Life Words

(Sempre Sicilia)
Three Quotes in Three Days: Day 3 (source: Sempre Sicilia)

For this third and final quote post, I decided to deviate somewhat from the rhythm of the last two and to reflect for a moment on the question of what gets lost, when we lift social justice sound-bites from their original contexts. (With or without graphic rendering over unrelated imagery!) 

Instead of selecting from the myriad of detached phrases and memed sentiments floating around in digital space, I plucked today’s selection myself, drawing on words that resonated for me out from their setting in a recent post from the blog Sempre Sicilia: “Commitment is What You Do When the Emotion Is Gone: Refugees as the ‘Cause du Jour’.”

Michelle Reale describes her blog as “an evolving perspective on the human side of immigration, migration, refugees, asylum-seekers, and social justice — particularly in the Sicilian context.” It is, she says, “both an intellectual and emotional labor of love.”

It is also labor I benefit from.

Without Michelle’s work, I might not have realized refugees attempting to enter Europe from Africa (many of whom die in this effort to escape intolerable conditions) even was a cause, let alone a cause du jour. I am grateful to her — as I am to so many others who work in areas unfamiliar to me — for drawing the connections between their efforts and my own concerns.

I chose these words today because I find them powerful, resonant, and true — both within and well beyond the context for which they were originally written. (Strong writing does that, as any good reader can tell you.) The power of words in isolation does not, however, outweigh or nullify the embedded significance they always carry over from their original context.

Any good reader can tell you that, too.

As before, I’d like to promote sites written by a few of my lovely fellow-bloggers — each of whom are, in their own particular arenas, committed to the work of social justice — and to encourage you to visit:

Please be sure to say “Hi!” for me, if any of you do make visits. 🙂

Bonus recommendation: Spend any significant time in the feminist blogsphere (or related online spaces), you are almost guaranteed to come across the following statement at least once a week. Do you recognize it?

feminism quote
(image via)

Did you know that these words came from Flavia Dzodan? Have you ever read the original context for this statement, Dzodan’s post over at Tiger Beatdown? Do you recognize the anger shimmering within these words? Her fury feels missing from the careful calligraphy of the visual I selected.

Ysee, here’s how her piece begins:


Now picture this: me screaming the above. Angry. VERY ANGRY as a matter of fact. Screaming this at my computer screen. Screaming it at nobody and everybody. At you. You, person I might have never heard from who might have not even commented on this blog or any of the other publications where I can be regularly found scribbling my discombobulated ideas. Even though we never met before, I AM ACTUALLY, SCREAMING AT YOU RIGHT NOW. MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT!. And I am screaming this because I want to convince you, I want to get it through you that this is not a choice or an abstract concept or an intellectual exercise. I am not screaming because well, you know, I just discovered intersectionality and OMG SO COOL GUYS. YOU NEED TO READ THIS. No. My feminism NEEDS to be intersectional because as a South American, as a Latina, as someone who knows certain parts of the Global South intimately by virtue of being a Southerner, as an immigrant living in Europe, as a woman, I am in the middle of what I like to call the “shit puff pastry”. The shit puff pastry is every layer of fuck that goes on above me, below me, by my sides, all around me. And in this metaphorical puff pastry with multiple layers of excrement, I am the dulce de leche that is supposed to make it palatable so that someone else, more specifically the kyriarchy, can eat me.

And here’s the thing: while I am screaming at you, I am also asking, nay, DEMANDING that you scream with me. And I am asking that you become as angry as I have been this past week. Because without anger and without righteous indignation and without the deep, relentless demand for change, my feminism, YOUR feminism, everyone’s feminism will fail. It will be bullshit.

If you’re unfamiliar with these words, then that’s my challenge to you all today: Respect Dzodan’s anger by reading — and learning from — her post.

Or choose another quotation you love — and read it in its original context. Appreciate the landscape more, having put your hands in its mulch and watered its roots.

Then come back and tell us what you learned.

Tell us why it matters.

Challenge us in turn, that we may learn with you.

For a third and final time, thanks and curses to Grandma Lin for inspiring the last three days. [If you’re as much of a sucker for memed quotes as I am, please check out: Day 1, Day 2, and my LIFE WORDS collection.]

And, finally, if any of the above-named folks decides to participate in any way — from posting quotes on their own blogs/Facebook feeds/tweets, to putting some favorite words in a comment here, to just having a warm happy feeling a few weeks from now when they read this post and realize I was thinking of them — that’ll be lovely too.


5 thoughts on “Life Words

  1. I love this quote. SO true- even after the initial rush that provokes the commitment are you still there for the long ride? Food for thought for me. Enjoyed your series of words and your take on them– always richer and deep than the words themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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