In the first issue of this publication, john a. powell and Stephen Menendian write: “The problem of the twenty-first century is the problem of ‘othering’” and “the only viable solution . . . is one involving inclusion and belongingness.” It is a simple and audacious argument.
In 1903, W. E. B. Du Bois prophetically stated: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” It is a well-known sentence that is rarely quoted completely. Du Bois goes on to describe the color line as “the question of how far differences of race . . . will hereafter be made the basis of denying to over half the world the right of sharing to their utmost ability the opportunities and privileges of modern civilization.” In The Souls of Black Folk, he says it is “the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea” and says, “It was a phase [emphasis mine] of this problem that caused the Civil War.”
If in conjuring Du Bois, powell and Menendian suggest that we are now in another phase of the problem of the color line, then I agree. I read this as an invitation to take a global and historical view of the forces that have drawn and redrawn the color line, which Du Bois understood as a global system of exploitation, an evolving mechanism of human sorting that accompanied the development of Western national economies and empires. The color line sorts the free from the unfree, the owners from the dispossessed, discerning who belongs and who does not belong within the nation-state or within humanity itself. Political theorist Cedric Robinson later called this racial capitalism, a general description of the West’s organization, expansion, and ideology of capitalist society as expressed through race, racial subjection, and racial differences.
Du Bois was an early forecaster of how the relationship between race, nation, and empire would drive major conflicts like anticolonial struggle and racial integration, and how it would inspire expansive freedom dreams. A consistent, yet commonly overlooked, mainstay of black radical politics has been the demand not simply to be included in the nation but to transform its very meaning by contesting capitalism and empire. That Reconstruction was left unfinished meant that this transformation never took place, and the rapacious logic of capitalism and Western empire continued to brutalize black bodies in ever-evolving systems of exclusion and exploitation. This systematic devaluation of black life, like Lani Guinier’s miner’s canary, augured growing ranks of the dispossessed that have crossed racial and national boundaries.
We, the living, have the advantage of hindsight in assessing the principal problem of humanity in this last century. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Riverside Church in which he publicly opposed the Vietnam War. It is my favorite King speech. He knowingly risks alienating significant portions of his base by denouncing not just domestic racism but also militarism and capitalism. King warned that these “giant triplets” formed a blueprint for “violent coannihilation” and called for a spiritual revolution of values fueled by a deep and all-embracing love. That he was killed exactly one year later has always haunted me. It is as if silencing his radicalism was a prerequisite for declaring the freedom dreams of black Americans achieved, for entirely swallowing up all arguments for dismantling the color line by denying its existence, driving its workings underground through new narratives of the deserving versus the undeserving of humanity.
The Violence of Belonging
The political utility of stories lies in their ability to shape how we see each other, and ourselves, as part of a shared national community. But to paraphrase historian Howard Zinn, nations have never been communities. American holidays, advertising, and textbooks make up a national mythology about multiculturalism that masks the realities of unresolved conflict. Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz explains how the folklore of the “gift-giving Indian” giving corn, beans, log cabins, and more to the project of American democracy functions to normalize violence:1)Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (ReVisioning American History) (Beacon Press, 2015).
This idea of the gift-giving Indian helping to establish and enrich the development of the United States is an insidious smoke screen meant to obscure the fact that the very existence of the country is a result of the looting of an entire continent and its resources . . .
Settler colonialism, as an institution or system, requires violence or the threat of violence to attain its goals. People do not hand over their land, resources, children, and futures without a fight, and that fight is met with violence. In employing the force necessary to accomplish its expansionist goals, a colonizing regime institutionalizes violence.
An example from 1873 is typical, with General William T. Sherman writing, “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children . . . during an assault, the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age.”
powell and Menendian take up the language of othering and belonging to articulate the challenges of the current period, weaving together cognitive science, the power of schema, and the tendency of demagoguery to thrive during times of political instability and economic rupture. Yet given the brutality of the current economic and political system, of the nation, something feels missing in both the problem statement and the solution.
The violence of nationalism is built on the logic of belonging.
Exactly one hundred years after Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, Indian author and human rights activist Arundhati Roy published War Talk. In it she writes: “Nationalism of one kind or another was the cause of most of the genocide of the twentieth century. Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people’s minds and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead.”2)Arundhati Roy, War Talk (Cambridge: South End Press, 2003). The violence of nationalism is built on the logic of belonging. The failures of capitalism and modern liberal democracy stem from their reliance on belonging as the basis for differential valuations of human life. Ruth Wilson Gilmore puts this succinctly: “Capitalism requires inequality and racism enshrines it.”3)Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “The Worrying State of the Anti-Prison Movement: Social Justice,” Socialjusticejournal.org, February 23, 2015. Not everyone can be equal in value, so liberalism creates the folklore of race and nation to explain the borders between those who belong and the excluded / oppressed / dispossessed.
We learn to associate modernity with human progress, yet Dunbar-Ortiz situates the violence of North American settler colonialism as a distinctly modern project:4)Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (ReVisioning American History) (Beacon Press, 2015).
The form of colonialism that the Indigenous peoples of North America have experienced was modern from the beginning: the expansion of European corporations, backed by government armies, into foreign areas, with subsequent expropriation of lands and resources. Settler colonialism is a genocidal policy.
The modern world rests upon an idea of freedom that requires unfreedom. Grand declarations of equality have always accompanied profound realities of inequality. Critical race scholar Chandan Reddy calls this devil’s bargain of the modern liberal state “freedom with violence.” He explains how in the early part of the twentieth century, state regulation of labor and migration forced categories of humanity that justified state violence:5)Chandan Reddy, Freedom with Violence: Race, Sexuality, and the US State, 1st ed. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011).
By the interwar years, the modern regulation of population as the technique of ruling had made racial and national identity basic to the human person. Belonging to this or that community was now innate to the human subject. Even as modernity intensified the movement of peoples—and perhaps because of this intensification—the immigration state interpreted those movements through a lens that attributed belonging to all migrating bodies. All bodies had national origins, and the Immigration Act of 1924 . . . set numerical quotas by nationality as a way to regulate the arrival of impoverished immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. Using social scientific knowledge as its fulcrum, the newly formed juridicoadministrative state restricted immigration, excluded some groups altogether, and carried out other illiberal practices, such as the sterilization of women, within US society, ironically through citing the forms of belonging that it claimed existed prior to political society: the various national, racial, regional, religious, or linguistic communities that the National Origins Act codified.
Our concepts of liberal democracy are tied to the idea of a differentiated humanity through this state-imposed mythology of race and nation, to our belief that each of us has an innate racial and national identity that defines our humanity. Through practice, we have become blind to our connectedness across and within borders. Realizing the solution will require us to build ourselves anew culturally and politically.
Race as Rivalry
I have been grappling with language. For years, working in the racial justice movement, I have hit the wall on words and meaning. The following quote from critical race scholar Daniel M. HoSang reflects my frustration when exploring the question of multiracial solidarity. It too often involves the reification of racial categories that gets in the way of forging new antiracist identities and shared political goals.
In queer studies, “queer” is not a population, but a verb, a political vision and an action—for example, queering a relationship, or to queer a critique. Also in disability studies, it’s not describing attributes of people, but challenging the idea of normalcy. Ethnic studies has been emptied of its politics . . . Who’s in a room? We count bodies, and then say it’s an indication of racism because there aren’t people of color. The argument is that there is a particular experience as people of color, but that’s not true . . . We also treat White as a natural category, not as an ideology, a way of looking at the world . . . We no longer have a vision of transformation. Instead, we believe that the distribution of harms by race is somehow a justice vision. Would it be just if people were distributed in prisons on an equitable basis? That’s the culmination of the racial justice project. We need to envision broader transformation. 6)ChangeLab National Strategy Summit, Seattle, WA, April 20, 2013.
I’m no philosopher, but as a writer and former organizer, I know that language matters. Words like “felon” and “illegal” have profound material consequences. I have long been partial to Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s definition of racism as “the state-sanctioned or extralegal production and exploitation of group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death,”7)Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California, 1st ed. (University of California Press, 2007). but have found that it reinforces two false ideas: that racism only hurts people of color and benefits whites, and that this, rather than the normalization of a differentiated humanity, is its greatest harm. I have tried experimenting with Saskia Sassen’s phrase “savage sorting,” which describes the cruelly simple outcomes of complex chains of transactions in today’s global capitalism,8)Saskia Sassen, Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Cambridge: Belknap of Harvard University, 2014). but while it has a certain ring, it requires too much explaining. I have tested out my own language of “race as rivalry,” because what has been happening to the working class reminds me of Roman gladiator fights, or massive mixed martial arts cage fights. But in a culture that glorifies professional sports, this feels inadequate to capture racism’s inhumanity.
Assigning natural rights to some and not others is the folklore that drives bloodlust, rivalries over things that should not be at stake. The state-propagated idea of race and national origins as natural, as fixed categories of people who share innate essential qualities, is not only historically inaccurate but politically demobilizing. The reality is that we are “raced” in relationship to each other through a changing combination of rules, stories, accepted knowledge, and more. While these things may originate from those with power, we all participate in their perpetuation through day-to-day economic, social, and political action. Antiracist struggle requires not a reshuffling of categories but a replacement for the rivalries of capitalism, a new common sense and practice for how we live on this earth.
At around the same time of Dr. King’s 1967 speech, the model minority myth took hold of the American public imagination. It had been in formation for decades. Chinese and Japanese Americans who previously had been characterized as disease-ridden, untrustworthy, sexually deviant, and criminal were miraculously redeemed as exemplary nonwhites. This shift reflected a changing marketplace of ideas about race and nation, one in which US elites needed to tweak the racial common sense in the Cold War contest for geopolitical power. The model minority had to embody the possibility of racial uplift while maintaining the validity of rules against which insurgent blacks and other threats to the liberal capitalist state could be justifiably punished.9)Ellen D. Wu, The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority (Princeton University Press, 2015). http://www.teapartynation.com/forum/topics/panderer-or-genius It is an example of the violence that belonging has inflicted with interventions from multiple sectors: the academy, government, media, and ethnic organizations. In the US nation-state, othering and belonging are two sides of the same coin, binding the deserving to the undeserving in a system of brutal competition. Just as the state violence of immigration enforcement makes national borders real, our rivalries within the economy give meaning to racial boundaries.
Examples of this abound in the experiences of global migrants. The war that Dr. King risked his work and his life to denounce in the 1960s led to a refugee crisis that relocated Southeast Asian refugees to urban sites of economic and political abandonment, where the War on Drugs was decimating black communities. Refugee children of the 1980s grew up to encounter welfare and immigration laws in the 1990s that drove them into economic crisis, incarceration, and deportation in the 2000s. Longtime Cambodian organizer Sarath Suong points out how his parents, displaced from the killing fields of Cambodia to a refugee camp in Thailand and then to a reeducation camp in the Philippines, were groomed to be cheap labor by the time that they arrived in the United States. For Asian Americans, our entry into this nation, our arrival, has been as rivals. The biggest roadblock to multiracial solidarity is failing to recognize race as a system of state-brokered relationships within a global structure of deadly competition.
Donald Trump’s administration has wasted no time spreading chaos, fear, and confusion. Within days of taking office, the regime rolled out an anti-Muslim travel ban, suspended refugee admissions, green lighted construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, insulted America’s international allies, attacked the judiciary and the media, and conducted a raid on a Yemeni village that left nine children and fifteen other civilians dead. While news outlets struggled to keep up with the torrent of White House gaffes and bombshells, Republican state legislators moved on numerous bills attacking unions, abortion rights, transgender rights, and public education; slashing taxes; rolling back regulations; criminalizing protest; and preemptively curbing the power of progressive cities to fight back.
The biggest roadblock to multiracial solidarity is failing to recognize race as a system of state-brokered relationships within a global structure of deadly competition.
Social justice movements have delivered on their own promise: to resist. The day after Trump’s inauguration, a record-breaking four million people took to the streets in six hundred US towns and cities for a Women’s March that also inspired satellite marches around the world from Nairobi to Beirut to Tokyo. Just days later, thousands of protesters showed up at several US airports to protest the detention of noncitizens from seven Muslim-majority nations that Trump attempted to exclude through an ill-fated travel ban. In communities across America, people who had never before participated in a march or rally stepped out of their comfort zones and into the streets. In this time of grave danger, we must not forget, as my friend and longtime comrade Eric Ward so poignantly put it, that we are the storm, and we are here.
Meanwhile the wave of hate violence that swept the country immediately following Trump’s election has continued, most recently with the killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla by white navy veteran Adam Purinton in Olathe, Kansas, who yelled, “Get out of my country!” before shooting Kuchibhotla and another Indian immigrant, believing them to be Iranian. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the number of organized hate groups has increased for the second year in a row. This year marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the murder of Vincent Chin, mistaken as “a Jap” by white former autoworkers Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz. Purinton’s actions reveal that the connections between war, capitalism, and white rage endure. The promise of Asian American radicalism lies in revealing this.
This volatile moment contains important breaks from accepted norms. Irregularities include the Executive Branch’s aberrant behavior in the form of “alternative facts,” hostile press briefings, and rambling press conferences that lend credence to the refrain, “This is not normal.” But they can also be seen in a mainstream media that has found itself under attack, with some journalists and editorial boards adopting insurgent positions. Media professionals are talking about their civic duty, reclaiming the banner of investigative journalism in service to democracy and not to market shares. Just weeks after the election, Marty Baron, executive editor of the Washington Post, said to his colleagues that “holding the most powerful to account is what we are supposed to do. If we do not do that, then what exactly is the purpose of journalism?”
Career civil servants from the State Department to the Environmental Protection Agency to NASA are actively dissenting, whether through leaks or rogue Twitter accounts. Former staffers from the Obama administration have emerged as sources of advice and insight into political resistance, through podcasts such as Pod Save America and projects like Indivisible. Democrats in cities and states have openly defied the Trump administration by declaring themselves sanctuary governments and launching lawsuits against Trump’s policies. Corporate giants like Starbucks, Microsoft, Airbnb, Amazon, and others have spoken out against Trump’s policies and adopted various forms of dissent, as have numerous celebrities.
Resistance has gone vogue.
These are positive signs, but resistance to rightwing authoritarianism must do more than settle back into the norms of liberalism if we are to address the problem of othering and belonging. The current crisis is screaming out for change, not for a reversion to the neoliberal status quo. Neoliberalism, represented most recently by the Obama administration but originating in a ruling class backlash against the Keynesian economic policies implemented in the middle of the last century, has led to a weakened labor movement, unprecedented inequality, resegregation, hollowed out economies both in former industrial manufacturing cities and in rural counties, a mass incarceration crisis, a mortgage crisis, and unending war. It placed othering and belonging on steroids, while signaling multiculturalism as a virtue by presumed national consensus.
The effect was a perception among precarious or dispossessed whites that racial justice meant multiculturalism, and that meant yoga studios, MacBooks, lattes, high-tech jobs, and other urban privileges that were out of reach for most white people. Leaders of racial justice movements saw the Kool-Aid for what it was and felt ever-growing frustration at the appearance of diversity with not only a lack of justice but active brutality in the form of gentrification, criminalization and police abuse, skyrocketing mass incarceration, and continued divestment from public services and infrastructure. Unfortunately, the demands of the racial justice movement were not easily discernible from the cultural consensus put forth by the neoliberal class, particularly following the election of Barack Obama, even though they were oceans apart.
Longtime organizer N’Tanya Lee puts it this way:10)ChangeLab National Strategy Summit, Seattle, WA, April 20, 2013.
The destruction of the Black left means that liberal folks are in charge of saying what liberation is for Black people. They get to be part of defining civil rights and racial justice in ways that have nothing to do with Black people’s interests, really.
Now here we are.
Like black and brown rebellions from slave revolts to coolie mutinies to today’s Standing Rock, what is happening in American politics now is a form of rejecting dispossession. The suffering and precarity underlying Trumpian white rage is the result of racial capitalism. The difference is that the Trumpian whitelash rejects dispossession, not to expand the possibilities of life, dignity, and self-determination for all but to reanimate an earlier phase of the color line, an exclusive definition of the nation that hoards life exclusively for its white citizenry.
Social cognition research may capture our brains as they are, but this is the result of the world around us. Segregation and implicit bias are mutually reinforcing. Markets by definition require discrimination because they rely on rivalry. When that is the central operating logic of the economy, when your physical survival relies on your competitive ability to produce profit for the ruling class, then the human brain’s propensity to categorize people racially is, in fact, about survival. This is the logic we must change.
The development of chattel slavery necessarily included norms of religion, gender, sexuality, family formation, ability, et cetera. Intersectionality is important because it is the key to unlocking the capitalist state’s social control. Surviving the modern world has not demanded much of us in the way of universal empathy. In fact, it has increasingly required us to consent to the inevitability of someone else’s dehumanization or absolute elimination.
Continuing to see ourselves as distinct groups independent of one another blinds us to the workings of the larger system, and to solutions. Like Robinson, Lisa Lowe has illustrated the importance and limitations of Marxist theory, writing: “In the history of the United States, capital has maximized its profits not through rendering labor ‘abstract’ but precisely through the social production of ‘difference’ . . . marked by race, nation, geographical origins, and gender.”11)Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Duke University Press, 1996). Citizenship in the United States has always been racialized and tied to the promise of economic uplift. Thus, the violence of belonging through race, nation, and the economy must be problem solved together. Doing so is as much a cultural project as a political and economic one.
There is something beautiful and resonant in powell and Menendian’s language of the “circle of human concern,” yet it could be expanded to a greater sense of wholeness. powell and Menendian write that inclusion and belonging must go beyond tolerance and accommodation to “ultimately support the creation of new inclusive narratives, identities, and structures.” One place to start may be to revisit those movements that have always had an expansive vision of such transformation.
In a speech published in 1984, black feminist, lesbian, author, and activist Barbara Smith said: “We are in a huge mishmash created by mad people at the top, and we are constantly trying to rectify the situation. I see the process of rectification as what Black feminism is all about: making a place on this globe that is fit for human life.”12)Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, eds., with Barbara Smith, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith (State University of New York, 2014).
Speaking to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1964, Ella Baker said: “Even if segregation is gone, we will still need to be free; we will still have to see that everyone has a job. Even if we can all vote, but if people are still hungry, we will not be free . . . Remember, we are not fighting for the freedom of the Negro alone, but for the freedom of the human spirit, a larger freedom that encompasses all mankind.”13)Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times, 1st ed. (Beacon, 2017).
Contrast this to the following statement by US Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina in 1849: “The two great divisions of society are not the rich and the poor, but white and black; and all the former, the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class and are respected and treated as equals, if honest and industrious; and hence have a position and pride of character of which neither poverty nor misfortune can deprive them.” This reflects the impacts of the color line, of racial capitalism, and of modern liberal society on our material conditions and on our consciousness.
Undoing Violent Coannihilation
Black subjugation, settler colonialism, and war diminish the universal meaning of life itself. Oppressed groups have fought to penetrate the wall dividing the free from the unfree, the normal from the aberrant, the world of the living from the world of the dispossessed, to make America’s declarations of equality less untrue. But the wall endures—the color line across which race does its “savage sorting.” On one side of that line, the world of the living is populated by the creative class, the winners, the gentrifiers, and the political descendants of yesterday’s colonial settlers. Today’s prison industrialists are descendants of yesterday’s eugenicists; today’s national border policies offspring of yesterday’s redlining.
In this world of the living thrives the real identity politics that brought down the Democratic Party in the 2016 election: the urban neoliberal, the progressive who is just fine in his skin, benefiting from the dislocation, dispossession, or death of another as long as there is a net profit on the balance sheet of progress—measured by GDP, average life expectancy, unemployment rates, and other data points. The logic, structures, institutions, and policies that produce this identity are the “giant triplets” that Dr. King predicted would lead to “violent coannihilation”—racism, war, and capitalism. These are the invisible sharp edges of power sorting the world of the living from the dispossessed such that phrases like “Black lives matter” and “Water is life” become necessary.
In this context, culture has descended into the grab bag of markets. The hegemon artfully takes the trinkets of various subcultures to fashion a superculture of the global marketplace: Western democracy anchored by America—intercultural, interconnected, idealistic, international, innovative, and intelligent. So many i’s that make up an us formed against them. The West took “bits of colored cloth,” fashioned a transnational flag, and expected all rational people to pledge allegiance to it, to the winners of globalization, to free markets, to tanks/guns/drones, to progress, to common sense.
I believe that the transformative potential we need lies in the growing global ranks of the dispossessed, who are not all the same and are not all experiencing the same things, but who are prey to the outcomes of an economic system that so few of us understand. This has always been true, but it has reached a different scale and pace.
This is where a new kind of human identity can emerge, not from an invitation to join the hegemon, not at the doorstep of the living. It will emerge from the knowledge among the dispossessed that I am not you, and you are not me, and that this is only a problem if our differences result in consequentially different life outcomes and if they determine the ability of one of us to eat, to live free of violence, to have adequate shelter, to form intimate human relationships, to be healthy, and to imagine and create. The truth is that we need one another to do these things.
I believe that the transformative potential we need lies in the growing global ranks of the dispossessed …
We have underestimated the carnage of the modern world. It is time to put ourselves together perhaps for the first time.
My friend Hannah Jones is a volunteer with Chaplains on the Harbor in Grays Harbor County, Washington, a former timber economy on Quinault Indian territory. She sent me an email on International Women’s Day that moved me deeply. I read it several times.
We saw the stretch of rail yard along the river where many homeless people set up camp, but are routinely harassed by police or have their homes destroyed by sweeps. We saw the hospital where one young man was turned away because he was profiled as “drug seeking,” only to die at the third hospital he tried in Olympia. We heard how Child Protective Services has been charged with a lawsuit for trafficking children they take away from mothers in poverty. We saw the spot where a young man, being chased by cops, jumped into the river and drowned. He was not the first and he won’t be the last. We threw flowers into the river at that spot, one by one, to honor and remember all of the people from the Grays Harbor community who have been killed by the violence of poverty. It’s a clear view into how the state and the wealthy manage people who are considered useless. When they have no buying power to be consumers, and when their labor isn’t needed.
And through this mess, people are surviving, resisting, and creating. There’s a self-governing tent city held together by Larry, a former logger who was injured on the job years back. He talked with me about his conversations with men in the camp about their treatment of women in the homeless community. Emily, a budding organizer with Revival of Grays Harbor, almost single-handedly runs a cold-weather homeless shelter during the winter with her spare time. She knows everyone in town and hustles blankets, peanut butter, and anything else that could keep people alive. Most of the shelter volunteers are homeless themselves. Emily’s love for her people and home is palpable, seemingly boundless, and fierce as hell. Reverend Sarah with Chaplains visits people in jail, delivers letters for them, gives sandwiches away under the bridge to members of the homeless community, holds people through immense pain, mourns the dead, and shows up for people when no one else will. Scott, Larry’s friend in tent city, looks out for Larry and makes sure he exercises his bad hip.
Idalin, visiting from Oakland, talked with people from tent city about the commonalities between her struggle as a poor woman of color and theirs in Grays Harbor. Another woman from the New Poor People’s Campaign, Shailly, brought her six-month-old with her from New York. He took everything in with wide eyes. We all ate together—people cracked jokes about baptists, reminisced about LA in the ’60s, swapped war stories, played with the baby, and shared sage advice about the dangers of cops.
. . . I’m feeling deep down how profoundly feminist the work here is. It’s not a shallow feminism. It’s not watered down. It’s not merely lip service to it (the word wasn’t uttered today because sometimes when it’s practiced, it doesn’t need to be spoken). It’s a deep commitment to each other, to care of a community, to a world beyond the narrow confines of work as a job, to connection despite stories that try to divide and alienate us, to the conviction that no person is expendable, to liberation, to holding people at their messiest, to fighting for a vision beyond mere survival. To playing with babies and cooking and eating and crying and planning and living.
It is time to say everything we know. We need a way of relating one life to another life that we can see, smell, taste, and touch; a politics that embraces every one of us, that nourishes both sensuality and intellect, that rewards our curiosity about ourselves and one another, and that allows us to reimagine and practice what being with one another means. Liberalism, capitalism, and modernity are crumbling. In this time of rupture and fear and uncertainty, let us heed the wisdom of Pema Chodron, who warns against the impulse to put ground under our feet by reaching for the easy and familiar, modern liberal fixes. Let us instead get brave, curious, and rigorous in our analysis of who among us and how we can build a new society.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (ReVisioning American History) (Beacon Press, 2015).
Arundhati Roy, War Talk (Cambridge: South End Press, 2003).
Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “The Worrying State of the Anti-Prison Movement: Social Justice,” Socialjusticejournal.org, February 23, 2015.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (ReVisioning American History) (Beacon Press, 2015).
Chandan Reddy, Freedom with Violence: Race, Sexuality, and the US State, 1st ed. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011).
ChangeLab National Strategy Summit, Seattle, WA, April 20, 2013.
Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California, 1st ed. (University of California Press, 2007).
Saskia Sassen, Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Cambridge: Belknap of Harvard University, 2014).
Ellen D. Wu, The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority (Princeton University Press, 2015). http://www.teapartynation.com/forum/topics/panderer-or-genius
ChangeLab National Strategy Summit, Seattle, WA, April 20, 2013.
Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Duke University Press, 1996).
Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, eds., with Barbara Smith, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith (State University of New York, 2014).
Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times, 1st ed. (Beacon, 2017).
|Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (ReVisioning American History) (Beacon Press, 2015).
|Arundhati Roy, War Talk (Cambridge: South End Press, 2003).
|Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “The Worrying State of the Anti-Prison Movement: Social Justice,” Socialjusticejournal.org, February 23, 2015.
|Chandan Reddy, Freedom with Violence: Race, Sexuality, and the US State, 1st ed. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011).
|ChangeLab National Strategy Summit, Seattle, WA, April 20, 2013.
|Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California, 1st ed. (University of California Press, 2007).
|Saskia Sassen, Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Cambridge: Belknap of Harvard University, 2014).
|Ellen D. Wu, The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority (Princeton University Press, 2015). http://www.teapartynation.com/forum/topics/panderer-or-genius
|Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Duke University Press, 1996).
|Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, eds., with Barbara Smith, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith (State University of New York, 2014).
|Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times, 1st ed. (Beacon, 2017).