screening tonight: emma goldman – an exceedingly dangerous woman

Tonight at 20h00, Bolo’bolo in Observatory presents a free screening of a documentary about the life and ideas of Emma Goldman: anarchist, feminist and lifelong rabble rouser.

emma goldmanFor nearly half a century, Russian emigrant Emma Goldman was the most controversial woman in America, taunting the mainstream with her fervent attacks on government, big business, and war. To the tabloids, she was “Red Emma, queen of the anarchists,” but many admired Goldman for her defense of labour rights, women’s emancipation, birth control, and free speech.

Goldman’s life was indelibly marked by two violent acts: the attempted assassination of anti-union industrialist Henry Clay Frick by her comrade and lover Alexander Berkman (he spent 14 years in prison for the crime) and the 1901 slaying of President William McKinley by Leon Czolgosz, a young anarchist who claimed he had been “set on fire” by Goldman’s exhortations to political assassination and martyrdom. McKinley’s assassination led to widespread condemnation of Goldman and other anarchists. Fearing for her life, Goldman went underground.

In 1906, she reemerged as founder and editor of Mother Earth, an anarchist magazine devoted to politics and literature. Once again a public figure, she returned to the lecture circuit. Her talks on the struggling revolution in Russia, on the rights of workers, on civil liberties — even on anarchism — drew large, sympathetic crowds. For almost a decade, Goldman maintained a grueling schedule, spending nearly half of every year on the road. In one six-month period, she delivered 120 lectures in 37 cities.

An outspoken opponent of America’s entry into World War I, she was arrested and imprisoned for demonstrating against the draft. In 1919 she, Berkman, and 247 others were deported to Russia, just two years after the October revolution replaced the Czarist regime with Bolshevik tyranny. After two dispiriting years, Goldman and Berkman left the Soviet Union and dedicated themselves to revealing the truth about a revolution gone wrong.

“The State is the altar of political freedom and, like the religious altar, it is maintained for the purpose of human sacrifice.” – Emma Goldman

PS: Non-alcoholic drinks and vegan snacks will be on sale. You may bring your own beer or wine if you’d like. The screenings are free, but donations are welcome.

audre lorde on speaking out

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.
___

I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you… What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.

I began to ask each time: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.

And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.

― Audre Lorde, from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984/2007, The Crossing Press).