For more than a year, I’ve written one article after another about how unity can overcome tyranny and oppression. Through it all, there were times that I felt like I was just screaming into the night and that my efforts were futile. But a most serendipitous encounter rekindled my hopes and gave me new found direction. A couple of months ago, I had a profound conversation with someone I admire greatly that made me rethink my perspective. He told me that people are already inundated with the endless cases of injustices that are being pumped into the ether. What people need desperately is direction and a focus on a solution.
It was this conversation that led to the idea behind the 50 State reSOLUTION campaign. It was the same feedback that served as the inspiration for the event I will be hosting this coming Wednesday, April 4th at 7:00 PM EST at Kaldi’s Social House in Silver Spring, MD. The aim of the event will be to highlight how people repressed by the powerful can overthrow the shackles of their oppressors and overcome injustice.
Two specific historical moments will be used as the basis of this community discussion. The Haitian Resurrection and the Battle of Adwa in Ethiopia were watershed events that shook the foundation of colonialism and slavery. In both instances, it was a united people that smashed the mendacity of their tormentors. Citing both narratives, our aim is to show that the oppressed can repel their oppressors. Our objective in this is not to feed into the social divides; we will not present the struggle for justice through the prism of identity or ideology but through the lens of the powerful and the powerless people they persecute.
A broader overview about the common link between Haiti and Ethiopia was presented in the article I wrote titled Greater than Wakanda. My hope for this event is to show that we are not helpless to change our circumstances. We have the power of social media in our hands; we can galvanize a broad movement that transcends the ways we are sliced and diced as a people if we only realize that the solution resides in collective action instead of individual grievances. Haitians and Ethiopians were able to do the impossible and defeat armies that had superior weaponry because they united as one people. It is my hope that we too can overcome our differences, stop looking at this world through labels and imposed identities and unite to defend our collective interests.
If you are in the DC metro area, come out this Wednesday and take part in community dialogue and a cultural exposition. A video will be shown as a launching point for a follow up panel discussion led by Ghion Journal co-founder Betty Beke joined by Haitian author Frantz Derenoncourt Jr. There will be a live painting by the amazing Ethiopian artist Solomon Asfaw throughout the event. We will wrap up the event by highlighting the beauty and diversity of the Haitian and Ethiopian cultures. If you are not in the DC metro area, you can watch the video that will be shown by CLICKING HERE or by scrolling through the event details to watch the video embedded below. If you plan on coming out, do not watch the video in advance so that you can watch it with fellow commUnity believers.
The hashtag for this event is #AdwaSpring, after a winter of hopelessness, we can have a spring of renewal. Use social media to get the message out about this event and more importantly to speak against the divisive narratives of the status quo. See you Wednesday. Be the light to the world! #AdwaSpring
Event: The Legacies of Haiti and Adwa : How Unity Overcomes Oppression
Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2018
Time: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST
Location: Kaldi’s Social House
Address: 918 Silver Spring Ave.
Silver Spring, MD
If you are not in the DC area or can’t make it out on Wednesday, watch the video below and then think about ways you can use the content of the video to organize watching parties and start discussions in the communities where you live on how we can come together as one people.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.