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Democratic Womanism by Alice Walker

[By Simone Savannah]

Alice
Walker recently read her new poem, “Democratic Womanism” on Democracy Now! Used throughout her book,
In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose,
the “Womanism” is used to describe the perspectives and the experiences of
women of color. Though the propaganda surrounding this election has been about
women’s issues, including reproductive health and rights, and though candidates
have attempted to share their own “feminist” values/beliefs, Walker crafts her
poem as a call for a new (Womanist) order. As stated in her poem, she wants
Democratic Womanism, “a way of life that honors the feminine; a way that
acknowledges the theft of the wisdom female and dark Mother leadership might
have provided our spaceship all along”.

 

From
those very lines, it is evident that the speaker believes that something is
missing or that something valuable to our progression as a nation has been
stolen. Examining her choice to use the word dark, one can imagine that Walker is calling for the wisdom of
women of color. Walker even mentions women of color as icons of the movement. Furthermore,
Democratic Womanism seeks help from more women to restore the “frail and
failing ship”—our nation/world. It recognizes that the Womanist values of
“compassion and kindness have been ridiculed and suppressed,” and calls for
those values to create a safe and educated community.  Furthermore, as she recalls the past that has
silenced women, the speaker also recognizes its other devastating attacks
against humanity and the Earth.
Many
may not agree with Democratic Womanism or Democratic Socialist Womanism, but
the poem provides listeners a brief history lesson and an alternative way of
viewing our nation and our world. Most importantly, the poem asks (women)
listeners questions. These questions help to kill the silence and give them a
chance to create a new order, if only in the boundaries of this poem. Through
Walker’s poem, listeners are able to imagine an order where man is still
present, but right in the middle. “That’s the reason I like it,” she says. “He
is right there, front and center. But, he is surrounded.”