Justice for All or None: A Note on This New Era and Possible Coalition

:– I was at The Women’s March on Washington. I did not wear a #pussyhat. I have since purchased a pussyhat, in pink, from a woman who’s donating proceeds from the hats to PBS and NPR. I will wear it with my #BlackLivesMatter and #LGBTQIA and #EqualRightsAmendment pins. –:

I want all these newly energized liberal-or-progressive-mostly-white women to hear the skepticism we are getting from women of color and lgbtqia folk, especially trans women:

  1. They want us to show up FOR them.
  2. The do not want us to save them, or fix their movements.
  3. They want us to help in the background.
  4. They want us to come to their marches and demonstrations* and risk for them, too.

I have been a feminist scholar all my life, and have been knocking around social justice movements primarily for the last five years or so. I have interviewed many women in the Second Wave and recorded those interviews for posterity (visit Va NOW’s YouTube to watch, they’re rough edits).

What is missing, still, from “white feminism” is deep engagement with the particular issues and experiences of other kinds of women.

We have a huge historical opportunity right now to build coalitions like never before, simply because so many more people are energized and realizing they have skin in the game.

“Intersectionality” is a word requesting this support, this space-making, this basic sharing. “Coalition” is about the strategy for doing that, finding our areas of common concern and really being concerned in common.

I am asking us to do a little learning. To deepen not only your action as a citizen, but to deepen your commitment to Justice for All. This country did not begin oppressing people last year. It started from the beginning. There are good historical reasons for many kinds of people not to trust us white women. Historically, we have ditched on them — every time.

Reading. Do some. There’s more here than a person can do, I know. But, do some. Show up with some education. Don’t ask people in these movements to get you hip, get hip, be cool.

Remember, make space: You get to center your issue and your symbol at your march, at your action. When you show up for others, and when you work intersectionally, the focus can’t stay on you all the time.

* There are huge practical and legal differences between planned and permitted marches compared to direct actions and spontaneous demonstrations. The latter two often involve some kind of not-very-serious law breaking — like blocking a street or highway or entrance to a building, etc. Those actions can result in arrest. Not all activists can be available for that, but we can all be available in support roles that do not risk arrest.

+ Full Disclosure: I’m the Poetry & Social Justice Fellow at Split This Rock and the managing editor of The Quarry.



From The Quarry & Split This Rock

Poem of the Week

    Teri Ellen Cross Davis     


        — based on a New York Times photograph of a grieving mother during Sudan’s 2005 drought


When you were inside me I could feel you thrive
your rounded kicks, my body your taut drum.
Now I beat these breasts, betrayed by a landscape
that wilts, a place where even tears won’t come.
Your rounded kicks in my body’s taut drum
why push, gush blood, why make you,
to wilt in a place where even tears don’t come?
No milk on your lips, your wavering cry
why push, gush blood, why make you?
How do my feet keep going, weighted by
your wavering cry still no milk for your lips,
and you grow lighter day after day?
How do my feet keep going, the weight of
when you were inside me, thrives, when I felt you.
Now you have grown lighter-and day after day
I beat these breasts, blamed, betrayed by this landscape.

* * *

Used with permission. Photo by Mignonette Dooley.

  * * *   

Teri Ellen Cross Davis is a Cave Canem fellow and has attended the Soul Mountain Writer’s Retreat, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her work can be read in: Bum Rush The Page: A Def Poetry JamGathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade, Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC; and the following journals: Beltway Poetry QuarterlyGargoyleNatural BridgeTorchPoet Lore and The North American Review. Her first collectionHaint is newly released this month by Gival Press. She lives in Silver Spring, MD.
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Please feel free to share Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this post, including this request. Thanks!
To read more poems of provocation and witness, please visit The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database at

A Scalia Poem

Hobson’s Choice between a Mare’s Nest
and a Roundmouth

    ~~ A Scalia Dissent Poem in honor of the Marriage Equality Decision, Love v. Beashar

All hollow as my dissent may prove
before this arsy-varsy ballum rancum
calling itself a court so full of bam and apothecary
in defense of taylors, flaybottomists, and all these knights of the rainbow–
I must dampen the horn colic of mollies and their hoydon friends. 

Shabbaroon perhaps, but making of marriage
other than a true swive between a tickle tail and Miss Laycock
is to take a running smobble at the foundation of all known society.
When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868,
every State limited marriage to one man and one woman,
and no one doubted the constitutionality of doing so.

For we are a wide land of isolate and self-contained American families,
the source of all our legitimate passing of taxable property,
soul-rending suburban alienation, and socially destructive disfunction.
By this ruling we take that seat of all our highest values,
values we place far above those of mere and mire of the civitas,
and render it queer as Dick’s hatband.

Even a cup-shot cove and a covey all agog to dock
and playing at his gigambobs has more reason
than the riot of havy cavy gamon and patter
produced by this Kit Cat Club formed by my associates.
The world does not expect logic and precision in poetry
or inspirational pop philosophy; it demands them in the law.
The stuff contained in today’s opinion has to diminish
this Court’s reputation for clear thinking and sober analysis.

With a full quaf of Irish assurance The Court has fetched mettle
and decided for the Nation that a man might wrap
himself in something other than a lawful blanket
and call it marriage. These rantipoles can go quiffing rantum scantum,
while their rammish morts might mow all the money
and tuzzy-nuzzy they can find, but you’ve windmills in the head
if you think this doesn’t all come to rumpus and disorder.

This Ominum Gatherum will be Job’s comfort to our good families
as the galimanfrey of a ruling comports with the people’s will
but is followed quick by one that wiffles away  their understanding,
leaving them not only at the mercy of quidnung social engineering,
but at the mercy of a scapegrace collection of screw jaws
who think their packthread so rum they might take a Trickum Legis
and by it erase good and all the sovereignty of the several states.
The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious
as its content is egotistic.

The Law should rather assure all the righteous
men singing black psalms, be they nazy flogging cullies,
either lobcocked or docked smack smooth,
but they are still men assured place by fear of force and tradition.

Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality
(whatever that means) were freedoms? And if intimacy is,
one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged
rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie.
Expression, sure enough, is a freedom,
but anyone  in a long-lasting marriage 
will attest that  that happy state constricts,
rather than expands,
what one can prudently say.

But this lot of sauce boxes think consistency of practice
more fair than the voice of a local vote! Today’s decree says
my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast,
is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.
Tantony pig, I’m sure I bear the bell, rounded by prime and prinking
silent flutes and tu quoques. I can only cry in the dark my davy
in prayer that one day, before the reign of Queen Dick,
the people will find a way to replace this feckless and defiant court.

* Liberal borrowing from  The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, Fwd. Max Harris, London, Bibliophile Books, 1984.

* Passages hi-jacked from Scalia’s dissent in Love v. Beashar are sourced from Mother Jones.


Coolest Internships in DC


Be part of DC’s premiere poetry event and the only festival of its kind in the country, highlighting poets working at the intersection of the imagination and social change!

Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2016, to be held April 14-17, 2016, will gather poets, activists, and dreamers in DC for four days of readings, workshops, discussions, youth voices & activism — and YOU CAN BE AT THE HEART OF IT ALL!


  • Registration Assistant: Support the festival registration process
  • Volunteer Manager: Recruit, manage, and coordinate festival volunteers 
  • Marketing Manager: Oversee festival publicity & social media outreach
  • Venue Manager: Work with festival venues to prepare for festival
  • Special Events Manager: Coordinate call to action event, open mics, festival party, and book fair 
  • Fundraising Intern: Supports sponsorship & fundraising efforts

While all internships are unpaid, all interns receive:

  • Free festival registration!
  • Free festival t-shirt!
  • Priceless work experience!
  • Exposure to some of the most significant and artistically vibrant poets today including Amal Al-Jouburi, Jennifer Bartlett, Jan Beatty, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Regie Cabico, Dominique Christina, Martha Collins, Nikky Finney, Ross Gay, Aracelis Girmay, Rigoberto González, Linda Hogan, Dawn Lundy Martin, Craig Santos Perez, and Ocean Vuong – plus, U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera at a special festival kick-off event.


Send resume, cover letter, and a brief prose (no poetry please!) writing sample of up to 2 pages to Tiana Trutna at Positions available till filled and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Be Part of the Split This Rock Festival Leadership Team!


You Can Support Social Justice and Get Free Poetry at the Same Time!

Hello My People of the Internet —

If you know anyone in the nonprofit world, you know we all hustle for donations, even if we do have a few grants that keep the lights on. And, if you don’t, now you do.

I am asking you to donate whatever feels good to you to Split This Rock. We’re a really small nonprofit. I do masses of work for here for free because I’ve seen with my own self how our work at the nexus of poetry and social justice affects people for the better, moves hearts to open, and generally keeps people’s souls in good working order in these trying and mournful times.

We’re passing a hat for general purposes, but we also have a big biennial poetry festival coming up April 14-17, 2016, so work and expenses do blossom. Major American and international poets from all traditions and backgrounds get together for four days to discuss the poetics of justice on nearly every issue of concern or celebration for communities creating liberation and the full glory of all our human ways of being. Plus, we read and enjoy heaps and piles of bone-shaking poetry.

Like the Poem of the Week we published for Christmas this year by the inimitable Aracelis Girmay, “from The Body of the Black Maria.”

If you want, donation or no, you can sign-up to get our newsletter, and that means you get our Poem of the Week — a free poem every Friday on one of a range of social justice issues — which, would make me happy because I help curate and publish these poems. They all live here: *The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database*. And they are incredible poems, top-of-skull-off poems.

This is by far not all we do. Our monthly reading series brings poets from DC and the whole country

Joy and comfort to you each, and to all your other beloveds, too.
Simone Roberts
Poetry & Social Justice Fellow



Split This Rock :: 20 Nov 15

Poem of the Week

E. Ethelbert Miller

Are you listening?

If I was tree green instead of black
they would come and cut my branches,
destroy my roots, transport my
life and turn me into paper pulp.
Everything would be lost to history
like disappearing forests and burning woods.
Yes, they would cut me down with a sharp
axe and say I fell on my own and would
you my dear, hear my sound?
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Used with permission.

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E. Ethelbert Miller is a literary activist and the board chair of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). The Collected Poems  of  E. Ethelbert Miller edited by Kirsten Porter will be released by Willow Books in March 2016. To learn more visit Ethelbert’s website.
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Please feel free to share Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this post, including this request. Thanks!
To read more poems of provocation and witness, please visit The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database at