Tag Archives: Racism

The Purpose of Power – by Alicia Garza. August 2022

On Monday August 29th 2022, from 7.30-9.30pm at The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud (GL5 1DF), Stroud Radical Reading Group will discuss Alicia Garza’s book The Purpose of Power: How to build movements for the 21st Century (discounted copies are available from a local bookshop – click the previous link/see below).

Our events are free to attend, though we will collect donations to cover the costs of venue hire on a donate-what-you-can-afford basis. We try to ensure the discussions are welcoming to new people, including people who have never been to a reading group before – and you don’t have to have been to university. You don’t even have to have read any of the book – you can just come along and listen to the discussion. Some free resources including a sample chapter we’ll focus our discussion on are included below though, and we’d encourage people to read/listen to as much as they can ahead of the session.

Black Lives Matter began as a hashtag when Alicia Garza wrote what she calls ‘a love letter to Black people’ on Facebook. But hashtags don’t build movements, she tells us. People do.

Interwoven with Garza’s experience of life as a Black woman, The Purpose of Power is the story of how she responded to the persistent message that Black lives are of less value than white lives by galvanizing people to create change. It’s an insight into grass roots organizing to deliver basic needs – affordable housing, workplace protections, access to good education – to those locked out of the economy by racism.

It is an attempt not only to make sense of where Black Lives Matter came from but also to understand the possibilities that Black Lives Matter and movements like it hold for our collective futures. Ultimately, it’s an appeal to hearts and minds, demanding that we think about our privileges and prejudices and ask how we might contribute to the change we want to see in the world”

– Publisher information about the book

We will focus our discussion on Chapter 1 – which is available free. We encourage people to buy a copy of the book and read as much as possible, but appreciate not everyone can afford this in terms of either money or time – or may prefer audio/visual content. Below we provide links to another excerpt from the book, and two interview with Alicia Garza (one a video, the other text), which are all freely available.

The Exchange has step-free access. We will keep windows open for ventilation, hand sanitiser is provided, and we ask people who are ill to stay away (whether they are ill with covid or something else). Attendees do not generally wear masks but we will be respectful to anyone who chooses to and other members may wear masks at request of other attendees – let us know your preferences in advance. Please contact us if you have any accessibility requirements – or other questions about how the events work.

Resources

The Black Panther Party – a graphic novel history. 23rd July 2022

On Saturday 23rd July 2022, from 7.30-9.30pm, Stroud Radical Reading Group will meet at The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud to discuss David F. Walker and Marcus Kwame Anderson’s graphic novel history of The Black Panther Party (discounted copies are available from a local bookshop – see below).

Our events are free to attend, though we will collect donations to cover the costs of venue hire on a donate-what-you-can-afford basis. We try to ensure the discussions are welcoming to new people, including people who have never been to a reading group before – and you don’t have to have been to university. You don’t even have to have read any of the book – you can just come along and listen to the discussion. Some free resources including a sample chapter we’ll focus our discussion on are included below though, and we’d encourage people to read/listen to as much as they can ahead of the session.

The Exchange has step free access, but please contact us if you have any accessibility requirements – or other questions about how the events work.

“Founded in Oakland, California, in 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was a revolutionary political organization that stood in defiant contrast to the mainstream civil rights movement.

This gripping illustrated history explores the impact and legacy of the Panthers, from their social, educational, and healthcare programs that were designed to uplift the Black community to their battle against police brutality through citizen patrols and frequent clashes with the FBI, which targeted the Party from its outset.

Using dramatic comic book-style retellings and illustrated profiles of key figures, The Black Panther Party captures the major events, people, and actions of the party, as well as their cultural and political influence and enduring significance.”
– Publisher information about the book

We’ll focus our discussion on Chapter 3: Birth of the Panthers, which you can read online or download as a pdf below (some of the text may be a little blurred, apologies). The sample chapter is made freely available under fair use rules to ensure everyone can participate. However, we’d encourage everyone to read as much of the book as possible, if you are able to afford a copy.

Resources

Click to buy a copy from The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop – add the book to your basked, click to ‘view your basked’, where you’ll see a ‘coupon code’ option – enter code “StroudRadical”, then proceed to the checkout where £1.92 will be taken off the RRP of £15.9 to make the price to pay £14.07 (before any delivery costs – you can pick up for free from Nailsworth, Chalford or Tetbury).

If you prefer audio, or would like to add to your reading, try this podcast where David F. Walker speaks about the book with Alyssa Milano for her Sorry Not Sorry podcast.

Chapter 3 – together with the cover and some of the introductory pages:

July 21st 2021: Zami by Audre Lorde

Our next session will be on Wednesday 21st July, 7.30-9.30pm on Zoom (contact us for details).

We will discuss Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde on 21st July. This is the second in a series of three texts on Feminism, to be followed by Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici (August 18th). Full details for that session to be added to the website ASAP. In June we discussed Lola Olufemi’s Feminism, Interrupted – Disrupting Power (click to catch up with free excerpts/audio-visual content).

Order the book from the Yellow Lighted Bookshop. Once you’ve ordered the book(s) you want, enter “StroudRadical” to the “Coupon Code” box at the checkout, click “Apply Coupon” – and the bill will be reduced by 10%. You can then either collect from Nailsworth, Tetbury or Chalford shops, or have the book(s) delivered by RoyalMail or the Bike Drop (£3.50 for delivery.

Audrew Lorde was an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist. Zami is a “biomythography”, a term coined by Lorde that combines “biography” and “mythology”. As well as Lorde’s life, the book explores racism, lesbianism, mother-daughter relationships, and McCarthyism (accusations of treason related to Communism, named after the US Senator and the ‘red scare’ era of 1940s and 1950s America).

“A little black girl opens her eyes in 1930s Harlem, weak and half-blind. On she stumbles – through teenage pain and loneliness, but then to happiness in friendship, work and sex, from Washington Heights to Mexico, always changing, always strong. This is Audre Lorde’s story. A rapturous, life-affirming autobiographical novel by the ‘Black, lesbian, mother, warrior poet’, it changed the literary landscape.”

– from the Penguin Classics edition

There is a 50 minute audio recording of Audre Lorde reading excerpts of the book and speaking about her life available on YouTube (at the link and embedded below).

Want to read more? You can read Lorde’s 1980 paper “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” (pdf) at the link.

October 28th – “The Black Jacobins”

On October 28th we will discuss “The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo revolution” by C.L.R. James. The discussion will take place on a Zoom video call – please register (free) to access the details and be sent a reminder on the day.

In Black Jacobins, CLR James provides the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1794-1803 and the story of the French colony of San Domingo. It is also the story of Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the black people of San Domingo in a successful struggle against successive invasions by overwhelming French, Spanish, and English forces – helping to form the first independent nation in the Caribbean, and inspiring anti-colonial movements around the world.

The book obviously contains considerable references to the brutality of enslavement, and to racist ideas and commentary.

The full text of The Black Jacobins is available online for free in different formats. We encourage people to read the whole book, and as much as possible if not.

For those who know they will only have time for a section, our introducer Jeremy Green recommends Chapter 2 – The Owners. Click below to download Chaper 2 and introductory pages.

Black Jacobins as full text .pdf or .mobi files via link

This is the third session in our Geographies and Histories of Racial Capitalism series – but readers are welcome to join if they have not attended previous events.

September 30th 2020 – The Many-Headed Hydra

As part of our series of discussions exploring Geographies and Histories of Racial Capitalism (monthly online events till November 2020), on September 30th 2020 we discussed “The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, slaves, commoners, and the hidden history of the revolutionary Atlantic” by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker.

Read a summary of The Many-Headed Hydra and our discussion on Amplify Stroud.

The full text of The Many-Headed Hydra is available online as a pdf, and as ever we encourage people to read as much of the book as possible.

We focussed our discussion on the Introduction and Chapter 6 – “The Outcasts of The Nations of The Earth” – download this section as a .doc text file.

Marshaling an impressive range of original research from archives in the Americas and Europe, the authors of The Many Headed Hydra explore the foundations of our modern global economy, and show how ordinary working people led dozens of rebellions on both sides of the North Atlantic. The rulers of the day called the multiethnic rebels a ‘hydra’ and brutally suppressed their risings, yet some of their ideas fueled the age of revolution. Others, hidden from history and recovered here, have much to teach us about our common humanity.

Chapter 6 explores the the “structure of New York’s commerce”, at a time of slavery and imperialism – part of what the authors call their recovery of a “lost history of the multiethnic class that was essential to the rise of capitalism and the modern, global economy”. As Sukhdev Sandhu writes in his 2001 review of the book for The Guardian: “A central chapter of the book is concerned with what came to be known as the New York Conspiracy. In March 1741, radicals set fire to New York. Fort George, the prime military fortification in British America, was reduced to ashes. Soon, other metropolitan landmarks were torched. These were no random conflagrations. Lying on the west side of Manhattan, Fort George was a site of huge strategic importance for the Atlantic trade and a nodal point of the Britain-Africa-Americas triangle. Slaves and slave products were imported there. It was also populated by a swarm of people whose labours underwrote the city’s wealth, but who themselves were wholly despised.”

The chapter places the events of 1741 in context of a cycle of “multiracial conspiracies” and rebellions of the 1730s and 1740s, and notes how repression of these led to the promotion of “a white identity” in order to “produce new discipline and a different solidarity”.

Content warning: this chapter includes an image of a painting entitled “The hanging of an African in New York”. The book as a whole features other images of this nature, as well as some graphic descriptions of (racist and/or sexual) violence, and quotes historical racist texts.

This event will be followed by two further discussions exploring Geographies and Histories of Racial Capitalism:

October 28th – “The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo revolution” by C.L.R. James

November 25th – “(B)Ordering Britain: Law, race and empire” by Nadine El-Enany.

Geographies and Histories of Racial Capitalism. SRRG 2020 series 3

Between July 29th and November 25th, Stroud Radical Reading Group will host a series of discussions exploring Racial Capitalism. Each of these events will be held on the last Wednesday of the month, 7.30-9.30pm – online via video call (we will continue to assess when it may be appropriate to host indoor events). You will need to register for the events via Eventbrite in order to access details of the video calls (this is free, will prevent any ‘trolling’ of calls, and enable reminders).

As ever, Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements. We aim to make the sessions a welcoming space for anyone interested in the topics. You do not need to have a university education or have ever been to a reading group before, and we even welcome people who have not read the text but would like to listen to the discussion. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to know more about how the sessions are run. If you are on Facebook, please also join our Facebook group.

July 29th – Geographies of Racial Capitalism with Ruth Wilson Gilmore

We will start this series by focussing our discussion not on a text but on a 17 minute Antipode Foundation film – “Geographies of Racial Capitalism with Ruth Wilson Gilmore”.

For those who wish to read a short text to accompany this video, we recommend “Black matters are spatial matters: Black geographies for the twenty-first century (pdf)” by Camilla Hawthorne. Referencing the work of Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and the Black Radical tradition, this paper explores how “scholars of Black Geographies insist that racism and capitalism are fundamentally intertwined and that this relationship is both structured by and structuring of space”.

September 30th – “The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, slaves, commoners, and the hidden history of the revolutionary Atlantic” by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker

The expansion of trade and colonization in the early seventeenth century launched the first global economy, a vast, diverse, and landless workforce was born. These workers crossed national, ethnic, and racial boundaries, as they circulated around the Atlantic world on trade ships and slave ships, from England to Virginia, from Africa to Barbados, and from the Americas back to Europe.

Marshalling an impressive range of original research from archives in the Americas and Europe, the authors show how ordinary working people led dozens of rebellions on both sides of the North Atlantic. The rulers of the day called the multiethnic rebels a ‘hydra’ and brutally suppressed their risings, yet some of their ideas fuelled the age of revolution. The full text of The Many-Headed Hydra is available online as a pdf. We will focus our discussion on the Introduction and Chapter 6 – “The Outcasts of The Nations of The Earth”, but please read as much of the book beyond this as you are able to. For more details of the event: Many Headed Hydra.

October 28th – “The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo revolution” by C.L.R. James

CLR James provides the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1794-1803 and the story of the French colony of San Domingo. It is also the story of Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the black people of San Domingo in a successful struggle against successive invasions by overwhelming French, Spanish, and English forces – helping to form the first independent nation in the Caribbean, and inspiring anti-colonial movements around the world.

The full text of The Black Jacobins is available online as a “.mobi” ebook file. We encourage people to read the whole book, and as much as possible if not. More details of this event: The Black Jacobins. Download the intro and Chapter 2 as a pdf via the link below:

November 25th – “(B)Ordering Britain: Law, race and empire” by Nadine El-Enany.

(B)ordering Britain argues that Britain is the spoils of empire, its immigration law is colonial violence and irregular immigration is anti-colonial resistance. The British Empire, about which Britons know little, can be remembered fondly as a moment of past glory, as a gift once given to the world. Meanwhile immigration laws are justified on the basis that they keep the undeserving hordes out.

Bordering Britain argues that – no matter what the law, media and political discourse dictate – people with personal, ancestral or geographical links to colonialism, or those existing under the weight of its legacy of race and racism, should have every right to come to Britain and take back what is theirs.

We will focus our discussion on the introduction to Bordering Britain – available free online (pdf) as a sample chapter from the publishers. You are welcome and encouraged to read more, but we appreciate that the £20 price tag for the hardcover book (and sadly the e-book version as well) may be unaffordable – which is why the focus of our discussion will be on the freely available text.

#MeAndWhiteSupremacy Book Circle, based on Layla Saad’s anti-racism workbook

On Wednesday 17th April at Black Book Café, 7.30-9.30pm, members of Stroud Radical Reading Group are invited to join a #MeAndWhiteSupremacy Book Circle, based on Layla Saad’s workbook (Facebook event).

This session is not like our other reading group sessions, so it is important you read the text below before attending – this details how the session will work, who is welcome to attend, and a shared commitment to agreements about the purpose of the session and the responsibilities of those attending. Our plans for SRRG sessions from May – July, which cover different topics and will not involve the arrangements detailed below, will be shared on this website shortly.

As the final session of our series for the start of 2019, we will be working together as a group to take a clear look at the different multifaceted aspects of white supremacy and how they operate in both subtle and direct ways within ourselves, and within others.

This session is not like our other reading group sessions. Though sometimes we welcome people who have not read texts to listen and even contribute, in this case we are asking that only those who have read at least pages 1-72 of Layla Saad’s “Me and White Supremacy Workbook” attend (the workbook is availabe free online via this link). The session, like Layla Saad’s workbook, is for any person who holds white privilege – meaning persons who are visually identifiable as white, white-passing, or holding white privilege – which is a distinction we would not normally make. The group meeting will follow the structure outline in The Circle Way, as stipulated by Layla Saad (read pdf of The Circle Way guidelines here).

Though The Circle Way has similarities with our usual approach, it will be slightly more formal than usual – more details below. A key aspect is that we will agree on the purpose of the session and how we conduct ourselves during it beforehand (these notes themselves have been agreed by three of us).

This session is for people who are ready to work on this: people who want to create change in the world by activating change within themselves first. It is not, as is often the case with our sessions, about whether we liked the content or style of the workbook, how it relates to other work, or our criticisms of it.

One agreement we will make is to share responsibility for the best possible outcome, with the best possible outcome being that as a result of doing this work, we will be better placed to, in Layla Saad’s words “question, challenge and dismantle the system of white supremacy”, and “show up better for Black people, Indigenous people and People of Colour”.

Like our usual sessions, this is a one-off, two-hour meeting (at Black Book Café, 7.30-9.30pm, Wednesday 17th April). This limits the extent to which we can cover the range of topics covered in the workbook. If, having completed the workbook and session, there are people who wish to continue to meet to work through further aspects, we are open to helping to arrange this.

Aims:

  1. to hold up a mirror to people who hold white privilege to look at white supremacy head on (instead of sideways, broadly or intellectually), and begin to tell the truth about how this system of oppression manifests within yourself on a personal level
  2. the loftier goal is to help us to become better ancestors for those who will come after us, given the opportunity to disrupt the systems that have kept so many people marginalised and oppressed

Principles:

  1. Leadership rotates among all circle members
  2. Responsibility is shared for the quality of experience: We are responsible for each others’ wellbeing and trust, as well as our learning. We need to be able to be vulnerable for this topic to work.
  3. Reliance is on wholeness, rather than on any personal agenda: We will succeed or fail as a group. If one person derails the conversation, everyone gets less out of it. If everyone is able to be open and honest, we all have the opportunity to learn.

Agreements:

  • We hold all stories or personal material in confidentiality
  • We listen to each other with compassion and curiosity
  • We ask for what we need and offer what we can
  • We agree to employ a group guardian to watch our timing and energy
  • We agree to pause at a signal when we feel the need to pause
  • We keep each other accountable and name white fragility and other defensive responses respectfully.
  • We hear this naming in the compassionate spirit it is given – we are all here to learn.
  • We avoid derailing of the conversation away from the aims above. We all share responsibility for keeping to these aims.

We will ask people to be honest and hope to create a space where they feel comfortable to do so. The meeting is not about blame or shame but about noticing behaviours and holding each other to account. We ask that everyone attending takes responsibility for observing when White Fragility, White Exceptionalism, or White Apathy appear. At certain points of the meeting there will be opportunities to reflect on this, and to respectfully challenge each other.

Practices:

  1. Speak with intention: noting what has relevance to the conversation in the moment
  2. Listen with attention: respectful of the learning process for all members of the group
  3. Tend to the well-being of the circle: remaining aware of the impact of our contributions

The meeting will take place as follows:

Arrival from 7.30pm (please do not be late, we will start promptly at 7.40pm)

7.40pm – Welcome and opening message, including a reminder of the intention and guidelines

7.45pm – Check-in: We will allow everyone a few minutes to say how much of the workbook they have already completed, and why they decided to attend – which could include a reflection on how they found doing the journaling. We will start with a volunteer and proceed around the circle. If an individual is not ready to speak, their turn is passed and another opportunity is offered after others have spoken

8.15pm – We will allow everyone a few minutes to talk about their response to a journaling question of their choice from the first six in the workbook, taking turns in a circle (What have you learned about You & White Privilege? What have you learned about You & White Fragility? What have you learned about You & Tone Policing? What have you learnt about You & White Silence? What have you learnt about You and White Superiority? What have you learnt about You & White Exceptionalism?). You are welcome to bring notes if you prefer.

8.45pm – We will open up the conversation – allowing each other to reflect on the comments others have made and respectfully keep each other accountable and name white fragility and other defensive responses.

9.15pm – Closing: We will allow a few minutes for each person to comment on what they learned, or what stays with them as they leave – which could include how they have found the session, and whether they would prefer to continue the work in a group or individually.

9.30pm – We will close the formal meeting. Before each new section we will have a few minutes silence to refocus.

Thank you for reading, we hope to see you on Wednesday,

“Natives: race and class in the ruins of Empire” by Akala

Our second reading of 2019 will be on Wednesday 20th February, 7.30-9.30pm at Black Book Cafe at the bottom of Nelson St: “Natives: race and class in the ruins of Empire” by Akala. We ask for a donation of £1-3 to cover the costs of the venue, and – though anyone is welcome to listen – we request that the discussion is focused on and mainly involves those who have read the text.

The reading forms a part of our mini-series: “Britain: Class, Race and Gender in past, present and future”.

In Natives, Akala takes his own experiences – with education, the police, identity and everything in between – and uses them to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today. From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers; race and class have shaped Akala’s life and outlook.

We will focus on Chapters 5 and 6 (“Empire and Slavery in the British Memory (pdf)” and “Scotland and Jamaica (pdf)”, pages 123-168) of this best-selling book by BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip hop artist, writer and social entrepreneur Akala.

A PDF of the full text of Natives can be read and downloaded online.

Facebook event page: Natives by Akala.

There is a wealth of material from Akala online, including his music and a number of lectures, in the video below, Akala presents Natives at the Edinburgh International Book Festival: