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Mchawi Obadele (aka Nathaniel Anderson) Lousiana State Prison, Angola LA -”Spirituality and revolutionary practice are one. Wu style Tai Chi Ch’uan, Macrobiotics, and Hatha yoga has sustained my sanity and vitality through 31 years of P.O.W. captivity. We manufacture revolution to the extent that the universal energy (love) flows through our bodies unrestricted. Being a guerrilla, to me, means having a vision of the patriarchal leviathan being superseded by our global collective of balanced and free-flowing beings.

I-Ching said:”So, when we minutely investigate the nature and reasons of things, till we have entered into the inscrutable and spirit-like in them, we attain to the largest practical application of them; when that application becomes the quickest and readiest, and all personal restfulness is secured, our virtue is thereby exalted.”

To correspond with Mchawi Obadele please send letters to:

Mchawi Obadele
(aka Nathaniel Anderson)
# 130547
Walnut One
Louisiana State Prison
Angola,  LA  70712

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Afiya Carter

“The Prophet Mohammed (may blessings and praise be heaped upon him) said seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.”


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Akiba Onada-Sikwoia, Los Angeles- “Years ago, I learned that my activism, as well as my life, is in alignment when I invite Spirit into my process. My acceptance of the co-existence between seen and unseen realities gives me the strength, determination and courage to move forward. I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors. My actions today affect past, present and future generations. My Spiritual practices remind me that I am not alone no matter how isolated I may feel. I am a whole person, bringing my whole self to each action I make. If the Spiritual does not embrace the political and vice versa I cannot trust it.”

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Boots Riley, Oakland- “I don’t believe that there’s a conscious force that is guiding the universe. Everything is connected in time and space. The universe always has been and always will be. That means there is no ‘In-the-Beginning’, there is no ‘Armageddon’. Humanity is going to be an infinitesimally small blip on that thread of infinity. So what are our small 52,000 years on this earth all about? We have these few moments to live, so how do we savor them? To fully appreciate those moments, you can’t just be an onlooker. You have to be part of that infinity. You have to be involved with the world, with other beings, with other life. To really savor the moment that is here and now, you have to do things that change the moments that are coming up, change the course of how new life comes into this world. Be part of changing how the world is organized around us. Then you can truly grasp infinity.”

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Dannette Sharpley, Durham- “A major aspect of my faith is expressed by Dr. King’s statement, “The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.” I take that as a radical call for all people to struggle for justice, because the universe and its Creator expect it of us. I want to be the kind of person that Jesus Christ would like and want to be around. To me, that means being brave in the face of tyranny, practicing humility even when it’s difficult, and loving fiercefully.”

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Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, New York City- “As a Muslim I believe that Humans were put on earth to do three main things: 1. Praise the Creator, 2. Take care of the earth, 3. Take care of one another. All of my work as a social justice connector and movement historian has been informed by that basic framework, I care deeply about how we negotiate our relationship with the planet, how we treat one another regardless of differing belief and decision making systems. It all comes down to one thing: do we see all of Creation as irrevocably connected? If so, harm done to one of us, or our planet, is harm done to all. I firmly believe it is my faith that calls me to work hard to rid society of all forms of oppression and to create a world where each soul can fulfill its ultimate purpose.”

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Kameelah Rashad, East Palo Alto-”This is absolutely the best Ramadan I have ever had. I feel the closeness to and love for Allah (swt) that sadly I never felt before because I was too afraid to take that step to make my self vulnerable and open to Allah (swt). One brother who has been leading prayer has reminded us to pray as if this is our last prayer and such a reminder helps me realize that I could surely pass while in sujood. In retrospect, to pass from this dunya in sujood would be the way I want to leave this dunya–in physical submission to Allah (swt). Qiyam has been amazing despite the 4am cold and dark walks to Old Union. In light of my exhaustion, I am in wonderfully good spirits. I am grateful that Allah (swt) allowed me to have another Ramadan. I am eternally grateful that Allah (swt) opened by heart to feel the indescribable beauty of Ramadan. My plan is to teach incarcerated youth 13-21 to combine my prison abolition work with radical education, start up independent schools throughout California, operate a community-based bookstore/infoshop, and dismantle capitalism (no, really).

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Khushi Zangara, Chapel Hill- “As a child in the Hindu temple, I loved Kali’s dance of destruction and Durga’s exquisite wrath. Religion and spirituality so often describe what’s good and pure, inevitably putting the dirty, the shameful, the outcast on the other side of the border. I ground myself in the legacy of bandits and thieves, fighting hard for the secession of each territory—of the earth, of our bodies—into liberated zones. I find strength in those committed to stealing back what is ours. I find fierceness in the fearlessness of those who have been held hostage by the State and come out fighting. For Eric McDavid, for Daniel McGowan, for Rod Coronado, for the SF8—until all prisoners are free, I will fight with hand and heart. I will take risks with my body, my freedom, my life.”

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Klee Benally, Flagstaff- “Indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier once said, “It’s not about being strong, it’s about having faith.” In the face of genocidal policies, ongoing colonization, and corporate greed, every action is a prayer that brings us towards justice. Spirituality is the basis of resistance for defense of Mother Earth and our Indigenous cultures.”

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Kriti Sharma, Durham- “When I interact with plants, animals, and other living beings, I recommit myself to the central tenet of political struggle, which is to love the living very, very much. I honor what is conventionally dismissed as mere survival, by remembering that survival is gorgeous, miraculous, and hard-won.”

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Lolan Sevilla, Oakland- “Whether from the remnants of daily grind or the too-far-in-between small victories hard-fought through protracted struggle, I sometimes forget how trauma can store itself in my body. When words both spoken and written fail my ability to purge the impact of feelings like loss or rage, a waiting dance floor is oftentimes my spirit salve.”

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Moki Macias, Atlanta- “What even is my own sense of spirituality? I don’t know. I haven’t tapped that language to express how I am yearning towards and leaning into steady faith, deliberate grace, to move with easy humility and wild confidence in everything I do. But I know it is rooted in love, in communal belonging, in a deep and joyous sense of home-building. “

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Neelam Pathikonda, Oakland- “My spiritual practice is my movement work. The struggle for liberation is a spiritual one, as much as a physical and material one. I believe we all need to heal, learn how to treat each other and ourselves better, connect to our ancestors and the sacredness of the Earth, and build sustainable practices of living. This is the work of revolution-making; this is the work of community organizing; this is work of a spiritual practice; and this is my work in this movement.”

“Bro Ray” Eurquhart, Durham- “I’m not spiritual, I’m practical. I’m an organizer, I’m an anti-imperialist, I’m a socialist. I’ve been organizing so long I don’t know what else there is to do, except for learn how to do this work better. After sixty years, what else is there? Fade away like an old soldier.”

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Roberto Tijerina, Durham- “My grounding no longer comes from above and the unseen – rather from the seen that is all around me. Autumn holds both ends – colors and browning, last heat and early frost, harvest and bare earth. I hear God’s whispered breath in the chilly wind and smell her earthy scent in a pile of fallen leaves. From here I draw sustenance.”

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Sham-e-Ali Al-Jamil, Philadelphia- “i keep trust in the Creator & take strength from the skills of labor and birth. there is pain involved. purpose. there is patience necessary. there is determination. breathing. focus. surrender. water. salt. blood. belief in my own deepest powers. compassion. after transition there may be something new. creation. growth. there is beauty. peace. beginnings. possibility. love. there may be no end to it.”

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Snehal Patel, Dallas- “Movement is an expression of the soul. When suffering and oppression in the world bring fear to my heart about the future, I remember the Hindu teachings – that daily living, one moment to the next, with a spirit of love and right action inspire the soul to liberation. The act of dancing, the act of feeding, the act of singing, the act of dreaming, are all spiritual acts – they ground me where I am and reopen the possibility to imagine what may be. They remind me that liberation is as much about now as it is about then.”

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Sonny Singh Suchdev, New York City- “Throughout my life I have had to deal with racist reactions to the outward appearance of my religion — my turban and beard. Inspired by the revolutionary spirit of the founders of Sikhism, keeping my hair uncut and wearing a turban is a daily act of resistance that has profoundly shaped who I am as an activist, a musician, and a radical.”

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Pastor Wanda Floyd, Durham- “My spiritual practice of choice is Christianity and my belief in Jesus is what gives me the strength to continue to work in the face of oppression, homophobia, racism and the other “isms” in society. Jesus was about social justice and much of the work I do is about justice for all people. Knowing that he struggled while trying to get his work done, gives me the energy I need to continue the work I do.”

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William Upski Wimsatt, New York City- “The picture I’m sending you is from the beach that I go to. I take the A train to Far Rockaway. I go there all the time. It’s so healing. I pretend to be seaweed. I lose my brain, get knocked around in the water. I get lost until I don’t know what’s me and what’s water. Just happy to be another fish in the ocean of life. I don’t have to feel special. I don’t have to feel less than. I just am. It’s out of my control. Everything flows. I’m here to worship God, for real and say THANK YOU. How lucky I am to be alive. Oh, yeah, and that’s my girlfriend Lenore. She keeps me grounded, too.”

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Yashna Padamsee, Durham- “This is me in chakrasana (wheel pose) or urdhva dhanurasana (upward facing bow pose). Practicing yoga, meditation and deep breathing ground my movement work by first grounding me. This ancient practice connects me with my breath, the breath I share with the world. It also cleanses me of thoughts of “I cannot” and replaces it with thoughts of “I am”. This excerpt from Judith Lassiter’s poem ‘Wage Peace’ is how I identify with breathing and the world. “Wage peace with your breath. Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees. Wage peace. Never has the world felt so fresh and precious.”

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Zulayka Santiago, Durham- “Reconnecting with the Divine Feminine and the magic of nature have been transformative aspects of my spiritual path. My meditation practice helps keep me grounded, and is a daily reminder of the sacredness of all beings. On my altar are images of goddesses (including my mother and grandmother), rocks and shells, as well as poems that provide fuel for the journey: ‘We have not come here to take prisoners, but to surrender ever more deeply to freedom and joy.’ Hafiz”

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Jurina Smith, Durham- My connection to the universe allows me to empathize with people and help those in need, or to make life easier for people. Spirituality and activism are the same thing because I believe that we are connected to each other through spirit. Being accountable to everyone, honoring that connection is part of being one with the universe and that’s what sustains me. We’re here together.

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Ebony Golden, Durham- “swallow light
then hurl back to god your prayers
with fingers jeweled like yemenya’s oceans
this is how we testify our back gathering all the sunlight”

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M. Carmen Lane, Lansing-
“Stand
on the auction block
look down at
the blood soaked
ground
bodies encircling
your feet
stand in the fort
on the slave ship
look up
at the sky
smell the salt water and
the shit
remember.
take this into
your body
breathe out
&
repeat.”

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Liz Seymour, Greensboro- “I consider Food Not Bombs to my most consistent spiritual practice. Every meal is an act of trust: we don’t know what food we’ll have, we don’t know what cooks we’ll have, all we know when we begin at 4:30 is that in an hour and a half some 30 or so hungry people will be coming to dinner. And every single time it works. Food Not Bombs has helped me to learn to let go of outcomes and expectations and simply let life happen.”

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Suzanne Plihcik, Greensboro- “As a White woman in a race-constructed society my wholeness is challenged by the racism I carry. The very existence of racism, putting me in the collective that targets People of Color even when it is not my intent to do that, diminishes my humanity. I find myself on an expedition of sorts and suddenly as I learn to sort through the lies, denial and racist propaganda I can see a new vision of wholeness, an opportunity for me to be part of a movement for justice and to find, in the small part I am to play, who I really am.”

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Deena Hayes, Greensboro- “I’m a little Christian, a little Muslim. I grew up Christian but my interest piqued when heard a cassette of Minister Louis Farrakhan. It spoke to the social justice spirit within me and moved me in a spiritual way that connects to the Biblical parables I grew up with. When you begin to push big systems and institutions it starts to get personal. People try to critique messenger instead of message and you have to have spiritual foundation to hold you up during that time. The whole energy around activism is about sensitivity and humanitarianism, and so the spiritual foundation is the pillow for you during those hard times.”

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Marilyn Baird, Greensboro- “I think about my grandmother. She was a very small woman in stature, not even five feet tall, but she had such power when she spoke. That power came from her spirituality and belief that if you put your trust in God, anything is possible. Somewhere in the Bible it promotes believing that you are right, standing up, even if you have to stand alone. I think about her and that’s the kind of woman I want to be and that’s how I want to live.”

2 Responses to “Spirituality SnapShots”

  1. leahlakshmi Says:

    The whirlwind tattooed on my arm testifies that I’ve been bottoming to Kali and Oya since I was a little girl. Transformation is the first and last blessing and I am happy to be a daughter of those fierce ladies. I know spirit is real through the everyday of trees, ocean, and sunset on my Oakland block, but always because as a small incest-surviving brown girl I could feel that something was reaching for me, promising me that I was not alone and I would find my path to wholeness. Spirit is in the unending unexpected of what healing from trauma looks like, in the miracles of a life after sexual violence that’s full of love and sex, joy and embodiment, big grins and challenges. Survivors of violence, colonialism and abuse – as almost all of us are – are our own experts and our own miracles.

  2. Dannette Says:

    … See what happens when you google yourself…

    I am beyond honored to be in this company. Such spirited and profound beings of light! Peace and blessings to you all.

    -D


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