This week's damali ayo lecture has left my head spinning. Bear with me while I try to sort my thoughts, please?
I'd known of damali's work for a few years, but this was the first time I'd seen her perform. As I expected, she's wickedly funny, extremely articulate, exceptionally bright, and undeniably charismatic. In her talk, "Shut up and change: A life as a social change artist," she walked us through her childhood, her art projects and performance pieces, her heroes, the negative and hostile response to her work, her six-year struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome, and her recent decision to "pass on" her anti-racist projects so that she can focus on yoga teacher training.
Last night I co-hosted a fundraising house party for the kick-ass feminist media organization Women in Media and News. I've been involved in the organization since its planning and launch, and am proud to be its founding board chair.
I'm back in Portland, still processing and reflecting on my trip to the Midwest. I'll be posting more about that soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share this video about displacement/gentrification in Detroit, featuring Detroit-based female hip-hop artist, Invincible. It's a beautiful example of how powerful a story becomes when different forms of media are combined.
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.