“There Is No Light Brighter Than The Blaze Of Resistance.” - Sonya Renee Taylor
Watch Animated Short Here
WASHINGTON, D.C. — To close out Women’s History Month, Planned Parenthood Federation of America today released a powerful animated short written and narrated by spoken word poet Sonya Renee Taylor. The animated short, a poem titled “Evolve,” was written in honor of Planned Parenthood’s 100th anniversary and traces the past, present, and future of the movement for reproductive justice and health equity. It honors the generations of women who have fought for reproductive justice, while also recognizing that our movement has evolved and must continue to evolve to include people of all genders and the myriad issues affecting Planned Parenthood’s patients and their communities – like transgender justice, immigration rights, and police violence.
Artist, activist, and transformational leader Sonya Renee Taylor is an international award-winning writer and performer, published author, and founder and Radical Executive Officer of The Body is Not An Apology, an international digital media and education company committed to radical self-love and body empowerment as the foundational tool of social justice.
In this moment of constant turmoil, it is easy to feel like we may not make it through this particularly painful contraction, but the truth of history is that we have been on the precipice of the chaotic unknown before and have birthed beauty and resistance and triumph out of it every time,” said Sonya Renee Taylor. “This poem is to remind us that we come from centuries of survivors who have already given us the blueprint for resistance and resilience. We are and have always been who we've been waiting for.
Evolve is an anthem to generations of people fighting for sexual freedom, autonomy, and justice,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Planned Parenthood was founded more than 100 years ago with a simple, yet still controversial idea: Your body is your own. Planned Parenthood will continue to be part of this fight so that all people – no matter who they are or where they come from – have power over their own bodies and lives.
Your great grandmother sips gin slow in a speakeasy in Chicago or Detroit.
Stokes the flame of a pot bellied stove in Alabama or Arkansas.
She is cigarette fixed at precipice of red lips.
Tells a suitor maybe your great grandfather, maybe not,what she expects from his courting.
There will be no hoarding pleasure in her house. Your great grandma was fast.
Ain't it what we call a woman well acquainted with the topography of a hostile world
yet unbowed to its back hand. A jook joint majesty.
A siren of her own fire, a thing this world has endlessly tried to expire but could not, which is why
you are here, today.
Your grandmother, cursed or never cursed.
Drank or never drank.
Knew men the way Job knew trials or never knew sin at all.
She was a country girl or familiar with the infinite heat of a New York City street. She was sweet on a woman once, they kissed and never told. She was Dominican or Irish or golden brown as a Mississippi dirt road glinting in the sun.
She has labored whether with hand or with heart. She has known part and parcel of struggle. Knew she was done birthing after birthing the child that birthed you or knew others would follow.
She has swallowed decades of discarded promises made to look like men or money. She was choice made flesh long before we flung a pro around its neck and called those words movement. Movement
is what she has always known.
Prone to survival. Which is why you are here, today.
Your mother was never only your mother.
Never only lover or law clerk or domestic worker.
Your mother was defiant in a bathrobe and slippers, in a boardroom, in a bedroom where she said no or yes or more.
With a body like the one she taught you to own like your own good name.
She is failed and flawed and fortune forged in flame. The best of what could be made out of this starshine and clay an inheritance of blood and grace which is why you are here, today.
We call this evolution.
How one person becomes billions
by splitting an idea like an atom.
How a notion as simple as “every woman should be the absolute mistress of her own body”,
could collect us like rainwater deliver us here. Queer and trans man and none of the above.
But out loud love and the certainty that a true word spoken one hundred years later is still true.
You deserve every option available to you in service toward your best life.
There is no light brighter than the blaze of resistance.
Evolution is the insistence that we must grow or die.
Which is why, we are here today.
Redefining the way we see each other;with wider vision. Carrying a great grandmother’s mission
forward, like a seed tucked in the pocket of humanity.
We are not tasked with the awesome calling of making a tree.
We are tasked with the noble work of nurturing good soil; a place where we each might grow and toil toward a self-determined truth.
Where trans women, undocumented youth, little black boys playing alone in parks each make it home safe at night. Where the light of morning kisses them awake.
The work of evolution is not to figure out what the next one hundred years will make.
The work of evolution is to plant the seed that will grow into something that from this precipice of
history we simply cannot see or know.
Nevertheless, will grow until you are the furthest point on the map of a future that looks one hundred years back, perhaps through tears of gratitude to a crowd that looks exactly and nothing like you or us
but nevertheless, I trust, will say, “That is why I am here today.”
And we will call this evolution.
Poem copyright Sonya Renee Taylor, 2016
Animations by Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood affiliates serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.