“I am remembered as a hairdo”

If you are a freedom fighter, proud Brandeisian, feminist, or any or all of the above, read this interview with Angela Davis NOW.

Excerpts after the jump.

On the U.S. criminal justice system:

“The prison system bears the imprint of slavery perhaps more than any other institution,” she says. “It produces a state that is very similar to slavery; the deprivation of rights, civil death and disenfranchisement. Under slavery, black people became that against which the notion of freedom was defined. White people knew they were free because they could point to the people who weren’t free. Now we know we’re free because we’re not in prison. People continue to suffer civil death even after they leave prison. There is permanent disenfranchisement.”

On “model[s] of diversity”:

The advancement of the likes of Powell and Rice within the Bush administration, argues Davis, exemplifies a flawed understanding of what it means to tackle modern-day racism. “The Republican administration is the most diverse in history. But when the inclusion of black people into the machine of oppression is designed to make that machine work more efficiently, then it does not represent progress at all. We have more black people in more visible and powerful positions. But then we have far more black people who have been pushed down to the bottom of the ladder. When people call for diversity and link it to justice and equality, that’s fine. But there’s a model of diversity as the difference that makes no difference, the change that brings about no change.”

On Barack Obama’s candidacy:

This, she says, is how the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama is generally understood. “He is being consumed as the embodiment of colour blindness. It’s the notion that we have moved beyond racism by not taking race into account. That’s what makes him conceivable as a presidential candidate. He’s become the model of diversity in this period, and what’s interesting about his campaign is that it has not sought to invoke engagements with race other than those that have already existed.”

“On 9/11 and black and progressive politics”

The confluence of black and progressive politics in the US has been further diminished, argues Davis, as a result of 9/11, which gave all Americans the option of retreating behind the flag or responding to a world that was reaching out. “In that sense, 9/11 was a pivotal moment,” she says. “It was a multicultural moment. Black people aren’t immune to the nationalism in this country. That was a moment when global solidarity was pouring in and instead of people reaching out, they closed down. So this was a moment that clearly involved black people. But it clearly didn’t envelop Arabs.”

On contemporary youth activism:

Davis is, however, encouraged by the youth of all races. “I’m amazed at the sophistication of a lot of younger people,” she says. “We didn’t have the ability when I was younger to say all the things we wanted to say. We didn’t have the conceptual opportunities for that. A lot of this stuff just rolls off their tongues. Whatever they produce won’t be an insurgency of the old type, although I do think that engagement with race and racism will be an important part of it. You have to get over the idea that you win something once and for all and that struggles have to look the same.”

Ok, well now I’ve excerpted all the good parts.  Read it anyway.


1 Response to ““I am remembered as a hairdo””

  1. November 21, 2007 at 2:02 am

    Excellent. So smart.

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