Near the opening of her lecture, Angela Davis shouted, “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains,” a famous phrase found in the Communist Manifesto, setting the tone for the rest of the event.
Davis was invited to appear as the fall speaker by the Lectures Coordination Board. The event took place on Oct. 19 in the Alexander G. Hill Ballroom, and sold out in a single day.
Macalester’s event description noted that “Angela has been deeply involved in our nation’s quest for social justice through her activism and scholarship for the last half century. Through the years, her work as an educator has emphasized the importance of building communities of collective struggle for racial, economic and gender justice.” Davis spoke on race, capitalism, feminism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As a communist, Davis expressed strong disagreement with America’s capitalist structure.
“Racism and capitalism are systematically connected,” she said.
“Capitalism itself comes from colonialism,” and continued, explaining that this system “excludes most of the planet.”
The economic consequences of capitalism, according to Davis, are devastating.
“Capitalism facilitates the creation of populations that no longer have the means with which to live.” She also remarked that efforts to destroy welfare are “an apparatus of state violence.”
Davis also commented on the racism that underlies American society.
“The very notion of humanity with which we work is internally racialized, for the human has always been assumed to be white and male,” she said.
Transitioning to feminism, Davis rejected so-called “white-feminism” – referring to it as the “white, bourgeois feminist movement.”
Further, Davis identified carceral feminism, or “hav[ing] the criminal justice system protect and serve women who are victims of rape and other forms of male violence,” as another type of feminism with which she disagreed.
“Gender violence is the most pandemic violence in the world but you can’t get rid of violence by using violence,” Davis said. “Feminism should be about dismantling hierarchies.”
Finally, Davis touched on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She asserted, “Israel is the only settler colonial state that continues to expand.” Subsequently, Davis proposed, “demilitarization and disarmament of the police as well as the military.” Davis also disagreed with the dialogue surrounding the conflict, arguing, “everyone has a right to criticize governments.”
“Angela Davis’s speech was distinct from the other different speeches that I’ve seen here at Mac,” Margaret Moran, ’21 said. “I was impressed when she exclaimed, ‘We need to say what we want,’ because I feel like modern politics idealizes compromise with the opposing parties and being modest and humble about one’s opinions, so I really appreciated her championing this ideology of authentic, unfiltered expression.”