Feliz 16 de Septiembre!
Women DO Riot
by Erika Gonzalez………in response to Ana Castillo’s poem “Women Don’t Riot” – 1998
Women do riot, in maquilas in Malaysia, Mexico, and even Korea,
they riot in sweatshops in New York and in El Paso
in San Anto Levi’s factories and in East Austin gentrified streets.
Women do revolt
at street light protests – hip hugging children, and while delivering new life –
By the hundreds and thousands, women change
policies into new emancipations
even when scalded by racist practices.
Women do riot in restaurants where they clean and clean
and clean their plates empty, only to find them full of their own reflection
cleaning cleaning and cleaning their hands raw –
Women do run rampant through the streets in search of justice
even when the running must be turned into indigenous dance,
or a silent walk through the park.
In college those who’ve thought it out
find out they haven’t thought at all until
they remember grandmother’s words of wisdom and ditch what the professor said
about woman feminism.
In the streets, women organize
in crucial times, carry signs,
and are not dragged away – they have visions
that passing one more petition might change people’s greedy ways.
Sometimes women organizing may be called uncivilized
by those who see civilization of the darker shades of souls
as dingy, savage, rebelliousness – but
Women are equipped with knowledge passed down
through the generations
speaking unofficial languages of
societal hatred turned inward and
spiritual courage turned outward when we say enough is enough.
don’t need to rise up in arms even with our men.
We storm through cities,
with strategic alliances
take over the press, make a unified statement,
not just with our sisters, but also with our brothers and
children and our eternal children’s children.
We may not always
march arm in arm
by the same tongue,
same God, same abandonment, and the
same broken heart,
but the stillness is what makes the heart beat
to the same rhythm
not for one woman or every woman,
but for the sake of us all.
I want to say to those who say women do not riot,
“You obviously have not met my mother. Or the abuelita
down the street whose property taxes sky rocketed after
her rich neighbor moved in, or the woman who has
to clean bloody noses from her 10 year old’s nose, or to the wife
of a man who is dying of cancer, or the young girl who has
asthma living next to an environmentally hazardous power plant.”
And maybe yes, women do not riot, we organize
not in exclusion of the “women only club”
but in respect that
there is a balance between a male and female energy.
The riot is the struggle that tries to bring this balance to nature
not in arms
but in strength
of mind and spirit, words of wisdom
and recogniton that there is still work to be done –
Today it is us. Tomorrow who?