By Steven D’Alterio ’21
The Herald recently got the opportunity to catch up with an amazing leader of love, self-growth, and empowerment here at HWS: Fatim Cisse ’23. Cisse hosts a weekly Zoom program called Hour of Power Chats, which she describes as a collective endeavor to save and foster lives that have been lied to and told that they are not as they know themselves.
Hour of Power is an exercise in giving, sharing, meditation, and self-empowerment, open to all ages, colors, creeds, and ethnicities. The meetings are held on Saturdays at 12:30pm. During meetings, Cisse presents research and facilitates discussion on various topics, such as what it means to defund the police, black motivation, and the black constitution, Ubuntu.
Here is Cisse, in her own words:
First things first, [can you] tell as a little bit about yourself?
Hi, my name is Fatim Cisse. I am an abolitionist, I am a being of light, I am my ancestors’ love, I am fierce as the waters, I am a tree, I am Harriet’s Prayer. I am stepping out of ego; I am a proud African woman. I am an active poet, I am a light speaker, I am someone that honors authenticity and community, and I am growing into my purpose each and every day by speaking my truth of empowerment, and I am grateful and thankful for myself.
What has inspired or molded you into who you are today?
I would say my ancestors. I give total gratitude and total credit to my ancestors. They are who gives me guidance. I want to give a big shoutout to Harriet Tubman who lives just down the road in her home. She has given me a lot of guidance here in Geneva in times of distress and confusion. I look to the moon, I look to the stars; that has contributed to my journey. My ancestors praying to me has contributed to my journey.
Also, my urge and hunger to be one with [my]self and to know that I can live and be successful without white identities being placed on me. Also, my community: people of color have helped to shape my journey. That urge to be one with myself has really added to my journey. Believing in all my capabilities and my strengths, knowing that they are not fallacy, even though society tries to say they are, tries to take away my birthrights. I am molded by being open to learn and willing to learn from past trauma in order to not repeat traumas.
What we your first impressions of HWS and what motivated you to start the Hour of Power?
Imma be real with you. I didn’t see myself coming to this place, I didn’t know about it. I was going to transfer but I changed plans because I changed mindset. That was a want of the past and not a want of now. My ego told me to do it because I had told myself to do it, but it changed.
First impressions, it’s quiet. It needs some noise. Needs some voices. Needs some throat chakra. It was very different from the city, but I appreciate the nature. This land is a stolen one, one from the Seneca. When you look at the trees, you can really see how this is a forest that we are supposed to be in. When I came, I decided to embrace the nature, fall in love with the nature, because I am the embodiment of it. Like I said, I am a tree. But I got the chance for Harriet to show me that even though I felt like I was really far away from home, I was home because Harriet was right there with guidance for me. And she let me know that it’s okay, and that she is always here, and very motivational.
But when I first came here, they tried me. I knew I would be tried, tried for my respect of my blackness. I knew I would be tested, that my spirit would be tested. I didn’t think it was going to happen so fast, but it happened right when I came.
First you see all this beautiful nature and think, “You’re home, you’re home,” but then people try to make you feel like you’re not home. I stood up for myself and was immediately into action. And I am grateful for that, being able to use my voice, because I know that some people don’t have that voice as ready as I had it. That is why I push to advocate not only for myself, but for others.
But it just kept happening, boom-boom, in Summer Institution, in class, in the Café, in the next class, and the next class, it just kept happening to me. They would say, “You deserve to be here,” and I would say, “I never thought I didn’t deserve to be here, why are you saying that to me?” I don’t understand why they put these thoughts in your head. Even professors, “Ahhh the test is so hard… I know I know…,” and I would ask, “Who said it was so hard? Why are you putting this negativity out there?”
People had a lot of assumptions about how I felt about the institution; they were presenting my displacement before I could even make placement for myself. I chose to live outside of America’s cloud, and instead created a path of clarity for myself. I stayed in touch with my ancestors and fed myself on their Cosmic Vibrations.
What is Hour of Power?
I wanted to answer my question as to why I wasn’t learning about necessary things when it came to empowering the Black existence. They want to teach you Black value by teaching you Black pain or Black suffering. Instead, you teach power by showing the beauty and showing the greatness. Teach about our true spirit in an empowering way.
Often you go into classrooms and learn about the slave trade, what happened on the boats, and allathat, and the Tuskegee experiment, and so many debilitating things. Then next period you go and eat lunch; after lunch you go to Econ class and learn about how they are stealing your money and creating pollution, then you go to Biology and learn how they murdered you and that the textbook is built on the Black body without any credit to the Black body. All this stuff and nobody is empowering you!
Let’s talk about the relevant things. Let’s talk about Black home ownership, let’s talk about why we aren’t writing the textbooks. We want to talk about the slave ship, where is that at? Where is that slave ship? It is nowhere to be found. Let’s talk about the things that will really help us to progress, and let’s stop reliving trauma. That’s why they put you in the classroom to relive the trauma over, and over, and over again. Let’s talk about what concerns us right here today.
I also like to talk about how we lived before slavery, about our true nature, about how powerful we have always been. I want to teach in an empowering way, about Kings and Queens, the warmth of melanin, our oneness with nature, in an empowering way. I lead guided meditation; I want to be a reflection of belief in yourself.
Hour of Power is a global space. HWS is not my life as well; Hour of Power is a Global Space that everyone can join in. Black, White, whateva. I want to give people the tools to empower themselves. I want to prepare people for the revolution. We create solutions. Once you leave Hour of Power, you start thinking, “No Longer.” No longer will I be manipulated into not trusting myself. No longer will I distrust my Blackness, but instead I know how much my Blackness provides for the universe and White people. Blackness is keeping everyone alive right now. It is the truth, it’s keeping people going, keeping them eating…
Hour of Power is all ages. I tell people, bring they kids! The fruitful part of it all is the dialogue we have. I’m not even talking facts, I’m talking feelings, I’m talking enriched in knowing oneself. We are asserting and securing ourselves; everyone must add to the space. Your voice matters to what we do. We are breaking generational traumas each time we meet! We are saving lives; we are fostering lives!
You have some time to think about it, but what do you think your Senior Quote will be?
I have to get my mind in that setting, I have to think about that. Maybe… Maybe like “Harriet says let the ego go.” Or, “You can’t empower others without empowering yourself.” Imma have to think about it…
Plug your socials!
Follow us at @hour_of_power_chats on Instagram to stay up updated on the revolution until we officially release the HOPC website. Spread the global word my people!
@The_Womb’s_Yoga on Instagram offers free yoga for Black women on Sundays and for Black men a few times during the month.
Featured image by Ani Freedman