Minnie Bruce Pratt

La Lucha: The Struggle

The struggle–for social justice and for workers and oppressed people, against racism and imperialism and for liberation for women and all gender and sexually-oppressed people–is my life.

As a child growing up in the 1950s in racist segregated Alabama in the U.S. Deep South, I was raised to agree unthinkingly with the prejudices of the dominant culture—to believe that white supremacy was “natural” and “good” and to believe that the State that enforced the segregated system was “right,” and that I was to take my place in that system as a heterosexual white woman.

Fortunately, the liberation movements of the 1960’s—the Black Civil Rights movement, the Black Power movement, the anti-Vietnam-war movement, the women’s liberation movement, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender liberation movements—broke through into my consciousness and my life.

I understood that I had been lied to—by government leaders, teachers, preachers and my parents—and I dedicated myself to unlearning what I had been taught.

I set out to fight for my own liberation, and to be the best ally I could be to others targeted for oppression under this unjust social and economic system.

Minnie Bruce Pratt in 1982 holding a sign that says A Southerner A Lesbian Against the KKK
Minnie Bruce at anti-KKK protest, Washington, D.C. Photo: JEB © 1982

Fighting Racism

Cover of Yours In Struggle Three Feminist Perspectives on Anti-Semitism and Racism

Here is “Identity: Skin Blood Heart,” the essay I wrote on my growth into consciousness and activism. 

“Identity” was originally published in 1984 as part of the historic Yours in Struggle: Three Feminist Perspectives on Anti-Semitism and Racism, co-authored with Barbara Smith and Elly Bulkin.  

I hope these words will be useful to you in some way today!

I’ve also embodied this process of consciousness-changing in essays in Rebellion and in poems in Walking Back Up Depot Street.

What is crucial for me now is this: We must act on what we understand to be unjust, or our hard-won consciousness is useless, nothing more than sand running back and forth through an hourglass.

Cover of Rebellion - Essays 1980-1991 by Minnie Bruce Pratt
Cover of Walking Back Up Depot Street by Minnie Bruce Pratt

Building anti-imperialist women’s liberation

My commitment to an anti-imperialist women’s movement intensified when the first Bush administration claimed “women’s rights” as justification for U.S. war on Afghanistan in 2001—the beginning of “endless wars” by the U.S. that continue today.

During this era of U.S. aggression, I have been active in fighting imperialism wherever it raises its ugly head. I’ve organized with the International Action Center and its Women’s Fightback Network.

Covers of the books Feminism and War and Feminist Freedom WarriorsI also co-edited an anthology, Feminism and War: Confronting U.S. Imperialism, with Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Robin Riley. This book came out of an activist conference organized to make clear that “the U.S. has gendered, racialized and sexualized its practice of imperialist wars—that is, wars being waged through military and economic policy to advance and consolidate the profit-driven system of capitalism.”

An interview I gave on my life as an activist-writer is in the anthology Feminist Freedom Warriors, along with those of Angela Davis, Margo Okazawa-Ray, Barbara Ransby and others.

One way to be a political writer is to join a writer’s union. The National Writer’s Union provides access to medical insurance, model contracts, information about agents, staff to help you with contract negotiations and many other services. Visit www.nwu.org

In Slidell, La., 'Walkin' to New Orleans,' 2006.

Organizing in the South

In 2005 the government-created catastrophe of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the U.S. South renewed my commitment to the simultaneous struggle against domestic injustice, particularly racism and sexism, and the fight to end U.S. aggression overseas.

The money to repair the failed Mississippi levees was siphoned off into the U.S. war on Iraq—that was well documented in investigative reporting in the New Orleans Times Picayune even before the hurricanes struck! Some researchers estimate that 80% of Katrina survivors were women of color with their children.

From March 14-19, 2006, I participated in the historic protest called “Walking to New Orleans.” Together with U.S. veterans for peace and Katrina/Rita survivors, I marched over 150 miles from Mobile, Alabama, along the Gulf of Mexico, through Mississippi to New Orleans under the slogan, “Every bomb dropped on Iraq explodes on the Gulf Coast.”

Here are the podcasts I recorded as we walked:

Learning about economics, socialism and communism

I understand now that social justice does not come simply through a change in “attitudes.” After years of working to educate and “change attitudes,” I see that we must overturn the underlying economic structure of capitalism that constantly re-invents and uses prejudices and stereotypes to keep itself running.

In the summer of 1997, I joined the Venceremos Brigade to travel to Cuba. We stayed in Havana province where we worked cooperatively with Cubans to build housing. Later I traveled with other delegates from the 14th World Youth Conference to Santa Clara, to stay with a local family and learn more about daily life in Cuba under the brutal U.S. economic blockade.

Minnie Bruce Pratt posing with a group of people in front of a home
With Cuban host family, Santa Clara, 1997.

Cover of Inside the Money Machine by Minnie Bruce PrattI’ve also written poetry about these connections, most recently Inside the Money Machine, which I began after I read the Communist Manifesto for the first time. I discovered to my astonishment how beautiful the language of Marx and Engels is. I said to myself, “If the economists can write such poetry, what would happen if a poet tried to write their Marxist economics?”

Over the years, there has been much political work and many campaigns. In 2021, close to my home in Alabama, the Amazon workers at the BHM1 warehouse in Bessemer started a historic union drive.

I have written about that campaign and much else as a managing editor of Workers World/Mundo Obrero newspaper.  Solidarity! I am yours in the struggle—

Minnie Bruce Pratt holding a "Support Bamazon Union!" sign up to the camera
Supporting union drive by workers at Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., 2021.