I set this book aside a few times because it was so harrowing. She interviews women on Rikers Island, some of them are charged with homicide because t...moreI set this book aside a few times because it was so harrowing. She interviews women on Rikers Island, some of them are charged with homicide because their husbands killed their kids, horrible stuff like that. Her theory of gender entrapment is really sharp and she contrasts the interviews with Black battered women on Rikers with interviews of white battered women on Rikers and Black non-battered women on Rikers, proving a particular pattern of gender entrapment that's only among the Black battered women, who had high self esteem in their families, then were shut out of opportunities in school and by employers, then tried to base their identity on building a traditional home, and were loyal to their men in the face of racial oppression and the police.
It could be a powerful critique of what is often heard, that Black men are more oppressed than Black women, which is based on some particular things like college, career, and incarceration statistics that don't tell the whole story. The Black women in this book felt strong and felt sorry for their men at first, allowing them to be more vulnerable to abuse than they realized, as the author explains it. As I went through the book, I tried to be very conscious of not inserting a white feminist reading that would divide Black women from Black men in a false solidarity with white women. To me it seems to make even more clear than ever the reality that white feminists need to fight racism against Black men -- both for its own sake and because it hurts Black women so directly. (less)
Guede loaned me this book when I was 20, and it sucked me in immediately, I loved it so much that I skipped Stonewall 25 in NYC that weekend and staye...moreGuede loaned me this book when I was 20, and it sucked me in immediately, I loved it so much that I skipped Stonewall 25 in NYC that weekend and stayed home in Philly, reading. This was my favorite book for years. I love a good lesbian feminist loner vigilante novel. Plus it includes AA meetings, mean ex-girlfriends, and other favorite plot elements.(less)
I would give this book five stars because it is so amazing.... The most amazing thing about it is how it engages in such useful discussion (through ex...moreI would give this book five stars because it is so amazing.... The most amazing thing about it is how it engages in such useful discussion (through extensive oral history interviews) of mistakes that the movement made collectively and individually, and reasons why those mistakes were made. I learned things from this book that are huge lessons for my organizing work.
The only reason I don't give it five stars is because I got paid to work on it! (I was the copyeditor.) And one of my best friends wrote it.
This book identifies some very common errors in our thinking that lead to depression, helps you become aware o...moreAll-time best all-around self-help book!
This book identifies some very common errors in our thinking that lead to depression, helps you become aware of them and arms you to defeat them. Some of them, using the author's terms, are All-or-Nothing Thinking, Disqualifying the Positive, Should Statements, and Labeling and Mislabeling.
For example, you tell yourself (even without realizing it), "I didn't do a perfect job on that project, it was a failure. I never do anything right." These thoughts actually cause depression, and they can actually be prevented or nipped in the bud if you are conscious enough to catch them and re-think things in a more logical way.
I have 2 warnings about this book:
Skip the first chapter. It is all about how this book will change your life, so if you read it you will end up throwing the book across the room and not reading the rest, which can actually change your life.
The other thing is that I think there are places where Burns does not have full patience or compassion for the reader. I think it's great that he uses humor to disarm you and move things forward, but sometimes you just need someone to hold your hand and say they get it, rather than, "Snap out of it!"
In particular, I think he doesn't understand the experience of women whose self-esteem is beaten down by everyday life in patriarchal society that tells them they are worthless without a man. By just talking about women who are dependent on men, it comes out sounding like these women are just weak or something.
That being said, read this book, it will change your life! I keep reading it in parts again over the years, and it keeps on giving. (less)
This book helped me understand that my ideas about a slow, movement-building approach to organizing, and the best of what I learned from my activist m...moreThis book helped me understand that my ideas about a slow, movement-building approach to organizing, and the best of what I learned from my activist mentors in my 20s, is not just a valid way of doing activism, it's really the smartest way in the long run. I had always felt uneasy about the way so many groups these days are focused on how to most quickly get to "winnable goals" while compromising their relationships with people in the communities directly affected by the issues they're working on, as if putting real time and energy into building those relationships and listening to people and sharing activist skills takes too much time.
What about finding the leadership already in those communities, and helping to build the work around what's important to them? What about being flexible about campaigns and creative ideas, trying new things to see what works, and letting the community build the movement around its own needs, not demanding people change their whole lifestyle to join your organization?
This book offers very practical lessons on how to do social justice work in a truly empowering and lasting way, which is really needed when what most of us are force-fed is the Midwest Academy/Saul Alinsky style of community organizing, which I think takes shortcuts that undermine opportunities for communities to build their power and change the relations of power.
The flaw of the book is that it brushes aside the concept of Black Power and sort of dismisses it as a turn toward ideological thinking and away from community organizing, which I don't think is true, especially given the deeply rooted Serve the People programs that the Black Panthers did, for example. But this is only at the tail end of the book. I'd highly recommend reading it. My study group got a whole lot out of it. (less)
This is the review I wrote for the Indypendent newspaper when New World first came out about 5 years ago. I'd recommend the website loveandrage.org as...moreThis is the review I wrote for the Indypendent newspaper when New World first came out about 5 years ago. I'd recommend the website loveandrage.org as a great resource for materials from Love and Rage. It more fully represents the wide range of views in LnR, and it has stuff written by women members ; )
Love and Rage Now How the internal documents of a defunct anarchist group can change your revolutionary life
by Suzy Subways
In the 1990s, the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation helped build strong, radical groups like Anti-Racist Action and SLAM, movements for queer liberation, reproductive freedom and more. Yet when activists disrupted the WTO in Seattle, LnR had been dead for a year and a half, leaving our mistakes to be repeated, our lessons forgotten. That's what spurred my old comrade Roy San Filippo to put together a book of LnR's writings, A New World in Our Hearts (AK Press, 2003). Although 19 of the 20 pieces are by men-meaning vital insights from women are missing-the book revives valuable debates cut short by LnR's split in 1998.
Love and Rage was always on the anarchist movement's fringes. Yet we ended up splitting on two questions that are hot topics among anarchists today: whether anti-authoritarians can learn from other revolutionary tendencies, and how racism relates to capitalism. Most of the writings in New World deal with these two issues.
I was of the quiet majority in the middle on the first question. Solidly an anarchist, I'd worked three years with excellent, principled organizers of various communist and nationalist stripes for access to education at CUNY. I'd learned a lot from them about strategizing for revolution and building multi-racial, democratic participation while engaging in a reform struggle. Chris Day (New York LnR) wrote "The Historical Failure of Anarchism" after Marxists we worked with challenged him on anarchism's weaknesses. The feisty document put many Love and Ragers on the defensive but inspired others to study revolutionary history for ideas to move us beyond Bakunin.
It was an internal document by Jessica (New York LnR) that won me over to "mass line" from Maoist theory. The Zapatistas called it mandar obedeciendo-leading by obeying. Jessica gave examples from LnR's activism, explaining that we worked best when our politics responded to the communities we worked with: "We cannot discount the ideas of the people...only when we start from where the people are at, and struggle with them to make the changes they want, can we put forward the ideas of anarchist revolution with any effectiveness." She also pointed out that the LnR members most hostile to borrowing ideas from authoritarian tendencies were not doing any activist work-which explained why they offered no concrete solutions, only generalizations that our problems could be solved "from within anarchism."
Most Love and Ragers agreed that anarchism itself-having adopted feminism, queer liberation and environmentalism-is multi-tendency. A majority also supported the theory of white skin privilege, that the white working class has real benefits under racism-as opposed to the view that it's been won over to capitalism by "petty and apparent" privileges. Carolyn (New York LnR) wrote in 1998: "In Brooklyn, where I grew up, there are numerous white working class neighborhoods filled with homeowners right next to Black and Latino neighborhoods filled with people living in public housing projects...every time a Black family saves enough to buy a house in Canarsie, the house is firebombed within the first week."
What finally plowed LnR under was the quiet middle majority, those of us who failed to save it. The final year's Coordinating Committee never met, flaking out completely, and LnR's Working Groups-meant to be the link between theory and practice, where we'd hash out our movement strategies-never functioned well. In 1997, Justine (Minneapolis LnR) wrote: "It's crazy that Working Groups didn't have time to meet at the last conference. This should have been a priority over...the political statement." Spending all our energy on the two questions splitting us apart meant we didn't cultivate ideas for strategy that could have brought us together. Most members outside New York decided the ideological debates, and LnR itself, were irrelevant to their movement work.
Jessica, Carolyn and Justine's writings would have enriched New World, but they were left out because-like most of the documents by LnR women-they invoke details of our activism, references to other members' statements and messy specifics. But any generalized theory can sound great on paper-wouldn't you rather hear about how it works out in practice?
After the split, I helped start the Fire by Night Organizing Committee, a tiny multi-tendency group. FbN's long self-criticism of LnR, already published as a pamphlet, has the book's last word-but without the Afterword explaining that FbN dissolved in 2000, acknowledging mistakes it made in New York as an all-white group in a people of color-led movement. Also missing are writings by two members who became Marxist-Leninists that could have either won readers to their ideas or shown that there may actually be a slippery slope to Stalinism.
Five of the 20 pieces are by Chris Day, which seems like a lot. Chris is a committed activist and theoretical thinker-a valuable asset when every revolutionary theory is either outdated or must be defended against the crimes of its true believers. Yet he would have been hated (by the same anarchists who read Malatesta) if he'd put out a book of his own writing. New World is essential reading for anarchists willing to grapple with the questions Chris and others raised, but unwilling to leave anarchism behind just because it hasn't answered those questions yet. You can't join Love and Rage now, but I recommend reading this book and finding your own way to working collectively for revolution.
Former Love and Rage members are currently working on a range of political projects and organizations. Here are some of them:
this book is really amazing and it had some unexpected benefits. i was trying to figure out how to forgive intentionally when it was really hard for m...morethis book is really amazing and it had some unexpected benefits. i was trying to figure out how to forgive intentionally when it was really hard for me, instead of just letting it happen naturally over time. this book taught me how to do that, but also, and more powerfully, it gave me the skill of actually forgiving while something i don't really like is going on, instead of letting it bother me in the first place. unbelievable!
even better, i learned how to forgive myself, which has allowed me to get back to projects i've flaked out on instead of just feeling endlessly guilty and giving up on them.
one thing to remember though, is that you still get to have your version of the story if you have been harmed. you still get to be angry too. you've just got to let go of blame and see the big picture and find acceptance, which in the end feels great. it's a process, and you can't force yourself to forgive before you're ready. but even after you forgive, you don't have to give up your version of the story. i don't think this book emphasizes that enough.
and keep setting boundaries! for crying out loud, don't let people walk all over you. but i think that part of forgiving people and expecting them to be human and make mistakes is that it helps you get better at trusting people to be themselves, rather than trusting them to do what you'd like them to do, and then getting angry.
in other words, if your buddy is usually a caustic asshole to you, trust him to hurt your feelings. but if he'd give you the shirt off his back when you need it, you can trust him to do that too. (less)