Sep 15, 2023
In this conversation we talk to Santi Elijah Holley about his recently published book An Amerikan Family: The Shakurs and the Nation They Created.
A history of the political family that included Tupac, Assata, Afeni, Dr. Mutulu, Salahdeen, Lumumba, Zayd and many others. What does it mean to take the name Shakur? What were some of the key relationships and sites of politicization for these folks? Holley’s book gets into many of these questions, and examines the radical organizing and political activity of many of the Shakurs and of their comrades like Sekou Odinga and Bilal Sunni-Ali.
There are aspects of this book we appreciated as there’s a lot of important history here that gets brought into one place. These figures are often looked at in isolation, in a depoliticized context, as icons or simulacra. In other places we read about them as individual figures in histories of formations like the Black Panther Party or the Republic of New Afrika. So we appreciated seeing them discussed in relation to one another and some of the events and people who shaped their political development. As you will see in this discussion both Josh and I also have our criticisms of this book and how it presents this history. As usual, we do not debate with the author here, but we do ask multiple critical questions about aspects of the book that we felt either did not do justice to the legacy of people being examined or do not help people see the New Afrikan Independence Movement as a living struggle that people still engage today in a variety of ways in various organizations. As always, we welcome further dialogue on that from folks who are involved in those movements if they wish to engage with us. We will also link some of our other discussions about that history and with people who struggle in the tradition of New Afrikan independence today.
Most importantly today we want to uplift Baba Sekou Odinga who features prominently in this book, and prominently in the history of Black Liberation struggle in this country. He was recently hospitalized and has been released to a rehabilitation facility, but he needs our support. We are not going to plug our patreon this episode and instead ask that folks contribute to this fund for Immediate Relief Support for Sekou Odinga
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