The following is an undeveloped musing of mine, borrowing heavily from some other sources.

Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain, describes the intensity of torture by a function of reversal and destruction. Through the application of pain and fear, the torturer literally destroys the capacity of the victim to imagine or articulate resistance. Their world is unmade, physically and semantically. A bed is not a bed anymore, it is a place to be strapped down and hurt. Any imaginative link with the past is severed as everything signifies the victim’s powerlessness. In this state, the victim is both completely cut off and alone, yet always under watch.

[Ze has] all of the solitude of privacy, with none of its safety, and all of the self-exposure of the utterly public with none of its possibility for camaraderie.

When I read a bitch’s powerful juxtaposition of the Lord’s prayer and a story of a young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, I thought of the above.

Does responsibility have weight when the one responsible has nothing? …and she is 14 years old and choice-less.

And then i thought of BFP’s words

those careful glances that bore deep into our children, past their laughter, their missing teeth, their syrupy warm necks, their fat pink lips, remind us every time we go to the store, we pick up our kids from school, we watch our babies play at the playground, remind us even when you’re not around, of our sin.

and it’s that shake of the head, the one filled with such pity, such remorse, such disgust, after you pull your judging eyes out of our kids bodies, that cements the verdict–a life of punishment, generations of punishment, for our sin, a brown mother’s sin.

It all seems so very connected to me. The way white America looks at poverty and race issues is not just unhelpful, it is direct substantiation of oppression. Like the torturer, the dual application of pain and gaze removes choices, isolates, and begins to unmake the world of one so watched. Baby ceases to signify child, blessing, family…and is thrown about in the semantic whirlwind, becoming sin, punishment, failure.

Scarry tells us of a prisoner who finds a piece of paper baked into bread given in a Red Cross package. It has one word. “Corragio!” There is no prescribed meaning to what courage will be…she is very explicit that specific resistance to the demands of torture is not moral or immoral. To cast it as such acedes to the frame of the torturer, and legitimizes their demands while eliding the pain that they are responsible for. It is the human act, to remind them that there is a world outside of the control of the oppressor. That there is hope.

Bfp again…

but with out being told, without being asked, mi hermanas come anyway, in emails, in phone calls, at break time, on the bus–una hermana, will offer a joke, a look, a hug, a comforting word, and for just a moment, the wieght of my breasts eases it’s tight grip on my back. for just a moment, my kid is a human and i am a good mother.

Courage!

-sly

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