I am sending you this message from the aftermath. That is to say, maybe the afterlife.
I am the mother, the sister, the daughter who vanished from the conversation. I became a load bearing wall in an oppressive institution held in place by splintering pressure. My stoic stillness made me invisible. I became a ghost. Brothers forgot their allegiance, fathers forgot to protect and sons forgot their bond when the conversation turned to my rights. I was breaking my back holding up the room where these men debated over how they would like to treat a woman. I closed my eyes and I rolled back the seconds of my life and then the hours and days trying to remember how I incurred this indenture.
I cannot remember what started the battle or when, but as long as I can remember, I got the sense that there was a waiting danger, a deep disquietude, a prowling violence approaching me. I took up arms against this ambient oppressor and I called to my sisters, I saw that there were many of them, to fight with me. That was a time when I still rattled my chains a lot and was sure that if I rattled them enough, I would be free.
My sisters and I… our chains only tightened. The conversation became less casual and more caustic. Today I face this reality and I know that I must dig deep. I am finding another battle cry inside me, having no other choice, even after many painful failed attempts at freedom. I know that I must spend this gasping breath well and that my lifetime and my vigor are not unlimited.
That means being a tactician first and not a brute out of the gate. That means conditioning myself and looking at all of my mistakes. That means making an honest assessment before giving my approval.
When I was bucking day and night in my young hours, I sought only to free myself. I wanted only an army for me, not justice, not a revolution. I wanted satisfaction, relief, not reform. I saw others like me and I forgot about everyone else. They were my ghosts just like I was the ghost to others.
This time I will remember. This time I will remember that I need to yank not only against the chains that hold me, but the chains that hold women who face racial discrimination. Not only mine, but the chains holding those who have limited access to education, those who wield no financial weapons, those who have traveled here from distant lands. Not only mine, but those who have different abilities than mine, those who love a different kind of person than I love, those who were born in another kind of body than mine. Not only mine, but those who differ from me in the number of years they’ve lived, those who suffer greatly from the damage being done to the Earth.
Before I act, I will do my best to remember my sisters. I will only have so many chances to fight.
When a small enemy is greatly outnumbered in a battle, the easiest way to defeat his opponents is to trick them into slaying one another.