Tag Archive for 'Black organizing for leadership and dignity (bold)'

love love love

i believe we are living on the precipice of the next phase of our species. and i’m with such good people, people who cry hard and laugh harder. and do one to move through the other, rolling across the full emotional span in epic waves. we feel what’s gaping and yawning underneath both of those releases, that scale of lovegrief that can’t be captured in any words i know…we let it be in our eyes, at our core.

the more i learn/remember how to feel, the more in love i fall with the particular aliveness that only sparks between us. that met longing felt when the interior world unfolding in me comes to a border and longs to be porous, expansive, vast, one, multitudes. this opening, these moments, this work, this makes a viable future possible.

today i remembered a song i was taught over a decade ago:

“oh i say thank you
oh i say thank you
oh great spirits
in this way
i long to give my life to you
in love and devotion
in love and devotion”
(this was taught to me as a gwitch’in song from haida gwaii)

even now, especially now, with a mask over my mouth and a storm at my back, i am learning what i must realize in myself, what i must defend and protect, what i must cultivate in the face of fear and death and supremacy: love, love, love.

won’t you help me

i love the sound of the train moving through the dark, rumbling and announcing itself. i love the sound of the baby speaking herself into our conversations today. i love standing under the stars and singing up, halfway between the haunted schoolhouse and the haunted cotton fields, knowing my ghosts and ancestors shared this view, and maybe they sang themselves through tribulation too.

wrote a song under the stars tonight and got to sing it while my beloved adaku utah danced the life into it. here’s the words, i’ll record if i can soon.

if I knew the way
I’d lead you to our water
if I knew the way
I’d take you to our dirt
if I knew the way
I’d lead you home right now
I don’t know I don’t know
I don’t know I don’t know
I don’t know I don’t know
won’t you help me figure it out

if we knew the way
we’d be among those stars now
if we knew the way
we’d be whole
if we knew the way
we’d bring home all our babies
we don’t know we don’t know
we don’t know we don’t know
we don’t know we don’t know
won’t you help us figure it out

won’t you help us feel it out
won’t you help us grow it out
won’t you help us sing it out
won’t you help us figure it out

won’t you help us feel it out
won’t you help us grow it out
won’t you help us dance it out
won’t you help us figure it out

entering the maroon space of BOLD’s national gathering

the line between love and magic disintegrates
the direction of victory or surrender is not known to us now
that’s the weight we drag and dance with

I speak the truth when it’s soft and then when it’s jagged
I use my hands to cast the spells beneath my words
I use my heart to imbue time with the rhythm of miracle
I don’t let go – when you leave the ocean you’re still ocean

the way I need to love and be loved brings me home
and it is so black I can hide here, I can shine
it is so black we can breathe here, and all of us shine

black august 2016 week 1 poems

you like me quiet
you like me caged or buried
you like submission
.
you like me waiting
you like me demanding more
you like ownership
.
you like me dancing
you like me begging, pleading
you like all my need
.
i promise one thing
the time is coming, is here
when you won’t like me

i see the future
centered and noncompliant
we can walk through walls

i see the future
we are not above our fear
we weaponize it

i see the future
the babies are sassy, wild
freedom protected

i see the future
in each of your black faces
whispering our dreams

i see the future
all of us in our wholeness
irresistible

home is a love song
spun between bodies and breath
catching only good

dragon’s blood burning
sweat in the dark of our dance
we get down to heal

gratitude moves us
into the ocean of yes
that loosens our bones

we, now, are enough
to open portals and touch
the divine, the whole

notice who grows you
who will not settle for less
than your everything

follow her slinking
follow him grinding and popping
harriet and preacher

follow her moonwards
follow him out past your skin
tubman and prophet

taste our resilience
the salt on our cheeks unhushed
we deserve grief time
.
armed And protected
our backs sourcing our advance
we spread over earth
.
secrets in kitchens
blueprints and freedom dances
‘i love being black’
.
sangin and smokin
we make up new rituals
beyond the moonlight

mike brown, our lost child
we met you as a body
we would grow to love
.
down here in the dirt
you left us changed by our grief
precious and lost child
.
in ancestral realms
we nourish with attention
put life on your name
.
down here in the dirt
we learning black love, learning
resistance magic

i just want to say
black august is nourishing
lets sing all the time


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#blackband: how to, a reflection

#blackband: how to, a reflection

i am just over a week into the practice of wearing a black band on my left arm as a statement of grief, and as a statement against white supremacy in all it’s manifestations.

it’s been a beautiful, simple practice so far. people either already know why i am doing it or, when they hear my reason, vigorously agree with my rationale.

i have had people ask me questions about how to participate in #blackband, so here are some answers (with the caveat that i am learning the practice as i go):

1. where do i get a #blackband?

i made mine from old leggings. other friends have made bands from t-shirts and bandanas, or taken black ribbon or hair bands or bracelets and created their bands. my friend sabrina, a detroit artist, drew hers on with permanent marker. my friend adela showed me the black band of one of her sacred tattoos that inspired me to consider that for my next step.

i love the DIY nature of this so far. it was a deeply personal commitment for me to don a black band, and making/finding my band, imbuing it with intention, feels like part of the strength and magic in it.

2. where do i wear it?

left side of body, closest to your heart. i have been wearing mine around my left arm just above or just below my elbow.

you can wear it right on skin or over clothes – visibility is important.

if you don’t have a left arm or wearing it on your arm isn’t possible, wear it on your left leg. if you don’t have a left leg or wearing it on your leg isn’t possible, pin a black circle to your left side, near the heart.

wear it to all of your life, in transit, at work, in sacred spaces. let your resistance be constant.

3. i have my band on. now what?

once i had my band on, i invited conversation around it. i let my friends, family and y’all know what i was doing and why. now i answer strangers who ask about it, pointing them to resources for more information based on their entry point – black folks i point towards ongoing movement for black lives work, non-black people I point towards amazing solidarity work. i invite them to join me if they are tired/devastated by white supremacy and constant grief.

it’s been interesting to hear the responses – a few black folks have said their skin is their black band, and others have said it feels important as a black person in a professional environment to wear the black band to counter the way white supremacy wants to normalize the trauma.

some of my friends indulge me in what they see as my practice, others take it on. i am not pushing it on people, i am inviting us to make visible our resistance in a world that wants to silence us with fear.

i do notice that each time i see someone take it on i feel a bit safer. audre lorde taught us “your silence will not protect you.” the black band feels like a vocalization and harmony.

3. so…can non-black people wear a blackband? can white people wear it?

absolutely!

i wasn’t really thinking about this part when i committed to wearing the black band, but lots of non-black people have been asking me about it and rocking the black band and it feels really important and comforting to see non-black people visibly making a statement against white supremacy and anti-blackness.

it’s an emergent win.

for non-black #blackband-ers i would ask a few things:

– that you pair the wearing of the band with a monthly/sustainer donation to BOLD, blacklivesmatter, byp100, or other groups affiliated with the movement for black lives. support local work led by black people. (donations of any size count – $5 a month from a million nonblack people would really increase what our movements can do and i believe there are more than a million nonblack people who are against white supremacy in this country)

– for white people especially: be ready to be transformed. look to the thorough analytical work of catalyst or the action network of surj for other practices to be in to unlearn white supremacy.

– and if you haven’t yet, bring it up to friends and family explicitly. have the conversations i can’t have with your parents and grandparents, with your kids.

4. how long are you wearing the black band?

i don’t know yet. it may be the rest of my life. i need to see explicit and significant advances of justice and liberation for my people. a lot of people have to wake all the way up to make those advances real. i see the black band as a small daily direct action that helps to turn up the volume on that ‘white supremacy is over’ alarm. i suspect when it is no longer needed, we will all know.

below are images of three people wearing the band – taylor renee aldridge, aurora levins morales, erin ní chonaill, paury flowers, chelsea cleveland, and leah lakshmi piepzna-samarasinha (in black lace!!):

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gullible activism

hi loves!

writing this as a gullible person, just in case there are any other people like me who tend to get excited first (especially about opportunities to build the movement for black lives) and ask questions never (or at least not until someone else is like wait but who/what/when/where/why/how sway?)

here is the black lives matter website: http://blacklivesmatter.com/.

if you get a chain letter for top secret strategies via text, or a multi-point platform, or things like that, and you get excited cause it says it’s BLM…do what i am learning to do and go check the website.

generally i find if it’s not there, it’s not us/them.

you can still do ‘it’ or be inspired, because yes this is a decentralized brilliant black time!

but be informed. and ‘move at the speed of trust’.

during this complex time i am looking to support and take leadership from experienced on-the-ground organizers who have a wide range of tactical and strategic capacity from communications to direct action to scaling up to rooting deep. and right now those folks seem to be in leadership and community accountability with BOLD, BLM, Blackout and BYP100.

i am excited about growing into formation – i also have a million ideas a minute and its exciting to put those ideas out there. but it is suspicious when folks put the name of an organization on a call to action and neither local nor national leadership know about those calls to action. my savvy friends know to ask – who is served by this action? who initiated the call?

so that’s it, just a heartfelt PSA for the gullible and righteous!!

xoxo
gullible and righteous

black band

i am going to begin wearing a black armband on my left arm, closest to my heart, to indicate that i am a warrior in mourning.
that #blacklivesmatter to me.
that i recognize i am of a targeted nation inside a violence-addicted nation.

i am so moved by and so grateful for the work of #blacklivesmatter, the blackout collective, BYP100, black organizing for leadership and dignity (BOLD) and so many others working to generate actions for our liberation. (give money to each of those groups if you are at a loss of what to do. redistribute a portion of your salary to their work. for serious.)

and…we can’t hope that these currently under resourced formations will just do all the work for everyone. we all need to act. we need a tipping point of brave people willing to move out of complicit silence into action. (yes, i am saying that the resistance in your head or even in righteous conversation between you and a few friends is not enough – honey i wish it were. no one wants to feel all of this and do all of this. but we are in a moment of genocide and anthropocene and we must take ourselves seriously.)

we need all kinds of action – direct action, organizing, healing, strategizing, redistribution. grieving is an action. feeling is an action.

and solidarity. not “ally” solidarity, but solidarity and action by non-black people who recognize we are in one struggle for humanity.

one action is actually being public and open about our resistance, to say we see what is happening and we say no more, not today, never again, stop. we see beyond what is happening and we know love must win.

so. i want to wear what i need – a black circle, a wholeness.

as i cut up a pair of black leggings to make my armband i felt all the things i am longing for. this isn’t what everyone who wears the armband may mean, but i wanted to share.

mervyn marcano posted #blaxit the other night and i thought – ‘yes!!’ and then, ‘but seriously how do we divest from this system of genocide?’

i want to stop paying the percentage of taxes that goes to police, ICE and military forces – to defund this perversion of justice and invest in community models, mediation and healing spaces.
i want to pull all the babies out of schools that teach them they are more than or less than anyone else – either with sloppy histories or preferential treatment and funding of education.
i want a landless workers movement to secure farmland. i want my hands in some dirt – i want octavia butler’s acorn and earthseed.
i want all my money to go to people who love me, love us.
i want the precious earth to be a shared precedent that unifies our decision making.

i want all white people to catch up to the white people i hold close to me, who show me what is possible – those who never make me wonder about our equality, who never say all lives matter, who never ask me to carry the weight of their learning and unlearning.
i want to banish any white people who don’t get it, and who aren’t working on unlearning racism, from my life and the lives of everyone i love (you don’t have the range).

i want significant work stoppage across the country every time our lives are stolen because someone imagined we were dangerous to them. our money matters, our labor matters.

i want people to know when they see me that i am to be treated like a griever and like a warrior and like a healer and nothing less. i want us to come out in our grief and radical commitment to liberation.

this is bigger than police killing of black people – this band is my public declaration of war on white supremacy in all it’s manifestations, including racialized capitalism, colonialism, difference-phobia, gun fetishes, violence as a way of resolving conflict – all of it.

it is also my public vulnerability – i grieve every time i see humanity turned against itself, i feel it. and i believe it is part of my life’s work to feel it and turn others towards feeling it, to un-numb us so that we realize we are on fire. i am not going to keep adjusting and maintaining the social status quo. i am angry and numb and overwhelmed and terrified. i am mourning and trying to step into the shoes of all my newborn ancestors. i need it to be known. i need the world to interact with me with more awareness.

in studying public signs of mourning this one seems most appropriate and accessible. it has also been a sign of protest and political affiliation at times. i think we need it to be both for grief and for resistance. i also know i would feel safer in a world where those who stood against the genocide of my people were visible to me.

i recognize i may be wearing this armband for the rest of my life. i keep thinking of the length of slavery, how not being the property of a white person seemed equal parts necessary and impossible for generations and generations. not being the target of police, ending white supremacy and racialized capitalism feels impossible to me now…but it feels absolutely necessary.

all the love i walk with only lets me move in one direction, towards our liberation.

join me.

#blacklivesmatter #blackband #blaxit

blackband

(and yes, join in all my non-black and international beloveds, especially those being targeted too – this week i have cried for so many people and places all over and i feel our togetherness in our resistance even if we start from different locations. i wear this band with love for palestine, syria, bangladesh, turkey, brazil, iraq – and that’s just this week. together we are the future.)

i cannot run to freedom/interdependence by any means necessary

feb 26:

tonight i was walking home across a space that was once a plantation, once had a whipping tree, once had a school, once was a major source of cotton, once was a lot of things i cannot see in the soil. the stars are bright and everywhere.

today i got to watch barbara ransby, linda burnham, n’tanya lee and kali akuno share stories of their years in black radical/revolutionary movements – the choices they made in terms of where to place their distinct offerings. they were facilitated by my north star, denise perry. they are each, all five, young with commitment.

and i feel too old. i shouldn’t be walking. my leg is in a brace, because of grief or weight+time or just because i have done something yucky to my left knee. all of the above? i have acupuncture and chiropractic and orthopedic doctor appointments behind me and in front of me, and lots of loving caring people around me who are supporting me to rest and heal.

but sometimes i want and need to be alone under the stars, the so-clear-and-familiar stars that always make me feel both smaller and more at home in the universe. tonight was such a night, my heart full and tender with black love and black grief.

my gait is different these days, painful as i hitch along, one leg always straight, the other overused, my hips tilting. having to sit, prop my leg up, ice, rest, wait, get rides, depend depend depend, accept advice from anyone who sees me, watch others dance…i do get to feeling self-pity.

then, here on this land where black organizers gather to contemplate all the paths to freedom, i think of slaves. i walk the sucking mud and crackling leaves, struck again by how loud everything is in the dark. how did anyone ever get free when just breathing is such a thunder?

tonight i was moved to tears by my current state, my vulnerability. if i time travel back, in my mind, exploring what my magic witchy wild self would have done on this land, i hope i would have rebelled and run away. but i cannot feel it in this body. i cannot run to freedom. i cannot even dance the way i want to.

these days it feels like all i can do is ask for help. this doesn’t come easy, but i do it, i practice, i forget and get reminded, i practice some more. i resist, and then practice some more.

i am changing through this injury, my perception widening. there are so many others like me. as i am wheeled through airports i suddenly notice there is a whole society of people being wheeled around, in various states of temporary or permanent disability. occasionally there is camaraderie or curiosity, but it’s not a given. in me, a certain amount of being either ignored or body shamed produces a turning inward.

my own internalized ableism is so big right now, i don’t want to be noticed in this difference, in this need. i don’t even want to have to transform this pain into magic. i just want to howl and run fast and dance low and be wild.

feb 29:

as black history/futures month comes to a close i am feeling tender and ecstatic. the gathering of Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity filled me up, overflowed me with a sense of wonder and possibility for black people.

i also loved the concurrent celebrations of blackness that were happening, any of which i feel sure would have nourished me:

in LA my loves in the octavia e butler legacy network gathered to honor the ten year anniversary of the transition of my heart-study octavia butler.

in jackson mississippi, black sci fi heads gathered for planet deep south.

there was also a gathering of the echoing ida team.

it was black girl genius week and before that black tech week.

and this was a week after i got to facilitate the foundational meeting of the ida b wells society for black investigative journalism.

and all of it at the end of a month full of escalating direct actions and black musical explosions (i have been reveling in beyonce and kanye and rihanna and chance the rapper and others), music dancing with messages that got everyone twirling and meming and conversing.

we’re feeling the reverberations of movement thinkers and organizers who are continuously dreaming for black people. that is what flowed out of stevie wonder’s mouth as he dressed down governor snyder in the culmination of the magnificent #justiceforflint event last night, where $130,000 was raised for babies who have already learned, too young, that lead can poison.

(i think in the history books, stevie’s truths will resound louder than chris rock’s shameful attempt at whatever he was simultaneously doing out west)

and me? i landed home feeling stronger, more self-compassionate and loving. i went to the orthopedic doctor and got the next steps lined up for my healing journey. the last few days, and these past few months, feeling how many people were/are loving me and wanting to care for me, wanting to support my health and my body as it is right now, and wanting to see me slow down and land inside my health…all of you are helping me to turn and face some truths.

i cannot run right now. i cannot even imagine future running right now. but i can imagine dancing.
and i can imagine nurturing those who run, cooking and plotting and strategizing, dreaming and singing to the moon, quilting maps, and building such deep ties with those who can run that they would always come back for those who cannot, we would always be part of one liberation. i can see as far as 2050. i can see black emergent strategy, radical black interdependence, landing and proliferating inside revolutionaries like dandelions.

i have to offer and receive interdependence. that is the most strategic thing i can do in my black body right now, let myself be quilted deeply into the pattern.

i am sitting in three intersecting commitments for my somatic work – to authentic intimacy and generative boundaries, to teaching more with less words, and to resilient movements that sustain relationship through change and difference.

i am turning towards my body and asking what i need to do to sustain relationship with myself through change and difference. offering myself less story and more feeling. really listening to my truths and to the boundaries i need in order to fly.

and all i can hear is black love.

nanowrimo, BOLD, and other grown folks business

i am writing my second novel this month!!!, so i won’t be blogging much, but wanted to come on here to share a few things:

1. the novel i am writing has a serious and intriguing situation at the center, but no real plot. i am having the time of my life writing it. i hope someone out there is interested in reading racialized parallel universe snapshots.

2. i was just at BOLD in north carolina – black organizing for leadership and dignity. it’s one of the places i go to restore my soul and spirit, my cool, my belief that the living liberation i long for is possible. it’s one of those things that is difficult to explain when you aren’t there, being with black people intentionally cultivating our dignity, our right to feel loved and safe in our black bodies. we move, dance, sing, struggle, change. all of that is everything, but the thing that is blowing my whole mind right now is that one of the participants, an amazing starlight named kesi, said i was cool. me!?!? and then, another southern starlight named aaron wrote a poem for me !!! and he said it out loud. and then he posted it. the poem actually captures the collective experience of BOLD, this is what we do for and with and to each other. if you love black people you should be supporting this organization.

3. i finally set up a payment plan with a certain entity which has been chasing, hounding and disrupting my peace for several years. it is the lowest i can possibly give because i am still politically at odds with the priorities this entity stands for, and at some point i am sure there will be some other solution that makes the need for this payment plan go away. but right now i feel grown and exhaling at having gotten it solid.

4. i am a month into not smoking. so. !!!

5. i am 20 days into a sugar shift and have managed to hold my head up and my sense of decision making power throughout travel – even through the sweet tea pie shaped dessert fried fish wonderland of the deep south. i am doing this and my novel writing challenge in community, and i feel immensely supported, seen and powerful.

6. i have bitmoji now. now i can finally express myself in text messages and elsewhere.

7. santigold gave me this. and sam smith put this on spotify. and i spent most of the month listening to alabama shakes sing joe.

*update: and then erykah gave us THIS!! timely pleasure activist mantra.

8. i took a day off today, which meant i read volume 5 of saga, my birthday gift from my sister autumn. it was INCREDIBLE and inspiring. and then i found this article, and i read it, and i felt – astounded. astounded. imagination goals – this man used his imagination to survive being stranded at sea for 14 months. here is a taste:

“Alvarenga let his imagination run wild in order to keep sane. He imagined an alternative reality so believable that he could later say with total honesty that alone at sea he tasted the greatest meals of his life and experienced the most delicious sex. He was mastering the art of turning his solitude into a Fantasia-like world. He started his mornings with a long walk. “I would stroll back and forth on the boat and imagine that I was wandering the world. By doing this I could make myself believe that I was actually doing something. Not just sitting there, thinking about dying.” With this lively entourage of family, friends and lovers, Alvarenga insulated himself from bleak reality.”

ok that’s all for now. if you miss me, write me a poem, or a story, or a love note, or a anything. besos til december (unless i desperately need to procrastinate, like this, with you)

BALLE 2015 Closing Plenary Speech

Here are the notes from my talk today at the BALLE 2015 Conference! Enjoy.

Thank you first and foremost for your work to bend the future towards justice, love, cooperation and liberation.

I would call your work science fictional – being concerned with the way our actions and beliefs now today will shape the future, tomorrow.

You are excited by what we can create, you believe it is possible to create the next world, you have been building it here these last few days. You believe.

So do I. as michelle mentioned, I’m the Co-editor of an anthology of original science fiction from social justice movements called Octavia’s Brood, which has just sold out its first print of 10k books, so i suppose now it’s public…but I’ve held this belief that we can create new worlds for a long time.

This might be because I was born to a trekkie – meaning one who watches star trek obsessively. My dad watched Star Trek in a way that seems logical to me now. He watched the way a black man from the deep south bringing mixed race children into a racist world would always watch a post racist narrative – eyes wide, faith bubbling up.

We all watched it together, as his military career took our family from place to place. My parents intentionally took us away from the US for our early years and I think they believed that by the time we came back here things would have changed.

When that didn’t happen, they brought us back anyway and took us to Georgia. I think what I experienced there, the casual and constant presence of white supremacy, the knee jerk assessments of my intelligence and humanity, is one of the foundational catalysts for my study of sci fi, apocalypse and post-apocalypse, emergence and complexity.

i thought then in middle school, and i think now…This can’t be all. no one survives this approach, not long term. This can’t be the purpose of our species, to constantly identify each other as ‘other’, build walls between ourselves, and engage in both formal and informal wars against each other’s bodies, build an economy that could never serve the whole.

I feel miraculous. its confusing to feel so miraculous when so many people hate my skin and my history.

i see the miraculous in others – even those who hate me have heartbeats, and, I generally assume, have people they love. why can’t they love me? should i love them anyway? how can i hold these massive contradictions?

I started reading sci fi, obsessively, looking for options. Other worlds where I wasn’t dismissed as an idealist or an inferior.

On that path I discovered octavia butler. Decades before my birth, she was working these same edges in her heart, pendulum swinging between curiosity, possibility and hopelessness. Because if we can’t articulate more viable futures, and adapt, our human future is pretty hopeless.

Octavia Butler wrote novels with young black women protagonists meeting aliens, surviving apocalypse, evolving vampires, becoming telepathic networks, time traveling to save slave owner ancestors. But woven throughout her work were two things: 1) a coherent visionary exploration of humanity and 2) emergent strategies for being better humans.

I’ll say more about emergent strategy in a second.

First I want to say that what my Octavia’s Brood Co-editor walidah Imarisha and I call or work is not actually science fiction. We call it visionary fiction.

Fiction that disrupts the hero narrative concept that one person, often one white man, often matt Damon, alone has the skills to save the world. we write Fiction that explores change as a Collective process. Fiction that centers those who are currently marginalized – not to be nice, but because those who survive on the margins tend to be the most experientially innovative – practicing survival based efficiency, doing the most with the least, an important skill area on a planet whose resources are under assault by less marginalized people. In these ways visionary fiction is constantly applying lessons from our past to our future(s).

Visionary fiction is neither utopian nor dystopian, instead it is like real life: Hard, realistic…Hopeful as a strategy.

We’re here in Arizona, a land where the voting majority believes in aliens, and where my safety is determined by the proximity of my passport. also, the future is unfurling here. Utopia? Dystopia? Perspective is everything.

As long as the future comes from imagination, there will be divergent paths that are moving in and out of alignment, in and out of conflict. Our ideas of right and wrong shift with time – right now it’s clear to me that something is wrong if it hurts this planet. But if we don’t claim the future, that sense of loyalty to earth, of environmentalism, could become an outdated concept. Kenny Bailey from Design Studio for Innovation shared that recently on a panel called black to the future – that justice, rights, things we take for granted are not permanent.

That affirmed to me how important it is that we get into the game, get dirty, get experimental. How do we create and proliferate a compelling vision of a new economy that centers humans and the natural world over the accumulation of material?

We embody. We learn. We release the idea of failure, because its all data.

But first we imagine.

We are in an imagination battle – Claudine Rankin and Terry Marshall speak of this. Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown and Renisha McBride and all of them are dead because in some white imagination, they were dangerous. And that imagination is so respected that those who kill based on an imagined racialized fear of black people are rarely held accountable. imagination has people think they can go from poverty to millionaire as part of a shared american dream. imagination turns brown bombers into terrorists and white bombers into mentally ill victims. imagination gives us borders, gives us superiority, gives us race.

We have to imagine beyond those fears. We have to ideate together. The poverty that results from our current system allows all of this Imagining to be fed by the results of scarcity economics. We must imagine new worlds that transition us from seeing black people as murderers, or brown people as terrorists and aliens, to ones that can see black and brown people as cultural and economic innovators.

Black lives matter, which has issued a clarion call to us in this time, is brilliant on so many levels. they created products to support their work almost immediately, making the look of the movement irresistable and undeniable. Now they are gathering stories from black people about what the world will look like when black lives matter. This is a time travel exercise for the heart. This is ideation – what are the ideas that will liberate all of us?

The more people who collaborate on that ideation, the more people who will be served by the resulting world (s).

Sci fi is simply a way to practice the future together. I suspect that that is what many of you in this room are up to, practicing a future economy together, practicing economic justice together, living into new stories. it is our right and responsibility to create a new world.

And what we pay attention to grows, so I’m thinking about how we grow what you are all imagining and creating into something large enough and solid enough for a tipping point of humans to cross over?

Ursula Le Guin recently said “We live in capitalism – Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”

she went on to say It’s up to authors to spark the imagination of their readers and to help them envision alternatives to how we live.

I agree with her. We must make an alternative economic future, as Toni Cade Bambara taught us, irresistible. That was our goal with our anthology, to have a collection of compelling, irresistible stories.

I think you are amongst the protagonists of what might be called the great turning, the change, the new economy.

And I think it is healing behavior, to look at something so broken and see the possibility and wholeness in it. That’s how I work, when a body is between my hands, I let wholeness pour through.

And I think you are healers too – because you are creating possibilities, because you are seeing a future full of wholeness and equity and hope.

I suspect this is in part because you are practicing what i call emergent strategies.

Emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of relatively simple interactions. My mentor Grace Lee Boggs first raised this concept with us in detroit after reading Margaret Wheatley’s work , about biomimicry and mycelium magic. Grace started asking us what our movements would look like if we focused on critical connections instead of critical mass.

We need each other. I love the idea of shifting from ‘mile wide inch deep’ movements to ‘inch wide mile deep’ movements that schism the existing paradigm.

Strategy is a military term meaning simply a plan of action towards a goal. We use it to mean good or bad, but it’s not that discerning. Horrible plans can be pitched as strategic. We must be more precise.

Emergent strategies are ways for humans to practice complexity and grow the future through relatively simple interactions. It was what made sense to me when I was trying to explain the kind of leadership in octavia butler’s books.

It wasn’t just that it was black, female, or young leaders. Or perhaps it was because of all of those things, who leads matters.

But what I noticed is that her leaders were adaptive – riding change like dolphins or surfers ride the ocean.

Adaptive but also intentional, like birds migrating south who know how to get where they’re going even when a storm pushes them 100 miles west. I just came from supporting a meeting naomi klein called in canada, to set an intention to build a clean energy economy. I was so moved by their work to build a shared intention. that is radical imagination.

Octavia’s protagonists were also interdependent, often polyamourous, because the personal is political, because pleasure evokes change perhaps more than shame. right now there is an effort called BOLD, black organizing for leadership and dignity, is cultivating a safe space for black vulnerability and mutual support of leaders, countering the usual model of leader isolation. we all need a place where we can weep and be held and feel our feelings and figure out how those feelings can direct our next evolution. what amazes me is that in the space of such constant black trauma, we get together and we celebrate and love on each other, we laugh, we find the pleasure of community, of interdependence. it feels good together.

Octavias leaders were also decentralized, and they were generative – resilience came from that decentralization, no one person held the power. Ferguson showed us the power of individuals willing to act without a single leader, their leaderfull example is inspiring others to stand up in real time, offline and online, to change legislation and perception.

Ferguson and other movements right now are fractal, practicing at a small scale what we most want to see at the universal level. no more growth before experience. There’s a group in new Orleans called the wild seeds that’s doing this fractal work – women of color practicing pop up galleries and stores to sustain themselves on their radical creativity.

Rather than narrowing into one path forward, her leaders were creating more and more possibilities. that is what i see here – not one perfect path forward, but an abundance of futures, of ways to manage resources together, brilliant together.

So I have become obsessed with how we can be movements like flocks of birds, underground power like that mushroom under Oregon, the sea shell representation of a galactic vision for justice.

I invite you to join me in writing ourselves into the future, naming the principles of total transformation, building an economy in which black lives matter because every single life, and all that supports life, matters – let us practice in every possible way the world we want to see.