Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 19:08:45 -0500
Sender: The African Global Experience <AGE-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>
From: Marpessa Kupendua <nattyreb@IX.NETCOM.COM>
Subject: !*FIRST DAY—Merle Africa (MOVE 9) on the MWM

Excerpts of The Million Woman March

By Merle Africa, Political Prisoner/MOVE 9, First Day, issue 15, [December 1997]

Everybody here at the prison my sisters and I are in outside Erie, PA, was excited about and impressed with the amount of women who attended the March and all it stood for. Black, Spanish and a few white girls were talking about the March, wishing they could go and share the comraderie, but most were satisfied that their moms, grandmoms, aunts, cousins, sisters went, giving detailed accounts of the action that we passed on to each other after getting off the phones as the evening wore on.

The Million Woman March was a very important step for us women. It showed that we *can* come together for a common cause when necessary—the preservation of our families, our communities, regardless of the skepticism that it would be successful. I was watching a news show a week before the March and a male reporter gave his reasons why he felt it wouldn't work, he wasn't even *trying* to be positive *and* he was a “Brother.” When will the day come when our men will give us credit for *anything*, *stand* with us, share and work with us, regardless of the situation? We're not weak, simpering fools who can't do anything right or think for ourselves. If that man and those who think like him would check their history, they'd have to accept the fact and not just *mouth* the words, that it's *women* who are the backbone of the family. Not only our family. Historically it's been the women who took care of the slavemaster's families. We raised his children, pacified his wife, had to put up with him raping us, watched him sell off *our* children, *our* men or watched him cut off our men's feet, or murder our men when they tried to escape to freedom. After slavery we raised the white man's children, cleaned his house, washed his clothes, dressed and mended for his wife, watched him in white robes lynch our men, put up with his sexual advances and *still* kept our families together.

We work in rich folks' factories, cleaning their hospital floors, dancing in their nightclubs, teaching in their schools, work in their banks and watch our men drug off to prison doing life sentences or killed by brutal cops handcuffed behind their backs or hung in their cells but *still* we keep our families together. If we can be the backbone of the family, stay loyal to our men, to the family, why can't our *men* be supportive of us instead of always finding fault. It's a shame that brother didn't do his atoning at the Million Man March 2 yrs. ago, maybe his attitude would be more positive. If he felt things weren't organized he should have used his position and influence to lend a positive supportive hand. Well, maybe the sound system wasn't the greatest because of lack of funds, so what, the most important fact is that women came together for a common cause—sisterhood, unity, to find solutions to their problems.

Rep. Maxine Waters pushing for an investigation into the CIA bringing drugs into our communities is a very important step in regaining control of our communities. What's the government saying, poor folks just rushed out and brought the coke in our own neighborhoods to infect, kill our children, like they're trying to say assault weapons, handguns just fell out of the sky into gang members' laps? That's *ridiculous*! People should *push* for the truth until our voices are hoarse and raw because if there is one way our families are deteriorating its because of drugs, particularly crack cocaine. You have a whole generation of children born with birth defects; a whole generation of children being raised by their grandmoms, old aunts, elderly cousins or the state because the parents are either on crack, in prison doing long sentences for selling the drug, or dead. To me crack, more so than any other opiate is nothing more than an agent of genocide the government is using against blacks and poor folks in general to get rid of those the system considers expendable. As long as there's crack there's gonna be a bunch of folks selling it, and a bigger chunk of people in prison—separating husbands and wives, children and parents and no babies being born. Beside gang deaths, drug related deaths are rising at an *alarming* rate, so you have *another* generation of young people being raised *and* dying of old age in prison and *that's tragic*! But its obvious we cannot rely on the government for solution, we *got* to join together and fight this monster ourselves or there won't *be* anybody left on the street to fight for.

MOVE women have been in prison 20 years now and I've watched the prison population grow at a *staggering * rate and it's *frightening*. Frightening because so many *young* girls—16, 17, 18 are doing *long* prison sentences *including* LIFE sentences. They're in prison for selling drugs, but a lot of them are in prison for defending themselves, their children, from abusive mates and that's not right. According to this system a woman doesn't have the right to defend herself, her children, from attack. People say you should leave the man when he's abusive, some women don't because they're scared, some women do and the man tracks them down and continues the abuse, the cops and courts ain't no help .. What *is* a restraining order when he's bent on murder … leaving the woman to fend for herself or he will just kill the woman right in front of her children. What is a woman supposed to do when attacked, lay down and let her man beat her to death, hand him the bat, the knife, the gun? If the judge who gives a woman 5-10, 10-20 years, a life sentence, was in the same position, trust and believe he'd use his gun, fist, feet, teeth, his *frying pan* if need be to protect himself and his family—so what makes the threat any different for a woman and her children.

There are a *lot* of changes to be made in order to better the lives of women and I feel the March was a *big* step. The thing to remember is that the fight didn't stop when people went home. We got to *keep* networking, *keep* pushing, and *keep* fighting this system *together* to regain control of our lives and the lives of our children. We got to fight this government to get back control of our communities, to put an end to the brutal genocidal murder of our boys and men at the hands of these cops *and* each other. We must *always* stand together, fearless, and unified against *any* intruder that tries to take away our family, our lives, our freedom.