The Importance of Blacktivism

Not long ago I attended the Blacktivism Conference on Intersectionality here on Emory's campus. The conference, created from the vision of senior Casidy Campbell (16C), consists of workshops designed to educate attendees on various topics that concern the black community. The part of the conference I looked forward to, and enjoyed, most was being able to choose and attend workshops on important areas of study that interested me. From religion in white spaces to gender within the Black Lives Matter movement, each workshop was vital in deconstructing anti-black thought while promoting the value in every black life. I personally attended the "Depressed While Black" workshop during the first half of the conference where Imade Nibokun presented her own experience with depression and its causation in the turmoil surrounding recent Black Lives Matter protests. There, I learned about the black origins of mental health, while also being taught about alternative protests and self-care techniques developed to combat dehumanizing trauma experienced within the movement. Understanding the importance of mental health is crucial in helping us deal with stressors and triggers that come with microaggressions, police brutality, and simply overextending ourselves.

After the lunch break, I went to my second workshop led by Dr. Maurice Hobson on the subject of Southern Afrofuturism. As a group, we heard about the history of Afrofuturistic practices in black culture while dissecting more modern approaches to Afrofuturism in rap music. Hobson then discussed the franchising of the city of Atlanta in preparation for the 1996 Olympics and the displacement of black natives in the city as a result of this rapid commercialization. Backlash from the black community in Atlanta inspired a popular reemergence of Afrofuturism in the rap music of the Dirty South, with allusions to the Nation of Islam and Nuwaubian theologies of Black Liberation.

Despite not being able to stay long enough to hear keynote speaker Jamilah Lemieux give her speech, I was thoroughly educated through the two workshops I attended that weekend. Not only was I taught something, but I left with something much more valuable. I learned facts about my people and culture in the conference that I had never heard before, and discovering this unknown history within my community asserted my beliefs in black excellence. I was affirmed from merely being present at Blacktivism, among all my other black friends and colleagues that wanted to learn just as much as I did. Through going to the Blacktivism Conference, I experienced a sense of solidarity with other Black students at Emory in working towards wholeness in our community here on campus and outside these collegiate walls which is something that I think I wouldn't be able to get anywhere else. 


Steffany Herndon, Staff Writer