The Real Revolution

“The real revolution is always concerned with the least glamorous stuff. With raising a reading level from second grade to third. With simplifying history and writing it down (or reciting it) for the old folks. With helping illiterates fill out food-stamp forms—for they must eat, revolution or not.”—Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens

The real revolution shines in your eyes, God’s light sparking from within.

The real revolution occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs building on my first birthday—November 2, 1972. The real revolution took every step on the Trail of Broken Treaties.

The real revolution moved Yuri Kochiyama as she cradled Malcolm X’s head in her lap, praying he wouldn’t die. The real revolution reminds us that there was a photo of this event—a radicalized Japanese mother of six children who survived an internment camp as a young woman and later became friends with Malcom X holding him in his dying moment—in Life magazine. The real revolution asks us to name her, who was unnamed in the picture.

The real revolution established day care centers and drug abuse centers and reproductive health care centers for poor women of color in the 1970s. Not from on high, but brick by brick, held in the hands of women who needed them.

The real revolution knows that anger can light a fire, but only love can sustain it.

The real revolution asks you to love your glorious self. Again, and again, and again. Until you do.

The real revolution has created a vocabulary, and wants to teach it to us.

The real revolution bleeds, and it hurts like hell.  The real revolution heals, and invites us to heal too.

The real revolution planned the Montgomery Bus Boycott for years, and chose Rosa Parks as its test case. The real revolution knew just what to do when the time was right.

The real revolution stands outside a Planned Parenthood, escorting a woman past epithets and threats and shame and hatred. The real revolution asks us to see this woman as a whole person.

The real revolution went on a hunger strike in the form of Alice Paul and fought lynching laws in the shape of Ida B. Wells.

The real revolution got sick of sexism in the movement, and became Chicana. It got tired of racism in the movement, and became womanism.

The real revolution arose in Dolores Huerta and signed the Agricultural Labor Relations Act into law in 1975, giving farmworkers in California the right to negotiate for better wages and working conditions. The real revolution connects maquiladoras to colonialism and imperialism, and asks us to see the connections—and the distances—between the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 and the Haymarket Affair and the Asian Immigrant Women Advocate’s justice campaign against dressmaker Jessica McClintock.

The real revolution names God She, and refuses to be burned at the stake. The real revolution names God She, and asks you to dance.

The real revolution wants every child to eat, and feel loved all the way through.

The real revolution knows there is a time to be gentle and a time to be fierce. The real revolution is tired, and knows you are too.

The real revolution won’t let me get away with forgetting it, or minimizing it, or reframing or retraining or reforming it.  The real revolution insists I look in in the eye.

The real revolution sits in my gut, keeping me warm and walking into the wind.

One thought on “The Real Revolution

  1. diahannreyes says:

    Beautiful. And resonant. This line especially I loved “The real revolution names God She, and refuses to be burned at the stake. The real revolution names God She, and asks you to dance.” Sometimes too, the biggest revolutions happen within- and they change everything.


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