by 伊凌 yi ling
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
In the Bible, King Lemeul’s mother teaches her son about women (how interesting in the few times a woman’s words are directly recorded in the Bible, her name isn’t.) in Proverbs 31, beginning with a reminder about his origins in her womb, then admonishments before then understanding the wife of noble character.
What does it mean to be a woman?
I began asking this question with greater urgency as I passed through a women’s college, endeavored to walk with Christ post stumbling into Him on an unhappy Father’s Day in 2010 and attending my first church service on Mother’s day, and was suddenly ripped out of the habitual AAPI model minority achievement path when our family’s American dream/home burned to the ground literally and figuratively. Homeless, wandering around Louisiana, NYC, St. Louis, Chicago, Seattle, many airports, I discovered that as a traveler, one of the few things that always carried with me is the experience of being a woman. Furthermore, there is always a legion of fellow travelers who shared this endeavor. The women, the folk who took me in and nurtured me as my family and life was utterly dashed apart, were all a collective of the other: Black women, Latin@ women, Yellow women, immigrants, lesbian and queer and allies, poor, wealthy, committed/faithful to faith, each in their own ways. NDN and Black women are the original killjoy prophets of this country and as an AAPI woman, they are my political ancestors, without whom, I would have no existence in each and every permutation as a citizen here. I, in order to live, must honor my political ancestors, primarily NDN and Black women.
Marissa Alexander, a Black woman, a Black mother, a citizen, a women (of color) of faith, is the word of God. Marissa is Proverbs 31:8-9. I understand it would be easy to say “look at us speaking up for Marissa! I am the one doing Proverbs 31:8-9.” That is filth and false. Marissa Alexander’s actions, from the firing of her gun into the roof to defend her children and herself from her abuser husband, to her civic and political and spiritual body and family being the site of State violence via imprisonment and impoverishment, are 100% the insistence of God’s word in a world that tries to kill her God-given integrity. Every hijink, every gap between her and her freedom is a space where I see our failure to abide in the word of God. Marissa has spoken, she is loud, she is not silent. Marissa’s freedom is our freedom, her faith is our faith, our freedom from the tyranny of injustice. We must speak to come out of our destitution (not hers), our moral failure (she has not)–anything that stops Marissa’s liberation is incompatible with the word of God.
(By the way, what is the God/the collective tyranny oppressing Marissa that possesses us when we do not align with God’s word? I’ll repeat what I said to the white man who hit on me in a Dallas Starbucks incessantly. In 2 minutes, he told me he used to be married to an Asian woman. In 5 minutes, he told me he was a good Christian. I want to see the white, capitalist, heteropatriarchical (bell hooks) God that is the worship of many american assemblies to finally do what Jesus did. Stake itself to the cross, die–not for its own resurrection, but as part of the liberation of so many. This white capitalist heterpatriarchical God is the greatest impediment to church. This is my demand of the church, the theology, the collective of faith walkers.)
With fellow KillJoyProphets, let’s pray to live Isaiah 40:31 “…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
With Marissa, let’s pray to live Psalm 91. We are praying for this word to live in your life, our shared life, we are with you in the word:
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”