I was a Black Power Handmaid
After a recent staged reading of excerpts from The Handmaid's Tale at a local arts event, we robed maids - young and seasoned alike - stood together for pictures. The success of this event was, at once, sobering and empowering. As we stood paired by height it became obvious to me that half of us were visible minorities. On top of the deluge of negativity toward women and women's rights (“nasty woman,” attacks on planned parenthood, “grab 'em by the pussy”, North Carolina's recent judicial ruling of not guilty of rape because “she can't recant after consent," abortion restrictions, and so on), a second cloud of malice threatens to rain down hate upon us - and us especially: the Brown Handmaids. While we ladies know what it feels like to have men catcall or to have a male vilify us for not being sexually interested in him, the Brown Handmaids feel another pain. We know what it feels like to be followed around a store, to have someone surprised by your appearance after speaking with you on the phone, to wonder if you should "check the box" on an application for a job, a home, a scholarship. We know the fear that a partner, father, brother, mother, sister, child or neighbor will be shot down, life stolen, for being brown. On that day, as we stood for our photos to post on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, our woman-ness was indeed decreed by a costume. The Handmaid’s sisterhood was one part of our story. But we stood in solidarity with heads and fists held high knowing the battle is being waged on at least two fronts. “They should never have given us uniforms if they didn’t want us to be an army.” Praise be, Sistas.
- Rae Z. - Massachusetts