COVID-19 Journal: Day 93

"It's really curious that at the end of the 20th century we are wondering whether or not there are racial difference between people and whether or not we can measure these things... we can continue to revisit battles that have been won decade after decade. But I suspect so long as we have this kind of amnesia it is so convenient to those who are mischievous to raise questions that have been resolved for political purposes."
I've been contemplating a tweet I saw (but have now lost because I didn't snare it) that said something along the lines of warning us against turning our peak of #blacklivesmatter action and learning into a cultural studies discussion. I've always fancied myself as a bit of a sociologist, so I have to actively try to resist (but fail?) settling into discussion instead of action. And yet, here we are.

I saw more of the fantastic Department of Dreams online festival today. It's just fantastic, and I was playing it in the background as I worked, enjoying dipping in and out. My favourite session was a conversation between activist/organiser, Melz Owusu and curator/writer, Aliyah Hasinah. Two brilliant minds covering topics like education, re-education, decolonisation, and love. They talked about bell hooks' book All About Love which I've meant to read for ages. I don't have it, but looked for her appearing in interviews and lectures in the meantime. There are loads. Melz is also crowdfunding The Free Black University which I've supported with a small contribution. Listening to them talk today made me feel like it'll work, so do please consider chipping in.

(The other two concepts I liked from today were Sister, a proposal for the feminine economy, and "anti-fragile" which is the idea that you can prepare yourself for rough terrain, from André Anderson from Freedom & Balance, "an art college for the artist in everyone.")

So, the search for bell hooks.

bell hooks on Charlie Rose to talk about her book Killing Rage

I found Race in America on Charlie Rose, 24 Feb 1995. Featuring Stanley Crouch, bell hooks, Michael Meyers, Daniel Levering-Lewis. Clinton was president when it was recorded. Sadly, the men on this panel were dismissive of bell hooks. and her position and expertise. They stop looking her in the eye. Michael Meyers laughs for too long over hooks as she tries to make her point. "I think we'll win," they say. "Shut up," says Mr, Crouch. 

Race in America on Charlie Rose, 24 Feb 1995

"There is no unified Black America (around class and gender)," says hooks. "The very fact that we're focused on crime rather than what I take to be one of the major issues in terms of ending racism and white supremacy, which is literacy, which is-- I mean, we can't talk about somebody who can't read or write having much of a job in this country. What we have to talk about is how we can lead compassionate lives with people who are different.

Also found this quick video of bell hooks on interlocking systems of domination, which helped explain good reasons to consider using different language, to de-centre whiteness.

I've been trying to practice rearranging these words in my mind, and change what I say:
  • Racism -> white supremacy - this is what opens up the ability to talk in terms of colonisation and decolonisation, and takes white people out of the centre, framing it as an ideology instead of that white person did that thing to that black person. we have to allow ourselves "a more complex accounting of identity".
  • Privilege -> advantage
  • Privilege -> power
It feels strange to tell friends I've been researching white supremacy. A couple of them today checked that I wasn't making insignia, etc, but.

This is an unfinished strand. I may pick it up. I may return to minutiae. (I spelt that right first time, y'all!)

Literally had meat and potatoes for dinner and it was lush.