Community, Resistance, Truth: Our Lunch Talk with Five Mualimm-ak
Hyperakt Lunch Talks are intimate lectures featuring the world’s top creative talents. We spoke with Five Mualimm-ak, Co-Founder of Incarcerated Nation Corp.
Perhaps we would all do well to consider that the purest form of resistance is truth. To speak, feel, and act upon your own personal truth can be fuel enough to mobilize communities to better themselves. Truth, however requires courage. For our most recent Lunch Talk, we were graced with the opportunity to hear activist and artist Five Omar Mualimm-ak discuss his life, work, and philosophy on politics, justice, Donald Trump, and criminal justice reform.
If you are unaware of Five’s work, he’s a bit of a renaissance man: an advocate for mental health & criminal justice reform, one of the leaders of Incarcerated Nation, a human rights activist working with the UN and ACLU among others, and an artist. He was also incarcerated for twelve years, and in solitary confinement for five of them. Different from our past Lunch Talks, we had a candid conversation, witnessing community-based organizing first-hand and gaining a lesson in civic engagement.
To hear Mr. Mualimm-ak speak requires an unapologetic dose of empathy. Imagine yourself fixed, surrounded by four blank walls with no windows, alone with your thoughts and the memories of those who lie outside those walls. Solitary confinement turns days to weeks, weeks turn to months and years, and when you get out the world is not the place you know it to be. On the surface it’s a gloomy picture. However, Five’s story is ultimately one of redemption, as he is a man who hasn’t let his past define who he is. Instead, he has allowed his past to guide a narrative of purpose in his new life. His activism is now centered on criminal justice reform, driven by a tireless fight to change the system he was a part of.
What started as a small undertaking has grown into a movement. He has helped build a coalition of organizations and networks doing on-the-ground community building, touching the lives of hundreds of young people. Five now works closely with NGOs such as Amnesty International and the UN to raise awareness about prison reform for global leaders. He works to defend human rights with influential organizations like the ACLU. To us, these feats may seem larger-than-life. But the question begs of us: how will we use our own experiences to create a better world? Hearing it from Five, it takes love, resolve, resistance, fight, truth, courage. It also takes the willingness to challenge our local leaders. These are words we can all live by.