At this time I’d like to say a few words especially to my sisters: SISTERS. BLACK PEOPLE WILL NEVER BE FREE UNLESS BLACK WOMEN PARTICIPATE IN EVERY ASPECT OF OUR STRUGGLE, ON EVERY LEVEL OF OUR STRUGGLE. I think that Black women, more than anybody on the face of the earth, recognize the urgency of our situation…
Because it is We who come face to face daily with the institutions of our oppression. And because it is We who have borne the major responsibility of raising our children. And it is We who have to deal with the welfare systems that do not care about the welfare of our children. And it is We who have to deal with the school systems that do not educate our children. It is We who have to deal with the racist teachers who teach our children to hate themselves. It is We who have seen the terrible effects of racism on our children.
I JUST WANT TO TAKE A MOMENT OUT TO EXPRESS MY LOVE TO ALL OF YOU WHO RISK YOUR LIVES DAILY STRUGGLING OUT HERE ON THE FRONT LINES. We who have watched our young grow too old, too soon. We who have watched our children come home angry and frustrated and seen them grow more bitter, more disillusioned with the passing of each day. And We who have seen the sick, trapped look on the faces of our children when they come to fully realize what it means to be Black in Amerikkka. And we know what deprivation is.
How many times have We run out of bus fare, rent money, food money and how many times have our children gone to school in hand-me-down clothes, with holes in their shoes. We know what a hell-hole Amerikkka is. We’re afraid to let our children go out and play. We’re afraid to walk the streets at night. We sisters, We have seen our young, the babies that We brought into this world with such great hopes for, We have seen their bodies bloated and aching from drugs, scarred and deformed by bullet holes. We know what oppression is. We have been abused in every way imaginable. We have been abused economically, politically. We have been abused physically, and We have been abused sexually. And sisters, We have a long and glorious history of struggle on this land/planet.
Afrikan women were strong and courageous warriors long before We came to this country in chains. And here in Amerikkka, our sisters have been on the front lines. Sister Harriet Tubman led the underground railroad. And sisters like Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hammer, Sandra Pratt and our Queen Mother Moore have carried it on. Sisters, We have been the backbone of our communities, and We have got to be the backbone of our nation. We have got to build strong family units, based on love and struggle. We don’t have no time to play around.
A REVOLUTIONARY WOMAN CAN’T HAVE NO REACTIONARY MAN.
If he’s not about liberation, if he’s not about struggle, if he ain’t about building a strong Black nation then he ain’t about nothing. We know how to struggle. We know how to struggle and finagle to survive. We know what it means, sisters, to struggle tooth and nail. We know what it means to struggle with love. We know what unity is. We know what sisterhood is. We have always been kind to each other, brought each other hot soup and biscuits. We have always helped each other through the hard times. Sisters, We must celebrate Afrikan womanhood. We don’t want to be like Miss Ann. She can keep her false eyelashes and her false, despoiled image of womanhood. She can keep her mink stole and her French provincial furniture. We will define for ourselves what womanhood is. And We will create our own style and our own ways of dress. We can’t have no white man in France telling Afrikan women what to look like. We will create our own New Afrikan way of living. We will create our own way of being and living our own New Afrikan culture, taking the best of the old and mixing it with the new.
SISTERS WE HAVE GOT TO TAKE CONTROL OF OUR LIVES AND OUR FUTURE WHEREVER WE ARE. AND WE HAVE GOT TO ORGANIZE OURSELVES INTO A STRONG BODY OF AFRIKAN WOMEN.
No One Can Stop The Rain
(A poem by Assata Shakur)
Watch, the grass is growing.
Watch, but don’t make it obvious.
Let your eyes roam casually, but watch! In any prison yard, you can see it –growing.
In the cracks, in the crevices, between the steel and the concrete,
out of the dead gray dust,
the bravest blades of grass shoot up,
bold and full of life.
Watch. the grass is growing.
It is growing through the cracks.
The guards say grass is against the Law.
Grass is contraband in prison.
The guards say that the grass is insolent.
It is uppity grass, radical grass, militant grass, terrorist grass, they call it weeds.
Nasty weeds, nigga weeds, dirty, spic, savage indian, wetback, pinko, commie weeds – subversive! And so the guards try to wipe out the grass.
They yank it from its roots. They poison it with drugs. They maul it, They rake it.
Blades of grass have been found hanging in cells,
covered with bruises. “apparent suicides
The guards say that the GRASS IS UNAUTHORIZED DO NOT LET THE GRASS GROW.
You can spy on the grass. You can lock up the grass.
You can mow it down, temporarily.
But you will never keep it from growing.
Watch, the grass is beautiful.
The guards try to mow it down, but it keeps on growing.
The grass grows into a poem.
The grass grows into a song. The grass paints itself across the canvas of life.
And the picture is clear and the lyrics are true, and the haunting voices sing so sweet and strong that the people hear the grass from far away.
And the people start to dance, and the people start to sing, and the song is freedom.
Watch, the grass is growing.