Juneteenth 2070

In the year 2070 it is easy to take for granted that we value people over profit; that when we see our neighbor in need we are quick to help. It took generations of effort, but we have created and existed in abundance. It is beautiful.

But it was not always this way.

Come with me on a journey to the past, to 2023. Racial capitalism still reigned supreme, and we did not value the principles of ubuntu and revolutionary love as we do now in 2070.

The following is a step back in time, a review of a system that once was.

In the first part of the 21st century, many people still clung to the lie that capitalism was anything but a failing system. Most thought that those with both fame and fortune achieved success through hard work alone—not by exploiting and extracting from others. Time was spent building isolated kingdoms instead of integrated communities. Society was obsessed with amassing and hoarding resources that could only be enjoyed by a few. This was nothing new, but not the way it had to be.

Racialized capitalism was killing our people slowly but surely, from workers’ rights being trampled upon and stripped away to those who sought alignment within the misleadership class, leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves.

Something different, more life-giving and sustaining, was needed.

If racial capitalism was the thing that plagued us (and its legacy still is), I believe living out the values of ubuntu and revolutionary love will be what will fully heal us.

What did this radical idea mean in light of the forces of destruction our ancestors faced on a daily basis? How does this same spirit of collectivism benefit us in this day and age?

Rugged individualism was almost the death of us. No one is meant to do life alone.

One study from 2019 revealed that 58% of citizens of the territory formerly known as the United States of America often felt like no one in their life knew them well. Loneliness, isolation, and burnout are all byproducts of capitalism. When our lives revolve around work and working to stay alive, this leaves little room to explore the wonders of community…but we must make time.

The Zulu phrase Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu loosely translates to a person is a person because of other people.”

Kinship is not limited to those we have biological connections to, but also to the people we choose to share life with. Kinship, connection, collaboration, and love were and are the things needed to combat against the real stressors and pressures we face.

Love is not an empty, powerless thing. This is made wonderfully clear in Assata Shakur’s poem on love:

Love

Love is contraband in Hell,
cause love is an acid
that eats away bars.

But you, me, and tomorrow
hold hands and make vows
that struggle will multiply.

The hacksaw has two blades.
The shotgun has two barrels.
We are pregnant with freedom.

We are a conspiracy.

Our love is contraband in the hellscape the so-called “United States” has constructed. Acid that strips aways the barriers and barricades. Together, we stand surefooted in the presence of our struggles and attack them strategically. Fecund and pregnant with freedom, we wait expectantly to see what we’ll birth together in the days ahead.

We are a conspiracy. The roots of the word ‘conspire’ means to breathe together.

We are breathing together, formulating something divinely dangerous to the status quo.

Ubuntu, collectivism, and revolutionary love demand that we give of ourselves, knowing that we are nothing without the people around us.

According to the book Liberating Church, ubuntu demands certain things. Ubuntu requires a redistribution and equitable sharing of resources, a hospitality for the “person passing through,” and a necessary respect for and celebration of the different skills and ways of making meaning in the world.

This means sharing what we have and being able to ask for what we need, believing our community will provide. This is where our power lies. This is how we transformed our world and began to heal our society.

As the world trembles and quakes all around, we stand firmly rooted in revolutionary love and our belief that we will win. Gwendolyn Brooks spoke about us being each other's harvest. We are each other’s business and treasure.

The powers that be—the ones that seek to kill, steal, and destroy this treasure—are menacing but not indestructible; we’ve already proven this. June Jordan reminded us that we are the ones we have been waiting for. No one was coming to save us, so we saved ourselves. As Ella Baker and others have taught us, strong people don’t need strong leaders. We are one another’s strength and portion.

Looking back after nearly 50 years, I thank goodness that we no longer live in silos.

We no longer have to face societal pressures alone.

That we have forgotten what loneliness means.

That love is what keeps us knitted together.

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