The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues (City Lights Open Media)
Angela Y. Davis
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"Davis' arguments for justice are formidable. . . . The power of her historical insights and the sweetness of her dream cannot be denied."—The New York Times
What is the meaning of freedom? Angela Y. Davis' life and work have been dedicated to examining this fundamental question and to ending all forms of oppression that deny people their political, cultural, and sexual freedom. In this collection of twelve searing, previously unpublished speeches, Davis confronts the interconnected issues of power, race, gender, class, incarceration, conservatism, and the ongoing need for social change in the United States. With her characteristic brilliance, historical insight, and penetrating analysis, Davis addresses examples of institutional injustice and explores the radical notion of freedom as a collective striving for real democracy—not a thing granted by the state, law, proclamation, or policy, but a participatory social process, rooted in difficult dialogues, that demands new ways of thinking and being. "It is not too much," writes Robin D.G. Kelly in the introduction, "to call her one of the world's leading philosophers of freedom." The Meaning of Freedom articulates a bold vision of the society we need to build and the path to get there. This is her only book of speeches and her first full-length book since Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003).
Angela Y. Davis is professor emerita at the University of California and author of eight books. She is a much sought after public speaker and an internationally known advocate for social justice.
Robin D.G. Kelley is the author of many books and a professor at the University of Southern California.
of gender and sexuality is, in part, a reflection of our fear of opposing capitalism. But not all of us have given up hope for revolutionary change. Not all of us accept the notion of capitalist inevitability based on the collapse of socialism. Socialism of a certain type did not work because of irreconcilable internal contradictions. Its structures have fallen. But to assume that capitalism is triumphant is to use a simplistic boxing-match paradigm. Despite its failure to build lasting
become so big and powerful that it works to perpetuate itself. It’s literally self- perpetuating. The raw materials are immigrant youth and youth of color throughout the world. So if one visits a prison in Australia or France, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, one sees young people who come from communities that we in the United States designate as communities of color, we see indigenous people. Race continues to matters a great deal throughout the world today. This is something that the United
about property. It is not about human relations, or intimate relations. What does it mean to demand the equal right to marriage without recognizing the role that marriage has played in the reproduction of race and gender inequalities? Under conditions of bourgeois democracy, marriage has always been a sexist, racist, and heterosexist institution that is primarily about the accumulation and distribution of property. Enslaved people were not allowed to marry, and when configurations of family
they congealed into firm notions of what counted as victories over racial subjugation, and in the process produced their own meanings of racism. As important as these victories have proved to be, the inflexibility of the resulting definitions of racism has created, both in legal and popular discourses, enduring deceptions regarding the nature of racism. Definitions of racism informed by particular historical conditions became trans- or ahistorical ways of conceptualizing racial discrimination and
Huggins and Bunchy Carter were killed by members of the cultural nationalist association known as US Organization during a Black Student Union meeting on the UCLA campus. Moreover, I, myself, had been under intense political pressure since California Governor Ronald Reagan and the Regents of the University of California had announced shortly before I began to teach that they were firing me because of my membership in the Communist Party USA. I taught this course on philosophy and black literature