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Alice Walker’s ‘Democratic Womanism’: Powerful Perspective for Election 2012

“Democratic Womanism” is one segment of a three part interview with Alice Walker, by Amy Goodman on Democracy NOW. The first focuses on “The Legacy of The Color Purple” on that book’s 30th anniversary; the second on Palestine, “ ‘More brutal’ than U.S. South of 50 years ago.” The final segment is primarily Walker reading her poem, “Democratic Womanism.” I can’t embed, but encourage you to follow the link and watch the video. The transcript includes the complete poem.

There is a lot being said and written about the sorry state of our political / election / governance system, never more obviously revealed than in a presidential election year. Primaries, conventions and presidential “debates” are three punctuation marks of our restricted, controlled from the top, either/or choices.

From Democracy NOW:

With less than 40 days to go before the 2012 presidential election, poet and activist Alice Walker reads her new poem, ‘Democratic Womanism,’ and discusses her thoughts on President Obama’s legacy, including his use of drone strikes….

About the latter, in response to Goodman’s question, “What are your thoughts on President Obama today?”, Walker says:

Well, you know, I continue to care for President Obama and for his family. I think that in many ways they are very courageous people, and I honor that, because I know what it means to live as a black person in a racist America. But I cannot feel good about drone strikes. I cannot feel good about bombing people. I don’t — I just don’t believe in war. I think it’s stupid.

Excerpts from the poem, “Democratic Womanism”:

You ask me why I smile
when you tell me you intend
in the coming national elections
to hold your nose
and vote for the lesser of two evils.
There are more than two evils out there,
is one reason I smile. …
A Southerner of Color,
my people held the vote
very dear
while others, for centuries,
merely appeared to play
with it.
One thing I can assure
you of is this:
I will never betray such pure hearts
by voting for evil
even if it were microscopic
which, as you can see in any newscast
no matter the slant,
it is not.
I want something else;
a different system
entirely. …
I want to vote and work for a way of life
that honors the feminine … .
I am not thinking
of a talking head
kind of gal:
happy to be mixing
it up
with the baddest
bad boys
on the planet … .
No, I am speaking of true
regime change.
Where women rise
to take their place
en masse
at the helm
of earth’s frail and failing ship;
where each thousand years
of our silence
is examined
with regret … .
I am thinking of Democratic, and, perhaps
Socialist, Womanism. …
There is no system
There is no system
now in place
that can change
the disastrous course
the Earth is on.
Who can doubt this?
The male leaders
of Earth
appear to have abandoned
their very senses
though most appear
to live now
in their heads.
They murder humans and other
forests and rivers and mountains
every day
they are in office
and never seem
to notice it.
They eat and drink devastation.
Women of the world,
Women of the world,
Is this devastation Us?
Would we kill whole continents for oil
(or anything else) … .

Goodman asks Walker: “What are your thoughts on what should happen in November?” The answer, it seems to me, makes clear how incredibly limited the “lesser of two evils” framing is. Walker:

Well, what should happen in November is that everyone should make the very best choice based on their own values. And that is … recognizing that there is so much evil, … everywhere we look. Still, you know, choose what you think is best for our course of action. But have a thought about the long-term survivability of the planet and start to put the health of the planet before everything else and to then have leadership that reflects that.

(Alice Walker photo via Alice Walker Twitter Profile)

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2 Responses to Alice Walker’s ‘Democratic Womanism’: Powerful Perspective for Election 2012

  1. Taylor Marsh October 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    There is no system
    now in place.
    that can change
    the disastrous course
    the Earth is on.

    It haunts me every day

    • Joyce Arnold October 2, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      “Haunting” is absolutely right.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong