La Lucha: The Struggle

 

The struggle against racism and imperialism, the class struggle, the struggle for liberation for women, and for all gender and sexually-oppressed people, the struggle for social justice, is my life.

As a child growing up in the 1950s in the racially segregated Alabama in the Deep South, I was raised to agree unthinkingly with the prejudices of the dominant culture—to believe that white supremacy was "natural" and "good" and to believe that the State that enforced the segregated system was "right," and I  was to take my place in that system as a heterosexual white woman.

Fortunately, the liberation movements of the 1960’s—the African-American civil rights movement, the Black Power movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, the women’s liberation movement, and the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender liberation movements—broke through into my consciousness and my life. I understood that I had been lied to—by government leaders, teachers, preachers—and I dedicated myself to unlearning what I had been taught. I set out to fight for my own liberation, and to be the best ally I could be to others targeted for oppression under this unjust social and economic system.

I’ve written about this process of consciousness-changing in my essays in Rebellion. What is crucial for me now is this: We must act on what we understand to be unjust, or our hard-won consciousness is useless, nothing more than sand running back and forth through an hourglass.

I understand now that social justice does not come simply through a change in "attitudes." After years of working to educate and "change attitudes," I see that we must change the underlying economic structure of capitalism that constantly re-invents and uses prejudices and stereotypes to keep itself running.

I have become more involved in fighting U.S. imperialism abroad through the International Action Center. Please visit the IAC's web site at http://www.iacenter.org/

Organizing in the South

Most recently, the government-created catastrophe of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the South has renewed my commitment to the simultaneous struggle against domestic injustice, particularly racism and sexism, and the fight to end U.S. aggression overseas. The re-direction of money to repair the Mississippi levees to the U.S. war on Iraq has been well-documented in investigative reporting in the New Orleans Times Picayune. Some researchers estimate that 80% of Katrina survivors were women of color with their children.

Last spring, I was one of the 100 people to participate in the historic protest called “Walking to New Orleans,” from March 14 through 19, 2006.  Together with hundreds of U.S. veterans for peace and Katrina/Rita survivors, I marched over 150 miles from Mobile, Alabama, along the Gulf through Mississippi, to New Orleans under the slogan, “Every bomb dropped on Iraq explodes on the Gulf Coast.”

Here are two articles I wrote about the demonstration, with links to the eight podcasts I recorded as we walked:

http://www.workers.org/2006/us/mobile-new-orleans-0330/index.html

http://www.workers.org/2006/us/mobile-new-orleans-0406/index.html

Here is a gallery of photos from the march.

 

Building an Anti-Imperialist Women’s Movement

Minnie Bruce Pratt being arrested at an anti-imperialist demonstration against U.S. intervention in El Salvador and Nicaragua during the 1980s, Washington, DC.
photo credit: Joan E. Biren

My commitment to an anti-imperialist women’s liberation movement has intensified with continued Bush administration claim of “women’s rights” as justification for U.S. aggression.

I’ve recently written a several articles about women liberation and the current U.S. “endless war.” You can access them at:

“Women’s Liberation and Afghanistan”
http://www.workers.org/ww/2001/women1206.php

"Women's Liberation and 'The New War'" 11/12/01
http://www.margieadam.com/action/pratt.htm

”The Women’s Movement and the U.S. War in Afghanistan”
http://www.workers.org/ww/2002/afghan0620.php

”Violence Grows Against Women”
http://www.workers.org/ww/2002/ftbragg0808.php

“Fighting War Is a Woman’s Issue”
http://www.workers.org/ww/2003/womwar0123.php

”Women Say No to U.S. Bases”
http://www.workers.org/ww/2003/antiimp0313.php

An excerpt from a speech I gave on women’s liberation and the war was published in Emma: das politische Magazin von Frauen (the German feminist magazine) in August 2003. You can link to Emma in German/Deutch at: http://www.emma.de

For more on my thinking about building an anti-imperialism women’s liberation movement, you can explore the report from the 30th Anniversary of The Scholar and The Feminist Conference at Barnard College. See:
The Scholar & Feminist, Summary, Panel 2, Panel description and other video clips from the panel “Women and Resistance: Grassroots and Global Activism” where “in response to an audience member's question, Minnie Bruce Pratt takes up the issue of building an anti-imperialist feminist movement”

Learning about economics, socialism and communism

As part of combating U.S. imperialism, I am also educating myself about economics and about socialism. The current rise in organizing for immigrant rights is adding to my education and my hope in struggle. You can go to a recent article I wrote about International Women’s Day to see some of my thinking on how issues of women’s oppression, national oppression, immigrant rights and economics are intertwined:

“Immigrant rights & international women's rights: Two struggles intertwined”
http://www.workers.org/2007/world/women-0301/index.html

“La lucha por los derechos de l@s inmigrantes y de la mujer: Dos luchas entrelazadas”
http://www.workers.org/mo/2007/mujer-0308/index.html

Some of my thinking on resistance to U.S. policies is in an interview with me done in Seattle, December 1999, at the end of a historic week of protest against the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the impact of its worldwide exploitative policies. See interview by Nan Macy in Push Magazine, a publication of Queer Feminist Subversions

For more thinking on organizing, you could also look at a 2005 article, “Activists Share New Perspective" from The Quad, the student newspaper of West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

In the summer of 1997, I joined the Venceremos Brigade to travel to Cuba. We stayed in Havana province where we worked cooperatively with Cubans to build housing. Later I traveled with other delegates from the 14th World Youth Conference to Santa Clara, to stay with a local family and learn more about daily life in Cuba under the brutal U.S. economic blockade.

Click here for an article about my visit to Cuba and a picture of my wonderful Santa Clara hosts.

Fighting racism

And the struggle against racism always occupies a central place in my political work. Here’s a podcast  from April 24, 2000 about how I got involved in anti-racist activism.

I am currently involved in the campaign to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, a writer and journalist, and a fighter against racism and injustice, now on Death Row in Pennsylvania. I am working with other lesbian, gay, bi, trans, two-spirited people to stop his execution and get him a new trial.

Here is a podcast of a April 17, 2000, interview I did with Nancy Nangeroni & Gordene O. MacKenzie on their transgender topics radio program,” Gender Talk,” about Mumia's case and a massive solidarity event in New York City.

Also here’s a January 20, 2000, piece I wrote about Mumia’s case called "Honoring Dr. King Through Struggle."

For more information look for Millions for Mumia and Rainbow Flags for Mumia at http://www.iacenter.org/

Political writing

I became a writer in the matrix of struggle and my work continues in that tradition. I spoke at a 2005 Syracuse University Women's Study Program, Hill TV Forum Talk, about the censorship attack by Senator Jessie Helms against my writing in the early 1990's.

Here is a link to a recent talk called: "At the Intersection of Oppression and Resistance: Changing Identities, Changing Lives" on April 17, 2007 in Balch Auditorium, Scripps, The Women's College at Claremont, CA.
(Note: Scroll Down to find the link.)

One way to be a political writer is to join a writer’s union. The National Writer's Union provides access to medical insurance, model contracts, information about agents, staff to help you with contract negotiations, and many other services. Phone 212-254-0279 on the East Coast, 510-839-0110 on the West Coast, or visit www.nwu.org

And for a poem, "Driving the Bus," that I wrote against the current U.S. war in Iraq, go to Poets Against the War:  http://www.poetsagainstthewar.org/displaypoem.asp?AuthorID=3447

Here are some recent articles on "Clinic Defense" in Alabama.
Defending Women's Clinics Against Hate, 7/19/2007,  http://www.workers.org/2007/us/women-0726/index.html
Reproductive Justice Victory in Alabama, 7/26/2007, http://www.workers.org/2007/us/alabama-0802/index.html

 

Here are two photo galleries from my travels to Taipei in 2003 and Italy in 2004.