But it is not enough to stand on the opposite river bank, shouting questions, challenging patri­archal, white conventions. A counterstance locks one into a duel of oppressor and oppressed; locked in mortal combat, like the cop and the criminal, both are reduced to a common denominator of violence. The counterstance refutes the dominant culture's views and beliefs, and, for this, it is proudly defiant. All reaction is limited by, and dependent on, what it is reacting against. Because the counterstance stems from a problem with authority - outer as well as inner - it's a step towards liberation from cultural domination. But it is not a way of life. At some point, on our way to a new consciousness, we will have to leave the opposite bank, the split between the two mortal combatants somehow healed so that we are on both shores at once and, at once, see through serpent and eagle eyes. Or perhaps we will decide to dis­ engage from the dominant culture, write it off alto­gether as a lost cause, and cross the border into a wholly new and separate territory. Or we might go another route. The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react. (Borderlands 1987: 100)

Many women and men of color do not want to have any dealings with white people. It takes too much time and energy to explain to the down­ wardly mobile, white middle-class women that it's okay for us to want to own "possessions," never having had any nice furniture on our dirt floors or "luxuries" like washing machines. Many feel that whites should help their own people rid themselves of race hatred and fear first. I, for one, choose to use some of my energy to serve as mediator. I, think we need to allow whites to be our allies. Through our literature, art, corridos and folktales. We must share our history with them so when they set up committees to help Big Mountain Navajos or the Chicano farmworkers or los Nicaragüenses they won't turn people away because of their racial fears and ignorances. They will come to see that they are not helping us but following our lead. (Borderlands 1987: 107)


I reached a point where I felt out of balance from all of the anger, the fighting, from a kind of hypermasculine way of being /and/ the hyperaggressive stance that I was compelled to take as an activist—from being against this and against that, and fighting this and fighting that. Intuitively, I realized that I needed an infusion of more feminine and spiritual and creative and healing energies to come back into balance. –Fania Davis

I think our notions of what counts as radical have changed over time. Self-care and healing and attention to the body and the spiritual dimension —all of this is now a part of radical social justice struggles. That wasn’t the case before. And I think that now we’re thinking deeply about the connection between interior life and what happens in the social world. Even those who are fighting against state violence often incorporate impulses that are based on state violence in their relations with other people. / We can’t simply assume that somehow, magically, we’re going to create a new society in which there will be new human beings. No, we have to begin that process of creating the society we want to inhabit right now. –Angela Davis

(The Radical Work of Healing: Fania and Angela Davis on a New Kind of Civil Rights Activism. Yes! Magazine)


If Baldwin had a central political argument, it was that the destinies of black America and white were profoundly and irreversibly intertwined. Each created the other, each defined itself in relation to the other, each could destroy the other. America’s “interracial drama” had “not only created a new black man, it has created a new white man, too.”

“Freaks are called freaks and are treated as they are treated – in the main, abominably – because they are human beings who cause to echo, deep within us, our most profound terrors and desires.”
Most of us, however, do not appear to be freaks--though we are rarely what we appear to be. We are, for the most part, visibly male or female, our social roles determined by our sexual equipment.
But we are all androgynous, not only because we are all born of a woman impregnated by the seed of a man but because each of us helplessly and forever, contains the other--male in female, female in male, white in black, black in white. We are a part of each other. Many of my countrymen appear to find this fact exceedingly inconvenient and even unfair, and so, very often, do I. But none of us can do anything about it.”(Here be Dragons in The Price of the Ticket: 828)

Robert Jones: Baldwin was wrestling with new epiphanies and ideas as he laid this out. Had not accounted for the idea that sex and gender were not limited to male and female. Could not yet imagine gender identity as a sociopolitical reality. But he was getting at some baseline things that sort of helped begin to grasp at the roots of trans-antagonism and the silences around it, particularly as they related to capitalism and very misguided and simplistic Western notions about human identity, human nature, and human sexuality.


The problem of the oppressed in a colonial system has a material basis. Any attempt to solve it with protective legislation, administrative, or police measures, through education or by a road building program, is superficial and secondary as long as the figure of the oppressors continues to exist.

The assumption that the Indian problem is ethnic is sustained by the most outmoded repertory of imperialist ideas. The concept of inferior races was useful to the white man’s West for purposes of expansion and conquest. To expect that the Indian will be emancipated through a steady crossing of the aboriginal race with white immigrants is an anti-sociological naivete that could only occur to the primitive mentality of an importer of merino sheep. The people of Asia, who are in no way superior to the Indians, have not needed any transfusion of European blood in order to assimilate the most dynamic and creative aspects of Western culture. The degeneration of the Peruvian Indian is a cheap invention of sophists who serve feudal interests.

The tendency to consider the Indian problem as a moral one embodies a liberal, humanitarian, enlightened nineteenth-century attitude that in the political sphere of the Western world inspires and motivates the “leagues of human rights.” The anti-slavery conferences and societies in Europe that have denounced more or less futilely the crimes of the colonizing nations are born of this tendency, which always has trusted too much in its appeals to the conscience of civilization. ... Humanitarian teachings have not halted or hampered European imperialism, nor have they reformed its methods.