Sunsara Taylor in Jackson, Mississippi:

This IS About Women's Liberation

August 17, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


This is a transcript of Sunsara Taylor’s presentation at Abortion Rights People’s Hearing in Mississippi on August 7, 2015

Sunsara Taylor speaking at Abortion Rights People's Hearing

Sunsara Taylor, correspondent for Revolution and an initiator of Stop Patriarchy, at the Abortion Rights People’s Hearing in Jackson, Mississippi

Hey everybody. So, I really want to thank everybody for coming out tonight. I am honored to be here with everybody, who's enduring the heat, who's telling the stories. And I just want to take a moment, tonight we’ve heard the stories of women. We’ve heard what is going on in this country. Not just the stories of the women at that moment that they need an abortion, which I want to come to. But who are women, how do women live in this society? How do women live in this world? We heard about the woman who was afraid to get out of her home because of the brutality she faces. Every 15 seconds in this country, where we are told women are so free, a woman is beaten. Every 15 seconds. That woman is millions of women. We heard about the women who are living in poverty. The women who travel and uproot themselves to go across the country to live with a man that they think is going to be their partner, their soul mate. And he’s been trained through a society that gets him to think that woman don’t deserve respect. He’s not told her everything about his history. She’s there across the country, uprooted herself, and it’s not what she was hoping or what it should have been. That’s millions of women.

These are what women go through, the brutality, the rape, the abuse, the molestation, the degradation, the objectification. The way women are reduced to body parts, made to hate themselves, made to starve themselves, cut themselves, all of this. And then on top of that you have this basic right, which was illegal for many, many years and thousands and thousands of women died when abortion was illegal, every year. And millions of women had their lives curtailed because of this fear and this danger. And women fought heroically and won the right to abortion. And here we are 40 years after it was won and clinics have been bombed, and doctors have been killed, and patients get harassed on their way in. They get called murderers and all this other hatred. So you have all of this that women face, and then that moment comes when they find out they’re pregnant and they don’t want to have a baby. And having a baby, don’t get me wrong, if you want to have a baby can be one of the most beautiful things in your life. But if you don’t want to have a child, if you can’t afford a child, if you’re in the wrong circumstances, being forced to have a child on top of everything else that women face, that is a form of enslavement. That is a form of hatred against women. That is a form of controlling women. And it is just as vicious and just as harmful as rape. It is male authority taking over and controlling and penetrating and dominating a woman’s body and her own life and her whole future.

And right now we are living in a time when 40 years after abortion was made legal, it’s never been more difficult to access. It’s never been more dangerous to provide, and it’s never been more stigmatized for women. It’s never been more shameful. It’s never been more secret. It’s never been that the “pro-choice movement,” I put air quotes, has been more defensive about it. “We’ll reframe it as healthcare.” No it’s not under attack because it’s healthcare, it’s under attack because it gives women control over their lives. And so we’ve seen here tonight, on the one side what is being done to women and these rights that are being ripped away. And over 300 laws have been introduced this year to criminalize abortion, to further restrict it. Over 50 have been passed. Clinics have been forced to close across this country. Access is drying up for women. And women are risking their lives, once again, to self-induce, or therefore closing their lives by forced motherhood.

So we’ve seen this on the one side, and there was a big thing in the Republican debate last night: who was going to be more anti-abortion? You know, this is like acceptable political debate. Will you be... how vicious will you be for the enslavement of women? And that’s just in the mainstream. And that’s gaining power.

And on the other side you have seen and heard from the people who go every day, and I am honored to share this evening with you and I have gotten to know you over the past few years, who serve at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization inside, outside, and all the different capacities. The people who have put their lives in the service of women, who see women’s stories, who care, and know that abortion really is about women. I’m honored to be here with the defenders who stand up, defiantly. I’m honored to be here with the volunteers from Stop Patriarchy who uprooted themselves, didn’t take a summer vacation somewhere beautiful and, I mean they planned to be in Jackson. [Laughter] Don’t get me wrong, but they didn’t go to the beach, they didn’t go somewhere else. They came to the hottest place in the country, in the middle of August, to stand up for women’s right to abortion. And to go out, door to door, and bring the signs, and put women back in the center of this debate, and to model something.

It was important the hundreds that we reached, you heard some of their stories. But we also are modeling something, that we are challenging everybody who is watching to scale up. You need to join this fight on different terms. This fight is about women, women’s enslavement, or women’s liberation. And there’s only one right side. There is no common ground, there’s no middle ground. [Applause] And to tell the truth, we are living in a historical moment where they have two fundamentally different views of half of humanity. Women are either breeders and objects or women are full human beings, and these are clashing. And one side or the other is going to win. We’re not going to be in a limbo for ever. You can’t maintain this forever. And for decades now we have been losing. And so whether we go one way or the other, it really depends. And everybody in the room tonight, and everybody tuning in, they have gatherings in Honolulu, in Seattle, in Chicago, in Cleveland, and Los Angeles, and New York, and Bay Area, all over the country where people are gathered to watch this, everybody there, we have to answer that question. Which side will win? We are the ones who have to answer that question. Us and the people we go out and fight and bring forward into this movement. We have a huge responsibility. We’re living in a historical moment on this.

And I have to say we are also gathered at the time, I think it would be wrong not to talk about this. We have the one-year anniversary of a major eruption of another major social fault line in this country. It is the one-year anniversary of the murder of Mike Brown, who despite all the lies, had his hands up when he was shot. Unarmed Black youth, one of thousands and thousands who’ve been murdered by police. And this is another thing that has been ripped open in this country, and here we are in Mississippi. I’ll tell you every where we went, we talked about abortion rights, we talked about this, you saw the videos. But everywhere we went people also wanted to talk... I write for Revolution and some of us were taking this [holds up Revolution newspaper] out when we went, which has stuff about the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, but also about the whole revolution, and we have Sandra Bland on the front. And this was so raw. People wanted to talk so much. We met parents whose children had been shot by police, we met people who wanted to tell their stories. This is another question. It is going to go one way or the other. The police are getting away with murder, mass incarceration, new Jim Crow, a slow genocide against Black and Brown people. And all of us have a role to play in answering whether that will win, or whether the people will rise up and defeat that.

And the same thing can be asked about a lot of other questions facing humanity right now. What’s happening to our immigrant sisters and brothers, who are being rounded up and detained and deported and torn apart from their families? What’s happening to the environment? It’s being polluted and degraded, as we speak, by the system of capitalism-imperialism. What’s being done to peoples around the world, through the machinery of the U.S. military, the drones, the invasion? All of this we’re responsible for. And for people who’ve been on the front lines, or people who are just joining this battle, I want to challenge people that it’s easy, we live in a society where our rights and our lives and our humanity has been under assault for so long that it’s hard to even imagine a world without this.

But I think we need to lift our sights, and we need to dream of and fight for and be determined not to settle for anything short of a world where never again does a woman know what it’s like to walk down the street with fear any time of day or night, or to go and enter her home at the end of the day and be afraid. Where never again does a woman know what it is like to have her sexuality or her child bearing coerced, or forced. Where never again do Black parents have to fear for the safety of their children when they leave because of the danger of the police. Where never again do families have to be torn apart across globes. Where never again do kids in Pakistan and Yemen have to fear sunny days. And I kid you not, children fear sunny days because those are the days that drones come. Those are the days that are clear enough that bombs drop. So they prefer... children learn to prefer clouds. When that never happens again, when people can enjoy the environment and not have it melting and being polluted and destroyed. We have to raise our sights to that, we have to insist on that, and we have to bring people together to fight for that.

Now, they said when they introduced me and it’s true and I’m proud of it, I am a communist and a revolutionary. And I am firmly convinced that it is going to take an actual revolution to make that world possible. The more that I’ve fought, the more that I’ve learned, the more I’ve become convinced of that, and the more I’ve become convinced of the possibility of an actual liberating revolution, the more I’ve been determined to fight because I know it’s possible. And I want to invite you guys, there is... I write for Revolution newspaper, the Revolutionary Communist Party, there’s a new synthesis of communism Bob Avakian has developed, a leadership and a strategy and a vision and a constitution for day one after the revolution... how we can make all of this real. And people, if you hate the way this world is, what people are forced to endure, you have to hate it enough to stand up and fight back, and to hate it enough to get scientific about what it’s going to take to end it. And Revolution newspaper is a good place to start. And as you get into that, and as we debate and learn from each other, and as we come together in this struggle, we all have to surge for the front lines right now.

Because there’s no neutral. Sitting on the sidelines right now is letting these rights be stripped away. Sitting on the sidelines means you’re okay with it. But standing up and fighting back, we change ourselves, we change the culture, we make conditions more ripe for the kind of fundamental change we need. And in that struggle there is room. And in this movement, Stop Patriarchy, just like Diane said, there is room for a capitalist, who I would never call her a pig. [referring to how Diane Derzis jokingly referred to herself in earlier in the People's Hearing] I never would. I have tremendous respect for you. But for a capitalist and for a communist revolutionary to come together in this fight because we do agree that women are not property. We do agree that women are not bitches, hos, punching bags, breeders, sex objects, or incubators. We do agree that women are full human beings, and there’s no world worth living in where we do not fight for and realize that. Laying low and finding a way to get along in this world by avoiding the fight that is necessary to free women is not a life worth living. Is not a society worth living in. [Applause]

All Played Out by Bob AvakianListen to “All Played Out,” spoken word by Bob Avakian,
music by William Parker

So I want to invite and challenge everybody who is watching, everybody who is here, this is a movement that needs everybody. We have to go out across this country. What happens in Mississippi, we brought volunteers here from all over the country for 10 days in the heat, because what happens here is everybody’s responsibility. It’s immoral to abandon the women in Mississippi. The disproportionately poor and Black women who need this clinic, who suffer multiple forms of oppression in this so-called land of the free. It’s immoral to abandon the women here, and it’s also delusional to think if we don’t stand up here and change the terms and turn the tide that this fight, that this attack on women is not spreading. ’Cause it is.

So we have to have a national resistance, a national counteroffensive. We need to tell the truth, people have said this, I’ll be brief. Fetuses are not babies, bring out the science, and put women back in the middle of this fight. This is about women’s enslavement or women’s liberation. And people understand that they can join this fight, they can find their voices, they can tell their stories. And we need to rely on ourselves, not the courts, not the politicians. It has never worked, it’s not how we won anything in the history of this country, and it’s not how we will defend these rights now. We need to get out of that mode, and wage massive political protest and resistance. So people should get organized where you’re watching. Talk with each other, go to Start a chapter, order a bunch of these flyers, help spread this, and call us up ’cause we will work with you. We are building a movement, and we will not stop until women everywhere are fully free of all forms of terror, violence, disrespect, and oppression. So thank you for coming out, and [drowned out by applause].


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