Pictured here: Me. Prioritizing my light.
Last night, at Jumuiya, we talked, over dinner, about how to preserve the light and joy in the children who attend Kuwa Kubwa: A Community School. The parents, teachers, coordinators, and community members who gathered at the dining room table all acknowledged that there were moments in each of our academic experiences that diminished our joy and severed connections to facets of our own humanity. Through conversation, we came to understand that each of our eyes were opened to the inherent white supremacy of the public school system at different times in our lives and that each of us were radicalized differently by that realization. But, what was unanimous among us was the unspoken feeling that, no matter what, we would create a completely different experience for our students; that they would be affirmed and not rejected, that we would celebrate the lightest, most free parts of their souls.
Last night’s conversation left me to reflect on the idea that, as a society, we prioritize and invest in the darkest components of human nature and that we’re all operating within a political and economic framework that was built around those components. I was left wondering what all of that means for the collective, Black spirit and how we can redirect our collective energy.
This morning, I read a quote in a New York Times article that was taken from Kamala Harris’s former campaign strategist, Sean Clegg. He said that Kamala really resents being reduced to a “demographic archetype.” He said that it frustrates her to have expectations placed upon her because she’s a Black woman or because she’s from The Bay. “She’s a complex person like all of us,” he said. But, Kamala doesn’t actually allow her complexity to inform her politics and I have to wonder what would happen if she actually did bring all of herself to her political strategy.
Sure, Kamala’s internalized anti-Blackness and the true depth of the sunken place she inhabits are on full display as she attempts to pander to movement oriented, Black Lives Matter primed voters despite her piss poor record of actually sticking to and standing on movement oriented principles. (Did y’all see the video where she said she would play Beyonce’s Lemonade at a cookout?) But, what she doesn’t build a political platform around, what we’ll never know more of, is who Kamala was before the world conditioned her to aspire to what it perceives as Black excellence, before she learned that survival entailed distancing herself just enough from her Blackness to make a presidential run possible and maintaining just enough proximity to it to secure Black votes.
Senator Harris’s “top cop”, “progressive prosecutor” rhetoric epitomizes the pathologically inconsistent and politically treacherous positioning that has always undermined Black revolutionary politic. It epitomizes the darkness that eats, slowly, away at the brilliant glow emanating from fissures carved out by Black organizers and anarchists, artists and healers, griots and intellectuals who pave the way for divestment from systems of oppression. That’s how I know that Kamala Harris doesn’t bring the “complexity” she claims she so desperately wants us to acknowledge to her political pursuits. Somewhere under the Hillary Clinton in blackface persona she’s built, is one of us. Somewhere inside her is the same light she’s contributing to stomping out. If Kamala was truly interested in complexity and authenticity, she’d spend more time reconnecting to the light she was born with and less time performing the shallow representation of Blackness she was taught to celebrate.
This is a lesson we hope our students will come away with when they graduate from Kuwa Kubwa. It’s a truth I remind myself of daily. Allowing my light to inform my organizing is a revolutionary act. It’s what separates me from those who sell their souls for proximity to institutional power and what gives me the strength to remain on this side of the fight. I hope you’ll prioritize your own light as well and resist the system fueled temptation to allow our souls to be collateral damage in this war that is every bit as spiritual as it is political.