From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation is a purposeful and necessary work for anybody looking to understand the “how exactly did we get here” question of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. In every era of the Afrodiasporic struggle against white supremacy, there are voices that are called to provide people perspective responsibly. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s contribution deserves its place in this history.

Our Nig: Sketches from the Life of a Free Black by Harriet Wilson is widely considered to be the first novel published by an Afrodiasporic woman in the United States. Our Nig was published in 1859. Despite being over a century apart, Taylor and Wilson parallel their delivered messages. Wilson examines her marginalized experience living in the economic conditions of the North as a “free” Black woman through autobiographical narrative. Taylor examines both the lived experiences and the evolution of those economic conditions specifically in the USA with honest presentation of thorough research. Where Wilson discusses her experience as an indentured servant, Taylor discusses the experience of a minimum wage worker. Where Wilson addresses the annihilation of her biological family, Taylor addresses police brutality and the prison industrial complex. Where Wilson shares her experience with beatings for reading the Bible, Taylor addresses access, assimilation, and provisional standards in public education. Wilson discusses the complexities of colorism in her time, Taylor discusses complexities of colorism and how media shapes standards of beauty. Taylor adds information and perspective briefing the hardships Black Americans at LGBTQIA intersections face inside and outside familiar communities.

Audiences of all backgrounds can appreciate the intensive research and personal exploration Taylor labored through. She presents us with a unifying explanation of the purpose of #BlackLivesMatter, a light framework of the global movement and solidarity movements, and a deep analysis/critique of the role of the Black economic elite. #BlackLivesMatter is a movement towards unity as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor unquestionably demonstrates. As she asks, what is the next step? Is liberation from white supremacy attainable?

The first step is to unify against the post-racial mythology that’s been , crafted, established, and exported. Taylor’s work goes the distance to clarify and contextualize the intersections of race, class, and it’s effect on the population on micro and macro levels. This is required material.

This post is part of our quarterly theme “Contemporary African Stories.” Click to learn more about this series.

Kimani Okearah

Kimani is digital griote in the African diaspora. A visual storyteller and African authenticity advocate, he strives to represent an appreciation for the depth of diversity in Global Black identity in his art and writing.


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