At this year’s Night Out I had the honor of reading a small portion of a labor acknowledgement that was written specifically for Our Family Coalition. Those powerful words were the work of N. Kaméron Akhéru. The piece I read is only part of an important larger work, “A Ritual Acknowledgement Ceremony and Statement of Atonement for the Stolen Legacy, Labor, and Lives of Enslaved Africans in the Americas and their Descendants throughout the Pan-African Diaspora“. We strongly encourage you to read the entire work to give context to the piece you heard and honor its entirety. Below are the words I had the privilege of sharing with attendees at the 2023 Night Out, OFC’s annual gala.
“I will open with a quote
“We have to call the names of the ancestors, of the people that have brought us to this point. We came in as enslaved Africans, distributed throughout the world. The fact that we exist is a miracle. It’s a miracle because we have decided intentionally, to recreate our lives, recreate family… It’s our responsibility to make sure that our people are not invisible, that our people are seen as agents of change because we built this country. We built it! Any monument that you see, we built, right? So how do you not call our people’s names? —Dr. Marta Moreno Vega,
In this moment, we invoke the sacred and empowered names of our ancestors.
In the spirit of these often unsung, but also unforgotten names and their legacies, their exploited labor, and their resilient lives, we honor them by remembering our past, recognizing our present, and realizing our potential. Today and every day, we take responsibility for the destiny of this nation, and we do so in full awareness of the fact that our country and our culture is the inheritance of those who were denied and disinherited from the wealth of their hands and the nation they built; disenfranchised from the self-determination of their economic aspirations, civil and political rights; and dehumanized through systems of racial discrimination.
From Black August and Black History Month to Juneteenth and What to the Enslaved is the Fourth of July? our legacy, labor, and lives have and always will matter because we are the eternal reflection of the infinite divine, the self-knowing mind that defies space and time, the I/eye of universal consciousness manifesting in the specificity of our radiant skins—the I Am A Man and Ain’t I A Woman affirmations of our being within the humanity of our doing what we continuously do, resist cultures of dehumanization engendered by the post-slavery logic of a nation birthed in our blood and built on our backs.
By continually reimagining and rewriting the meaning of freedom, justice, history, prosperity, and sovereignty, beyond the parameters of racial capitalism, we reclaim our ancestors’ legacy, labor, and lives. We drum, dance, decolonize, and dismantle racial caste systems of social control maintained by the false politics of fear, the fraudulent economics of debt and scarcity, and the fallacious ideology of anti-Black structural racism in all its evolving forms and by all its destructive means, names, and machinations.
We refuse the dehumanization of mass incarceration and the state-sanctioned violence of racist domestic terrorism; We reject the temptation to be satisfied with survival, or delimit our dreams and our discourse through complacency or complicit assimilation or silent acquiescence to the hegemonic, normative, imposition of a status quo existence relegated to the margins of so called minority politics; We are the creatively maladjusted, melanin majority—the mothers, fathers, stewards and creators of humanity—and we stand in the space our ancestors forged from this earth with the indomitable spirit of those who thrive and rise despite the tides of oppression beating against the shores of our bodies, our minds, our unconquerable souls.
We reclaim and reconstruct our names and our nation with awareness and by Constitutional amendment or revolution; not by domestic terrorism and coup d’état (Jan. 6, 2021). And we commit these acts of courage and defiance and resistance with joy and love and creativity because Black Legacy Matters, Black Labor Matters, Black Love Matter, Black Queer Identities Matter and Black Lives Matter.
In the spirit of our ancestors, ashé, amen, inshallah.”
I strongly encourage you to read the entire document that this powerful piece came from.