My generation has started both online/offline revolutions in 2013. Yes, that’s right. The twerking, selfie photo obsessed, and tweet happy children of the late eighties and early nineties have found it in our hearts and minds to stand for the social, political, and spiritual liberation of all oppressed people. In an age where folks shun us for our sagging pants, we’ve learned how to elevate above the rhetoric through our work on the ground. Whether it’s the Dream Defenders occupying the Florida State Capitol building to push for a change in public policy, or the Bois of Baltimore providing a safe space for womyn who identify as masculine-of-center to build an uplifting and transformative movement; young people of color have made it very clear that we are willing to fight for what we believe in.
This year many folks in Generation X are observing Black August. Don’t believe me? Just check #blackaugust on Twitter to see the discourse. This month and year mark the 33rd anniversary of the existence and observance of Black August, the movement that honors the radical resistance, resilience, and collective action of Afrikan peoples of the Diaspora. From the Haitian Revolution, to Underground Railroad, to the March on Washington, to the Watts uprisings, people of color have been resisting colonization for centuries. As we continue to develop and grow our revolutionary movement built on the foundation provided by our foremothers and forefathers, we must not forget the sacrifices that were made by them.
Black August originated in the California state prison system in the late 1970’s. The original purpose of this movement was to honor and commemorate the lives and deaths of prison activists Jonathan Jackson, George Jackson, W.L. Nolan, James McClain, William Christmas and Khatari Gaulden. Additionally, to bring education and awareness to the general public about the conditions of the Black/New Afrikan prisoners held within the confines of the penitentiary. In an age in which 1 in 3 black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime, are twice as likely to be arrested, and almost 4 times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police, it is important that we fight to protect the humanity of all marginalized people. It is also important to shape public policy that addresses the school-to prison pipeline, the privatization of prisons, and the prison-industrial complex as a whole.
Black August is a time to engage in self-reaffirming action to advance our struggle for self-determination, liberation, and to commemorate actions of resistance, revolution and rebellion while promoting an understanding and awareness of active and proactive acts of resistance. During Black August the community is encouraged to join in the observation and commemoration. Not only are the actions of self-discipline suggested, but also community members and community organizations are encouraged to come together, study and educate one another.
To observe and commemorate Black August each individual is encouraged to:
- Drink only water for a suggested prolonged period or if really disciplined until after sunset from the 1st until the 31st (Suggested hours are 8am to 6pm);
- Eat only one meal a day after sunset; On days called flea days, (1st, 7th, 13th and 21st), fast 24 hours until next sunset.
- Work out an exercise routine for each day either individually or in groups.
- Do not use any drugs, mind altering herbs or alcoholic beverages during the entire month.
- Eat healthy, natural and nutritious foods and meals.
I’m observing Black August.