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  • My name is Mwende Katwiwa

  • and I am a poet,

  • a Pan-Africanist

  • and a freedom fighter.

  • I was 23 years old

  • when I first heard about Reproductive Justice.

  • I was working at Women with a Vision,

  • where I learned that Reproductive Justice was defined by Sister Song as:

  • One: A woman's right to decide if and when she will have a baby

  • and the conditions under which she will give birth.

  • Two: A woman's right to decide if she will not have a baby

  • and her options for preventing or ending a pregnancy.

  • And three: A woman's right to parent the children she already has

  • in safe and healthy environments

  • without fear of violence

  • from individuals or the government.

  • I've always wanted to be a mother.

  • Growing up, I heard all about the joys of motherhood.

  • I used to dream of watching my womb weave wonder into this world.

  • See, I knew I was young.

  • But I figured,

  • it couldn't hurt to start planning for something so big, so early.

  • But now,

  • I'm 26 years old.

  • And I don't know if I have what it takes to stomach motherhood in this country.

  • See, over the years, America has taught me more about parenting

  • than any book on the subject.

  • It has taught me how some women give birth to babies

  • and others to suspects.

  • It has taught me that this body will birth kin

  • who are more likely to be held in prison cells

  • than to hold college degrees.

  • There is something about being Black in America

  • that has made motherhood seem

  • complicated.

  • Seem like,

  • I don't know what to do to raise my kids right

  • and keep them alive.

  • Do I tell my son not to steal because it is wrong,

  • or because they will use it to justify his death?

  • Do I tell him

  • that even if he pays for his Skittles and sweet tea

  • there will still be those who will watch him

  • and see a criminal before child;

  • who will call the police and not wait for them to come.

  • Do I even want the police to come?

  • Too many Sean Bells go off in my head when I consider calling 911.

  • I will not take it for Oscar Grant-ed that they will not come and kill my son.

  • So, we may have gotten rid of the nooses,

  • but I still consider it lynching when they murder Black boys

  • and leave their bodies for four hours in the sun.

  • As a historical reminder

  • that there is something about being Black in America

  • that has made motherhood sound

  • like mourning.

  • Sound like one morning I could wake up

  • and see my son as a repeat of last week's story.

  • Sound like I could wake up and realize

  • the death of my daughter wouldn't even be newsworthy.

  • So you can't tell me that Sandra Bland is the only Black woman

  • whose violence deserves more than our silence.

  • What about our other dark-skinned daughters in distress

  • whose deaths we have yet to remember?

  • What about our children

  • whose lives don't fit neatly between the lives of your genders?

  • See, apparently, nothing is a great protector

  • if you come out of a body that looks like this.

  • See, there is something about being Black in America

  • that has made motherhood sound

  • like something I'm not sure I look forward to.

  • I've written too many poems about dead Black children to be naïve

  • about the fact that there could one day be a poem written about my kids.

  • But I do not want to be a mother who gave birth to poems.

  • I do not want a stanza for a son

  • nor a line for a little girl

  • nor a footnote for a child who doesn't fit into this world.

  • No.

  • I do not want children who will live forever

  • in the pages of poetry,

  • yet can't seem to outlive

  • me.

  • (Applause)

  • I was invited to the TEDWomen conference

  • to perform a poem.

  • But for me, poetry is not about art and performance.

  • It is a form of protest.

  • Yesterday,

  • during rehearsal,

  • I was told that there had been

  • two to three recent TED Talks about Black Lives Matter.

  • That maybe I should cut down my TED Talk

  • so it could "just" be about Reproductive Justice.

  • But that poem and this talk

  • is fundamentally about my inability to separate the two.

  • I was 21 years old --

  • (Applause)

  • I was 21 years old when Trayvon Martin was murdered.

  • Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old Black boy,

  • a Black child,

  • reminded me

  • reminded us

  • how little this nation actually values Black life.

  • The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter

  • became the most recognized call

  • for Black people and our children

  • to live in safe environments and healthy communities

  • without fear

  • from violence from individuals or the state or government.

  • Months later,

  • when George Zimmerman was not held responsible

  • for murdering Trayvon Martin,

  • I heard Sybrina Fulton,

  • Trayvon Martin's mother, speak.

  • Her testimony so deeply impacted me

  • that I found myself constantly asking,

  • what would it mean to mother in the United Stated of America

  • in this skin?

  • What does motherhood really mean,

  • when for so many who look like me

  • it is synonymous with mourning?

  • Without realizing it,

  • I had begun to link the Reproductive Justice framework

  • and the Movement for Black Lives.

  • As I learned more about Reproductive Justice

  • at Women With A Vision,

  • and as I continued to be active in the Movement for Black Lives,

  • I found myself wanting others to see and feel these similarities.

  • I found myself asking:

  • Whose job is it in times like this

  • to connect ideas realities and people?

  • I want to dedicate this talk and that poem

  • to Constance Malcolm.

  • She is the mother of Ramarley Graham

  • who was another Black child

  • who was murdered before their time.

  • She reminded me once over dinner,

  • as I was struggling to write that poem,

  • that it is the artist's job

  • to unearth stories that people try to bury

  • with shovels of complacency and time.

  • Recently,

  • Toni Morrison wrote,

  • "In times of dread,

  • artists must never choose to remain silent.

  • There is no time for self-pity,

  • no room for fear."

  • Yesterday, during rehearsal,

  • when I was told that I should

  • "maybe cut the Black Lives Matter portion from my talk,"

  • I found myself fearful for a moment.

  • Fearful that again our stories were being denied

  • the very stages they deserve to be told on.

  • And then I remembered the words I had just spoken.

  • "In times of dread,

  • artists must never choose to remain silent.

  • There is no time for self-pity.

  • (Applause)

  • There is no time for self-pity.

  • And no room for fear."

  • And I have made my choice.

  • And I am always choosing.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

My name is Mwende Katwiwa

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TED】Mwende "FreeQuency" Katwiwa.誕生と死の交差点でのブラックライフ (誕生と死の交差点でのブラックライフ|Mwende "FreeQuency" Katwiwa) (【TED】Mwende "FreeQuency" Katwiwa: Black life at the intersection of birth and death (Black life at the intersection of birth and death | Mwende "FreeQuency"

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    Zenn に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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