Women and Men and the Vitality Between Them
“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.” ― Sojourner Truth
I use a lot of female pronouns in my writing. Part of this is because I am a woman. I don’t know how much of a woman I am, I may be bisexual, but the experience of my life has been that of a woman, and so I write from my perspective. I do not discount the rich contributions of men and the LGBTQ+ community in this.
However, there is another reason why I write so hard and so fast from the perspective of the feminine. It is because I have been dismissed from the literature, from history, from politics, from the sciences and from education. This dismissal is eating us up. I am not writing merely to advocate for myself, but for people of darker brown color who have been sitting in classrooms in every state having to be “educated” in the traumas and the achievements of white men. If those excluded wrote and published and edited, raised healthy children to be leaders or helpful followers, created novels and great murals, videographs and documentaries and sculptures and buildings and organizational systems for the next three thousand years, we might be able to catch up.
I am writing about mental health advocacy in order to rescue the next six hundred and twenty thousand men who could be sacrificed in a Civil War II, as they were in the first one. These husky, athletic men could lay down their carnage in about three Rose Bowl stadiums. 620,000 is a great statistic to start. It talks about all the military males who died while fighting battles. It does not fully talk about African soldiers, or African rebels or slaves who happened to get in the way. It does not speak to African family units. It does not talk about the soldiers who were women, or the women who were soldiers. As a result of colossal migration and the failure of infrastructure, thousands died of starvation and disease. The statistic of 620,000 does not touch on the devastation of Indian tribes in the region.
Women were screaming on both sides to stop a civil war. Their works have only recently been generally published. Mental health is for everybody. I am writing to save the president. I write to protect our hospitals and dams and the collapse of freeways. I am trying to save the Library of Congress, one of our most precious institutions, from destruction by a mob of uneducated misfits. So forgive me if I use the pronoun, “she.”
Revolution of Women
In 1980, Congress issued the minting of a coin to replace the Eisenhower dollar. On it was the first American depiction of a woman on any currency. It was the portrait of Susan B. Anthony, one of the founders of the Woman Suffrage Movement. Because it was about the size of a quarter, it became unusable in national vending machines. In 1997, a second coin was issued with the portrait of Sacagawea. It too, was retired. In 1999, a new coin was issued with the portrait of Susan B. Anthony. It was the same size as the original failed coin. It was retired. The issue was not considered of an importance to be studied and rectified. There is now, in our Constitution or in our money, no evidence that a woman or that a Native American ever existed. We have been shut out of due process, as have all with darker brown skin in our country.
I have been studying my country long enough. I have loved the Constitution and the Bill of Rights long enough. I have worshipped at the feet of the interpretations of textbooks which are exclusionary. They benefit the nobles while pretending to be for the common welfare.
I have tried small action by people who have recovered from their suffering to share the light of our candles, one on one, with the world. And I have been completely frustrated. I have read the great texts of John Locke and Alexander Hamilton and agree with most of it. I have read about Adams, Douglas, Dix, Angelou, Baez, Malcolm X and Wauneka. I am in full agreement with our “forefathers” that full enfranchisement is a government that can sustain us, that only with the full participation of every person can our country hold a resilience for survival and hope for a future.
I am completely disabled. I have tools now which I can use to work for the next fifty years to begin to effect change. But I do not have fifty years. I am dying. My people are dying all around me; case managers, hospitals and social workers are crying tears of anguish. They can offer but a few seeds for starving people.
A Woman’s Work is Never Done
I believe that the only way we are going to replace Trumpism with global social democracy is Revolution. Every independent person and every independent country must use the voice, which is the power of enfranchisement and the freedom to do our unique and necessary work. We can talk softly, but we must carry a broom. We must rise up as independent organizations everywhere and take back our countries by force. This must not be a Revolution of Civil War or Organizational Program. This country does not have the institutional integrity to withstand a Civil War II. It will collapse.
This time, it must be women who push the issues, to write, lobby, and videograph the wrong. For the past 6000 years, women have hunkered in the background, raising our politicians, feeding, teaching and nursing our employers and our preachers and our educators. We have cared for and died for this nation, and yet we are not even given a coin of commemoration or given a mention in our political amendments. Great global change comes about in great waves; we work together, we organize, we think, we care for one another. But at the point of Movement, of Change, there must be an upheaval.
White men have been talking about independence since 70 and 1215 A.D. Yet this American Government did not until 1920 offer suffrage to women and not until 1964 begin to offer Civil Rights for a specific part of the nation. In 1917, to improve literacy rates but also to discourage widespread child labor practices, Mississippi became the last state to enact compulsory education. However, no provision was made for women to be actively engaged in the education of their children. Consequently, our educational systems, and the politicians who are graduated from them, has been codified into pure masculine hierarchy and power. Mothers are extraneous. We are radical if we choose to need sustenance from our community in order to raise our own kids. Our homes and our gardens and our community centers have not been maintained. In lieu of mothering, our traumatized males have been herded into business warehouses to be tortured with solitary confinement and bullying. No, we cannot repair most of this damage; the branches have blown off the tree. Our young women are insulted if we ask if they want children their own. Mothers are as essential to the mental health system as psychiatrists and psychologists.
How do we recognize a cancer? When one half of the brain becomes distended, hardening and growing, overtaking every other cell. When our people begin to die on the street in front of the White House, when children begin to shoot each other in the schools. 57% of our communal earnings go toward building castles to expand our territory, when we can get our lumber and our water and our food by negotiating with the next-door neighbor. Our leaders ride to their filibusters in jets while our parents cannot even afford vegetables and meat from the 99 Cent Store. Our books teach an education full of promises and lies. Our children, hopeful and brave, cannot come to a community college because they cannot pay the rent. Leaders who have become cancers must be radiated out through the process of enfranchisement.
Truth also said, “If women want any rights more than they’s got, why don’t they just take them, and not be talking about it?” Nobody was listening to a skinny old lady. So again, hear me, there must be a Revolution of Women. We can no longer ride the coat-tails of our distinguished gentlemen. We cannot wait for a handout from the government. Nor can this be a revolution of guerillas. Women must command; women must do what we have always done best. We must move out in factions, in families and organization and do what we do best.
This must be a Revolution of Helping. This is the time of women; this is the way it is done by women. We must have a time of feasts and rituals, everyone come to the table, now. We must move out to sweep the streets. Neighbors must visit our neighbors, knock on the door and ask for a cup of sugar or “Can I walk your dog until you can get back to work?” We must learn new words like “Mi casa es su casa.” We can use IPads and Google Translate and interpreters to communicate. We must share the bread, and stop to talk to the little boy. We must empower those who choose to be mothers to mother. Women’s work is never done. We must provide spaces for the nurturing and listening and respect and admiration and training of our new presidents. Leaders must bend over to hear and direct the counterpoints. Leaders must be rugged individualists, born to excellence, with families and relatives and communities to shield.
Fathers and brothers and aunts must go to work to support the family. We have hidden away our traumatized in our prisons, our convalescent homes, our substandard board and cares and on the same boulevards upon which we hold our parades to prosperity and happy new years. How can I tell my people to be patient, that help is coming, that we are doing everything in our power to alleviate their overwhelming suffering? When? Fifty years from now?
We must clean the guestroom. We must move enmasse down from Third to Seventh Street and between Alameda and Main; we can build 80,000 bathrooms with sinks and showers and a bed and a lock on the door, wherever there is a water pipe, a sewer and an electric socket. That would be a start in L.A. Until the end of the Revolution, the homeless must work together to organize, to provide security, to forage and to care for those women who have chosen to establish a new pool of leaders. People on the street must Twitter. Everyone must forage. Everyone must share the watch. Women have got to get outside to tend the garden. This is the way women work.
We must send flowers to our political prisoners. Native drummers must beat again the heartbeat that has grown so weak. No one is hearing our Dakota warriors screaming in the spreading disease. We must close the windows and care for our traumatized veterans. Women doctors must hold the Wait. We must wait in the bedroom for midnight watches, we must wait for the mailman, we must wait until the turkey is done. We have plenty to do in the meantime.
Women must be educators as we always have, organizing schools and wiping down the lobbies and setting up comfortable chairs in the listening rooms. Police must be accompanied by competent adults. We must hide the guns. We’ve got to bully engineers and bankers to help clean up. The Senate must take out the trash. We must all share the logrolling for our chambers just as Congress does for theirs. This is how women’s work is done. We cannot wait another four hundred years to free our slaves. We cannot wait another two hundred and twenty-three years for an acknowledgement on an American dollar.
#mental health #suicide #peer advocacy #peer support