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Women’s March Speech.

Written By: - Date published: 3:58 pm, January 21st, 2018 - 46 comments
Categories: gender, human rights, International, patriarchy, political alternatives, Politics, racism, Social issues, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, vision - Tags: ,

I’ve no doubt there will be various analyses and commentaries on the Women’s Marches that have taken place across the US and elsewhere. This post isn’t making any commentary. This post is merely presenting video of Viola Davis giving a wide ranging, most powerful and no holds barred, speech at the Women’s March in Los Angeles. Sadly, it appears to end before she had actually finished speaking. So if anyone finds a full length version, I’ll happily swap it in.

In the words of my fellow American Malcolm X, I’m going to make it plain.

In 1877, America, the greatest country on this planet, put laws in place called the Jim Crow Laws. And the Jim Crow Laws restricted the rights to quadroons, octaroons, blacks, Hispanics, Indians, Malays:- restricted medical, restricted relationships, restricted education, restricted life.

It told us that we were “less than”. And it came on the heels of the 13th Amendment. It came on the heels of 55 individuals, great Americans, writing the greatest document called the Constitution of the United States saying “We, the people.”

Now the reason why those destructive laws came into place, I think can be greatly described by Martin Luther King.

And what he said about time is, he said – “I’m not ready to wait a hundred or two hundred years for things to change. That I think, actually, that time is neutral. That it can either be used constructively or destructively. That human progress rarely rolls in on inevitability. It is through human dedication and effort that we move forward.

And then when we don’t work, what happens is that time actually becomes an ally to the primitive forces of social stagnation. And the guardians of the status quo are in their oxygen tents keeping the old order alive. And so that time needs to be helped, by every single moment, doing right.”

And the reason why these Jim Crow Laws were in place, that stifled your rights and my rights, is because we fell asleep. We fall asleep, when we’re moving ahead and we don’t look to the left and right and see that we’re not including people in this move ahead. Because really, at the end of the day we only move forward when it doesn’t cost us anything. But I’m here today saying that no-one and nothing can be great unless it costs you something.

One out of every five women will be sexually assaulted and raped before she reaches the age of eighteen; one out of six boys. If you are a woman of colour and you are raped before you reach the age of eighteen, then you are 66% more likely to be sexually assaulted again.

70% of girls who are sex trafficked are girls of colour. They are coming out of the foster care system. They are coming out of poverty. It is a billion dollar industry. When they go into the sex trafficking business, and they call it a business, trust me, more than likely they are gang raped.

I am speaking today, not just for the me too’s. Because I was a me too. But when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence. The women who are faceless. The women who don’t have the money. And don’t have the constitution. And who don’t have the confidence. And who don’t have the images in our media that gives them a sense of self worth, enough to break their silence, that’s rooted in the shame of assault. That’s rooted in the stigma of assault.

Written on the Statue of Liberty is ‘Come, come you tireless, poor, yearning to breathe free’. To breathe free. Every single day, your job as an American citizen is not just to fight for your rights, it’s to fight for the rights of every individual that is taking a breath, who’s heart is pumping and breathing on this earth.

And like the originators of the meetoo’s, the Fannie Hamer’s, the Ricy Taylor’s who in 1944 was gang raped by six white men. And she spoke up. Rosa Parks fought for her rights. She was silenced. To the Tarana Burke’s to the originators, to the first women to speak out. It cost them something.

Nothing and no-one can be great without a cost.

Listen, I am always introduced as an award winning actor. But my testimony is one of poverty. My testimony is one of being sexually assaulted and very much seeing a childhood that was robbed from me. And I know that every single day, when I think of that, I know that the trauma of those events are still with me today. And that’s what drives me into the voting booth. That’s what allows me to listen to the women who are still in silence. That’s what allows me… even to become a citizen on this planet is the fact that we are here to connect. That we are here as 324 million people living on this earth to know that every day that we breathe and we live that we’ve got to bring up every one, with us.

I stand in solidarity with all women who raise their hands because I know that it was not easy. And my hope for the future, my hope, and I do hope, that we never go back. That it’s not just about clapping your hands and screaming and shouting every time someone says something that sounds good.

It’s about keeping it rolling once you go home.

46 comments on “Women’s March Speech.”

  1. Carolyn_Nth 1

    Thanks, Bill.

    The CNN explanation says it is the full speech – so….?

    I listened again after your comment on open mike about her slamming the 13th amendment and constitution for the Jim Crow laws.

    I hadn’t got it correct from my first listening, so thanks for the impetus to re-listen.

    She does praise the Constitution for saying “we the people”. She doesn’t slam the 13th amendment – she says that the Jim Crow laws came on the heels of the 13th amendment.

    I did some googling – the 13th Amendment abolished slavery. So after that came the Jim Crow laws that enforced segregation in the US south, and restricted the rights of people of colour in the US.

    • Bill 1.1

      The 13th Amendment also led directly to the criminalisation of America’s black population, because section one had a hook:

      Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States…

      So, the way I heard her, the constitution’s “we the people” wasn’t inclusive, the 13th Amendment is barbed and Jim Crow was just the cherry on the cake.

      • weka 1.1.1

        Yeah, I thought she was being barbed (also when she called America the greatest country on the planet). I hope she was, it’s hard to tell with Americans sometimes.

        • Carolyn_Nth 1.1.1.1

          Yes, on listening to the beginning of the speech again, I think Davis was being barbed about the constitution. She says of it, that it was devised by 55 men who said “we the people”.

          But she begins the speech with the target of great venom, the Jim Crow laws. These she describes as an outrage, not just some “cherry on the cake”, to quote Bill.

          However, the main theme of her speech, which begins with the focus on the appallingness of the Jim Crow laws, is that we need to be continually vigilant, and continually fighting for something better.

          She says the Jim Crow laws came about because people went to sleep.

          Basically, I think she’s saying, the constitution and 3rd amendment didn’t bring the changes people thought were going to happen. While they were applauding changes that came (the constitution, end of chattel slavery, etc), other things were going on outside of people’s vision.

          • Bill 1.1.1.1.1

            I think she’s saying, the constitution and 3rd amendment didn’t bring the changes people thought were going to happen. While they were applauding changes that came (the constitution, end of chattel slavery, etc), other things were going on outside of people’s vision

            Or she was saying the 13th and the Jim Crow laws came to pass because people were asleep, while also pointing to the obvious exclusive nature of the constitution.

            When I write that Jim Crow was the cherry on the cake, I’m not diminishing it. I’m saying that first there was this much lauded constitution that only applied to white men. Then there was a 13th Amendment that, while ending slavery, simultaneously facilitated the re-enslavement of those it had purportedly just set free. And to top it off, there’s Jim Crow.

            Viola uses the term “on the heels of”. To me, that term usually used to denote something following in the same vein as that which went before.

      • Carolyn_Nth 1.1.2

        The hook of criminal conviction was invoked a year after the 13th Amendment was ratified, to put a black man into slavery.

        In 1866, just a year after the Civil War, a black man convicted of theft in Maryland was advertised for sale in the newspaper as punishment. “Vagrancy” — code for being young, black and unemployed — could yield similar results.

        the bit in the 13th Amendment that cites that:

        allows Congress to pass laws to eradicate the “badges and incidents of slavery.”

        Does it include labour laws, for instance, and if so how?

        • Bill 1.1.2.1

          I’m not sure where you lifted that quoted text from, but as far as I can tell, the entire 13th Amendment consists of two sections and reads –

          Section 1.
          Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

          Section 2.
          Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

          https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=40&page=transcript

          And as your linked article points out –

          “(States) claim to be too poor to maintain state convicts within prison walls. Hence the convicts are leased out to work for railway contractors, mining companies and those who farm large plantations. These companies assume charge of the convicts, work them as cheap labor and pay the states a handsome revenue for their labor. Nine-tenths of these convicts are negroes.” Douglass went on to note that so many blacks were behind bars because law enforcement tended to target them.

          So, it takes precedence over any labour laws (if that’s the question at the bottom of your comment).

          • Carolyn_Nth 1.1.2.1.1

            Sorry – I was looking at this article, which says:

            Section Two of the Thirteenth Amendment has broader applicability as well. The Supreme Court has long held that this provision also allows Congress to pass laws to eradicate the “badges and incidents of slavery.”

            So that phrase comes from a Supreme Court clarification.

            And the end of the article says:

            the Amendment’s current relevance is subject to debate. Does it govern the fairness of modern labor practices? Does it empower Congress to pass broad-ranging civil rights laws?

            • Bill 1.1.2.1.1.1

              heh

              I’m not in the headspace to run down that rabbit hole right now 🙂

              I’ll just point to the various responses to DACA I linked earlier today on another thread, some of which would appear to call for some form of indenture.

              Obstructionist losers

        • spikeyboy 1.1.2.2

          In the South the vagrancy law was such that you had to be able to show written proof of a job at the beginning of each year or else be susceptible to being arrested and sent to jail from where you could be sent out to work on plantations. If course these laws were targeted at black folk much the same way as drug laws are today. The Constitution was set up to make A strong federal government unlikely with states able to pretty much have a disproportionate say. Like the 2 senators from each state regardless of size and the electorate college that gives some small states a lot of clout.

          Lots of good reading in just the intro and first chapter but the whole book is great.

          https://books.google.co.nz/books?id=reDzBZ3pXqsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+new+jim+crow&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiH947m-erYAhUKk5QKHScAA-EQ6AEICjAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

  2. Carolyn_Nth 2

    An amateur video shows that the CNN video kind of ends when Davis speech ends. After that, Davis went on to introduce LA Mayor Garcia – a promo for him, mainly.

    Can’t really see her in the vid, but it does present all Davis says.

    BTW, Davis calls herself an “actor”, while CNN calls her an “actress” – small detail.

  3. weka 3

    Incredible speech.

  4. spikeyboy 4

    Absolutely awesome. Just hope that the many people that Viola will have inspired are able to do as she implored them to do. Keep it rolling after they go home.

  5. Macro 5

    The Resistance Now movement in the States is gaining momentum day by day – and it is having an impact across the country
    Just one example: Sarah Stankorb

    Sarah Stankorb is now a city council member for Wyoming, Ohio

    After the Women’s March I decided to run. In 2017, thousands of other women across the US made the same decision

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/20/womens-march-run-for-office

  6. Jum 6

    And after the fight for equality comes the backlash.
    America (not just Trump) is reducing aid to many organisations in many countries that assist women with anything remotely to do with owning their own bodies.

    America (not just Trump) welcomed in a constitution that said men were equal; it never mentioned women, yet it is held up as some kind of high altar for the west to emulate. Even NZ is better than that yet we still allowed key to govern, who started off by halting research on equality for women in income, left English to carry on keeping women down, and has systematically continued to do so on a global basis in his position as democrat union chair. Democrat union probably advises trump.

    What are men SO scared of, in sharing power with women? I’m not scared. In men and women sharing power that prevents domestic and public violence and strengthens everyone; surely.

    • weka 6.1

      loss of privilege and control, and fear that women will do to men what men have done to women if women are allowed power. Not saying that all individual non-power sharing men feel or think that, but I think it’s definitely a dynamic. Hence whataboutery.

      • Obtrectator 6.1.1

        The second time I’ve come across that term “whataboutery”, and I’m no nearer to understanding what it means. (Context was no help in either case.)

        Please explain?

        • Carolyn_Nth 6.1.1.1

          Not hard to find definitions on google.

          Is a distracting technique – failing to address the issue at hand by saying whatabout XXXX? Which just goes off at a tangent about another issue.

          • weka 6.1.1.1.1

            Interesting, I didn’t know that history and I’m not sure that’s exactly what I was meaning, but good to know the broader context of the term.

        • weka 6.1.1.2

          When a feminist says for example “there are issues around women’s health that need addressing in society” and a man comes along and goes, “why are you talking about only women, what about men?”, that’s a derailment. It tries to stop women from talking about their own politics, the gendered nature of many issues, and it tries to grab power back to men. Hence ‘whataboutery’ (in this example men).

          (and often it comes across as childish).

          You will also hear it referred to (and sometimes mocked) as “what about the menz”. This is because it’s such a common dynamic for women when talking about women’s politics that we’re sick of it. Not all men do it by any means, and there are definitely ways to talk about mens issues alongside women’s that don’t derail or attempt to grab power, so this is referring to a specific dynamic.

          It also comes up in other situations e.g. black people talking about issues that affect them and white people saying what about us? Again, understanding power dynamics here is central.

          • Obtrectator 6.1.1.2.1

            Thanks, weka (and Carolyn). Obvious once explained, but it didn’t seem that way to begin with!

    • Lara 6.2

      The backlash to #metoo is well underway.

    • Bill 6.3

      I don’t want anyone in power to share that power – not with me or you or anyone. I just want their power to be gone…evaporated or whatever. And when all of us – people of whatever gender are empowered, well then it’s done.

    • whatisis 6.4

      1.Division. The historical structure of society has been men did the stuff outside the home and women did the in home. Women wanting traditional male ‘roles’ undermines male perceptions of society and creates anger, despondency, unsureness, and ultimately division.
      2.Hormonal swings. Females go through a monthly hormonal cycle that is frightening to an average male whos own hormonal cycle is relatively stable to the point of being practically invisible.
      3.Emotion. Generally females operate on an emotional level and males on a logic basis. The two compliment and ‘the feeling aspect’ is sought but males need logic to be the final arbiter of any decisions made. Males logically don’t ‘trust’ decisions made by females.

      Preventing domestic and public violence is clearly in everyones interest, however what is happening here scares me because it doesn’t. It seems to me they are just abusing males and that’s actually feeding the beast.

      I hope my ‘logic’ doesn’t offend you. I’m trying to be honest.

      • Carolyn_Nth 6.4.1

        whatisis, ….. or should it be whereis, the 19th century called and was worried if you’d got lost somewhere in time.

        … a call from the same place where they spread the belief of the uncontrollable penis: a “natural” phenomenon that women need to protect themselves because allegedly men have no self control…. that’s ‘logic’ for you.

        • Bill 6.4.1.1

          heh – I was quietly hoping that comment would remain in splendid isolation as an exhibit of jaw dropping…well, no words really 🙂

          • Carolyn_Nth 6.4.1.1.1

            I was reminded of an academic book a read a few years back, that outlined the historical construction of gendered private and public spaces, especially in the UK.

            Basically, there was not such a clear separation of public and domestic spaces in pre-industrial times. in rural areas, the home was also the workplace for many.

            In more affluent homes, there was not a clear separation between community and domestic life. And separate private bedrooms are a relatively recent invention.

            i couldn’t remember the name of the author of this piece – but it also draws on the rise of the enlightenment, and the valuing of scientific rationalism, during which times many dualities were set up: e.g. between emotions and logic, which actually are never that separate in human thinking.

            This wikipedia page does outline some of the debates and historical evidence, with ample links.

            Basically, the notion of separate male and female spheres of life is a social construction. And it was strongly re-claimed in western industrial capitalist societies, as extended families declined and the nuclear family rose in prominence – with the shift to city factory work and production.

            And even in ancient Greece, the separation of male and female spheres was not that clear cut – more so in Athens than in Sparta, for instance.

            but some men still like to claim such supremacy of male logic to maintain their sense of superiority…. all of this has happened before and will happen again…

            • Bill 6.4.1.1.1.1

              🙂 I just thought “1950s” and “12 year old”.

              Unfair of me I know, but there’s some smash is just smash. And there comes a time (for me) when stepping over or around seems like the only reasonable course of action.

              The whole gendered thing is, I agree, a load of codswallop, but yes, a load of codswallop that has very real effects and consequences.

              And the same could be said for many other supposed dichotomies.

            • Rosemary McDonald 6.4.1.1.1.2

              Excellent effort Carolyn_Nth, but you could have cut that down to one word…as befitting the capabilities of of your target audience.

              Evolution.

              (a good read though 😉 )

        • Rosemary McDonald 6.4.1.2

          “….got lost somewhere in time.”

          There’s this guy I know who, if one googles him, has gained a small measure of notoriety for writing letters to the editors of various NZ newspapers pontificating much along the same lines as whatisis.

          Now I know, mods, we’re not supposed to speculate as to the identity of those who comment using pseudonyms…but oh, it is a challenge.

          And in whatisis’s world I can be excused because my emotions rule and logic escapes me.

          I can see this guy now…in front of me , feigning acquaintanceship, and upon being rejected (specifically for his well promulgated misogynist ideologies) raising himself briefly upon his hind legs and declaring “I don’t hate women…I have a wife and daughters!!!”

    • tracey 6.5

      Jum

      I have been pondering that question for some time.

      For some men I wonder if they think feminists want to take over and rule over men? If they do think that do they assume those women will treat men as some men have treated women? If yes it could explain the fear?

      I have met many feminists over the years. From many countries. Some of them men. Not one of them has expressed a desire to rule over men. In my experience an “extreme” feminist is extreme in her methods and voice demanding equality. Not extreme in that she wants to dominate oppress disrespect and sexually asault men under the guise of “nature”.

      If I am thinking about writing an article that involves this kind of discussion, I hesitate, um and er. Make disclaimers about ” not all men” and those posts take me far longer than others. I wonder if men pondering such posts go through the same mental gymnastics?

  7. timeforacupoftea 7

    Thanks Bill very blunt message.

    ( If you are a woman of colour and you are raped before you reach the age of eighteen, then you are 66% more likely to be sexually assaulted again. )

    I would like to say to this comment that here in NZ it happens to all coloured woman including white – of cause white is a colour.

    • Carolyn_Nth 7.1

      That’s just a whitewash. ‘people of colour” has a specific meaning in contemporary Western societies, and that is what Davis is referring to.

      Furthermore, Davis says 70% of women who are sex trafficked are women of colour: and that they are coming out of the foster care system, and out of poverty. She says sex trafficking is a billionaire dollar industry, and that it’s called a “business”, in which the women are very likely to be gang raped.

      The racially-charged statistics indicate very brutal inequalities that can destroy many lives.

    • tracey 7.2

      “In physics, a color is visible light with a specific wavelength. Black and whiteare not colors because they do not have specific wavelengths. Instead, white light contains all wavelengths of visible light. Black, on the other hand, is the absence of visible light.” Wikipedia

  8. Macro 8

    And this is what the Chump tweets!

    Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!

    https://whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com
    Does he really think that that will make things better?
    🙄
    I think he just activated 10,000+ more women to Resistance Against him and his ilk.

    • Ad 8.1

      Very smart from the White House.

      An even smarter move from the Democrats would have been to use the Women’s March in the budget proxy war.

  9. eco maori 9

    The men that have lead the World have suppressed ladies for centuries the neoliberal red necks . They don’t like to share anything they are scared that ladys will hold them accountable for all there bad behaviours . Wealthy men invented witches to suppress Ladys why when ladys spoke out about being abused and when Ladies figured that the wealthy were ripping the surfs off they branded them as a witch and burnt them to stop ladies from informing the common people of there crimes as they would have got hanged .
    Neoliberal men are greedy inhumane racist bigots because of this I know that to have a bright prosperous humane future we need to promote EQUALITY for ladies.

    I have seen some videos of trump supporters who still support him????? thats what there mouth says but there eyes say a different story like i’m uncomfortable lying to you.
    You see trump is manipulating the worlds media to show that he still has support and to suppress the truth on global warming he will use every trick in his little book to try and hold onto the power of a president of America like i have said before he is a very dangerous man drunk on that power of president of America we should be grateful that there is another superpower to ballance out the world power .If not trump would bully the whole WORLD to submit to him which is how he behaves .Ka kite ano

  10. Ad 10

    Would be great to see a few of these speakers get in to national-level elected politics.

    I love a good speech, but I want so much to see a rolling movement that grows and mutates rather than fizzles out like Black Lives Matter and Occupy. That takes several speeches and some structure.

    Big ups to the organisers for having the luck to time it on the day of the shutdown. Sometimes movements need luck, and it looks like they have it.

  11. Siobhan 12

    Meantime in the Democratic Party…

    “Your truth is never more important than now,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, addressing the crowd, rallying for fair immigration policy, a woman’s right to choose, gun safety, economic justice,

    “Women in politics make the wholesome difference.”

    Go Nancy, it wasn’t ‘the Russians’ who gave the Presidency to Trump…it was you and yours and the Corporate Democrats and neo liberal death spin.

    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2018/01/womens_march_2018_livestream_updates_washington_dc_1.html

    • tracey 12.1

      Thinking Clinton was what the people needed rather than working out what they want was a huge error by Democrats. Democrats who themselves had rejected her for Obama…

  12. eco maori 13

    To all the ladies of OUR WORLD you have to go and get equality yourselves with the support of your good men.
    Its the same for me I have to take the muppets to walk on the hot coals of the HIGH COURT and we will see who gets there ass/asses burnt as I know that I have to achieve this no one else will do this for me. I know that when we get equality for all we will care for Papatuanuku/mother earth and all her treasures .Ka kite ano

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