RBC interviews Sister Akuah
Greetings! We are here with sister akuah; We enjoyed having u on GJU radio the other day and u made some interesting points which We wanna ask u to expand upon.
Q: First off, could u tell us a little about yourself?
A: i am a mother, i love being a mother - that's a big part of my identity. i guess you could say i'm a daughter, a sister extremely committed to the process of upliftment for our people, particularly our young people, and working with them in intergenerational endeavors.
i do some work right now in the community setting, with different organizations around housing & providing family service resources. As well as working with a lot of brothers & sisters at various levels of you know, of being "left by the wayside". That's a big thing for me, my mother was a social worker and that had a huge impact on me not wanting to be a traditional social worker & realizing that We can't do anything to service our people while they're (white folks) in the conversation. Yeah, while white terrorists are in the conversation because the terror continues...
Q: You spoke about the importance of the New Afrikan Creed; can you expand on your meaning & also it's importance to you & to us?
A: Yeah, it is really very important to me & i believe it does lay out a foundation to the continued struggle for us collectively. Just seeing the power it has had for me & my son in our relationship with each other and to the work that We're doing; to just being connected to the goodness & the integrity --- There's a lot of integrity in the creed and that is real important to me, as a mother, as a person that works in the community, and the foundational points in there. i feel like each point is a huge conversation in itself!
We could just pause and talk about each point on there - you know ow #15 talks about "brothers & sisters left by the wayside," and the patience and the process with that. To me, it speaks to the well-being that We need to maintain; it's a huge component in well-being for us (communal) and being able to manage while We're operating in this terrorist society. Undergoing the level of oppression requires tools which help us stay grounded. The creed is like the eye in the storm for me. i have this saying, "keep the main thing the main thing," especially in this rebuilding process - We're being tasked with this whole thing, you know We're continuing on with this thing that our ancestors have passed down to us. That they laid down, and We have to ask ourselves, "what do We wanna do?", "what kind of people do We wanna be?," "What is family?" - and this can lead to all kinds of conversation. The creed helps to bring it back in. You brought up a good point: regardless of your religious background, or different ideological beliefs, the creed brings us all together; it's a very uniting source, that helps to brings us around to what We as a people need to build out. And again, the integrity piece, because right now what's happening in the larger New Afrikan landscape, around the empire things have just got all 'loosy goosy'. i think the creed helps bring us back in & gathers a lot of fragments that have gotten scattered along the way. It helps us restore that confidence - a strong confidence. That's important.
i also think that it's a beautiful way to start building out that New Afrikan consciousness and New Afrikan pride in our little people and the youth. It gives them the power to say, "yeah, this is who i am & i'm beautiful!" We can give them a new kind of confidence minus all the [baggage] that We've had to overcome...This affirmation is essential.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the importance & the significance of your community work? And tell us about some of your experiences with the young brothers and sisters.
A: Well, my main work is with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, working with the human rights to housing. It also gets into the conversation more deeply around land, and how land works in our lives. How you can be controlled and powerless based off your relationship to the land and the interference with that land. But in the immediate sense, We're dealing with a lot of brothers & sisters faced with homelessness at different levels. From people who are straight-out on the streets to what they call "couch surfing"...
It's really difficult to build out any type of sound thing in your life when you don't have a safe, stable base. Chronic homelessness - i'm talking at all levels, even phd levels! i know brothers & sisters with phd's struggling with bouts of homelessness. The 'anti-Blackness' of society just puts us in a shuffle constantly...
So, dealing with these basic needs of our people around housing, food & mental health resources - they all kinda end up coming together. We started off doing housing takeovers - We were taking over houses and putting homeless women & children in there. The young guys were fixing them up just good enough for somebody to stay in there for just a little while. After that, We ended up taking it to the world court where We won a judgement that it was a violation, a crime against humanity to have these vacant homes & people on the street and not meet these two needs. So, the banks started giving us the houses. This is a temporary fix to a long-term struggle; to me, in my mind, the goal is to get us stabilized in whatever ways We can, but with the ultimate goal of getting people to move back to the territory - At the very least, to be connected to that struggle, but in the right now, people need resources, the people need places to stay.
So, the community work has grown; mostly through a lot of people volunteering. We have not been getting grants or funding or any of that stuff. It's been a ragtag kind of situation, but its been beautiful, 'cause when u don't have folks taking handouts from massa, us start to shed away so much stuff. In us figuring out, 'We're gonna have to volunteer our time, people are gonna have to use cars, We're gonna have to give resources -- just showing the beauty. We've had a lot of brothers & sisters come & volunteer worktime to help fix up the properties and teach the young guys.
In the process of working with these young folk, it's been really very educational for me. When i pick up these young brothers that i'm working with right now, it's like i'm carrying around these precious jewels and the level of vulnerability they all have, at so many levels, is just so apparent. They wanna sit in the back seat because they don't wanna be a victim of mistaken identity, or some other affiliation they got going on. Then, there's the conversation that happens along the way as We go to different jobsites. This is some of the most important work that i see: them getting the work done & developing these practical skills is one thing, but having these conversations & allowing them to have this space to just chill out for a minute... The level of social anxiety that i see amongst our people is just astounding to me. i'm looking at all these crazy situations that We tend to judge - the high level of smoking weed, the pill popping, drug usage, selling our bodies & souls - a lot of people now, they can't leave the house unless they're high, and that's real deep to me. But really when you just start to patient with that process, like the creed says, things just start opening up to you. You start seeing how the high blood pressure and the diabetes - how much just engaging whiteness - is causing all these health issues, causing physical harm to our people.
Q: What do you mean, "engaging whiteness"?
A: Ok, for example, my mother has worked in social services for so long. She's positioned in a situation where she's working with her children - 99% young New Afrikan children, right? But while she's in there, it's under white leadership, at the ultimate corporate level, and these people are telling her how she's supposed to operate with her children, and what she can & can't do. And that violence - it's a violent thing that's happening to the body; the stress...i'm not a doctor, but i can see how this has affected her. i see her preparing herself to go out into this world like these young brothers - to try to deal with all this negative stuff that's going to be projected on them. It's a lot, and just imagine if We didnt have to deal with those things.
That's what i think about, in building out this thing, the potential that's there, when all this ridiculousness is removed from us.
There was this situation where this young sister was found walking barefoot on the dan ryan expressway, so this brother picked her up & called me up to see if i can get some resources for her. So, when i was talking to her, she said that she got into an altercation with her twin boys father while they were all in the car & he put her out of the car on the highway & she had no where to go.
Last year i had a lot of these scenarios where these young sisters had no one they could call. We got a lot of work to do. When this happens, i try to stay focused on the task at hand and not let these situations get to me, but it's hard. We got a lot of work to do. But again, i return to the creed - it's a huge light for mental health and well-being. Especially since i feel like We're on the frontlines of a battle, like those nurses in the civil war, trying to keep people alive...
Q: In the collective, We're trying to engage sisters & get past the jargon & make that connection on a revolutionary level, to help us figure out how to - not do the work, because ofttimes sisters are doing the work - to help us make it a better environment for all of us to work in, and for us to be able to work together, to deal with some of the issues We have as a people, as a community, as men & women in this situation.
So, We spoke earlier about the importance of the New Afrikan family; how does it help to foster positive experiences, how to elevate the children's political understanding of the situation - We commend the women, men & children of the New Afrikan People's Organization (NAPO) for giving us some examples of this in our early development. They try to engage the children & young people & try to have them participate, but also to take that politic out into the community and be that light...
A: Yeah, you know the last thing you said about bringing sisters in speaks to this thing around the New Afrikan family also. i feel like gender politics have blurred a lot of lines and some of that is affecting the New Afrikan family. i think that, as New Afrkans, We oughta slow down some of this stuff, and figure out how We wanna approach some of this.
As sisters, We have a certain style of operation, and brothers have a style of operation. That's not right or wrong, its just a part of who We are, and that goes into the family piece, to me. When We talk about the New Afrikan family, i think that there's a lot of conversations that We need to have. We talk a lot about women's rights, and sister's rights, and that's a very real thing. There's some real things We need to address, but it cannot be at the expense of the New Afrikan family. We have to make sure that everything comes back to that...
As New Afrikans, bringing the creed & the declaration in helps us to bring that New Afrikan nucleus as the main thing, and thinking about how We operate with each other, as men & women, as examples and keeping our children in mind. How We're caring for our elders and preparing our children to step in and make it attractive for them to want to take over! To not allow some of the heaviness of the continued struggle to be the main image around things that are happening, but also include some of the beauty & some of the fun. Also, the educational component, for the New Afrikan family as a family together, is really important. Like having reading circles and really engaging in conversations together - putting the phones & devices down & talking, building out fun activities like coloring books & drawing - tools are really great, but how We are all engaging around this is most important...
Q: We spoke earlier about how to impress upon the youth the beauty of being a New Afrikan and how that would help us have better loving practices. One of our objectives is to help our people understand the importance of distinguishing different contradictions. We must learn how to resolve contradictions amongst the people & We must learn how to resolve contradictions with the enemy. We say that if brothers resort to violence or aggression when they have a contradiction with a sister or another brother, that's fucked up! We are brothers & sisters, above everything else - before We're lovers or whatever, WE ARE A FAMILY! We shouldn't resort to that type of behavior in a family situation. We don't resolve contradictions amongst the people in the same way that We resolve contradictions with the enemy.
So, these days, all oppressed communities, in fact everyone living under the dictatorship of capital and empire - people are developing different family units. Not just the 'nuclear family': mom+dad+2.5 children - how do We go beyond the nuclear family and refuse to force ourselves into boxes and make a better life for our children & our descendants?
A: As New Afrikan people, We have always had various configurations of family, so We need to focus on health - what is the health of the situation? Blended families have become really popular, and that - depending on how you handle that situation, could work. But you gotta think about certain things. The amount of time that you have is now being deviated across all of these other people, and that time could be used in other spaces rather than that. It's not necessarily that its 'bad or wrong', to have multiple partners & children - but there is the reality of a finite amount of time. And We can only get a certain amount of things done. There is a lot of positive things that come out of being in certain types of family structures, where needs are met & you can plan and build other things - you're not spread so thin. These are just conversations that We should think about. But, again, as New Afrikans We don't have a certain type of family structure...
But again, its about the health of how this stuff is operating and how We're dealing with people and handling people, because if you are a brother & you're dealing with a woman, and she's ok with certain dynamics and her health is good - her mental, physical & spiritual health - because this is the woman who's gonna be rearing & influencing your children. We gotta think about these things. You cannot have her blowing in the wind because she's so discombobulated trying to catch up behind you. You know, We intellectualize, but some of this stuff is really just what it is. There's certain patterns in nature that exist; but a lot of these things sisters have morphed into because of their environment.
There's this conversation constantly around how amazing the Black woman is, how strong she is, etc. But it's never a conversation about how do We lessen some of that stuff? Do you know what i mean? That's great, "the rose grew from the concrete," but in reality roses shouldn't have to grow & push themselves through concrete! How do We lessen some of that load? The resiliency is a response to this other reality, and it's great that We've been able to survive that, but this stuff is having a very negative impact on sisters & their mental health, (with) the amount of the load that they are bearing. And brothers need to take better care of their health - this is a huge thing when We're talking about the New Afrikan family. We need y'all to stay alive longer - every time We lose a brother, that's more weight on a sister. If We have brothers living longer - accumulating more wisdom, more knowledge, more understanding, and being able to be around young folks - that would be huge. Like, the absence of New Afrikan men - losing them thru death has been a huge stress on sisters. We gotta see how all of us are interconnected. This has been such a huge topic for me - New Afrikan family! - to me, it really is the foundation, the core.
Even for those that don't want to do the family thing - may not wanna have children, We still are engaging the New Afrikan family on some level. But really, before We start getting into philosophies and ideologies, how is this affecting a person's health? We have to understand how We are damaging our brothers by interfering with their relationships with their children. My son did an interview with JR Fleming when he was little, and he said that it's getting to the point where dads are like a "bonus parent". i just thought that was so sad, because society's ok with that, of course. Because they've got the New Afrikan man to this point where it seems that he's disposable - seemingly. But We're living the reality of what that means right now....