SCSU was lucky enough to host an internationally recognized figure and now scholar from the liberation and civil rights movements of 1960s and 70s. On Wednesday, March 4, Angela Davis gave a presentation to the packed Ritsche Auditorium on the topic of “Feminist Change: A New Era.”
A very interesting topic she touched on was what she called a “messiah complex,” especially as it relates to President Obama. Too often people view him as a heroic leader–a messiah as it were–but, in doing so, undermine the value of the community and community contribution to change. For example, when we speak about the Civil Rights Movement, we often bring up individuals’ names and cite them. But we forget about the individuals who, for example, participated in the bus boycotts; these were maids, housewives, cooks, students and the like. And it is these people that were the driving force, the foundation upon which institutional change was brought about. This was Davis’ argument, or at least how I perceived it. It’s an interesting perspective nevertheless.
She also mentioned that marriage is a racist, sexist, etc. exploitative institution based centrally on the distribution of property. I’m still rather baffled by these comments. If anyone has an explanation, I’d love to hear it.
I also think she makes good points about President Obama and how many perceive him within the context of race, especially as being the first black president of the United States. She brings up points about the paradox of struggling against the state whilst having this black president who she perceives to have fought against the state, but cites it as a productive thing to do nonetheless. She also criticized the president for thing he has not said, namely about prison reform (abolition), fixing the education system, commitments against profiling, police abuse, etc.
In all, I thought it was a wonderful speech that I hope in the very least provided a new perspective for the SCSU and surrounding community. I think there are some meaningful things we could take from her speech, even if we don’t all agree with her personal ideology or scholarship.