by Mercy Medusa Mahogany Immanuel Thokozane Minah
When most people think of scientists, they think of white, cis, non-disabled, heterosexual men in lab-coats cooking up ways for other white, cis, non-disabled, heterosexual people to survive sci-fi horrors like dinosaurs—but who, for what ever reason, can never think of ways to sustain the world’s need for electricity without stripping the earth of vital minerals. These Ivy-League educated, so-called genius scientists who send people to the moon and other planets and calculate the distance between this planet and our neighboring planets in order to speculate the probability of a select few humans living in those other planets, are the same ones who can never seem to figure out and implement ways of making this planet safer for ALL its inhabitants.
We focus on the folks who have yet to dispel the still thriving falsehoods of eugenics, which have justified years of genocidal wars, forced-sterilization, the occupation and colonization of Indigenous Peoples’ land, and the violent erasure and medical abuse meted out against people of various sexual and gender experiences. We trust the people who have, most likely, already come up with a cure for AIDS—a disease “they” created in the midst trying to create a cure for Polio, another disease they “accidentally” introduced to humanity—and have withheld it from the 35.3 million people living with HIV today. We admire and respect this tiny demographic which relies so heavily upon this mythical concept of “objectivity” which, as femme genius feminist, multidisciplinary artist, and co-founder of the People’s Project, Kim Milan recently pointed out on her incredibly educational facebook page, is nothing but a tool used by colonizers to try and quash the vast realities of the subjective experiences of the majority of the world’s populace.
We trust the methods and knowledge of people who still kill animals, plants and humans in order to create products supposedly meant for healing purposes.
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So many people look to “modern (see western, imperialist, eurocentric) science” as the one true signifier of human brilliance—people who berate Indigenous wisdom as folklore and imagination, people who believe African science to be nothing more than superstition, people who look for “cold hard facts” and never ponder or consider the amount of suffering, exploitation, and oppression that has gone into garnering those facts. These are people who, somehow, believe that western, modern-day science happened in an “objective” vacuum and that it has not consistently worked, hand in hand, with white supremacy, capitalism and imperialism.
People so focused on studies carried out in secret and the statistics used to steer public opinion, that they completely miss out on the young teens of color creating such necessary and brilliant inventions such as urine-fueled generators, solar-powered water-purification system, multi-purpose cell phone chargers that can charge phones in under 20 seconds. These are scientists who are seen as “exceptions” to some invisible law of what being a scientist entails. When the default has been set for something in this mindfuck of a society of ours, regardless of how often those outside of that default disprove it and surpass it, they will always be viewed as exceptions to the rule.
The everyday scientists, of all identities, who invent sustainable ways of surviving a world that makes very little room for their queer, trans, disabled, black, indigenous, of color, cash-poor, chronically ill, abuse survivor, single parent, adoptee, disowned, homeless, crazy, depressed, PTSD having selves—those are the scientists I am interested in celebrating, learning about and learning from. Those are the folks retracing themselves down painful pastories, seeking out and finding ancient methods of healing and community organizing that western, modern day “science” would like to believe it had completely rid the planet. These folks, who have all the goddamn odds stacked against them, are writing up genius blogs in which they raise younger community members and teach them life-saving skills about everything, from how to travel while chronically ill to how to healthfully manage illness without ever stepping into an office within the medical industrial complex.
I am interested in the science invented daily by femmes who think up safe and environmentally conscious ways of adorning their bodies and faces with make-up and clothing that hasn’t gone through cancer-inducing cycles of fuckery and murderous testing. I am interested in the science of centering emotional wisdom in movements, thus re-centering the humanity of this species as opposed to attempting to erase it and merely recycling the dysfunction of oppression. I am interested in the scientists who name their identities and set about mani-femme-festing those identities in ways that create more room for others to find themselves when, previously, there may have been a vacancy, a life-threatening emptiness created by imperialist notions of a monolithic human race.
I am interested in the scientists in the townships of my city finding ways to stretch one or two items of food across several days so they and their babies don’t starve. I am interested in the inner city brilliance of intricate hair art and science, the perfection of braiding any length and texture of hair, of cutting the fiercest and most precise fades. I am interested in the science of survivorship, the ways survivors of abuse are learning to find one another, facilitate healing for themselves and each other through the shared meals, blog pieces, email threads, conversations over the phone, on twitter. I am so deeply enthralled by the science of anti-oppression resistance, the way our very existence becomes an act of resistance and the brilliant and masterful ways we write ourselves into that resistance.
I am very clear about who my scientists are and I have the utmost faith in how they are going to carry us into the future. We have not always been oppressed and we have not always had our power, talent and genius undermined by oppressive institutions. We have not always had our swag and beauty and magic exploited and appropriated. We have embedded in our DNA the capacity of studying the stars, building our own homes and living harmoniously with the rest of the natural world. I envision a world in which we marginalized folk reclaim our scientific expertise and sacredness by recognizing and lifting up each other’s work, by sharing skills and being collectively strategic about our liberation. I envision a world in which our science shapes the way we organize ourselves into communities and villages; in which our survivorship mechanisms become the way more and more people begin to live—free of hierarchy and elitism and exploitation and oppression.
Our science, that has withstood centuries of appropriation and oppression, is generative and life-giving and sustainable. It is not ruthless and violent and exploitative. It is magic and because it is the complete antithesis of white eurocentric “modern day” science; it is exactly the kind of science the world needs for a revolution to be full enacted.
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