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Lions Roar : January 2018
icans get what they want?” she asks. But williams is determined to keep walking her path, which is defined by her belief that “our inner lives and social lives are interwoven and interconnected, not just in and of ourselves, but to one another.” It is a path that requires endurance. Wherever she is, williams rises at quarter to six and does her yoga routine and seated medi- tation practice. “I feel like I have a living meditation,” she says. “I do formally practice, but I don’t measure my practice anymore in terms of minutes.” Then, she indulges in another important daily ritual, making a great cup of coffee, a holdover from her time at Kokobar, the first Black-owned internet café that she co-owned with Alice Walker’s activist daughter Rebecca Walker. An avid reader, williams devours The New York Times and pub- lications and books steeped in political subject matter—her future reading list includes Hillbilly Elegy: Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, which seeks to explain the disaffected rural white male voters who carried Donald Trump to the presidency. “A lot of that disaffection comes from the entitlement that comes with whiteness,” williams says. “They are entitled to this country and everyone else is a user, a stealer, a taker, who doesn’t know their place.” Yet every moment of williams’ life isn’t devoted to high- minded pursuits. She sometimes finds time for the occasional popcorn movie, like Logan, a recent instalment in the X-Men franchise and a throwback to the comic book reading of her youth. In it, a weary Wolverine—her old favorite—has his plans to hide from the outside world upended when a young mutant arrives needing protection, forcing the cranky loner to fight one last triumphant battle against the forces of evil. “Who is she?” Wolverine asks another character about the young mutant. “She’s like you. She’s very much like you,” the other character tells Wolverine. As someone who grew up feeling “other” and has made it her life’s work to unseat the systems that create separation, williams is a fan of this movie. “It was terrific,” williams says over the telephone, her faraway voice sounding, for one brief moment, like an eight-year-old girl’s again. ♦ Below: Teaching at Brooklyn Zen Center: “Buddhism has been radicalized by liberatory frameworks in Black, radical, anti-slavery traditions and in feminism.” PHOTOBYA.JESSEJIRYUDAVIS