2013 Session 11: Visionary Politics: Another World Is Possible – Readings – Readings

2013 Anne Braden Anti-Racist Training Program
Session 11: Visionary Politics – Another World Is Possible

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. Steve Williams, “Name It and Claim It”  from Organizing Upgrade. (9 page PDF: Williams_Name_It_Claim_It). (bio).
  3. bell hooks, “Feminist Revolution: Development Through Struggle”  from Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. (5 page PDF: hooks_Feminist_Revolution). (bio).
  4. bell hooks, “Love as the Practice of Freedom” in Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations (6 page PDF: hooks_Love_as_the_Practice_of_Freedom). (bio).
  5. Angela Y. Davis, “Abolitionist Alternatives” from Are Prisons Obsolete? (8 page PDF: Davis_Abolitionist_Alternatives). (bio).
  6. 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).
  7. Kindred, Southern Healing Justice Collective, “Needs & Strategies”. (On the web at kindredhealingjustice.org/needs_strategies.html; also 4 page PDF: Kindred_Needs_and_Strategies).

Recommended Readings and Video

  1. Ai-jen Poo, presentation to the Transformative Organizing Panel from the US Social Forum, 2010.  (Video;  (part 3 of 5).  Presentation begins at 10 min 45 seconds). (On the web at www.thestrategycenter.org). (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).

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

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.

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 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, 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.

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.

Audre Lorde, one of the 20th centuries most lyrical and vibrant poets, was born February 18, 1934 to Caribbean immigrants who had settled in the New York neighborhood of Harlem. She grew up during the Harlem Renaissance and later graduated from Columbia University and Hunter College.  In the 1960s when she was in her early 30s, she was married and gave birth to her children, Elizabeth and Jonathan; she ended her marriage after eight years and came out as gay. She worked as a librarian before accepting a teaching position at Tougaloo College in Mississippi.  Lorde went on to co-found institutions 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.
Having described 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 she died from on November 17, 1992 in St. Croix, Virgin Islands.

Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan brings a love of soil, a passion for strategic thinking, (and sometimes her two lively little ones) to her work for long-term systemic change.  She is the Strategy Initiatives Director of Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project.  Over the past 15 years she has played multiple leadership roles in the social justice movement in California.  She was Co-Director of the School of Unity and Liberation, a movement-building training center based in Oakland, California. Prior to that, she worked for more than a decade towards food justice in working-class communities of color. Michelle co-founded and served as director of the Center for Food and Justice in Los Angeles from 1997 through 2001, helping to develop farm-to-school programs nationally and organizing campaigns for food justice in the Los Angeles Unified School District.  Michelle was also a Kellogg Food & Society Policy Fellow.
Michelle became active in social justice work through anti-war and labor/community organizing in greater Los Angeles where she was born and raised. She graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in History, specializing in Women’s Studies in 1994 and an M.A. in Urban Planning in 1997. During her time at UCLA, she helped organize the campaign for union recognition of graduate student workers.

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.

Steve Williams “is a longtime community organizer and political activist. He was the founder and former Executive Director of POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights). [Before beginning to work with POWER, Steve cut his teeth as an organizer with the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness and the Philadelphia Union of the Homeless.] …  Steve has been active in various efforts to re-build and strengthen the Left in the United States, including helping to build the anti-war work within Grassroots Global Justice, a national network of more than 60 membership organizations across the country. He has also been an active participant in the building of the U.S. Social Forum. In 2005 with three of his co-workers, Steve authored Towards Land, Work and Power: Charting a Path of Resistance to U.S.-led Imperialism, a political economy and strategy primer for conscious organizers.” From Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane.

* 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.

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