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The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues

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What is the meaning of freedom? Angela Y. Davis' life and work have been dedicated to examining this fundamental question and to ending all forms of oppression that deny people their political, cultural, and sexual freedom. In this collection of twelve searing, previously unpublished speeches, Davis confronts the interconnected issues of power, race, gender, class, incarceration, conservatism, and the ongoing need for social change in the United States.

With her characteristic brilliance, historical insight, and penetrating analysis, Davis addresses examples of institutional injustice and explores the radical notion of freedom as a collective striving for real democracy - not something granted or guaranteed through laws, proclamations, or policies, but something that grows from a participatory social process that demands new ways of thinking and being.

"The speeches gathered together here are timely and timeless," writes Robin D.G. Kelley in the foreword, "they embody Angela Davis' uniquely radical vision of the society we need to build, and the path to get there."

The Meaning of Freedom articulates a bold vision of the society we need to build and the path to get there. This is her only book of speeches.

"Davis' arguments for justice are formidable. . . . The power of her historical insights and the sweetness of her dream cannot be denied."—The New York Times

"One of America's last truly fearless public intellectuals." —Cynthia McKinney, former US Congresswoman

"Angela Davis offers a cartography of engagement in oppositional social movements and unwavering commitment to justice." —Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Women's Studies, Hamilton College

"Angela Davis deserves credit, not just for the dignity and courage with which she has lived her life, but also for raising important critiques of a for-profit penitentiary system decades before those arguments gained purchase in the mainstream." —Thomas Chatterton Williams, SFGate

"Angela Davis's revolutionary spirit is still strong. Still with us, thank goodness!"

"Long before 'race/gender' became the obligatory injunction it is now, Angela Davis was developing an analytical framework that brought all of these factors into play. For readers who only see Angela Davis as a public icon . . . meet the real Angela Davis: perhaps the leading public intellectual of our era." —Robin D. G. Kelley author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

"There was a time in America when to call a person an 'abolitionist' was the ultimate epithet. It evoked scorn in the North and outrage in the South. Yet they were the harbingers of things to come. They were on the right side of history. Prof. Angela Y. Davis stands in that proud, radical tradition." —Mumia Abu-Jamal, author of Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A.

"Behold the heart and mind of Angela Davis, open, relentless, and on time!" —June Jordan

"Political activist, scholar, and author Angela Davis confronts the interconnected issues of power, race, gender, class, incarceration, conservatism, and the ongoing need for social change in the U.S. in her book, The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues." —Travis Smiley Radio

Angela Y. Davis is professor emerita at the University of California and author of eight books. She is a much sought after public speaker and an internationally known advocate for social justice.

Robin D.G. Kelley is the author of numerous books and a professor at the University of Southern California.

202 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2009

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About the author

Angela Y. Davis

107 books5,666 followers
Angela Yvonne Davis is an American political activist, scholar, and author. She emerged as a nationally prominent activist and radical in the 1960s, as a leader of the Communist Party USA, and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement despite never being an official member of the party. Prisoner rights have been among her continuing interests; she is the founder of Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison-industrial complex. She is a retired professor with the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is the former director of the university's Feminist Studies department.

Her research interests are in feminism, African American studies, critical theory, Marxism, popular music, social consciousness, and the philosophy and history of punishment and prisons. Her membership in the Communist Party led to Ronald Reagan's request in 1969 to have her barred from teaching at any university in the State of California. She was tried and acquitted of suspected involvement in the Soledad brothers' August 1970 abduction and murder of Judge Harold Haley in Marin County, California. She was twice a candidate for Vice President on the Communist Party USA ticket during the 1980s.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 76 reviews
Profile Image for Chams.
8 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2017
Racism, classism, ageism, sexism, activism, homophobia, racial profiling, rehabilitation vs. punishment, big business prison systems - this book covers it all! The stories were written many years ago, yet they remain relevant in this year 2015. This book forces one to think about how each race, every person is touched by the aforementioned. A great read.
Profile Image for AJ.
116 reviews10 followers
August 18, 2023
I love the way Angela Davis thinks. In this collection of speeches from the mid-90’s to just shortly after the first election of Obama, Davis shows herself to have been way ahead of her time in her discussions on corporate trans-globalization, the domestic and global prison industrial complex, non-binary gender and LGBTQIA issues, socialism, and she does so with unflinching honesty and bravery while speaking directly and frankly about the unsavory history of the United States.

The most fascinating thing to me was the fact that she maintained her optimism throughout and despite the GW Bush administration, still believed that things could change for the better, and from everything I’ve read still believes it to this day even after four years (at least) of the orange plague.
Profile Image for Maggie Ayau.
105 reviews5 followers
July 26, 2020
A collection of speeches by Angela Davis from the early 90s to late 00s. As someone very new to abolition theory, I was surprised at how relevant her teachings are even 10-20+ years later. Many of the things she warns us will happen if abolition is not achieved are being played out in our current reality: she was, and is, truly ahead of her time. I also haven’t read many of her writings, so this felt like a good “sampler” of sorts—would definitely recommend for folks wanting to become more familiar with her work.
Profile Image for Aubrey.
1,360 reviews793 followers
June 20, 2023
According to neoliberalist explanations, the fact that these young black men are behind bars has little to do with race or racism and everything to do with their own private family upbringing and their inability to take moral responsibility for their actions.

That is something that the United States has basically offered to the world: a way of managing social problems by refusing to confront them. Instead of solving issues, the system puts people behind bars.
It's been a while since I was last hit over the head with a work of nonfiction to such a degree that it felt like pure blasphemy to even consider giving it anything other than five stars. And, contrary to appearances, it's not just cause I'm the type to hear a thinker like Davis and be more than tempted to just start singing in her choir, no questions asked. See, going into this book, I knew that this was the tome where I'd truly have to reckon with Davis' prison abolition stance, a topic that made my mind go 'but, but, but' any time I encountered it in the wild. Sure, the average rating is astronomical, but that has also been the case for many books I've read this year that proved to be more bloated sentiment than brilliant undertaking. There's also the fact that this edition did prove to not be the best edited (although the excoriating one star review lays it on to an absurd degree). However, if you live in the US and are reckoning with the country's definition of freedom beginning at the ability to die on the street and ending at the limits of gender, sexuality, and existing while not white, I don't see how you could get away with not reading this text. It doesn't cover every controversial topic pertaining to prison, and I'm sure there's many a queer young person who's just dying to screech about 'pedophiles' waiting in the TikTok wings. However, Davis' rhetorical power and evidence of lifelong commitment work in tandem to work utter miracles in one's definitions of right and wrong, and at the end of this, I can honestly say that I am now a believer in the future she strives towards.
There is a dangerous individualism that is not unrelated to the possessive individualism of capitalism. And it is bound to transform the collective victories we win.

I would gladly relinquish the celebration of the first black woman National Security Adviser, now the first black woman Secretary of State, in exchange for a white male Secretary of State who might provide guidance on how to halt the U.S. global drive for empire, the racist war on terror, and the military aggression against the Iraqi people.
There's a lot to be said for going insane in the time of late capitalism. For the rest of us, there's what has worked before, what is currently breaking, and what kind of work it's going to take to transform the previous two into a vehicle for where we want to go. Davis has taught at UCLA, been incarcerated as one of the top ten most wanted in the USA, and doesn't fuck with electoral politics, so the fact that this homeland of mine hasn't blown her head off yet is evidence more of its incompetency than anything else. It's also an impressive enough list of credentials that I'll believe she's on the right side of most things until I see otherwise, so the fact that I came out of this committing to the need for prison abolition was quite the opposite of a forgone conclusion. Given, however, how folks who consider themselves pretty darn intelligent continue to lose their panties over In Defense of Looting, I'm not about to recommend this work to anyone who doesn't have at least one work of Davis', or Shakur's, or Galeano's, or Klein's, or some other writer who dares to call the beast (or at least part of it) what it is. Cause you see, if someone comes up to me and goes "But Aubrey, I have to take advantage of hundreds of years of oppression to get my own slice of the cake, else you're being illegal and, even worse, hurting my feelings," I'm going to introduce them to my KKK side of the family and ask them how far do they think these relatives of mine will allow them to run when the mask inevitably drops. For what Davis proves is how the neoliberal displacement of blame from legalized rapaciousness onto the backs of those thrown in jails and thrown out of their country's stability and thrown out of protection from being hunted for sport is all a practice run for when, in times of tribulation, you, the chosen diversity, will be handed your thirty coins of several in return for looking away when the rest of your kind are fed to the slaughter. Not a fan? Well. You may want to stick around, then, and pay attention to what Davis offers as an alternative.
Immigrant populations often travel along the same routes that have been carved out by migrating corporations. They simply retrace them in reverse.

Rather than characterize "immigration" as the source of the current crisis, it is more accurate to say that it is the homelessness of global capital that is responsible for so many of the problems people are experiencing throughout the world.
I attended an all staff meeting today, where the head administrator handed out city-emblazoned thermoses to make up for not granting us access to 9/80 schedules (supposedly guaranteed by our union-supported memorandum of understanding) and time off on Juneteenth. It's the sort of event where, like most things in life, the requirement for everyone to be professional has an inverse relationship with an individual's bureaucratic power, so I took what measures I could to maintain an even keel in temper while keeping my critical faculties intact. It also helped that, all throughout various institutional leader's pathos-laden waffling and blustering obfuscation, I could think about my upcoming meeting with a mutual aid organization that promises to lean in more than a little to sort of convictions Davis was espousing here. You see, I've reached the point in my life where I've committed to a freedom of existence that may throw me in the path of more hard knocks, but is that much less likely to drive myself into alcoholism or any of those other capitalism sanctioned methods of self-medication commonly known as addictions. It took me a tad longer to realize this, but with Davis' help, I've come to see that, so long as other folks aren't free, so long as human sacrifices are made and wielded as a necessary cost to my increased privileges, my freedom to be human, however hard won it may have been under my own individual initiative, is irrevocably compromised, and can be 'taken away' as easily as it was originally 'given'. Other folks may be comfortable in trading in their freedom for a joke so that the scaaaaawy stranger predator doesn't get them, but I've seen the face of those who would gladly sell me on the carving block across from me at the hiring table, and let me tell you, jail wouldn't fix them. For what would fix what every business program, every financial literacy book, every legal loophole and social network and Linkedin Learning teaches as good praxis? No. If I want my freedom, I must claim it alongside all other human beings, and no amount of state sanctioned social death of millions of my fellow citizens is going to change that.
I]f we rely on the prison system to solve the problem of homophobia, we are relying on a system that is complicit in the process that has rendered homophobia socially acceptable.

If the repressive institution is only abolished negatively, without replacing it with institutions promoting substantive freedoms, then that repression will persist, as the legacy of enslavement persists today.
Profile Image for Rosa K.
72 reviews36 followers
March 20, 2020
fuck me up angela davis 😭💗✌️
There hasn’t been a more apt time to read these collection of essays. Davis goes into the necessity of abolition, the absolute imperative nature of community building, the ever changing yet necessary understanding of feminism, and the true meaning of freedom.
Profile Image for Benjamin Fasching-Gray.
733 reviews20 followers
January 9, 2022
Even when looking back at struggles from decades ago, Davis’s contemporaneous analyses are never less than spot on and even occasionally surprise with an angle I missed. It’s also fun when she quotes poems.
Profile Image for Sarah.
88 reviews8 followers
July 21, 2023
Davis expounds some profound thoughts on freedom with such clarity, giving language to sociopolitical ideals I’ve developed over the years. Her considerations reveal how present and historical iterations of oppressive hierarchies, whether discursive or actual, intersect: problems of mass incarceration overlap with the problems of migration, with the problems of gender inequality. This is a roadmap for radical abolitionism, an approach that reveals a (latent) collective power brewing within communities facing oppression, a power that can be exerted when these communities have access to the tools necessary for organization and discussion.

The question “What is freedom and what does it look like” will remain ever prevalent, always on my mind.

My version of this text has a lot of typos, which is, anecdotally, annoying.
Profile Image for Kaleb Rogers.
114 reviews7 followers
April 19, 2019
The most apparent takeaway from The Meaning of Freedom is Angela Davis' earned status as a Civil Rights authority and icon. This collection of lectures is also retrospectively prophetic, as they show Davis as describing the economic exploitation of Neoliberalism through vehicles like the IMF (well before Naomi Klein tackled the topic), the robbing of freedom and basic civil liberties through the 13th amendment (well before the documentary '13th' and the book 'The New Jim Crow'), and the fraudulent restriction of ex-convicts from voting in Florida (over a decade before they were granted such rights). Also, she really hates George W. Bush.
Profile Image for Ryan.
Author 10 books151 followers
December 20, 2012
would have been four stars, but city lights really botched this one. so many copy editing problems throughout the book including repeated paragraphs, random paragraph breaks, quotation marks repeated at random, etc. davis is brilliant as always. very accessible for non-academic readers.
Profile Image for Amber.
17 reviews
July 29, 2014
Davis goes a long way in giving the tools of language, points of reference, an actually applicable paradigm. Instead if a sea of confusion, as social justice works can often leave you with, she gives the reader tools for dialogue. The title is perfect.
16 reviews2 followers
May 29, 2019
It’s been a while since I’ve read a book like The Meaning of Freedom. There is a fair bit of repetition of core concepts, but that is due to the nature of the book and not a fault of the author. As a collection of speeches covering similar ground it is valid that she centers on the core ideas and then covers new territory with each speech.
“What is freedom?” Is covered from a variety of angles/lenses along with how that meaning has undergone transformation, both intentionally and as an indirect result of historical/societal realities. Davis shines a light into the dark corners to ferret out critical insights and challenge us to peer deeply into our own ideologies, values, judgements, and actions.
In an era of Tweets and Snapchats, where a quick phrase, image or meme has become commonplace it was refreshing to read the depth of Davis’ thought processes. While challenging on many levels it was worth the time to read and digest her work.
Profile Image for Jessica.
273 reviews3 followers
May 12, 2019
A collection of speeches and lectures, this book covers every corner of Davis’s deep reflection on what it means to be free. I found it particularly enlightening, in speeches from the early 2000s, where she discusses prisons/racism and the aftermath of 9/11–something I remember of course, but never truly grasped the reverberations. She also draws deep attention to society’s “messiah complex”. Ya just gotta read it. Just go read it immediately.
Profile Image for Gaspar.
136 reviews
January 20, 2021
While there is a bit of repetition throughout this book, these speeches/essays are all fantastic. Angela Davis conveys a slew of powerful ideas and arguments that all revolve around the general concept of what holds us back from achieving true freedom for ALL Americans. She tackles racism, sexism, the prison industrial complex, xenophobia, and more, and she does it all in an intriguing and captivating manner.
Profile Image for Mitchell Atencio.
17 reviews1 follower
May 6, 2020
The content itself is incredible. Especially with each chapter in chronological order, you really get to listen as Davis and her teachings/analysis develop. The one flaw is that from each chapter to the next, 30-60 percent of the material is the same or similar. Still an amazing book that all should read and consider and come back to
Profile Image for Zora.
58 reviews
September 19, 2012
The title truly captures the essence of the essays included, The Meaning Of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues. Dr. Davis reminds us about the prison-industrial-complex, which is a form of punishment, punishment which imprisons predominately poor people of color. She emphatically reminds us that those who go to prison are striped of their rights such as rights of disfranchisement. The underlying cause of the prison-industrial-complex is capitalism and racism which have become institutionalized. For example the election of George W. Bush would have been radically different if the 650,000 Florida prisoners had been allowed to vote. She also stresses that because we believe racism is institutionalized we praise individual efforts such as high power black officials; Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, President Obama, Condalezza Rice, and Colin Powell, when in reality it's a collective of people who have gotten such people of color to where they are now. She discusses immigrants rights. How immigrants have been forced from their home countries because of American companies outsourcing labor for the cheap price and can't survive at home and are forced to come to America to reach their dreams. Usually this doesn't happen, it doesn't happen because of institutionalized racism which doesn't allow them to make money, this forces them to resort to underground economies on a path to jail. It was an empowering read because capitalism is at the base of everything in America, nothing is exempt from it. I learned that women are the fastest growing population in prison because they've resorted to underground economies which eventually leads to jail. Also that out of all the countries in the world America has the fullest prison, because the default mechanism to handle any social problem is to punish them through jail. We also learn that in the past jail was a form of rehabilitation whereas now its a dehumanizing form of punishment fueled by capitalism. This is definitely a great read for any activist or intellectual on the subject. As well as anyone interested in Dr.Davis's work.
Profile Image for Jim.
2,636 reviews135 followers
January 12, 2020
Angela Y. Davis is such an amazing intellectual, theorist, thinker, feminist, and human being. I love reading her scholarly output for its rigor and reimagining of old ideas, and I also love her speeches fo their ability to be engaging and thought-provoking and challenging and accessible. I devoured this book. Some of it is repeated from other books, but there is no diminishing the message, and some things seemingly need a lot of repetition to sink in... Most of my notes ae just thinking points or usd as mechanisms fo me to remember key concepts or statements, so they may make no sense to anyone but me. Read them at your own risk, I guess.

The Meaning of Freedom

- freedom is NOT what is allowed under the law (which supports racist institutions, at the very least) but is a collective freedom, to live a good life, free from violence, sexual freedom, health, abolition of all forms of bondage
- not granted by the state, but fought for, collectively
- transformative nature of history and need for groups fighting oppression to adapt, change, grow
- old guard can hold back change
- racism has changed, now it is also sexist, homophobic, classist
- beware of leaders who limit their fight to one group of people and demonize others
- Black people and their blind support of Clinton; Clinton’s crime bill and gutting of welfare
- connection between war, prisons, joblessness, drug use, immigration, fear
- being conscious of race, class, gender, and sexuality when fighting oppression
- the personal is the political, public and private are overlapping, fighting oppression of capitalism
- Prison-Industrial Complex: explains how post-war economy never adjusted to provide living wage jobs for Black People and women, subsequent gutting of social programs, “law and order” policing, criminalizing drug and non violent offenses
- impact of global capitalism, immigration, despair
- connections of capitalism and prison growth, privatization, deepens structural racism, poverty
- prisons as manufacturing crime/criminals in reality and in ideology
- believing their is another way than prison (all the money spent on the “incarceration systems” could be put into social programs)
- initially prison used to replace corporal punishment/death penalty (seen as barbaric in 1600-1700’s); punishment to deprive citizen of rights/freedoms (only possible in society that values legal status over all)
- the return to seeing prisoners as subhuman, deserving of regressive treatment, violence
- why are most people in prison poor??? huh.
- capitalism and expansion of poverty, homelessness, extralegal operations, repression, slave labor
- prison system and drugs; why do people turn to drugs? criminalizing drug use, which is symptom of failed social programs, rise of privatization of government
- punishment does not always follow crime, no does it need to (racism inherent in carceral systems)
- prison mentality in social systems: students treated like prisoners, schools operated like prisons
- “war on terror” and manufacturing of evil/other/enemy; rise of power of INS
- rise of nationalism, growth of exclusion/prohibition
- overlap between representation of terrorist and criminal
- racism is not a set of strategies that exist outside the system
- post 9/11 rise of “policeman” as archetype of democracy, compare that to historical representation of police in minority communities as villains
- problem of multiculturalism; oppressed can promote oppression too
- multiculturalism, freedom and democracy linkages
- war as mechanism to “bring democracy”
- life under Dept. of Homeland Security (fascism/Nazism in USofA)
- Abu Ghraib and torture (right? wrong? OK? not enough? too much?) to “defend democracy”; dehumanization; racist practices of prison/torture/war
- democracy and its link to capitalism: they are incompatible, essentially (rise of DemCap has led to ruin of democratic institutions on global scene)
- Abolition Democracy: abolish prisons, slavery rudiments, death penalty and redirect energy/money to social improvements; democracy supposed to be for all, but Capitalist Democracy is by/of/for wealthy/white/male/hetero
- why do we fear terrorist/criminal but not racism, sexism, homophobia??
- racism: who decides who is relevant? who can vote? participate in economy? who has rights?
- use of prisoner as the “negative” (like photo negative/opposite), since i’m NOT incarcerated, THIS must be freedom, whatever THIS is…
- White People and willingness to deny racism, though it is everywhere evident
- links between capitalism and individualism which allows for ignoring racism (doesn’t affect ME)
- linking capitalism to “end of racism”, Black History Month (buy stuff!)
- BHM celebrates individuals, the law, but ignores reality of racism as perniciously present
- end of slavery, but not end of enslaving institutions
- crime rate down, incarceration up
- social programs underfunded, prisons expanded/privatized/globalized
- where is idea of rehabilitation instead of imprisonment?
- growth of prison industrial complex via capitalism; oppression of other countries though war/insurgency/insurrection in the name of democracy
- can the US have democracy that doesn’t require/manufacture an Enemy/Other to hate?
- Obama and “cult of individual” obfuscating collective power and need for collective mobilization/action/revolt
- over-reliance on voting to manifest change to detriment of other actions
- prison as failed method to fix problems, fix people, correct society
- need to link “the rights to xx” to “availability of xx”
- move from civil rights (under the law…) to human rights as extralegal, outside government necessity
- fight for rights (marriage) doesn’t eliminate the structures of heteronormative sexism/homophobia
- racism and neoliberalism: structures, institutions, ideologies, practices inherent in “post-racial” mindset
- hiding behind legal abolition of racism/segregation
- Black/White binary and its inability to answer for sexism, homophobia, First Nations genocide
- neoliberalism/capitalism: free movement of people, capital, goods is ideal AND a requirement for success of “democracy”
- sublimation of public good and community under individual success; ease of labeling failures as individual and not systemic problems
- neoliberalism and colorblindness and the erasure of history; the myth of the same starting position for all
- criminalization/labelling of individual as failure, not system that undergirds/promotes/sustains racism
- connections of disenfranchisement and demographics of state trying to pass voter restrictions
- social change and civil engagement and the endless quest for freedom for all peoples

A book that is essential reading for followers of Davis and her writings. I always recommend her books, for what it's worth. She is a brilliant and revolutionary Black Feminist Activist.
Profile Image for Liz Murray.
618 reviews6 followers
March 21, 2014
I was fortunate to hear Angela Davis speak in Oakland last year. She is a passionate and awe inspiring person who has stayed true to her beliefs. This book is a collection of speeches she gave between 2000 and 2010 (or thereabouts). While she covers similar ground in each speech it is articulated differently each time. Age has not diminished her fire nor her intelligence, and I would go far out of my way to hear her speak again. While I wait for that to happen, I have her words here that will continue to inspire.
Profile Image for B Sarv.
255 reviews13 followers
January 12, 2017
Prof. Davis never disappoints. Anyone who is truly interested in opening their mind to realities of activism, social justice and change must read Angela Davis. Within the past year I have had the opportunity to learn from James Baldwin, bell hooks and Angela Y. Davis. This book was a perfect fit in the stream of learning for me. Reading this book was like attending her lectures in person. She narrates and teaches and passionately makes her knowledge and experiences available to all in this book.
23 reviews2 followers
January 4, 2016
This is the second Angela Davis book I've read. I can't wait to read the rest. She has a gift for stating powerful insights about race, class, gender, sexual orientation, citizenship, and most of all crime, punishment, and incarceration, in language that grabs you and forces you to pay attention. This book was particularly interesting because it's structure—a chronological collection of speeches—allowed you to see the same themes recur and develop.
Profile Image for Merc.
56 reviews15 followers
September 30, 2014
For those unaware, many of these speeches are related to each other in topic and so you will bump into redundancies if you read it as you would a fiction novel. I, personally, would recommend this to be read over time or in pieces to elimante reading fatigue and to allow yourself to really grasp what is being said.
Profile Image for Tom.
89 reviews
July 1, 2014
Arguments in the language of academia; I don't have enough patience to read this book.
Profile Image for Connor.
80 reviews
August 19, 2020
Rereading this book I did like it more. For the most part I agree with her messages in the book, but I would have liked if the foreword was more biographical
Profile Image for Jayce.
52 reviews8 followers
April 17, 2019
“Whatever we are doing, wherever we are, it is imperative that we believe in the possibility of change. We cannot allow ourselves to be ensconced in the present, so the very first step is to actively imagine possible futures—futures beyond the prison and beyond capitalism.” (83)

Okay, disclaimer: I did not finish every essay in this book. Nevertheless, this compendium of Davis’s talks and lectures had a profound effect on me: I learned so much about the global rise of the prison industrial complex. It is impossible to talk about “the meaning of freedom” without critically examining the function of prisons in our society; and thus, it is impossible to fight for freedom without fighting for the abolition of prisons.

One of the most important things I learned from Davis’s arguments for abolition involved a disruption of my preconceived notions around the word “criminal.” Who and what are being labeled as criminal in our society? And how can we ever expect things to change when prisons profit off of the definitions of “criminal” which have been hammered into our collective consciousness? We must take a cold, hard look at how definitions of criminality lead to contemporary slavery in the era of global capitalism and for-profit prisons.

This is a must-read and a must-have. I’ll definitely be buying a copy for my personal library.

“If I acknowledge that I am also implicated in the continued patterns of racism, I ask not only how do I help to change those whom I hold responsible for the structures of racism, I ask also: How do I change myself?” (84)
Profile Image for S. Suresh.
Author 3 books10 followers
August 31, 2020
The Meaning of Freedom is a collection of 12 speeches Angela Davis delivered between 1994 and 2009. Davis views freedom in a unique fashion, one that is not bounded by the rules of law; rather, it the possibility to express oneself in a society that does not limit the way any person can pursue their life with opportunities that is not just limited to the privileged white. She defines the term “prison industrial complex”, a place that is created not as a penitentiary, but as a business proposition to incarcerate black people and profit from it. She calls out how the laws written by white people for the well-being of their own kind in this capitalistic society serves as a feeder mechanism to keep the prisons filled and profitable. She highlights how incarceration deprives people of their voting rights. How 600,000 people in Florida were disenfranchised that altered the 2000 election of George Bush which he won by a mere 537 votes. She calls out the flaws of neoliberalism, discusses abolition democracy, intersectionality of race and gender when talking about justice for gay, lesbian and trans people.

The forward by Robin D. G. Kelley is equally powerful and offers a clear intro to anyone who is not familiar with Davis’ work and her firm belief in abolition democracy.
Author 1 book2 followers
November 24, 2022
Professor Angela Davis-what a brilliant and an interlectual person she is.She fought against all forms
of racism faced by the coloured community. They faced absolute racism,segeration,lynching and an unproptianate numbers of coloured people in the prisons system.
If that brute had not taken the life of of our greatest President Abraham Lincoln and had he served another term ot two Angela would have not to fight around 50% of the problems she faced. Lincoln did not fight the Civil War because of the seperation but he fought against slavery. He felt that slavery was wrong in his bones. When the war finished he was not a happy man but sad that almost 700,000 lives were lost. Had he lived he would have made sure that the black community were allowed a decent intergration into society. But fate took its ugly side and made the coloured community suffer immensely. This is where Angela Davis comes into the scene and fights all forms of discrimination against the coloured community. She was deeply affected by the high no of coloured people in prisons. The trouble that the coloured community faced was collosal. They had to fight little by little to dismantle all that was set against them. Angela wanted her people not to accept any form of discrimination but keep fighting every wrong.
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