Angela Davis

Angela Davis
Angela Davis was the keynote speaker for a recent social justice conference at Oregon State University. The Your Voice, Your Conference: Awareness, Solidarity, and Action explored “how systems of oppression impact our lives and communities.”

I think I have a social justice crush on Angela Davis. More than 1,000 people attended her talk at Oregon State. Two professors from OSU had the privilege of being her students at UC Santa Cruz. Angela Davis could have talked for a week and I think we all would have listened.

Angela Davis‘ talk covered many topics including: historical memory, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Condoleeza Rice, George Bush, Affirmative Action, Diversity, Marriage, Activism, Racism, Critical Awareness and Prison Systems.

Davis talked about the importance of “historical memory” and the Civil Rights Movement. “The figure of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been set aside and isolated and represented as the lone historical figure, so everyone else who participated in the Civil Rights Movement falls away.”

Davis mentioned that she took umbrage with the term “diversity.” She said that “Diversity is difference that doesn’t make a difference.” Her comments were extremely relevant for institutions of higher education. Enrolling students of color, women, students with disabilities, lgbt students, and students with high financial need does not mean that racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia/heterosexism, and classism will simply disappear. However, “diversity” is thrown around as if it’s a magic anti-oppression elixir. Without social justice oriented, anti-oppression oriented, anti-racist oriented educational efforts, diversity cannot affect change amongst members of the dominant paradigm.

Apparently, both Condoleeza Rice and Angela Davis grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Davis mentioned that people often attempt to refer to Rice as her “homegirl” (cue laughter from 1,000 people) because they share the experience of growing up in the Jim Crow south.

According to Davis, “Rice narrates her life as triumph over racism.” Davis said she needs to constantly “disassociate her story” from Rice’s story. “How can I claim my story is a triumph? We’ve won some victories..some important victories…, but from the time I was quite small, I learned from my mother that it was about collective victory…community triumph, not about an individual rising above the rest. Affirmative action was a strategy designed to enable communities to move forward, collectives to move forward.”

I attempted to record her entire talk, but my pda wasn’t working correctly so I have over an hour of audio that I pieced together from 40 audio snippets.
The fidelity isn’t the greatest but the message is amazing.

“The victories that we win are not always the victories for which we fought.” — Angela Davis

Full audio file [mp3]

Heterosexism + Sexism in New York Times

My head just exploded after I read an article in the New York Times entitled “51% of Women are Now Living Without Spouses.” I find this article to be terribly vexing. It is unbelievably heterosexist and sexist.

Apparently, the New York Times’ Sam Roberts believes that marriage is only between a woman and a man. I beg to differ.

The article also contains this gem of a quote from William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution:

“For better or worse, women are less dependent on men or the institution of marriage…”

How can it possibly be “worse” that women are “less dependent on men or the institution of marriage?” My feminist hackles are at their maximum.

Please read the article and then let’s discuss it in the comments.

Racism + Sexism in the Providence Journal

In response to:
A ‘masculist’ worries about Ms. Clinton by FRANCIS DALY Jr. and
Barack Obama’s great exotic emptiness by FROMA HARROP

A white anti-racist feminist man responds to racist/sexist rhetoric in the Providence Journal….

It is unfortunate that the Providence Journal Editorial Board feels the need to print not one, but two articles which serve to marginalize people of color and women. As a white man who is an active anti-racist feminist ally, I feel that it is my responsibility to address these oppression-oriented pieces of rubbish.

Continue reading Racism + Sexism in the Providence Journal

Racism and Sexism in Arizona and Michigan

The state language of Arizona is now English.

Affirmative action has been banned in Michigan.

Arizona | Proposition 103: English as Official Language
Would make English the official language of the state of Arizona and significantly reduce government sponsorship and funding of dual language-printed material for circulation.

Michigan | Proposition 2: Restrict Affirmative Action
Proposed amendment to Michigan Constitution would “prohibit the University of Michigan and other state universities, the state, and all other state entities from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.” On June 23, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, ruled in favor of affirmative action in the University of Michigan’s admissions policies. The Bush administration opposed the university’s pro-affirmative action admission policies.