Strength in Struggle

editor’s letter: strength in struggle

January 1, 2020
398 Picks

It’s the first day of the New Year! The first day of the new decade. And it is time to have 2020 vision.

With that in mind, AFROPUNK’s new mantra for the year is Strength In Struggle.

The AFROPUNK team is in South Africa, completing the latest installment of AFROPUNK Joburg, and it feels very fitting that we are home in the Motherland entering a New Year we expect to contain global seismic shifts — political, social and cultural. The cacophony of issues that took up 2019’s oxygen — the rise of The Right, gender equality and gender-based violence, economic imbalance, privilege of power, immigration and xenophobia, the value of trans lives,  a womxn’s right to choose, the catastrophic effects of climate change — were daunting, dark and debilitating, to say the least.

Now is the time for the Black people of the African Diaspora to find strength in our struggle.

In 1845, Frederick Douglass, renowned social reformist, abolitionist, orator, writer, statesman and former slave, wrote in his memoir, A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave:

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Here in Johannesburg, the concept of Strength In Struggle is especially relevant, considering the history of Apartheid in this country, which was dismantled only 26 years ago. As Douglass referenced 175 years ago, “Power concedes nothing without demand.” Apartheid is the textbook example of systemic white supremacy and how it is used to discriminate against, segregate and oppress Black people and other people of color. The white minority controlled the land, the economy and the political structure in a majority-Black state. It was not until  1990 when President Frederik Willem de Klerk began negotiating with Nelson Mandela, then a political prisoner, to bring an end to Apartheid. Mandela eventually became the first Black President of South Africa, which signified the end of the Apartheid era. Both men would go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for their visionary and courageous activism in the fight for Black liberation.

Angela Davis, the political activist, philosopher, academic, author and feminist, who was an iconic figure in the Black Power Movement as a member of the Black Panther Party, spoke at AFROPUNK Joburg as part of our Solution Sessions podcast series about “How To Be A Revolutionary,” and engaged in an exclusive video interview with South African culture editor and activist Danniel Bowler for During their conversation, Davis described Strength in Struggle to Bowler as this:

“It removes us from a sense of ourselves as only individuals. It allows us ourselves to imagine ourselves as something much larger. It gestures toward the future. At the same time it allows us to imagine ourselves as the product and collective imagination of those who struggled before us. Often times we think of history in and around a stagnant way. We don’t think of history as a future. We don’t think of the present as history. Strength in Struggle evokes the present and future as history and calls upon us to imagine something better — something that will attend to the needs of all of us.”

As we move into a new year of uncertainty and possibility, we believe that we should listen to activists, thinkers and change agents who have been doing this work to advocate for Black liberation. This month, we will talk with Maurice “Moe” Mitchell, the National Director of the Working Families Party, to talk about political organizing and engagement in the Black community as a source of power to create change. We will also talk to Patrisse Cullors of Black Lives Matter to get her perspective on community building and organizing, to give Black womxn and Black LGBTQI+ people a leadership role in the fight for equality and equity.

As we begin to explore the idea of Strength in Struggle in 2020, it gives us, the AFROPUNK community, the opportunity to activate our voice, power, resistance and resilience in our struggle to build strength as we dream and create our own Black future.


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