Ronnie Galvin: So, we’re on this question of how. I have to admit, I don’t really like “how” questions. I keep asking myself, I keep this definition that I’m holding, and I’m listening to all this excited. Y’all know I’m a preacher, I’m very much a Black Church preacher, out of the Black Church tradition. I would say, liberatory, African-centered Black Church tradition, because Black Church can be very problematic.
I’m very demonstrative, so if I’m nodding my head, waving my hands, I’m really just saying amen or ashe. But this question of if culture is kind of a product, or it is a set of choices that people are making in the context of their fight for survival and liberation; if we’re asking ourselves this question of how do we build a culture of solidarity—these words have been attributed to Harriet Tubman and lots of scholars will say whether or not she actually said them—but y’all know what she meant, whether or not she said it or not. And that was: “If I could have convinced more people that they were actually enslaved, then I probably could have freed more people.”
Now there’s even some things about that are problematic, but we, I think, are constantly in a moment. I think it was Emily [Kawano] that started this this train of thinking. Is it possible for us to convince or for more folks to accept/embrace, however they do it, the idea—and Nikole Hannah-Jones, I just finished reading 1619 Project, she talks about this—that we are not actually in a democracy, we’re in a slaveocracy? Ah! Right?
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If you knew that this thing was actually built to enslave Black bodies, to steal and exploit the land that was stolen from our Indigenous sisters and brothers, if more people actually accepted that, and realized that, no, we are constantly, daily, given what the system is designed to do— we are constantly in a fight for freedom. All of us, not just Black folks, but all of us, right? Because folks are looking at Black folks, saying y’all are always fighting. But like, our fight is actually your fight.
If we could convince more people of that. Huh? Right. And Gar, here it comes, it’s ubuntu—that my freedom and my humanity is caught up in your humanity, that my liberation is your liberation, if we can convince more people of that, then we might be able to build a basis or a culture of solidarity.
I’m wondering if this apocalyptic moment that we’re in, the pandemic, maybe capitalism kind of reaching the limits of its capacity to destroy life and destroy the planet at the same time, war now popping up again, right? Well, it was always there, but showing up in an acute way. Maybe this will create enough of a crisis in people’s consciousness that we will accept the fact that we really are in this together.
One of my professors, to this point, one of my professors—I didn’t realize I actually remembered so much from seminary so long ago—said this, first day of seminary. And by the way, I never wanted to be a preacher. Matter of fact, most days, I still don’t want to be a preacher. But he said this. He said, I hope that God (and I would insert the universe, the ancestors, the ether, the spirit, whatever you call it) makes things so impossibly hard for all of us, that we finally use our brains, and we figure out that we’re all we got.
Ha! And I hate that. Is it part of the human kind of condition that the energy that we might risk for something new comes, most powerfully maybe, out of the experience of crisis? If that’s the case, then maybe the basis for solidarity for us in this moment is more of us really getting in alignment about the nature of this crisis: who’s winning, who’s losing, and building a base of solidarity and a culture of solidarity from this.