Haillee Mason – The Magic Of Community Power

I have always been drawn to the magic of community power. Even as a kid, I remember my dad telling me his stories of being a Hempstead Black Panther, wrapped up in the heat of political unrest and anti-black violence, but held and empowered by his brothers in the struggle. My mom would tell me stories of my grandmother, navigating the jagged, unpaved paths of St. Johnian soil, to petition the Obeah woman– whose magic was gifted by community through their trust, and their reverence, and their unwavering belief in their collective power and their divine placement in fellowship together. Historian Robin D. G. Kelley once said in an essay titled “Black Studies, Black Struggle” that, “the impulse to resist is neither involuntary nor solitary. It is a choice made in community, made possible by community, and informed by memory, tradition, and witness”. This work that I do–that we do–commands us to be present, be strong, and to show up for a future that we must believe, and work, and fight into existence. I believe that community is made in the midst of vulnerability; it is cultivated in the deep and soft space between grace, accountability, empathy and the courage, fortified by community, to keep pushing.

It is my belief that the work being done at Student U is movement work. Work that is being done in the name of a collective vision and dream that we cannot yet touch, but will spend our energy, and talents, and time to realize. Under the gravity of racism, capitalism, and the everyday violence of living in the wake of white supremacy, I am grounded in this work and because of this community, I know that I am necessary to this movement. In this community, I feel empowered to be my most authentic self, and I know that I am supported, encouraged, affirmed, and pushed. In this community, I am inspired to dream, try, fail, rethink, restart, revisit, and regather and still leave space to grow and adjust and become a better version of myself. I came to Student U because I believe that another world is possible. It is my belief that lifting up, protecting, and defending black children and black futures is fundamental in this vision. As the systems around them conspire and collude against them, it is my pleasure to do this work in the service of their hopes and dreams.

I stay at Student U because I do this work in the presence of community. I am held accountable by and to this community. I believe another world is possible but can only be made through collective visioning, community care, joint determination, and the radical re-visioning of a world much better than the one we have now. This work is mine as much as anyone else’s and it’s great to be here carrying this bounty together.

Haillee Mason
Student U Development Associate


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