WACO, Texas—Apostle Claver Kamau-Imani, as he prefers to be known, gives every indication of being the real deal. He is a Christian activist who spent years working with addicts and the homeless in Houston, and his is one of the few black faces you will see here at the first big confab of the Texas Nationalist Movement, a group that is institutionally committed to seeking the independence of Texas as a sovereign republic apart from the United States—Texit, as they call it.
Beyond the core of Texit true believers, it’s mostly just MAGA in Western wear from Cavender’s and Boot Barn, the detritus of various suburban Tea Party groups and Trumpist organizations and QAnon cultists that have moved on to the next obsession. Weirdly enough, surprisingly few of them are Texans of any meaningful tenure—a fair number of them are Californians radicalized by COVID-19 lockdowns and tall tales of stolen elections, people who arrived in the Promised Land about two days ago. But Apostle Claver Kamau-Imani is not one of these—he is a son of Beaumont and a fifth-generation Texan, and while he makes no apologies for his Christianity or the generally Christian character of the movement he represents, he is working hard to be inclusive, emphasizing that Texit welcomes Muslims, Sikhs, and all people of good faith.
“Not everybody is going to be a tongue-talking, cast-out-a-demon-in-a-second Pentecostal,” he says. Truth be told, he seems to be the only one in the room, which is pretty much what you’re expecting it to be: overwhelmingly white, old, middle-to-low income, lots of disabilities. But the attendees have good manners: Almost all of the hat-wearing men remove their hats for the apostle’s invocation, and this is a room with some people who are pretty serious about hats. The news of the day being what it is, the apostle begins with a prayer for the people of Israel, asking God’s blessings on the nation.