"Palante, Siempre, Palante!"
Almost 2 years ago Talib Kweli called me and Jessica Care Moore and said we must go down to Ferguson. This was the first week of the Mike Brown rebellion. I saw something there that I had not seen in my lifetime, with my own eyes. Rebellion, resistance and young people putting their bodies on the line. These last two years I have spent on the ground in as many movement spaces as possible. As well I have tried to step back, listen, and uplift the hundreds of young folks as well as the organizations that have flourished out of this historical era. From Hands Up United, to Black Lives Matter, to Black Youth Project, to Not 1 More, to Puente in Arizona, to We Belong Together, to the Movement For Black Lives, to MiJente to Dream Defenders. It has been an honor to watch so many dope ass thinkers, doers, organizers, and new people join what we call the "movement". I won't lie, it has been a struggle, but everything we do is steeped in struggle. I choose to focus on the good, while washing away the toxicity. These 2 years also included a move to Los Angeles and that year in L.A. brought me into the Black Lives Matter network and family Melina Abdullah Nana Gyamfi Shana L. Redmond Patrisse Khan-Cullors Jasmine Abdullah Asiyahola Sankara Jas Wade Povi-Tamu Bryant Damon Turner Haewon Asfaw Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles Elle Hearns Alicia Garza David Barragan Opal Ayo Tia Oso Isa Noyola Evan Abdullah Luz Maria Flores Shamell Bell Carlos Garcia and three amazing young human beings birthed by Melina. I also was able to teach 8 classes at CAL-State L.A. ! and meet so many amazing students like Danny-el Ossoey Patricia Ornelas-Moya and the magical Betania Santos. I got to spend quality time with Nyoka Acevedo Julia Grob Kahlil Almustafa Mark Anthony Williams Sohail Daulatzai although LA did not work out exactly how I planned for my family the year their was incredible and challenging at the same time and I got live in the magical St Elmo village. I also got to rekindle a one of a kind sisterhood brother hood with Doc P M Buckley Ekow King (SUNY ALBANY). We then made a move back to NY, thank you Rodrigo Starz Claudia De la Cruz Gonzalo Rebel Diaz for giving us shelter as we figured stuff up. After being away from Albany, NY for 15 years I ended up in Albany, NY where Victorio Reyes and Laura Travison welcomed us into their home, until we got back on our feet and me and my cousin Armando Ortiz have reconnected. And then I meet Masai AndrewsClyanna Lightbourn Ange Marie Sophia Maria Amani Olugbala Sean Desiree Dan, Patrick, and in less than two months we started Black Lives Matter: Upstate NY and then Leah Penniman Jonah Vitale-Wolff and the Soul Fire Farm community Truemaster Trimingham Taina Asili ...So why the long missive and shout-out list: Because when you are doing this work, when you do no compromise, when you do not bend, when you stick to your principles, a lot of devilish toxic behavior around you plays out and it is is easy to get caught up and stuck in a reactionary mode instead of growing as a revolutionary. But my job at this age is to learn to disengage from this and keep moving forward. Frantz Fanon said: Do not ever let anyone take your dreams. So I am moving on accomplish one of my dreams, to become Dr. Clemente. These last two years have also seen an explosion of the work around Afro-Latinx identity culture and politics and for those that truly know me, this is my life's work now I get to dissertate and write a book on what it means to identify as Black in an anti-Black world. So nothing, no one person or people, no childish behavior, will stop me. I know that I walk and breathe the Black Radical Tradition. I know that I walk in the footpaths of every Boricua(Puerto Rican) that has resisted colonialism and imperialism in my homeland and on the mainland. I know that I have been taught by some of the greatest of our time, Dr. Vivian Verdell Gordon, James Turner, Richie Perez Iris Morales and Marta Moreno Vega Vicente Alba-Panama Ajamu Baraka. So today is my independence day in a way. It's the day I set for myself the day in May of 2015 when I began my If I Was President Tour, I told myself I would beast this tour and I did, 43 stops in all. I spent almost a year away from my husband and daughter and spent one of those months on trial with my #hexagoncrew in L.A. and I would not change one second in these last 11 months. I also got to see five sisters in my life Nyoka, Patrisee, Dana Kaplan Evelyn Ella Louisa Lynn Rebecca McDonald birth a new generation of freedom fighting babies. WOW!! So now I step back never fully away, but very focused on how I do spend my limited time outside of writing, I got to go from #ABD to #PHD. Look for me on the campaign trail with Jill Stein and the Green Party. In September check out what me and my steadfast comrades Jared Ball Kali Akuno are cooking up and look at for my reporting from Puerto Rico throughout the month of August. There are so many more folks to thank, you know who you are because I know who you are and I love you more than I can post or tag. Lost some friendships along the way, decided to no longer pursue certain ones and now will spend time strengthening the ones that truly sustain and care about me, thank you Tory Russell Tara Tee Osagyefo Sekou The One Suheir Hammad Elizabeth Mendez Berry Harrabic Tubman Kuttin Kandi Kari Naomi Kokka Abi Hernández ...to the best webmaster and designer Jules Cowan to Julia Wallace Bernier for always, always checking in on me and even coming to visit us for the new year and last shout out to my sister Yanira Marie Castro and my husband Leon Delrow (Justice to everyone) and all my cousins, my blood, who love and support me 2/4/7 no matter what. Family is everything in days you feel empty and alone. Thank you everyone, today I send you a big Rosa smile, hug and laughter. I encourage each one of you to pursue your dream, whatever it may be. I implore all of us to dare to struggle, so we can dare to win (Fred Hampton) and lastly in the words of the great Young Lords Party and Organization: "Palante, Siempre, Palante!"
- Rosa Clemente, a native of the South Bronx, is one of the most raw, honest, political, social, and cultural voices in the country. From Harvard to prisons, Rosa has spent her life dedicated to scholar activism. She is currently a doctoral student in the W.E.B. Dubois department of UMASS-Amherst. Throughout her scholarly career, Rosa has been a constant on the ground presence through the many political struggles facing Black and Latinx people in the 21st century.