Resistance is a powerful concept.

As I pray and learn about atrocities and injustices, the courage of resisters in all struggles, through all time, inspire me.

My own first experience with resistance came when I was 18 years old and faced the decision regarding registering for the draft (Selective Service System). The stories of, the example of many Quaker men I knew, helped me immensely to decided to resist the draft. My friend and Quaker mentor, Don Laughlin, collected stories of Quaker resistance: Young Quaker Men Face War and Conscription

It was an act of resistance when we walked and camped along the route of the Dakota Access pipeline, from Des Moines to Fort Dodge, Iowa, for a week in 2018. You can read the many stories, and see the photos of this sacred journey here.
First Nation-Farmer Unity – First Nation peoples and farmers working together (

I spent many years resisting other fossil fuel pipelines, including the Keystone XL pipeline. And was peripherally involved with the Wet’suwet’en peoples’ resistance to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Now I am involved with those who are resisting colonial capitalism and white supremacy. As we build Mutual Aid communities. As we work for LANDBACK.

I don’t know what I will write each morning, as I wait in quiet and pray. The following poem triggered this today.


Brandy Nālani McDougall

Qawem ya sha’abi, qawemhum. Resist my people, resist them.
—Dareen Tatour

Hawaiians are still here. We are still creating, still resisting.
—Haunani-Kay Trask

Stand in rage as wind and current clash
                                       rile lightning and thunder
fire surge and boulder crash

         Let the ocean eat and scrape away these walls
Let the sand swallow their fences whole
                       Let the air between us split the atmosphere

We have no land             No country
             But we have these bodies              these stories
this language of rage                    left 

                 This resistance is bitter
and tastes like medicine                 Our lands 
               replanted in the dark and warm             there

We unfurl our tangled roots                stretch
                             to blow salt across
             blurred borders of memory  

             They made themselves
fences and bullets             checkpoints 
gates and guardposts                           martial law

They made themselves
            hotels and mansions         adverse 
possession             eminent domain and deeds

                   They made themselves 
                                           through the plunder

They say we can never— They say 
                           we will never—because
            because they— 

            and the hills and mountains have been 
mined for rock walls                    the reefs 
            pillaged for coral floors

They say we can never—
                           and the deserts and dunes have been
shoveled and taken for their houses and highways—

                because we can never— because 
the forests have been raided                      razed 
and scorched and we                                 we the wards

refugees          houseless          present-
absentees       recognition refusers        exiled
uncivilized       disposable        natives

               our springs and streams have been
dammed—so they say we can never return

                       let it go accept this 
progress         stop living
            in the past—

but we make ourselves
         strong enough to carry all of our dead
                engrave their names in the clouds

We gather to sing whole villages awake 
        We crouch down to eat rocks like fruit
                 to hold the dirt the sand in our hands 

to fling words 
           the way fat drops of rain 
                   splatter off tarp or corrugated roofs

We remember the sweetness                We rise from the plunder
           They say there is no return                             
                   they never could really make us leave

Copyright © 2021 by Brandy Nālani McDougall. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 23, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

“‘Resist’ was inspired by Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour’s courage to stand against the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and ethnic cleansing of her people. In 2015, for the poetic line ‘Qawem ya sha’abi, qawemhum’ (Resist, my people, resist them), she was imprisoned on charges of ‘incitement to violence’ and sentenced to five months in jail and years under house arrest. This poem ‘Resist’ reflects on both the militarized violence and creative decolonial connections between Palestine and Hawaiʻi, which was an independent country prior to the U.S. military-backed overthrow in 1893 and the subsequent illegal annexation to the U.S. in 1898. Our own continued struggle as Kānaka ʻŌiwi includes protecting our lands and waters from U.S. military bases and testing, bombing, dumping, housing, and recreational sites, and protecting our people from related health hazards, poverty, and hopelessness. We will forever resist the destruction of our homelands and how they are being used to test weapons that bring horrific violence to others. I intend ‘Resist’ to be a poem of solidarity for the Palestinian people.”

Brandy Nālani McDougall

One thought on “Resist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: