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Women DO Riot September 16, 2009

Filed under: Poetry — texicana @ 3:18 pm

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.

Ya Basta!


We women
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?


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