This is How We Survive: Revolutionary Mothering, War, and Exile in the 21st Century
In This is How We Survive: Revolutionary Mothering, War and Exile in the 21st Century, Mai’a Williams shares her experiences working in conflict zones and with liberatory, resistance communities as a journalist, human rights worker and midwife in Palestine, Egypt, Chiapas, Berlin, and the US, while mothering her young daughter, Aza.
She first went to Palestine in 2003 during the Palestinian Intifada to support Palestinians resisting the Israeli occupation. In 2006, she became pregnant in Bethlehem, West Bank. By the time her daughter was three years old, they had already celebrated with Zapatista women in southern Mexico and survived Israeli detention and were now in the streets protesting the Mubarak dictatorship in Cairo, Egypt during the 2011 Arab Spring. She watched the Egyptian revolution fall apart a couple of years later and escaped the violence, like many of her Arab comrades, by moving to Europe. Three years later, she and Aza were camping at Standing Rock in protest to the North Dakota Pipeline and co-creating revolutionary mothering communities once again.
This is a story about mothers who are doing the work of deep social transformation by creating the networks of care that sustain movements and revolutions. By centering mothers in our organizing work, we are centering those people who have the skills and the experience of creating and sustaining life on this planet. This is How We Survive illuminates how mothering is a liberatory practice that is essential to the work of revolution. It explores the heartbreak of revolutionary movements falling apart and revolutionaries scattering across the globe into exile. And most importantly, how mamas create, no matter the conditions, the resilience to continue doing revolutionary work.
Inspired by the legacy of radical and queer Black feminists of the 1970s and ’80s, Revolutionary Mothering places marginalized mothers of color at the center of a world of necessary transformation. The challenges we face as movements working for racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice, as well as anti-violence, anti-imperialist, and queer liberation are the same challenges that many mothers face every day. Oppressed mothers create a generous space for life in the face of life-threatening limits, activate a powerful vision of the future while navigating tangible concerns in the present, move beyond individual narratives of choice toward collective solutions, live for more than ourselves, and remain accountable to a future that we cannot always see. Revolutionary Mothering is a movement-shifting anthology committed to birthing new worlds, full of faith and hope for what we can raise up together.
Contributors include June Jordan, Malkia A. Cyril, Esteli Juarez Boyd, Cynthia Dewi Oka, Fabiola Sandoval, Sumayyah Talibah, Victoria Law, Tara Villalba, Lola Mondragón, Christy NaMee Eriksen, Norma Angelica Marrun, Vivian Chin, Rachel Broadwater, Autumn Brown, Layne Russell, Noemi Martinez, Katie Kaput, alba onofrio, Gabriela Sandoval, Cheryl Boyce Taylor, Ariel Gore, Claire Barrera, Lisa Factora-Borchers, Fabielle Georges, H. Bindy K. Kang, Terri Nilliasca, Irene Lara, Panquetzani, Mamas of Color Rising, tk karakashian tunchez, Arielle Julia Brown, Lindsey Campbell, Micaela Cadena, and Karen Su.
“For women of color, mothering—the art of mothering—has been framed by the most virulent systems, historically: enslavement, colonialism, capitalism, imperialism. We have had few opportunities to define mothering not only as an aspect of individual lives and choices, but as the processes of love and as a way of structuring community. Revolutionary Mothering arrives as a needed balm.”
—Alexis De Veaux, author of Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde
“Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines is juicy, gutsy, vulnerable, and very brave. These women insist on having their children in a society that does not welcome them, in a world that is rapidly falling apart. Their dream for their children, based on their love of them, encompasses the sorrow and the joy that mothers everywhere, whether human, animal, or plant, feel at this time. A radical vision, many radical visions of how to mother in a time of resistance and of pain.”
—Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and activist
No God But Ghosts
These poems are not about the revolutions and uprisings Mai'a Williams witnessed and participated in. They are in response to living them out. They are a record of how intimate a firefight can be. How hope can be more violent than a bomb. They are late night rituals, one of the few constants in a life that has been filled with tear gas and water cannons, knife fights and heartbreaks, babies still wet from birth and martyrs streaked with dried blood, marches and molotov cocktails and my daughter in the living room drawing pictures of unicorns and marching in circles, wearing fairy wings and yelling ‘horreya!’, ‘freedom!’ to an imaginary crowd.
Monsters and Other Silent Creatures
These poems were written in response to the Wikileaks video, ‘Collateral Murder,’ which showed an Apache helicopter in Iraq opening fire on civilians, including two Iraqi journalists. This pamphlet explores the paths of war, love, trauma, desire, wanting, distance, and memories through the voices of a U.S. soldier and the lover he leaves behind.