Thandiwe Abdullah: "Watching people beg and cry and scream and rage in the streets feels like a revolution when it is simply how we should be reacting"

The activist is the Co-Founder of the Black Lives Matter Youth Vanguard.

by Thandiwe Abdullah
21 September 2020, 2:02pm

Thandiwe’s story originally appeared in Up + Rising, a celebration of extraordinary Black voices, and is the first chapter of i-D's 40th anniversary issue (1980-2020).

i-D chronicled over 100 activists and artists, musicians and writers, photographers and creatives, in Atlanta, Baltimore, Minneapolis, LA, London, New York, Paris and Toronto.

“The times that we are living in are so crazy right now. Many people have told me they feel as if they are witnessing a revolution, but what is truly revolutionary? Even thinking about the phrase “Black Lives Matter” — there was so little sensitivity towards Black lives in general that even saying Black Lives Matter was a radical statement six years ago. People were like, ‘Oh my God, what? Black lives matter? Are you kidding me?’ And now people are so desensitised to Black lives that we can post videos of Black death and brutality and murder and people don’t feel anything.

Watching people beg and cry and scream and rage in the streets feels like a revolution when it is simply how we should be reacting. Think about that. People don’t seem to want to give the right amount of emotion and rawness and energy towards conversations about pure Blackness because it’s too “radical”. I think that in order to truly build on this, to make this a movement not a moment, we have to understand that fighting for Black lives is bare minimum work. We don’t need allies. I don’t really, truly believe that allies are a real thing. You’re either in the movement or you’re not, and in order to achieve justice everyone needs to feel as if they have something at stake when it comes to Black liberation. We have to view Black Lives Matter as a basic human rights issue.

Saying Black Lives Matter is not a radical demand.”

Thandiwe wears dress Sacai. T-shirt Aries. Jewellery model’s own.


Photography Carlos Nazario
Styling Christine Nicholson

Hair Raina D. Leon.
Make-up Alana Wright at See Management using Fenty Beauty.
Styling assistance José Cordero.
Casting director Samuel Ellis Scheinman for DMCASTING.
Casting assistance Alexandra Antonova.