Re:
#Freedom
#Awakening
It’s/what’s already
#happening
Looking back
Waiting for “after”
All ready
for flight.

On November 2, 1979, Assata Shakur continued her journey to freedom when, with the help of her comrades, she escaped––liberated herself––from the Clinton Correctional Facility in New Jersey, US-Amerika. By 1984, she began living in Havana.

In the Postscript to Assata: An Autobiography (1987), Shakur writes:

Freedom. I couldn’t believe that it had really happened, that the nightmare was over, that finally the dream had come true. I was elated. Ecstatic. But i was completely disoriented. Everything was the same, yet everything was different. All of my reactions were super-intense. I submerged myself in patterns and textures, sucking in smells and sounds as if each day was my last. I felt like a voyeur. I forced myself not to stare at the people whose conversations i strained to overhear.

Suddenly, i was flooded with the horrors of prison and every disgusting experience that somehow i had been able to minimize while inside. I had developed the ability to be patient, calculating, and completely self-controlled. For the most part, i had been incapable of crying. I felt rigid, as though chunks of steel and concrete had worked themselves into my body. I was cold. I strained to touch my softness. I was afraid that prison had made me ugly.

My comrades helped a lot. They were so beautiful, natural, and healthy. I loved them for their kindness to me. It had been years since i had communicated with anyone intensely, and i talked to them almost compulsively. They were like medicine, helping me to ease back into myself again.

But i had changed, and in so many ways. I was no longer the wide-eyed, romantic young revolutionary who believed the revolution was just around the corner. I still appreciated the energetic idealism, but i had long ago become convinced that revolution was a science. Generalities were no longer enough for me. Like my comrades, I believed that a higher level of political sophistication was necessary and that unity in the Black community had to become a priority. We could never afford to forget the lessons we had learned from COINTELPRO. As far as i was concerned, building a sense of national consciousness was one of the most important tasks that lay ahead of us. I couldn’t see how we could seriously struggle without having a strong sense of collectivity, without being responsible for each other and to each other.

It was also clear to me that without a truly internationalist component nationalism was reactionary. There was nothing revolutionary about nationalism by itself––Hitler and Mussolini were nationalists. Any community seriously concerned with its own freedom has to be concerned about other peoples’ freedom as well. The victory of oppressed people anywhere in the world is a victory for Black people. Each time one of imperialism’s tentacles is cut off we are closer to liberation. The struggle in South Africa is the most important battle of the century for Black people. The defeat of apartheid in South Africa will bring Africans all over the planet closer to liberation. Imperialism is an international system of exploitation, and, we, as revolutionaries, need to be internationalists to defeat it.

In her 1998 “Open Letter” she writes:

It has been a long time since I have lived in the United States. But during my lifetime I have seen every prominent black leader, politician or activist come under attack by establishment media. When African-Americans appear on news programs they are usually talking about sports, entertainment or they are in handcuffs. When we have a protest they ridicule it, minimize it, or cut the numbers of the people who attended in half. The news is big business and it is owned and operated by affluent white men. Unfortunately, they shape the way that many people see the world, and even the way people see themselves. Too often black journalists, and other journalists of color mimic their white counterparts. They often gear their reports to reflect the foreign policies and the domestic policies of the same people who are oppressing their people. In the establishment media, the bombing and […] murder of thousands of innocent women and children in Libya or Iraq or Panama is seen as ‘patriotic,’ while those who fight for freedom, no matter where they are, are seen as ‘radicals,’ ‘extremists,’ or ‘terrorists.’

Like most poor and oppressed people in the United States, I do not have a voice. Black people, poor people in the U.S. have no real freedom of speech, no real freedom of expression and very little freedom of the press. The black press and the progressive media has historically played an essential role in the struggle for social justice. We need to continue and to expand that tradition. We need to create media outlets that help to educate our people and our children, and not annihilate their minds. I am only one woman. I own no TV stations, or Radio Stations or Newspapers. But I feel that people need to be educated as to what is going on, and to understand the connection between the news media and the instruments of repression in Amerika. All I have is my voice, my spirit and the will to tell the truth. But I sincerely ask, those of you in Black media, those of you in the progressive media, those of you who believe in truth freedom, [t]o publish this statement and to let people know what is happening. We have no voice, so you must be the voice of the voiceless.

Free all Political Prisoners, I send you Love and Revolutionary Greetings From Cuba, One of the Largest, Most Resistant, and Most Courageous Palenques (Maroon Camps) That has ever existed on the Face of this Planet.

Assata Shakur

Havana, Cuba

On May 2, 2013, President Obama’s FBI, under the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder, put Assata Shakur on the Most Wanted Terrorist list. She was the first woman and only the second domestic terrorist added to that list.

Liberation for all.

Love.

The last few years have been so intense that I almost forgot I had a website. Whoops! I’ve come back a few announcements and promises of a reBoot/reRoot for Queer Urban Ecologies very soon…ish.

On October 7, 2019, I defended my doctoral dissertation in Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, Ontario. I’m dr. dp! The dissertation is titled: “‘Bologna is a School of Activism’: TransFeministQueer Autonomy and Urban Spatial Praxis.” It’s a call to thinking and living transversally, a conversation about how knowledge production and political praxis/struggle are dealt with in urban political ecologies and queer geographies, a story of movement and birth, a journey through activist archiving-as-praxis, a memory and a premonition from Atlantide, a dream-mapping of the intersectionality of struggles inspired by Angela Davis speaking in Bologna, and an open-question about the abolition of gender binaries. This work would not have been possible without my comrades in Laboratorio Smaschieramenti, the SomMovimento nazioAnale, and, more recently, CRAAAZi. I’m excited to return to Bologna at the end of this year to deliver a finished dissertation to my comrades and collaborators and to dream of its transfeministqueer afterlives. Endless gratitude also goes to my committee and to the friends, lovers, comrades, family, colleagues, and neighbours everywhere who made this possible. Thank you for teaching me love as a rigorous and radical praxis of collective liberation.

I have also recently started a position as a Lecturer in Gender, Environment, and Activism at the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. I’m delighted––and a little overwhelmed––to be back in the classroom this fall. I’m especially grateful to be learning with such amazing students and working with generous, brilliant, and supportive colleagues. I’m teaching two courses this fall: “Gender and Environmental (In)Justice” and “Utopian Visions, Activist Realities.” I’m teaching the latter course as a collective archive-making workshop based on collaborations with members of Laboratorio Smaschieramenti to build an Eccentric Archive of TransFeministQueer Movements. It’s really challenging-good to (re)translate this work into a classroom.

Two other projects are also coming to life/living out loud. The first, Antipod: A Radical Geography Podcast and Sound Collective, launched its first season in June 2019 on the theme of Black Geographies with the support of the Antipode Foundation. Episodes 0 + 1 are already live; Episode 2, which is part two in a two-part series on the work of Dr. Clyde Adrian Woods, will go live very soon. We’ve got some amazing recordings in our little archive and many beautiful heart-minds working on the project…keep listening.

The second, is a soon to be announced co-edited volume linking feminist urban theory and social reproduction. This work is an evolution of an intergenerational feminist/queer collaboration among folx based at York University and the University of Toronto. In 2018, we co-edited a special issue of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (paywall/message me) rooted in multi-year conversations and critiques of “planetary urbanization theory.” Our current project, tentatively titled, “A Feminist Urban Theory for Our Time,” has, like all of our work, unfolded through conference panels, communal meals, many hours of editing/writing/talking/rigorously hanging out, growing a collective, and generally getting through the grist and the grind of life in the academic industrial complex. We recently reflected on our now five-year collaboration at Feminist Explorations of Urban Futures, the first conference organized as part of the SSHRC Partnership Grant Urbanization, Gender, and the Global South: A Transformative Knowledge Network, run out of the City Institute by the incomparable Linda Peake and an amazing crew of feminists and queers. We’re planning a few sessions at the AAG in Denver in 2020 to reflect on the project. More on that later…

That’s all the news for the good of the union!

Looking forward to much more in the coming year…

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