Black Feminism, Intersectionality and Democratic Possibilities

[ Music ] >> Bess Vincent: Welcome, everyone, and happy International Women’s Day My name is Bess Vincent [ Applause ] And I’m an Associate Professor of Sociology here at the Takoma Park campus And I have the honor of introducing our distinguished guest this evening Before doing so, though, I have a few practical notes If you’re a student and you need a certificate of attendance or you’re a faculty looking for your equity and inclusion goal certificate they’re on the table out between the two theater doors and you can grab one, if you didn’t already do so, on your way out We do ask that you silence your cell phones, but all students or anybody in the audience is welcome to snapchat live, twitter, anything that you want Dr. Hill Collins even came up with this hashtag right before the talk, so please help us get it going, okay? This is a way to engage the rest of our community that wasn’t able to come tonight in our conversation There’ll be an opportunity for questions and answers following the presentation and we have two mikes, maybe one mike, set up and you’ll be able to come forward So think about if you might have a question so you can plan accordingly We also invite everyone to continue the conversation after the talk in the lobby with refreshments We’ll also have several of Dr Hill Collins’ books for sale and she’s graciously agreed to sign copies, and I’ll tell you there’s something else special that will happen, but I’m going to save that for the very end So don’t leave early because you might miss the opportunity to get something I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank some of the people who collaborated to make this event happen tonight I’d like to thank the Education and Social Sciences area and our Dean Darrin Campen for sponsoring this event, as well as the women in Gender Studies program, the Takoma Park Student Life Office, and Siobhan Quinn and Chris Campanella and the rest of the Cultural Art Center staff I feel very honored to work with such great people, and I thank you all for helping to make this event possible tonight we’re very fortunate to have Patricia Hill Collins here with us Dr. Collins is a Social Theorist whose research and scholarship have examined issues of race, gender, social class, sexuality and nation Her research is regarded as essential reading for sociologists, but also spans into other disciplines, including women’s studies and African-American studies Her first book, Black Feminist Thought, Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment, won the Jesse Bernard Award of the American Sociological Society for significant scholarship and gender and the C. Wright Mills Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems Her second book, Race, Class and Gender and Anthology edited with Margaret Andersen, is widely used in undergraduate classrooms in over 200 colleges and universities Black Sexual Politics, African-American’s Gender and the New Racism received ASA’s 2007 Distinguished Publication Award Her other books include Fighting Words, Black Women and the Search for Justice, From Black Power to Hip-Hop, Racism, Nationalism and Feminism, Another Kind of Public Education, Race, Schools, the Media and Democratic Possibilities, The Handbook of Race and Ethnic Studies edited with John Solomos, and On Intellectual Activism In 2008 she became the 100th President of the American Sociological Association, the first African-American woman elected to this position in the organization’s 104-year history Currently she’s a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland Professor Collins also holds an appointment as the Charles Phelps Taft Emeritus Professor of Sociology within the Department of African-American Studies at the University of Cincinnati Tonight Professor Hill Collins will deliver a presentation titled, Black Feminism, Intersectionality and Democratic Possibilities Her talk is very timely since when we first began discussing her coming to speak here at MC we could not foresee the current political and social climate, January’s Women’s March, or even the Day Without a Woman Strike scheduled for today Even today, the day that we call International Women’s Day, is interesting when we consider Professor Hill Collins’ research

because what she teaches us is that what we see so clearly when we look at these global demonstrations and that there’s no singular woman’s experience Our experiences are punctuated by our relations to power and those vary greatly depending on our gender, but also our race, nationality, social class, sexuality and legal status This resonates here at Montgomery College since we have an extraordinarily diverse community with 178 countries represented The personal biographies of those students vary widely and make our particular institution a great audience for Professor Hill Collins’ message and we thank her immensely for coming Fellow members of the Montgomery College community, Professor Patricia Hill Collins [ Applause ] >> Patricia Hill Collins: Well, they wouldn’t let me look at you before I started, so I began to worry that maybe you were a little iffy in terms of a group But, no, you look pretty good, all right So I don’t know why they were doing that Good evening I’m going to really try not to keep us until Friday because sometimes when I get started on a topic I get really enthusiastic and I sort of don’t want to stop, all right? But I also want to encourage you to use this hashtag that we just got together behind stage because for those of you who are not comfortable asking questions in public or you want to post anything, what I would like to do is come back and read some of your comments afterwards So I will also use this as a way of archiving your ideas if I don’t get a chance to talk with you I’ve had a difficult month, I should probably tell you this, I’ve had a difficult month since last November And I shouldn’t really – I’m not going to fill in and connect all the dots for you, but I almost feel like I’ve been knocked backwards by many, many, many years Some time ago I wrote this book, Another Kind of Public Education, and it’s about democratic possibilities because I’ve been thinking about the questions of democracy and the future for a very, very long time It’s really something that has shaped my life as a person and I think in many ways is an American story, if I could say it that way But these are trying times and I’m still trying to make sense of it all So what I’d like to do tonight is read a little bit, going back in time to kind of help me ground myself and also to talk to you about the question of imagining a future, a different future and all the things that are in the way of getting to that point I then want to move on to the substance of my talk, which is black feminism intersectionality and democratic possibilities, to ask the question how does black feminism and intersectionality shape our imagination around democratic possibilities? So can you go there with me? I might feel like I’m jumping around and if it feels like I am you should say you’re jumping around, all right? You can be like my students, they yell at me all the time But this is a chapter, the beginning of a chapter that I wrote some time ago, and I think it really sets the stage to tell you about me, and I don’t know about you but it tells you about me And the title of this chapter is, What Does the Flag Mean to You, right? So it’s a question about what does this country mean to you, all right? How do you envision being in this country? As a young person, perhaps as a person of color, perhaps as a person who is in a sexual minority, perhaps as a person who is Muslim or of a different faith, or a person who is differently abled, what does the flag mean to you, what does this country mean to you in terms of its current moment and its promise? And I was asking myself that question when I was in high school, so we’re going to go in the way back machine now, all right, because I’ve been at this for awhile This isn’t even the go back machine, this is the way, way back machine, when I was in high school, all right? By the time I began my senior year at the Philadelphia High School for Girls my public school education had almost silenced me The days of playing the lead in my preschool’s pageant or chattering away with my elementary school friends were distant memories, all but erased by my school district’s tracking policies that left me marooned in overwhelmingly white settings I rarely spoke in any of my classes As a working class African-American girl I knew my place in a school that catered to middle class white girls I could stay if I didn’t make waves So I sat and I listened Given my chronic silence I was surprised

when my 12th grade English teacher asked me whether I would be willing to deliver the Flag Day speech at Independence Hall? What an honor to sit on the dais erected at the site of the Liberty Bell and the Declaration of Independence and to participate in a ceremony held at this birthplace of American democracy I had no doubt about my ability to write a speech or to deliver it, all I had to do was answer one simple question, what did the flag mean to me? Now I thought writing the speech would be easy, yet when I got home crafting it turned out to be far more difficult than I expected When it came to issues of the American flag and its black American citizens, growing up in my African-American neighborhood had apparently raised more issues than I anticipated What did the flag mean to my father, I wondered? Despite serving in a racially segregated Army, his service in World War II left him a proud veteran with a strong commitment to the flag Risking his life to defend the flag, however, did not shield him from racial discrimination at home Despite his status as a veteran banks refused to grant him the low interest loans that were routinely offered to white veterans, which would have enabled my family to buy a house in the burgeoning suburbs of Philadelphia We didn’t get to move there What did the flag mean to my mother? She rarely mentioned anything to do with politics By the time I was in high school she had given up her dream of attending college and becoming and English teacher Her secretarial job at the Department of Defense helped pay the bills, yet she was never recommended for promotion Instead, as I discovered years later, she spent years training her bosses, all of them white men who routinely started out as her subordinates Year after year she got up and simply went to her job, reading a book on the subway as respite from and reminder of her unceasing work and her dream deferred You see the problem I’m beginning to have here with writing this talk? All right What could the flag mean to me in this context? I was doing all that I could do to be ready if and when the doors of opportunity that had been closed to my parents were opened for me I got good grades, was a church organist, a Sunday school teacher, played the trumpet – yes, I did – played the trumpet in my high school band and orchestra, and I even made all my clothes I was on the path to success Yet I was also plagued by the growing recognition that the American ideal of Ameritocracy was a myth How was it, I asked, that the flag could signify such lofty ideals of democracy, suggested by my public school education, yet my parents and others like them struggled so hard to improve their lives, with many like my mother never achieving their dreams? Why was I having such a difficult time writing this simple flag talk, I wondered? Despite my misgivings, I wrote what I thought was a muted, respectful speech that expressed my true feelings My speech was no kneejerk tribute to Old Glory Can I add a little line in here? It was no kneejerk shout out to make America Great Again Okay, that’s not actually in here, but I just wanted to put that in All right Instead, it aimed to breathe life into the principles that the flag seemingly represented My speech stated my commitment to the democratic ideals that the flag engendered, in particular, fairness, equal opportunity and justice for all Yet it also tentatively questioned the contradictions that surrounded the flag Unlike now, when I speak of racism and many other isms so openly, I said nothing about race in that talk, but I remember that race was on my mind I took my speech to my English teacher and waited anxiously while she read it After a few minutes she calmly remarked, Patricia, we need to make a few changes Out came the red pen When she was done she said, I’ve made a few minor changes, please look them over and once you make them your speech will be fine When I got home I reviewed her comments I had expected her to correct my grammar, yet I was stunned to see that with the strokes of her red pen my teacher had completely changed the meaning of my entire speech Gone was my ambivalence about the meaning of the flag and by implication the meaning of democracy The speech that she expected me to give was an uncritical celebration

of American patriotism So what do you think I did? I’m not going to tell you till the end of the talk [laughter] Because now I’m going to give my speech because I couldn’t give that speech in high school Ever since then I have tried to reclaim my voice and give the speeches that I want to give because you cannot snatch words back from the air you’ve said them, they are out there, they affect lives, they matter And what is amazing to me is that the speech that I’m thinking about tonight was one that I wrote about 10 years ago and that happened to me when I was in high school This is a long struggle to think about democratic possibilities that are about fairness, equal opportunity and justice And I’ve shared with you one moment of how the pressure is on me and many of us to not speak, to not think, to accept However, I was fortunate enough to be born a black woman [ Applause ] Now a lot of people think they want to feel sorry for me, you know, they want to make me into a victim Oh, it must be so hard being a black woman You all are just singing all the time Oh, I’m so glad I’m not a black woman Can I help you? The song is can I help you, you know, can I help you? You know, all right [laughter] Now this was always amazing to me, as a person who grew up in a black working class neighborhood, and this is also amazing to many young women who find themselves strong figures in their own communities, all right? How they’re actually treated and perceived when they leave, all right? Young woman in the hajib saying, why are they looking at us like we’re victims? We’re clearly agents about what we’re doing All right, that’s a whole another talk, I’m not giving that tonight But, anyhow, I’m giving my talk tonight just to ask the question, looking at the kind of work that I started to do, which was on black women, asking the question the black women I knew were ones who were committed to democratic ideals, they were committed to something bigger than just themselves They were committed to their children, they were committed to their communities, but they were not stupid about it, it wasn’t blind faith, it wasn’t blind commitment, it was something else And that something else could not be found in my high school nor could it be found in my colleges, it wasn’t written yet So I set out to study black women’s intellectual work, wondering I wonder if there are lots of other black women who have a lot to say but they have not been allowed to say it in certain settings? They have not gotten the jobs that allowed them to say it, they haven’t been able to go to the schools where they could give those talks? And that’s where I started my work And that’s why I want to pick up the speech tonight around this particular topic of black feminism and intersectionality, to give you a sense of how some of the ideas of black feminism speak to the moment that we’re in today perhaps and to open up some space for conversation about the moment that we’re in So we have to go into the back machine of black women’s intellectual activism, and I’m going to talk about two ideas from black feminism – intersectionality and something called flexible solidarity These are two big ideas that I think are really crucial Now if you’re familiar with my work on black feminism, I’ve written a lot of stuff, and I’m not the only person, so there are many, many places where you can get a good history and a good overview, but I’m going to pick out two big ideas that I think have come from black feminism, that really begin to address this whole issue of the democratic possibilities and us imagining a new future And the second part of my talk I’m going to move on and talk about intersectional solidarities and democratic possibilities I really want to work with the whole notion of not a Rodney King version of can’t we just all get along You’ve heard that after the riots and all that, like all we need to do is look into each other’s eyes and give each other a big hug and, therefore, we will have a happy day, all right? Now that may happen in a march, but if you’re really trying to do something politically effective that’s going to last over time it is lots of hard work, it is not just a moment It’s building institutional structures that last So I want to spend some time, spending a little bit of time talking about that before I come back and tell you what I did, okay? All righty, so this is part one of the talk, black women’s intellectual activism, black feminism, intersectionality and flexible solidarity So the first person I want to tell you about, I want to contrast two figures from black feminism just to quickly give those of you who are not familiar with black feminism a bit of just a heads

up about what it is, all right? Although this might be a pretty well-read group, you all look pretty, like you know a lot, so I’ll just kind of pick up the pace apparently All right, but we’re looking at the leader, Ida Wells Barnett How many of you have heard of Ida Wells Barnett? That’s very good, because a lot of us have struggled for many, many years to get the names of these towering figures out there and their stories out there Ida Wells Barnett was an antilynching advocate She was – her parents were slaves She did her work in the late 1800s, early 1900s She took care of her siblings when her parents died She was one of those people who went to school, she was a teacher, she tried to do well as a teacher in Memphis She hated the teachers she worked with, she thought they were just too, you know, they just bowed down too much to the powers that be But Ida Wells Barnett was living a pretty ordinary life in a lot of ways until some friends of hers were lynched This was in Memphis, Tennessee She was out of town at the time And when she found out that they had been lynched, and these were people she knew well, these were men who had stores, they were competing sort of with the white power structure in Memphis, she wrote about it She was a journalist We now these days we know that journalists are under attack, and she certainly was one that was under attack because the citizens of Memphis said to Ida Wells Barnett, if you come back we will lynch you, too, so she could not go home and they burned the paper down, all right? So it was not a really good response that the citizens of Memphis had to Ida Wells Barnett’s antilynching material And she was very savvy because she drew upon the work that was actually printed in Southern papers and reprinted it so that everybody – she didn’t do this individual research that people would say, oh, she’s discredited because she’s biased She actually was printed in the White Press, lynching tomorrow at two o’clock, come and bring a picnic basket, that kind of thing, all right? So my point here is that very often what gets people started are experiences that they have or experiences that they witness or the empathy that they develop for a social issue or a social problem around them that they cannot push away And very often those types of social issues and social problems have to do with violence because violence is a critical point of how systems of domination work, whether it’s racial domination, gender domination, sexual domination, whatever we’re talking about, violence is key When we look at racism, racial violence is just embedded in the system Now that was something that became a catalyst for Ida Wells Barnett, and she began to do analyses of the patterns of lynching that were there And she began to come up with arguments about race, gender, sexuality and class And she was really swimming upstream because the arguments then were that black men were just animalistic and they were lusting after white women and, therefore, to protect the white women we have to kill the black men and let everybody know that this cannot be tolerated So in some ways lynching was projected or put forth as a rational response to the sexuality and the inherent violence of black people, and she knew this wasn’t true Because just like when I was in school I didn’t even recognize the black women, how people saw me as a black woman So she began to make very provocative arguments about race and sexuality that were way ahead of her time If you read, in fact, she made arguments about sexuality of white men lusting after black women, that was unheard of at the time So here’s Ida Wells Barnett early on presenting an intersectional analysis that is directly tied to a social problem that she saw, and she had to think about that social problem outside of the box She had to think about it outside of the boxes that were provided to her, that were designed to keep her down and those members of the African-American community down And it wasn’t enough just to be an armchair intellectual, she did not have that opportunity She was a black woman, but she went on the public speaking trail This is what I like about Ida Wells Barnett, she went to Europe, she found allies, she really spoke out as much as she could about this particular problem, trying to solve this social issue, using her voice, being active She’s quite an important figure for us all to know about Now I can pull many, many examples from the past with different issues, but where you see this whole beginning

of social issues or why people do this kind of work – anybody that’s doing social justice work it’s not because it’s just cool to do, all right, but because there’s something out there that needs to be addressed Intersectionality, it was not called that but the issue is it was an intersectional analysis that she puts out and actions And notice, by the way, antilynching activism, but Ida Wells Barnett also very much believed in women’s suffrage The segregation of her time was such that many white women in this country did not want her to be part of the suffrage movement because they thought it would somehow pollute the movement, that they could do better if she just waited her turn And intersectional analysis, not very happy with wait your turn You know, it’s not just the question of let’s take care of class analysis first and when we get rid of class oppression, okay, then you women, all right, so you poor women you will be better off Okay, then after we deal with you women, after class and then women, then we’ll get maybe to you people of color And I mean, no, this was just not an argument that made any sense to her, either intellectually or politically, but she was bold enough to do something about it Fast forward, contemporary period We have a contemporary African-American intellectual, a black woman who is involved in intellectual activism, Angela Y. Davis Now I put Angela Davis up here because this country tends to have a very ahistoric view of how politics come about and how ideas come about We seem to think that somebody woke up yesterday and said, whoa, intersectionality, that sounds like a good idea, let me write that down You know, as opposed to there’s really been a long arc of visible political struggle and intellectual struggle and the deepening of analysis around intersectionality and around political activism on the part of black women Because unlike many people I see black women as agents of knowledge, smart, thinking, doing people, not two-dimensional cardboard figures you see So here we have Angela Davis who was building on the foundation of many people who came before here All of this, by the way, is still hidden to the general public You know, in the US it was just assumed that, oh, no, let’s just look and let’s just see who is playing the maid in the movie and that’s who the black women are kind of thing Angela Davis, the issue that very much she was concerned with was state violence She first witnessed the state violence because of the kinds of things that were going on in California This is the, if you come for you in the morning But then she became a target of state violence in terms of ending up on the FBI Most Wanted List So if you look at her work throughout her entire career it has very much been around prison abolition and pushing back against rootinized violence in the state, not the antilynching of Ida Wells Barnett, but for our own era, what we’re currently calling mass incarceration, all right, or the new Jim Crow, Angela Davis was talking about that rootinized police state way back in the day, you see So here and that’s when she had that nice big Fro that everybody thinks, oh, Angela Davis, radical It’s not so much the picture, it’s actually what’s in her head What you see on the righthand side is her analysis of race, class and gender in her book, Women, Race and Class, where she is one of the early people who talks about the kind of analysis that has emerged as intersectionality But we have to be careful that Angela Davis’ version of intersectionality does not get ignored in favor of many of the current iterations of intersectionality, which are so pale compared to that And in the middle, actions She chose the podium and she also chose writing and intellectual work as her terrain of action And one of her most recent books, The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues, speaks to this whole issue of thinking about the systems that we’re in and the context of our times All right, so you’re feeling like you have a little bit of context here? Did you live? Did I kill anybody yet? Check the person next to you just to make sure because every so often people’s eyes glaze over [laughter] And if you hear that little silent snore next to you could you please poke them really nicely before their head drops back and they start showing the back of their mouth? That would be embarrassing to them, all right? I am not here to put anybody to sleep All right, so these two ideas begin to work together This whole idea of intersectionality and the idea of a solidarity, which I haven’t talked about very much yet, but that’s the idea I’m going to spend most of my time on And I bring to you one quote from June Jordan, who I think symbolizes this June Jordan was, she’s a poet and an essayist She was spending time, I believe this was at Berkeley, and one day there was an antiracism rally

And June Jordan says, okay, we need to go to the antiracism rally And the next day there was a rally in favor of LGTQ folk, I mean anti-heterosexism rally, if you’d call it that And there were different people at each rally And what very much bothered June Jordan, who herself was bisexual, all right – what very much bothered her was the fact that the communities that should have been supporting each other were so distinct and separate That’s a social problem that really caught her attention So in beginning to think about her analysis and her actions around this this quote, to me, really speaks to the essence of what intersectionality is as it comes from a black feminist experience She says, freedom – and this is a very black thing, the fact that you’ve been enslaved, all right, so if you’re coming from a place of where you’ve been enslaved, emancipation, these kinds of terms really matter It’s not just equality, it’s freedom, it’s very deep She says, freedom is indivisible or it is nothing, at all, besides sloganeering and temporary, shortsighted and short-lived advancement for a few Freedom is indivisible and either we are working for freedom or you are working for the sake of your self-interests and I am working for mine Now can you remember this for a couple slides? Because when I talk about coalitions this is a really important idea, all right? This is solidarity, but it’s a solidarity that is now attending to issues of race and class and gender and sexuality, all right? So that’s how they begin to go together Oops, oh, oh, bad things just happened Okay, here we go Hit the wrong button there All right, so let me talk a little bit about core ideas of black feminism and one core idea is intersectionality I have just finished a book coauthored with Serma Bilsh [Assumed Spelling], who is my colleague in Canada, and it is on intersectionality And we decided that it was really important to just kind of get some of these ideas on paper even though this field is still under construction and developing But here are some bullets to orient you around what intersectionality in my mind is about It isn’t just race, class, gender identities, it’s about other stuff that’s tied to black feminism First of all, one main idea, intersectionality examines how social inequalities are organized, endure, change and resisted There would be no reason to have intersectionality if there were no social inequalities So if people are just talking about intersecting identities there’s no power involved or no social inequality I think that happens, but I also think that’s moving quite far away from Ida Wells Barnett, from Angela Davis, from June Jordan, and from a long list of people who are not just African-American women, but many other women I’m talking about black feminism today A second bullet, it investigates how race, class, gender, sexuality, age, ability, religion and citizenship constitute intersecting systems of power that mutually construct one another This is a set of ideas that says you cannot solve your problems by yourself You can try to, you can sit around and make yourself the best you you can possibly be, but you’re in a structure that is going to provide opportunities and constraints on you, and that’s what power is So rather than looking at power just as a unitary thing, racial power or gender power, an intersectional framework looks at how those ideas, those systems of power construct one another, shape one another And the third main point is that intersectionality articulates with broader political and intellectual struggles for social justice There’s an ethical component to this work We’re not just doing it because we want to get jobs, right? We’re doing it because it matters because there is social justice, injustice is a wrong that needs to be righted So I have colleagues who have wonderful analyses of social inequality, but they don’t do anything, they just analyze This is really saying your ideas will have an impact And what kind of impact do you want them to have? And thinking explicitly about issues of social justice Some core ideas, the second core idea of black feminism would be the idea of flexible solidarity Now many people have an understanding of solidarity where it’s like group think There are three principles on the list, it’s almost like reading the Bible, we all agree on three things and then we have solidarity around those three things Or perhaps waving the flag, you know, Make America Great,

here’s my program, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that All right, sorry, I’m trying not to let things bleed into my talk [laughter] It just keeps – it comes out sometimes and I say get back in there, get back, all right? But this is a different kind of solidarity, this is not group think If we look at black women in the context of African-American history you see that women were clearly, you know, especially women intellectuals, mothers, parents, all kinds of folk, were aware that there were gendered differences around racism or gendered differences in terms of class and money, but they were not in a position to do as much about that as they would have liked because it was too dangerous to do so So when you’re facing an enemy that will kill one of you or kill the next one of you, I mean this is what slavery was all about, basically, sort of the disposability of black bodies, all right? It doesn’t make any sense to run around singing a chorus of I’ve Got To Be Me in the face of your slaveowner – I’ve Got To Be Me, don’t you see, I’m not like those other slaves Yes, you’re a crazy one All right, so let’s do something about that It makes much more sense to band together because you have an external threat that is quite significant in terms of your life and the lives of your children And in that context issues that may seem internal to your community, like gender, or like the class system, or sexuality, it’s not that they’re not there, you’re flexible about when it is politically reasonable to do something about those in your own community That’s the first thing So then I’ve got here, flexible solidarity within black activist projects, I’ll use an example in a minute, working with black men, working across social class differences, navigating sexuality and nationality All of these things have happened in the context of African-American history For example, when there was a broad Caribbean migration in the ’20s, the Garvey movement, the largest of the black movement in this country was African-Americans and was immigrants, Caribbean immigrants, all right? And that becomes a really interesting theme of nationality, how you bring nationalities together in a movement for the good of both groups Now that was all internal Let’s say you get here and you thought of yourself years ago as Jamaican in 1920 and you get here and people say you just black, you can tell me you’re Jamaican all you want, I don’t care, all right? That creates a certain kind of black solidarity, but that doesn’t mean that solidarity is uniformity So when I talk about flexible solidarity that’s what I’m referring to Black women having a vested interest in taking on the hierarchies within black communities, particularly the gender hierarchies, but not necessarily using the tools that we would normally think of to do so How you going to protest your brother? Let’s have a march against the black men, that sounds like – this doesn’t make any sense historically When the times change, when desegregation comes in it becomes much more reasonable, there are more options for everybody, those are the times we’re in now But the second part of flexible solidarity, what it does is it positions black women for coalition building with other social justice projects So black women are predisposed not to cooperate, maybe it’s cooperation but to really see that they will have to think about networking with others outside of African-American communities because that is what’s needed for that bigger project, social justice, democracy, that’s what needs to happen All right, so you still there? I’m going to give you an example Okay, here we are, Black Lives Matter And this is Patrisse Cullors Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi Are most of you familiar with sort of the history of Black Lives Matter from 2012 to today, from the hashtag in terms of – they started a hashtag When George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin, for the killing of Trayvon Martin, I believe that was in 2013, the hashtag came along I’ll have to look at my notes But we’re not talking about anything that’s really like decades old, this is just a few years old And it just caught on, all right? Black Lives Matter, it caught on And what was interesting about Black Lives Matter is that it broke the fiction that you couldn’t talk about black Because we, under President Obama, were not supposed to talk about black, we were not supposed to talk about race, it’s post-racial You have a black man in the White House, what more do you want? Isn’t everything wonderful? And against that backdrop there are police killings, again,

notice the same catalyst, a different form The killing of young black men and women, but through lynching but through unauthorized and unsanctioned police presence Even Zimmerman thought he was a police person, you know, from neighborhood watch, all right, in terms of vigilante type stuff And protest against that So when these women who none of whom experienced this themselves, but who had friends and relatives and witnessed this and were distraught by this said Black Lives Matter, hashtag Black Lives Matter, that catches on That becomes very powerful as a way of pushing back against a democracy that was, quite frankly, neglecting large segments of its citizenry And in this case its black citizenry because it felt it could do that and so there are many arguments to that However, the part I want to pull out that I think is important for tonight is this Black Lives Matter, to me, has a direct connection to intersectionality and to flexible solidarity I see this movement as very much influenced where it started, by the way, because now the struggle is where it will go and where is it now But where it started initially was claiming that vision within black feminism yet again in relationship to the current period that we’re in, to inform the current period that we’re in So I pulled from their website their mission statement – Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of black, queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all black lives along the gender spectrum It centers those that have been marginalized within black liberation movements This is clearly a statement that says we recognize all the texture within this community and we can no longer have these permanent hierarchies where one group stands as the best black and everybody else has to wait their turn Intersectionality provides an analysis of why that’s a bad idea, but it also provides some political tools around strategically being in solidarity but flexible around that whole thing, all right? And flexible solidarity within and among organizations, if you look at their particular structure this is the way they work People get really upset, where is your leader, we want your leaders, who are the leaders? And even putting up these three as the head would be kind of like why are you doing that, they’re not really the leaders? But the way it is organized, the notion of a network social movement, right, that isn’t hierarchical, that really has a different way of working It’s more flexible in relationship to the challenges that it confronts So I think there’s some real legs here about this So the Black Lives Matter movement, the initial vision draws upon black feminists’ understandings of intersectionality and flexible solidarity Black Lives Matter means that all black lives matter, not just some black lives matter more than other black lives That’s another piece that often isn’t talked about And it constructs what I would call a political blackness across social divisions in black communities around ethnicity, class, age, sexuality, immigrant status, religion and ability So rather than saying blackness is this finished thing or race is this finished thing, and of course you can extrapolate this argument to other categories, all right? It says that a lot about blackness is political, it isn’t just ethnic, it isn’t cultural, it isn’t we can sing and dance, it’s not – that’s all in there But within the context of intersecting power relations one has to think about the categories one is using So how you doing? Are you doing okay? All right, we’re at part two [laughter] Let’s all get happy about that, all right? We’re making progress here Because, and this is a book that I actually read from, Another Kind of Public Education, because this question that I would now ask you is that’s all been the internal argument that I’ve presented to you, sort of the black feminist argument But now what I want to look at is this notion of intersectional solidarities How do we actually take these ideas around intersectionality and flexible solidarity and think about what we do with them? How do they inform our questions for today? How do they facilitate democratic possibilities? How do they help us think about the moment that we’re in? Gee, I don’t know if I can do that in just one little talk, but I’m going to take a stab at it, all right? So intersectional solidarities in the US, I want to talk briefly about three sites There are many others, but I’m just going to talk about these three because I think they illustrate the challenges of coalition building, of solidarity

I think it’s an important moment, this really comes from the women’s movement, excuse me, the women’s march the day after the inauguration and everyone said, well, now what are they going to do? They all just showed up and did all this stuff – like now what are they going to do? The hard work of continuing to build the solidarities that are there or the coalitions that are already there and building new ones that were not there So we’re at a really interesting moment where we have a President who seems to have antagonized so many people who now feel that they have common interests that they hadn’t perhaps seen before So you get a gift from strange places and this is a strange gift [laughter] But, you know, I’m trying to look at the opportunity of this particular moment because as a person who has been working on these connections for quite some time and thinking about the connections that are intersectional and political, not just personal but political for some time, and thinking about questions of political solidarity for quite some time and social movements, I didn’t quite think this would be the catalyst but I’m going to work with it as best I can, all right? So let me talk about these three groups and then wrap it up, and these three sites of intersectional solidarities, and then open it up to you So the first one is within black communities, this is the notion of expanding the notion of a community I could be talking about Latino, Latina communities, I could be talking about certain women’s communities, I could be talking about gay communities, I mean I could be picking a lot of constituencies, but I’m working with my particular expertise because this is what I study, right? I’m not in any way saying this is the universal, the best, the only, but I think it’s an important one, all right, because I think we have a lot to learn from black people That would be my personal perspective, but you can think otherwise Of course, you’re not going to think otherwise, are you? [laughter] All right, that was kind of a rhetorical kind of statement, that wasn’t – yes, ooh, let me think otherwise Let me stop having conversations with myself so I can have some with you All right, so that’s within black communities And then intersectional solidarities among people of color – I think this is really crucial – that this country is not white I don’t know where people get this whole idea it’s white, it really isn’t In fact, most of the white people aren’t white You just check, all these people on television, I discovered I was Native American and now I’m going to get a thing You know, you just want to say this is so weird, all right? [laughter] But the whole notion of creating a political solidarity among people of color However people define I think is really crucial This is an important moment for that, so we do not eat each other, all right? So you do not kill off your young So you do not mis-recognize who your allies and your foes are, all right? And the third category is with white allies And as much as I love my white allies, you notice how I put them last, all right? [laughter] Any of my white – you know, I’m comfortable calling people white and black and Latina, I mean I’m comfortable with that language, but some people get a little ancy, but I’m not really white Okay, I’m going to get to you in a minute, all right? We’re not starting with you, however, all right? So intersectional solidarities within black communities, these are tensions that have always been there, but there’s major tensions now that I think African-Americans are just working their best to deal with And you get a sense of how an intersectional analysis and flexible solidarity can work to create yet again new understandings of blackness The boundaries of blackness now are far more fluid than they used to be We have many folk, this is not a country with the one drop of blood that makes you, one drop of black blood makes you black, it was crazy to begin with, it was crazy science, but we’re no longer there, all right? We have the same enemies outside of African-American communities, but the boundaries are such that it’s harder to tell who they are But also there are new allies, it’s harder to tell who those people are, too So it’s an interesting period of time that points us in the direction that communities and solidarity are constructed You have to make them work So what I put up here for you around this whole issue of religion and sexuality is a film I’m a big fan of The filmmaker is Yoruba Richen and the film is entitled, The New Black Have any of you seen this documentary? Okay, well, if you haven’t it’s out there somewhere But what’s really good about this documentary, it’s about the marriage equality fight in Maryland, so it talks about – I believe it was P.G. County — but it’s about this area And what’s really interesting is how the black LGBT folk who were trying to get marriage equality through, there was a vote, didn’t just give

up on all the other black people who said they don’t know what it is, they don’t like it, this, that and the other It wasn’t like they just said we’re the smart ones, we’re the ones who have all the answers, we’re the progressive ones, and unfortunately the rest of my people are so backward Oh, poor them, they’re all in church praying needlessly, you know, that kind of thing They actually went and talked to their relatives, their friends, they found a pastor I mean some of these conversations were really difficult that people had around these issues of sexuality and religion because these are hard things to talk about in general But what was really nice about this particular documentary was seeing how solidarity was constructed Some minds were never changed, but many minds were clarified, they didn’t know It didn’t set up the church and everybody else is the backward church and then the progressive atheists, that kind of thing It wasn’t set up that way, it was really a question of thinking people and how do thinking people engage one another This is all within an African-American community and this is the kind of conversation that I would love to see within many communities because you cannot engage in coalition with other groups if you have no idea about how to talk to each other in your own group Then the arguments become who is speaking for the group, and yet another fight So that said to me that the possibilities of political blackness, and I’m putting up here a person who is technically not a black person How many of you have heard of Grace Boggs? [laughter] Well, Grace Boggs, as Angela Davis says, is blacker than a lot of black people that she knows Because Grace Boggs really gives you the potential of political blackness A person who didn’t claim to be black, didn’t claim to be Asian, is Chinese-American, I believe, from a well off family, had a topnotch Ivy League education Went to Chicago and discovered that in her apartment where she lived there were black people in the neighborhood because that’s what she could afford She couldn’t get the jobs that she wanted because she was female, right, so there’s a gender text here But then Grace looked around and she said, you know, I like these black people So she moves to Detroit, you know, falls in love, marries There she is, and here’s her quote Now this documentary is called, American Revolutionary This woman did more for black people in Detroit than I can even imagine Planting herself for decades to work on behalf of the city, through the times when that city went through decline, till she was interviewed near the end of her life, and talked about the possibilities for Detroit So in many ways I just saw Grace Boggs as a black person who didn’t know she was black, all right, but she really is And then the Asian community discovers her and says, well, Grace, how does your Asian identity affect how you did things? And she says, not at all, I didn’t think about it, it’s not a big deal for me You know, it gives you a sense of how there are other ways of having political solidarity that are not just all around being so worried about our identities, you know, the communities we came from and the communities we have joined, that there are bigger principles So I like this one up here where she says, there are times to grow our souls Growing your soul, how is your soul doing today? This is the kind of thing she’d say Each of us is called upon to embrace the conviction that despite the powers and principalities bent on commodifying all our human relationships we have the power within us to create the world anew Those are powerful ideas from somebody who is really up in age, but those are powerful ideas for someone who is 15 or 25 To look around you and to say, I have the power within me to create the world anew And, in fact, anyone that wants to convince me that I don’t probably doesn’t have my own best interests at heart, whether that’s a loved one or a President Oh, darn it [laughter] All right, I’m moving on He got in there again, he just slid in All right, let me move on to this moment Intersectional solidarities among people of color This term, people of color, has bothered me because it initially in my mind started off as an administrative category within universities, at least that’s how it was popularized, that said we can’t talk about the Latinos and the indigenous folk and we can’t talk about the ethnic folk, we can’t talk about – we need something – we don’t want to remember all that distinction People of color, yes, that’s it, let’s make them people of color, all right? The students of color And, of course, this raises the question what is the unifying substance of color? What does that mean? So it means something different if it’s imposed from the top, down than if it’s developed from the bottom, up

So I’m talking about now is thinking about developing this notion of people of color, which is already there, as a political identity, right? And I’m going to argue, ah, you ready for the radical statement? That anti-black racism is a touchstone for many of the intersecting oppressions that other groups encounter I am not arguing that there’s this one undifferentiated racism, but I am arguing that there are multiple stories that are interconnected and intertwined and that without an anti-black racism those other stories would not make any sense So we have to really go for some of the root stories when we’re talking about American democracy, whether it’s slavery and African-Americans or whether it’s indigenous folk Now I’m going to get to gender, don’t worry, I know this is the year of the woman, but the first half of the talk I talked about black feminism, right, so you got your – just wanted to let you know, I’m still here, all right? But the point here is that we have multiple stories that really need to develop, need to be researched, need to be internally developed so I can learn from people who are saying we have asked similar questions about how we have experienced similar social issues and how an intersectional analysis works differently for us but it’s there, and how solidarity has worked differently for us and it’s there All right, that’s the space of the moment that we’re in now, and I really do think that flexible solidarity gives us some space Just to break things up a little bit, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton This is not just cross – this is not just – what is this called? Multiracial casting We’re in a theater building, yes This is not just multiracial casting of the same old story, all right? Let’s put on the show of whatever it is and let’s just – ooh, Romeo and Juliet, let’s make Juliet, ooh, let’s make Juliet Latina, let’s make Romeo, ooh, let’s make him Sikh, that will be interesting, you know, kind of thing I mean just sort of that kind of thing Instead, what Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton had the nerve to do was write a Hip-Hop opera about the founding myth of America He went right to the belly of the beast and took on democracy in terms of the cherished myths about Hamilton, Jefferson, Aaron Burr, all those people you fell asleep in school learning about, all right, that you have forgotten about He has made this stuff hip and in again, all right? And it’s on – I think on Broadway, maybe that’s just off Broadway Off Broadway? On Broadway, okay, he’s on Broadway I remember the theater, but I can’t tell you whether it was on Broadway or not All right, and I pulled out some of these graphics so you can see that there, I believe, is Thomas Jefferson down on the bottom with a big old Fro, you know, strolling around the stage I mean you get this really different story about America being an immigrant story, all right, and being a multiethnic story and multigendered story And that is really quite something to do So in this moment of we don’t know what to make of it I think the possibilities, there’s many people that are jumping out, to begin to think about what kind of coalitions or what kind of solidarity is really possible under the heading people of color, and they’re not necessarily doing that, just marching to the beat of a political drum and politics and all of that Look to the artists, they usually got there first But I do have a fairly tortured slide about this How are you doing, you fading? [laughter] Because all I want to comment on here about these coalitions, when we’re looking at any coalitions, but this is particularly important if you’re thinking about coalitions among groups where the tendency is going to be to try and pit them against one another, is to ask about the notion of when are you involved in a coalition of convenience? In a short term, it’s around a specific issue, it’s politically strategic for you to work with this other group We women are going to get together because it’s politically strategic, we’re going to get the straight women and the gay women, we’re going to get various groups of women together because it’s politically strategic And when is it a coalition of conscience it is organized around a long-term issue that will not go away, like freedom or Ida Wells Barnett saying that that was a lifelong passion for her that she worked on, antiviolence work And I’m not saying that one is better than the other What I am saying is the disappointment occurs when you think that you’re in coalition with people who care

as passionately about something as you do, where it’s conscience and you discover that it was convenience So what we may find is that different constellations of conscience and convenience are going to arise This is a moment where there’s going to be a lot of talk about coalition politics and solidarity, but what people are going to mean, a lot of them are going to mean is it’s convenient for us to do it, it’s strategically good for us to do it, not that we deeply know we’re going to fight this fight our entire lives even if we lose, that’s conscience, right? Black-brown solidarity, I think that’s really important We’re running out of time, but there it is Okay, Houston, very good book, racial politics and the new gulf south I’m very tired of the story that starts circulating, well, you know, blacks and Latinos don’t have anything in common, blah, blah, different story Highlighting the differences as opposed to asking what are the points of overlap and what are the points of difference, all right? And I’m happy to talk about that in question and answer if you want, but let’s get to the white people because I know many white people have been waiting [laughter] Now you need to know that some of my best friends are white [laughter] All right, just so you know, all right? I don’t want anybody going out of here, Collins was so racist and I thought she was humanistic and I don’t want to hear any of that, all right? I’m just being really clear about what I’m trying to say So I think it’s important to think about what kind of coalitions are possible among all groups, but with whites Whites have a special challenge here and whites are not all cut from the same cloth, there are many, many different kinds of whites So any time I hear people saying white people, so I just want to know which white people are you talking about, all right? And politically which ones are you talking about? There are white allies distributed across multiple groups, including poor whites This rap that working class and poor whites are getting now, that they’re the, oh, everybody neglected them, well, maybe a lot of people got neglected, all right? But the point of just saying that poor whites are somehow, or working class whites are somehow backward or not progressive just misreads history, that’s just not – lots of things have happened, there’s texture there LGBTQ folk, whites who are white, you know, you can’t just be LGBTQ non-raced, all right? Catholic whites, there’s an interesting group Immigrant whites, Semitist whites, you know, I mean if I had to come up with all different kinds of white people this list could continue to grow, all right? Beginning to ask the question how are white people dealing with their own whiteness, all right? So decentering and redefining whiteness by reclaiming and, or developing understandings of whiteness that reject white supremacy If you are a white person who is not rejecting white supremacy why would I be in alliance with you? I mean I may be in a coalition of convenience and I certainly recognize that, that’s how government works, but I wouldn’t mistake that for a coalition of conscience, you see So there’s this notion that, and there are a lot of people out there working very hard, many of them are feminists Women have really been at the front of the line here, and I have to hand it to my white feminist sisters because they have taken a lot of grief, all right? But they have maintained that movement toward intersectionality Now so we have the possibility for new solidarities But let’s look at an old one for a minute I want you to know that I have white friends who are really good friends All right, white activists for racial justice, this is a book I love, it’s called Fire in the Heart If you’re not familiar with this, the work of Mark Warren, who is white, he knows he’s white Mark is white, he says, I know Okay, we’re cool with it, it’s all right How white activists embrace racial justice We need another research tradition like this that gives us much more heterogeneity around whites who accept and promote white supremacy, and they will remain unnamed tonight but a lot of them are kind of down the street, won’t have to drive too far, all right? [laughter] And whites who don’t, who have really said, you know, white supremacy is not me, I don’t want to be that kind of white, I want to redefine white, all right? So this is where I think we have an interesting issue today, the changing contours of feminism this particular day, the 2016 Presidential Election and the 2017 Women’s March

To me, it’s a turning point, today is a turning point, last month it was a turning point, November was certainly a turning point Very, very important, not all feminists are white women and not all white women are feminists, and if you just repeat that mantra that will help tremendously in understanding what’s going on There has been among many of my students, they are just mad as all get out These are the black students with white women If those white women went and voted that, well, look at that, look at what they did, kind of thing Not recognizing that there, if you have an intersectional argument you have no illusions that people are all homogeneous You are really looking at the heterogeneity within a particular group and how that heterogeneity works politically So not all feminists are white women This is what I love about these marches, to see all this just range of who the feminists are Some of the feminists are not even women, they are men, all right? And they’re at the march, the feminist men are out there, too, with their little girls going this is my baby, I don’t want her to be like – whatever, I mean, you know? Really, this is just very, very good Out of all the sort of the upset and upheaval we’ve had to live through, this is very good So the potential visible intersectional solidarities through coalition building in support of women’s issues is really a wonderful moment right now to not squander, all right? Intersectional analyses of gender, we have a lot of work that’s been done on that It’s time to really look at that work The march, to me, was a sight of inclusive intersectional feminism, both domestically and transnationally That march in January managed to reach around the world and it also managed to highlight support by groups in alliance with women’s issues My fear was that I would get up the day after the inauguration and there would be a tiny little group singing, We Shall Overcome, you know? And that is not what happened, at all I was completely shocked, the support by men I was really amazed by the scientists in Antarctica, did you see that picture? This little group, they had parkas on, they’re standing up there, you know, women’s solidarity And I’m thinking, oh, that’s so sweet, you know, they’re so far But they felt they had to do something in all those sister marches So I think this is a really interesting moment around issues of flexible solidarity and intersectional solidarity, and that hopefully intersectionality will give us some tools to deal with that Now I was going to end the talk here and say, yay, but would you like to hear what happened? Oh, got you, that worked, huh? A little pedagogical trick [laughter] I’m going to read to you, just sort of end up with reading a little bit and so you have some come-down from that Looking back at the dilemma of my Flag Day speech I see how it constituted a turning point in my intellectual development Clearly more was at work than a simple disagreement between a teacher and student about the meaning of the flag The invitation to deliver the Flag Day speech constituted an important opportunity After years of silencing that was the cost of my public school education I thought that my speech constituted an opportunity for me to break this silence So when my English teacher said to me, no, you can’t say what you think, I faced a dilemma At the time or at that time I had no adequate framework for thinking through the issues in my situation or possible solutions to my dilemma Instead, I was left with a visceral reaction that something was profoundly wrong with the situation You’ve been in that situation, you know something is wrong but you don’t have the words yet to figure out how to think about it or say something about it, it’s just sort of like this ain’t right but you don’t know why, okay? But years later upon reading the Great African-American Abolitionist, Frederick Douglass’ classic speech Now you do know Frederick Douglass is no longer alive, right? [laughter] Okay Titled, What to the Slave is the Fourth of July I discovered that I was not alone in my reactions Douglass’ 1852 speech began by saying, they asked Douglass to speak on the occasion of the 4th of July, a very similar situation Tell us what the 4th of July means to you, Frederick Douglass? He says this – Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom

and of natural justice embodied in the Declaration of Independence extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us? Ben Carson I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us Am I not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me You may rejoice, I must mourn So Douglass could not bring himself to celebrate the 4th of July when his people were enslaved Had I known about his 4th of July speech I might more easily have seen the contradictions of my situation, but I had no way of knowing about Douglass at the time Such is the consequence when we remain alienated from our own experiences and what they might teach us about our democratic possibilities What choice did I make? Despite the opportunity my English teacher provided for me I just could not see myself giving her Flag Day speech Because I could see no other options I went back to her and said, I’m really sorry, I can’t give this talk On that day I could not find a way to speak truth to power that was riddled with so many contradictions Instead, power silenced my fledgling efforts to articulate my truth My teacher nicely thanked me and promptly found someone else A few days later I read about the event in a big spread in the major Philadelphia newspaper A photograph of the Flag Day dignitaries accompanied the article There she sat among the local luminaries, the one African-American girl on a dais who was surrounded by smiling white male faces She was identified by name as giving a talk on what the flag meant to her, yet because the article did not report her ideas I do not know what she actually said All I know is that in that published picture she was smiling I did not smile that day, but I’m smiling for you today because I got to give the talk I wanted to give today Thank you [ Applause ] All right, so if you have a question you can come on down to this mike or if you feel like shouting it out maybe we can – we’ll work it, okay? but I also want to ask you, make sure to hang tight because there’s still another surprise coming [laughter] Is that it? Any questions? Can you hear me? Is this working, first of all? Yes? Good, all right Yes? Would you stand up when you ask your question? Can I get you to stand up? Yes? It’s easier for people to hear you if they can see you, too [ Inaudible ] >> Patricia Hill Collins: Because I think we’re often – I have to be really careful how I say certain things because when you have the power of the mike or the podium you can easily be discredited by being biased I have to construct my arguments really carefully, but also find a way to signal to you that I’m not just writing

in some objective space of La La Land, where we’re just going to have two points of view, pro and con, that kind of thing We have been so seduced into forms of thinking that do not help us, all right? It’s either pro or con, it’s good or bad, we’re sort of stuck in that binary And what I’m doing is a bit more sophisticated around this particular election So I don’t want to be pigeonholed into hate, hate, hate, let’s all go out and protest, because I think that sometimes this isn’t necessarily going to work, all right? But nor do I want to be pigeonholed into not saying anything because I want people to know that I am genuinely distressed by this But I also want people to know that you can be rational and emotional at the same time Those two things are not contradictory So I have to really – I’ve been giving talks for quite some time in my career, so that’s helped me a lot in terms of having a skillset about how much to say And it was a little odd for me not knowing what the audience looked like until I came out because usually I can like eyeball you for like 10 minutes beforehand and I can think about it That one looks a little scary back there, you know, I can kind of think about how I want to handle you But I had to walk out and go, whoa, okay So, yes, it would be really nice if we, as faculty members and researchers and scholars, could be private citizens But we are also researchers and faculty members and scholars and we have to be aware of the fact that there will be many people who will not agree with us or who hadn’t thought about the things the way we’re presenting them to them So I always try and find a way to be welcoming and hard-hitting at the same time, all right? I want you to listen to what I’m saying, I want you to hear what I’m saying You may agree, you may disagree, but I want you to hear it and then make your own conclusions So I never quite know the best way to frame that when it’s one-to-one, if it’s actual people When I’m writing, when I know I’m publishing, I know those words Once they go somewhere they’re gone, I can’t get them back, right? So that would be me and my ethical teacherly mode, all right? Now if we were at the bar down the street this would be a totally different conversation, I’ll just say that, too Meet me afterwards, some of you, we can – yes? >> Good evening, Dr. Collins My name is Evangeline I’m a Communications student here And I just want to appreciate being here at this time, it’s a moment in history for me, being face-to-face with you it’s a great time And I just want to appreciate what you have shared with us And the thing is one issue I have observed is there is a degree of animosity between I would say women in America now, especially against the migrant women from migrant communities There is that degree of animosity which is still present And I’m seeing kind of detachment That’s one thing I would want to hear what are your views on that? And the other thing is there’s been a lot of talk about the wage gap for the women in the workplace A lot think that women have to suffer being on an unequal platforms in the workplace and in addressing in the social strata What would you say in addressing those issues? >> Patricia Hill Collins: I think the first issue when you’re asking a question about migrant women, immigrant women, I think we just need a whole another way of talking about everything So, for example, I heard a talk – let’s pick a social issue and then ask how people would experience that social issue differently? The refugee, I’ll just start with that, all right? Many people who are refugees are women and children and they are fleeing violence, they’re fleeing a certain kind of violence, whether it is military state violence, whether it is domestic violence, whether it is gang violence, right, in home countries And we all seem to realize that a lot of women in this country who are domestic citizens are also fleeing violence This is very much a feminist issue I heard somebody give a talk about a week ago about black women in a neighborhood that she studied, a really poor neighborhood, who were afraid all the time in their neighborhood in terms of the kind of violence that they were exposed to So we don’t necessarily see the linkages around issues that link women who are similarly vulnerable but have very different histories about how they got there, all right? And that’s because the tools that we’ve been given automatically divide people into ethnic groups and assumes certain things about women in those groups in terms of what they care about,

what they are like We just don’t know enough, and I think we don’t do as good a job as we could So I’m saying to beginning to think about the kinds of ways – it’s not a question of our experiences are all the same, they’re all different, but they’re interconnected and that’s the type of thinking that what we need to do around issues of changing the perceptions of each other, right? The wage gap is really much harder because I’m much more optimistic about women figuring out a way to learn about each other I mean that’s really what a lot of feminist organizing has been doing for decades, both domestically and transnationally, all right, lots more to do This wage gap is all about money and any time you start talking about capitalism and money that’s when you get serious pushback So there’s a lot at stake to keep poor people poor, to keep women being paid less The problem that I see is we don’t understand money We understand money when we don’t have it, but we don’t understand the system that creates why we don’t have it, all right, and why others have it inter-generationally and how that works And that is totally by design, and that’s not even just poor people, that’s really people in this country in general do not understand money So this wage gap and even referring to it that way, how much of that is discrimination, how much of that is the type of job that you’re in? It’s not that women are worse workers, they’re not – it’s discrimination We’ve lost the language of discrimination, all right? We talk about wage gap, doesn’t that sound benign and friendly? It’s a gap Oh, the gap when you go to the subway Okay, you know, that kind of thing We don’t talk about discrimination, we talk about racial profiling Now that sounds kind of cool, you know, profiling so I can sell you a product, all right? I’m going to get your profile You know, so the language has been really stripped of power and it’s been replaced by terms that while they’re very neutral and objective and we need to know that there are such things as wage gaps, the wage gap analysis isn’t necessarily going to tell us the solution based on how it’s been analyzed So now we know it, we can go home and be depressed about that It’s left us, like do something else, all right? So can we analyze this another way, all right, that would give us more options about how to talk about it? Because this is not new, the gap for some reason seems to be incredibly resilient, all right? So I’m just going to stop there because those are two really big and good questions Thank you very much >> Thank you >> Patricia Hill Collins: I’m afraid, I’m afraid, it’s the Provost [laughter] Oh, gosh Okay, hello >> Darrin Campen: I’m Darrin Campen I’m the Dean of Education >> Patricia Hill Collins: The Dean, oh, he’s a Dean All right [laughter] >> Darrin Campen: And you talked about having white allies and the importance of that group I think you have several here in the audience today >> Patricia Hill Collins: I think I have a lot here today >> Darrin Campen: And I was kind of curious about your thoughts about white allies who go a little too far and do more harm in their attempt to do well and what your thoughts are on Rachel Dolezal? [laughter] >> Patricia Hill Collins: Do you know – wait a minute, did you see my PowerPoint? Because that’s the slide I took out You’re channeling me there on that one I don’t know, I think this Rachel Dolezal, is that how you say her name? Is the woman who was passing as black and was, right, I think she headed up the NAACP Well, she still does She’s African now, okay All right, so, well, the bottom line is what was so offensive to her about whiteness that she could not do those things and be white? So I mean she’s taking a stand She’s not Grace Boggs I had them together I was talking about sort of the potential of political blackness and then the limits of political blackness, all right? And this particular case is really curious to me So people were really upset because it was not flattering for someone to pass as you, all right, it just wasn’t So all I do is chuckle when I think about that one I hate to say it, I don’t have this big analytical framework on what was going on because that involves getting in her head And I think if her own parents hadn’t outed her we wouldn’t

even know, all right? But she certainly has been very good for raising questions about what are the boundaries of blackness and what are the criteria for being black? Because there are some people who are in the tribe who are a problem, right, you want to put them out and make them not be black anymore, all right? [laughter] But here we have somebody fighting to get in and I just don’t even know what to think about it, so I’m just going to stop right there because I’m going to get myself into trouble if I keep talking All right, we’ll take one more >> Hi, my name is Yvonne I’m a Philosophy student I had a question related to solidarity among people of color because I have heard conversation that it’s a myth, and within the scope of like the Black Panthers and the Brown Berets obviously there was solidarity there You gave the example of Grace Boggs, but what does solidarity among people of color look like to you like right now? >> Patricia Hill Collins: I think it’s under construction, it’s basically what I said You know, you can’t assume that there is such a thing that’s true or it’s not true, it’s there or it’s not there I think that there’s a lot of people working on this right now, all right? And what I would not want solidarity among people of color to be thought of is just one-on-one, you know, I’m hanging out with you, you’re hanging out with me, we’ve got it together I mean that kind of individualistic argument, to have that substitute for I’m talking about political solidarity I’m really talking about coalitions that where groups – we have to do a better job of thinking about our own groups and how they are positioned in US society and then how we are going to think about those connections so we are not exploited So the first thing is really to have an analysis that speaks to that and that really means that people who are in communities – not everybody is in a community of color, there are lots of people on the borders who straddle all those space This is a notion of poorest borders But there are a lot of centers in communities, we just don’t talk about them as much as we used to To say what is in the best interests of this particular community, this population, my people, my population? And we’re going to have to argue about what that means, but unless we have that conversation we’re not positioned to have any kind of solidarity among people of color The moment that we’re in now, here’s the overlap for me, I always argue that in the ’90s structural analyses became much more minimized, all right? We used to talk about groups, structures of power, wage gap, all of that And it was displaced by a focus on individual subjectivity So in a lot of ways people think this phrase, the personal is the political, they think that that’s all you need to do to be political is the personal When actually the personal is actually a starting point for a broader collective political That’s kind of how I interpret that phrase to mean So until somebody is actually studying this, you know, this is where I have to be a scholar, I mean I’m going to have to say where is the evidence, what does the evidence say? And I don’t consider the evidence that my girlfriend and I are hanging out, I don’t consider that sufficient evidence I want to see somebody do scholarly work on this so we can really get – and it may be there, I haven’t looked for it yet, so I don’t want to discredit what people have done This is exactly the kind of thing I’m actually looking for What I brought you today is somewhat cutting edge, what I’m working on now, all right? So the whole second part of the talk is what I’m working on now, trying to think about flexible solidarity, trying to think about intersectionality, trying to think about how these ideas shape where we are at this political moment To use them as diagnostic tools so that you can see where you want to go next with it So maybe that’s a better honest answer And so my answer is I don’t know >> Okay. [laughter] [ Applause ] >> Bess Vincent: Can we give one more round of applause for Dr. Collins spending her evening with us? [ Applause ]