The Line features Interviews with your favorite badass feminists and activists. Whether social media queens and kings, creative artists, sex educators, or just kick-ass personalities, these people harness righteous anger, instigate movements and inspire cultural change. We’re here to honor them and their work, but more importantly, to highlight how we can all get up, plug in, and Just Start Doing.
This week’s badass is Yolo Akili. Yolo is a writer, astrologer, yoga instructor and social justice advocate. He has a B.A. in Women’s and African American Studies from Georgia State University and is the author of the poetry collection “Poems in the Key of Green” and the spoken word album “Purple Galaxy”. You can learn more about him and his work on his website.
Let’s hear what he had to say!
You have a BA in Women’s and African American Studies. Was this the starting point for you, or did you already know that you wanted to be involved in social justice activism? How did you evolve as an activist, and how did you get to what you do now?
I think the starting point came from my experiences in college. I went to a small University in Southern Georgia before I transferred and completed at Georgia State. Being in a southern rural town exposed me to many stark racial inequities that struck a chord in my consciousness.
I went to college in a town where in the year 2000, a local high school prom was racially integrated for the FIRST time. A few days after the announcement was made black Barbie dolls were tied to “nooses” and hung all around the high school. Seeing things like that and also experiencing the racial climate of the campus and city firsthand, lead me to become more interested in how I could actively work to change systems of inequity.
My evolution as an activist is a direct result of the work of black feminist and womanist scholars, namely Layli Phillips and Audre Lorde. Audre Lorde gave me a frame to engage the erotic and spiritual in the context of social justice work. Dr. Phillips, as both a teacher and now as a good friend, taught through her example the necessity and reality of how the emotional/spirit world/esoteric operates within political systems and inspired me to be more vocal on them in social justice spaces. Their work gave me the ability to move through working in HIV & AIDS, Violence Against Women, and LGBTQ rights, and recognize that they were all different facets of the same form of healing work, because from a spiritual perspective, all pain is apart of the same problem.
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