Find out what we're reading and what art has piqued our interest
Find out what we're reading and what art has piqued our interest
by Jesica Siham Fernández
The following reflections offered by Chloe, Jen, Josie and Ale are powerful, strong and bold testaments to praxis. They share, in their own words, what they do, how they do it, and most of all why they do what they do in line with an anti-racist and racial justice praxis.
What experiences have you had in your professional, academic and/or personal life that have allowed you to center your knowledge of Critical Race & Ethnic Studies?
"Currently I am working on putting together an informational guidebook on overdose and substance use prevention strategies specifically for working with communities of color. We cannot address the opioid epidemic without also addressing the War on Drugs and its roots in anti-Black racism. Harm reduction groups are doing some of the most radical work currently and I am most inspired by the work to create trauma-informed systems and care." - Josie
"I plan to become a high-school teacher, where I can begin to teach students Critical Race and Ethnic Studies curricula at a younger age. This past summer, I used my knowledge in these fields to develop the Santa Cruz 2020 Black Youth Empowerment Workshop wherein I led a group of Black students in discussion about Black history as it related to the most recent wave of the Black Lives Matter movement. It was so empowering for me especially to see how this knowledge could be put to use to uplift those who have historically been told that they are powerless, by showing the ways in which power structures and dynamics could and should be flipped on their heads." - Chloe
"Being a Public Defender is not just a job, it is my purpose. The anti-racial teachings I acquired through Ethnic Studies have made me a better advocate. The “justice” system as we have been taught it, is not just nor justice. It is simply the legal system established by white, conservative, old men. While I have chosen to work within this system, I have also chosen to be a holistic defense attorney. The clients whom I represent need more than just criminal representation. They need immigration representation, social workers, case managers, housing representation, and have nutritional and health needs. The power of the community is what truly validates the dignity and humanity of each client." - Jen
"Currently, I engage in qualitative research from a Chicana Feminist Epistemology (CFE) lens to ensure the voices and lives of my research contributors are truly captured. As a framework influenced by Critical Race scholars, CFE pushes researchers to push back against traditional, hegemonic forms of research and instead engage in a process holistically, including the participants as collaborators and experts as well. The call from Chicana Feminists to challenge objectivity, and the sense of political urgency to address educational inequities in Chicana/o communities was not only important, but necessary." - Ale
What does "anti-racism" and "racial justice" mean to you? How do you put your definition or your anti-racist values into practice in what you do?
"We live in a country that stands on racial inequality, slavery, lynching, and oppression. As Bryan Stevenson says, “slavery is the narrative of racial difference and ideology of white supremacy.” Justice is to reimagine safety for all. As a woman in the law, safety is not to cage a human being, take everything from them, and then expect them to be “better” when released. That is not justice or safety. Justice is to achieve Racial equity. This isn’t a single action solution. We demand reparations for Black Americans, training of leaders, communities, and young leaders, as well as investing in education, health, mental health, food, housing, safety, employment, and transportation." - Jen
"To me being anti-racist means doing all that you can to ensure that racism is eradicated from the spaces in which you occupy.Anti-racism also requires introspection and an acknowledgement of one's own privileges and how intersectionality leaves some more marginalized than others. I put this definition into practice by challenging the racism inherent in the education system and using my privilege as a lightskin woman to stand up for those who have been more marginalized by this system than myself." - Chloe
"For me, anti-racism is part of the natural progression of an inclusive society. The US was created through imperialism, was built by racialized oppression of people of color, particularly Black and Indigenous people. This legacy can be seen at every level, from the individual to larger systems and structures of government. I see my place in this work in the field of Public Health, to promote research built around sociocultural competence to inform health care, resource creation and allocation, and policy. Community-based participatory research is something I’m interested in developing skills in." - Josie
"In simple terms social justice means redistributing and making access to wealth, resources and opportunities equitable. Racial justice acknowledges that it is not only about eliminating discrimination but also the overt systems in place that harm communities of color, particularly Black communities. Anti-racism means that you are continually working towards equity for all while also doing the internal work and examining the ways in which we ourselves are complicit in the structures that perpetuate violence. We must not only be not racist but also anti-racist and explicit in committing to checking ourselves and those around us. The goal is to create systems where communities of color not only survive but THRIVE." - Ale
About the contributors:
The first time I read Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa, I was surprised by how much I felt like I connected with the novel. Although I have always identified as Latinx, I’ve never really been able to relate to most of the Latinx experiences that I have read or learned about. I spent a lot of time feeling like an outsider looking in, never feeling a real sense of belonging, and I always thought I was the only one who felt like that.
Her writing beautifully captures the idea of feeling neither here nor there when it comes to wanting to categorize parts of our personal identity, and instead being at the borderline of multiple identities.
Reading Anzaldúa’s description of Chicano Spanish and how it helped meet the need for Chicanos’ to identify as a distinct people reminded me of spanglish, and of my own personal experience, because although it’s not just me that speaks this way, it serves as a reminder of who I am. I’m not exactly fully Latina or fully White, I am half and half and I’ve reached a point in my life where I’ve realized how proud I am to come from two distinct cultures and I don’t have to be one or the other to feel like I “fit in”. So, instead of sitting with the feeling of only being half of an ethnicity and not wholly fitting into one racial identity, I’ve learned that my racial identity is still whole and complete despite being made up of two racial backgrounds instead of one.
Jordan Rodrigues is an undergraduate student at Santa Clara University studying Ethnic Studies and Psychology.
structural racism and the depth of its impacts on Americans. Dr. Hazard weaves together how the anti-racist work of these anthropologists simultaneously sees an expansion of whiteness that opens up to encompass more immigrant groups and a deepening of racism as Jim Crow policies greet Black veterans returning from WWII. While America’s engagement in the momentous second world war is often seen as a heroic triumph that engenders deep patriotism and support of the nation, Boasians at War encourages us to take another look at what parading an American flag really means in this era of nationalism defined by racism.
In this book, Dr. Hazard conducts an important contextual survey of the landscape of America in WWII, wherein America’s role in and response to WWII present a one-of-a-kind backdrop for understanding these Boasians’ work as ground-breaking - precisely because they dared to disrupt the conventional formations of race in anthropology, as Americans, doing the work in America. Dr. Hazard’s work takes a deep dive into how the work of these anthropologists is shaped by their American-ness - to be raised and trained in a nation where structural racism is embedded into the foundation of economics, society, politics, and history upon which field of anthropology relies. Dr. Hazard deftly distills mountains of archival research to capture the ways in which the pivotal work of these American anthropologists during WWII is embedded in the 'Long Civil Rights Movement' beginning in the 1930s. By spending time in the specific and complex moment of WWII, Boasians at War illuminates a hidden history of how structural racism was understood and shifted by these American anthropologists and thinkers before it was tackled by the movements in the second half of the 20th century.
To hear more from the brilliant scholar, professor and researcher in his own words about his book Boasians at War: Anthropology, Race and WWII, the cover art, his forthcoming essay on whiteness studies and other topics along the way, give a listen to our conversation with Dr. Hazard.
To purchase a copy of either of his two single author books, please visit the links below or you can obtain a PDF copy by filling out the Google Form on the About page of this website.
would be little. Likewise, literature has taught me to ask and answer questions that may not be easily asked or answered - leading me to Political Science and Ethnic Studies, fields of study that both diagnose pessimism and prescribe optimism. After all, as Angela Davis once said: “Walls turned sideways are bridges.” And so I will continue to create and to communicate with gratitude to those who fought for my right to do so.
You can find Bound to Be on Instagram - we’re currently reading Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.
In Conversation with Rosa Clemente: Black and Brown Organizing Histories to Inform Revolutionary Resistance
“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories...”
-Amilcar Cabral, Revolution in Guinea: Selected Texts
Seasoned community organizer, activist-scholar, and independent journalist, Rosa Clemente, reflects in conversation with Maria Hinojosa from Latino USA on the urgencies of confronting anti-Blackness in Latinx communities and the importance of forging Black and Latinx alliances that can mobilize to resist and disrupt the assemblages of anti-Blackness, white supremacy and racial violence.
Drawing from her own personal experiences as a Black Puerto Rican woman with decades of experience as a community organizer in New York, Rosa reminds us of the importance of Black and Brown liberation struggles, of the histories of multi-racial solidarity and movement building that can inform our present and future. By describing the coalitions formed between the Brown Berets, the Young Lords and the Black Panthers, we are reminded that in unity there is strength. More than strength there is resistance, revolution and radical hope to carry forward movements for liberation and humanizing possibilities.
Noting the awakening of a racial consciousness among Latinx communities, including members of her familia, in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, Rosa calls upon us to engage in the disruption of anti-Blackness within Latinx communities, discourses and spaces. At the same time she reminds us of the importance of setting boundaries, even within our own families, to ensure that the radical revolutionary work of organizing for systemic change goes beyond the interpersonal. Political discernment of when and where, and how to push and resist, even among those most close to us, is a necessary strategy to sustain racial justice activism and organizing.
As the founder of the Black-Latinx Organizing Project, a non-profit committed to challenging anti-Blackness in Latinx communities, Rosa urges us to dive deep into our own colonial past and mindsets -- to unsettle and uproot the internalized racial logics that produce soul-wounds, both within individuals and communities -- and that keep us from actualizing racial justice and the humanizing affirmation that Black lives matter. In deconstructing the romanization of Latinidad, she urges Latinx to reckon with a history of colonial violence and the erasure of Afro-diasporic identities and experiences in the Americas.
Affirmed by the reflections of white privilege acknowledged by her brother, and in bearing witness to the activism and mobilizing of the younger generation, including her daughter, Rosa’s words -- along with her tears -- underscore that racial violence and anti-Black racism “has to end and our generation has to stop this.” Urging Latinx families to begin the process of deconstructing anti-Blackness within and among themselves, and at the kitchen table, Rosa affirms for us through her own personal experiences that radical revolutionary change and resistance begins through dialogue and connection. And indeed, in conversation.
Check out the work mentioned in the podcast, consider buying from a Black owned bookstore
Writings by Rosa Clemente
This fascinating conversation between Dr. Marc Lamont Hill and Dr. Imani Perry covers Perry’s recent work, process, overarching questions of the work, aspirations, rituals of writing, daily writing, and the contemporary literary renaissance. Perry speaks to working on multiple projects at once and accepting where we are with the work and the writing. It is clear through the questions he poses that Hill knows Perry’s writing deeply. He is a really wonderful interviewer and a conversationalist. This is what makes a podcast truly good—that one can listen and also fully imagine being in the space through the dynamic between the speakers.
Perry speaks to the process of writing her most recent texts, including (title and links.) On Breathe: A Letter to My Sons, Perry describes it as a “a three-part letter.” Perry explains that the text examines “what it means to come of age in this moment that is so fraught and so difficult.” She continues,
Written directly to her sons, the letter meditates on “how one fashions a life under difficult circumstances that can nevertheless be beautiful” and also “how to build a life that is deeply meaningful and in service to the world” as well as what it means for a Black child to have “to watch for how people are watching [them]” and how this speaks to the experience of being, at a young age, “burdened with managing White people’s anxieties.”
Later in the podcast, Perry discusses how reading is a critical process of writing and how beginning with a question allows for an openness in the process. In response to a question Hill poses about how her work that exists across disciplines and genres and traditions, Perry responds by articulating how “every piece of writing is a methodological exercise” and how the work has to be rooted in one’s own passion and connected to what one identifies as meaningful rather than the trajectories that academia can impose as the only routes or ways of doing and being.
In terms of the larger questions that guide her scholarship, Perry responds with two questions which reflect the role of processing pain to access possibility for and within Black community and intellectual space.
For Perry, the first question is:
Knowing the answer to this is necessary for liberation. The second question guiding the work for Perry is
In the podcast conversation, Perry cites Mariame Kaba’s approach that “hope is a discipline” as well as Hortense Spillers’s foundational essay, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book” (1987).
Check out the books mentioned in the podcast, all images are linked to Black owned bookstores
Work by Imani Perry
Marc Lamont Hill's Latest Book
Books referenced in this podcast