Mai'a Williams discusses This Is How We Survive: Revolutionary Mothering, War, and Exile in the 21st Century
Tuesday, March 26, 7:30pm
Pegasus Books Downtown
Mai'a Williams discusses This Is How We Survive: Revolutionary Mothering, War, and Exile in the 21st Century. In conversation with Tomas Moniz.
In This Is How We Survive: Revolutionary Mothering, War, and Exile in the 21st Century, Mai’a Williams shares her experiences working in conflict zones and with liberatory resistance communities as a journalist, human rights worker, and midwife in Palestine, Egypt, Chiapas, Berlin, and the U.S., while mothering her young daughter Aza.
She first went to Palestine in 2003 during the Second Intifada to support Palestinians resisting the Israeli occupation. In 2006, she became pregnant in Bethlehem, West Bank. By the time her daughter was three years old, they had already celebrated with Zapatista women in southern Mexico and survived Israeli detention, and during the 2011 Arab Spring they were in the streets of Cairo protesting the Mubarak dictatorship. She watched the Egyptian revolution fall apart and escaped the violence, like many of her Arab comrades, by moving to Europe. Three years later, she and Aza were camping at Standing Rock in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline and co-creating revolutionary mothering communities once again.
This is a story about mothers who are doing the work of deep social transformation by creating the networks of care that sustain movements and revolutions. By centering mothers in our organizing work, we center those who have the skills and the experience of creating and sustaining life on this planet. This Is How We Survive illuminates how mothering is a practice essential to the work of revolution. It explores the heartbreak of revolutionary movements falling apart and revolutionaries scattering across the globe into exile. And most importantly, how mamas create, no matter the conditions, the resilience to continue doing revolutionary work.
“Mai’a’s ongoing journey is about mothering as a daily revolution, brought into focus by living and loving at major revolutionary sites of our contemporary world. From Palestine to Egypt, Chiapas, Berlin, and especially the U.S. Midwest, Mai’a shares her experiences of navigating the intimate intergenerational impact of a constant state of political and personal war with detail and a crucial side-eye. This book is an opportunity to see the life you are living, and lives you would never see otherwise, in new and interconnected ways.”
—Alexis Pauline Gumbs, author of M Archive: After the End of the World
"This is How We Survive redefines revolution beyond the headline grabbing events to the everyday resilience of families living under ever-present threats of bombings, assaults, arrests and disappearances. This book will push you to expand and reimagine your definitions and ideas of revolution."
—Victoria Law, author of Resistance Behind Bars
“Magical, poetic, adventurous, eye-opening tales of global community organizing and resistance. Mai’a breaks the hold of American mind control, despair, and isolation with tales of gatherings around the world of everyday revolutionaries who do not have the privilege to decide whether or not to engage or fight for their lives.”
—China Martens, author of The Future Generation: The Zine-Book for Subculture Parents, Kids, Friends & Others
“I drank down Mai’a Williams’ This Is How We Survive like a glass of delicious water hitting me where I was the most thirsty. Williams gives us the story we’ve been waiting for and deeply needing, about the ways Black, Indigenous, and Brown women and mothers across the globe birth freedom struggle as they open their homes, hold late-night cigarette conversations, and insist that everyone be present to the work of liberation. Her work, and her life’s story, is crucial to what will bring us home.”
—Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, writer and organizer, author of Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home
“In reading the work of Mai’a Williams, it’s hard not to be excited by the sense of possibility.”
“The book is a necessary reminder that beyond the headlines, position papers, and generalizations made about mothers are voices from the front lines that we all need to hear.”
—The Nation on Revolutionary Mothering
Mai’a Williams is a writer, visual artist, and birth worker and has worked and lived in Mexico, Palestine, east Africa, Egypt, Germany, Ecuador, and the U.S. She coedited the anthology Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines and is the author of two books of poetry, No God but Ghosts and Monsters and Other Silent Creatures.
Tomas Moniz is the editor of the award-winning Rad Dad zine, and collections Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood and Rad Families: A Celebration, and the author of Bellies and Buffalos and Collaboration / La colaboración. He is the recipient of the SF Literary Arts Foundation’s 2016 Mary Tanenbaum Award.