Police Violence and Youth Resistance: “Mike Brown Means We Got to Fight Back!”
By Dara Cooper, Contributing Editor, Environment, Food, & Sustainability
As a food and environmental justice activist, like many of my comrades, I embrace a global, macro analysis and vision for why we’re fighting. Rooted in the realities of injustice, particularly among communities of color, we understand the quality of our food, air, schools, water, and our overall lives intersect. We understand that white supremacy and capitalism feed on the destruction of our lives and much of our work is centered on creating an alternative future where our children’s children can thrive. We envision collectives, earth justice, sustainable agriculture, sustainable homes, honoring of indigenous values, healthy bodies, healthy relationships, self-determination, pride, educated minds, and so much more. Yet, in the here and now, we see police brutality. We see destruction. We see exploitation. So we work hard, dream, build for a better future, and in the meantime, we fight back.
It is our duty to fight for freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.
– Assata Shakur
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Keorapetse Kgositsile on Exile, Art, and Freedom: “What I write defines who I am”
By Alice Kim, Editor
Keorapetse Kgositsile, a world-renowned South African poet and activist, began his writing career as a journalist for the newspaper, New Age, a leading voice in the struggle against apartheid published from Johannesburg. From 1962 to 1975, he lived in exile in the United States during which time he earned an MFA in poetry from Columbia University and published his first collection of poems, Spirits Unchained, as well as another influential collection, My Name is Afrika. He became established as a poet in the Black Arts Movement, both influencing the movement and being influenced by it. From exile, he later founded the African National Congress’ Departments of Education and Arts and Culture. For years, his work was banned in apartheid South Africa. He returned to his homeland after the fall of apartheid and was inaugurated as South Africa’s National Poet Laureate in 2006.
I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing the South African Poet Laureate last month at the Without Borders conference hosted by the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. His love of language, his no-nonsense approach to politics, and his big heart were easy to see. Here, Keorapetse Kgositsile shares his unabashed insights on exile, art and freedom.
Alice Kim: All these years, you’ve remained both a writer and a political activist. I’d love for you to talk about the relationship between art and activism, but first, why do you write? Continue reading →
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Hip-hop and Ferguson: Black Rage, Don’t Shoot, Be Free
By Stephanie Shonekan
In recent years, there has been a growing fear among some black music scholars, critics, practitioners, and partakers that its power as a significant expressive outlet for the community has been eroded. Commercialization, globalization, capitalism, media mania, and a voracious music industry have resulted in a trend that glorifies “booties,” “bling,” “beef,” and “Benjamins.”
From its roots in West Africa, art and music have always been an integral part of black life. Over time, wherever the Diaspora spread, the music remained functional, responding to the needs of the people to tell stories, recite histories, complement worship, aid work and labor, enhance celebration, and urge action against the evolving manifestations of oppression and racism.
African American artists like Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, James Brown, and Marvin Gaye created compelling beautiful music that commented on the experience of blackness in a tense racialized environment. From the late 1970s and into the 1990s hip hop artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Eric B and Rakim, NWA, Black Star, and Dead Prez continued the tradition. Continue reading →
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