July 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

Last week we read texts by Frank B. Wilderson III and Angela Davis. They both open the discourse for radical social movements, explicitly addressing how the interconnection to race and racism has been stifled in prison abolition and anti-rape movements.

For Wilderson civil society itself is what has and continues to destroy Black bodies (he refers to prison-slaves and the prison-slave-in-waiting as well as bodies that “magnetize bullets”), and to concede to its democratization solely perpetuates violence and racism. He unflinchingly calls for disorder and “the disconfiguration of civil society” as this aligns with the essential positionality of the Black subject and corporeality. Demanding the system to reform and repair its historical splinters does not put an end to the hegemonic terror and violence inflicted upon Black bodies. He begs the question: can the junior partners (immigrants, white women, working class) be in unity with Black communities if they concede to policies and small crumbs from the State that are fortified upon anti-Black rhetorical structures?

Davis looks at both particular cases of sexual violence and how official policy and the judicial system is often the perpetrator of violence against women. Rape is used as a political weapon, from racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan, to racist instructions employed by the US military, to the maintenance and upkeep of civil society. The myth of the Black rapist is an image Davis frequently explores in her work whereby white women are socialized to fear black men and desire protection from white men.

There are tendencies in social movements (rooted in Gramscian discourse) to view capitalism as the base rather than white supremacy. We questioned Marxism’s “conceptual anxiety” as it merely demands to democratize production and labour rather than demanding “production stop.” Production itself being the site of death. We were excited to see this interrogation and adjustments to radical discourse, venturing so far as to see possibilities in necessarily excessive language. Davis’ speeches and writing are clear and unashamed, demanding more from everyone.

Join us for our last week as we read Jackie Wang’s “Against Innocence” published in LIES, a journal of materialist feminism. As a young contemporary, Wang makes reference to many of the writers in this session of about a bicycle, and will compliment last week’s discussions. We will look at how the notion of innocence is “just a code for nonthreatening to white civil society” and how “safe space” becomes appropriated in rhetoric in order to redeem whiteness. The journal in its entirety is available on the schedule and definitely worth a read if you haven’t already done so.

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