Celebrating 28 Days of Black Authors #Day11

Angela Davis photographed in Oakland, CA on Sept 8 2020

Angela Davis, Freedom is a Constant Struggle    

She writes, “Progressive struggles . . . are doomed to fail if they do not also attempt to develop a consciousness of the insidious promotion of capitalist individualism”. Dr. Davis, unmistakably, identifies that anything or anybody threatens the sanctity of white supremacy there will be consequences. Therefore, she is very certain that activist, organizers and abolitionist must never allow their movements to be co-opted into a singular individual. The importance of  communal strength is important  “in order for people today to recognize their potential agency as a part of an ever expanding community of struggle.” Throughout the text it remained imperative that people understood their power and agency. Dr. Davis denotes, “Every change that has happened has come as a result of mass movements.… Many people are under the impression that it was Abraham Lincoln who played the major role, and he did as a matter of fact help to accelerate the move toward abolition, but it was the decision on the part of slaves to emancipate themselves and to join the Union Army – both women and men – that was primarily responsible for the victory over slavery…. When one looks at the civil rights era, it was those mass movements – anchored by women, incidentally – that pushed the government to bring about change.”

It is one thing to talk about freedom but it is another thing to live the life of an abolitionist. What Dr. Angela Davis does in this text is demonstrate what active abolitionist work resembles versus symbolism and rhetoric. Her life becomes the canvas through which we begin to see how freedom is a constant struggle. As she so elegantly articulates, “she took on the government and won.” That alone is enough to garner one’s attention.

One thing that became extremely clear was her intentionality of reshaping how we view the criminal systems that continually labeled folks as criminals. When a system is unjust it is incapable of rendering a just verdict of any kind. Dr. Davis is clearing the hubris of white supremacy that lingers from years of injustice within the criminal justice system. 

Celebrating 28 Days of Black Authors #Day10

bell hooks, all about love: new vision

Any time someone has the courage to write about love I find in it a difficulty that is unexplainable to comprehend.  Not because they are incapable of explaining their point but I just find that love is a tricky walk down a road with a revolutionary outcome that is often presented too abstract. But bell hooks does not present love in such a fashion in this text. She brings it raw and uncut, but with a level of texture that makes one feels as if they need to reassess their own ways of loving.

There are moments in the book where she has me questioning whether I even “love” my own wife because of her redefining of the contours of love. She has this place where she identifies that love is not just about attending to the needs of a love one but it is actually a specifying into the desired care of that person—speaking to their soul. This intended reshaping is a hard pill to swallow when one figures to, merely, show love through deeds rather than embracing the concrete forms of love in enfleshed tones of affirmation and appreciation.

Celebrating 28 Black Authors for Black History Month #Day9

Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau, Mbongi: An African Traditional Political Institution: a Eureka to the African Crisis

Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau’s Mbongi: An African Traditional Political Institution: a Eureka to the African Crisis was one my first introductions to African thinking. Dr. Fu-Kiau introduces a way thinking that made up Congolese communities and provided communal strategies for change and resolution. This institution provided a justice and harmony that is unprecedented in democracy as we understand it in the United States. 

Dr. Fu Kiau defines the Mbongi as a “ ‘common ‘shelter’ of very simplistic architecture that one finds in the middle of almost every village in the Bantu countries in general and in Kongo region in particular. The construction is the physical living symbol of one of the most powerful and most important African traditional political institutions.” The Mbongi serves as place where the community can come and wrestle with their ideas and genius together, regardless of differences. The Mbongi was the place where elders displayed there wisdom, and respect was visible because it manifested in provision for the entire community. The Mbongi was not a gatekeeping agenda but an investment of the epistemological gifts of all within the community.

Dr. Fu Kiau introduces why the mbongi was pertinent and also why it has not received the necessary appreciation in contemporary society. As he states, “Modern Africa is often a stranger to itself, its so-called institutions are alien to it. The national economic disease spreading to many African states is not of African in origin. It is a disease generated by alien economic systems blindly adopted or being adopted by African leaders who have never sat inside an African ‘Mbongi’; a truly indigenous political institution.”