Friday, September 1, 2006

There is still much hope

Letters From Young Activists Letters from Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out

Sending a Message: Young activists put their doubts and dreams into words

"If anyone wonders about what that nebulous thing called ‘the Movement’ is, here are their many and varied voices. In letters of love and hope, of anger and depression, of wonder and rebellion, young people, from preteens to twenty-somethings, grapple with what it means to be part of ‘the Movement’ in these dim days of empire. They demand to be heard, by parents, by politicians, and by those who peopled ‘the Movement’ before their birth. These voices will not be ignored. They will be heard." - Mumia Abu Jamal

There are a dozen letters from the book published at the sites above, including two that blew me away. Walidah Imarisha and Not4Prophet write this brilliant letter to hip hop:

"You were our 10-point program, our list of demands, a declaration of existence, our statement of resistance, a shout (out) from those whose tongues had been previously tied by the shitstem, a voice for those who were not supposed to be seen or heard. Because you existed, we persisted. And you were as rebellious as a riot, as insubordinate as us, a borrowed black-brown-Boricua bible tribal tone poem pieced together from the Samo shit talk and sabotage Spanglish, a ghetto griot's god-guided tour of every gutter and all-borough bombing. You were just as hard as Harlem, as bad as the Boogie Down and Brooknam, and as stunning as Strong Island, St. Albans, and Shaolin...Tired of living the amerikan nightmare, you wanted the amerikan dream, so a microphone became just another way out of the hood, like a basketball or a kilo or a fast car. In the end, you weren't tryna bust out of the shitstem, only bust the door down to get in. Yeah, you coulda been a leader for a people who will lead themselves, a real synonym for black power, the anti-nigga machine, the Moses for the massive, the true king (and better) of New York. Man, you was beautiful, full of innovation and inspiration, rebellion and redemption, energy and possibility, but never beyond belief. Because you were something to believe in, in a world with nothing left to believe in."

And Noelle Lorraine Williams is a girl after my own heart in her call to bear witness always:

"Why are you here? Why am I here? To bear witness? remember that you made the decision to see, even when it hurts, even when you are seeing the horror of other’s faces in looking at yours for being different...Don’t forget to always see, always feel.Always being told that I was different somehow made me feel like I had less stake in the reality of things. I was wrong, not natural to the environments so therefore unreal...However the things connected to being a citizen were made not to see, to not know how things happen. Blocked out by bricks, large formidable government buildings guarded with multilayered steps, set back from the street projects. The places where key decisions are made and blocked out? but I was expected to believe that these things were real...Bear witness always...Witness the hurt, torture and murder that comes along with being the watched ones, the prey...Remember the vow to depict authentically the quietest and most painful fears and desires. Even when it hurts, when it feels like bliss or you feel nothing at all. Bear witness always? remember that you made the decision to see."

The other contributors also sound fascinating, and a related article asks the hard questions, including How do we build intergenerational movements? Good stuff.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Moody834 said...

I think I've commented here before to say this same thing, but here it goes again.

Thank you for your entries, for your excellent, thoughtful, thought-provoking, informative and educational blog. Every time I visit (as infrequently as that is) I am struck by something you've posted about, and your lucid and direct prose make it all the better.

Take care, and be well.

09:44  
Blogger Noelle Lorraine Williams said...

Thank you very much for quoting that essay I also think that the book is excellent!

This is my website in case folks want to explore some more about the intersections between art, spirituality and social justice it is www.rebornhome.com

Love is real,
Noelle

05:50  

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