2015 Session 11 – Visionary Politics

Anne Braden Anti-Racist Training Program
2015 Session 11: Visionary Politics

Required Readings

  1. Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan, “A Window to a New World” from Organizing Upgrade. (On the web at OrganizingUpgrade.com; also 6 page PDF*: Mascarenhas Swan Window to a New World). (bio).
  2. N’Tanya Lee, Cinthya Muñoz, Maria Poblet, Josh Warren-White, and Steve Williams on behalf of the LeftRoots Coordinating Committee, “Towards a Transformational Strategy”  from LeftRoots. (7 page PDF: LeftRoots Towards a Transformational Strategy). Also at leftroots.net/towards-strategy. (bio).
  3. bell hooks, “Love as the Practice of Freedom” in Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations (6 page PDF: hooks Love as the Practice of Freedom). (bio).
  4. Angela Y. Davis, “Abolitionist Alternatives” from Are Prisons Obsolete? (8 page PDF: Davis Abolitionist Alternatives). (bio).
  5. Combahee River Collective, “A Black Feminist Statement” in Cherrie L. Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa eds., This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. (7 page PDF: Combahee River Collective Statement). (bio).
  6. Kindred, Southern Healing Justice Collective, “Needs & Strategies”. (On the web at kindredhealingjustice.org; also 4 page PDF: Kindred Needs and Strategies).
  7. Mia Mingus, “On Collaboration: Starting With Each Other,” Excerpts from the 5th Annual Queer & Asian Conference, “Collide, Connect, Create,” keynote address, delivered on April 28, 2012, Berkeley, California. (4 page PDF: Mingus On Collaboration and at leavingevidence.wordpress.com).
Demonstrators holding banner reading "NOTHING TO LOSE BUT OUR CHAINS"

LeftRoots banner at a #BlackLivesMatter demonstration


Recommended Readings and Video

  1. Ai-jen Poo, “Transformative Organizing Theory”,  Transformative Organizing Panel at the U.S. Social Forum, 2010.  (Video;  Ai-jen begins at 10:43 and ends at 21:05). (On the web at www.thestrategycenter.org). (Transcription: 3 page PDF: Ai-Jen Poo Transformative Organizing Theory). (bio).
  2. Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” in Cherrie L. Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa eds., This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. (2 page PDF*: Lorde The Masters Tools). (bio).
  3. Gloria Anzaldúa, “La conciencia de la mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness”  from Borderlands: La Frontera, The New Mestiza. (12 page PDF: Anzaldúa Conciencia de la Mestiza). (bio).
  4. Generation Five, Chapter 2 from Toward Transformative Justice: A Liberatory Approach to Child Sexual Abuse and other forms of Intimate and Community Violence, A Call to Action for the Left and the Sexual and Domestic Violence Sectors. (7 page PDF: Generation5 Principles of Transformative Justice). (bio).
  5. bell hooks, “Feminist Revolution: Development Through Struggle”  from Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. (5 page PDF: hooks Feminist Revolution). (bio).
  6.  International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), “Charter.” (1 page PDF: IJAN Charter).
  7. Harsha Walia, “Decolonizing together: Moving beyond a politics of solidarity toward a practice of decolonization,” Briarpatch Magazine, January/February 2012. (4 page PDF: Walia Decolonizing Together and at briarpatchmagazine.com).
  8. World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, “Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth,” Cochabamba, Bolivia April 22, 2010. (3 page PDF: Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and at therightsofnature.org).
  9. Lee Veeraraghavan, “Decolonizing Pipeline Resistance: An Interview with Freda Huson,” www.occupy.com. (4 page PDF: Decolonizing Pipeline Resistance).

Further Resources

  1. Cindy Wiesner speaking at the USSF 2010 Workshop on Transformative Organizing Theory, Part 2. Video (starting at 7:47) at YouTube.com/watch?v=ZzLtuEMjLPA.
  2. Ricardo Levins Morales, “The Dystopia principle and the strategic basis for a just peace in Palestine” excerpts from Lihish’tah’weel. (53 page PDF: Lihishtaweel Justice Judaism Levins Morales). (bio).
  3. Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?. (127 page PDF: Are Prisons Obsolete?). (bio).

Readings are provided free for use by participants studying in the Anne Braden Training Program for Anti-Racist Organizers, a noncommercial, nonprofit educational program. We encourage everyone to buy the works from which excerpts have been taken – please support these authors and publishers.

Author Biographies

Black and white portrait photo of Anzaldua smiling at viewer

Gloria Anzaldúa


Gloria Anzaldúa (1942 – 2004) was a Chicana lesbian feminist writer, poet, scholar and activist.  She was born in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas; at 11, her family relocated to Hargill, Texas. Despite the racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression she experienced growing up as a sixth-generation Tejana, as well as the death of her father when she was fourteen, Anzaldúa succeeded in getting a college education and she worked as a schoolteacher before going to Austin to obtain her M.A. in comparative literature at the University of Texas, Austin. In 1977 she moved to California where she supported herself through her writing, lectures, and occasional teaching stints. She has made contributions to the definition of “feminism” and has contributed to the field of cultural theory/chicana and queer theory. One such contribution was her introduction to United States academic audiences of the term mestizaje, meaning a state of being beyond binary (“either-or”) conception, into academic writing and discussion. In her theoretical works, Anzaldúa calls for a “new mestiza,” which she describes as an individual aware of her conflicting and meshing identities and uses these “new angles of vision” to challenge binary thinking in the Western world.

The Combahee River Collective was an important Black feminist group that began in 1974 as the Boston chapter of the National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO), founded in 1973.  The name was inspired by a river in South Carolina where Harriet Tubman had mounted a military campaign during the Civil War to free 750 slaves.  In 1977, three members of the collective – Barbara Smith, Beverly Smith, and Demita Frazier – wrote a statement documenting the activities of the collective and articulating their philosophies.  Their Black Feminist Statement has been widely published, distributed, and read.  It is considered a landmark in the development of intersection of oppression analysis and women of color feminism.

Close-up of Angela Davis from 1970s with a major Afro. Quote on the graphic reads "To be a radical simply means to grab something by the roots."


Angela Davis is a professor of history of consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Over the last thirty years, she has been active in numerous organizations challenging prison-related repression.  Her advocacy on behalf of political prisoners led to three capital charges, sixteen months in jail awaiting trial, and a highly publicized campaign then acquittal in 1972.  In 1973, the National Committee to Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners, along with the Attica Brothers, the American Indian Movement and other organizations founded the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, of which she remained co-chairperson for many years.  In 1998, she was one of the twenty-five organizers of the historic Berkeley conference “Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex” and since that time has served as convener of a research group bearing the same name under the auspices of the University of California Humanities Research Institute.   Angela is the author of many books, including Prisons and Democracy.

Generation 5 logo, a circle

Generation Five is an anti-violence organization that recognizes that our goal of ending child sexual abuse cannot be realized while other systems of oppression are allowed to continue. In fact, systems of oppression and child sexual abuse have an interdependent relationship: a power-over system that benefits some at the expense of others and uses violence, creates the conditions for child sexual abuse (i.e. gender inequality, class exploitation, racism, violence and threat for difference), while in turn the prevalence of child sexual abuse fosters behaviors (obedience to authority, silence, disempowerment, shame) that prevent people from organizing effectively to work for liberation, healing and change systemic forms of violence.  Started in 1999 by Staci Haines, Gillian Harkins, and Sara Kershnar, the goal of generation FIVE is to end childhood sexual assault in five generations.

bell hooks with medium Afro, head cocked, against a concrete wall

bell hooks

bell hooks, born on September 25, 1952, is an African-American author, feminist, and social activist.  Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, class and gender and their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and domination.  She has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films and participated in various public lectures.  Primarily through a postmodern female perspective, she has addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media and feminism.

Black and white photo of Ricardo Levins Morales with beard looking straight at the viewer

Ricardo Levins Morales

Ricardo Levins Morales began drawing pictures of chickens on the small Puerto Rican farm where he spent his childhood. Raised in the anti-colonial movement, he absorbed critical politics along with the sun, rain, and rhythms of his homeland. He experienced adolescence in Chicago at a time of political ferment. He was active in the movement to end the war against Viet Nam as well as in support of the Black Panther Party, the Puerto Rican Young Lords, school strikes, and community struggles. He drew his first leaflet for a Black Panther fundraiser … He became involved with the labor movement during a union organizing drive at the Boston hospital where he worked as a janitor. In 1979, joining with other activist artists, he helped found the Northland Poster Collective which sought to link artists with social justice organizing. During this time he was involved in environmental organizing with mobilized small farmers in central Minnesota, support for the resistance to the Chilean dictatorship, and in producing concerts with political Latin American musicians … Ricardo considers himself an organizer as much as an artist and emphasizes building organic relationships with the movements and communities for whom he produces art. More at ricardolevinsmorales.com.

Poster of Audre Lorde reading "There is no hierarchy of oppressions."

Audre Geraldine Lorde (1934–1992), one of the 20th century’s most lyrical and vibrant poets, was born to Caribbean immigrants in Harlem. She grew up during the Harlem Renaissance and graduated from Columbia University and Hunter College. In the 1960s, she married and gave birth to her two children; she ended her marriage after eight years and came out as gay. She worked as a librarian and then taught at Tougaloo College in Mississippi.  Lorde went on to co-found the Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press and the Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South Africa. She was one of the speakers at the first national march for gay and lesbian liberation in Washington DC in 1979. Describing herself as a “Black lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Audre was given the African name Gamba Adisa, meaning “Warrior. She Who Makes Her Meaning Clear.” In The Cancer Journals, Lorde documented her fourteen-year battle with breast cancer, which ended November 17, 1992 in St. Croix, Virgin Islands.

Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan wearing a t--shirt reading "BLACK LIVES MATTER" and holding a sign supporting the Black Friday 14

Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan

Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan is the Staff Co-Director of Movement Generation in Oakland.  “She organized community groups in South Los Angeles and family farmers from across California to forge model programs and policy campaigns to shift power in the food system … After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, Michelle served as co-director of the School of Unity and Liberation from 2005-2008 before joining Movement Generation. She has a M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA and grew up in Southern California. Michelle is now setting roots in Berkeley where she gardens with the extended Movement Generation family” – Movement Generation

Black and white 3/4 portrait of Mia Mingus wearing long dark hair and large earrings smiling at the viewer

Mia Mingus. (Photo: Mia Mingus, Leaving Evidence).

Mia Mingus “is a writer, community educator and organizer working for disability justice and transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse. She is a queer physically disabled Korean woman transracial and transnational adoptee, born in Korea, raised in the Caribbean, nurtured in the U.S. South, and now living in Northern California … [She] is a core-member of the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC), a local collective working to build and support transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse that do not rely on the state (i.e. police, prisons, the criminal legal system) … Most of her writings can be found on her blog, “Leaving Evidence”, as well as Make/Shift, Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence, CriptiquesOctavia’s Brood: Sci-Fi from Social Movements and the forth-coming The Wind is Spirit: A Bio/Anthology of Audre Lorde.” – Leaving Evidence

Ai-jen Poo in long black hair and white shirt waving to audience

Ai-jen Poo at the U.S. Social Forum, 2010

Ai-jen Poo helped found Domestic Workers United, an organization promoting justice for the more than 200,000 women involved in domestic work in the greater New York area.  She helped lead the campaign in New York State for the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. In 2007 at the US Social Forum—and the first national meeting of domestic workers’ rights organizations Ai-jen became a co-founder of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She has been a member of the board of Social Justice Leadership since 2008.

Photo of Harsha Walia sitting at desk wearing glasses, long dark hair, and a bright red wrap.

Harsha Walia “Climate Justice – A Movement of Movements” conference, October 5 2013. Photo CC BY Caelie Frampton

Harsha Walia “is a South Asian activist and writer based in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territories. She has been involved in community-based grassroots migrant justice, feminist, anti-racist, Indigenous solidarity, anti-capitalist, Palestinian liberation, and anti-imperialist movements for over a decade. She is formally trained in law, works with women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and is the author of Undoing Border Imperialism (2013, 2014). Her rabble column ‘Exception to the Rule’ is about challenging norms, carving space and centring the dispossessed. You can find her at twitter.com/HarshaWalia.” –rabble.ca

Cindy Wiesner is National Coordinator of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance.

* Note: number of pages refers to pages within the PDF file to provide a sense of the download size, not the number of pages of readings included. Links to external web sites open in a new page.

Previous: Session 10: Anti-capitalist Feminist Analysis | List of Sessions
Next: Session 12: Family Histories

About the Anne Braden Anti-Racist Training
Program for white social justice activists