Archive for vision

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 brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com!

20. My Leap Into Revolutionary Action

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

“We might use our position at the bottom, however, to make a clear leap into revolutionary action.”

Imaginatively describe your “clear (or not so clear) leap into revolutionary action” in the style of the “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay (but better!)

Where are you leaping from? how does the leap feel? what do you smell along the way?

Send us your “My Leap Into Revolutionary Action” reflections at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com!

alargerbreath2

For example poet/artist educator Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha wrote the following!

fresh
The thing about a leap into revolutionary consciousness: it feels good. It feels so, so good.

I’ve been thinking about this lately as I am 33/ Bay Area/ life of my dreams/ working, working working/ friends, fam, love/ grad school, four jobs, writing, performance, career/ and one of those is one of those Bay Area nonprofit jobs you may have heard of. That people whisper, bitch, moan and complain about. That sounds good on paper, so much so that if you love somewhere else you are like “what the fuck are my Bay Area friends complaining about”. Until you experience it. You get one of those jobs that looks so good on paper, where you are gonna be loved and hired cause of your passion, your brown queer girl or boy genius, your smarts and fashion and drive and deep grounded grassroots intellectual knowledge and all the people you know and all the brilliant ideas you are gonna come up with. And instead it is one of those places that feels like a migraine headache, like someone is squeezing your brain with both hands, like you don’t have business casual business casual enough, like it so dry, like your brain just wanders. Like the words, they look alright on the page (sometimes) but how you got there, how you were used and how it felt when you were-

that

don’t.

And it don’t matter how many fancy brunches they take you too on their dime, it don’t take away from the fact that you need the $500 a month but you ain’t getting anything done, and you feeling traumatized, used, dis or un respected and deeply misunderstood while you doing it.


And not loved.

not loved like you need to be.

We all do different strategies we need to do to survive and thrive. And sometimes that means working jobs we kinda like but kinda hate, or straight up all the way hate cause we know we need cash or connections or they a bridge or it a trade off. but it’s important not to let them limit the power of our imaginations, our wildest black and brown queer and trans girlboy dreams. Because those dreams and our energy are our first resources. Sometimes they are the only things we own.

One of my longterm survival/growth strategies  has been to not deal with folks who make me feel like shit or deeply misunderstood/unloved/etc. Some folks call it “living in a bubble.” I call it, QTPOC can’t ever fucking afford to live in a bubble but we can indeed thrive quite well when we have folks who love and get basic important things about us around us.  This has looked many different ways. When I was 21, it meant leaving the United Stated on a Greyhound to move to Canada when my full scholarship ran out- to split the country for a city (Toronto) that had queer woman of color, mixed race girls who talked about it, radical South Asians, Sri Lankans, health care, bike lanes, and cheap vegetables. All things I was missing in New York. It meant, after feeling like I was carrying a toxic burden from trying to work as a scared yet fierce 20 year old with white anarchists who didn’t get or respect much of what I was about or believed for a few years, choosing to not work with white-dominated political organizations or scenes for a few years. I was part of that mid-90s wave of punks and anarchist people of color  who said fuck this to fighting the same stupid fights about racism, sexism, queerphobia, classism and ablism in spaces we didn’t start, shape or control, and going back home.

After a while, I built up my strength. And there were other kinds of relationships and work, including with white folks who weren’t dumb, that became possible. But I still consciously decide what I let in and what I don’t. SO when a friend was like, “Girl, there were so many whitefolks at Critical Resistence!!! WTF!!!” I say, really? I just noticed all the QTPOC everywhere. And she was like, are you kidding, you didn’t catch the scent of the anarchist armpit? And I go, it wasn’t important to focus my energy on that. You might call it optimism. You might call it self-preservation, or playing to our strengths not our weaknesses. Building ourselves stronger.

There is this thing inside me. It’s that crazy little voice I listen to in the center of my chest. A feminist cliché for sure but I still hang on to it. It my compass, my magnetic north. It tells me where to go. It’s my bullshit detector, inherited from my working-class white and middle-class brown ancestor ladies. My mama saying shit or get off the pot, my grandma who knew what was up in her  brownLankan community, family, island, trying to organize, trying not to get married, with all her body. I keep what they gave me, and I add to the recipe. Improvising, experimenting, playing. Always following that pull. Sometimes clearer than others. When I lit out for Canada at 21, it was the path that was all lit up. When I got older, Oya and Kali, they made the choices more complicated. Should I stay in Toronto where I have friends and love and work and an apartment, or pack up everything and move to Oakland because I hunger for QTPOC art peers and I always wonder what it would be like to go back? But I still hold on to her first. She the source of my sanity. And I hold on to her for so long, sometimes I forget how many folks, women of color, queer and trans people of color, we trained to think that voice crazy unimportant. How easy it is to relinquish back into a life of doing what you’re told, staying in grad school when we hate it, buying thing and watching a box not because of joyful relaxation but out of numbing habit.

When I was sitting in that job, I would think of INCITE meetings and Mangos With Chili meetings. Mangos meetings in Cherry’s hot pink living room, painting each other’s toenails and squinting at budgets. Cancelling and rescheduling when we got sick or had a brown girl overscheduled overwhelmed moment. Loaning each other twenty or a hundred bucks when we needed it. Taking turns freaking out, laughing and cracking up, driving two extra-loud no-muffler early 90s Toyotas through east Oakland hills and to the ocean to offer Yemaya a watermelon from Trader Joes. And how it felt like joy. And love.

The thing about the leap into revolutionary consciousness is that it feels gooooooood

good                         good

good

so so good

Like it feels right and like you are at the fucking center and you can make your dreams real and you can make them real anyway that works for you. Like that if you are a single woman of color single mama with a car that breaks down and you are late for a meeting this is not met with a  sniff from someone else/your boss about how there is a lot of “chaos” in your life and this “needs to be looked at” or, worse, ‘you should be more MINDFUL about the CHAOS in your life.” But the meeting, how it happens, how you do the work, gets figured out by you. Like for real, you can do it at your kitchen table. You can use your strengths. Your strengths are not just acknowledged, but understood. A meeting can look like two girls at a kitchen table in east O/ over some wine/ “check in” is an hour when you talk story about your girls and boys, stress, the thing that happened in the Trader Joe’s line, the horrible day job, you rub each others feet, and then shit  happens and it’s easy, or it’s not always easy, it’s work, but it’s like pushing out a baby when you’re squatting instead of having your legs in stirrups. Gravity and the natural force of the universe is working with you, you not working against it. Meetings can happen over G Chat. Meetings can happen on skype, at the Laundromat, at 2 AM. If your chronic illness or disability or lack of money means the way the goddamn meeting happens isn’t working, you can switch it up, and all those things are a source of value, the center of the head of the clit of embodied knowledge, not a source of shame.

It feels delicious. It’s not burnout. It’s not without childcare. It’s not dry. You understand what everyone is saying. When you don’t, you can ask and you can talk about it.

This is not to say that there is not argument, not disagreement, not labor, not tired. But the work, the work is your wildest dreams together. Feels like grow. Like life. Like juice. Like more not less. Like we getting some where. Like I never never get tired of saying we at the center, we grow, grow grow. Make our genius on shine. Make what we need, what our fam, our peops, our communities need. And we look so cute when we go it. And it so  sexy. So fresh. So wake up smiling and fighting. So beautiful resistance. SO what our ancestors did, what we wanted.

And if mainstream society doesn’t recognize- maybe it don’t matter at all. You don’t know me, but I know you. And I know me, and us, and what I don’t know I can learn. And I/we can be clear about where we putting in energy and work.

Our energy, our flyness, our genius, our dreams, our scar healing salves, our psychic powers, our gardens, they all our resources. We are not just “quadruple jeopardy.” We our own light.

Feels and tastes and looks: just like fresh, fresh water.

The thing about the leap into revolutionary consciousness is it slakes your queer colored girl thirst you had all your life. Just like the freshest river water.

Miracle makers, us. Have been and always will or could be.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

21. To be free

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

“If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.”

What does freedom look like to you? How are freedom and justice connected?

Complete the sentence

If I were free, it would mean______________________________________________________________ since my freedom __________________________________________________________.

Feel free to make an illustration of what freedom looks like to you.

High school english teacher Emily Chavez shared this exercise with her students

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Click here genres-of-freedom-english-ii-to-be-free-responses to download example responses from Hillside High School students in Durham.

Kriti Sharma is a community based biologist, supporting and affirming life.

Kriti Sharma is a community based biologist, supporting and affirming life.

Kriti Sharma of UBUNTU and the UBUNTU Grows community garden writes:

If my dadima was free, she would have land to whom she could give generously, and who would give her back a humbling abundance of vegetables and spices, fruit trees, birds.  She would have land that would meet her, dance with her, offer her countless gifts for every measure of effort so lovingly given.  She would invite whomever she wanted to come visit her there, and even that at times of her own choosing.  Yet she was married at the age of 13, giving generously for decades to the rocky land of a marriage that grew so little of what sustained her.

If my nanima was free, she would tend to her own body with devotion, her skull-splitting migraines and gnawing anxiety subsiding to the peace of knowing there was nothing to do, nothing more important than her endlessly generous body healing, piece by piece.  By the grace of turmeric, aloe, amla, and some heavy doses of aspirin and Tiger Balm for good measure, she would love herself to health as fervently as she’d love her family to full bellies and healed wounds.  She would know her body as an end unto itself.

If I were free, I would stop the machine that keeps churning desi women out to gratefully give our very lives up, as moths die ecstatically in flame.  I would notice when I find myself acting in ways that compromise my health and well-being, and add to the suffering of other women of color.  I would be lucid about my confusion, acknowledging the force of patterns set into motion from the time of my birth, from the time of parents’ birth, from a time almost beyond memory.  I would uncover my inheritance, like heavy, buried treasure.

If my daughters were free, they would be born awake, their third eyes open.  Being born, they would know, immediately, where they were born: into oppression, which is like a wheel that was spun long ago and that we spin again and again and again through our lives and collective actions, giving it momentum.  With clear insight into the sources of their suffering, and the skills to end that suffering, they would act with a vigilance and power such as the world has never seen, slowing, slowing, slowing the wheel down.

My dadima is free.  She gives life to basil and marigolds, neighbors and children.  She laughs hard at good jokes, is good company to herself, and is learning against all odds to read.

My nanima is free.  She’s born now into another body, one that she’ll have every opportunity to use for good, one that she’ll love fully and well.

I am free.  I hold my life precious and brief, and diligently sow the seeds of liberation while I can, not a moment to lose.

My daughters will be free.  They will face the world bravely.  They will finish their own stories.

for more by Kriti Sharma download a free copy  her zine Moral Revolution below!

Kriti condensed Sarah Hoaglands Lesbian Ethics into Zine form!

Kriti condensed Sarah Hoagland's Lesbian Ethics into Zine form!

Email us your completed sentences and/or illustrations at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com!

22. What You Got?: Radical Sharing

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

“When we started meeting early in 1974 after the NBFO first eastern regional conference, we did not have a strategy for organizing, or even a focus.  We just wanted to see what we had.”

What you got! We know you know some fierce powerful dynamic folk. What skills do you have? What skills do they have?  What stuff do you have that you can share? Set up a share where everyone in your chosen community gets a forum to express their knowledge/skills talents/resources. you can do it as often as you want. As many times as you want! See what that sharing opens up for you all collectively. Now that you know your people have certain skills what can ya’ll do together that you can’t do apart? What can you build/grow/create/produce?

Quirky Black Girl and SpiritHouse diaspora dweller Zachari Curtis hosted a book swap in DC.  Here is what she says about it:

Zachari Curtis is a Warrior Daughter

Zachari Curtis is a Warrior Daughter

There was lots of yummy food and a ginormous amount of books which, miraculously, found new homes with fellow readers in the community. Picture it: A place where the books are free and delightful snacks are served while you make your selections. You bring books that have been with you for a while that you really want others to read. People who have read the book you want to read are nearby to talk to you about it if you have questions. And again, the books are free. Sound good? Well it makes a great recession-era party idea.

Many people said they had never been to a book swap, I certainly hadn’t until I hosted one so I just wanted to spread the idea around so maybe this can take root in other cities.

Anyway, go forth and swap.

At a recent Igniting the Kindred event held by Southerners on New Ground and Left Turn Magazine at Charis Bookstore in Atlanta participants created a “tree of dreams” to imagine how they could transform what they had into what they needed through the alchemy of community connection! This is what it looks like!

Sharing is magical.

Sharing is magical.

ATLiens Dreaming of Sustainability

ATLiens Dreaming of Sustainability

Elena Feinstein and Kyla Sweet created a wiki to help share skills and resources in their local community.  Here are Elena’s thoughts:

Elena is a radical librarian!

Elena is a radical librarian!

In the summer of 2008 a total of nine friends, all students or recent graduates of the School of Information and Library Science at UNC Chapel Hill, moved into three houses in the same small Carrboro, North Carolina neighborhood. They enjoyed the opportunities that living so close to each other presented, and began to discuss ways in which they could function as an extended household, from sharing meals to equipment and tools. These women kept hectic schedules, packed with classes, work, and volunteering, but all had nearly constant access to the internet. Some members of the group decided to launch a wiki to facilitate their neighborly interaction. Several other friends and neighbors were invited to participate, and the wiki now has sixteen users.

The wiki has a very simple structure. On the main page, each member has listed his or her “gots” and “wants.” Some of these items are tangible objects to loan, borrow, or give away, such as books on a particular topic or cuttings of plants. Many are offers or requests for the use of equipment, such as sewing machines or musical instruments. But the greatest number of both gots and wants center on skills and knowledge, and this has been the most interesting aspect of the wiki for its users. Some of this knowledge can be shared using the wiki itself, like the DIY health and beauty page or the embedded Google map of free neighborhood resources (think herb patches, bicycle tire pumps, lovely views), for example. Some of the most requested skills, such as lessons in web development and driving cars with manual transmissions, are being organized into informal classes or seminars. Users of the wiki have also delighted in examining each other’s gots lists to discover hidden talents or previously unknown interests, inspiring new friendships and deepening existing ones in the process. The wiki sidebar has served as a convenient place to make specific, time-sensitive requests, to sign up for lessons or interest groups that will communicate in more detail outside of the wiki, and to announce events, most commonly potlucks and crafting sessions.

One early success in the life of the wiki was the planning of a swap day. Held at one of the Carrboro houses, over the course of a weekend afternoon, participants brought clothes, music, household items, and snacks to give away. Because we knew each other, there were many directed swaps, in which the giver had a specific person in mind. While this event was ostensibly about trading material goods, the impulse to trade skills and services rose to the surface as ever. When one woman expressed indecision about whether to take a shirt that was a bit too large, another brought out a sewing machine and gave an impromptu tailoring lesson. The afternoon even ended with a haircut (a very commonly traded service) on the front stoop and plans for further trades of services and lessons.

While the success of these interactions owes much to the geographic and social proximity of the participants, we believe that it is possible to scale some of these principles up to function in larger communities. Even in this small group, we observe the extension of trust and generosity to people who were previously strangers. By employing a network of friend-of-a-friend connections, there is a sense that these people are somehow known and there is a predisposition to believe that their contributions would be valuable. Likewise, I think that, while the use of a wiki or other web tool was important for this particular group, these concepts apply outside of the online environment. The wiki served as an enhanced bulletin board, and a real bulletin board could perform in a similar way. One key to meaningful skill sharing is to identify your community and your goals. What is the community that you are trying to serve? How closely knit or loosely joined is it currently, and how would you like for it to be? Are you organizing a single interaction or something ongoing? What medium or media will be most useful for your community? What has worked well or not well in the past, and how can you learn from this? And always: what is it that inspires you to share and how can you pass along that spirit?

let us know how your skillshare goes…email us pictures and reflections at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com and we’ll share your skilltastickness with everyone!

23. Found Each Other: An Illustration

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

“The overwhelming feeling that we had is that after years and years we had finally found each other.”

Have you ever felt this way?  What might this look like? Make a drawing or a collage or a painting or anything.

Quirky Black Girl Leah made this video playlist in honor of finding you!!!

Leah is the official DJ of the Quirky Black Girl Movement!

Leah is the official DJ of the Quirky Black Girl Movement!

This playlist is dedicated to those those she who have recently reunited with her self, her soul, that which completes her, her purpose…her joy.
xo,
Leah
Alice Smith, “Dream” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8nWkii2wwo
Bob Marley, “Natural Mystic” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r8HEJojWBs
NIna Simone, “Here Comes the Sun” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSSIlx9hiu8
Santogold, “L.E.S. Artistes” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCeZzW54a2o
Anthony David, “The Water/ The Fire” http://music.yahoo.com/track/44436202
Bilal, “Somethin to Hold On to” http://www.imeem.com/people/w7vIJa//music/-urrkRD5/something_to_hold_on_to/
Breaks Co-Op, “Question of Freedom” http://www.last.fm/music/Breaks+Co-op/_/Question+of+Freedom

The Cinematic Orchestra, “To Build a Home” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhHKfSFGdUI

Coldplay, “Sparks” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar48yzjn1PE

D’Angelo, “Found My Smile Again” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP7nlYZN1fA

Jill Scott, ” Do You Remember” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z97o_rCDuPc

Maxwell, “Whenever, Whereever, Whatever” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RW_L69tyj0M

Jaimie Lidell, “Wait For Me” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djB9cJW5Gs4

Marvin Gaye, “You’re a Wonderful One” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_eB_-ia0I4

Goldfrapp, “Little Bird” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l4PkcX8UEM

Maxwell, “Silently” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYRGbjNfJ94

Nat King Cole, “Orange Colored Sky” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdi97HHYJew

Quincy Jones, “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVxyiL9vWk0

Santogold, “I’m a Lady” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ94krsqFHg

Emiliana Torrini, “Big Jumps” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CF7sER73TY

Neneh Cherry, “Woman” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0W212af1uk

Jill Scott, “I Keep/Still Here” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVH-WvSBx-8

D’Angelo, “Africa” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgtjSPkuJ-E

Send us your celebration at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com!

26. The Manifesta

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

“As Black feminists and Lesbians we know that we have a very definite revolutionary task to perform and we are ready for the lifetime of work and struggle before us.”

Lifetime of work and struggle!!!!!!! What makes this worth it for you? The faces of little revolutionaries deserving the best world ever? The mandates of elders who taught you how to be fierce? Write a manifesta about your own lifetime of commitment and what that means to you. Don’t forget to let us know who it is dedicated to!!!

For example guerilla mama and outlaw midwife Mai’a Williams wrote this beautiful Manifesta

outlaw-midwives3

Outlaw Midwives: A Manifesta

LIFE AND DEATH

Every child will not be born alive or may die in infanthood.
Early motherhood is the interplay of life and death and sometimes filled with sadness and loss, with joy and sweetness.
Always death is interwoven in to the fabric of the living moment. Cells reproduce and die like the rhythm of breathing, like the opening and closing of a gate.
We center, not simply the biology of birth, but relationships we have with people we take care of and those that take care of us.
And mourn daily the dead and the missing, the actions of our governments and other powerful entities that kill and maim babies and mothers, the destruction of resistance communities’ next generation.  That destruction privileges many of us with resources allowing us more reproductive choices.
The pro-life movement focuses on birth control and abortions, we go deeper. We ought to be able to decide when, and how we will conceive and with whom, who and what practices will be part of our pregnancy, what we allow into our body, where we give birth and with whom, how we feed our children, etc. Our intelligence, agency, and subjectivity are central. The health of the next generation depends on the psychological, physical and spiritual health of the mother today, our levels of stress, support networks, confidence and joy.

MEDICAL VIOLENCE
The medical system’s structural and physical violence denies us  the full expression of our agency. Doctors and nurses routinely manipulate information for the convenience of the medical system and its workers. They force us to have strangers’ hands, medical instruments and machines on our body, to undergo unnecessary and dangerous procedures such as hormonal birth control, surgery, genital mutilation and sterilization, experiment on our bodies and psyches, verbally threaten the ours and children’s lives, lie to them, and sexually harass and abuse us with little impunity. They deny us our basic human rights, humanity, moral expression, personal and communal wisdom, cultural understandings of body and being, full access to the power of reproduction and creation, and our connection to our children, loved ones, culture, kinships and cosmos.

In order to realize resistance and liberatory revolutionary communities that care for all their members, we co-create respectful spaces for folks to make their decisions about their body, family, communities, life and death.

NATURAL AND NORMAL CHILDBIRTH

The concept of ‘natural’ childbirth or lifestyle is dependent on the concept of the ‘artificial and that the ‘normal’ birth concept is dependent on the existence of the technological and medical models of birth. So natural/normal birth did not exist before modern western birth culture.

Mostly pregnant middle and upper class educated white women have the economic and racial privilege and choices to have a ‘natural/normal’ birth. These women, a small segment of the global birthing world creates their natural experiences by exoticising, fetishizing, imitating and co-opting the practices and images of 3rd world brown women childbearing cultures. Natural/normal concept is really code for ‘preferred’, it is the elite white women who have the preferred childbirth and normal body. Their body, lifestyle, childbearing, mothering, and inevitably, their children set the standard through their privilege and access for what is normal and natural.
It’s not about ‘natural’ birth, vs. medical interventions vs. Cesarean. It is about empowerment.

Many midwives in the West have fought so hard for legal recognition for their craft that all other considerations about birth have become secondary or tertiary. The privileging of ‘certified’ and ‘insured’ midwives has been not only negligent but destructive to women of color, the queer community, sexual and trauma survivors, imprisoned women, folks with disabilities and many more marginalized peoples in the birth community and in the world at large.

Imagine for most of human history midwives were just women who had given birth or were the sister or the mother or had been around for births and knew the rituals, the songs, the calls that that community had developed around the emergence of a new being into the world. Perhaps a well of community knowledge held by various men and women in the community. Some oral traditions. Drawings that acted as guides and recorders of history. Helpful herbs. Folks had watched other mammals bring forth their young. Most likely they knew the particular woman giving birth. Her temperment, her favorite foods, her moods.

They were the mother, sister, aunt, cousin, grandmother, neighbour who came by and helped. The women who had a knack. Who were in charge of gathering and drying herbs. Who took it upon themselves to care.
We cannot afford to romanticize the past, nor believe in an edenic before, but this is the way birth still is happening in a good many parts of the world right now.

Right now 300,000 women are giving birth. Most of the babies will live. A few will die.
It is a joyful sad knowledge.

A LACK OF EXPERTISE

We are not the authority, nor the expert. It is that lack of authority and expertise that is our greatest strength. We know what we know, do not claim to know more than we know, and we follow the birthing person’s leadership.

A community is only as empowered as its mothers.

Before the beginning of human history, human beings have controlled their reproductive lives. Folks found leaves, roots, sap, smoke, dance, prayers, animals and more that helped to regulate fertility and those processes continue to this day. They choose persons and processes that honor their reproductive lives. And we are willing to break the law and go to prison to honor and empower the mother, the child, and the community.

It can be difficult to receive that training and apprenticeship when doors refuse to open because we are from a marginalized community. Access is not solely (or even primarily) dependent upon our passion, ethics, intelligence, or dedication. We get all the training that we can. Teach each other. Read everything we can. Talk to everyone who will talk to us. Develop a strong intuition with our own bodies, minds, lives, with the universe. We never stop learning, because the more we know, the more that we can offer. But we don’t deny folks the right to choose for themselves what kind of pregnancy, birth, and child caring they want. We explain to folks what we know and what we don’t know and let them make their decision.

CREATING REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNITIES OF LOVE

We envision anti-violence safer communities where mothers and children heal from reproductive violence, because it is when we are whole and confident in our own leadership, are we able to co-create healthy communities.

Communities in which loyalty to a mother’s choice is 99 percent of being a midwife and in which we define ‘motherhood’ as love by any means necessary.

Communities in which we care for ourselves developing spiritual and physical awareness so that we can hold the space, the energy, the vision for folks to make decisions that center freedom, community and revolutionary love.

We must mother ourselves. Hold ourselves the way that we hold our children. And know that our wisdom is stronger and more knowledgeable and relevant than outside expertise. We must live the lives that are given to us. And trust others to do the same. For the sake of our survival. For the sake of our ancestresses. For the sake of our communities. For the sake of love.

email us your manifestas at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com!