Malcolm Kenyatta, 27, Running for State Representative of the 181 District
I'm an eternal optimist, so it probably won't surprise anyone to hear that I believe the future of blackness is bright – in all its hues. I envision a future in which we are no longer defined by our pain, but by our promise. How easy is it to find a story about a Black community that recounts every area needing improvement with little to no acknowledgement of our power, our resilience, our beauty. I've always felt like we as a people are enough. That’s a simple, but powerful idea that we embrace more fully as people. We are not problems to be solved; we are untapped possibility waiting to be unleashed.
I'm biased, so I see us getting there in part by completely transforming our political process. When I think about all those who died to gain us entry, we owe it to them and to ourselves to be engaged – fully. This isn't about who the next president is. For too long, people of color have focused on D.C. I'm not suggesting we ignore it totally. I am, however, positing that we understand and exploit the systems that most closely affect us. Take criminal justice reform. While we certainly need reform at a federal level, what happens at a state level is much more consequential. Just this past session, Republicans in Harrisburg were actively proposing mandatory minimums. We know how ineffective that is, but there they are blowing the "tough-on-crime" dog whistle. Donald Trump is a disaster and disgrace, but, frankly, Darryl Metcalfe (google him, y’all) gives me a lot more heartburn.
My grandfather, Muhammad Kenyatta, was a civil rights activist who ran for mayor of Philadelphia against Frank Rizzo (google him, too, y’all).
His vision centered on economic opportunity. My belief in our future does as well. Justice does now and will always begin with economic freedom – true freedom. The impacts of racist redlining, unjust lending practices, and active attempts to keep our kids educationally disadvantaged are still felt today. That’s our fight, just as it was the fight for my grandfather and his contemporaries. "Freedom," as Coretta Scott King so eloquently put it, "is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation."
Let’s get to work.
Malcolm's Revolutionary Picks:
I never miss a moment to mention my grandfather, Muhammad Kenyatta, a Civil Rights activist who once ran for Mayor of Philadelphia against Frank Rizzo. Few people inspire me more. Not just because he's my grandfather, but because like so many others of his time, many of whom have been lost to history, he gave it all -- for his community and for it's future.