Oft used in stews and eaten with fufu, our West African ancestors used okra as sustenance well before they were forced to migrate to the Americas. Faced with the captivity of Maafa, Okra seeds were consumed in order to prepare for the life-altering journey ahead. To secure the seeds, African people used their hair as a commodity of disguise; communally, seeds were braided into the hair of many African women, in what we come to recognize today as the cornrow hairstyle. As the seed was transplanted, so were memories of a life before enslavement.
Okra may be (re)membered as evidence of the relationship between sacred community and black sustainability, a communal tool to help transition black people from one world to the next.
We became connected through the intersections of our work which highlight the physiological impacts of anti-blackness, in attempts to counter the forces that destabilize black humanity. Currently, we examine telomeres (repetitive regions of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that shorten as our cells divide) to better understand the impact of schooling through antiblack violence on our students.
We accept that schools as a possible avenue for liberation is a premise that was and will forever be stillborn. And, we instead work towards re-membering and teaching our ancestral ways of being to young folks...to bring them in closer relation with the Earth, with each other, and with ways of being that their cells recall as healthy and life-giving.