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Who We’re Listening To and Learning From

Updated March 2022

Allison Russell

I first heard and saw Allison Russell on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert one night in January 2022, when she sang ‘Persephone’ from her 2021 debut album, ‘Outside Child’. 

 

Firstly, any song titled ‘Persephone’ is going to grab my attention. To say I was transfixed, mesmerised, captivated is an understatement. I was all this and more. 

 

“Tap, tap, tappin’ on your window screen

Gotta let me in Persephone
Got nowhere to go but I had to get away from him
My petals are bruised, but I’m still a flower
Come runnin’ to you in the violet hour
Put your skinny arms around me, let me taste your skin.”

 

Allison is an award-winning singer, songwriter, artist, and multi-instrumentalist. She is also a survivor of 10 years of severe childhood sexual, physical, and psychological abuse at the hands of the white supremacists who raised her.

 

Her debut album, ‘Outside Child’ is a contemplation on surviving unspeakable abuse and self-reclamation. In her stunning TEDx talk and musical performance, Allison leads the way to a powerful, life-giving revelation: We are not defined by what we’ve lost.

The Transmogrification of Trauma into Art

Updated June 2020 | Dismantling patriarchy requires white women to dismantle their white supremacy.

It’s not enough to be #girlboss and #femaleempowerment. We have to recognise how patriarchy and white supremacy are inextricably linked.

We can’t dismantle one without dismantling the other.

As a white woman I acknowledge that I have benefited from being raised within a white supremacy society.

I acknowledge that was born into a society that valued white people above all else.

I acknowledge that I was born on a land that was colonised and had inflicted genocide on its First Nations people. Colonisation and killings that continue to do this day.

I start by looking within and acknowledging how I uphold racist systems.

I uphold white supremacy when I look, listen and support the business of white female leaders as the authority, 

I uphold white supremacy when I look, listen and support the business of white female leaders as the authority, 

2017 August

In light of Charlottesville and the #metoo social media campaign I decided I need to be better informed from voices outside my sphere.

I removed myself from the social media bubbles of white woman and white privilege and chose to seek out words, wisdom and perspectives from women of colour. Reading their words and exploring the themes they raise, and face on a daily basis, has expanded my world-view to be more global and inclusive. 

It’s not my place to repurpose or paraphrase the words. Rather I invite you to experience the clarity, courage and grace of these women of colour in their own words.

In their words…

Ava DuVernay

  • Ava DuVernay – a writer, producer, director and distributor of independent film.

“We don’t have time to work on these -isms one by one.

Let me say that again.

We don’t have time to work on these -isms one by one.

Triggered by trauma and outrage, we should be outraged by all of it all of the time.

Until we are all safe, no one is safe.”

Alexis P. Morgan

“I’m the pole-dancing, sword-wielding, democratic socialist, on-the-low-heaux sorceress you’ve been warned about. I make my cheddar as a professional writer, facilitator, artist, ritualist, and priestess.

 

Devoted to Truth, Justice, and Liberation, I live in the spirit of my foremothers before me:  

 

Unbossed. Unbought. Unbothered”

Amy Walsh

Culture Making: A Repair – to see ourselves as creators of our culture is a stance that calls us into responsibility, accountability, creativity, and vision.

“As change-makers who are building businesses in a time of advanced capitalism, we are in the tricky place of having to learn to survive within the current economic system while living into our visions for its replacement – and in navigating those contradictions, we can, and do, co-create our business culture every single day.

We are creating communities that anticipate and prepare for the world to come. This is important for us to claim and acknowledge.

 

To see ourselves as creators of our culture is a stance that calls us into responsibility, accountability, creativity, and vision.”

Layla Saad

 

Whilst you’re there be sure to read part one of ‘I need to talk to spiritual white women about white supremacy’ written post Charlottesville. 

“I myself, as a black woman, am showing up to do my own work of educating myself through reading articles, listening to podcasts, engaging in social justice education programs and watching and listening to the teachers and advocates who have been doing this work for far longer than I have.

Although I do not hold white privilege, I still need to be able to identify the ways in which I oppress myself and others through white supremacist and patriarchal ideology. Also, while I may not hold white privilege I do hold other privileges (e.g. cis-gendered, straight, able-bodied, class, etc) which I need to unpack and work through.”

Real Talk: WOC & Allies

“As my Facebook feed has filled up with #MeToos and posts of female solidarity, I have remained relatively quiet because, while I am a woman and a feminist, far too many experiences with “feminism” (the white kind, not the intersectional kind) have taught me that white women are eager to embrace solidarity when they need support for issues that directly impact them but are far too quick to throw women of color under the bus on those intersectional oppressions that uniquely target us.”

Kimberlé Crenshaw

“Now more than ever, it’s important to look boldly at the reality of race and gender bias — and understand how the two can combine to create even more harm.

Kimberlé Crenshaw uses the term “intersectionality” to describe this phenomenon; as she says, if you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you’re likely to get hit by both.

She calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice.”

Tarana Burke

“From survivor to survivor know that you are not alone and that a movement for radical healing is happening and possible. The sooner women understand that they are not an anomaly, the sooner they can begin their healing process.”

Solange Knowles

“It is one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned the past couple of years, that every form of activism is so valid and so necessary. Every forum, every voice, even just existing is a part of activism, and the way that you demand space in the world and I would tell a young artist that. There’s so much validity to every single type of way of communicating your feelings and your outrage, during this time especially. And we need people to cause a ruckus, we need people to protest, we need the people who are going to be super vanguard and academic about the subject. But we also need to acknowledge that there are people protesting everyday by just existing in the spaces that they exist in.”

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza

  • Elisabeth is not a woman of colour. However in her work as feminist theologian and Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School she coined the phrase ‘Kyriarchy’ which speaks to structures of oppression and domination. 

“Kyriarchy is a social system or set of connecting social systems built around domination, oppression, and submission.

 

 Kyriarchy was coined by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza in 1992 to describe her theory of interconnected, interacting, and self-extending systems of domination and submission, in which a single individual might be oppressed in some relationships and privileged in others. It is an intersectional extension of the idea of patriarchy beyond gender.

 

Kyriarchy encompasses sexism, racism, speciesism, homophobia, classism, economic injustice, colonialism and other forms of dominating hierarchies in which the subordination of one person or group to another is internalised and institutionalised.”

There is so much to be gained from seeking out and learning from women outside of the bubbles that we live in.

 

Who are you listening to and learning from? Share with us below. 

 

Kathryn x

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