space in between the buzzwords
December 25, 2010 § 2 Comments
so i have been (slowly slowly) working on the outlaw midwives zine vol 2. i really love the submissions. am inspired. get excited. and then there comes this block. and i just came seem to move.
what it comes down to is frustration. see, over a year ago i put out the call for submissions for outlaw midwives vol 1. i hadnt seen that many places publishing centered around birth, racism, violence – structural and direct, critiques of the natural birth movement/industry, practical advice for marginalized new mamas, etc. what i had been looking for when i was preggers, birthing, breastfeeding. so i decided i wanted to create a space for people to share their stories. i wasnt sure what to expect, and the response has been awesome.
last summer, squat, a birth journal, appeared. from the beginning i supported the work, keeping my reservations to myself.
my reservations during the first issue:
1. in the intro there was a mention of wanting squat to be a place for among other folks listed, like ‘radical doulas’, they also mentioned ‘outlaw midwives’. and yet squat never contacted me to say — hey there is this magazine getting started that we want to be a place for well, outlaw midwives. i mean it is weird, cause i didnt know of anyone who had used the phrase ‘outlaw midwife’ before me…
2. the contents of the magazine were white, liberal, middle class, natural birth industry stuff. i mean stuff you can find all over the web. i think radical doula miriam is the only person who was even kind of pushing the line…kinda…even though it claimed to be an ‘anarchist birth journal’…
before the second issue, squat contacted me and asked if i wanted to submit. yeah, sure. sounded cool. i figured it could be an exchange of support of sorts. i still identify (with major reservations) as an anarchist. and i hoped it would push itself to doing more writing and publishing relevant to the communities i center.
anyways, i ended up withdrawing my submission. some shit went down. and i dont feel like going into the details because i have just run out of my quota for ‘white progressive ladies fuck me over’ stories for year 2010.
issue 2 of squat came out. primarily white, liberal, natural birth movement-y stuff again. ugh.
now issue 3 is out. and on one hand, the content is much closer to what i had been hoping squat mag to be. on the other hand, i feel jacked.
i spent so much time this summer giving free anti racism/anti oppression consultation to this publication. and while i am sure i was not the only one who did this type of consultation, i do wonder what does it mean that a magazine publishes an article on anti-racism birth work, but doesnt acknowledge how racist it was toward a black woman who has been doing anti racism and birth/media work for years? what does it mean that the editors makes the criteria of who they are willing to work with based on whether or not the you are ‘positive and expansive’ toward squat’s organizing?
i have not seen a predominantly white organization that fucks over people of color and then ‘sees the light’ is ‘really working to be more inclusive’ blah blah blah, i have not seen such an organization successfully organize without first acknowledging and repairing relationships with the poc they fucked over in the first place. all the backs they stepped on to have their moment of enlightenment.
y’all know what i mean.
honestly after tango-ing with the editors of squat, i kind of lost my taste for wanting to do outlaw midwives zine. this coincided with the fact that i am doing a lot more on the ground reproductive health work in cairo.
so the outlaw midwives zine should be out by jan 1. i woke up this morning and realized that there needs to be a space where folks are not required to be ‘positive and expansive’ at the expense of being honest and questioning. or better said, i realized that there needs to be a place where we choose a side. we dont claim to simply accept all perspectives, we dont claim to be neutral, we dont claim to be ‘expanding the conversation’ because expanding the conversation necessarily requires that we ask — expanding from what center? and the conversation in mainstream natural birth industry is firmly placed in the hands of the hegemony. we dont need to expand, we need to de-center and re-center. a multi-centric, anti hegemonic mutli local space. or something like that. an anti genocide/eco cide space. a revolutionary love and fight space.
i need it.
and then to rephrase lisa, we dont need a space that discusses ‘our issues’,
we need a space so that we can invest in ‘our lives’.