Dear Yemaja: A Year Later and Haiti Women Cry Out at Kanye West’s Monster
Dear Yemaja (Lucumi/Santeria Mother Goddess),
Last year, I wrote a blog entitled, Some Natural Disasters are not so Natural but Vodou (Spirit) will Prevail. Yes, I wrote that Spirit and Spirits would rise and rattle those who seek to indebt and control Haiti. I wrote that Haiti would rise. I wrote that Vodou—a spiritual and communal practice—would rise just as the sun rises in the sky to light the dark places. Oh, I wrote that on the eve of remembering Dr. Martin Luther King that the spiritual fire of a people could not be quailed by manmade devastations (i.e. The World Bank).
Yes, I wrote. I wrote. I wrote. With a small measure of hope, I wrote.
But, now, I write.
I write a year later, Yemaja, with less optimism about the fate of Haiti in particular the fate of your daughters in Haiti. Yes, the ones that are made in your image, “fearfully and wonderfully made” . . . the ones who carry your demeanor and feminine mysteries . . . the ones who birth the babies . . . the ones who seek your spiritual guidance. Your daughters. So, with a heavy heart I write today about those girls and women who have been raped as they slept in their tents, as they fetched water to wash their brown bodies and the brown bodies of their children, as they went to seek food from the UN camps, as they knelt with reverence to pray to you, Yemaja. Yes, today I write about the rapes. And I pray that you hear me as I tell these stories that seem to be the norm whenever there is devastation, war, male disempowerment, joblessness, a need to prove one’s hetero-masculinity, or simple disagreements among men. It seems as if the woman’s vagina becomes the battle ground and the site of protest when men feel angry and disempowered.
Yes, Yemaja, today, I write about the rapes.
I know I should be use to this by now. I should be accustomed to hearing about the rapes. It’s a normal occurrence. It happens everywhere. Every day in the Congo, women are raped. Every day on the Southside of Chicago, girls go missing only to be found dead and raped. Every day women are being raped by lovers, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. And brown and black women are raped and we never hear about them because our bodies made in your image don’t matter.
And, I should be use to it, Yemaja, but I am not.
My soul wails and moans and hums inaudible laments for your daughters and my future daughters. Like the wise women of old I lay prostrate before you wailing and longing for justice to rise up. I do not want people to feel that rape is normal as if it was a sixth sense. I no longer wish to read stories about fathers sacrificing their daughters for wealth (i.e. The Handless Maiden), sacrificing their daughters to appease the Greek gods (i.e. Agamemnon sacrifice of Iphigenia), and sacrificing their daughter to save countries (The biblical story of Jephtah’s daughter). Because these stories and many others like them legitimize abuse against our daughters . . . our daughters’ bodies become puns in the games men play and in the lyrics they rap.
So, today, I write about the rapes and the raps.
Yemaja, I write about Kanye West’s video, Monster, where countless women’s naked, raped, and murdered bodies are convenient background set pieces. I know Kanye would say this is simply art. But, I would say, “No, this is not art. You, my dear Kanye, are guilty of licensing rape and murder. Though imaginary and artistic in your mind, those images are real just look around the world and your native Chicago and you will see dead raped naked bodies of women. You are guilty of promoting rape and murder of Yemaja’s daughters.” And, to you Jay Z, your one rap line about raping and pillaging villages shows me yet again how easily our daughters bodies are used by men to make the point of how much of a “monster” you are. And, yes, you are a monster. But, my question is, do you really want to be known for raping women in villages? I know it seems in your mind like a great metaphor, but do you really want to be like the spiritually bankrupt men who rape women? I have no respect for either of you, by your own words and video you too are guilty of rape.
Yes, Yemaja, today, I write about your daughters.
We need you. We need your mighty oceans to flood the minds of people reminding them of the power of women and the need to be seen as equals. We need you to cradle us in your arms and let us know that though we are women made in your image that we are not fodder in the games men play. Your daughters in Haiti . . . your daughters in the Congo . . . your daughters up the street . . . your daughters in schools . . . your daughters in Iraq . . . your daughters in alleys . . . your daughters on their knees praying to various gods . . . we need you as we wail and weep and hope for a better world where our bodies are “non-negotiable” as Marge Piercy wrote.
We need you, Yemaja, to rise up.