards its own beating heart – and the oppressors will know their place, as places at the tables change.

We know who the biggest arms dealer in the world is. We know who is providing the means of state oppression of our sistren in Cambodia who’s standing up for water rights, because it’s the same ‘man’ who is doing it to our indigenous sistren – non-identifying, bi- and two-spirits at home, in their home, their nations.

We see the British politicians with their high remarks about Trump and their low silence about poverty, racism, Islamophobia and women’s rights at home.

We understand the classism, the colorism and privilege of who has the mic and why. And why they stand up for national town halls, but silence the ones closer to home.

We see the commercial complexes of neoliberal NGOs in Haiti. We see the UN and we know how they silence women raped in their own ranks, while running their mouths about women’s rights all over the world. We’ve been running for so long, but the scenery has remained the same. We’ve been running so long that we see all this time that we’ve been running in place.

We see the development projects enabling the genocide of the Rohingya – and we know why that word, that word specifically, has not been invoked despite knowing that it is genocide.

We see how leaders accept refugees and are given prominence on the world stage, while pulling the stage out from under the human rights of our indigenous sistren, of women’s rights activists, of the LGBTQIA+ families in their countries.

We see the institutions and the institutionalism.

We see Guantanamo Bay, and we see the Nauru and Manus Island.

We see the military bases scrawled out in colonial fatigues in the Philippines, we see them across Oceania and across the African continent.

We don’t trust the evolution of Hollywood, Bollywood, or any other ‘wood’, because that wood is being split into splinters and will be used to build a new raft – and every refugee, economically displaced person from neoliberal colonialism, exploitation and oppression of free trade zones and import/export supranational apartheid will have a place on this boat.

Maps will be redrafted.

The slaves will be steering this ship to shores and reclaiming their homes.

Just as BDS is coming for a Nobel Peace Prize, we are showing up to take back a few from war criminals.

We wouldn’t be here, our voices wouldn’t be so loud, our determination and will so strong, without the lineage of all women of all colours, of black activists across diasporas.

We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them – them who stood up against slavery. We wouldn’t be here if a man didn’t burn the plantation to the ground. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the underground railroad. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the fight against colonialism, we wouldn’t be here without Pan-Africanism, without Afrocentrism.

This is for the Bandit Queen. This is for the wisdom of our Dalit and Adivasi sistren.

This for the disappeared indigenous women of Chittagong.

This is for demanding answers in the candles that still burn past the wick of their capillary flame – in the names of Kalpana Chakma, Berta Cáceres, Mia Manuelita Mascariñas-Green, Patricia Villamil Perdomo, Orouba Barakat and her daughter Halla, Tuğçe Albayrak, Suzette Jordan and Shereese Francis.

This is the prophetic lineage of the fight for Aboriginal rights. Once his arms are taken away, his military is going too.

Once he has no arms and no military, he’ll face the people in the streets – and we will go for his legs.

He will not ‘manspread’ while sitting on top of the world.

We are taking back this world. There are more of us than there is of him(s) in this world.

Rape, domestic violence, FGM, child marriage, forced marriage, disappearances will be eradicated from this world.

We are cutting the cables.

That’s when the revolution will no longer be televised/commercialised or stylised by periodicals brought to you by blood diamonds, mica blood or the blood of our sistren in sweat shops in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, China or Bangladesh.

Just as we must critique, we must build, we must take care of one another, we must see the leaders around us and the underdeveloped youth leaders waiting to blossom.

We will get there – and dammit white people, when your Democrat gets put in office, if you once pivot back towards the safety of your privilege, we’re coming for you too.

Remember this.

Aiyana Jones’ parents weren’t given a stage next to Rekia Boyd’s or Eric Garner’s daughter (in whom we carry this fire). They didn’t get the comfort of a nation draping American flags across their coffins or across their struggles. No one cancelled their PBA cards.

The rape victims will not be televised in episodes of “Law & Order” – his, your “Law & Order” is done.

This is a culture being engineered in the anguish of history, in the labour of women and girls. Cultures take time to evolve and you will not co-opt this building. You will not gentrify what is built to be sold back to the people. It is for the people and will be held in trust by the people, the girls and women who have bled, sweated and labored emotionally, economically, psychologically and physically to bring it to fruition.

It will not be played by Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, or be directed by Steven Spielberg, to the soundtracks of Justin Bieber or Katy Perry.

It will not be sponsored by Facebook with philanthropic tax dedications by CEOs. It will not ‘Lean Forward’ but will make all static interference lean back.

The struggle will not be represented in a 4-part series sold by Disney.

This time, it’s going to be live like Tarana Burke.

This time, it’s going to be for education, until everyone has one mic, one book to write – empowered by their own history told by their own people. When every one of those stories is told and upheld, we will never again lay children in coffins, defer a dream or castigate Dreamers, with your weapons, you police, your police state or your surreptitious agencies. Because if you try, there will be an Hawa Aden,Flora Igoki Tera, Shahana Hanif, Ahed Tamimi, Navila Rashid, Ciara Taylor, Lauren Howland, Shehla Rashid Shora, Bree Newsome, Emma Gonzalez, Xicanisma, Mbali Matandela, Nanfu Wang, Sultana Kamal.

They’ll be carrying the anthems of voices like Sandra Bland, Venus Xtravaganza and Delta Megawhal. They’ll be nursed on the nectar of Kumari Jayawardena, Ayi Kwei Armah, Mariama Ba, Audre Lorde,  Amal Kassir, Samira Azzam, and Shailja Patel.  They’ll be surrounded by names you don’t even know, like Berlin Mohammed. Oh, you didn’t know – because you’re so busy focused on Trump’s tweets you don’t see the genius of women and girls in your own community – underfunded and under-appreciated, overworked and underpaid.

This anthem will not be silenced.

The following is a performance piece by the author. It was performed by the “Price of Silence” on the history of Mass Shootings and Mass Oppression in the United States.


Featured image source: CNN/YouTube