Our Guiding Symbol is inspired by the cosmogram that encapsulates Harlem Renaissance Poet Langston Hughes' ashes at the Schomburg CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON BLACK CULTURE.
The first time I visited the Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, I immediately fell in love with Langston Hughes' memorial embedded into the Center's flooring. It was the first time I saw an African cosmogram and I was completely taken away by the symbolism, which led me to explore cosmograms. Hughes' cosmogram is an artistical depiction of his poem Rivers.
It illustrates Hughes and Arturo A. Schomburg's life lines, excerpts from the Rivers poem, and pays "tribute in the tradition of African ritual ground markings, weaving a web of connections between people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, the past and the present" (Schomburg).
Our cosmogram is a symbol of our collective life lines: where we are, where we were, and where we will be; it integrates an afrofuturistic take on a cosmic map that connects our past and present to transformative and liberated futures. It places liberation and equity as real space to exist within our current and ancestral life lines.
It is a reminder that our path there is already inside us, part of the gifts bestowed by our ancestors and waiting be unlocked by through our cycles of learning, unlearning, and relearning; our symbolic births, lives, and deaths.
It serves as a North Star so that whatever work we (Transformative Research) engage in align with our values around learning, transformation, living, equity, and liberation.
What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?
What if our America is not dead but a country still waiting to be born? What if the story of America is one long labor?
What if all the mothers who came before us, who survived genocide and occupation, slavery and Jim Crow, racism and xenophobia and Islamophobia, political oppression and sexual assault, are standing behind us now, whispering in our ear:
You are brave.
What if this is our Great Contraction before we birth a new future?
Remember the wisdom of the midwife: “Breathe,” she says. Then: “Push.”
- Valerie Kaur, Sikh Prayer for America
Our cosmogram reminds us of the importance of understanding, critiquing, and ending all forms of institutional oppression (racism, sexism, ableism, imperialism, homophobia, classism and more)
TO RADICALLY DREAM, CREATE, AND BUILD AN EQUITABLE, TRANSFORMATIVE, AND LIBERATORY WORLD that exists beyond oppression as opposed to as a response to it.