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3 Takeaways from Angela Davis

In lieu of our Her Campus chapter's regularly scheduled bi-weekly general body meetings, we decided to watch the Kennedy Political Union event with Angela Davis. Angela Davis is a well-known civil rights leader. Davis is most well-known for her participation in the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and her important work on race, class, feminism, and the prison-industrial complex. 

During the event, Davis was asked questions by the AU Dean of the School of Education, Cheryl Holcomb-Mccoy. The questions were submitted by the Kennedy Political Union, the School of Education students, Women's Initiative, AU Student Government, and AU Students for Justice. 

Here are my three key takeaways from the event with Angela Davis: 

Abolition is more important now than ever. 

Angela Davis discussed how her politics and theories of prison abolition are related to the 2020 political climate. Her main point was that reform is clearly not enough for the prison-industrial complex because activists have been trying to reform prisons since the 1960s and it has only gotten worse. She correlated this with the current Black Lives Matter Movement fighting for reform within the policing system. Police officers have only gotten worse over the years and the current political moment we are in shows that, according to Davis. 

“Diversity and inclusion is important but what about justice?” - Angela Davis

Angela Davis is asked what academic institutions can do and she responds by saying that Diversity and Inclusion programs are not enough. The issue with Diversity and Inclusion programs is there is no justice within this framework. The structures that are responsible for the lack of diversity and inclusion are not changing or transforming. It is just a band-aid on a bullet wound. The double-edged sword is that education is necessary to transform attitudes but the education system is currently not doing its job and it reproducing systems of inequality and racism. This makes me wonder, like the prison industrial complex, does the academic-industrial complex need to be abolished to stop its harm or is it still possible to be reformed?

"All of us have been influenced by racism and racist ideologies, despite our racial background" - Angela Davis

Anglea Davis was responding to a question about Ibram Kendi's concept of anti-racism, when she stated that, "All of us have been influenced by racism and racist ideologies, despite our racial background." This is a key component to becoming an anti-racist, acknowledging your connection with racism, and looking to challenge that relationship. White allies and People of Color alike have been impacted by racism. Racism isn't a non-white issue as it is often portrayed. White folks have a direct relationship with racism and reproducing its effects and white folks need to put in the constant work to be an anti-racist.

Want to learn more about the topics Angela Davis discussed? Consider reading the Combahee River Collective, Freedom is a Constant Struggle. and follow My Little Queer Library for free resources. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Media: 1, Her Campus Media Library

Abby Henry, the President of Her Campus at American, uses she/her pronouns. She is a junior at American University studying Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Sociology. Her hometown is Canton, Ohio and she previously attended Syracuse University in New York. Her passions include but are not limited to transnational feminism, vegan chicken nuggets, and queer reproductive justice.
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