On The Spirituality And Magic Of Resistance – Capital BLACK’s Asiyah Robinson Speaks About Her Drive
Asiyah Robinson, a dedicated community organizer and educator based on the ancestral territories of the Lekwungen and WSÁNEĆ peoples, now colonially known Victoria, BC reflects on blackness and what home means to her as she advocates for the rights and wellbeing of BIPOC people. Her numerous involvements and accomplishments are a testament to her passion for community engagement: She graduated this year with a B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Chemistry from the University of Victoria, she is going into her third year as the Director for Youth Engagement for World Partnership Walk and currently works at UVic’s Alumni & Development department. Her extensive involvement and organizing further extends to Resilience BC , where she is a member of the strategic planning committee; and her involvement with Iye Collective, a holistic organization providing sustainable food to marginalized communities. She is also one of the founders of Capital BLACK, a community organization seeking to create spaces for proactive dialogue on the lived experiences of BIPOC in Victoria.
As a Black Muslim Woman hailing from the Bahamas, Asiyah Robinson’s work is both personal and political. Her initiation into community building and organizing began at her local Mosque in Victoria, where she continually volunteered and supported programs and events. To Robinson, resistance and resilience are spiritual.
“My spirituality is the core to all the work that I do. As Black people, spirituality in and of itself is key to why we are the beings that we are: [despite] everything we [as Black people] have experienced, we still have energy and drive to fight for ourselves and others, to push forward for the next generation.”
Her journey into her Blackness began in Canada, and it was fraught with casual racism and self-doubt on the authenticity of her Black Muslimah expression. She often felt as though one identity was conflicting or overshadowing the other but it is through continuous work and affirmations by her community that she stepped more boldly into her complex and nuanced identity.
“What I realized is that regardless of our identities...nothing can overshadow or undermine us. We show up in so many different ways.”
It’s equally important for other young Black Muslim women watching her take space and express herself, young Muslimah’s who “never see Muslim women do something like that, whether on TV or in their real lives.” It’s due to these experiences that she was motivated to create Capital BLACK.
Formed in the summer of 2020, Capital BLACK was inspired by a Peace Rally hosted by a young courageous woman, Vanessa Simon, on June 1st, 2020 to protest George Floyd’s murder. The mission of Capital BLACK is to advocate for the rights of Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Capital BLACK stands for BIPOC, Allyship, Community and Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K) and in line with that, continues to hold space for BIPOC youth to share their experiences and build community.
“Capital Black is a hub for conversation, it's a hub for youth to learn about their black identity and how it intersects. We don't only center black people, it's for BIPOC. We are a collective of people of different identities and we believe we make change through conversation, through action, through youth empowerment. Nothing has given me as much power, as much drive, as much vision like being with BIPOC youth in a space. It's amazing and magical.”
In addition to creating, holding and protecting space for intercultural engagement through Capital BLACK, Robinson is also on the strategic planning committee for Resilience BC. It's a relatively young organization dedicated to working & identifying hate and racism within schools, businesses and social institutions. She is also a proud member of Iye Collective, an initiative dedicated to Black sovereignty primarily through food access. Iye Collective incorporates local indigenous ways of knowing in regards to land stewardship and protection while providing marginalized families, mostly black, with access to nutritious greens. Just this past August Dr Bonnie Henry acknowledged that Black families were among the worst affected demographics by COVID-19. Iye Collective not only caters to the needs of vulnerable families but also affirms Black sovereignty through sustainable food access and education on how to grow one’s own food.
“I think education is the greatest tool when it comes to liberation and growth. There is an energy there in being able to help people unpack their identities, their intersections and their understanding of how the world is.”
Robinson dedicates her continuous drive and inspiration from her community and the personal relationships she has made along the way. Notably, the courage of Vanessa Simon and the blessings of the Indigenous community.
“One of my other connections Elder Rose Henry, whose given Indigenous name is Klasom Satlt’xw Losah, said that she adopted me. The strength and importance of relationships are so powerful that when she claimed me to be her daughter in that spiritual sense it honored me so much. It's really important to recognize that you can't have Black relations in Victoria without Indigenous sovereignty. It's just not possible.”
When thinking of the future, Robinson has a positive and excited outlook that is inspired by the relationships she has built. It is a future that is vibrant and removed from systemic violence.
"What's so great about indigeneity and Black peoples is our strength when it comes to relationships, and that tie we have with friends and family. We are two groups of people [who] genuinely understand what community means. Black Futurism on these indigenous lands is us building genuine relationships, having genuine conversation, grounded in our ancestry and spirituality for a greater vision, for all generations.”
Read full interview transcript here