Saturday, April 26, 2014



Read by Beulah Richardson at the Women's Workshop at the American People's Peace Congress held in Chicago on June 29, 30 and July 1, 1951 bringing a standing ovation from all 500 women attending.

It is right that I a woman black, should speak of white womanhood. my fathers my brothers my husbands my sons die for it: because of it. and their blood chilled in electric chairs, stopped by hangman’s noose, cooked by lynch mobs’ fire, spilled by white supremacist mad desire to kill give me that right

I would that I could speak of white womanhood

as it will and should be

when it stands tall in full equality.

but then, womanhood will be womanhood.

Void of color and of class, And all necessity for my speaking thus will be past. Gladly past. But now, since ‘tis deemed a thing apart Supreme, I must in searching honesty report How it seems to me. White womanhood stands in bloodied skirt and willing slavery reaching out adulterous hand killing mine and crushing me. What then is the superior thing That in order to be sustained must needs feed upon my flesh?

 Let’s look to history. They said, the white supremacist said that you were better than me, that your fair brow would never know the sweat of slavery. They lied White womanhood to is enslaved, The difference is degree. They brought me here in chains. They brought you here willing slaves to man. You, shiploads of women each filled with hope That she might win with ruby lip and saucy curl And bright and flashing eyes Him to wife who had the largest tender. Remember? And they sold you here even as they sold me.

My sisters, there is no room for mockery. If they counted my teeth They did appraise your thigh And sold you to the highest bidder The same as I. And you did not fight for your right to choose Whom you would wed But for whatever bartered price That was the legal tender You were sold to a stranger’s bed In a stranger land Remember? And you did not fight. Mind you, I speak not mockingly But I fought for freedom, I’m fighting now for our unity. We are women all. And what wrongs you murders me And eventually marks your grave So we share a mutual death at the hand of tyranny. They trapped me with the chain and gun. They trapped you with lying tongue.

For, ‘less you see that fault— That male villainy That robbed you of name, voice and authority, That murderous greed that wasted you and me, He, the white supremacist, fixed your minds with poisonous thought: “white skin is supreme.” And there with bought that monstrous change exiling you to things. Changed all that nature had in you wrought of gentle usefulness, abolishing your spring.

Tore out your heart, set your good apart from all that you could say, think, feel, know to be right. And you did not fight, but set your minds fast on my slavery the better to endure your own. 'Tis true my pearls were beads of sweat wrung from weary bodies' pain, instead of rings upon my hands I wore swollen, bursting veins. My ornaments were the wipe-lash's scar my diamond, perhaps, a tear. Instead of paint and powder on my face I wore a solid mask of fear to see my blood so spilled. And you, women seeing spoke no protest but cuddled down in your pink slavery and thought somehow my wasted blood confirmed your superiority.

Because your necklace was of gold you did not notice that it throttled speech. Because diamond rings bedecked your hands you did not regret their dictated idleness. Nor could you see that the platinum bracelets which graced your wrists were chains binding you fast to economic slavery And though you claimed your husband's name still could not command his fidelity. You bore him sons. I bore him sons. No, not willingly. He purchase you. He raped me, I fought! But you fought neither for yourselves nor me. Sat trapped in your superiority and spoke no reproach. Consoled your outrage with an added diamond brooch. Oh, God, how great is a woman's fear who for a stone, a cold, cold stone would not defend honor, love or dignity!

Your bore the damning mockery of your marriage and heaped your hate on me, a woman too, a slave more so. And when your husband disowned his seed that was my son and sold him apart from me you felt avenged. Understand: I was not your enemy in this, I was not the source of your distress. I was your friend, I fought. But you would not help me fight thinking you helped only me. Your deceived eyes seeing only my slavery aided your own decay. Yes, they condemned me to death and they condemned you to decay. Your heart whisked away, consumed in hate, used up in idleness playing yet the lady's part estranged to vanity. It is justice to you to say your fear equaled your tyranny. You were afraid to nurse your young lest fallen breast offend your master's sight and he should flee to firmer loveliness. And so you passed them, your children, on to me. Flesh that was your flesh and blood that was your blood drank the sustenance of life from me. And as I gave suckle I knew I nursed my own child's enemy.

 I could have lied, told you your child was fed till it was dead of hunger. But I could not find the heart to kill orphaned innocence. For as it fed, it smiled and burped and gurgled with content and as for color knew no difference. Yes, in that first while I kept your sons and daughters alive. But when they grew strong in blood and bone that was of my milk you taught them to hate me. PUt your decay in their hearts and upon their lips so that strength that was of myself turned and spat upon me, despoiled my daughters, and killed my sons. You know I speak true.

Though this is not true for all of you When I bestirred myself for freedom and brave Harriet led the way some of you found heart and played a part in aiding my escape. And when I made my big push for freedom your sons fought at my sons' side. Your husbands and brothers too fell in that battle when Crispus Attucks died. It's unfortunate that you acted not in the way of justice but to preserve the Union and for dear sweet pity's sake; Else how came it to be with me as it is today? You abhorred slavery yet loathed equality.

I would that the poor among you could have seen through the scheme and joined hands with me. Then, we being the majority, could long ago have recued our wasted lives. But no. The rich, becoming richer, could be content while yet the poor had only the pretense of superiority and sought through murderous brutality to convince themselves that what was false was true.

 So with KKK and fiery cross and bloodied appetites set about to prove that "white is right" forgetting their poverty. Thus the white supremacist used your skins to perpetuate slavery. And woe to me. Woe to Willie McGee. Woe to the seven men of Martinsville. And woe to you. It was no mistake that your naked body on an Esquire calendar announced the date, May Eighth. This is your fate if you do not wake to fight. They will use your naked bodies to sell their wares though it be hate, Coca Cola or rape. When a white mother disdained to teach her children this doctrine of hate, but taught them instead of peace and respect for all men's dignity the courts of law did legislate that they be taken from her and sent to another state. To make a

Troy Hawkins of the little girl and a killer of the little boy! No, it was not for the womanhood of this mother that Willie McBee died but for the depraved, enslaved, adulterous woman whose lustful demands denied, lied and killed what she could not possess. Only three months before another such woman lied and seven black men shuddered and gave up their lives. These women were upheld in these bloody deeds by the president of this nation, thus putting the official seal on the fate of white womanhood with in these United States. This is what they plan for you. This is the depravity they would reduce you to.

 Death for me and worse than death for you. What will you do? Will you fight with me? White supremacy is your enemy and mine. So be careful when you talk with me. Remind me not of my slavery, I know it will but rather tell me of your own. Remember, you have never known me. You've been busy seeing me as white supremacist would have me be, and I will be myself. Free! My aim is full equality. I would usurp their plan! Justice peace and plenty for every man, woman and child who walks the earth. This is my fight! If you will fight with me then take my hand and the hand of Rosa Ingram, and Rosalee McGee, and as we set about our plan let our Wholehearted fight be: PEACE IN A WORLD WHERE THERE IS EQUALITY.

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