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25th February 2021

Review: Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis

Bana Kaswani considers Angela Davis’s Freedom is a Constant Struggle in light of the Black Lives Matter Movement
Review: Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis
Photo: Bana Mustafa @ The Mancunion

Angela Y. Davis is queer, Black, an activist, author, speaker, and scholar. She advocates for women’s liberation, Black liberation, prison abolition, and an international solidarity with Palestine. Davis works to enlarge our perspective on the vast geographies and temporalities of these issues in Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement.

Confronting structural racism, police brutality, and the prison-industrial complex are at the forefront of today’s activism, especially with regards to the Black Lives Matter Movement. In 2014, pictures from the Ferguson protests circulated the internet. At the same time, Palestinians were facing a brutal fifty-one day assault in Gaza. 

From the viral photos, the Palestinian people recognised that the same tear gas that was being used against them was also being used against the Ferguson protestors. In response, many tweeted advice and statements of solidarity to those in Ferguson. This crafted a space for transnational solidarity on a virtual medium. Crucially, it also gave momentum to a movement that investigates Western, neoliberal global systems of oppression. 

Davis’s book is a compilation of her interviews, speeches, and essays put together by Frank Barrat, a human rights activist, and herself. She discusses the importance of dismantling structural racism, not merely on an institutional or individual level, but also on a transnational level. Davis argues for transnational solidarity as an effective form of resistance in the face of racist neoliberal enterprises, that govern the everyday livelihoods of people of colour. 

Often reading about race and the systems that perpetuate racism is quite dense and difficult. My summary might have unintentionally come off that way as I refer to the book’s content. However, the read is actually extremely accessible. It is written in a simple yet engaging manner. 

Davis’s book is digestible because it is split up into several different sections. Each section is different in voice from the last. Some are Davis’s speeches, and others are her essays and interviews. Yet, the content does tend to be quite repetitive. So, I would recommend that you read this book over an extended period of time. 

Some of the best takeaways from Freedom is a Constant Struggle are its emphases on the importance of community, of foregoing individual efforts, and of always acting as if you can change the world. After all, if Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglas, or Ida B. Wells narrowed their focus to the impact of their individual contributions, we would not be here today. 

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