January – June 2017
I started a community intellectual monthly reading group named “Rethinking Social Justice.” It was an idea that emerged near the end of my first quarter in MACS. I was getting so much theory out of my readings and class discussions and I wondered why they had to be relegated to the university. I imagined that there were other people in the community chewing on the following questions:
How do I be in the world?
How do I be in community?
How do I love people who disagree with me?
Here’s the preliminary list of topics I brainstormed:
- Reclaiming our Right to Theorize
- Performativity of Activism
- Class Shame
- What is Intersectionality
- What is Neoliberalism
- Beyond Marginalization
- Decolonizing Queerness
- Against Individualism
- Disability Justice
- Utopian Performative
When I shared my idea across social media, I was hoping one or two people would step up and offer to facilitate with me. While I received several notes of interest, nobody had the time or interest to collaborate on this project. So, I went forward with it on my own, collecting readings for the first few topics, finding a free space to meet, and sending out planning and reminder emails. Here are the readings for the inaugural meeting:
- “Theory as Liberatory Practice” – bell hooks
- “Elena Ferrante and the Politics of Deference” – Fredrik deBoer
- “The Anti-Intellectualism of the Social Justice Community is Killing Us All” – Scot Nakagawa
In Schensul’s piece “Challenging Hegemonies,” Advancing Collaboration in Community-Based Participatory Action Research,” the authors argue that it is the responsibility of the social scientist/scholar to share their technical tools with community to create new openings and expand conversations with more voices. I see myself as a catalyst in this space, learning as I lead and listen to other activists in fields separate from the academy.