27 May 2015
Pat Murphy-Robinson from Maryland (southern USA) born 1926 /died 2013 age 86
Pat’s voice sounded so soft and gentle when she was guiding people through wounded places.
I went in my 20’s to a Latina woman’s home in the working class area of the Bronx and met with Pat and a group of women. We were African American, Jewish, Latinas from the Caribbean and South America.
Pat, using a slow pace and caring questions asked about our grandparents and began to show us our connection with one another geographically, historically through class and gender also. It felt nourishing to watch her unite us.
When I knew her she lived in Westchester. She was thin, thin, thin African American woman born in Maryland (the south) wearing lots of silver bangles, with sharp reddish Indian-like hands, and sparkling eyes. She was a lively woman with an especially warm smile.
Pat had 3 children, many grandchildren and lots of ties with progressive/radical people world-wide. I met her through the Latino man who I met at a progressive function. He eventually shared her number since he found her so effective in dealing with our parents willingness to go along with a system of dominating and oppressing our humanness. He had begun calling her in the 1970’s in Los Estados Unidos, Nueva York.
I felt very healed by her listening on many levels. She listened from an external and internal political point of view. She joined the two and would build the links for us between what we felt inside and how the outside hierarchy at the job or in the family had helped to force us to submit to the mental domination or physical theft of our money as underpaid workers without a say so as to how things get run at our workplaces. We had no real decision making power over policy unless we organized.
She requested/encouraged us to lead and keep up with world events and issues in our communities. Whatever we were drawn to as needing our attention is where she focused us. She provided resources to find out more in those days before the world wide web. She encouraged clients to share poems and letters. She asked us if she took out the names so we could see the letters anonymously would we agree? This broke through our isolation in many ways!
At times over the decades she’d remind, “There’s more happening in the planet than just my own personal world.”
I got involved with a few groups on the left and would feel safe enough to share with her the contradictions that showed up – the still alive sexism, racism and old class snobbery ideas that we all had to work through.
After all she said, “ You can stop being a WILLING victim.” This meant engaging in struggle with these various groups instead of retreating forever and letting the monster of capitalism keep us divided.
She also gave deep insight as to how the ruling class capitalists and the system that rules them as well would destroy social programs and even us humans and our climate if we did NOT plan, organize and work with others to take bake our resources. I learned about the belly of capitalism- the USA.
I worked at a job I thought was paying well in my youth as a uniformed worker. She encouraged financial forethought for my older-woman years. These practical aspects of her listening are priceless too.
She also helped to save my mind with my vehement, disciplined, willing to change attention. I gave a lot of trust and interest to what she spoke about.
Pat amazed me with the depth of her questions and her ability to concisely in regular folk’s language break down Marxist concepts like surplus value. She, over many years helped me to stand toe to toe with the authoritarians in my family of origin and at various workplaces.
I lost the fear groomed into me by the corrupt educational system of destruction of all types of schools. We learned to be corporatized robots if they schooled us in their ideas.
The school systems taught us to honor the white lies of us colonial empire George Washington and the rest. I DIDN”T want to capitalize his name but this computer capitalist program did it by itself.
My family of origin taught me to deny the going along with domination and submission that they supported.
I got clear about all of this with Pat’s listening and key questions. I recall in reference to the family:
“Was it the hierarchy or the lies of the family that bothered you the most?”
Now after her death I see her clarity about people, economic/political/social system s and interconnections. I see her capacity to be disciplined . She also had a spiritual side and I felt her channeling guidance from her Indian spririt guide who she told me about. “It sits on my left shoulder and things come out of my mouth from that spirit.” She championed the spirit world also, and she considered herself a Marxist.
Her integrity and willingness to show up and be present for my needs while caring for many other people allowed me to be inspired. Yes, a human who lifted me up under this vicious no-care, rob home, kill lives, murder through sick food , water and unhealthy workplace or poor/harassing housing conditions and this destructive system of western imperialism.
She brought me a challenge to go forward through her reflecting me- my essential goodness, my courage, my humanness of caring.
The contract I made with her was to pass it on to the next one and the next one. This level of reflecting and progressive questioning alongside integrity is a rarity and I cherish her and the ways she walked in this world.