I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change… I am changing the things I cannot accept.
— Angela Y. Davis
I remember the first time I heard Angela Y. Davis speak in Berkeley, at the Empowering Women of Color Conference in 2011. There I was surrounded by women of color, listening to a black woman revolutionary speak about building movements, in spite of our vast differences.
Today is Davis’s birthday and her continued resistance is as critical as ever. My inbox has been flooded with news of executive order after another on immigration, on refugees, on cutting funding for sanctuary cities, on the Mexican border wall. I thought of Davis:
Walls turned sideways are bridges.
After a historic women’s march over the weekend, I was ecstatic by the mobilization of so many women, men, queer and trans folks, children, older folks. I was reminded of the transformative power of ordinary people coming together. But I was also made painfully aware of how many folks — specifically white people — don’t show up to mobilizations for immigrants, black people and other people of color.
How do we then build bridges with folks who have traditionally benefited from our oppression? For starters, there’s “Healing from Toxic Whiteness” which is a training program for white folks committed to racial justice. There are also tons of resources and literature available out there, including a post of resistance literature I compiled earlier this week. Best of all, there are many organizations and grassroots groups doing the actual work that folks can join.
As for us who have been resisting and in the struggle for so long, may we never lose sight of seeing the world we want to live in, may we continue to build alongside each other.
You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.
— Angela Y. Davis
Here’s a list of necessary reading by the revolutionary herself:
Pia Cortez is a writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She runs a book blog called Libromance where she reviews books and publishes literary features with a queer Filipino immigrant lens. She is a contributor at Hella Pinay, an online magazine for Filipino-American women and at New Life Quarterly, a literary magazine based in Oakland, California. She is currently working on her first novel.