Opening Words for Babies and Bailouts 4 26 20
Good evening everyone -
Thank you so much for taking time out of your lives to join us here on this day.
Sincerest gratitude to all of you --- for the moment to which we are being called --- to our esteemed panelist -- and to our wisdom circle, practitioners in the project of liberation: Team Sankofa and BLUU.
This evening, we are here to learn and not just to learn but to put that learning into practice as we engage abolition as practitioners in the project of liberation… freeing Black mommas. For some of you, wrapping your head around being an abolitionist may seem too big a task. I get that. You wonder if no jails, what will happen next? How does this happen? Yes, they are big, hard, and complex questions. I see you. Angela Y. Davis said “being radical is just grasping things at the root.” Yes, we want to be radical, in that we want to grab, at the very root, and change the very core of the root of things: the prison industrial complex, the school to prison pipeline, mass incarceration, the police state, state sanctioned violence and murders… all of it. And today, we are so grateful for your presence… you showed …. You took the first step. Thank you. We witness you.
And there are others who are eager to take that next step in this project of liberation through abolition. For some of you, that’s looked like hosting events. Or perhaps talking about Babies and Bailouts to folks in your communities, workplaces, and congregations. Perhaps it’s sponsoring a bailout and inviting friends and family to do the same.
But today, wherever you find yourself … however you find yourself… you are here on purpose…. Thank you for showing up…. we are grateful for your presence here and welcome you to this great project … the project of Great Believing. The Great Believing that makes a way out of no way, sets free the oppressed, tears dear walls of bias, bigotry, and racism… that Great Believing which compels us to act as justice-makers because we know justice is possible in our lifetimes. The Great Believing that has provided a vision so bold as abolition in our lifetime… the Great Believing that connected you somehow to this space tonight… The Great Believing that is provides hope in places of brokenness, hopelessness, and despair… We are people of the Great Believing. And there is room for All at this table. Welcome to this space.
As people of the Great Believing… I would like to invite you to center wherever you are in this moment…
Allow yourself space to settle down… settle in… and get still...
This evening, we are taking time to raise, in our consciousness, Black women who are locked in cages, separated from their families… particularly and especially during the time of a global and national pandemic. But the truth is, for these women, they have been living at the intersections of generational pandemics, unrelentingly, for the entirety of their lives - holding the weight and trauma, of our collective national burdens of white supremacy… carried on their backs - as they shepherded a new generation of Black excellence. Our mothers. We hold tightly to these women who have been invisibilized in jail cells and labeled enemies of the state. These resilient women who live the cycles of trauma: having their freedom revoked, chains put on their flesh, inmate numbers exchanged for names… these women… our mothers..
We see you. We witness you. We will continue to fight for your freedom as it it were our own.
As we center, let us center on purpose: we are here to be active in the fight for the freedom and liberation of our people. Decarceration. Abolition. Now.
Let us carry these words, slightly adapted, from the prophet James Baldwin, as we listen with our hearts ready to be broken open for activation. I invite you to close your eyes and here these words:
My sisters - we know how great a price has been paid to bring into existence a new consciousness, a new people, an unprecedented nation. If we know, my sisters, about the injust revocation of your freedom… the denial of your inherent worth and dignity … and do nothing, we are worse than the murderers - politicians - illegitimate presidents - jailers - prosecutors - judges - correction officers - probationers - hired in our name.
If we know, and we do, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own -- which it is - and render impassable with our bodies - our dollars, our time talents and treasures - the corridor to the gas chamber and jail cells.
My sisters, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.