Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo, and Palestine/Israel (Paperback)
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In 2006, Alice Walker, working with Women for Women International, visited Rwanda and the eastern Congo to witness the aftermath of the genocide in Kigali. Invited by Code Pink, an antiwar group working to end the Iraq War, Walker traveled to Palestine/Israel three years later to view the devastation on the Gaza Strip. Here is her testimony.
Bearing witness to the depravity and cruelty, she presents the stories of the individuals who crossed her path and shared their tales of suffering and courage. Part of what has happened to human beings over the last century, she believes, is that we have been rendered speechless by unusually barbaric behavior that devalues human life. We have no words to describe what we witness. Self-imposed silence has slowed our response to the plight of those who most need us, often women and children, but also men of conscience who resist evil but are outnumbered by those around them who have fallen victim to a belief in weapons, male or ethnic dominance, and greed.
About the Author
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, ALICE WALKER is the author of more than thirty books including The Color Purple and Sent by Earth. Her writings have been translated into more than two dozen languages. From her essays concerning the civil rights movement to her cries for intervention on the Gaza Strip, Walker continually and eloquently calls attention to ignored injustices around the world.
“Perhaps ordinary language cannot convey adequately the horrors of our time. Perhaps it takes a poet to reach into her own heart and into ours, to break out of silence and despair, to speak the unspeakable truth. Alice Walker, a poet who does more than write, declares, by her words and by her actions, that she will not, that we must not, let this go on. She insists, in this poetic, powerful essay, that we will reach out to one another, across all boundaries, to create a better world.” —Howard Zinn
“Walker has done what few North American writers are able to: bear witness to atrocities in places that are geographically far away, but politically connected to the West.” —Feministe
“[Walker] links modern-day atrocities to older cruelties, including the Holocaust and the Trail of Tears. Finding resilience in the midst of atrocities, Walker uses her own voice, as poet and activist, to speak out against injustices in the world's trouble spots.” —Vanessa Bush, Booklist
“Alice Walker's Overcoming Speechlessness leaves me breathless. She shocks us with stories of the most horrifying human interactions then pulls us out of despair with the most tender stories of compassion.” —Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK