On this here war

On this here war

(This is derived from a social media post attached to this article about a Muslim woman and a Jewish woman holding onto their friendship, through the darkest of trials. It made me think a lot about what the recent times have been like, and what the Brave Sis Foremothers would want to say to me in this moment. I am thankful to Flo Kennedy, Lucy Gonzalez Parson, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Grace Lee Boggs, along with many others who provide wisdom, breath, solidity, and love through their inspiration.)

Just remember the world is not a playground but a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday but an education. One eternal lesson for us all: to teach us how better we should love. — Barbara Jordan


When George Floyd was murdered, everyone posted all sorts of missives about standing with Black lives. But the fact was, most folk went back to the status quo and their words were simply performative. This has been a slow heartbreak. We should have known better.

Recently, I and other women "of color" I know have been personally and at times, viciously, confronted for our “silence” on the Hamas massacre in Israel (which in my case was not true; I spoke out about the sorrow over lives lost, both Israeli and Palestinian, as I knew a war to "end Palestine" was on the way.)

I personally am not a Zionist, so I can’t make up words that are not real, but what I can do is continue to commit the rest of my life to dismantling the root and systemic causes of greed, hate, extraction, and violence that underlie so much of our historical politics and the narratives that sway our lives.

A case in point about the reciprocity of sisterhood. In 2020, I don't know any Black women who went around to their friends demanding a black square of solidarity. Further, when other deaths of Black people occurred at the hands of the police (again and again and again), no one called them out for failing to show up for Black lives the way that I and they might have wished for.

We live in a white world, and whiteness always wins. So I and we swallowed our misery and many of us even continued to show up in our white sisters' lives as a friend and guide.

If it needs saying from little old me, let's be clear: the terrorist attacks were abominable. What I also can attest is that genocide (against Brown bodies, which really touches me, for all the Brave Sis reasons) is now unfolding before our horrified eyes. A terrorist act by a destructive hateful group now has ignited a state-sanctioned annihilation, a literal flattening, of cities and towns that are inhabited by people

Parallel: I wept for the Ukrainians, but when I saw Americans falling over themselves to help the blond haired/blue eyes refugees, while the Brown people drown by the hundreds in the Mediterranean, and … crickets, or at best some overused quote from the Dalai Lama or whatever… no.

I kept my mouth shut. I mourned inside, rolled my eyes, pursed my lips, and flared my nostrils, but kept the conversation light. Because this is what we have come to expect, as Black and Brown people: few show up for us, but we have to keep it happy for everyone else.

Learn to be quiet enough to hear the genuine within yourself so that you can hear it in others. — Marian Wright Edelman

I created Brave Sis Project to shine a light of appreciation on the women, Black, Brown, Asian, and Indigenous, whose lives and accomplishments are erased and minimized because of their non-white status, and their existence as women. I stand even more strongly under their wing today as I speak out against whataboutisms and eye-for-eye bloodlust. 

I am here to assert that Black women, like all people, have a right to the agency to determine when and how to speak into the circle.

Please consider the extent to which white entitlement (which lies at the root of what I patiently spend my life trying to help correct) is influencing your anger towards me and other Black and Brown folks who are not clamoring for Biblical revenge.

Our silence or rather, call for de-escalation does not make us bad friends.

And so…

I want to acknowledge my Jewish-American friends who understand (and continue to grapple with) the complexity and awfulness of this moment for the all of us sentient humans.

Who can look past their anguish to understand how this suffering is so familiar to so many Black, Brown, Asian, and Indigenous mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers (from the family of Vincent Chin all the way back in 1982 to the family of Eddie Irirzary, just a few months ago).

To see how this collective anguish at the hands of violence is also compounded by the ongoing pain and weathering of being a detested minority in a land where one is treated worse than an animal (I’m actually talking about Black America here but hmmmm, I see parallels…) 

I am not sharing this to minimize your pain, friends. I am saying it to let you know that we are all carrying grief, on the daily. The long-term challenge is to find a way to reach beyond the abject pain and horror and like these women, say “I am sorry, I love you.”

Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. — Lorraine Hansberry

I want to thank those who, even as their bedrock fundamental world view and identity have been seismically traumatized these past weeks, have found a way to dig deep and find other ways of remaining in community, talking about your kids or your dog, or anything else that remains hopeful and good … understanding the vulnerability of this moment, but giving all of us grace to just try and survive to see a brighter day for the people and for our selves.

I see you.

Understand this fully, white friends, and particularly in this moment, Jewish friends: I never demanded any sign of collective agony regarding the death of Tyre Nichols, even when my heart was breaking inside over the umpteenth senseless murder of a Black innocent (as we know from all the Brave Sis stories I collect and share, or any old headline you want, the destruction can happen in one day, or it’s stretched out over decades, or centuries). 

We of good heart show up for each other to talk about the little things in life and to try to keep the thin thread of normalcy intact until a little veneer of scar tissue could form over our breaking hearts.

Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all. —Toni Morrison

I want to acknowledge the Brave Sisses of today who are in grief but are, in this moment, sitting in the silence of sorrow (even if low-key wishing for a black square) but asking only to be “breathed along with” (as one amazing Burundian woman I recently met put it).

I have close personal relationships with Palestinian culture and people, and I have only known my Jewish friends in the context of being Americans, so I’ve tried to be as true to my values as I can.

Which are pluralistic, embracing of complexity, and ever-striving toward a Beloved Community. Committed to growth, understanding of pain. I think I love these two women in this article for exemplifying that.

But, again, in the spirit of uplifting those whose stories are rarely told, and this is a reminder and not a diminishment: there are atrocities going on all over the world, which our “paper of record,” The NY Times, barely gives a mention to.

That, fundamentally, is part of the problem at the root that Brave Sis Project will continue to interrogate, by insisting that those whose stories are silenced, get some flowers.

It is a cruel and horrendous world in many ways, but it is up to us to continue to strive to make it better.

As for me, wanting succor and safety and a homeland for Palestinians does not equate anti-semitism. Please, don't ascribe such binary/whadaboudism nonsense to Brave Sis Project. As I, like many of you, learn more about the history of the region, I cannot help but see the continuing pattern of colonialism and partition as the original sin, a similar egregious act as the pillage of thefot of Native lands and the enduring cruelty wrought upon the Black people imported as chattel slaves—and their progeny, of which I am one.

(The Balfour Declaration squares with the general colonial partitioning of the era -- and did you know Uganda was at one point considered a promising spot for "Israel"? I did not until recently. What history are we taught, and what not?) 

Is solace anywhere more comforting than that in the arms of a sister. —Alice Walker

I’m here to build the Beloved Community. And to that, I stay committed and true, even through complex, horrifying, stultifying evil times. Really hoping you will find your way to peaceful and compassionate shores.

By and by.