An excerpt from Alice Walker’s Living By The Word (1988).

Wasichu was a term used by the Oglala Sioux to designate the white man, but it had no reference to the color of his skin. It means He who takes the fat. It is possible to be white and not a Wasichu or to be a Wasichu and not white. In the United States, historically speaking, Wasichus of color have usually been in the employ of the military, which is the essence of Wasichu.

The Wasichu speaks, in all his US history books, of “opening up virgin lands.” Yet there were people living here on “Turtle Island,” as the Indians called it, for thousands of years; but living so gently on the land that to Wasichu eyes it looked untouched. Yes, it was “still,” as they wrote over and over again, with lust, “virginal.” If it were a bride, the Wasichus would have permitted it to wear a white dress. For centuries on end Native Americans lived on the land, making love to it through worship and praise, without once raping or defiling it. The Wasichus—who might have chosen to imitate the Indians, but didn’t because to them the Indians were savages—have been raping and defiling it since the day they came. It is ironic to think that if the Indians who were here then “discovered” America as it is now, they would find little reason to want to stay. This is a fabulous land, not because it is a country, but because it is soaked in so many years of love. And though the Native Americans fought as much as any other people among themselves (much to their loss!), never did they fight against the earth, which they correctly perceived as their mother, or against their father, the sky, now thought of mainly as “outer space,” where primarily bigger and “better” wars have a projected future.

Continue reading “Wasichu”

A God Who Adores Our Freedom

Alice-Walker-112931058x1-56aa24d75f9b58b7d000fc00From Alice Walker’s autobiography Anything We Loved Can Be Saved. Happy Belated Mother’s Day.

All people deserve to worship a God who also worships them.  A God that made them, and likes them.  That is why Nature, Mother Earth, is such a good choice.  Never will Nature require that you cut off some part of your body to please It; never will Mother Earth find anything wrong with your natural way.  She made it, and She made it however it is so that you will be more comfortable as part of Her Creation, rather than less.  Everyone deserves a God who adores our freedom: Nature would never advise us to do anything but be ourselves.  Mother Earth will do all that She can to support our choices.  Whatever they are.  For they are of Her, and inherent in our creation is Her trust.

A Practice of Noticing

Alice WalkerAlice Walker, from an interview, when asked about the inspiration behind her book of poetry Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart (2015):

The advice from our Tibetan ancestors and teachers is that we learn to take the arrow – of suffering, despair, hopelessness, fear – out of our own heart first, before attempting to bring down the archer who shot it.  This involves a practice of noticing, on a deeper level than most people traditionally live, what our actual pain is.  Accepting that we are suffering, and resolving to do something about it: first, by simply noticing it.  And not letting distractions like eating too much, watching TV or Facebook entries, etc., get in the way of truly listening to, and hearing our deepest self.  It is from the deep self that inspiration and instruction comes.  We must resist oppression, of course, but we must be mindful of exactly why and how we must proceed.  In other words, some form of consistent meditation is in order.

I Can Go My Own Way

Alice WalkerFrom an interview Alice Walker did with The New York Review of Books in 2018.

Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” had a great impact on me as a very young child. It opens with the lines, “If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs and blaming it on you” and the last line is, “you’ll be a Man, my son!” Well, I don’t care about the man part, but I did know at that age whenever I heard it, it gave me permission to understand that I can go my own way. I can keep my head and not care what everyone else is doing with their heads, but I need to keep mine. That’s the kind of power that poetry has.

We Are the Offspring of the Ignorantly Discarded

Alice WalkerA sample from Alice Walker’s newest book of poetry Taking the Arrow Out of The Heart (October 2018). This is called “I Am Telling You, Discouraged One, We Will Win.”

I am telling you
Discouraged One
we will win.
And I will show you
We are the offspring
of the ignorantly
we conjure
with our smiles
and provoke music
out of trash.
Who can completely
such genius? Continue reading “We Are the Offspring of the Ignorantly Discarded”

We Begin to Flow

Alice WalkerBy Alice Walker, from a talk she gave at Auburn Theological Seminary (NYC, April 1995) in Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer’s Activism (1997):

It is fatal to love a God who does not love you. A God specifically created to comfort, lead, advise, strengthen and enlarge the tribal borders of someone else. We have been beggars at the table of a religion that sanctioned our destruction. Our own religions denied, forgotten; our own ancestral connection to All Creation something of which we are ashamed. I maintain that we are empty, lonely, without our pagan-heathen ancestors; that we must lively them up within ourselves, and begin to see them as whole and necessary and correct: their Earth-centered, female-reverencing religions, like their architecture, agriculture, and music, suited perfectly to the lives they led. And lead, those who are left, today. Continue reading “We Begin to Flow”

Treacherous Machinations Around the Globe

WalkerAfter George W. Bush was elected in 2000, Alice Walker said in an interview: “I know that Martin Luther King would have felt very saddened because he gave his life for a very much larger vision.” During the Obama years, Walker was asked in an interview with an Israeli publication what Dr. King would have thought of Obama’s America and what should be done to fulfill his vision.   This was her response:

Martin Luther King was a leader, a person of conviction.  He would find it difficult to comprehend, as I do, why Obama is incapable of standing up to Israel and why, whenever he tries, he soon collapses again.  I believe Obama started out in the presidency as a good and decent person.  With much ambition, but that is not a crime.  However, killing people in distant lands by drone attack is, in my opinion, a crime.  Condoning Israel’s crimes makes him an enabler of criminal behavior and complicit in the misery Israel causes to poor and frightened people.  This is almost unbearable to face, because I, like so many others, love Barack.  But we have lost him to the US government machine that is only running true to course in its treacherous machinations around the globe.  Continue reading “Treacherous Machinations Around the Globe”


Alice WalkerFrom a young Alice Walker in “From An Interview” (1973):

If there is one thing African-Americans and Native Americans have retained of their African and ancient American heritage, it is probably the belief that everything is inhabited by spirit.  This belief encourages knowledge perceived intuitively.  It does not surprise me, personally, that scientists now are discovering that trees, plants, flowers, have feelings…emotions, that they shrink when yelled at; that they faint when an evil person is about who might hurt them.

What Can The White Man Say To The Black Woman?

AliceFrom Alice Walker, poet, activist and the author of many works including The Color Purple (1982). This was the conclusion of a piece published in the recent 150th anniversary edition of The Nation:

What can the white man say to the black woman?

Only one thing that the black woman might hear.

Yes, indeed, the white man can say, your children have the right to life. Therefore I will call back from the dead those 30 million who were tossed overboard during the centuries of the slave trade. And the other millions who died in my cotton fields and hanging from my trees.
Continue reading “What Can The White Man Say To The Black Woman?”