2013 Session 9: Developing Anti-Capitalist Feminist Analysis

2013 Anne Braden Anti-Racist Training Program
Session 9:
Developing Anti-Capitalist Feminist Analysis

Required Readings

  1. Clare Bayard for Catalyst, “Overview of Caliban and the Witch. (5 page PDF*: Overview_Caliban_Witch_Bayard). (bio).
  2. Silvia Federici, excerpts from Caliban and the Witch. (25 page PDF: Federici_excerpts_Caliban_and_the_Witch). (bio).
  3. Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class and Sex” from Sister Outsider. (10 page PDF: Lorde Age Race Class Sex). (bio).
  4. Paula Giddings, “To Sell My Life as Dearly as Possible: Ida B. Wells and the First Antilynching Campaign” from When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. (18 page PDF: Ida_Wells_Giddings). (bio).
  5. Leslie Feinberg, “Holy War Against Trans People”, pp. 66-73 of Trans Gender Warriors. (9 page PDF: Feinberg_Holy_War_Against_Trans_People). (bio).

Recommended Readings

  1. Silvia Federici, interview on “Against the Grain,” KPFA July 11, 2006. Audio at kpfa.org/archive. (bio).
  2. The Combahee River Collective, “A Black Feminist Statement” from Beverly Guy-Sheftall, ed., Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought. (7 page PDF*: Combahee_River_Collective_Statement). (bio).
  3. Laura Whitehorn, “Inside Looking Out: Thoughts on the March on Washington” from Breakthrough. (4 page PDF: Inside_Looking_Out_Whitehorn). (bio).
  4. Leslie Feinberg, “Walking Our Talk” from Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue. (8 page PDF: Feinberg_Walking_Our_Talk). (bio).
  5. Chip Smith, “Patriarchy and Privilege” excerpt from The Cost of Privilege: Taking on the System of White Supremacy. (14 page PDF: Smith_Patriarchy_and_Privilege). (bio).
  6. June Jordan, “Poem about My Rights” from Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan. (Note: contains explicit descriptions of sexual violence). (4 page PDF: June-Jordan-Poem-About-My-Rights; also on the web at PoetryFoundation.org). (bio).
  7. Marlon Bailey, Priya Kandaswamy, and Mattie Udora Richardson, “Is Gay Marriage Racist?” from  That’s Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation edited by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. (7 page PDF: Bailey_Kandaswamy_Richardson_Is_Gay-Marriage_Racist). (Bailey bio; Kandaswamy bio; Richardson bio).

Further Resources

  1. Set of images from Caliban and the Witch on Flickr.
  2. Caliban and the Witch (242 page PDF; whole text minus bibliography and index).
  3. Maria Mies, “Patriarchy and accumulation on a world scale – revisited”, International Journal of Green Economics, Vol. 1, Nos. 3/4, 2007. (9 page PDF: Patriarchy & Accumulation On A World Scale – Revisited).

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

Marlon M. Bailey earned a PhD in African Diaspora Studies with a designated emphasis in women, gender, and sexuality at University of California-Berkeley. He has continued to write and teach.

Clare Bayard is an organizer and trainer with the Catalyst Project. Clare has played a lead role in forging alliances between mostly white global justice and anti-war groups with immigrant-led economic and racial justice organizations. As a member of Catalyst, Clare has served for over six years on the national committee of the War Resisters League supporting counter-military recruitment and G.I. resistance organizing.  Clare works closely with Iraq Vets Against the War and has written widely on G.I. resistance and anti-war organizing.  Clare worked for many years with Food Not Bombs and was a participant in the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition fighting against gentrification and for community power in community planning. Clare played a leading role in building relationships between Food Not Bombs and the Day Labor Program and Coalition on Homelessness. Clare was a member of the anti-racist/anti-imperialist Heads Up Collective in the Bay Area that bridged organizing for economic and racial justice with global justice and anti-war organizing.

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 a landmark in the development of intersection of oppression analysis and women of color feminism.

Silvia Federici is an Italian feminist, co-founder of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa and the Radical Philosophy Association’s Anti-Death Penalty Project. She teaches International Studies and Political Philosophy at Hofstra University in New York. She is a leading autonomist Marxist scholar. Caliban and the Witch expands on study done with Leopoldina Fortunati, and builds off the work of Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James of the Wages for Housework campaign.  Federici lived for three years in Nigeria where a campaign of misogyny accompanying the attack on communal lands under the direction of the ‘structural adjustment plan’ enabled her to understand the adjusting structures of European capitalism at its violent beginnings.

Leslie Feinberg came of age as a young butch lesbian in the factories and gay bars of Buffalo, N.Y. in the 1960s.  Since that time, Feinberg has been a grass roots activist and a journalist. Ze is known in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movements in the U.S. and countries around the world.  Feinberg is author of Transgender Warriors, Trans Liberation and the underground classic Stone Butch Blues. One of Curve magazine’s fifteen most influential in the battle for gay and lesbian rights, s/he is also winner of the ALA Gay and Lesbian Literature Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Firecracker Alternative Book Award for nonfiction.
S/he is well known in the U.S. and many other parts of the world as an activist who works to help forge a strong bond between the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities.  As a trade unionist, anti-racist and socialist, Feinberg also organizes to build strong bonds of unity between these struggles and those of movements in defense of oppressed nationalities, women, disabled, and the working-class movement as a whole. Feinberg has worked for more than three decades in defense of the sovereignty, self-determination and treaty rights of Native nations and for freedom of political prisoners in the U.S.  Ze is an internationalist and has been part of the anti-Pentagon movement since the U.S. war against Vietnam.

Paula Giddings (b. 1947) is a writer and an African-American historian. She is the author of When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America and In Search of Sisterhood. She is a professor of African-American Studies at Smith College and has previously taught at Spelman College, Rutgers University, Princeton and Duke. Paula Giddings has made her name and reputation carrying out a simple but formidable project, recovering the lost voices of silent generations of American black women.  Giddings credits her interest in language to her mother who taught her the importance of having a voice. She is an advisor to Meridians, an interdisciplinary journal of creative and scholarly works by women of color. She was politicized in the 1960’s, having been inspired by the Freedom Rides.

June Jordan was born in Harlem in 1936, the daughter of West Indian immigrant parents. As she recounts in her 1999 memoir, Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood, she passed her childhood years amid violence of many kinds. She began writing poetry very young, left home to attend a girls’ school in New England, attended Barnard College, was briefly married to a white man, had one son and a long and illustrious university teaching career. She died of breast cancer in Berkeley, California in 2002.
June Jordan began her teaching career at City College of New York and held teaching positions at Yale, Sarah Lawrence & SUNY Stonybrook before she moved to California in 1989 to take a position at UC Berkeley. There she re-energized the teaching of poetry in founding Poetry for the People, a program intended to bring poetry reading and writing to life for students from all cultures and disciplines, to foster students’ passion for poetry and so inspire and empower them to go out and teach others.

Priya Kandaswamy is an assistant professor of women’s studies at Portland State University. She received her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California at Berkeley in 2006. She is currently working on a book entitled Domestic Contradictions: Forced Labor and Gendered Citizenship from Reconstruction to Workfare that looks comparatively at historical and contemporary efforts of the U.S. welfare state to regulate women of color’s labor and sexuality. Her research and teaching interests include examining the intersections of race, gender, sexuality and class in such contemporary issues as globalization, immigration, the welfare system, the criminal justice system, and violence against women.

Audre Geraldine 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 ended November 17, 1992 in St. Croix, Virgin Islands.

Mattie Udora Richardson (b. 1969) is a writer, activist, and professor. Her work has appeared in a variety of anthologies, including Every Woman I’ve Ever Loved: Lesbian Writers on Their Mothers, Does Your Mama Know: Black Lesbian Coming Out Stories, Sisterfire Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry, and This Is What Lesbian Looks Like: Dyke Activists Take on the 21st Century. She is a former associate editor at Kitchen Table Women of Color Press.

Chip Smith has been an international volunteer in Laos, a Machinists Union steward, a stay-at-home Dad, staffer for Jobs With Justice, and a scholar.  His PhD dissertation at Temple University (1994) examined the impact of Philadelphia’s de-industrialization on low wages, African Americans, and unionization.  He resides with his wife in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he helped found the local Peace with Justice Coalition.  He is also a founding member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organizatión Socialista del Camino para la Libertad, a national group of organizers and activists working for social transformation.

Laura Whitehorn, an anti-imperialist activist, served nearly 15 years in prison for militant actions against U.S. policies during the 1980s. For many years before that, she was active in a variety of radical organizations, including the Weather Underground and the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee. Released from prison in 1999, she lives in New York City with her partner, Susie Day. Whitehorn is an editor at POZ magazine, a national source of information and news about HIV, and works with other activists in the New York State Taskforce for the Release of Political Prisoners.

* 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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