Saturday, 2 November 2013

ANGELA DAVIS, 'INTERSECTIONALITY' CRITICAL DEBATE

[Somali sisters campaigning for Angela Davis liberation in 1972 - Respected elder sis Angela Davis shot to international fame due to her sacrifices in struggle for Jonathan and George Jackson, has she fell into institutional soft radicalism in recent decades?] 

'Intersectionality' is something Angela Davis raised in her talk last week. (just a disclaimer, I will always Love and Respect Angela Davis for what she did for Jonathan and George Jackson and the Panthers and all that she suffered as a result, despite the weak assed crap she's coming out with now and the careerism she is involved in) It is the theory that many oppressions are all on the same level and intersect as part of the whole oppressive super structure. While I DO think that many many oppressions make up imperialism, I however think 'intersectionality' is bullshit, in the sense that it it puts all oppressions on the same level: so trans oppression is the same as racism and sexism? Its ridiculous. While I oppose the oppression of trans, gays etc, inter-sectionality tricky move to make out they as bad as sexism and racism in their extent, depth and intensity. Interestingly, this oppression-industry does not include the oppression of children or the elderly an many others in their frames of reference. ie., More bullshit from the system. Dont buy it, its literally a hustle and scam. - Sukant Chandan

social network debate:

Sister X: easy for u to say as a straight cisgender man- just putting that out there.

Sukant: thats not an argument though, sis. We talking about ideas. I dont agree with this whole, you have to encompass ALL the oppressions in one body before you can talk about any one given oppression. Although at the same time it is important not to reproduce oppressions in liberation circles.

And anyway, how do you know I am straight? And if I wasnt straight, would what I say hold more water? This privelege-calling industry is also a sabotage move to not actually focus on the real enemy and developing the struggle against it, its all a industry to promote peoples niches and careers etc, while the real struggle gets watered down and co-opted under the slogans of intersectionality and the rest of this crap.

Brother A: National oppression is in a whole different realm.

Brother B:  intersectionality ignores the historic roots of oppressions: patriarchy and racism come from pre-capitalist modes of production. ignoring this historical connection with capitalism is ahistorical and non-materialist and so leads us away from their solution.

Sukant: I think if people actually forged unity against imperialism, and pushed back nato and all the other imperialist platforms and projects, we might be in much less of a mess. But people find a million excuses to duck the struggle, and often under the banners of 'liberation struggles' and 'sectional fights against oppression' #Bullshit

Sister Y: Like it always occurs to me, I can hide any other aspects of my person, but I can't hide my skin colour or gender. Not that I am saying we should be forced to hide anything but I disagree when people compare racism to prejudice about sexuality and put them at the same level. This is a way to dilute racial equality and include everything under the sun. Yes equality for all but white supremacy and racism can't be put at the same level as every other issue. As I said, the first thing you see about me is my skin colour- not my sexual orientation or religious beliefs.

Sukant: the problem is much wider and deeper now. people are finding in radical rhetoric all kinds of ways to avoid the real massive gargantuan issues. I dont have to tell you, look at Somalia, Libya, Mali, Syria, China, Korea, and others. People dont take a righteous liberation stand cos they caught up in their colonised ego crap parading as radical

Brother C: Still getting my head around intersectionality but I remember the whole no hierarchy of oppression stuff and critiquing identity politics of the 80's/90s and it seems to come from a similar place. What is clear is that the calling out of privilege has replaced the calling out of the system and white supremacy. That ain't no political struggle that's just point scoring!

Brother D: You can make a career out of fighting any kind of oppression in the West, except imperialist oppression. Fighting imperialism means fighting our entire way of life.

"Here we must ask: how is the persistence of such trends in Europe to be explained? Why is this opportunism stronger in Western Europe than in our country? It is because the culture of the advanced countries has been, and still is, the result of their being able to live at the expense of a thousand million oppressed people. It is because the capitalists of these countries obtain a great deal more in this way than they could obtain as profits by plundering the workers in their own countries." - Lenin

Brother E: Man I could have gave you a big warning about Angela before the event but it seems like you picked up on it immediately. You are so correct, she has a place in our heart, but that place is a historical one and of historical relevance. She is not part of what we here in the states consider the movement today. She is a popular professor at a very white hippyish university out in the California forest. She still does a lot of work around prison reform, but rarely does she even mention political prisoners. And she lost a lot of cred with the movement when she praised Obama during his first term. But it is what it is. She is a high priced sought after speaker. She is much older and her focus seems to be very wide spread as you pointed out. I haven't gone to any of her talks in a long time but I know her well and was raised around her. My parents used to do fundraisers for her and my uncle ran for pres under cpusa, which Angela was a big part of. My ties go way back with her.

Sister Z: my understanding of intersectionality is very different from yours. My understanding is how different peoples who are oppressed under white supremacy, identifies intersect and cross over in the power lines of white supremacist patriarchy, for example, I am black woman from a working class background, these are one of the few identities that make me Sister X and thus how experience/encounter oppression, but they are all interlocked into one person i.e. me. Intersectionality is something black feminist came up with in the 80s (it is recent thing white feminist have jumped on 30 years later and act like the invented the damn ting) to look at how black women experience triple boundaries of racism, sexism and classism. It is not about comparing different forms oppressions or even equating them as the same under white patriarchy. As each of these movements amount and justify different results as the outcomes of oppression received and played out in real life account to different results of oppression. Intersectionality for me as a black women, is not about choosing sides, the black movement or the gender movement. It is a space to look at how different forms of oppression can impact my daily live and when read together can look at how different forms of oppression can marginalised our most vulnerable in our society. Bell Hooks, Patricia Hill Collins, Audre Lorde all old skool black feminists were writing about this in the 80/90s. Can happily suggests essay, books too.

Sister Q: The intent of intersectional is not to say that all oppressions are equal. But to say that in fighting for one liberation we must also look at the other oppressions our comrades are facing and that we may we be perpetuating. Unfortunately like all language that originated in liberation and radicalism it has been coopted and used to mean something different - especially in feminist circles. I fully agree that the struggle against imperialism is THE struggle to be had but I think we should be careful not to be perpetuating the oppressions of the imperialists in our visions and struggles.

I am unsure what comment specifically you refer to re trans liberation Sukant? But the stats on murder, rape and impoverishment of trans people globally cannot easily be ignored - there is liberation to be fought for that is part of anti imperialist anti patriarchal and anti heteronormative struggle
I also couldn't agree more that that some gay and trans liberation are focused on ego and individualism - but so to are some so called anti imperialist / anti racist people and movements - it doesn't mean that anti imperialism is a load of bullcrap!

Sukant: fearing repetition: of course the oppression oppresses many groups of people. This is not being denied, actually a positively state this and incorporate this into strategy and analysis. What I am criticising is the way in which this:

1. is the excuse not to support actually exisitn resistance against imperialism. For eg, for all the talk of 'intersectionality', no one said shit and says shit about nato bombing a African country for six months, and if they did say something, more often than not they soft peddled that as a 'revolution'. So obviously a lot of our analytical tools etc is resulting in a complete collapse of resistance oriented struggle.
and

2, While I agree people *talk* of hierarchies of oppression (which has its own deep problems), in actuality, there is a levelling out of oppressions, which means that the industrial genocide of native peoples in Africa, Asia and 'latin America' by colonialism is on a par with oppression of trans and Gays.

Sister Q:  I agree with you on both points and agree both things are not to be endorsed or encouraged. I dot however see them as inherent to intersectionality - but I see it as a critique of the use of the term and it's cooption by ppl with shit politics. So basically we agree!

Brother M: death-camps [Totalitarian] don't care what flavor of oppressed you are. In the last round, I would wear a Black triangle (badge). If that's not good enough, fuck your section. Sorry, but for f***'s sake. ADVOCATE for others and EMPOWER the whole or suffer and get cut off like the secluded sectional segment you demand to be. (edited: for the record, I'm STRAIGHT as a board, but I'd still be eligible for the black triangle and so would you have been.)

Sister Z: To address the above points you have raised in also an attempt to apply an intersectional approach to them too. So for point 1, I feel that is an unfair and misinformed way of looking art Intersectionality. It appears that your basis of understanding of this is concept is derived from Angela Davis, whom from previous commentators like your self and to which I also agree gave a luke warm lefty speech for everyone to pat themselves on the back with for being good activist. I personally prefer to work with the likes of Audre Lorde, Particia Hill Collins who are and were black feminist originating the terms as means of deconstructing oppression on personal or individual and as equally structural, institutional historical and systematic levels as we know these are the power lines of oppression. Now Sister Q, mentioned in her previous comment that I agree with and believes is completely key to the argument for Intersectionality. In order to end oppression for all peoples we need to understand how it manifests elsewhere. So would ending a white supremacist imperial rule from Nato in Asia, Africa etc would it automatically lead to equality of all peoples? Does it end the internalised oppression? I would go as far to say no. It would hopefully allow such places to be autonomous and self- sustaining goverening – but it would not necessarily rid the ills of gender violence or inequality. You get rid of the white man abusing the black/brown man, but what about the black/brown man abusing his women. This is a sweeping statement, but I make it as way of understanding intersectionality is a tool to look at even in our own communities of resistance and anti imperialism, what other bull shit oppressions we have internalised and project on to others who are fighting for their own liberation. I think of the Civil Rights movements and to some extent Black Power movement but moreso the former that was attempting to end “racism” but excluded women to the kitchen. So a lot of black radical feminists who were apart of that movement broke away, ignored by black men in race struggle and white women in the gender struggle. So it’s a blue print and dare I say a legacy of understanding how on an individual level how one person can experience double bound of oppression, but on structural, historical, institutional and systematic how these oppression work in tandem to create vulnerable and broken members of our society who are in a place of hurt and are unable to develop coping mechanism of self love and fight to resists these chains of oppression.

In regards to point 2, which I felt addressed this in my first post. I hark back to our 3-D conversation. This “Olympic oppression” i.e. who is more oppressed or “checking privilege” i.e. you can’t make a critique or comment because you are not from that community etc. It is white liberals attempt to destabilise and co-opt our resistant strategies to degrade and separate us – by causing in fights, lets remember “white man speaks with fork tongue” and Farakhan’s: “The God who taught me calls the white man the skunk of the planet earth.” By doings they revert our attention from the real fight and enemy by placing themselves into the centre of our resistance. It is an inherent divide and conquers strategy. Before some people jump on this “reverse racism” nonsense which does not exist. The facts are clear as day, white feminist have jumped on “Intersectionality” and bastardised it with their agenda of not deconstructing [white] racism and its impact and do not even have the decency to credit black women who started it! White people have long history of taking black peoples cultures and parading it as their own, we got black kids who think white people invented rock’n’roll. This dialogue of comparing all oppressions as the same, again is something initiated by white liberals, which is wholly dangerous as you point out and to which I vehemently agree with. But the agenda here I think is to distract us with their 21st century divide and rule strategy. Lets not fall their trap, Big <3 p="">
 I forgot to add with all tools of resistance, they need constant analysis, interrogation and critique to ensure we are doing it right.

Sukant: A lot of great points. Lots to discuss. A few points:

- I agree we need to address all the oppressions, I never suggested we dont. However, there is a situation where MOST people who fall under these sectional struggles DO NOT take a resistant position even with their mouths (let alone any practical and movement-building steps) on the actual resistance to the systemic nature of imperialism in the frontline struggles across the world, which imho are: Syria, Libya, DRC, Somalia, Afgganistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Zimbabwe etc.

- I have read some of Hill-Collins. I like her more than Audre Lourde or bell hooks. HOWEVER, they ALL operate in a eurocentric framework, they have no Global strategy or analysis.

- Considering most people in the pro-intersectionality industry/scam/hustle/distraction/confusio-machine DO NOT take *actually exisiting* positions on the big struggles, is there then not a major problem with it AS IT IS PRESENTED, as obviously we understand the complexities of oppression?

Sister Q: I've thought a lot on this in light of what you Sukant And Janine And others have said. I've thought about why I think there is merit in intersectionality (of course I have before but it's always good to challenge ourselves). and it boils down to this: that I see my fight as a fight against imperialism - absolutely. but that in my daily life I walk around under a constant threat of violence in addition to (or rather as part of) imperialist violence. because I am a person of colour, because I am a woman and because I am queer. I am under this threat of violence in an acute sense everywhere I go - on the street, at work and in revolutionary spaces. it is easy to be distracted from the big picture when you fear for your immediate safety. it is also easy to connect these identities to bigger global power structures - racism, patriarchy and heteronormativity. of course, I know, that imperialism is the parent of these but intersectionality is important as it helps 1. people with intersectional identities have a way to understand themselves in the bigger picture and 2. our revolutionary brothers and sisters to understand that to not feel under constant threat of violence they too need to work at creating spaces in revolution that are welcoming and safe for us. whether that be by telling us , actively challenging imperialist behaviour toward women, disabled or lgbt people or making spaces physically accessible etc. should it be a political end goal? no. should it be part of our revolutionary character, community and practices? yes. because otherwise we are letting the divide and rule win and we are not supporting our brothers and sisters to challenge the nonsense politics that they subscribe to. has intersectionality become a lot of nonsense in mainstream spaces - yes I agree. lets not get distracted but let's make our resistance one that doesn't give people a choice to opt out on fear of safety?

Sister X: I agree alot of black feminist writings are only concerned with the american landscape and they do not really go beyond that parameters. In fact most Black american thinks do not go beyond any borders, which is highly problematic as it suggests they see US a vacuum and connect thread thier history to that of the global south. However, I do not see intersectionality as the only tool for deconstructing imperialism. For the sake of this thread, I have championed it to hopefully highlights its merits as Nim Ralf has articulated in the post above mine. I see intersectionality dealing with the politics of different liberation struggles - but not necessarily the strugles themselves - in how they interconnect especially if you are person with multitude of identities that are oppressed. I remember in the talk a woman in front of me challenged Angela Davis for her lack of feminist critique on the use of rape as a weapon of war towards women in the Congo. So they know and we know they are not really doing ish, yes this completely misconstrue authentcity of how intersectionality can be used as tool ti ensure we are not internalising oppression within ourselves nor projecting this on to other liberation struggles. If im honest, I have only experience resistant movements in the UK and a little bit in Berlin. However, its has been black/brown people across all liberation struggles initiating conversations, spaces and strategies to work in resistance against White supremacist imperialsim. With the likes of Angela Davis, pay check runs supreme and to be honest she was only revelent in the 60/70s as someone on this thread pointed out. I think we can't really on such individuals when they fall to mercy of white liberal dollars.


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