Decolonize ALL The Things

The UNsettling reflections of a Decolonial Scientist in a Constant State of Rage

LOVE Speak: Language of Liberation

March 16, 2014
Shay-Akil

936427_585897161442607_104259540_nAfter some interesting reflections on some conversations I have had with some friends and in concert with the information and knowledge that I have learned from a myriad of literary works on R{EVOL}utionary struggle I have come to realize something that I have recently attempted to enact in my own life: we need a language of liberation, a language of love, we need to speak R{EVOL}ution.  So let me take a moment to explain myself.  We consistently speak of systemic oppression and domination, the struggles that POCs, the underclass, and the LGBTQI* communities suffer from everyday.  But we usually speak of them alone, we speak of the oppression, the domination, the hurt, the suffering.  But are we mentioning that there are solutions to these systemic pathologies?  When you discuss the inequalities do you mention that politics of liberation are a means of hope, a means of empowering, a means of acting out r{EVOL}ution?   Another problem is that fact a lot of people make the mistake of forgetting that they also have the capacity to oppress others.  So when you speak, do you oppress the individual you are speaking to?  Do you selfishly consider yourself and your interests and not the communal interests?  When I say communal interests I mean the well being of all people, the interest of their liberation and NOT some status quo (that many people assume is some selfish belief they have that usually goes so far beyond them).  So many times the personal fear and paranoia of an individual will cause them to make blanket oppressive statements against entire populations of people and that consideration is never outside of their supposed “feelings” or “opinions”.  When you speak are you speaking with the intent to liberate, show love, critically evaluate, and empower?

When I first began to become politically conscious I was consistently battered by all of the problems and issues that I did see.  They bothered me.  I lost sleep.  I was pained by not just what I had, am, and will experience but also the fact that so many others are suffering as well and in most cases are in worst circumstances.  I cringe at the sight and thought of injustice.  Most of the time upon being bombarded with the many new stories about Africans in America being murdered left and right and then the other pains that we experience everyday that kill us slowly drove me to a place of cynicism.  I had no hope.  My language reflected it.  I swore so frequently it was ridiculous.  I didn’t know how else to express myself.  I couldn’t find the words outside of cursing all of the time and in many cases I still believe that it was called for.  Through my personal journey of reading, discourse, and educating myself about politics of liberation, hope, true R{EVOL}utionary ideals, freedom, African history, and my activist work as a member of Fight the Power, I came to find a peace, a calm, a hope, and an un-dying love for my people.  What I had come to find was that while oppression, domination, and injustice was quite painful their was hope in justice, there was hope in my coming to understand that the human existence can be better and more than what we have seen over the past 500 years or so.

941875_241435529328391_658037404_nI am a six foot tall, broad shouldered Black/African woman in America.  My identity, the visual essence of my body is a challenge to systemic norms in America. I know this.  Even the sound of my voice, I have a bit of a southern drawl, I speak clearly, and I have a slight deep bluesy tinge to my voice.  I have been told by a myriad of people (mostly those who don’t KNOW me) that they find me terrifying, intimidating, scary (which is their problem, not mine).  I find it hilarious because I am practically a teddy bear for the most part.  But none the less, the stereotypes of the African Amazonian woman, the Sapphire, the Jezebel, all bombard my identity through the white supremist racist patriarchal capitalist eyes of the majority of society.  One of the most R{EVOL}utionary things I have found that I can do as a Pan-Africanist Black Feminist woman is: SPEAK WITH LOVE, LIBERATION, TELL THEM THE TRUTH.  I told myself that my main goal would be simple: NO FORM OF OPPRESSION OR DOMINATION WOULD BE ALLOWED TO STAND IN MY PRESENCE.  This also meant that I needed to make sure I kept my privilege in check and didn’t oppress or dominate others.  My best friend’s father, who has been like a father to me consistently repeats a Bob Marley quote, “Tell the children the truth.”  What I began to do is drop small bombs of truths and allow myself to express the knowledge that I had come to learn and speak to people with the intent of liberating them from whatever biased or oppressive ideal they embraced.  I started to decide that every word that came out of my mouth would be the truth, the unadulterated, eye opening truth.  What this did for me was enable me to change how I engaged in discourse with people about different topics.  I began discussing the many possible solutions, helping people understand that while highlighting and illuminating the horrible conditions out there, many people are working abroad and around the clock restlessly to change the conditions of the oppressed in a R{EVOL}utionary manner.  I began to come to be able to speak with people and deliver whatever message I had with a love ethic.  When you speak to people with the intent to liberate them, when you chose words that aren’t oppressive, you can point people in the direction of hope and healing.  And while we can not save or reach everyone, the ones we do reach will know that someone who cares and was open and accepting spoke with them.  They will not feel like you silenced them, they will know that your words were difficult to argue with or vehemently combat because they were simply TRUE.  Through my readings of the work of bell hooks, Dr. Patricia Hill-Collins, Paulo Freire, Kwame Nkrumah, Assata Shakur, Toni Morrison, Kwame Ture, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Che Guevara, I came to understand that words can be dangerously oppressive.  If I am not careful about what I say to people, a well intended message will oppress instead of liberate.  This bell hooks quote has stuck with me ever since I originally read it:

“It is necessary to remember, as we think critically about domination, that we all have the capacity to act in ways that oppress, dominate, wound (whether or not that power is institutionalized). It is necessary to remember that it is first the potential oppressor within that we must resist – the potential victim within that we must rescue – otherwise we cannot hope for an end to domination, for liberation.” – bell hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black

5044ed6a9a9f4b5da0230a46d356ac82_820x820That means that we must be aware, conscious of, and respect the humanity of others.  I am not saying that everyone needs to run around sweetening their words, beating around the bush, and lying.  What I am saying is consider what you say before you speak.  I am saying speak with LOVE, speak to LIBERATE, speak to EMPOWER.  I have come to find that nothing is more R{EVOL}utionary than me challenging the many white supremist racist patriarchal capitalist stereotypes of the current society with a language that liberates.  People are shocked, they’re mind boggled because I challenged their assumptions.  Every time I speak with liberation, love, and empowerment at the root of every word I take a swing at the status quo, I challenge the oppressive assumptions that surround me everyday.  This is something that I have chosen to make sure I try to consciously do every single day and engage in all relationships in my life.  It is crucial for us to start using language that progressively changes, constructively builds, empowers, and liberates.

When I approach people with the truth, when I speak with words that are aimed to constructed especially for their liberation, I can know that I did my best, I know that I did not make the mistake of oppressing them.  My main point here is be aware that we are all capable of oppressing one another with the ways in which we speak.  There have been a number of occasions where someone has used possessive and oppressive language with me which emphasizes the “I” mentality.  I have had conversations with close friends where they speak with their privilege and dismiss my experiences, I have had instances where friends have unfortunately taken my words, work, or ideas & washed me out of them.  We can all oppress and dominate in many ways.  When we speak and engage with people we need to make sure that we are not making the mistake of throwing around what bit of privilege we may have.  It can be harmful and lead to people stepping on one another’s toes and if you are claiming to be a politically conscious individual you are only weakening your own credibility when you use words and support ideals that oppress and dominate any group of people.  Liberation, love, R{EVOL}ution provide people with a voice, it allows expression and all in the interest of progressive change.  In our struggle for liberation for all, we must make sure we are not making the same mistakes that our oppressors are making.  Therefore, any form of language or speech that marginalizes POCs, the poor, the LGBTQIA* is all counter-revolutionary.  If you are supporting a heirachal ideal and believe and express the ideal of someone submitting to you, you are being counter-revolutionary.  We can NOT fight capitalism without fighting patriarchy & racism & vice versa.  All of these systems require destruction & a struggle without anti-capitalist, anti-classist, anti-racist, & anti-sexism imperatives will ALWAYS fail.  Intersectionally accepting, loving, and empowering people is where so much of the R{EVOL}ution is.  It has to start within each one of us and imagine the amazing work we can do when we share our beautiful vision of equity through a language of liberation.  Everyday I try to make it my business to speak with words of liberation and love and those same words and truths are what I combat domination and oppression with.  I have come to find that lies and fallacies are very easily shattered with language of liberation & love.  I am sure that you will come to find the same thing in your own journey.

“We need to be weapons of mass construction. Weapons of mass love.” – Assata Shakur

 

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