Book Notes: How We Get Free

How We Get Free by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Ed.
Read Jan 13, 2021 - Jan 27, 2021

How We Get Free is a collection of interviews with some of the women that authored the Combahee River Collective Statement. As interviews often are, it is a little uneven and occasionally repetitive, but also gives us a less polished, more “real” look at the humans and the stories behind the historic collective and manifesto.

The book also includes a conversation with Alicia Garza, a Black feminist from a different time, but whose work builds on and resonates with the Combahee River Collective’s work.

The more interesting parts for me were the glimpses into the messiness of activism and organizing. It served as a reminder of just how much ongoing relational work and struggle underpins this kind of activism.

Book Highlights

As an early group member once said, “We are all damaged people merely by virtue of being Black women.”

My perspective, and I think it was shared, was let’s not name ourselves after a person. Let’s name ourselves after an action.

Now whether they were completely woke - to use a contemporary term — who is, and are we ever?

Our value systems were not shaped primarily or initially by the airless ideological sectarianism of the white European male left.

And I think the reason I say that it was such a contribution in general is because when I think about the approaches toward certain oppressions or whatever you want to call them - for example, if someone’s a socialist, it’s only about economics. It’s only about work. It’s only about material conditions. It’s only about capitalism. And it’s often only about men.

Because my mother was a person who didn’t even believe in voting, but she believed in the union. Because that was on the ground. She could see what happened when she showed up, as opposed to dropping your vote in the void.

Most truly radical organizations, when you’re that - when you’re the edge of that sword — you burn out.

People calling each other “queen” - it’s like, “Do not call me that!” I don’t - I’m not associating with royalty.

Tags: books

« Older entries · Newer entries »