Life, Liberty and the Pursuit
bear strange fruit,
Blood on the
leaves and blood on the root.
— Abel Meeropol, 1937
Annie Lennox recently
recorded this Billy Holiday song because she says it is still relevant today.
Not just in terms of race issues but also in terms of the violence being done
to all people across the planet, especially women.
Her comments about Beyoncé’s
highly sexual performances started a little dust-up on line. Annie doesn’t
believe that Beyoncé’s behavior does anything positive for feminism. And that it over sexualizes young girls and what
they see as their place in the world.
I agree with her about
Beyoncé’s brazen sexual performances not being appropriate for young girls. I
think that her flagrant sexual behavior is a response to the brutal restriction
of all feminine sexuality in some parts of
the world. But I don’t believe Beyoncé’s behavior should be met with violence.
Extreme violence as seen across the world and in this country as a way to
control women or anybody, male or female, is something that must be stopped.
This country has had its
issues with feminism and women’s rights for
years and the struggle has been violent and bloody. Ninety-five
years ago women won the right to vote and to hold office, but it was hard won.
Sonia Pressman Fuentes documents this history in her article on
Alice Paul. She includes this re-telling of the story of Occoquan Workhouse’s Night
of Terror, November 15, 1917:
orders from W. H. Whittaker,
superintendent of the Occoquan Workhouse, as many as forty
guards with clubs went on a rampage, brutalizing thirty-three jailed
suffragettes. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above
her head, and left her there for the
night. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed
her head against an iron bed, and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate Alice
Cosu, who believed Mrs. Lewis to be dead, suffered a heart attack. According to
affidavits, other women were grabbed, dragged, beaten, choked, slammed,
pinched, twisted, and kicked.
women warriors fought with their blood, sweat, and tears for our
right to vote. The Nineteenth Amendment was
a major accomplishment for this country and the women who can now vote.
Unfortunately it did not end there. Mississippi did not ratify the Amendment
As brutal as the
suffragettes’ experience, it was not as
vicious as what many women endure in other parts of the world. At the other extreme from Beyoncé’s gyrations is the
genital mutilation of young girls and women throughout the world.
In 2008 Egyptians passed a
law banning these terrible barbaric procedures. Yet in June 2013 a doctor
preformed one such procedure on a
13-year-old girl; though she died, he was not found not guilty in
a court of law. In a UNICEF survey it was determined that 91% of married woman
in Egypt between the ages of 15 and 49 have been mutilated.
based Human Rights Watch recently reported that Boko-Haram was
holding over 500 women and girls hostage. Actually the 219 schoolgirls they kidnapped several months ago have now been married off to their captors and
have been forced to convert to Islam.
2009 BBC interview Mohammed Yusuf, founder of Boko Haram, (whose name means ‘Western
education is forbidden”), claimed that such education “spoils the belief in one God.” He also said, “Like rain.
We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun
that condenses and becomes rain ... Like saying the world is a sphere. If it
runs contrary to the teachings of Allah, we reject it. We also reject the
theory of Darwinism.”
So these women who were
kidnapped and sold into marriage are not allowed to read or be educated in
anything but the Koran. They now are being forced to memorize it because they
are not allowed to read. How does one even begin to have
a conversation with people who are this ignorant, barbaric, and violent?
This is the very mindset we should be fighting against. Such ignorance is the lack of light
in this world. For all the hard-won rights
that bring light and learning to all the peoples
of the world there are always those who want us to stay in the dark, in the
ignorance and in the violence.
The poem/song refers to the
black man swinging from a limb on a tree. Maybe the tree with the strange fruit
was originally the tree of knowledge from the Garden of Eden. The tree of
knowledge that Eve plucked that strange fruit from may be the tree that Billy
and Annie sing about. The knowledge of good and evil, profound versus profane.
The tree of the knowledge of
good and evil and all of the blame and shame that is associated with that tree,
and the blood of a woman who was originally blamed for eating the fruit of that
tree and is still being made to bleed for it.
to plant a new tree, a tree of knowledge and enlightenment for all of
Trisha Howe is a born intuitive who
started psychic training at age 15. She has over 40 years’ experience in
Intuitive Counseling, Crystal Healing, Tarot, Mediumship, and Clairvoyance. Contact
her at Mystictrish@cox.net