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“r/evolutionary love sounds: a mixtape for Assata” - The Feminist Wire

“r/evolutionary love sounds: a mixtape for Assata”

By Amina Doherty

rev·o·lu·tion noun ˌre-və-ˈlü-shən

1. a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system;

2. the movement of an object in a circular or elliptical course around another or about an axis or centre.

mix·tape noun ˈmiks-ˌtāp : a compilation of songs recorded (as onto a cassette tape or a CD) from various sources (usually without permission).

SIDE A: “I am not the first, nor the last”doherty img 1

Sister Assata, like you, I’ve always believed that r/evolution lives in the music.

Jazz, Blues, Funk, Afro-beat, Reggae, Ska, Hip-Hop, Dub.

Earth, Wind and Fire, Gil Scott-Heron, Nina Simone, James Brown, Bob Marley, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Miriam Makeba, Tracy Chapman, Tupac, Queen Latifah, Mos Def, Erykah, Lauryn, Simphiwe Dana, Ian Kamau.

There is something deeply spiritual and powerful about this music, our music, Black music. Ancient ancestral cries, drum beats of liberation, freedom songs that have been passed down from generation to generation. Beats and Basslines that have reverberated across shores: Lagos to Rio, Kingston to Addis, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Worldwide/Underground, East Coast, West Coast, Gold Coast.

It was in the music.

Constant consciousness – ‘never forget’

What we didn’t learn in classrooms we sang on the streets and hummed in our hearts.

‘Get up, Stand Up’, ‘Fight the Power’, ‘Amandla! Awethu!’ ‘Aluta Continua’, ‘Y’en a Marre’

Mobilization Music, Movement Music. People’s Music.

It was in the music that I discovered you Sister Assata.

I was only a baby when Chuck D of Public Enemy called out your name in ‘Rebel Without a Pause’;

A little older when Tupac spat your name in ‘Words of Wisdom’;

And just over twenty, thinking I was grown when Common told your story on ‘Like Water for Chocolate.’

And here I am, almost three decades old still listening to the sounds of today’s r/evolution – as the music still calls out your name in the company of others: cleaver, cabral, fanon, biko, guevara, garvey, saro-wiwa, madiba.

Like the music, Sister Assata, we too, Black Women, have struggled to exist, struggled to hold on to liberatory legacies, collective her(stories), to truths.

It was you Sister Assata that penned the lyrical poetics that spoke to my heart.

Stories of Black women struggling and supporting, loving and living;

…and living and free.

It was you Sister Assata that recognizing our absence in the grand meta-narratives of the time wrote:

“BLACK PEOPLE WILL NEVER BE FREE UNLESS BLACK WOMEN PARTICIPATE IN EVERY ASPECT OF OUR STRUGGLE, ON EVERY LEVEL OF OUR STRUGGLE.”[1]

Like the music, sister Assata, we too, Black Women, have travelled distances crossing borders and boundaries carrying ‘home’ on our backs and love in our hearts.

Making Maroon Movements, Revolutionary Railroads.

Nanny. Funmilayo. Yaa. Nawal. Wangari.

Harriet. Sojourner. Angela.  Betty. Ida. Audre. Alice. Toni.

Africa to Amerika.

New Jersey to Havana, ‘1984’ the year you arrived, the year I was born.

Not the first, nor the last.

doherty img 2SIDE B: “r/evolution is love”

For although I found you through my love for the music sister Assata, it was through your words, your ‘love-talk’,[2] that I began to understand love as a means to liberation. I listened intently when you called for “a r/evolution of the mind. a r/evolution of the heart. a r/evolution of the spirit.” I felt my body shake and my mind tremble when you spoke about changing ourselves along with trying to change the system.

I can’t describe the feeling inside me listening to you Sister Assata say that we needed to be ‘weapons of mass construction and weapons of mass love’ in a time where the air we breathe is chemically shrouded in the fog war;

In a time when even telling ‘the truth’ is a terrorist act;

In a time when pilotless aircrafts operated by remote control and ordered to kill are the grounds on which America stands.

In a time when the walls of the white house are still white –

But it was you Sister Assata that said: ‘a wall is just a wall and nothing more at all.’[3]

‘Revolution is love’, you said.

Revolution is love.

Sister Assata, you gifted me with words that helped me to situate ‘love’ as the guiding principle of my political praxis.

African. Feminist. Dawta of the Diaspora. Black Heart. Black Body. Black Love.

Thank you Sister Assata for believing in living, in fire, in truth;

Thank you for believing in me.

So in the spirit of where I found you, Sister Assata, in the music, in the words, in the pages of books and stories, in the poetry, I offer this small gift of my words in your name. Along with this, and out of love I offer you a collection of love sounds and lessons that have held me steady in the darkest hours of the night.

your words an affirmation that have helped guide this lost ship home to port.

And in the tradition of all the fierce women warriors that have come before, in the tradition of women who refuse to be silenced, in the tradition of women who create dangerously (for people who read dangerously),[4] We will continue Sister Assata to sing freedom songs in your name.

We’ll tell them we have generations of Black. Female. Resistance. on their measly two million dollars.

We’ll tell them we have songs of resilience and survival.

We’ll tell them we have Freedom Love.

We’ll them we have Revolutionary Love.

Most Wanted?  Love.

 

To download the SOULHERVERSE mixtape created by DJ Afifa and I click here.

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[1] Shakur, A. “A Message to My Sistas,” <Accessed Online> www.assatashakur.org AssataShakur.org, 1995 Web. 10 December 2008.

[2] Sacrifice, Love, and Resistance: The Hip Hop Legacy of Assata Shakur (PDF) by Lisa M. Corrigan. Women and Language, Vol. 32, No. 2.

[3] Shakur, A. “Affirmation” <Accessed Online> www.assatashakur.org AssataShakur.org, 1995 Web.

[4] Danticat, Edwidge. “Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work” (2011). Vintage Books.

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doherty headshotAmina Doherty is a Nigerian feminist activist whose work focuses on feminist philanthropy and creative arts for advocacy. Amina actively supports several community-led media platforms and brings to her activism a passion for music, art, travel, photography, fashion and poetry. She has facilitated learning programs on women’s rights, resource mobilization and economic justice, youth development, and the arts.

Twitter: @sheroxlox
Tumblr: http://followingherfootsteps.tumblr.com and http://ourspaceislove.tumblr.com