angel Kyodo williams

Posts Tagged ‘egypt’

when the people rise

In culture, identity, politics, relationship on March 3, 2011 at 2:34 pm

why self-determination will always overcome fear
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Tunisia. Egypt. Yemen. Bahrain. Libya.

The last few months have borne witness to a powder keg of successive uprisings by Arab Peoples throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The desperate act of a Tunisian vendor—setting himself on fire in protest of his cart—and means of livelihood—being taken away—was a stand for self-determination that has been amplified by Arab People reclaiming their dignity one county at a time.

If nature abhors a vacuum, then indeed, it resists none more persistently than a vacuum of natural selfhood. When the breaking point of lack of fulfillment meets with the illuminating function of self-awareness, human beings, like nature, seek to restore balance.

When this happens collectively, We Are All Khaled Said…

…and the People rise.

This (r)evolutionary imperative to see manifest condition in which one can thrive is more ancient, more deeply rooted, and thus more powerful, than the inclination to oppress others for one’s own warped sense of self-gain.

In a global, media-drenched world, awareness of self is expedited by the sheer number of other self-expressions to compare one’s own expression (or lack thereof) to. Thus the cycle of being lulled to sleep by paternalistic promises–only to be rudely awakened by a nightmarish loss of freedom–is quickened. We come to terms more rapidly with the reality that as soothing as it may first appear when we are young and naive, we do not want to have everything taken care of by the Great Hero Father. Hence our empires rise and fall more swiftly than ever. Dictators, monarchs, aristocracies and elite parties beware: you are remnants of the past even before you take your corrupted seats these days. When your fabricated means of distraction falls away, the People will rise.

Beyond survival and security, self-determination is the underpinning of justice. When corrupt leaders falter on the first two, the last is the restorative penance that must be paid. Beyond simple survival, being able to determine our own path is the hallmark of self-expression, self-fulfillment, and most importantly, self-love.

In insisting upon the removal of decades-long dictators, the People reclaim their fundamental, inalienable right and responsibility to determine their own path. A right they have come to recognize has been obscured and hampered by individual men projecting an image of themselves as the sole reflection of an entire People:

  • what they will and will not have access to
  • how they are to be governed
  • what they can and cannot become

It would appear to the untrained eye that these Arab Peoples were ruled by different men, but to the eye of the astute, each dictator was a differently dated carbon copy of the other, and all of them mere proxies for fear.

But the People eventually stay the Iron Fist, lift the veil and see the cowering figure clinging to power is neither God nor Hero, just a small, desperate man. Emboldened by their commitment, empowered by their collectivity, liberated from the shackles of fear, the People rise to find liberation from the shackles of oppression.

Questions abound as to how the all-knowing US didn’t see such a wave of revolutions forthcoming: America’s deep-seated racism and perceived religious-cultural superiority conspire to make the quiet swelling of a sea of brown and black People calling for their freedom with fearlessness, grace and unwavering determination a political improbability. To see them do it in succession, leaving the realm of mere anomaly? Impossible.

Having paid so much to keep them divided, we simply lack the imagination to conceive of Arab Peoples bonding together in solidarity to restore the dignity and rightful place of their own. How else could we justify funding the suppression of their beautiful brown selves for so long? How else could we be so confused as to whether we should continue to underwrite Mass Muslim Control rather than proclaim the side of the People the only righteous side to be on?

Even as we witnessed it with our own eyes, we clung to our reductionist, divisive values: it was the youth, it was the educated, it was the middle class, it was the non-religious. No matter that many of the largest protests formed after Friday prayers. Even more un-humanizing, it was Facebook or Twitter. Make no mistake: no matter the vehicle or tool, it was the People.

The brown, red, black and yellow People of this country can learn volumes from the hopefulness and vision expressed by our Arab brothers and sisters. If invested in transformation of society beyond the policy win, past the campaign, despite the funders, our own organizers can benefit from the study of revolutionary change—rooted in the mass power of collective love for the People that unifies, coupled with the individual compulsion for self-determination—that will always eventually transcend fear.

When that happens, we the People, too, shall finally rise.

—yours in truth, aKw


dedicated to the power of the People. may they rise again and again.


angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and Founder Emeritus of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with copyright and contact
information intact.

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red, white and black

In culture, politics, relationship on February 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm
red white black

Hail from Above. Nile River, Luxor, Eqypt.

standing with the people


As the world watches—despite the Egyptian government’s best efforts to darken the light of revolution—the People of Egypt increasingly come forward to express their will for change and they will not be deterred. Just over a year ago, I had the great fortune to be in Egypt. Making my way through Cairo, up the Sinai and deep into Luxor, I left holding vivid impressions of who these crowds are made up of, who they gather for and who they risk on behalf of: the People. As movements of people calling forth transformative social change, we are further empowered when we recognize our relationship, deep connection and interdependence with the movements towards justice in the world. I hope these snapshots of with whom it is we stand in solidarity empowers each of you:

I stand with Egypt.
I too, stood in defiance of President Hosni Mubarak’s police in downtown Cairo’s Midan Tahrir, or Liberation Square. Coming from all over the world, we gathered there to link Freedom for the people of Gaza with the Liberation of the people of Egypt. Even then, Mubarak sought to keep the attention we were bringing to the plight of the People from coming to light. We were just a few hundred, but it was clear he knew even then that if the People saw us, they would stir. Now, a million—and counting—stand too.

I stand with the low-ranking and even lower-paid soldiers that are shuffled around and posted as human barricades to contain the peoples’ movements but can’t contain their support for the hopeful defiance of ordinary men and women, young and old, that may finally usher in real change.

As long as Egypt is willing to be home of the well-behaved Arabs, America has been willing to deeply fund a dictator to keep up a pretense of peace while Egyptians paid the price of their dignity. Like the Red people of America, their self-determination is systematically denied while US-made and paid for weapons are used to dissuade them from their conviction.

I stand with the other Hosny, the travel guide who rents horses and poses us in pictures with camels while solving the mystery of the Great Pyramids of Giza with an easy plausibility that confirms westerners are the only ones still questioning what the people have always known.

While we watch the legions pouring into the streets from the comfort of our living rooms or the palms of our hands, the People risk the stability that was for three decades secured at the cost of liberty. They trade complacency and comfort for an unknown future, but are determined to define that path on their own terms.

I stand with the soft-eyed captain of the Jolie, the fifth generation of his family to guide feluccas up and down the lush banks of Luxor’s Nile. He has the help of a young boy that has lost his father but would receive neither service nor support in an Egypt that leaves the poorest to fend for themselves.

Egypt’s revolution is of and by not just some of the people, but the many. There is no fringe to dismiss. Lines of class have blurred into oblivion. The haves are coming forward for the have-nots. Like the White people of our own nation that have stood in solidarity with folks red, black, brown and yellow, refusing to be divided from their values to protect their places, this revolution sees the interdependence of all. They stand in protection of their collective heritage, denying would-be thieves the opportunity to steal their treasures and steal their triumph.

I stand with the head of security at the mighty Valley of Kings. Charged to protect the final resting place of dynasties that rose and fell for thousands of years before an America was considered, he cannot comfortably care for his family. His harmless scams occasionally lighten the pockets of gullible tourists, but when it becomes clear that we are neither easy prey nor think ourselves better than he, his feigned sternness gives way to easy laughter and easier talk of his love for his land, history and people. He insists on treating us to a tour of the grandest tomb of all.

For far too long, the rest of the world has passively looked aside while the People have lived with their requests unanswered, their demands ignored and their dreams deferred, as a leader that promised democracy delivers corruption and stomps out dissent instead.

I stand with Mohammed, the Bedouin with the striking resemblance to the boy-King Tut, now selling papyrus in Talaat Harb Square. His beautiful heavy eyes a window to his heavy heart because his place in society is limited by his birth. Like our Black people, Bedouins are economically deprived and their government metes out uneven punishment against them, institutionalizing a caste system rooted in prejudice. With good luck and by good hearts, this practice will not survive.

Waving their flags of red, white and black with defiance and dignity, destiny is on the side of revolution and the government must finally yield to the eternal law of change. What I see in Egypt is all the people of the world that seek out justice when it is too long denied, insist upon equality when it too long unbalanced, and take back freedom when it is too long withheld. It is time to take our place on the right side of Egypt: the side of the people.

I stand with Egypt because Egypt is me.

your in truth,aKw

dedicated to Ahl Masr, the people of Egypt, home of the soul of Ptah. May your freedom come swiftly that we might learn, insh’allah, that your freedom is our very own. ‐aKw


copyright MMXI. angel Kyodo williams

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and Founder Emeritus of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with copyright and contact
information intact.

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