Assata: An Autobiography


It's a rarity that I've had a book in my hand 2-3 chapters deep into it, to then come to the realization that not only have I read the book before but with that realization, committed to rereading it. Assata: An Autobiography was one of those books. I found myself drawn to her life, her story, her being right on the heels of co-planning my mothers birthday trip to Cuba. I fantasized about my feet following the rhythm of bata drums in unison with my shoulders & arms, mirroring my mothers energy in an open green meadow near the coastline; with the ebb & flow of all that is under, in, and above the waters of the Caribbean Sea. Would Assata be a bystander watching our white skirts twirl with the breeze? Would Assata offer us Saoco to keep our thirst at bay? Would Assata welcome us whole heartedly to the land that abundantly gave her warm refuge?

I did not enjoy reading her autobiography but it was a necessary read. The reality of the atrocities experienced by Assata were gripping pertaining to the incorrigible institutes that attempted to keep her body, mind and spirit captive. I reiterate that I did not enjoy reading her autobiography. The realities of the 60's & 70's that milked the essence of the black experience for those who  were "woke" & active participants in the progression of human rights for people of color was an experience that I preferred to dissociate from. I found myself irritable while crossing the pages in reference of her hospitalization after being shot in the stomach, agitated at my desire for her to have a fair trial while repeatedly under siege to an all white jury, and attached to my cognitive dissonance at the notion that this Queen was a victim in a land that gave zero fucks about her or her lineage. To be referred to and held in spirit as a Queen and for the subjective observer in me to objectively take in the ways in which she was disrespected over and over again was heart breaking. Yet, as a young black woman living in America, in the present, there isn't a choice in liking or accepting or integrating in parallels within her experience and mine. It just is. That's at the core of why I did not enjoy reading her autobiography. It was too real. In fact, during this reread I found myself inspired to write poetry in response to Assata's spirit pouring across the pages; in an attempt to sublimate the incited anger towards the privileged who get to read a work of this kind detached from the racial experience that one can only experience if they are a person of color.

Ms. Shakur put her humanness and dysfunctional beginnings front and center of her story pertaining to her upbringing, failures and family dynamics. She was no saint and at no point in the book did she attempt to present herself as anything less or more. There was no sugar coating, cherry on top or creme in the middle. Assata fully articulated an understanding of her value & worth to herself and it's incongruence with her value & worth as a black woman in America. 

My 1 criticism of this piece was her decision to not include how she actually escaped! At times I am nosy and at times I am simply curious! She not only deserves a round of applause but also recognition for being a true magician in her own rite. I hope that we cross paths in Cuba.


“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them” 
“Before going back to college, i knew i didn't want to be an intellectual, spending my life in books and libraries without knowing what the hell is going on in the streets. Theory without practice is just as incomplete as practice without theory. The two have to go together.”