the philosophactivist

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thoughts on Being Radical, Queer, and Of Color and other musings

So- obviously there's some dissonance in just the terms radical and "of color". Hm. Some people don't see that and it's a little disturbing. Some people think that it's something else- that people of color aren't committed or don't back the so-called revolution. Not many really step back and critically analyze the situation---people of color cannot be overtly radical without being trampled upon. I mean- hello...did you see what happened during the civil rights movement? Who was sprayed with fire hoses? Whose churches were bombed? Who was hung? Who were humiliated? Why would a marginalized people try to make themselves visible in the way that a radical would? It doesn't make much sense. So is it that they are not committed or that they are using common sense? People of color must use other tactics. They must be subversive and cannot afford to be seen as radical or against the system. White privilege in radical circles must be analyzed. Oppression within radical circles must be analyzed. How can we find ways to racially integrate these circles? How can we find ways to start a conversation between people of color who are creating social change and radicals who are creating social change? How can we get dialogue going? I suspect that it's going to have to start with anti-racist dialogue because the experience of a person of color must be understood. The experience of being white...whiteness...privilege must be understood and deconstructed. Then we can move on to class and anti-classist politics,etc.

So am I an anomaly? Sort of. I have gone to two liberal arts colleges. I grew up with class privilege. Though I feel voiceless in my classes a lot of degree gives me a little bit of leverage to at least open my mouth. I can seek out people with ideologies like my own which more often than not came from academia. Radicals are usually educated- whether self taught or whether they've been to college. There seems to be this vocabulary that is not accessible to non-radicals at times. Some would also argue that some radical spaces are inaccessible. Well, I can't speak on that--

but I've been thinking a lot. And I really want to come up with a good definition of what radical is because I feel like we toss the word around so much but that we all have different ideas. What makes an action radical? What makes an ideology radical? Is it just a word tied to race and class? Did Malcolm X call himself radical? Did Dubois and Garvey call themselves radical? Did Tubman,Bethune, Truth, Hooks,etc. call themselves radical?

And how do we begin to reconcile radicalism and incrementalism? Civil disobedience, non-violence and escalation? Anti-racist/anti-oppression philosophy and theory and the actual lived experience of this oppression? The radical's interest in distancing oneself from identity politics in order for utopia and the person of color's (or disabled person, or queer/LGBTTSGNC person, or woman's) understanding that there can be no utopia without the acknowledgment of identity and the subtle and overt oppressions caused by multiple layers of it?

food for thought.

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