Archive for love

3. Always

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis
slips in meaning

slips in meaning

Always. Like the word between love and your name in a love letter. Always. Like the pastel plastic promise that your period can become cute. Always. Like an ahistorical historicization. Like the production of eternity without witnesses. Like a recurring nightmare of hoping you exist.

The word “always” can be used to create a history where there was nothing but disbelief. It can also be used to make it seem like something is natural, just because it happens to have been going on for a long time. The Combahee River Collective Statement uses the word “always” to establish a tradition of black feminism that predates the work of the women in the collective, AND some folks have found fault with these statements about what black women have “always” been doing, because it seems to suggest that there is some sort of natural standard for black women’s behavior.

How do you (want to) use the word “always” in your movement work?
Use the space below to make 5 sentences that use the word “always” (or don’t) to describe the tradition and vision of your work as honestly as you can. You may notice that the word “always” has different meaning every time.


for more!

A Reflection from Noah Blose:

Pauli Murray is from Durham North Carolina

Pauli Murray is from Durham North Carolina

Michelle L. told me that Pauli Murray was trans.  S/he was a founder of
the National Organization for Women.  How do we know when to name/claim
our own, and why do we or don’t we do it?  How and why do we rewrite
histories to see ourselves there?

Download this activity as a (double-sided) worksheet here!


7. Drawn Together

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis

“A combined anti-racist and anti-sexist position drew us together initially, and as we developed politically we addressed ourselves to heterosexism and economic oppression under capitalism.”

What draws your group together? OR What draws you to to the people you organize with?
What are some of the main issues and audiences you address yourselves to?  Use the space below to start a love letter to the movement or movements you are committed to building.  Be sure to let us know who your letter is addressed to!!!

For example queer black New Jersey based scholar, educator and community organizer Darnell Moore says:

to my beloved community of radical radicals: [those who have been colored by race, kept bound by sex/gender normativity, trapped in systems of economic inequality, rendered alien]:

i scribble my judgments/my feelings/my love/my rage/my life: on paper.

i locate my “self” in the dis-located spaces that seek to confine me: on paper

i refuse to be bound, i’m a refugee on a journey constantly scuffling with violent metonyms (it’s hard being a “faggot”) and authoritarian ideals: on paper

if i don’t, then those behind me won’t feel the residual heat of my incensed voice: on paper.

so i write.

i write to produce a perpetual fire that will set ablaze new understandings.

my desire: to watch racist/sexist/classist/ethno-centrist/neo-imperialist/capitalist ideologies and apparatuses go up in flames as if they were hit by a smart bomb, a moronic product of the military state’s own design

i write words that are arbiters and catalysts; they are birthed to produce action, resistance and confrontation.

they are attentively designed to raze structures of power that consign hes, shes, hirs and zhes to marginalized interstices.

so, i write

to demolish inequities and disharmony.

i write to hearten and galvanize a community on the verge of revolution.

i chose not to write for you as if I have perfected the art of masculinist story telling (and I don’t want to), so i write in solidarity with you.

yet, i chose to not only write with you, but also:

to stand beside you…

to be your co-conspirator in the struggle for justice…

to carry you when your have been weakened by rhetoric, invectives and state-sanctioned regulations…

and if your blood is spilled by war/abuse,

body destroyed by poverty/neglect

or if your voice is silent because of fear/laws then i will write ever the more.

i will stand until my black knees begin to weaken,

fight injustice, beside you, until humanity’s sin is banished to the background of a new global agenda

and i will be: existing in unity so that we may disrupt “power.”

darnell l. moore

Post your letters as comments here or send them to us at!

8. Sprung!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis
by Jerry Currier

by Jerry Currier

“Above all else, our politics initially sprang from the shared belief that Black women are inherently valuable, that our liberation is a necessity not as an adjunct to somebody else’s but because of our need as human persons for autonomy.”
Complete the poem:


sprang             shared



Post your poems below or email us at

For example:   Alexis Charles who says she usually does NOT write poetry contributed this beautiful elaboration:

1. Not from ABOVE

But from within.

You gave life to words.

That gave me life.

Words that

SPRANG  from our  SHARED oppressions, fears, dreams and joys.

Calling for our LIBERATION.

Illuminating our NEED.

2. When I had lost faith in everything ABOVE.
What SPRANG from the depths of your hearts.
Let me know my pain was SHARED.
The not so quiet call for LIBERATION
Those words
“black women are inherently valuable”
Held me softly, tenderly, gently,
Quieted the dull aching NEED
Wrapped me in love and solidarity


Where do   exist?
Your words


iNto motion a well-spring of truth, knowledge and love gushing from the valleys of your thoughts,
G through the canyons of your silences, over the cliffs of your screams.

I SHARED my fears and dreams with you and I realized I’m not the only one


In moments of NEED you

Cynthia bringing the light!

Cynthia bringing the light!

Cynthia Oka, radical mama and feminist indigenous rights organizer in Vancouver wrote:

5:47 am

pungent is the aching flesh over hard bone

it is no luxury to choose


rising dawn

droplets of sun on my skin

stinging like ice

i must search again

build dig   tear from towers of tyranny


all that demands our breaking

a million footsteps marching on my chest

fear not fear not

the arms of my mothers

spears sprang against cannons

today so too do mine

that is my blood spilled shared

that is my life-giving love

that is my claim

on freedom

above this colonial landscape

i embalm my body

and choose to grace this day

with my presence

i am no finely cut diamond

i am the raw earth

on which your build your throne

i desire no queenhood

i am higher than price

stars breaking in sky

this is my spirit

cage me wage me

snap every joint

i rewrite the universe

through my undoing

we are our prophets

persistent as dew

fear not fear not

we are all we need

9. The Only Ones

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis

“We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation are us.  Our politics evolve from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work.”

Write a poem for someone you love using at least 4 of the words in the above passage.

Post your poems as comments below or email us at!

For example radical anti-racist educator Tema Okun wrote the following poem for her students:

Tema Okun

Tema Okun

Combahee Love

We realize

that in America

the right to be uninformed

is holy ground.

This is a love letter to us, then,

the only people who struggle consistently

to be so careless with our love.

I am witness to how we revel in our lousy politics.

I wish for us instead

a healthy love,

one to usher in our liberation

from ourselves and

into community, into enough.

-Tema Okun November 2008

Aiden Riley Graham

Aiden Riley Graham

And radical archivist and trans-activist Aiden Riley Graham wrote this amazing poem for his comrade Noah Blose:

Why we’re so important to me…

When I feel unseen by the rest of the world, you see me

A mirror to find myself in

Walks toward liberation found in our talks

Simple-complex conversations

Grounding me in love and compassion,

Shaking me from everyday painful reactions

Learning to love myself, through loving you

Replacing individual failed expectations

With dreams of collective possibility,

Painful shared rememberings

Bring our communal struggle into relief

Standing “Eye to Eye” in the spirit of Audre

We’re everything we need to be

The only ones

And only one of many

A transformative justice we forge

Daily, weekly, monthly

They’re just phone conversations

And oh so much more

Aiden Graham to Noah Blose

12. Testify

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis

“Even our Black women’s style of talking/testifying in Black language about what we have experienced has a resonance that is both cultural and political.”

Is there such a thing as Black language? Or Black women’s style? Maybe there are many non-normative language practices and many manifestations of black femininity. In this passage, the authors of the Combahee River Collective Statement draw on a tradition of “testifying” most commonly remembered as statements of faith spoken by members of black churches, and black southern churches in particular. We say that testifying can also be used outside of churches when people express the profound and sometimes difficult truths of their own experiences. We have seen breakthroughs in analysis, relationships and action when people speak deeply about where their faith in movement and their energy for organizing comes from.

What are 3 things you can testify to as important experiences that have built your faith in the world you want to create?
Check out the piece from Ashon below:

Ashon Crawley

Ashon Crawley

Leave your 3 testimonies as comments here or email us at!

16. Victory and Failure

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis

“During our years together as a Black feminist collective we have experienced success and defeat, joy and pain, victory and failure.”

What are some of the contrasting experiences that you have had with the folks you are organizing with right now and the past? What have you learned individually and collectively from those experiences?

Leave a comment here or email us at

17. Being Difficult: Questions

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis

“We have found that it is very difficult to organize around Black feminist issues, difficult even to announce in certain contexts that we are Black feminists.”


What desire, anxiety, hope and love do you feel towards fellow members of your oppressed group?

What’s a time when you could not speak your political stance out loud? What caused that? What would it take to make your vision more speakable?

Send us your reflections about these questions at or leave a comment here!


“The major source of difficulty in our political work is that we are not just trying to fight oppression on one front or even two, but instead to address a whole range of oppressions. We do not have racial, sexual, heterosexual or class privilege to rely upon, nor do we have even the minimal access to resources and power that groups who possess any one of these types of privilege have.”

One of the biggest ways that the Combahee River Collective has impacted the world is the development of what some call an “intersectional” political practice. This is a belief that all forms of oppression are linked and that in order to rebuild the world in the image of our own miraculousness we need to work together to work at the place where different oppressions meet.

The “major source of difficulty” that the collective members point out remains today. Those of us working to transform the world often lack many privileges and don’t have access to power because of who we are and the work that we do. And, even within our movement we have different levels of privilege of power.

Use the space below to imagine some ways that we can use our privileges creatively? (from driving a car, access to education, technological skills, connections to people with wealth, to citizenship, race, class and gendered privilege) What are ways that we can build power without access to the rewards of the society we are intending to replace with our radical vision?

Alba Onfrio is a Queer Radical Southern Missionary

Alba Onfrio is a Queer Radical Southern Missionary

For example Alba Onfrio of Southerners on New Ground says,

Use the space below to imagine some ways that we can use our privileges creatively? (from driving a car, access to education, technological skills, connections to people with wealth, to citizenship, race, class and gendered privilege) What are ways that we can build power without access to the rewards of the society we are intending to replace with our radical vision?

Sitting at the feet of an amazing elder, Pat Hussain, she once told me that the thing about privilege is that “you can either spend it or you can waste it, but ya’ can’t give it away.”

Growing up with a coal miner’s daughter, I learned real fast that you use what you got, that’s how you get what you need to get by, and as the youngest of eight, growing up as a sickly child in an Appalachian family, what she had was manipulation, and she taught me it well. In those sweet, Southern arms she had the power to control life and death. Protocol and gentility never wavered in our home, and it is there that I learned that the power to inflict the most pain did not, in fact, lie with the one who has the biggest stick, but with she who truly knows your soul and can crush your spirit with a word.  Let them do for you and pay for you and carry the heavy stuff and call you darlin’, not because you can’t carry the load yourself(that’s beside the point) or because you like it(even if you do), you let them do it because it makes them feel important and needed, but you’d better be paying close attention because if you ever have to do for yourself(which you will), you damn well better know how to do it without asking for help. That’s where the power lies—in your survival, and that’s what they can never know… until it’s too late. The secret truth that we are all we need, and we can make it.

Now I’m a thrifty shopper, but I like to spend my privilege strategically, subversively, and when it’s done to perfection, well, my, it is delicious! I don’t know if she knew it or not, I think maybe she did, but as they were correcting the “fer” in my accented speech, and making me set that 10-piece place setting for dinner, and that tea party for my tenth birthday, and read Miss Manners with my feet crossed at the ankles… those were all the lessons I could never learn in school. Did she really want me to aspire to that? or did she know that the propriety I learned would inevitably mix with the mental agility and femininity I was honing? Those grammar rules and that proper English… I use them to teach our beautiful, struggling “illegals” how to use those words to survive, and those dresses and stockings and heels… I wear them proudly as I get on my knees to give my lovers pleasure, to enjoy my own lust as it runs down my thigh to greet them. And those manners for that fancy dinner party? Why, yes, thank you for asking, I use those too and that $120K piece of paper from Duke; I use them to infiltrate space they would never let us in if they knew who I really was, and while I sip that expensive wine; I listen; I study; I learn, and as I thank them for the wonderful evening, I strategize how best to use it in their demise. The revolution is not coming, my dear, it is here, and while I fight for its swift collapse, I have to disclose that this system of oppression does well by me, in so many ways, and then I remember that even though the promised land is intimidating because I can’t always see it, these moments I feel so connected to you make me willing to spend every ounce I’ve got for the chance of getting us to freedom.  And as I’m sitting in that pew, calling on those verses I learned so long ago and asking God for the faculty and opportunity to convince them of our worthiness to exist, as queers, as women, as people of color, as refugees, I am also asking for strength to keep spending this privilege and thanking God every day for letting me find you along the way.

song_logo_2-Alba Onofrio, January 16, 2009