Angela Davis

I’m experimenting with some new methods in efforts to keep this blog more current. The last entry was drafted quickly and posted before its time – I ‘ll edit it later. As I will this entry, outlined for now in a telegraphic style.


caught Angela Davis Kane Hall last night

skeptical beforehand – academic radicals – looked at Cornel West’s book remaindered in bookstore before – nice work if you can get it – I gave it a try too, at Yale where I met once met Cornel before he was quite so famous, then Harvard where we saw Skip Gates having tapas at Dali with old Yale chum Barbara Johnson and her partner Marjorie Garber just before started African American studies program there, her head TA a real piece of work – before disgust and realization I didn’t really relish the life made me change careers – but wouldn’t it be better to get actually get out into the workaday world and try to change things?

interesting experience

not at first – preaching to converted – American academic leftist Idol – clapping for points not really made, but just alluded to, toying around conceptually: why do we put so many black people in prison – prisons exist so we can feel by contrast – why not let prisoners vote – slavery only legally abolished after civil war – social construction of reality – involuntary servitude still allowed in prisons – growing up in segregated Birmingham, like Condi Rice…

mention Rice something more interesting started to happen – similar autobio themes of rising above adversity – but Rice sees self as exceptional individual in typical American self-made man story – Rice says she could succeed, because she’s 8 times faster than whites, and only needs to be 5 times – while Davis a social activist, against capitalist individualism

not enough that Rice, Clarence Thomas, D’Souza et al attain eminence – what’s that to the rest of us?

even MLK has been Americanized, holiday, the exceptional man who had a dream

no: MLK didn’t dream up the civil rights movement – the civil rights movement created him

that’s what was great about the 60s: all these anonymous people who came together from the grassroots to bring about social change

when they went looking for bodies of Chaney, Schwerner, Goodman, and other civil rights workers slain, they didn’t just find them – but lots more bodies, anonymous, never claimed

but change 60s achieved not enough: not structural, nor thoroughgoing enough

to revive – don’t need exceptional individuals to become famous leaders – instead, need to get lots of people in all walks of life organizing together for change

but problem: her own audience treats Davis as the very kind of exceptional individual she criticizes – and her slow, coy, intellectually flirtatious mode of delivery encourages it – how else did she get where she is today?

standing O at end confirms – and bizarre Q&A period too – no questions, just people looking for her and the audience to hear and validate them: their litany of causes, their adulation and desire for her to sign a book, that they were there and chanted free Angela when she was in jail in Greenwich Village all those many years ago, that they visited the Santa Clara prison she was held in – and finally 3 crazy people who came together, ranting about being discriminated against because they’re homeless, or that their afterschool program is getting shortchanged because the city or county is giving too much money to immigrants, those damn immigrants…

seems everyone wants a bigger piece of that pie like Angela’s gotten

how do you move beyond a scene like that – everybody out for their lonesome – to something with real political teeth – somethat that will benefit us all equally, not a few exceptional individuals feasting at the public prytenaeum?

that’s a conundrum Angela hasn’t solved yet, nor Brother Cornel, nor even Barack Obama

maybe it will take nobody to lead us out of this mess

Posted Wednesday, April 18th, 2007 under Uncategorized.

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