Get answer

d8

Attachments

6

Twenty-One Affirmations for the Twenty-First Century

When we wrap up a semester-long course on race-related issues, we frequently find that our
students feel a bit overwhelmed by all that they have learned. Most are so troubled by the
extent to which structural racism pervades US society that they feel almost paralyzed. They
want to be part of the solution, but they don’t know where to begin. Before closing, we offer
instructive encouragement and some final food for thought to help you grow the movement
for racial equality.


1. We Are Leaderful

The contemporary Movement for Black Lives has been critiqued as leaderless and thus
unorganized and unsustainable. These critics are missing the mark on more than one account.
First, movements of the people are built on and sustained by collective activity. Movements
are not like group projects at your school or job, where “the work can still get done” by one
ardent member while others slack off. This movement will be sustainable so long as a critical
mass of people come together in any variety of ways to publicly advocate for the value of
Black life.
Second, we’ve been hearing since at least the 2003 protests against the US invasion of Iraq

that movements were starting to look disorganized because seemingly disparate issues would
take the stage together at a single event. That is, at an antiwar march, we might have seen
environmental conservationists critique the United States’ dependence on oil alongside
socialists castigating Halliburton and other corporations for making money off
noncompetitive wartime contracts. What some people fail to understand is that social
movements are rarely, if ever, focused on one single issue or goal. What may be different in
contemporary social movements is the conscious strategy to publicly articulate the
connections among racism, patriarchy, disregard for the planet, capitalism, and the industrial
complexes of prison and war. The willingness to incorporate these strands into a narrative for
social change is in no small part due to the growing resonance of the politics of
intersectionality. These movements are not unorganized because there is more than one
message; on the contrary, the multiplicity of messages is what is being organized. The
politics of intersectionality does not compel one to discipline speech or behavior so that only
one issue gets addressed at a time. One is instead disciplining oneself to be mindful of the
“matrix of domination”1 and to keep that mentality when countering police brutality,
gentrification, and budget cuts to subsidized school lunch programs.

Stay Woke : A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter, edited by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, and Candice Watts Smith, New York University Press, 2019. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/du/detail.action?docID=5839299.
Created from du on 2020-06-16 15:56:49.

C
op

yr
ig

ht
©

2
01

9.
N

ew
Y

or
k

U
ni

ve
rs

ity
P

re
ss

. A
ll

rig
ht

s
re

se
rv

ed
.

Lastly, there is no one way to lead; we must dispel this myth. Not every leader is an orator
or a natural in front of the camera. Leaders are people who motivate, who organize, and who
do grunt work so that collective activity has momentum. Leaders make contributions and
share ideas. Dependence on the presence of charismatic figures subliminally suggests that
there are few leaders among us, but this is not true. The misguided belief that leadership is
scarce entrenches elite representatives who either are addicted to power and looking for any
justification to continue to wield power or would like to walk away from power but are afraid
that their efforts and accomplishments will be squandered if no one steps up to shepherd
them to the next level. We can teach children how to be leaders, and we can mentor adults to
become more influential and cooperative. One of the most important things we can do as
leaders to ensure the progression of this social movement is to train the next generation and
follow confidently behind.

Children out front, 2006 Chicago May Day March / Day Without an Immigrant. (Photo by Tehama Lopez
Bunyasi)


2. Racism Is Tyrannical, and Democracy Is Fragile

Democracy is a radical concept because it asserts that we are all entitled and expected to
participate in governance. This precious idea, that every person should have a voice in the
political sphere, took millennia to cultivate. The United States of America, however, only
became a robust democracy in 1965, when the federal government began to actively enforce

Stay Woke : A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter, edited by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, and Candice Watts Smith, New York University Press, 2019. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/du/detail.action?docID=5839299.
Created from du on 2020-06-16 15:56:49.

C
op

yr
ig

ht
©

2
01

9.
N

ew
Y

or
k

U
ni

ve
rs

ity
P

re
ss

. A
ll

rig
ht

s
re

se
rv

ed
.

the law of the land through the Voting Rights Act. This policy called for almost every adult
citizen, regardless of race, to exercise the right to vote as guaranteed by the Fifteenth
Amendment, which was written into the Constitution ninety-five years earlier. Up until that
time, white supremacists at the state and local levels resisted the extension of the franchise
to African Americans at every turn. Their idea of democracy was a herrenvolk democracy,2
one in which the population is stratified, with only the white majority treated as “equals,” and
everyone else excluded from participating in a government of self-rule. Nevertheless, people
of color resisted and taught the next generation to believe in and act on their natural right to
be counted alongside everyone else.
Democracy is also very fragile. When we form majorities and coalitions, it is often our

inclination to make decisions that are best for those who are on our team, but this cannot
come at the expense of oppressing others. As we write, we are troubled by the idea that this
country is slipping toward new iterations of herrenvolk democracy. Indeed, the Noble Prize–
winning economist Paul Krugman declared that it is not “economic anxiety” that poses the
greatest threat to US democracy today; it’s “white nationalism run wild.”3 If the ascension of
Donald Trump to the presidency is not evidence enough for you, consider the efforts of many
state legislatures to further disenfranchise citizens of color now that an important feature of
the Voting Rights Act has been eliminated. We must resist this inclination and instead find
ways to make decisions that neither infringe on the rights of others nor require us to make
compromises that undermine the creation of a more equitable society.


3. Progress Is Not Inevitable

Frederick Douglass famously said that “power concedes nothing without a demand.”4 These
are the words spoken by someone who intimately knew the culture of white supremacy
against which he advocated the freedom and franchise of Black people and women of all
races. Relatedly, people often point to Martin Luther King Jr.’s assertion, “the arc of the
moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”5 When people today echo this part of his
speech, it concerns us that they interpret it to mean that progress is inevitable and guided by
providence but that the speed at which it progresses depends on the push of human agency.
This may very well be what he wanted us all to hear. But when we listen to his speeches, we
imagine something else: a man galvanizing the spirit of social justice because he believes that
the free will and conduct of women and men is what makes our world a moral one and that
our human souls are capable of such good things.
King, Douglass, and many other egalitarians were passionate about getting people

activated for social justice because they believed work and commitment over time were
necessary ingredients of social change. (Even physicists have shown that power =
energy/time.) They did not trust that the momentum of any one era would carry on to the next
or that the agenda of one administration would proceed naturally to some next coherent step.
(Physicists also remind us of inertia.) Waiting around for white supremacists and their
acquiescent partners to change their mind was not acceptable. There was no “right time”—

Stay Woke : A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter, edited by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, and Candice Watts Smith, New York University Press, 2019. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/du/detail.action?docID=5839299.
Created from du on 2020-06-16 15:56:49.

C
op

yr
ig

ht
©

2
01

9.
N

ew
Y

or
k

U
ni

ve
rs

ity
P

re
ss

. A
ll

rig
ht

s
re

se
rv

ed
.

they made their own time. This is our time to push for new ways of valuing one another, for
investing in one another, and for being more humane with one another. There will never be a
time riper than right now.


4. We Don’t Need to Be Perfect. We Need to Be Political.

For unfortunate reasons, antihegemonic movements in the United States tend to center their
campaign for rights and equality around people who they believe are virtuously above
reproach. Granted, this strategy has afforded different movements some successes, but it has
consistently left those who are considered “deviant” at the margins of society. This
movement is our opportunity to change this unreasonable standard. We are not perfect, and
we should not have to be perfect in order to have our basic rights recognized. People of color
and poor whites are often expected to conform to middle-class white norms in order to be
deemed acceptable or sufficient or simply to belong. Well, here’s a radical statement: We all
belong here! We all have rights, and nothing should compromise our entitlement to those
rights. If we are Black, we have rights. If we are poor, live in housing projects or trailer
parks, we have rights. If we have same-sex sex, we have rights. If we apply for welfare
benefits, we have rights. If we are single mothers, we have rights. If we use and/or abuse
substances, we have rights. If we had an abortion, we have rights. If we wear hoodies, we
have rights. If we sag our pants, we have rights. If we play our music really loud when we
drive by in our cars, we have rights. If we are Muslims, we have rights. If we are atheists, we
have rights. If we are fat, we have rights. If we wear turbans, we have rights. If we cannot
make bail, we have rights to due process. Believe it or not, if we are in this country without
proper documentation, we still have some rights that must be recognized. If you say you
stand for justice and cannot envision yourself defending the civil and human rights of
society’s most marginalized people, then you need to rethink just what it is that you stand for,
because it isn’t equality. It’s all of us or none of us. You need not be an angel to either be an
agent of change or to be regarded with dignity, respect, and humanity.


5. Interrogate Meritocracy

I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that
people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.

—Stephen Jay Gould6

It is high time that we realize that while hard work and talent are important ingredients for
opportunities and advancement, there are many individuals with mediocre skills and personal
characteristics who hold advantaged positions. Moreover, there are many folks whose hard
work and talent will never be recognized, and by no fault of their own. When people explain

Stay Woke : A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter, edited by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, and Candice Watts Smith, New York University Press, 2019. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/du/detail.action?docID=5839299.
Created from du on 2020-06-16 15:56:49.

C
op

yr
ig

ht
©

2
01

9.
N

ew
Y

or
k

U
ni

ve
rs

ity
P

re
ss

. A
ll

rig
ht

s
re

se
rv

ed
.

racial inequality in terms of hard work, discipline, talent, and other virtues, they are touting a
myth. The racialized myth of meritocracy empowers people to claim that whites work
harder, are more responsible, value education more than others, and inherently possess the
kind of values that make for good leaders, good home owners, good students, good police,
and good Americans. This is a dangerous belief system.
We are not saying that we shouldn’t value hard work or that we shouldn’t want to apply

ourselves in order to achieve our goals, be they ambitious or modest. Instead, we ought to
realize that there are other factors that inform the life chances of Americans, and many of
them have nothing to do with who people are as individuals. The circumstances of your birth,
the social networks that are made available to you, the kinds of schools you go to, the
financial status of your family—these all inform whether and what kind of opportunities
become available to you. Be proud of your hard work and be proud of the talents that make
you who you are. But bear in mind that this is not all that matters in the calculus of your
success and that many people enjoy the best material and political standing in our society by
little, and sometimes no, effort of their own.


6. Children Are Our Barometer

There are a lot of ways to measure how well a society is doing. When gauging the
egalitarianism of our society, we’d like to encourage you to ask how the children of our
country are faring. Remember, children do not get to choose the circumstances of their birth
and childhood. They don’t get to choose the financial status of their families or where they
live. They do not get to pick their ascribed race or gender, even though many people will
treat them on the basis of these characteristics. Children do not get to vote and do not get to
make decisions about who should represent their interests. They have little say in the culture
that they are born into. They are not allowed to legally work, and many of them, given their
age, cannot literally speak for themselves.
Advocating for the equitable well-being of children is one of the most effective ways to

make an argument for racial justice; so many of the rationalizations of and justifications for
inequality are predicated on the myth of meritocracy, and this logic gets entirely thrown out
the window once we start talking about children. How can they possibly be held accountable
for the realities they have been immersed in? They have not realized their full potential,
though the political choices of adults widen or narrow the path for them to do so. As adults,
we should be making decisions that best support the growth and possibilities of our society’s
children. Indeed, it is our responsibility to do so even if we do not have children ourselves.
If we want to know how our society is doing, take a look at statistics about children. You’ll

learn where we are and, perhaps more importantly, where we’re headed. How many kids are
born into poverty, and who are they? Are babies of a certain racial group living to see their
first birthday at a higher rate than those of another? How many words are in their
vocabulary? Which languages do they speak, and are they authorized to use them in the
classroom? Who is attending public schools, and are all public schools meeting the needs of

Stay Woke : A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter, edited by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, and Candice Watts Smith, New York University Press, 2019. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/du/detail.action?docID=5839299.
Created from du on 2020-06-16 15:56:49.

C
op

yr
ig

ht
©

2
01

9.
N

ew
Y

or
k

U
ni

ve
rs

ity
P

re
ss

. A
ll

rig
ht

s
re

se
rv

ed
.

the children? Are the kids at the private school getting a leg up? How many young citizens
are denied access to developmental resources because their parents are undocumented,
deported, locked up, formerly incarcerated, or dead? To what extent are adolescent behaviors
legislated into adult crimes? How many children are behind bars? How many young people
go hungry over the summertime and during school breaks? Do our children ever meet people
of a different racial background? How many people under eighteen years old have lost a
family member, friend, or classmate to gun violence? How many are allowed to preregister to
vote before their eighteenth birthday? Have they all been empowered to make positive
change in this world?


7. Reappropriate the Language of Morality

It is reprehensible that racial identity is an indicator of well-being in the United States. It is
unacceptable that the law provides substantial room for police and citizen vigilantes to shoot
and kill unarmed Black people without major legal repercussions. It is unconscionable that
majority Black and Brown public schools are underfunded and overcrowded. It is shameful
that politicians are more excited about being “tough on crime” than they are about being
“serious about education.” It is downright deplorable that a nation such as the United States
has the greatest military on earth but has neither universal pre-K nor universal health care. It
is reckless to act with sloth-like reflexes, or no reflexes at all, to ensure that the water being
delivered to a town and its schools is not full of lead. It is downright immoral not to care
what happens to whole groups of people—children, poor people, Black people, women,
LBGTQ+ people, justice-involved individuals, refugees, and so on.

Stay Woke : A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter, edited by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, and Candice Watts Smith, New York University Press, 2019. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/du/detail.action?docID=5839299.
Created from du on 2020-06-16 15:56:49.

C
op

yr
ig

ht
©

2
01

9.
N

ew
Y

or
k

U
ni

ve
rs

ity
P

re
ss

. A
ll

rig
ht

s
re

se
rv

ed
.

Twitter: Black women’s values.

The contemporary Movement for Black Lives is a moral movement because it asserts that
the lives of those who have been marginalized the most should be valued as much as the most
privileged members of society. By virtue of simply being alive, they should matter. Each
person’s life is so unique, precious in possibilities, and finite in its existence here on earth,
and that is not to be trifled with.
We who advocate for policies and practices that protect the freedoms and enhance the

well-being of marginalized people need to use the language of morality with full conviction.
It is, after all, the native tongue for those who want to do the most good for the most people.
By virtue of free speech, racial conservatives can invoke morality when they defend the
reckless behavior of unprofessional police or rationalize the stinginess of public funds that
could be used to help those who are in the most need, but we must not allow them to
monopolize it.


Stay Woke : A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter, edited by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, and Candice Watts Smith, New York University Press, 2019. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/du/detail.action?docID=5839299.
Created from du on 2020-06-16 15:56:49.

C
op

yr
ig

ht
©

2
01

9.
N

ew
Y

or
k

U
ni

ve
rs

ity
P

re
ss

. A
ll

rig
ht

s
re

se
rv

ed
.

8. Read Widely
These days it is easier than ever to immerse ourselves in an echo chamber. Hearing one’s
own voice and the familiar voices of others again and again is incredibly comforting, but it
can also give us a false sense of consensus and power. One simple way to resist this
encroaching insularity is to make time to read beyond the headlines of a news outlet that you
wouldn’t ordinarily look at. What topics does it believe are worth bringing to your attention?
How is it framing the major issues of the day? What arguments is it making, and do you
concur?

Standing in the cotton field of Mrs. Minnie B. Guice near Mount Meigs in Montgomery County, Alabama,
this woman reads the Southern Courier, a newspaper dedicated to reporting the stories of the civil rights
movement, 1966. (Photo by Jim Peppler; Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Be intentional about reading the stories and analyses of people who have a different racial
identity than you do. What can you learn from them? Does their point of view on a certain
issue cause you to call your previous understandings into question? Despite the differences of

Stay Woke : A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter, edited by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, and Candice Watts Smith, New York University Press, 2019. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/du/detail.action?docID=5839299.
Created from du on 2020-06-16 15:56:49.

C
op

yr
ig

ht
©

2
01

9.
N

ew
Y

or
k

U
ni

ve
rs

ity
P

re
ss

. A
ll

rig
ht

s
re

se
rv

ed
.

your racial experiences, are there places where your ideas converge?
If we are to strive for a more inclusive society where the lives of Black people matter fully,

we must be attuned to the many types of perspectives that shape discourse about Black life.
Let’s do more talking and engaging with and less talking at and past one another.


9. Beware of Woker-than-Thou-itis!

Striving to be educated around issues of social justice is laudable and moral, but striving to
be recognized by others as a woke individual is self-serving and misguided. So, to those of
you who are making a competition out of racial consciousness and progressive politicking,
please get over yourself! You know who you are. Go on now and be useful to the causes you
believe in by taking all your woke knowledge and making it translatable to working with
others. Sometimes working with others means “meeting people where they’re at” to see if
you can have a meaningful conversation in which you speak your piece and attempt to
understand where the other person is coming from. Who knows, you might actually learn
something from them. Speaking down to someone or trying to outperform your fellow allies
by being the first person to “call someone out on their privilege” or by striving to write the
most searing quip on your favorite social media platform to gain “likes” is ultimately an ego-
enhancing activity. Any activist or any social creature is susceptible to trying to best even
those people whom they value the most. Let us all (Candis and Tehama included) orient
ourselves to advocate passionately, compassionately, and in the spirit of the collective. If in
our efforts to speak and act effectively we achieve some level of eloquence and are given
praise, we can be grateful for those kind words and sentiments, and we should convey our
praise and appreciation to others when so moved. First and foremost, however, let us ask
ourselves how, when, and where we can do the most good.


10. Yield Silently to Those Who Are Seldom Heard

We can transform relationships of power by transforming how we relate to one another. One
of the ways we can do this, according to the political theorist Vince Jungkunz, is through
“silent yielding”—or an intentional restraint of speech coupled with active listening that
“encourages participation from historically oppressed voices, and participation from
historically inept listeners.”7 Possessors of privileged status commit a kind of identity suicide
when they discipline themselves from speaking first, longest, loudest, and repeatedly in order
for those of lesser social status to be heard and considered. By taking a position of “political
and epistemological humility,”8 the yielder creates new opportunities to differently
understand and relate to the marginalized speaker. This practice is not meant to dispossess the
yielder of having a role in a conversation or decision-making process; rather, the purpose is
to transform the role and relationships that that yielder has with others in their shared social

Stay Woke : A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter, edited by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, and Candice Watts Smith, New York University Press, 2019. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/du/detail.action?docID=5839299.
Created from du on 2020-06-16 15:56:49.

C
op

yr
ig

ht
©

2
01

9.
N

ew
Y

or
k

U
ni

ve
rs

ity
P

re
ss

. A
ll

rig
ht

s
re

se
rv

ed
.

context. By undoing the discursive colonialism of whiteness, maleness, and other hegemonic
identities, silent yielders can help create more democratic and egalitarian relationships. At
times, it may not be clear who has a more privileged status; in these circumstances, people
should do their best to hear from all who are present. For those underrepresented people who
want to speak, please speak for yourself; everyone else, please understand that they are
speaking for themselves and not as ambassadors for their race, their gender, or their
economic class.


11. Second-Class Citizenship Must Be Eradicated

Over 700,000 people in the United States are denied substantive representation in the United
States Congress and are required to seek congressional approval before their local
government adopts budgets and laws simply because of where they live: Washington, DC.
Crazy, right? What’s even more absurd is that there are more people living in Washington,
DC, than there are in Vermont or Wyoming! For centuries, Americans have largely accepted
this disenfranchisement as a quirky state of exception. But let’s think about this irony. Why
should anyone be denied full rights as an American citizen as a function of calling the
nation’s capital one’s home? We should furthermore be outraged that power is being denied
to a jurisdiction whose largest population has been and continues to be Black (about 47
percent; lest gentrification completely change these figures in favor of whites). In 2016, 86
percent of DC voters cast ballots in favor of statehood. The people have spoken, but
Republicans and Democrats refuse to treat the matter as a priority.
A more complicated matter that is worth being critical over is the status of Puerto Rico, the

US Virgin Islands, Guam (which sometimes finds itself under threat of bombing due, in part,
to the forty-fifth president’s tweets), the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa,
among other territories. The matter of these citizens’ vote is more difficult to advocate for
given the lack of unanimity as to whether these jurisdictions should become states. These
regions are vestiges of a colonial empire, and they remain in a state of disenfranchisement
because of the complacency around their state of exception. If they want to become states,
they should. If they want to be fully represented in Congress, they should.9

We must also remember that many of those who have been convicted of a felony,
depending on where they live, may never get their voting rights back. There is nothing
inherent in US law, history, or ethos that says it must be this way. Also remember that those
who are in prison or jail at the time of the census are counted in the district of the prison or
jail in which they are incarcerated and not from their hometown or place of residence before
incarceration. Since most prisons are located in majority-white, rural areas, this means that
communities of color are being underrepresented in Congress and that white communities are
being overrepresented. If this doesn’t sound very different from the Three-Fifths
Compromise, which enhanced the representation of white people in the antebellum South, it
shouldn’t. The white privilege of redistricting just got a makeover.

Stay Woke : A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter, edited by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, and Candice Watts Smith, New York University Press, 2019. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/du/detail.action?docID=5839299.
Created from du on 2020-06-16 15:56:49.

C
op

yr
ig

ht
©

2
01

9.
N

ew
Y

or
k

U
ni

ve
rs

ity
P

re
ss

. A
ll

rig
ht

s
re

se
rv

ed
.

In this 1899 cartoon, “School Begins,” the artist editorializes the expansion of the United States’
territories as a necessary extension of civilization to an otherwise-uncivilized world. The pouty new
pupils in lessons of self-government are the Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. The …