Welcome to Brighton Antifascists. We are an independent group, based in Brighton, that formed as a response to an increase in nationalist and fascist activity in our community. We are willing to confront any fascist/racist activities in our area, by encouraging mass direct action amongst other methods. We are not aligned with any political party, nor do we co-operate with any, we also don’t work with the police. The state cannot be relied upon to oppose fascism, and will tolerate or encourage fascist groups when it suits its purposes. We try to organise as a non-hierarchical group. We are part of the nationwide Antifascist Network, which works to encourage militant resistance to fascists and racists where ever they rear their unwelcome heads. If you have any information on fascist activity please email us at email@example.com
Hundreds of protesters, most of them men, have marched in the South African capital, Pretoria, over rising levels of violence against women and children.
One of the organisers, Kholofelo Masha, said men had to take collective responsibility for the increase in beatings, sex attacks and killings.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world.
Police figures showed that 64,000 cases were reported last year.
A series of grisly murders of women and children has hit the headlines this year and President Jacob Zuma has described the situation as a crisis.
The protesters on Saturday marched behind a woman symbolically dressed from head to toe in white. Some carried placards bearing the names of women killed by their partners.
He said South African men had been quiet on the issue for too long.
“You hear a lady screaming next door, you decide to sleep when you know there is a problem. No man should beat a woman or rape a woman while you’re watching”.
On Thursday, President Zuma visited the parents of a three-year-old girl who was raped and killed.
Courtney Pieters went missing from her home in Cape Town on 4 May and her body was found more than a week later in a shallow grave.
“We, as the citizens of this country, must say enough is enough,” Mr Zuma said at the time. “This is one of the saddest incidents I’ve come across. It’s a crisis in the country, the manner in which women and children are being killed.”
The governing African National Congress party has branded the wave of violence “senseless and barbaric”, while the opposition Democratic Alliance has called for a nationwide debate on the issue.
Edited for mb3-org.com
By WILL PARRISH
In February, a federal grand jury issued indictments of four Standing Rock water protectors on charges of Federal Civil Disorder and Use of Fire to Commit a Federal Crime.
The federal investigators accused the four men—James White, Brennan Nastacio, Dion Ortiz, and Brandon Miller-Castillo—of involvement in setting three highway barricades on fire, which obstructed police during a highly-militarized October 27 raid of the “Front Line Camp” just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
Another water protector, Michael Markus, was indicted on identical charges on January 24, and his case has been combined with those of the other four men. Prosecutors are also pursuing three federal felonies against a 38-year-old Oglala Sioux woman named Red Fawn Fallis. They accuse her of firing a gun during her arrest, even as multiple police officers had her pinned face-down on the ground. Fallis’ arrest also occurred on October 27.
These cases likely mark the first time that United States authorities have pursued felonies against individuals involved in demonstrations against fossil fuel infrastructure.
All six people facing the charges are indigenous. Under sentencing guidelines, Red Fawn Fallis faces 25 years or more in prison. The other federal defendants—Markus, White, Nastacio, Ortiz, and Miller-Castillo—face up to fifteen years.
Starting in August of last year, indigenous people and their allies devoted months to attempting to block the construction of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs through four Midwestern states near North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux reservation and underneath their main water source, Lake Oahe.
The project sparked opposition in communities spanning the pipeline route, including in Iowa and Illinois. In North Dakota, police carried out over 700 arrests. State prosecutors have since brought felony charges against more than 100 people.
But the federal cases are arguably more serious, since they entail prosecutions by some of the U.S. government’s most elite attorneys and may result in lengthy prison sentences. The cases are also likely to exert a chilling effect on indigenous-led resistance to resource extraction and fossil fuel infrastructure.
In fact, in each case, the U.S. Attorneys for the District of North Dakota filed a most unusual charge: federal civil disorder.
“Nobody I’ve worked with previously has ever seen that charge,” the Water Protector Legal Collective’s Sandra Freeman, an attorney for Michael Markus, said in an interview. “It comes from a law that is usually only invoked when the federal government decides to prosecute people involved in resistance.”
The National Lawyers Guild’s Bruce Ellison, the lead attorney for Red Fawn Fallis, agrees. He says he has only encountered federal civil disorder charges “a few times” before, including during federal prosecutions of American Indian Movement (AIM) activists who reclaimed Wounded Knee as part of an armed stand-off with federal and local police on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1973.
Ellison is a long-time attorney for AIM political prisoner Leonard Peltier.
Records obtained via an open records request indicate high-level operatives within the U.S. domestic security state were involved in coordinating the enormous law enforcement mobilization against Standing Rock “water protectors” from last summer through early March of this year.
These records, which will be the subject of future stories, show officers from numerous federal agencies—the FBI, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for North Dakota—coordinated with state and local police as part of an inter-agency “intelligence group” that monitored Standing Rock protests in real-time, with a focus on ferreting out “instigators” and “leaders of the movement.”
Among those who helped orchestrate this multi-agency intelligence effort was National Security Intelligence Specialist Terry W. Van Horn of the U.S. Attorney’s Office—the same entity now prosecuting Fallis, Markus, White, Nastacio, Ortiz, and Miller-Castillo.
The intelligence-gathering operation in which Van Horn participated appears to have been coordinated by the State and Local Intelligence Center, one of numerous law enforcement “fusion” centers set up by the US Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the September 11th attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
Screen shot of Terry VanHorn emails
Supporters of the six federal defendants, as well as others facing possible prison and jail sentence, say that their court cases are a major front in the struggle for indigenous self-determination and against resource extraction.
“The government is looking at how to deal with calls for indigenous self-determination and resistance to resource extraction nationally, and the people facing these charges could become symbols of their ability to carry out that repression,” Ellison contends.
The October 27 Raid On Front Line Camp
The six federal prosecutions all stem from a highly-militarized October 27 raid of the “Front Line Camp,” or “1851 Treaty Camp,” which occupied some of the last remaining ground in the pipeline’s construction.
The camp was located on unceded Dakota territory, which was affirmed in the 1851 Ft. Laramie Treaty to be part of the Standing Rock Reservation. It was later stripped away under an 1889 statute from Congress.
Over 300 police officers—some carrying M16 rifles and clad in flak vests—advanced down North Dakota Highway 1806 toward Oceti Sakowin camp, the main nerve center of the water protectors’ resistance to the pipeline.
The police were flanked by a MaxxPro Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP) designed to withstand bombing attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), an extremely loud device used for crowd control, was mounted atop the MRAP. Snipers occupied positions on surrounding hills.
In the course of the raid, the police police fired tear gas and concussion grenades and peppered the water protectors with rubber-tipped bullets and bean bag pellets, causing dozens of injuries.
Four officers broke from the line to tackle and arrest Red Fawn Fallis, a Denver resident and lifelong member of the Colorado chapter of the American Indian Movement, whose family hails from the Oglala Sioux reservation at Pine Ridge in South Dakota.
As Fallis struggled under the weight of her arresting officers, at least two gunshots went off alongside her. According to an affidavit filed by the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department in North Dakota, a deputy “saw a gun in Fallis’ left hand and wrestled it away from her.”
The Pennington County Sheriff’s Department claims Fallis was arrested for “being an instigator” and “acting disorderly.”
According to attorneys for protesters, “instigator” and “camp leader” have emerged as keywords in both state and federal prosecutions.
Fallis was initially charged with attempted murder, but a state judge removed that charge from the docket, and she is now being accused of three federal felonies. They include “possession of a firearm by a convicted felon” and “discharge of a firearm in relation to a felony crime of violence.”
According to numerous accounts, Fallis was a widely-respected coordinator at the Sacred Stone Camp, another major gathering place for prayerful opposition to the pipeline, and had played an instrumental role in the movement as a whole.
“Red Fawn was the kind of person who was down to help with anything at any time,” says one camp participant who asked not to be identified. “She was integral to the camp.”
Many water protectors and members of Fallis’s family have organized a support campaign for her. They stridently maintain her innocence.
Glenn Morris, a leader of the Colorado chapter of the American Indian Movement, released a statement on behalf of Fallis’s family this past November, saying she is “an intelligent, informed and determined Oglala Lakota woman, who has defended the rights of native peoples and nations, in multiple circumstances.”
Water Protector Facing Federal Felony Charges For Disarming DAPL Contractor
One of the other people facing federal felony charges, Brennan Nastacio, became a hero to water protectors for his dramatic role in disarming a DAPL security worker, who had entered Oceti Sakowin camp—a base of prayer and opposition to DAPL—wielding an AR-15.
The security guard, Kyle Thompson, drove into the camp and claimed to be a water protector, according to a camp security guard. He had a long-nosed semi-automatic rifle and a 30-round clip seated in the passenger seat of his truck.
Nastacio spent nearly a half hour pleading with Thompson to abandon the weapon while also calming other “water protectors,” who were clamoring around him. Thompson, who works for Texas-based Leighton Security, finally handed the gun over to Bureau of Indian Affairs officers, who arrested him. Soon after, Thompson’s truck was driven to a barricade and set on fire.
North Dakota prosecutors declined to charge Thompson instead charging Nastacio with felony terrorizing of Thompson because he briefly walked toward him with a hunting knife during the incident.
In a January YouTube video, Nastacio noted his goal was “the protection of everybody at the camp,” and that he was concerned Thompson himself would be shot by the police. Thompson claims he came to the camp to investigate vandalism to a DAPL vehicle.
Ironically, on the same day as Nastacio helped disarm the Dakota Access security worker, a security firm hired by Dakota Access collected the aerial surveillance photos that now form a major basis for federal prosecution of him, as well as of Miller-Castillo, Ortiz, Markus, and White, court records show. (*Note: This public-private “fusion” model of law enforcement that played out at Standing Rock will be the subject of future stories.)
Ellison, Fallis’s attorney, is attempting to introduce evidence that demonstrates the dubious role the FBI has played in the charges against Fallis.
Terry VanHorn of the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.
The Role Of The FBI In Suppressing Opposition To The Pipeline
Police in North Dakota went to enormous lengths to portray many anti-DAPL protesters as violent criminals for their role in the protests.
More recently, the allegations against Fallis, Nastacio, Markus, White, Ortiz, and Miller-Castillo have become fodder for domestic security agency warnings about potentially violent threat posed by protests against other fossil fuel infrastructure.
A Department of Homeland Security report, published by the conservative Washington Examiner on April 18, spells out the possibility that “environmental rights extremists” and “anti-government militia” may muster up attacks on the in-construction Diamond Pipeline extending from Oklahoma to Tennessee.
The report states that “[p]rotests surrounding the DAPL have resulted in the arrest of hundreds of individuals for allegedly committing criminal acts,” and that “[o]ne individual was charged with attempted murder for allegedly discharging a firearm at officers during removal efforts.”
But water protectors and their advocates point out that the real criminals at Standing Rock were the police and the oil companies’ private security firms, who consistently used violent repression to sabotage constitutionally-protected political activity.
Meanwhile, the federal government has failed to hold the police accountable for a single act of violence.
Drone footage captures police spraying Dakota Access Pipeline protesters with a water cannon.
On a single night in November, the police injured more than 300 unarmed and generally highly-restrained protesters by spraying water on them amid freezing temperatures and firing rubber bullets and concussion grenades.
A police officer struck 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky with a concussion grenade that nearly severed her forearm. A fellow water protector named Steve Martinez drove her to the hospital, where she underwent emergency surgeries in an effort to save her arm.
On the day after Wilansky nearly lost her arm, seven FBI agents—including two clad in Joint Terrorism Task Force jackets—came to her hospital room and collected articles of clothing and shrapnel freshly dislodged from her arm. They also subpoenaed hospital visitor logs and videos of her room.
The JTTF visit “created a chilling atmosphere where anyone who’s a protester is under suspicion of being a terrorist,” Sophia Wilansky’s father, Wayne Wilansky, says.
The same grand jury that has indicted Fallis, Markus, Nastacio, White, Ortiz, and Miller-Castillo on felony charges subpoenaed Steve Martinez soon afterward. The subpoena implied that a federal investigation of the extremely far-fetched claim that Wilansky’s injury was caused by an improvised explosive was underway, and that Martinez was a subject of that investigation simply because he had driven Wilansky to seek medical attention.
It ordered Martinez to produce, among other things, “photos and SD cards; written statements; and any other information in [his] possession.”
Martinez appeared before the grand jury on January 4th and was asked a single question: “When did you arrive in North Dakota?” He immediately invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify.
In a written statement, Martinez, who is partly of Pueblo and Apache ancestry, called the grand jury “a fishing expedition to find out information about the water protector movement, and organizations and people related to it,” and asserted that “to comply with this subpoena would violate my spiritual duty to protect my loved ones.”
Martinez was expected to begin a jail sentence for contempt of court on March 1, but in late February, the U.S. Attorney’s office unexpectedly withdrew its subpoena of him, meaning he’s free for now. About 20 supporters nevertheless gathered in front of the courthouse on March 1 holding up banners with slogans, such as “The Frontlines Are in the Courtroom.”
The Water Protector Legal Collective, the Freshet Collective, and other volunteer-driven collectives have provided legal support and advice for the water protectors now slogging through various court cases.
Notwithstanding the temporary victory in Steve Martinez’ case, members of the collectives say they intend to continue support for those whose sacrifices made the water protector movement possible in their various courtroom-related struggles.
The History Of The Federal Civil Disorder Charge
The civil disorder statute used against the six federal defendants can be traced to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in 1968, which spurred Congress to pass the US Civil Rights Act one week after his death.
It was passed in the aftermath of riots across the country in protest against substandard living conditions in segregated Black communities. The best known section of the act is Title VIII, known as the Fair Housing Act, which was designed to end residential segregation and promote racial integration. But a little-remembered section of the bill, Title X, is known as the Civil Obedience Act.
U.S. Senator Russell Long of Louisiana, an avowed segregationist, was the amendment’s main author and offered it as a quid pro quo for his support of the legislation as a whole.
The amendment created stiff penalties for such activities as “interfering with law enforcement officials during the course of civil disorder.”
Long previously offered up the Civil Obedience Act as an amendment to a bill that would have specified punishments for violence against civil rights workers in the Deep South.
Biographer Michael S. Martin recalled in his book, “Russell Long: A Life in Politics,” a speech Long made to the Senate floor, in which he described the pro-civil rights worker legislation as “a bill to aid and abet H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael,” in reference to leaders of the Black Power movement. He also claimed the people the bill supported were “known to stir up hatred and ill will among people of their race and put cities to the torch.”
In response, Long proposed the Civil Obedience Act as a means to “strike the very thing which really concerns the people of this country: the rights and the safety of 200 million Americans whose property and whose very lives have been seriously endangered.”
Nearly a half-century later, the federal government is using this same racially-charged legislation to pursue felony charges against six indigenous people at Standing Rock.
Ellison recalled one of the few previous times he encountered Federal Civil Disorder charges was during prosecutions of AIM activists in the 1970s. He experienced first-hand the murderous FBI-coordinated counter-insurgency campaign against AIM at Pine Ridge, he noted, whereby a paramilitary organization known as the Guardians of the Oglala Nation (GOONs) went on a rampage of beatings and assassinations of AIM leaders and supporters.
Federal prosecutions are viewed as one aspect of an escalating effort by domestic security agencies, police, politicians, and fossil fuel industries to break the spirit of resistance movements nationwide.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said more than 30 separate anti-protest bills were introduced since November 8, representing “an unprecedented level of hostility towards protesters in the 21st century.”
“The government is looking at how to deal with protests nationally, and these federal prosecutions are certainly a part of that,” Ellison concluded.
By Allen Cone
The 82 Nigerian Chibok schoolgirls captured by Boko Haram more than three years ago were reunited with their families Saturday.
Bahir Ahmad, the personal assistant to the president, announced the news on Twitter, writing it was an “emotional” welcome at the capital, Abuja.
“I am really happy today, I am Christmas and New year, I am very happy and I thank God,” said Godiya Joshua, whose daughter Esther was among those freed, in a report by The Telegraph.
The girls were released two weeks ago. The remaining 113 are supposedly still captured.
In 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped. Boko Haram released 21 girls in October and another 50 or so escaped on their own since being abducted.
“We have trust in this government, definitely they will rescue the rest safely and back to us alive,” said community leader Yakubu Nkeki.
Five commanders from the extremist group were exchanged for the girls’ freedom. Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross helped negotiate their release.
Some refused to return after becoming radicalized.
The two groups of girls — earlier this month and October — were reunited with family members Saturday. Nigeria’s Channel TV showed the young women laughing and embracing.
Families in the remote Chibok community had been waiting word on whether their daughters were freed.
Officials told the parents that the girls would remain in government custody until they complete psychosocial and medical therapies.
“The children are being rehabilitated and we believe that in due course they will be properly aligned with their families,” Abidemi Aremo, an official in the Women Affairs Ministry, told the parents at a facility of the secret police in Abuja.
Edited for mb3-org.com
Planned Parenthood said on Thursday it would shutter four of its 12 clinics in Iowa as a result of a measure backed by Republican Governor Terry Branstad that blocks public money for family planning services to abortion providers.
Health centers in Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City will close on June 30 and one in Quad Cities soon after as a result of losing $2 million in funds under the new measure, said Susan Allen, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. The four clinics served 14,676 patients in the last three years, she said, including many rural and poor women.
“It will be devastating,” Allen said.
The closures marked the latest fallout from a continuing push by Republicans, including President Donald Trump, to yank funding from Planned Parenthood. Many have long opposed the organization, some on religious grounds, because its healthcare services include abortions, although it receives no federal funding for abortions, as stipulated by federal law.
The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives included such a defunding measure as part of the American Health Care Act, the bill aimed at replacing Obamacare.
Iowa’s Republican-led legislature agreed in its recent budget to discontinue a federal Medicaid family planning program and replace it with a state program that bars funding to organizations that provide abortions or maintain facilities where abortions are carried out. The move cost the state about $3 million.
Texas in 2011 made a similar move that has reduced funding. A state report in 2015 found that nearly 30,000 fewer women received birth control, cancer screenings and other care as a result.
A coalition of 35 Iowa groups that oppose abortion have previously argued that funding for family planning indirectly subsidizes abortions.
“The pro-life movement is making tremendous strides in changing the hearts and minds, to return to a culture that once again respects human life,” said Ben Hammes, a spokesman for Branstad, who said there were 2,400 doctors, nurses and clinics around the state for family planning that do not provide abortions.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said it will continue to operate eight clinics in Iowa. They provide services including cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and annual checkups.
The group said in a tweet on Thursday that politicians driven more by personal beliefs than facts were hurting access to women’s health care.
“The devastation in Iowa is a sign of what could be next for the rest of the nation,” Danielle Wells, an official at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in an email.
Edited for mb3-org.com
What does it mean to be a modern feminist? In her new book, Sara Ahmed shows the connections between theory and practice, the academy and the everyday, home and work. Bitch Magazine says: “Beautifully written and persuasively argued, Living a Feminist Life, is not just an instant classic, but an essential read for intersectional feminists.” Order your copy today by making a donation to Truthout!
Sara Ahmed’s accessibly written and visionary Living a Feminist Life is a much-needed antidote to the disconnection between feminist thinking and being. The book has emerged against a political backdrop marked by the rise of the Trump regime, a historic Women’s March on Washington and International Women’s Strike, an increase in the visibility of feminist activism on social media and the rise of celebrity feminists. “Feminism,” as Ahmed remarks in the opening pages, “is bringing people into the room.” The amplification of feminism, however, also demands that we stop to consider what being a feminist really means. Drawing on decades of experience as a feminist writer, scholar and activist, Ahmed takes us on this critical journey with candor, brilliance and a deep commitment to social transformation. Feminism, Ahmed contends, is not simply about participating in protests and rallies or writing theory in the academy. Nor is it to be understood as a responsibility that waxes and wanes with convenience. It is, above all else, about how to live.
From cover to cover, Ahmed urges us to keep our fists raised high as we move closer to a feminist vision of the future that unfolds in step with the active dismantling of our profoundly unjust and violent present. She reminds us to be intrepid and willful in our political resistance — to learn from the wisdom and knowledge of warrior women of color whose legacies, histories and experiences are etched on our contemporary path to justice and freedom (these issues have long existed). Ahmed challenges us to embody our feminist politics as a radical ethics of living in the everyday dimensions of our social world, to claim all spaces as political, and to strategically strike down the “brick walls” that blockade and stifle our movements. In short, Living a Feminist Life aims to both awaken and set free the “feminist killjoy” that resides in each of us.
Jaskiran Dhillon: Let’s begin with you elaborating on the central theme of the book — making feminism the practice of everyday life.
Sara Ahmed: I think of feminism as a life question; a question of how we live our lives given that the structures we wish to transform are structures that persist. We have to live with what we wish to transform. As a feminist working in the academy, though, I sensed that what was taught and known as “feminist theory” had become somewhat disconnected from the questions of how to live, and the questions themselves relegated to an earlier outdated style of feminism. I wanted to bring feminist theory, too, back to life — strengthening the ties between the inventive creation of feminist theory and living a life that sustains it.
To be a feminist is to be a feminist everywhere. Feminism is not a commitment that can be suspended when it is inconvenient. But that does not mean feminists share the same commitments or that it is always clear how that commitment should express itself! Work is part of everyday life. When we live a feminist life we are a feminist at work. Feminism means being attentive to power relations at home and at work, being willing to challenge abuses of power, being willing to support those who are challenging abuses of power. It means being aware of who is doing the work, especially the housework (in institutions, housework is called administration); it means striving to make workloads more equal (including by attending to how they are not); it means becoming attuned to who can access a space because of how it is arranged or inhabited (and who cannot). Feminism is about questioning everything about our shared social world. This is not an imposition. It is an invitation to open up what tends to work by being closed down.
I love the emphasis you place on the role of intergenerational knowledge in shaping feminist living. Who influenced your development as a feminist?
My auntie Gulzar Bano was very important to me. She self-identified as a feminist; she was involved in the women’s movement in Pakistan. She believed strongly in what she called woman power. Her particular concern was literacy for girls. She was an inspiration, too, in how she lived her life. Because she did not get married and have children she was able to invest her time and energy in feminist projects of all kinds. She wrote feminist poetry: I cherish the collections in which her poems appeared as well as the books she published. Her words were always animated by her concern with the effects of violence and injustice. I think I learned the importance of writing our politics from her. She also developed a strong support network for women in the wider family; her sisters and nieces. Sometimes she used to call me her daughter; I think she saw us as deeply connected, as if my life was following in some way from hers. I hope so. She was my feminist auntie in all the ways that expression can have meaning. We all need feminist aunties!
What compelled you to write this book now?
The experience that most shaped the book was the experience of supporting students through a process of testifying in multiple inquiries into sexual harassment and sexual misconduct at the college in England where I worked. That experience brought so much home to me; how traumatic it can be to testify to what is traumatic; how difficult it is made to bring a complaint against a person or a group of people who have more power by virtue of their position within an organization; how even feminists can be silent about abuses of power happening in their own organizations; how organizations will do anything to protect their reputation. This was an experience of “coming up against wall after wall,” as I described in the book. And I was taught again (I am sure I will be taught again) that to identify a problem is to become the location of that problem. It is because of the costs of exposing institutional violence (including the violence of how institutions conceal the violence) that we need to build feminist shelters, places to go.
Young people are crucial to social movements fighting colonial violence in all its forms. Is there a key takeaway for young feminists?
The figure of the feminist killjoy: She is an insight and she is insightful! She starts as a stereotype of feminists — that feminists take the joy out of things. But when we claim her, she gives us energy, sometimes even joy. So often we are warned about the dangers of feminism: how feminism will make you unhappy, lonely, less successful. It might be that in becoming a feminist you revisit what you want your life to be; you might ask whether the versions of success and happiness that are available to you are ones you agree with. But whatever: Don’t be warned off. Power often works through warnings — I have learned this by how students are warned about how complaining of harassment would damage themselves as well as others. Warning often implies that the only option is to get used to it. It is so important that young feminists don’t get used to it. Don’t normalize it. We can accept that feminism comes with risks. There are consequences that we will have to live with; anti-feminism is a world we live in. Part of being a feminist is finding others who will be your support system. And remember, being a feminist gives you knowledge: We know so much from what emerges in response to the issues and experiences we bring up. This does not mean [that] as feminists we are always right! Becoming a feminist is about opening up what your life can be; an opening that is a connection to the feminists who came before.
The book concludes with a feminist survival kit of sorts (Killjoy Survival Kit) as well as a set of principles to help guide and anchor feminist living (Killjoy Manifesto). How can these be drawn upon to craft concrete strategies of political resistance in the era of Trump?
I could give a very long answer to this question! But let me just point to a few things. My killjoy survival kit was very much inspired by the work of Audre Lorde, who wrote so powerfully about how caring for oneself can be an act of political warfare. She was writing as a Black lesbian mother warrior woman who had breast cancer. She was writing from an experience of profound political as well as bodily fragility. Lorde shows how survival can be a strategy of resistance; the work we do to be can be a strategy of resistance. And resistance can take many forms; it is not only about being part of a march, though marching matters. Resistance can be what happens when you challenge racist views that are presented at a family table. It can be the moment you snap, and don’t put up with a violence you have endured. It can be how you communicate your rage about a system within a system; whether it is through the words you send out or how you use your body to announce your disagreement, perhaps by striking, perhaps by occupying spaces and disrupting how they are ordinarily used.
We might have to use different methods to get the message out, to counter the state’s story with stories of the injustice, say, of anti-immigrant violence, Islamophobia, anti-Black racism and persistent colonial violence against Indigenous communities. We need to keep doing the work. Work where you are. Don’t let the problem appear only “there;” it is here. Speak out from where you are. Do what you can, given your own resources and capacities. Work with people who get you. Talk. Shout. Be.
How does your blueprint for “living a feminist life” differ from “institutional diversity” (a catch phrase in most universities)?
Institutional diversity is often how organizations claim diversity without doing anything. It is often about using bodies of color as evidence of diversity. Institutional diversity is racism represented in a happier form. For feminists of color, “institutional diversity” is another brick wall. An example from my research: an organization’s response to a research project that showed that the organization was perceived as white was to produce a new prospectus with more colorful faces. You can change the image to keep the thing. Diversity [then] becomes how an organization stays white. Our work is about exposing the mechanisms that enable the structures to be reproduced, and diversity can be one of those mechanisms.
At one point you say: “So much political work begins with moments of disorientation.” As an educator who views teaching as a political act, this really resonates. Can you expand further?
That part of the book is a development of some of the ideas I first presented in Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others (2006). When we are at home in the world, or when a world has been built to accommodate us, it tends to recede, becoming background. We know where we are; we know how to find things. Orientation is often the experience of not having a crisis about orientation! But when things move around, or you enter a world not built to accommodate you, things become strange, slant-wise, queer even. To question a world, or when the world becomes something you question, you proceed from a sense of being thrown. When things get thrown in the air, who knows what can happen.
What is your feminist vision for justice and freedom?
I have spent so much of my time describing how the world is; how injustices often work in ways that are not always tangible, how some can be worn down and worn out by what is necessary to exist. For me, a feminist vision of freedom has to be about freedom for all; not about passing one person’s exhaustion onto another. It has to be about freedom from violence whether that violence is perpetrated by individuals, organizations, the police or the state. It has to be about freedom to decide on how to organize a life; freedom to access and inhabit spaces with others; freedom to express one’s own identity as gendered beings in one’s own terms; freedom as creating the conditions so we can participate in each other’s freedom. As such, a feminist vision of freedom and justice has to be about staying close to the ground, close to what is: Our vision comes out of the struggles to exist.
We name the conditions that make justice and freedom impossible: white supremacy, racism, ableism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia; ways of differentiating between the value and life chances of persons that are central to late capitalism. Naming the conditions is more about using words. Naming is also noticing. So much violence is reproduced by not being noticed. So often, when you name what is not noticed you are judged as being negative. I have also observed from working to change these conditions within universities that sometimes the requirement to be positive, to provide a solution, to be practical or useful can become another means by which the conditions are made invisible. Naming these conditions, naming them again, knowing about them; working out their effects: It is a life project. Our visions, what we are for, can come from the wear and tear of what we come up against.
What do you hope white feminists learn from this book?
This book is not addressed to white feminists. If it is addressed to any group of feminists it is addressed to feminists of color, who are often positioned as interrupting a conversation that starts with white women. Interruption comes from rupture, break. For me, feminism of color is how I start the conversation. But this is not to say I don’t hope white feminists learn something!
Edited for mb3-org.com