For my women / by Michelle Nicola

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I have written, deleted and re-written several lines for this post. Honestly, I don’t know where to begin. Me, I’m in Xalapa, working on something that I hope will be of use to the community here and to Spanish teachers in the US. My people, my women, (and in this moment I speak mostly of my women in the United States) will see yet another ethically questionable judge sit on the supreme court. I feel the anguish, the tension, the slow simmer of blood.

One month ago, I was in Mexico City, at the start of this journey. In the orientation, they asked us to stand if we had experienced or known someone who had experienced sexual assault or harassment. One hundred percent of women (and a few men) stood up.

100% of women (and a few men) stood up.

And because I don’t know how to put into words the jumble of emotions, the stories of my sisters, cousins, friends, my own stories, I turn to Margaret Walker and Linda Christensen. Margaret Walker, an African-American poet who was part of the literary movement in Chicago in the 1940s, wrote the award winning poem, For My People. Linda Christensen, Director of the Oregon Writing Project, author, high school teacher for over 30 years, and activist for a lifetime, wrote a lesson on how to use Walker’s poem to guide students in affirming their place in the world.

For My Women

For my women everywhere

my powerful creators with

chocolate cafe sandstone cream sun-kissed skin

and hair so wild dark flaxen silky curly flaming-

our eyes hold our light and our sorrow.

To my little sisters

(to my younger self)

who spend hours agonizing primping peering

looking wishing in mirrors and television screens

and magazine ads and dads uncles brothers boyfriends’ words

Am I enough?

or am i too many calories curls folds

not enough intelligence humility logic

Little sisters, I wish I could save you

from all of that.

To my mamas and grandmas and aunties and teachers

Holy Women

who raised me

blessing cooking healing tending cleaning stitching

loving organizing chauffeuring applauding praying

managing schedules and others’ emotions

Thank You.

To my girlfriends

my kindred souls who

share secrets and smiles

slumber parties at 7 and 37

tender tete-a-tetes

You teach me the ways of warrior women.

For my women warriors

from Lysistrata to Anita Hill to Christine Blasey Ford

adding their voices to the chorus

marching on Washington

filing our complaints with human resources

adding our #metoo and #BelieveWomen stories

only to hear the male voices echo back

It wasn’t me . . .

It wasn’t me . . .

It wasn’t me . . .

who rapes assaults asserts inserts interrupts         

dismisses shuts down shuts up

To my women who call bullshit

on all of that, and

on the man who accidentally brushes her arm waist thigh ass

on the man who cyber-stalks and mansplains

on the man who interrupts our stories

My savvy women who develop tactics

like carrying keys as weapons

like fake boyfriends who will be back any minute

like staying in at night

like only one drink

like moving in groups

like setting our jawlines firm

on the man who crosses our path.

Let a new earth rise. Let new songs be sung. Let a new blueprint for male behavior be drafted; let the peace of equality settle into our bones. Let a bridge of safety carry us to a new world;

Let women now rise and take control.

(Y’all had your chance- and we see how that went.)

Let women now rise and take control.


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