On Toni Cade Bambara and the Darren Wilson Jury Decision – The Feminist Wire

On Toni Cade Bambara and the Darren Wilson Jury Decision

By Aishah Shahidah Simmons and Heidi R. Lewis

Toni Cade Bambara Photograph: ©Michael Simmons

Toni Cade Bambara
Photograph: ©Michael Simmons

I am well aware we are under siege…But death is not a truth that inspires.
Toni Cade Bambara

As co-curators and co-editors of the fourteen-day forum celebrating the life, work, and legacy of Toni Cade Bambara that began on Monday, November 17, we write on behalf of our comrades at The Feminist Wire in order to express unwavering solidarity with those who are committed to ensuring that Black Lives Matter. Along these lines, Toni was very clear that we should resist being manipulated by the manipulation that is often disguised as news and/or entertainment:

As a cultural worker who belongs to an oppressed people, my job is to make revolution irresistible. One of the ways I attempt to do that is by celebrating those victories within the [B]lack community. And I think the mere fact that we’re still breathing is a cause for celebration. Also, my job is to critique the reactionary behavior within the community and to keep certain kinds of calls out there: the children, our responsibility of children, our responsibility to maintain some kind of continuity from the past. But I think for any artist, your job is determined by the community you’re identifying with. But in this country, we’re not encouraged and equipped at any particular time to view things that way.
—Toni Cade Bambara in an Interview with Kay Bonetti, 1982

We are in a struggle for liberation: Liberation from the explosive and dehumanizing system of racism, from the manipulative control of a corporate society; liberation from the constrictive norms of “mainstream” culture, from the synthetic myths that encourage us to fashion ourselves rashly from without (reaction) rather than from within (creation). What characterizes the current movement of the 60s is a turning away from the larger society and a turning toward each other. Our art, protest, dialogue no longer spring from the impulse to entertain, or to indulge or enlighten the conscience of the enemy; white people, whiteness, or racism; men, maleness, or chauvinism: America or imperialism…depending on your viewpoint and your terror. Our energies now seem to be invested in and are in turn derived from a determination to touch and to unify. What typifies the current spirit.
—Toni Cade Bambara, The Black Woman (1970)

To paraphrase Black Lesbian Mother Warrior Poet Audre Lorde, we are deliberate and intentional with moving forward with our fourteen-day forum celebrating Bambara. She, at least for us, has been and always will be the truth, the light, and the way. We are explicitly clear that our commitment to honoring her is just what we need now and every other heinous time when Black life is met with treachery and murder.

BLMWe resist White Supremacist, Patriarchal, Misogynist, Heterocentric, Transphobic, Ableist, Imperial, and Colonial violence in all of its covert and overt manifestations in the United States and throughout the world. We resist in the name of Michael Brown, Marissa Alexander, John Crawford, Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin, Yvette Smith, Nireah JohnsonEzell Ford, Eleanor Bumpurs, Eric GarnerSakia GunnAiyana Stanley-Jones, and the countless other victims whose names we remember, whose names we may have forgotten, and whose names we maybe never knew.

Hence, we close with an extended excerpt from Cara Page’s performative narrative, “Listen You Can Hear the Mothers Crying in the Universe: A Black Feminist Poet’s Requiem for Our Black Warrior Toni:”

The black feminist doctrine puts our place/our people/our spirit and politic at the center of our work

The place of our community in relationship to violence

+++++++++++++++++++++THAT WE DO NOT EXIST BECAUSE OF

The place of our black bodies in relationship to genocide

+++++++++++++++++++++THAT WE EXIST NOT BECAUSE OF OUR

The place of our memory in relationship to our survival and resiliency

The place of our black resistance and that we exist

+++++++++++++++++++++NOT BECAUSE OUR OPPRESSION

but because of our power, our people, our spirit, our politics

We are more than our dead/more than our horrors/more than our slavery/more than our exploitation

This is a tribute to the Black Feminist Warrior Toni Cade Bambara and her insightful vision to rename place, resiliency and spirit of Black folks after incidences of state violence against our black children and community. Her understanding of place/of spirit/of people outside of state interrogation and interruption was a critical witnessing, contributing to a Black feminist doctrine that speaks to the resistance of Black folks, and a collective heart and mind.

She speaks

to our spirit and resiliency

to our role and place of transformation

despite state control,

despite patriarchy,

despite economic exploitation,

despite white supremacy

She created a Black feminist doctrine that speaks to the resistance of Black folks…

Especially during such tragic times, we want to thank you, our readers, as well as the contributors to this tremendous praisesong for Toni Cade Bambara. We hope that you will also find solace, strength, and wisdom in the power of her spirit and her light, which is shining on and through all of us.