Blair Imani, 24, Author + Activist
I work in education and youth civic engagement. While I am crafting strategy, I’m also very aware of the ways Black people and people of color have been barred from guiding our own futures.
My work requires a lot of research about the institutions that have left groups outside of the status quo behind. The right to vote, for example, was first granted only to land-owning white men and expanded at a snail's pace over centuries. Progress has been made, but voter suppression is still at play. I continue to be confronted with the reality that Black people, Native Americans, immigrants, and other historically marginalized groups have been systematically prevented from directing their own present and future. This is true whether we look at the slaughter and displacement of Native Americans, the apparatus of anti-Black chattel slavery on which America was founded, the forced internment of Japanese Americans, the present-day detention of undocumented immigrants, or the crisis of mass incarceration.
In the future, I want Blackness to look like freedom. Freedom in terms of actual liberation from oppressive structures and freedom in the sense of free creative expression. Take, for example, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Issa Rae’s Insecure and Ava DuVernay’s Selma. These stories, whether they are rooted in historical legacy, the everyday, or surreal fiction, draw upon the creativity of Blackness to draw audiences of all cultural origins in. Blackness is resistance, too. Blackness is resilient. Blackness is beautiful. In the future, it will continue to be.
The beautiful, yet daunting, implication about the future is that it is a place we have never held or experienced. This is daunting because it is unknown, but is beautiful because it is vision we may have seen fleeting glimpses of. But it is ultimately a future that must be forged together. We live in a time where the apparatus of liberation is robust and growing. Whether we look at prison abolition, Black Lives Matter, protest, policy change, or community organizing — it’s happening! Some of the work will be divesting from harmful institutions but much of this work is making a deliberate effort to help create this collective future.
Today we exist in a world seeking to oppress, extinguish, and destroy us. But every day and in every industry, field, and arena, Black people are designing and creating a better world.
Blair's Revolutionary Picks:
I tend to draw from recent history, from 1960 forward. To me, it feels more tangible as many of those in the Civil Rights and Black Liberation movement are still among us. I look to the work of Angela Davis, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Malcolm X. I also appreciate the legacies of movements in Ukraine, Chile, and South Africa. We can learn so much from the past and present of protest and I try to root my organizing in a historical context.