Revolutionary love has given birth to new life.
We are gasping, breathing (I can’t breathe)
Screaming (We have nothing to lose but our chains)
We have been in the womb long enough
Blinking to the blinding light of the revolution
Our eyes adjusting
And we answer with what love looks like in public
I’ve been thinking about the life birthed out of revolutionary love. The night I met Waltrina, we stayed up until an ungodly hour — instant sister-friends. We bonded, talking about everything, about finding and losing faith — in God and humanity — then slowly picking it up again piece by piece, about being the diversity in mostly white professional spaces, about friends, family, and the struggle to find our places (as 30-somethings) in this “new” freedom movement.
Out of a deep revolutionary love inspired by Jesus and nourished from the well of our people, we have determined to get in where we fit in, living out the belief that there is a place for everyone in the movement.
Today's fight against the powers and principalities of systemic injustice cannot be left to the continued service of the elders that survived the 1960s civil rights movement, nor hoisted solely upon the shoulders of the teens and 20-somethings of today, just because they have energy and new ideas. Despite the focus on elders and youth, this is an intergenerational movement that requires all of us to answer the communal call. I am encouraged by one of my mentors, Mama Ruby (Sales) who says it is time to have all hands on deck.
“Movement building is a community process that predicates itself on hindsight (history), foresight (present) and insight (future). When an entire movement is under assault as is the case today, it needs all hands on deck. By necessity it must be intergenerational and must give rise to a common vision that operates to bind together the community as a radically spiritual response to the disruption of relationships and the tearing apart of a collective intimacy. By intimacy, prophetic voices grow out this community into intimacy, common struggle and aspirations in order to see so that their voices echo not just their individual aspirations and optics but collective ones. Prophetic voices have the elements of hindsight, insight and foresight.”
- Ruby Nell Sales, human rights activist, public theologian, social critic
Do you hear the communal call? Do you see the movement building with the elements of hindsight, insight and foresight?
Hindsight has come to me in the community process of healing. Healing is happening on the individual and community level as we recover our collective intimacy and release individual pain. I have experienced this salvific healing where we confess our struggles and experience the love of our people, releasing self-hatred, and internalized anti-blackness. This is the revolutionary love of God, situated in the particularity of God loving us in our blackness — not in spite of it. God brings healing intra-racially not just interracially. Healing who we are as black people makes us stronger in the fight for intersectional justice. Healing myself and my bonds to my people (who have been brutally and systematically divided) is not extra; it is not fluffy and self-indulgent. It is an act of political and spiritual warfare.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgent. It is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” - Audre Lorde
Foresight manifests in the rise of the common intergenerational vision of community. In the past six months, I’ve seen elders who are legends in the fight for racial justice defer to 21-year-old organizers as their leaders. I have witnessed young people, confident in their plans, reevaluate at the suggestion of a trusted elder. Black people are joining together to reclaim our common struggle and aspire to everyone’s freedom, revolutionary love for all. The divisions forced upon us — class, gender, skin tone, and sexuality are being broken down as community builds the movement back up. By recommitting our common struggle, we’ve dealt a deathblow to respectability politics. Revolutionary love declares that all our boys’ and men’s lives matter — college professor or pants sagging teenager. All our girls’ and women's lives matter — drunk and wandering up to a porch or sleeping on a couch. Black lives matter — and we will no longer debate if they matter dependent on certain criteria. Black lives matter to God and that is all the criteria and that is enough.
Insight fueled by hindsight and foresight is releasing new prophetic voices into the world. That prophetic voice is not limited to the activist with a bullhorn. I am a mother who knows the deep fear of sending my black sons out into the world with hoodies on. So I tell my story. I live my story. People can refuse to listen, but they can no longer say they haven't heard. We are prophets with viral blog post pulpits, and theologians with Twitter chat classrooms. I say with the full force of revolutionary love, “I love my sisters!” and “I love my brothers!” and it goes out into the word for them to hear. The call of revolutionary love reverberates through the streets as we march, through the Internet as we blog, through neighborhoods as we serve.
The future depends on how each of us answers the communal call to liberation. Young, old, or somewhere in the middle — it is time. We must raise our collective prophetic voices and be born again, the children of revolutionary love.
Micky ScottBey Jones serves on the leadership team of TransFORM Network as the Director of Training and Program Development. She is a contributor at Patheos, Medium, and Homebrewed Christianity. You can find her on Twitter @iammickyjones.
Image: Kittikorn Phongok / Shutterstock.com