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Truthdigger of the Week: Angela Davis, an Activist for the Ages

Angela Davis.



In one of Davis’ most moving responses to a question posed by Kelly, she called for “more profound ways of thinking how to move forward” that do not use white hegemonic powers as the “standard” to aspire to, but instead recognize and honor the experiences of those who have been oppressed by a capitalist, patriarchal system.

“Somehow or another, we always use as our standard those who are the center of the structures we want to dismantle,” Davis said as the South Bank Centre auditorium exploded in applause. “And so, why would women want to become equal to men? Why would black people and Latinos and Arabs and Muslims want to become equal to white people? Why would the LGBTQ community want to become equal in the context of heteropatriarchy?”

As I wrote in a piece earlier this week, Davis is a proponent of inclusivity, and the quote above is an example of her dedication to an intersectional feminism. And while she welcomes progressive men into the conversation, she insists that they take part in feminist movements — and asked the men in the audience to stand up and applaud the women present.

Offering a blueprint for activists on effective conversations on race and gender, Davis warned against the dangers of assimilating into “a white supremacist society without thinking about what it is we need to do in order to transform that society.” She then offered some hope to modern activists engaged in the kind of struggles to which she has dedicated her life:

“I think that maybe now we are finally beginning to get it. I hope we are. Yes, we always have to believe that ultimately we will be able to change the world,” Davis told the hall filled with people she said she hoped were activists. She pointed out we are not “going to immediately witness the consequences of the work we do. … In 2017, as we try to generate powerful resistance movements against Islamophobia, to protect undocumented immigrants, to protect the rights of trans people … we are drawing upon forces and we are drawing upon energies that have been created over decades.

“So now we are, in a sense, reaping the fruits of the work [of] people, activists like ourselves … just as we are creating the terrain for something that may happen 50 years from now. I like to think that today we are living the imaginings of those that have been long gone. We are living the world they wanted, and therefore we can expect that others will be inhabiting a world that we imagine.”

For her unfailing service to dismantling systems of oppression, her lifelong activism despite huge personal cost, and her dedication to supporting new movements and encouraging younger generations of activists, Angela Davis is our Truthdigger of the Week.


Natasha Hakimi Zapata
Assistant Editor / Poetry Editor
Natasha Hakimi Zapata holds a Creative Writing M.F.A. from Boston University and both a B.A. in Spanish and a B.A. in English with a creative writing concentration from the University of California, Los…
Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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