On the Front Line of Freedom

2019 Pride Parade in Dublin, Ireland.
2019 Pride Parade in Dublin, Ireland. Photo: William Murphy
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Bay Area socialist feminist, educator and author Merle Woo, of the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women, delivered the following poem as a featured rally speaker for San Francisco’s International Lesbian & Gay Freedom Day in June 1981.

On the Front Line of Freedom

 And who will be with me on the Front Line of Freedom?

Will it be the white lesbians and gays who oppress
    people of color,
    the poor and disadvantaged? 

Will it be the people of color,
    my people,
    my Asian brothers and sisters who hate and despise gays?
    who look with disgust upon me,
    who see my lover as a ghost? a devil? 

Will it be working men who are sexist?  Who treat me with disrespect,
    call me names because I am a woman?
    An Asian woman?
    A Chinky China Doll? A Slant Cunt?
    Comparing me to a pug dog? with buck teeth?
    Dehumanizing me? 

Will we be on the Front Line Together?
I don’t think so.

And yet, I am fighting for the rights of just these people
    who oppress me.

Because I am a lesbian mother, an Asian, and a worker.

I stand with those who are the most enslaved —
    who have no say in the determination of
    their bodies’ choices;
    their minds’ wills. 

Face to Face:
The Right Wing on the Front Line of Slavery calls their
    continued bondage:
    Population Control
    Family Protection Act
    the Moral Majority —
    Just listen to the White House Fathers on the Human Life Amendment. 

On the Front Line of Freedom. . .
I march and stand with all the women of color who have
    been sterilized:
    80% of the tribe in Oklahoma
    so that the U.S. will inherit (in one generation)
    the earth, rich with Uranium,
    gold for nuclear weaponry;
    42% of all Native American women,
    35% of all Puerto Rican women,
    25% of all Chicanas — have been sterilized —

(And of course you know that in 1945, a motion was up 
before Congress to have all Japanese American women,
who were interned, sterilized; it lost by only one vote.) 

    Those poor young women of color who go in to
    deliver a baby and come out sterilized.

    Those who go in for an abortion and can’t have one.

I stand with the Black mothers and fathers of the children
    of Atlanta;
    The Black parents in Oakland whose babies are dying; 

I march with the poor lesbians and gays who have
    no legal aid;
    who don’t know what it’s like to eat Veal Piccata and
    Chocolate Mousse Torte at Fife’s on the Russian River;

    The ones who hurt the most —
    Who can’t keep cool on summer days,
    picking shells by the seashore,   

Who can’t keep warm winter’s nights, with chestnuts
         roasting by an open fire —

    Who don’t know what it means to have a regular

The old who are poor and sick and lonely, shunted from one
         hospital to another.

    Maybe a hip broken, and sometimes the spirit.

      MediCal gals and guys. 

I stand with the physically disabled.

And the clerical workers who type in asbestos offices (as if
         they had a choice),
    the factory workers who get brown lung disease
    the electronic production workers who are slowly dying
    in the Silicon Valley, because of constant exposure to
    noxious chemicals/carcinogens. 

I stand with political prisoners, and those falsely accused and
         confined to penitentiaries
    because of the laws which protect the rich. 

Because of the history of my people in this country,
I stand with those who cannot immigrate because of race, 
sexuality, lack of profession, political persuasion. 

      We are called the Undesirables.

Finally, I stand with those who may not be oppressed because
    of their race, sex, sexuality, physicality, class, or age,
    but who know why discrimination exists and will attack
         the source: Capitalism. 

I love the word “socialism”
    because of the root, “social”
    a focus on social relationships, community
    and the freedom to associate, recreate,
    rather than on capital and class, profit and not people. 

I love the word “feminism”
    because when I say, think, and act it,
    I mean multi-issue
    Revolutionary Feminism, which attacks
    mr. amerika
    models of hierarchy and exploitation
    that hold all women, men of color, poor, and gay men
    back and inferior,
    and with unfulfilled potential. 

I march, stand, and fight with socialist feminists because
      in its purest
      most fulfilled definition
      in theory and action,
      it is Revolutionary Feminism which is a
      fight for everyone who is oppressed
      in one way or another
      and which has as its goal
      the certainty that 

Those on the Front Line of Freedom will inherit the Earth.



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