Zellie Imani is empowering and equipping Black students to become leaders within their communities.
What are you currently working on in the field of social justice and what are you trying to accomplish with your work?
With the Black Liberation Collective, we are boldly attempting to radicalize the Black Student movement in ways that haven’t been attempted on a mass scale in decades. The Movement for Black lives is one that seeks to affirm the humanity of Black folk, by challenging all institutions, not just the police, that systemically harm and exploit Black bodies.
The Black Liberation Collective, which consists of Black college students, finds itself in a unique position to challenge & transform higher education and how it collaborates and perpetuates structural violence by investing in private prisons & marginalizing Black folk by creating a pool of unskilled Black workers through admissions.
As someone who believes that youth are the most radical segment of the population, the Black Liberation Collective and I intend to organize and empower Black students so they can be the leaders they’ve been waiting for.
Who or what has influenced your work and who has inspired your activism?
After reading a number of memoirs, autobiographies, and other historical texts by black thought leaders, I often found myself asking the same questions, “Would I have been in SNCC?” or “Would I have been a Black Panther?” In August of 2014, I found myself in Ferguson, MO with hundreds of other people protesting the death of Mike Brown, who was killed by a white police officer.
Like the events that happened in the black history books I read, I found myself face to face with armed cops. I found myself being tear gassed or in the scope of a sniper. And like the history books, I alongside other protestors confronted the danger head on, not with violence, but non-violence. I’m still not sure if I would have been in SNCC or if I would have been apart of the Black Panther movement, but I’m a little more sure of what role I would take as a result of the things I encountered in August of 2014.
“Strong people do not need strong leaders” – Ella Baker
Any important bits of wisdom you would share?
As an activist, my role is to empower others. I don’t think of myself as special, or particularly smart. I have certain skills, experiences, and access to resources that allow me to do the work I do and do it well. But many of those skills, knowledge, and resources aren’t exclusive to me. And it is of no benefit to the community, and ultimately myself as a member of the black community, for it to remain exclusive.
So for me empowering others means sharing my skills, experiences, and resources with others. You don’t empower yourself by disempowering others. You empower yourself by empowering others.
Field of Work
I am not fighting for the freedom of Black people alone, but for the end of domination & coercion. The end of the domination of humans by humans.