In Regard of an Activist, Dr. Melina Abdullah: Your Eyes Don’t Lie

Dr. Melina Abdullah
Dr. Melina Abdullah, Photo Credit: Alexis Hunley for CalMatters

“I can fight police and white supremacists. It doesn’t kill my soul, it feeds my spirit.” ~ Dr. Melina Abdullah 

Each social media post. Every media report. And every time, eye read one of the innumerous white supremacist rhetoric and propaganda about you and the work you do, and eye see why you can’t look the other way.  

Eye wonder, how are you doing?

Eye worry not so much about whether you can handle it. You know– the weight and heaviness of the work. Eye know your origin story. 

Eye witnessed your ’Hooding-ceremony’  

Eye know you’re super, but eye also know, you’re not a supernatural being. You’re a mother, daughter, sister, cousin, and friend. 

Eye remember the youth you served and provided with exposure to opportunities far and beyond their Los Angeles neighborhoods.

And, when eye saw you last Wednesday during your press briefing, eye saw your vulnerability.

Through the screen, eye could see in your eyes–if your eyes could speak, they would have trembled like your voice strained speaking about 10 Black lives stolen last weekend in Buffalo. 

 Your eyes appeared weather and tired, yet still focused–knowing they’ll see familiarity in the Queen City of the Lakes

Eye and many others care for you. 

Eye know you know it.

Eye want you to see it. 

Eye want you to burn it into your memory and call on it to replenish you.

That’s why eye choose to center the conversation–and check in with a question from a place of care.

How are you doing?

Eye will present your full response in your voice.

Dr. Melina Abdullah’s response:

“Thank you, James, thank you for asking that. Thank you for the care. This is heavy for us. To be really clear. What I shared with both my chapter and our leadership team, [we] are trying to navigate. This feels very much like trying to figure out things when my family moved in a different direction, right. 

And so many of us, all of us have poured so much work into Black Lives [Matter]. 

For me, it’s a calling and a purpose. I often [thought that] when we birthed Black Lives Matter it gave me a very clear purpose for my life. And so making sure that we maintain the integrity of BLM and [we] continue to have the resources to do the work is really really important. 

I can fight police and white-supremacists. It doesn’t kill my soul, it feeds my spirit.

That kind of fighting. That struggle for the soul of Black Lives Matter is one that is much heavier for me. And so I carry that weight even as we continue to do the work.

So, you know, we’re all headed out to Buffalo this week. Many of us (I think universally) are very heavy. I don’t often sob. Sometimes tears will fall. But I think many of us have been sobbing since Saturday, [May 14, 2022, when the racist massacre in Buffalo, NY took place], we think about the best of the lives of our grandmothers, you know, those were our grandmothers, and elders and church deacons. 

That’s heavy. And I think right in this moment, we feel attacked by all sides. 

Some people know that I’m in a fight on my campus [Cal State University Los Angeles] around anti-blackness and anti-blackness on campus. 

When we think about Buffalo, it’s not just a question of gun control. It’s a question of how do we stomp out violent white supremacy that is the foundation of this country? It calls for a complete transformation of things. And we don’t have all the answers. 

What we do know is that ancestors and the spirits of people like Mr. Hurley, and Miss Ruth and Miss Kat, have called us to invest all that we can, and building a world that’s fit for your children and my children for generations to come. 

So I’m not good. It’s the short answer. I’m not good. But we will be good. We will win.”

Eye see you Dr. Abdullah in the movement. But, know if you need to pause for a moment–it’s ok.

Keep your eyes on the prize. 

Remember what Michael Zinzun taught us.

“Forward ever. Backward never.
All power to the people.”

*Editor’s Note: This creative ‘call & response’ piece was first published on the LA Progressive on May 22, 2022 and is republished on with permission.