Space And Place Space and place 500 words summary for 2 readings  1. Angela Davis Freedom is a constant struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the fundations

Space And Place Space and place

500 words summary for 2 readings 

1. Angela Davis Freedom is a constant struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the fundations of a movement Chapter 4

2. Joyce- Devided Spaces Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

Is a

Constant Struggle

Ferguson, Palestine,
and the Foundations of a Movement

Angela Y. Davis

Edited by Frank Barat

© 2016 Angela Davis

Published in 2016 by
Haymarket Books
P.O. Box 180165
Chicago, IL 60618

ISBN: 978-1-60846-564-4

Trade distribution:
In the US, Consortium Book Sales and Distribution,

In Canada, Publishers Group Canada,
In the UK, Turnaround Publisher Services,
All other countries, Publishers Group Worldwide,

This book was published with the generous support of Lannan Foundation
and Wallace Action Fund.

Cover design by Abby Weintraub.

Special thanks to Karen Domínguez Burke for transcribing the interviews.

Printed in Canada by union labor.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data is available.

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2




by Cornel West

by Frank Barat

Progressive Struggles against Insidious Capitalist Individualism

Email interview (2014)

Ferguson Reminds Us of the Importance of a Global Context

Interview in Brussels (September 21, 2014)

We Have to Talk about Systemic Change

Interview in Paris (December 10, 2014)

On Palestine, G4S, and the Prison-Industrial Complex

Speech at SOAS (December 13, 2013)

Closures and Continuities

Speech at Birkbeck University (October 25, 2013)

From Michael Brown to Assata Shakur, the Racist State of America Persists


The Truth Telling Project: Violence in America
Speech in St. Louis, Missouri (June 27, 2015)

Feminism and Abolition: Theories and Practices for the Twenty-First Century

Speech at University of Chicago (May 4, 2013)

Political Activism and Protest from the 1960s to the Age of Obama

Speech at Davidson College (February 12, 2013)

Transnational Solidarities

Speech at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey (January 9, 2015)




Angela Davis is one of the few great long-distance intellectual freedom fighters
in the world. From the revolutionary mass movements of the 1960s to the
insurgent social motion in our day, Angela Davis has remained steadfast in her
focus on the wretched of the Earth. In stark contrast to most leftists in the
academy, her structural analysis and courageous praxis have come at a
tremendous cost in her life and for her well-being. As a new assistant professor
of philosophy, she was demonized by Governor Ronald Reagan in California.
The University of California Board of Regents stripped her of her academic
position owing to her membership in the Communist Party. She was put at the
top of the FBI’s Most Wanted list, on the run from the police forces of the US
Empire, and incarcerated after her capture. Her grace and dignity during a
historic court trial electrified the world. And her determination to remain true to
her revolutionary vocation—in the intense international spotlight—has been an

After the systematic state execution or incarceration of Black warriors and
government incorporation of Black professionals, Angela Davis still stands tall
with intellectual power and moral fervor. During the thirty-year ice age of
neoliberal rule, Angela Davis remained on fire for the freedom of the poor and
working people. Her scholarship on women, workers, and people of color helped
keep alive a radical vision, analysis, and praxis during the Reagan and Bush
years. Her pioneering intellectual and political work on the boomtown growth of
the prison system helped set the foundations for the age of Ferguson. And her
ubiquitous lecturing, marvelous teaching, and courageous solidarity in every
corner of the globe keep candles of hope burning in the cold and chilling days of
neoliberal hegemony. She remains—after more than fifty years of struggle,
suffering, and service—the most recognizable face of the left in the US Empire.

In this latest text of her magisterial corpus, Angela Davis puts forward her
brilliant analyses and resilient witness here and abroad. In a clear and concise
manner, she embodies and enacts “intersectionality”—a structural intellectual
and political response to the dynamics of violence, white supremacy, patriarchy,
state power, capitalist markets, and imperial policies.

On December 3, 2014, I was blessed to stand alongside my dear sister and
comrade Angela Davis at the Oxford Union Debate in memory of the fiftieth
anniversary of the great Malcolm X’s presence at the Oxford Union. It was a
grand event—with Angela bringing back the spirit of Malcolm in a magnificent
way. This same spirit infuses this book and beckons us to partake of its long-
standing joys of serving the people!



I am writing this sitting in my small office in Brussels. The month of June is
nearly gone and the heat has just arrived.

I work in a building that hosts various organizations and charities working for
global justice. Some focus on Western Sahara; some on Palestine; others on
torture, Latin America, or Africa. It is a good environment to work in,
surrounded by people who believe in a fairer and better society, and who have
decided to act on their beliefs and dedicate their lives to trying to change the
world. Sounds utopian, maybe. But the important word here is probably not the
one you are thinking of. It’s trying. Trying and trying again. Never stopping.
That is a victory in itself. Everyone and everything tells you that “outside” you
will not succeed, that it is too late, that we live in an epoch where a revolution
cannot happen anymore. Radical changes are a thing of the past. You can be an
outsider, but not outside the system, and you can have political beliefs, even
radical ones, but they need to stay within the bounds of the permissible, inside
that bubble that has been drawn for you by the elites.

My office is located a few steps away from the European Commission
headquarters, an imposing building made of grayness and glass that I cycle past
every morning. A place that is now flanked by military personnel as well as
private security companies. I often wonder what their job is: to protect the
people, the human beings inside, or to protect the place itself, the concept, the
ideology embodied in it?

This morning, when I visualized Greece in the midst of anti-austerity
protests, I saw the contested “Europe.” People in the streets, from all walks of
life, from various generations, chanting, raising flags, rioting. I saw people
organizing. I saw local assemblies, clinics run by volunteers. I saw the
Acropolis, Exarchia, Syntagma Square. I saw olive trees. I saw the sun. I saw
dēmokratia. The rule, the power, of the people. The very concept that has lost

most of its meaning in today’s world. This is a concept that to the “big guns” of
Europe (Germany, France, Italy, the European Central Bank, and the European
Commission itself) is only valid and celebrated when it does not diverge from
their view of and plans for the world. In the last few months, since the
groundbreaking and game-changing elections in Greece, for the first time in
Europe a left-wing and anti-austerity party, Syriza, has come into power, and
those big guns are trying to make sure that it crumbles and disappears. The party,
but more importantly, the message, the idea the party embodies, is under threat.
The concept that another way of organizing our lives collectively is possible, that
we can be ruled by each other, the 99 percent, instead of technocrats, banks, and
corporations. As I write this, the hope that finds expression in the streets and
homes all over Greece is a movement. A movement in the midst of a huge loss
of material wealth for ordinary Greeks. But there’s a message there for everyone
and it is that people can unite, that democracy from below can challenge
oligarchy, that imprisoned migrants can be freed, that fascism can be overcome,
and that equality is emancipatory.

The powerful have sent us a message: obey, and if you seek collective
liberation, then you will be collectively punished. In the case of Europe, it’s the
violence of austerity and borders where migrant lives are negated, allowed to
drown in sea buffer zones. In the case of the United States, Black and Native
lives are systematically choked by an enduring white supremacy that thrives on
oppression and settler colonialism, and is backed by drones, the dispossession of
territory and identity to millions, mass incarceration, the un-peopleing of people,
and resource grabs that deny that indigenous lives matter and that our planet
matters. All around us and up close, we are being told not to care. Not to
collectivize, not to confront.

What can we do? How can we do it? With whom? What tactics should be used?
How should we define a strategy that is accessible to everyone, including a
general public that has reached levels of depoliticization that can make atrocities
seem acceptable? What is our vision? How can we make sure “we” are talking to
“everyone”? How can we catalyze and connect sustainable, cross-border, and
radical movements? These are the types of questions that many activists ask
themselves on a daily basis, questions that are anchored in the present and will
shape our future.

It is easy to feel discouraged and simply let go. There is no shame in that. We
are, after all, engaged in a struggle that seems, if we look at it using a
mainstream political framework and through a mass media prism, unwinnable.
On the other hand, if we take a step back, look at things from a broader angle,
reflecting on what is happening all over the world and the history of struggle, the
history of solidarity movements, it becomes clear, sometimes even obvious, that
seemingly indestructible forces can be, thanks to people’s willpower, sacrifices,
and actions, easily broken.

When I first thought of producing a book with Angela Davis, my main goal was
to talk about our struggle as activists. To try to define it in real and concrete
terms. To try to understand what it means to people engaged in it. Where and
how does it start? Does it ever end? What are the essential foundations for
building a movement? What does it mean physically, philosophically, and

It was crucial for me to discuss this struggle with Angela because she is, for
me and many others, a source of knowledge and inspiration, and we need to
learn from her experiences and use the lessons they offer for whatever fight we
are involved in. Angela never stopped; she is still, every day, living the struggle.
She is an embodiment of resistance and I see her ongoing work and presence
reflected in and inspiring to many of the collective liberation movements we see
today. It’s reflected in the understanding of prison as part of an industrial
complex, rooted in slavery and capitalism, and in the popularization of the
abolition movement. It’s reflected in her support for anticolonial struggles all
over the world, including Palestine, where many activists, including me, have
taken part in on-the-ground solidarity activism.

The idea of the book was, like the previous ones I edited with Noam
Chomsky and Ilan Pappé, to have a flowing conversation and to leave room for
some more in-depth essays by Angela that would fill gaps or extend our

A strong focus of our interviews, with the one in Brussels conducted soon
after Ferguson erupted and the one in Paris right after a jury let the police officer
who had killed Michael Brown go free, was Palestine and how to build a truly
global and social movement around what is today one of the most urgent issues
to resolve—an issue that should define where we stand as a movement and as
people. The focus was on how to build links with other social struggles. How to
explain to people in Ferguson that what is happening in Palestine is also about
them, and vice versa for the people of Palestine. How to make the struggle a

truly global one, one in which everybody on the planet has a part to play and
understands that role. How do we respond collectively to the militarization of
our societies? What role can Black feminism play in this process? What does
being a prison abolitionist means in concrete terms today?

The interviews addressed these points and more. Some are then developed
further in lengthy and powerful essays by Angela, who talks about the struggles
for justice in Ferguson and Charleston in particular, and how they go a long way
in showing that the struggle for equality and freedom is far from over.

The last two pieces in this book are Angela’s reflections on the political
struggle from the sixties to the current era of Obama and on transnational
solidarity. These are two groundbreaking contributions that should give people
tools and arguments to take up the fight and motivate others to become active
and join us.

“Angela is a miracle,” US author, poet, and activist Alice Walker told me one
day. Angela is unique but not exceptional because her example and her work has
helped to raise new voices, new scholars, and new activists who take her ideas
and expand them. I think when Alice defined Angela as a miracle, she meant that
Angela is living proof that it is possible to survive, withstand, and overcome the
full force of corporate power and the state fixed on the destruction of one
important individual because she inspires collective solidarity. She’s living proof
that people power works, that an alternative is possible, and that the struggle can
be a beautiful and exhilarating one. That is something we need, as human beings,
to experience.

And it’s in everyone’s power to partake in the struggle.

June 2015


Progressive Struggles against Insidious
Capitalist Individualism

Interview by Frank Barat (conducted via email over several months in 2014)

You often talk about the power of the collective and stress the importance of the
movement, rather than talking about individuals. How can we build such a
movement, based on those ethics in a society that promotes selfishness and

Since the rise of global capitalism and related ideologies associated with
neoliberalism, it has become especially important to identify the dangers of
individualism. Progressive struggles—whether they are focused on racism,
repression, poverty, or other issues—are doomed to fail if they do not also
attempt to develop a consciousness of the insidious promotion of capitalist
individualism. Even as Nelson Mandela always insisted that his
accomplishments were collective, always also achieved by the men and women
who were his comrades, the media attempted to sanctify him as a heroic
individual. A similar process has attempted to disassociate Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. from the vast numbers of women and men who constituted the very
heart of the mid-twentieth-century US freedom movement. It is essential to resist
the depiction of history as the work of heroic individuals in order for people
today to recognize their potential agency as a part of an ever-expanding
community of struggle.

What is left today of the Black Power movement?
I think of the Black Power movement—or what we referred to at the time as

the Black liberation movement—as a particular moment in the development of
the quest for Black freedom. In many ways it was a response to what were
perceived as limitations of the civil rights movement: we not only needed to

claim legal rights within the existing society but also to demand substantive
rights—in jobs, housing, health care, education, et cetera—and to challenge the
very structure of society. Such demands—also against racist imprisonment,
police violence, and capitalist exploitation—were summed up in the Ten-Point
Program of the Black Panther Party (BPP).

Although Black individuals have entered economic, social, and political
hierarchies (the most dramatic example being the 2008 election of Barack
Obama), the overwhelming number of Black people are subject to economic,
educational, and carceral racism to a far greater extent than during the pre–civil
rights era. In many ways, the demands of the BPP’s Ten-Point Program are just
as relevant—or perhaps even more relevant—as during the 1960s, when they
were first formulated.

The election of Barack Obama was celebrated by many as a victory against
racism. Do you think this was a red herring? That it actually paralyzed for a
long time the left, including African Americans involved in the fight for a fairer

Many of the assumptions regarding the significance of Obama’s election are
entirely wrong, especially those that depict a Black man in the US presidency as
symbolizing the fall of the last barrier of racism. But I do think that the election
itself was important, especially since most people—including most Black people
—did not initially believe that it was possible to elect a Black person to the
presidency. Young people effectively created a movement—or one should
qualify this by saying that it was a cyber movement—that achieved what was
supposed to be impossible.

The problem was that people who associated themselves with that movement
did not continue to wield that collective power as pressure that might have
compelled Obama to move in more progressive directions (for example, against
a military surge in Afghanistan, toward a swift dismantling of [the detainment
camp at] Guantánamo, toward a stronger health care plan). Even as we are
critical of Obama, I think it is important to emphasize that we would not have
been better off with Romney in the White House. What we have lacked over
these last five years is not the right president, but rather well-organized mass

How would you define “Black feminism”? And what role could it play in today’s

Black feminism emerged as a theoretical and practical effort demonstrating
that race, gender, and class are inseparable in the social worlds we inhabit. At the
time of its emergence, Black women were frequently asked to choose whether
the Black movement or the women’s movement was most important. The
response was that this was the wrong question. The more appropriate question
was how to understand the intersections and interconnections between the two
movements. We are still faced with the challenge of understanding the complex
ways race, class, gender, sexuality, nation, and ability are intertwined—but also
how we move beyond these categories to understand the interrelationships of
ideas and processes that seem to be separate and unrelated. Insisting on the
connections between struggles and racism in the US and struggles against the
Israeli repression of Palestinians, in this sense, is a feminist process.

Do you think it is time for people to disengage completely from the main political
parties and from this concept that our “leaders” call “representative
democracy”? Engaging in such a corrupt and rotten system, governed by money
and greed, gives it legitimacy, right? What about stopping this charade—
stopping voting and starting to create something from the bottom up that is new
and organic?

I certainly don’t think existing political parties can constitute our primary
arenas of struggle, but I do think that the electoral arena can be used as a terrain
on which to organize. In the US, we have needed an independent political party
for a very long time—an antiracist, feminist workers party. I also think you are
absolutely right in identifying grassroots activism as being the most important
ingredient of building radical movements.

The Arab world has undergone tremendous changes in the last few years, with
ongoing revolutions taking place in many countries. We seem to celebrate this in
the West without looking at what is happening in our own countries and the
involvement of our “leaders” in the dictatorships of the Arab world. Don’t you
think it’s also time for us to have our own revolutions in the West?

Perhaps we should reverse the demand. I think it is entirely appropriate for
people in the Arab world to demand that those of us in the West prevent our
governments from bolstering repressive regimes—and especially Israel. The so-
called war on terror has done inestimable damage to the world, including the
intensification of anti-Muslim racism in the United States, Europe, and
Australia. As progressives in the Global North, we certainly have not

acknowledged our major responsibilities in the continuation of military and
ideological attacks on people in the Arab world.

You recently gave a talk in London about Palestine, G4S (Group 4 Security, the
biggest private security group in the world), and the prison-industrial complex.
Could you tell us how those three are linked?

Under the guise of security and the security state, G4S has insinuated itself
into the lives of people all over the world—especially in Britain, the United
States, and Palestine. This company is the third-largest private corporation in the
world after Walmart and Foxconn, and is the largest private employer on the
continent of Africa. It has learned how to profit from racism, anti-immigrant
practices, and from technologies of punishment in Israel and throughout the
world. G4S is directly responsible for the ways Palestinians experience political
incarceration, as well as aspects of the apartheid wall, imprisonment in South
Africa, prison-like schools in the United States, and the wall along the US-
Mexico border. Surprisingly, we learned during the London meeting that G4S
also operates sexual assault centers in Britain.

How profitable is the prison-industrial complex? You often have said it is the
equivalent of “modern slavery.”

The global prison-industrial complex is continually expanding, as can be seen
from the example of G4S. Thus, one can assume that its profitability is rising. It
has come to include not only public and private prisons (and public prisons,
which are more privatized than one would think, are increasingly subject to the
demands of profit) but also juvenile facilities, military prisons, and interrogation
centers. Moreover, the most profitable sector of the private prison business is
composed of immigrant detention centers. One can therefore understand why the
most repressive anti-immigrant legislation in the United States was drafted by
private prison companies as an undisguised attempt to maximize their profits.

Is a prison- or jail-free society a utopia, or is it possible? How would that work?
I do think that a society without prisons is a realistic future possibility, but in

a transformed society, one in which people’s needs, not profits, constitute the
driving force. At the same time prison abolition appears as a utopian idea
precisely because the prison and its bolstering ideologies are so deeply rooted in
our contemporary world. There are vast numbers of people behind bars in the
United States—some two and a half million—and imprisonment is increasingly

used as a strategy of deflection of the underlying social problems—racism,
poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and so on. These issues are never
seriously addressed. It is only a matter of time before people begin to realize that
the prison is a false solution. Abolitionist advocacy can and should occur in
relation to demands for quality education, for antiracist job strategies, for free
health care, and within other progressive movements. It can help promote an
anticapitalist critique and movements toward socialism.

What does the booming of the prison-industrial complex say about our society?
The soaring numbers of people behind bars all over the world and the

increasing profitability of the means of holding them captive is one of the most
dramatic examples of the destructive tendencies of global capitalism. But the
obscene profits obtained from mass incarceration are linked to profits from the
health care industry and from education and other commodified human services
that actually should be freely available to everyone.

There is a scene in The Black Power Mixtape, a documentary film about the
Black Panther/Black Power movement that came out a couple years ago, in
which the journalist asks you if you approve of violence. You answer, “Ask me—
if I approve of violence!? This does not make any sense.” Could you elaborate?

I was attempting to point out that questions about the validity of violence
should have been directed to those institutions that held and continue to hold a
monopoly on violence: the police, the prisons, the military. I explained that I
grew up in the US South at a time when the Ku Klux Klan was permitted by
governments to engage in terrorist assaults against Black communities. At the
time I was in jail, having been falsely charged with murder, kidnapping, and
conspiracy and turned into a target of institutional violence, I was the one being
asked whether I agreed with violence. Very bizarre. I was also attempting to
point out that advocacy of revolutionary transformation was not primarily about
violence, but about substantive issues like better life conditions for poor people
and people of color.

Today, many people think you were a Black Panther, and some even think that
you were one of the founding members. Could you explain, exactly, what was
your role, what were your affiliations at that time?

I was not a founding member of the Black Panther Party. I was studying in
Europe in 1966, the year that the BPP was founded. After I joined the

Communist Party in 1968, I also became a member of the Black Panther Party
and worked with a branch of the organization in Los Angeles, where I was in
charge of political education. However, at one point the leadership decided that
members of the BPP could not be affiliated with other parties, at which point I
chose to retain my affiliation with the Communist Party. However, I continued to
support and to work with the BPP. When I went to jail, the Black Panther Party
was a major force advocating for my freedom.

Coming back to your answer about violence, when I heard what you said in the
documentary, I thought about Palestine. The international community and the
Western media are always asking, as a precondition, that Palestinians stop the
violence. How would you explain the popularity of this narrative that the
oppressed have to ensure the safety of the oppressors?

Placing the question of violence at the forefront almost inevitably serves to
obscure the issues that are at the center of struggles for justice. This occurred in
South Africa during the antiapartheid struggle. Interestingly Nelson Mandela—
who has been sanctified as the most important peace advocate of our time—was
kept on the US terrorist list until 2008. The important issues in the Palestinian
struggle for freedom and self-determination are minimized and rendered
invisible by those who try to equate Palestinian resistance to Israeli apartheid
with terrorism.

When were you last in Palestine? What impression did your visit leave on you?
I traveled to Palestine in June 2011 with a delegation of indigenous and

women of color feminist scholar/activists. The delegation included women who
had grown up under South African apartheid, in the Jim Crow South, and on
Indian reservations. Even though we had all been previously involved in
Palestine solidarity activism, all of us were utterly shocked by what we saw and
we resolved to encourage our constituencies to join the BDS (boycott,
divestment, and sanctions) movement and to help intensify the campaign for a
free Palestine. Most recently some of us were involved in the successful passage
of a resolution urging participation in the academic and cultural boycott by the
American Studies Association. Also, members of the delegation were involved
in the passage of a resolution by the Modern Language Association censuring
Israel for denying US academics entry to the West Bank in order to teach and do
research at Palestinian universities.

There are various means of resistance available to people who are oppressed by
racist or colonial regimes or foreign occupations (that is, according to …

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