A Speech/Reading presented for Last Sunday
What is empire?
In her 2003 speech on Confronting Empire, Arundhati Roy states:
"When we speak of confronting "Empire," we need to identify what "Empire" means. Does it mean the U.S. Government (and its European satellites), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and multinational corporations? Or is it something more than that? In many countries, Empire has sprouted other subsidiary heads, some dangerous byproducts — nationalism, religious bigotry, fascism and, of course terrorism. All these march arm in arm with the project of corporate globalization."
If we are to consider how we as
I am not a historian, and I am not a political scientist. I am a novelist, a poet, an organizer engaged in questions around the dismantling of oppressive institutions and transformative modes of thinking within
Picture this: A hot tropical sun radiating heat across white sand. Turquoise blue sea water lapping at your toes. The sound of the wind in the palm trees as the sweet scent of sand and ocean permeate your skin and every cell of your body. You have just eaten fresh fish and fried plantain served to you on a styrofoam plate. You look out over the sea, happy that you decided to visit the
Now picture this: On a hot, sunny day in November 1999 a group of women, myself included, sat on the beach wiggling our toes in the white sands, looking out over turquoise blue waters. But we were not there to enjoy the sun. Just that morning, word had reached us that the President, Leonel Fernandez, had deported several hundred Haitians and dark-skinned Dominicans from the
Read from Erzulie’s Skirt, excerpt pages 166 & 167
In the past few years especially we have become acquainted with sweat shop labor and its ramifications. Through the protests of the anti-globalization movements, including the first march in
What, then, are our remedies? I don’t profess to have answers to this question. I will, however, offer two points of reflection.
The first point I will ask you to consider is the legacy of binary thought that we have been socialized into under the
We as social movements and individuals hoping and working towards a better society, must undo our own participation in either/or paradigms. We must reconceptualize the multiple complexities of our society, and our political frameworks (including the bipartisan framework) as spaces for both/and approaches to decision-making.
Secondly, and finally, we must examine our sense of certainty. If there is one major shift in our society as a whole following 9/11 it is that we became less certain of many things. This, I believe, is a positive outcome of a very traumatic situation. Certainty, and I cite Karen Armstrong in this point, is a key element of fundamentalism. And in discussing fundamentalism, I am not speaking of those who have been framed as the enemies of the
I will conclude with a final reading from my novel, Erzulie’s Skirt
Read from Erzulie’s Skirt, excerpt pages 79-81
Confronting Empire, delivered at the World Social Forum in
The Spiral Staircase: My Climb out of Darkness, Anchor Books, NY: 2004.
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