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This book is an opening and a risk. A decolonial journey. Its author, standing at the crossroads with Èsù, the Yoruba god of change, knows the urgency of the awkward. Akilah writes rudely and with the lyrical precision of a herbalist whose great task is to bring you to the site of your rite of passage. She hasn't got time, yours or mine. As we would say in Lagos, she no sen' you. She is not going to patronize you. Yet her non-proselytizing directness feels like the hard medicine of someone who knows in her bones, in her arm bent behind her back by a traumatized White police officer, in her palm that has just gently slapped her daughter and wondered if she wasn't perpetuating the slavery dynamic of the "adult gaze" and the "good nigger," that we are not free, that we are caught in an assemblage of gestures and behaviors that have confined our imaginations, that we are living out the imperatives of old dynamics—even in our quests to win, to behave properly, to become black billionaires, to earn labels, to beat them at their own game.
Modernity constructs children as citizens in the making, as furniture beneath the all-powerful "adult-gaze." Akilah calls this "studenthood" and, with stories that will hold you in their little pink grip, demonstrates how this "studenthood" is a racial project of perpetuating the centrality of the human subject, the Euro-American Enlightenment self that is disconnected from magic and animacy and the vibrancy of ecology, from the wisdoms that trees secrete, from the pollination songs that empty space traffics, from learning-as-becoming, from the miraculous abundance that is available if we knew how to look.
Like Akilah herself, this book—modestly titled— is an invitation to stray away from the fixed algorithms of colonial reinforcements. To know power differently. To refuse the freedom the system offers. To allow the cacophony of noise to draw us away from the beguiling harmony of troubling colonial order.