Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith was one of the keynote speakers last night at the NWSA, and jeez, was she amazing.  In a way, I'm glad she doesn't teach at the College of Charleston, because she's so dynamic, smart, compelling, and energetic--and seems so much like a person I'd love to hang out with--that I fear she'd throw off my whole vibe, my bumbling attempts to achieve a work/life balance, my efforts to accept my own hypocrisy, etc.  If I were to hang around her, I think she'd bump everything up to a new level in ways that would be transformative and amazing, but also, you know, exhausting.

This post should be titled "Tired feminist blogger doesn't think she can change the whole world just yet."  Andrea Smith, though, seems like someone who is absolutely in the process of changing the world and having a great time doing it.

She talked so fast--and coming from me, a fast-talker myself, that's saying a lot.  At times I could only barely follow what she was saying because she was talking so quickly.  But this was because she had a lot to say.  She could rattle off the phrase "white supremacist, capitalist, colonizing heteropatriarchy" effortlessly.  Here were some of the key points I walked away with:

  • 5% of people on the planet have all the guns and money.  The other 95% have a lot of people power, but we have to figure out how to work together.  And rest assured that some of those 95% are really irritating, so you have to wrangle around in your own head to get to a place of love and respect.  Just because you find them irritating and even offensive, if we're going to change the world, you have to work with them.
  • White supremacy operates via three pillars:  anti-black racism, anti-indigenous peoples racism, and anti-"Oriental" (in the Said sense) racism.  Anti-black racism works on the notion that black people (and by extension all people) are property:  this is a pro-capitalism function.  Anti-indigenous peoples racism suggests that these people should all be killed off so that their land can be taken.  And anti-"Oriental" racism argues that these primitive folks are dangerous and need to be guarded against so that they don't take our stuff.
  • Genocide isn't actually against the law.  When people invoke the law and the Constitution, it's important to remember that genocide was actually foundational to the Constitution coming into being.
  • If we're going to change the world, one important step is to change the way we live.  Make the revolution happen at home by radically rethinking our own communities (in her mind this meant, in part, communalizing everything--childcare, food production, teaching college classes, etc.)

(Crossposted over at She Writes.)


Cindy said...

wow...I find this interesting on so many levels. I will keep my thoughts brief. First, I belong to the 5%. Second, I love the last idea-I have been big on communalizing forever. Third, I think the second point (anti black, indigenous, oriental) is the craziest thing I have ever heard. Maybe it is because I live in California but that sounds totally absurd to me!!
It isn't just the 5% that believes in some of these ideas!

Amanda R. said...

I am glad you mentioned the Orientalist component. I think we are seeing (in painful real time) how Said's thesis is playing out in the world over and over again (Islamic center in New York, horrible anti-Muslim legislation in Oklahoma, etc.).

Nice post!

Amanda R.