Angela Davis Is One of

Over time — in fairly short order, in fact — Davis got over this sense of secretiveness, and soon many of her actions were matters of national news. She reflects that this celebrity has made it difficult at times both for her to arrive at and explain the truth of her own role in the movement, and the motives and constructs that allowed for the movement to happen in the manner it did: “I know that almost inevitably my image is associated with a certain representation of Black nationalism that privileges those particular nationalisms with which some of us were locked in constant battle” (Davis 322). Davis (somewhat) clarifies this statement in explaining that the “nationalism” with which many typify the Civil Rights struggle — especially the Black Panthers — was perhaps radical but did not aim at isolation, and she cites several instances where cooperation with other marginalized groups was encouraged by supposedly “nationalistic” figures, including associations with the gay liberation movement (Davis 323).

Davis also notes the ill effects that this misperception of the nationalism assumed to be a part of some portions of the Civil Rights movement in modern society. One area of special interest to Davis is the music and culture of hip-hop, which originated as another way to assert independence and separation from white society but which also carries with many negative views. As Davis puts it, hip-hop culture “sometimes advocates a nationalism with such misogynistic overtones that it militates against the very revolutionary practice it appears to promote” (Davis 324). Or, to put this in simpler terms, the marginalization of women that occurs in much of hip-hop culture serves the oppressors far more than the oppressed, and creates a disharmony in a situation where the only goal really worth attaining is unity and solidarity.

The male dominance of African-American culture is something that Davis also notes in her own life and activism during the sixties.

Her experience with Malcolm Xs speech at Brandeis, though she did not realize it at the time, was evidence of this dominance. In fact, it is precisely because she (and others) did not notice it that the male dominance of the movement was so decisive. This is something that Davis reveals about marginalization in general in this chapter. Her identity as a person of color and as a woman were pushed upon her by a world that didnt even let her see that these identities were simply constructs — just as the street formed a racial boundary in her world, her body formed a boundary of gender. In the battle to tear down the racial wall, Davis joined many other men, as well as some women. But the women in this group were marginalized not only by white society, but by men of color as well. Coming to realize this from the perspective of the marginalized is not as easy as it might seem, and Davis did not grasp her double marginalization right away. As she grew to an awareness of these facts and their implications, however, she also became very aware of the effects and direction of the movement. She was not as staunchly for Black nationalism as it is often assumed she was, mainly because she had seen that division necessarily means marginalization, and marginalization can never be morally correct or lead to a stable and efficient society.

Angela Davis thinking has no doubt changed greatly over the decades. Her intelligence and ability to understand and interpret complex events has not, however. She applies these abilities to the past as deftly as she does to the present, painting a detailed continuum of the struggle for.