“Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’”, said Angela Davis (1944) – a political activist, an academic, a feminist and another irreplaceable figure of the Civil Rights Movement, in her book Women, Race and Class.
Her work focuses on the historical reasons behind the #exploitation of African American women within #capitalism, as well as #reproductiverights and #sexualviolence as a means of women’s subjugation (e.g. rape by slave owners or forced sterilization) and #demonisation of black men (through stereotyping them as rapists).
Her perspective on #race and #class, analysed through a Marxist-feminist lens, started the discussion on intersectionality and is an astounding contribution to the Civil Rights Movement and those yet to come.
Despite decades passing, Davis’s work is still as relevant as ever – especially in the time when capital can move freely across #borders, but people cannot, a time when the already persecuted #refugee women and men are being both (re)abused and demonized on a world scale.
Both are often scapegoated for the failures of capitalist economies while, in reality, falling victims to the economic exploitation maintained by their fragile residence status. Refugee women also suffer sexual assault at the hands of border officers and the men are portrayed as a looming danger to white women, barbarians and rapists – much like the black Americans of Angela Davis’s youth.
As Davis herself states: “The refugee movement is the Civil Rights Movement of our time. In most countries across the world #migration and refugee issues have come to the fore as well as struggles for justice. The Mediterranean has become a graveyard for refugees.”
In this context, Davis emphasises the importance of #internationalism, saying that we cannot rely on electoral politics, but must form anti-racist, feminist and anti-capitalist #grassroots solutions. Only through bottom-up action will we be able to ‘grasp things at the root’ and bring about radical change for not only the refugees and asylum seekers, but all the oppressed.
As she says: “Activism is being extravagant in our imagining. Think expansively and capaciously."