February 2020–February 2021, Black With Plants will publish Q&A’s on generating socioecological value in landscapes of exclusion, and on instituting—in historically emarginated environs—networks of decentralized survival programs rooted in African Diaspora agrarian and liberation strategies. Black folx (artists, Earth workers, plant-based healers, emerging revolutionaries) from across the thirteen hardiness zones in the United States—a global settler colonial project—will share their points of view.
Can you introduce yourself to readers without describing yourself or history using neoliberal capitalist identities? Who are you outside of the white gaze/white supremacy culture?
I am a Black queer cisgender woman. I’m a maker; a lover and constant student of craft. I’m a lover of plants and nature, and am guided by the desire to live in better harmony with the Earth. I am a preserver and seeker of knowledge, skills, and ways of being held by my Black and Native American ancestors.
What do you want readers to know about the African Diaspora? Black history in north America?
The Diaspora contains multitudes. Black people aren’t defined by one way of being, and there are as many ways to be Black as there are Black people. Our history isn’t just about the ways we’ve suffered, it’s also about how we’ve lived, thrived and loved one another. How the bonds of community have gotten us through so much, and how those bonds can strengthen us today.
What is the role of fellowship and mutual aid in anthropogenic, secular environments?
Fellowship and mutual aid are so incredibly important in these environments. Humans in the past lived in community with one another, in order to share both resources and burdens. Having experienced both collective situations and living on my own, I firmly believe in the importance and sacredness of sharing and building with other people, whether related by blood, love, or shared goals. I believe the roles of fellowship and mutual aid are to help us connect more fully with ourselves, with others, and to show that it’s possible to thrive outside of individualism and the nuclear family.
Draft a laundry list of societal elements that make it difficult for Black + nBpoc to decenter whiteness in their daily walk (identify five to seven barriers that discourage the affirming of Blackness)?
- Melting pot ideology/assimilation
- Structural racism
What about the contemporary movements for Black liberation/joint solidarity holds your attention before and after Black History Month?
I’m captivated by the possibility of achieving liberation. I believe that Black people holding solidarity with and offering support for one another could change the world, and I’m always dreaming of that goal.
Would you be willing to share a memorable moment from 2019?
I went to a traditional skills gathering and handcarved a bow for archery! Realizing that I have the strength to create tools for protection and sustenance was so empowering!
Your perspective is invaluable. Thank you for distilling your pov, sharing your time, and contributing to collective healing. Can you tell readers a little bit about your perspective on land acknowledgment, decolonizing, indigenizing, settler colonial landscapes, especially post- the 2016 election?
Decolonizing and indigenizing are two major focuses of my everyday life. My goal and focus currently is to find a way of life that honors my ancestors and the ancestors who lived on this land before I did. Land acknowledgements are great and important but they don’t relieve any of the harm caused by colonialism, and they don’t return lands to their original stewards. In the past few years I’ve really come to believe that if more people lived life more connected with their food sources, the lands around them, and with decolonization in mind, so much harm could be spared.
White supremacy culture is prominent in locations of exclusion as well as in sectors that directly impact public health (e.g., the nonprofit industrial complex and the incarceration industrial complex). What are the dangers associated with allowing white supremacy culture to percolate uncontested?
Allowing white supremacy to percolate uncontested has led us to where we are now. Of course people have always fought back, but in general it’s led to collective apathy. People are consumed by the idea that if something doesn’t affect them directly, it isn’t an issue. White supremacy has disconnected us from ourselves, each other, and the earth. It’s led to a lack of caring, a lack of imagination, and disbelief in our individual and collective power. This culture has led us to enact violence upon ourselves and each other, and upon the only planet we have to live on. It makes criminals out of strangers and puts self above all else.
Does Black Power in 2020 mean: communal living? Self-directed and decentralized support systems building grassroots survival programs in affirming locales?
I believe those things absolutely can mean Black power. Black power to me means loving and supporting Black people. I think communal living and Black-led survival programs are an amazing avenue to get to that goal. Black power to me means for us and by us, and by any means necessary.
Final thoughts from Jasmyn (@fibergoth):
I’m so excited that these questions and ideas are on other people’s minds. Thank you D’Real for putting this together!