My dear friend Ilana recently shared with me Aurora Levin Morales’ poem “Vahavta.” Part of it reads:
imagine winning. This is your sacred task.
This is your power. Imagine
every detail of winning, the exact smell of the summer streets
in which no one has been shot, the muscles you have never
unclenched from worry, gone soft as newborn skin,
the sparkling taste of food when we know
that no one on earth is hungry, that the beggars are fed,
that the old man under the bridge and the woman
wrapping herself in thin sheets in the back seat of a car,
and the children who suck on stones,
nest under a flock of roofs that keep multiplying their shelter.
Lean with all your being towards that day
when the poor of the world shake down a rain of good fortune
out of the heavy clouds, and justice rolls down like waters.
“Imagine winning.” This is something I never learned as I came into movement. I had great elders and mentors and definitely learned very quickly that I was part of a long line of justice making ancestry. But no one ever invited me to imagine winning. It took a long time to learn, as Aurora Levins Morales says, that this is my sacred task, that imagining winning is our power. (It also took time to uncover Assata Shakur’s mandate that “it is our duty to win.”)
Momentum has borrowed the famous chant that traveled first from Navy football on to the U.S. soccer team. The chant, issued as a call-and-response goes like this:
“I believe!” (“I believe!”)
“I believe that!” (“I believe that!”)
“I believe that we!” (“I believe that we!”)
“I believe that we will win!”
To me, there’s nothing quite like this chant. It’s invigorating. It helps me believe. I also call up these words all the time now – and give them back to others I know who also trust them, reminding ourselves.
It is not every day that we can remember, but sometimes we do need to believe that we will win. When I imagine winning, I can see that it won’t always be like this. When I “imagine every detail of winning,” I can see more clearly the ways we’ve already won.
I believe that we will win because by believing we not only imagine it, we bring it into being.
p.s. If you still want to hear more “I believes,” listen to Rev. Sekou & the Holy Ghost’s “We Comin”