Which Side Are You On? is a new work by Gina Mamone, co-founder of the West Virginia-based art collective Queer Appalachia. Which Side Are You On? invokes the spirit of Zoe Leonard’s 1992 poem I Want a President, but speaks with the voice of 2018 rural America.
"I want a survivor for Governor. I want a Governor whose home has been raided by ICE. I want the child of a public school teacher for Governor, and I want someone who knows what days to hit what food pantries. I want a Governor who has had experience heating a home with its oven, knows what a cruel joke rural public transportation is, and who never had the option to go to college. I want a Governor who knows what it’s like when your utilities are cut off, knows the game of not if but when. I want a Governor who drinks the city tap water, only knows what it’s like to have fresh vegetables because they grew them themselves, and takes better care of their community than they do their cast-iron skillet. I want a Governor who knows what Coinstar is because they’ve had to, what it’s like for SNAP benefits to decrease annually as they see their children get bigger and bigger. I want a Governor who calls out the predatory economics of cash-to-payday loans in our strip malls, talks candidly about the violence capitalism causes in our community, and who knows what it’s like to not be able to afford a security deposit. I want a Governor that knows it’s ALL scrip. I want a Governor that had a tooth extracted in a large animal stall at the state fairgrounds because it was the only option, that grew up going to the Health Wagon, RAM & Mission of Mercy clinics. I want a Governor who detoxed alone without the support of trained professionals because that’s all they could afford. I want a Governor who knows what it’s like to share a bedroom wall with someone that has Black Lung . . . for decades, so they know what it sounds like at every stage. I want a Governor who has been denied disability on multiple occasions despite documentation and need. I want a Governor who flies a #BLM flag at the capital, refuses to call our home an extraction state and feels there is no reason to have a “dialogue” about what to do with all these Confederate Monuments. I want a Governor that believes only women should speak at women’s rallies and that feel it’s their duty to chain themselves to heavy machinery in the path of pipelines in our backyards. I want a Pro-Sex Worker Prison Abolitionist Governor who isn’t afraid to say the word R-E-P-E-R-A-T-I-O-N-S. I want a Governor that still catches fire flies, sings Jolene & Fancy at karaoke, has bell hooks on their bedside table and Narcan in their pocket. I want a Governor who knows words like Harm Reduction & Restorative Justice should be seen in places other than just in our states grants, that will promise us a needle exchange for every McDonald’s / Pill Mill in the county. I want a Governor that doesn’t see addiction & poverty as moral failures, that doesn’t see stewarding our community as a steppingstone in their career. I want a Governor that believes we’ve had a near-fatal amount of politicians and are desperate for leaders. I want a Governor that understands that the Civil War never ended; we just traded in our cannon fodder & muskets for more deadly weapons, like school district zones, mortgage rates, and being so poor you literally live on top of poison—from the coal slurry in West Virginia creeks to the streets of Flint Michigan. I’m tired of asking the people whose salary we pay: Which Side Are You On?"
Mamone, Gina, "Which Side Are You On?" (2019). Exhibit Panels. 2.