Bridging The Great Divide: A Collective Theory of Change
Action Plan to Manifesting Black Liberation and Breaking the Shackles of White Supremacy
In the words of Issa Rae “I’m rooting for everybody Black.”
This is literally my motto and I have and continue to work hard to embody this each and everyday…especially when it seems like we aren’t even rooting for ourselves.
Now don’t get me wrong; there are Black folks that truly invest in Black life, joy, liberation, economic success etc. but there are too many of us that still shy away from our collective success and liberation. Because of this, I find that we have become the knife in our own backs.
And that means that all the multi faceted constructs of white supremacy have done their jobs to the fullest extent.
But we can not remain an unconscious cog in the wheel of Black destruction. Oh no…We Can Not Remain.
Many of my days are spent scratching my head until it bleeds from frustration and knowledge of realizing that if Black folks as a whole don’t recognize the moment we are in and seize the power that is justly due, then we will be cast back into realm of dreams deterred and may never see the promised land in our lifetime.
I for one ain’t having it because too much has been sacrificed for me to even have this very opportunity to speak my truth, write my truth, and live it the best way I know how. And because of the sacrifices and bold audacity of those that have come before me, I refuse to remain in shackles that Audre Lorde, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Ida B. Wells worked to shake me from; shackles from an enslaved mind.
The ideations of white supremacy did more than just place my people in physical chains; its special brand of bondage came with a lifetime lease of our minds and hearts to the highest bidder that would guarantee we stay kept in a constant fog and groping around in the darkness.
So much of this can be seen in everything we do today but especially in the realm of social justice and “alleviating” systemic oppression.
It is imperative that we clear away the smoke and mirrors erected to keep us in this twisted game of chicken between us and the white supremacist monster supposedly hiding underneath our beds; and we do that by turning on the light. And this light actually looks like us once and for all manifesting change with strategic reckless abandon instead of just talking about it.
What we must really get a hold on in order for us to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, is to come to terms with the fact that many different minds, from different walks of life, at some point got together and said “hey let us destroy Blackness in all its glory and power and scatter a people so far across the world that it would take a hundred life times for them to heal and come into community again.”
Just like evil in man’s heart came together AS A COLLECTIVE to tear us apart, we must be even more determined to come together as a community TO PUT US BACK TOGETHER.
Putting us back together involves us changing our language, changing our thoughts, and shifting our actions.
Step 1: Language
Language…the power of words can shift worlds, kingdoms and people. Anyone that has a true understanding of history knows that any shift in culture (whether good or bad) has been accomplished by crafting the perfect message. Language shapes any concept or plan of action. If we are to truly gain sustainable steam toward the finish line of liberation, we must shape the road linguistically; starting with taking a different approach to the word Monolith.
I believe one of the most destructive phrases that is used too widely in the Black community is that “We are not a monolith” I’ve watched how this labeling of how we don’t all think the same, move the same, have the same values or lens on Blackness has divided us on the one concept and destination we should all be reaching for…Freedom.
Definition wise, a monolith represents something that is intractably indivisible and uniform. Taking that into account, we must understand within our full selves that if we are to stand toe to toe with Goliath, then being on one accord as a community is key to defeating and dismantling white supremacy and systemic oppression. Meaning, we must see white supremacy for what it is…A Monolith at its foundation and that is why it has been successful for centuries.
Like mama always says, in order to defeat your enemy you must understand it intimately and devise a way to cut them off at the knees.
I take that as meaning we as Black people at least have to come together in unity to take out the pillars that hold this entire destructive system in place; and for that a touch of monolithic thinking, strategy and execution should be our next move in bridging the great divide amongst us.
A very special leader I know always says, unity is not uniformity and I love this because it reminds me that no matter if I take highway 95, highway 215 north, or the street, I’ll still end up at my mothers house eventually. This is how I believe we should view this monolithic concept in relation to diverse strategies getting us to the same destination and goal. At some point, we at least have to agree on where we are going. From there, we can appreciate in big picture form how all roads lead us to crossing the finish line. How we use the word Monolith is very important to how we see ourselves collectively striving for liberation. It doesn’t mean myself or the next person has to give up their own perspective or means of execution, but it gives us room to respect, question, honor, and come up with creative solutions together.
Step 2: Changing Our Thoughts
With a shift in language comes a shift in mentality. Psychological warfare has been a main ingredient in the destruction of Blackness and correcting our mental spaces and healing our collective subconscious has to be a priority in order to shift toward a progressive Black agenda.
We have been taught to separate ourselves and live with a scarcity mentally. We have been mentally conditioned to believe that only a certain portion or certain type of Black person can obtain wealth, wholeness, success, or liberation in this country. The systems of divide and conquer have worked too well for too long.
The Black community as a whole sees the truth but we must also be courageous and bold enough to shift our collective minds from a way of thinking that has taught to us to separate. Separation keeps us from reaching our fullest potential and healing ourselves. We must be audacious enough to set our own standard of how we think about our joy, success, healing, economic wealth, safety, abundance and freedom and work toward manifesting that in every lane we occupy.
As the saying goes: Our liberation is intrinsically tied together
Step 3: Shifting Our Actions
We can not back down from building our own collective theory of change, setting our own agendas, visions and living as our authentic Black selves if we are demanding Black liberation in the same breath.
Cultural change happens with how we speak, how we think, and what inspires us to act.
I have found in my years of community organizing that it is easier to speak about change for some that it is to enact it. Because of this, we slow our own progress toward a realized liberation and therefore allow the chains of white supremacy to keep us bound and always seeking permission to be free.
For example, I curate leadership development workshops for Black women in social justice spaces and there have been conversations and comments that truly concern me and lead me to question if we are truly present with, ready for and committed to enacting change.
Oftentimes we all hear that we want spaces just for Black people so we can show up as our full Black selves, heal, and self determine. In theory, this is exactly what is needed but manifesting it seems to come with a big stumbling block; actually believing we can without permission from toxic constructs of whiteness.
When spaces curated specifically for Black women are created, why then is language that speaks truthfully in regards to healing from professional and societal limitations deemed as militant.
Militant was a word placed upon Black folks by white society; Black people that demanded fair wages, affordable housing, an end to police brutality/slavery and closing of the wage gap were considered militant because these ideas didn’t fall in line with keeping us systemically oppressed.
Nothing about liberation should be seen as militant if we are actually going to change the landscape of this country socially, economically, and culturally. Having this type of thinking still embedded within our collective psyche will keep us from collective visioning, supporting one another in the lanes we occupy in relation to power and influence and therefore stunt our strategic planning and execution to dismantle toxic systems.
We as a people must heal from this notion that wanting goodness for our lives is radical or militant or outlandish and asking for too much. We must love our selves enough to actually know that we are only asking for our full humanity to be cared for and acknowledged and I believe this will help us in bridging the gap between us and freedom.
At some point, and prayerfully sooner than later, we must be willing to remove the shackles ourselves, get truly uncomfortable with white supremist molds and stand fully in freedom with our mind, words, and actions to see liberation realized in our lifetimes. Only then can we begin to see how our power manifests into us entering the promised land of joy, safety, wealth, health, and community.
I truly believe that getting grounded in these truths will move us forward…otherwise we have to ask ourselves…how free do we really want to be?