Screenshot from Franchesca Ramsey's new video on how to be an ally.
Franchesca Ramsey is an awesome video blogger whose work addresses all kinds of social justice issues in quick, engaging, and thought-provoking ways. She can pack more knowledge into a three-minute YouTube video than most writers can in a three-hour lecture.
This morning in my in box was an e-mail titled, "An Open Letter to the South End Press Community." I clicked right on it, before I read my daily-headlines e-mail or the note from Debbie asking my opinion on a Very Important Matter—and even before I read the note from the boy I am currently most crushed out on. Because I am a member of their Community Supported Publishing program, which means I get a copy of every single book they publish as a thank-you for my monthly donation, and that's how much I love South End, the publisher of some of the most important political books being pubished today. Just to make sure you know.
If you're not already familiar with South End, you should get to know them right now. They are, as their letter notes, "the nation's only unapologetically radical, feminist, mission-driven, and majority women of color publishing collective." Their list is tremendous: big names like bell hooks, Vandana Shiva, and Howard Zinn, plus less well-known but no less important books from Incite!, Andrea Smith, Kristian Williams, and many more.
Thank you, TrumbullPlex folx, for letting us use your space for Sunday's discussion. Thank you, Adele, Clara, and Jess for making the event happen here, and for getting the word out (and special thanks to Clara for the tour and history of the TrumbullPlex, a radical housing collective in the Woodbridge neighborhood of Detroit). And a huge thank you to everyone who attended. I didn't count, but I think between 20 and 25 people came. I felt honored to be in the presence of so many people committed to honesty, sincerity, openness, and creating a safe space to share what are sometimes difficult and differing perspectives.
What that means is that right now I need to listen to peoplewhoknowmorethanme: to their analysis, to their experiences, to their strategies (not that I'm expecting anyone to hand me the answers on a silver platter, or that I think it's up to other people to tell me all about what's wrong with the world I live in, or that I plan to rely on others to do my intellectual heavy lifting, or that...yeah, you get the picture). And I'm eager to read what the carnival brings forth.
But if I just want to listen, why the hell am I talking?
Please join these participatory discussions about how—and whether—feminism can become a transformative, justice-centered movement for social change.
How can we drive attention to the power, privilege, and marginalization that continue to play out in feminist communities, and how can those of us with power and privilege become genuine and effective allies to those without it?
How can we collectively create a feminist/media/justice movement that doesn't rely on white supremacy, class privilege, and economic exploitation?
Can the idea of feminism shift to foreground an uncompromising, transformative commitment to systemic social change, or is it time to evolve to new language?
Special guest report from friend of Bitch Kyla Wagener...
I have yet to read Tim Wise'sWhite Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (Soft Skull Press) or Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White (Routledge), but have heard tons of praise for his work. So I was excited for his appearance at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland earlier this month, an event sponsored by Speak Out!. I was a little wary when he took the mic and started speaking; his manner initially conjured up memories of some egotistical, "Check me out, I'm one of those aware white folks—I'm down!" types I've run into. But he ended up being sharp, funny, and—most important—aware of his role as an ally rather than a leader in the antiracist movement, acknowledging that the majority of his sources for information about race have been people of color. He was loud, but in a good way—not arrogant-bratty-white-boy loud.