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A Commitment to/with/for The Damned - The Feminist Wire

A Commitment to/with/for The Damned

We, The Damned Collective, are delighted to host the work of The Damned. Below you will read a collective statement from The Damned Collective to/with/for The Damned. We ask that you read this seriously. Will you make Commitment to/with/for The Damned? We honor these words. We give gratitude for the gift of the Black Radical Tradition. #doitfortheDAMNED #doitfortheDAMMM


 

To radical scholars. To scholars who believe in freedom and cannot rest until it comes. To tenured and untenured faculty. To undergraduate and graduate students. To college dropouts. To organic intellectuals. To lecturers. To organizers. To poets. To artists. To people who love the PEOPLE. To those who are about the business of liberation in this worldthis time. To people we have yet to name, but know. We ask you:

  • Have you had the opportunity to practice liberation in your living recently?
  • Do you feel stuck? Like there’s nothing you can do?
  • Have you ever felt alone?
  • Ever thought, Why am I trying to get tenure/PhD/MA/BA…?
  • Ever thought, What/Who/How did I sacrifice for my position in the Academy?
  • Ever thought, How did I/we get here?

Over the last two weeks, you have been presented with some urgent essays, composed under the banner of The Damned, an homage to the 1973 text, Lessons From the Damned: Class Struggles in the Black Community, written by the Black Feminist Collective, The Damned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Introduction to the second edition, the authors write:

Lessons from the Damned was the beginning of our learning how to survive in this system. We were learning that what you don’t know will kill you. It was our self-consciousness that turned our ‘stupid’ self-destruction toward the real enemy. The fact that it would be read by others gave us inner peace and self-worth. That’s the power people like us never know because capitalism reflects us a worthless…We transformed together… (The Damned, 1973)

Today, we write to ask you to take/be part of our necessary for now collective transformation. This ask is not new (even if it may be new for you); we acknowledge the work of Black feminists, women of color feminists, trans men and women, queer, and other radical ancestors and present-day co-conspirators and agitators. We are EVERYWHERE–from Mississippi to Brazil–wherever YOU are right now. We are guided by Audre Lorde’s reminder, “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” We are attempting to build bridges here so that we may find our way from our often isolating and precarious positions within the academy, back to ourselves and back to WE radical love.

And we are cautioned by Black Feminist scholar Jennifer Nash when she writes, “Love, of course, is not wholly unproblematic political terrain: it can be deployed to shore up heteronormativity, to re-energize dominant narratives of romance, and to advance claims to power.” She goes on to state,

Although affect theory and queer theory are inextricably intertwined, the labor of constructing political communities around ‘public feelings’ and ‘communal affect’ has been a black feminist investment for decades…Indeed, black feminism’s visionary love-politics effectively and hopefully uses a refrain like ‘where is the love?’ and transforms it from a personal question about romantic love into a political call for transcending the self and transforming the public sphere.  (Jennifer C. Nash, “Practicing Love: Black Feminism, Love-Politics, and Post-Intersectionality”)

We aim to pursue and achieve this radical love-ethic through a commitment to, with, and for The Damned Collective. We offer this collective endeavor so that we can get to know better our collective and individual dreams. How have our individual and collective selves been crushed under the weight of this thing called The ACADEMY? Even in its most radical manifestations, people like us and not like us are harmed. People like us and not like us harm. We have to remember that it is okay for us to want something else, something beyond the binaristic options the Western Academy provides. So we ask that you read, share, and talk with others about this pledge. If it resonates with you, take this pledge for yourself.

Before making this commitment to/with/for The Damned Collective, appreciate yourself and the collective network potential. Choose a medium to “R&R”: Record and Reflect. Allow yourself to FEEL, HEAL, and be REAL.

  • I commit to myself, to my healing, knowing that my individual healing is connected to our collective healing.
    Reflect and Record: What do I have the capacity to do?
  • I commit to the cultivation of my deepest and biggest dreams, knowing that there is Divine Goodness in our visions. Reflect and Record: What do I envision myself achieving?
  • I commit to examining my relationship to institutional and (inter)personal harm. Reflect and Record: Is harm being enacted upon me? Am I harming someone else? Has harm been enacted upon me? Have I been harmed?
  • I commit to a self-analysis of where and how I am situated in the academy. Reflect and Record: What are my privileges? How can I leverage my privileges to achieve the goals of liberation? Whose liberation (Who are your People?)?
  • I commit to (re)learning and developing a classroom pedagogy that prioritizes critical thinking. Reflect and Record: How do I demonstrate that there are multiple ways to come to know a thing, anything? How do I question and lean into uncertainty with my students? How do I learn anew with students?
  • I commit to developing a deeper relationship with The Damned Collective (2018). Reflect and Record: What would you like to build? What kind of support do you need? How might The Damned Collective help make you manifest those visions?
  • I commit to _______________________________________.
    Reflect and Record: What additional commitments do I need to make for myself and my community.

 

We acknowledge and honor who WE are, the power that WE have in this moment. A commitment to The Damned is a commitment to yourself that names only one of our many current conditions. So we call ourselves The Damned in 2018 and in 1973, but we might use other names in the future. There are indeed other names circulating right now for this collective of people and the WERQ WE be doing: Emergent Strategy, Black Queer Feminism, Generative Somatics, Love with Accountability, Southerners on New Ground,and a Mobile Homecoming for the GAWDS!

WE come in many ways and our names may change, but we remain committed always to the work. We will not let names limit our capacity for being and becoming anew. The names we carry allow us to expand in our consciousness and in our radical praxis of LOVE. We carry with us the names of Harriet Tubman, The Combahee River Collective, The Crunk Feminist Collective,  Assata Shakur, Ella Baker, Essex Hemphill, Blake Brockington and all of the future generations who have yet to have the space to name themselves.

In the words of The Mandate written by Mary Hooks: “The mandate for Black people in this time!/ Is to avenge the suffering of our ancestors!/ To earn the respect of future generations!/ And be willing to be transformed in the service of the work!”

Are Y’all willing to be transformed in the service of the WERQ?

Take a pledge for yourself and with your fellow Damned!

#doitfortheDAMNED #doitfortheDAMMM


The Damned Collective (2018), is a collective and an organizing strategy working to combat the isolationists tactics of the University structure that prevents people who believe in transformation and freedom from getting to know themselves and each other differently, al(l)ways.  The University extracts both our intellectual and emotional labor. We organize here on behalf of our emotional labor, which is constantly being extracted violently through a kind of identity politics. You will hear more from The Damned (2018) in January 2019!


In the meantime, check out the pieces that have been published in the last few weeks in solidarity with  The Damned Collective (2018)

Don’t forget to take a moment to read the pledge and sign on!

#doitfortheDAMNED #doitfortheDAMMM


You can find more about us/WE here:

Email: lettersfromthedamned18@gmail.com

IG: The Damned (damned.the)

Twitter: The Damned (@TheDamned13)


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