Entry by Xan West
I was born in Oakland, California. My parents were pastors, but my elders were Black Panthers. I was trained to live and be willing to lay down my life for my people. I was trained to help people struggle for a life worth living in honor of God. My elders were ideological Communists based heavily in atheism. My parents, both pastors, raised me in the church. My parents didn’t care for revolutionaries training me to put myself in harm’s way. I’m pretty sure the feeling was mutual.
Most of my life I’ve held separate tensions. I am a guerrilla, I am a spiritual leader. Yet these two have rarely existed in harmony. Most of my life my politics and my spirituality have felt mutually exclusive. In my early twenties I found liberation theology. Conceptually, I began to see how these two aspects of my life could exist in relationship to one another. Yet, these two aspects of my purpose still seemed to grow independently of one another.
But in Guatemala I found my wholeness. Here, many of the people we’ve met were the trained resistance as well as the Mayan cosmovision spiritual leaders. They are people that talk of tactical training in resistance as readily as naming books as weapons. The ancestors have guided and instructed their resistance to all that would hope to suppress their humanity, with weapons of reclaiming indigenous culture, teaching children and weapons of spiritual practice. At the same time, the ancestors dreamed my comrades onto a bridge to shut it down in the name of black freedom and justice. As Che Guevara famously said “at the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.” Love of God which informs love of self which informs love for your people. A warrior without love is not warrior at all. A lover not willing to fight for justice is useless.