Book Review: Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis

“…the greatest challenge facing us as we attempt to forge international solidarities and connections across national borders is an understanding of what feminists often call “intersectionality.” Not so much intersectionality of identities, but intersectionality of struggles.”

Be ready to set aside everything you thought you knew about freedom, struggle, intersectionality, marginalization, and the likes.

Angela Y. Davis’ nonfiction text, Freedom is a Constant Struggle, is a short, but powerful read that packs an intellectual punch. Davis focuses on the idea that people need to band together for the multitude of social issue fights.

FCS’s Format: If you are already familiar with Davis’ form of writing, then you will be anticipating a read that uses an academic style. For this book, it is not the case; however, it does not take away from the mission.

With the short length of her book, it is easy to think that she is failing to cover many of the most poignant aspects of the “struggle fight”. However, it is too easy, if you are thinking too hard, to not “pick up what she’s puttin’ down”.

Compiling a series transcripts from events she participated in over the past few years, Davis asserts why marginalized issues of today need to continually be addressed, and how to create solid foundations to actively approach this.

Quotes that I loved…

Our struggles can’t be confronted alone:

Davis in more ways than one, emphasizes the importance of ridding ourselves of the viewpoint that effective movements that create change can only happen with a solitary leader or solitary perpetrators where all can look unto that person as the messiah or as the villain; “we do not now need the traditional, recognizable Black male charismatic leader…we deeply appreciate [Martin and Malcolm for their] historical contributions, but we need not replicate the past (85).”

Besides, when we take this individualistic approach of recognizing necessary change, we actively overlook the fact that “women have always done the work of organizing Black radical movements…(86).”

Universal categories of equality continue to perpetuate marginalization.

“The ‘all-embracing slogan, ‘All Lives Matter,” are often embracing a strategy that glosses over the particular reasons why it is important to insist quite specifically on an end to racist violence…the extent to which such universal proclamations have always bolstered racism. More often than not universal categories have been clandestinely racialized (87).”

Final Thoughts:

There are so many other important points that Davis brings up in order for her readers to understand the necessary steps to address many of the social changes that need to happen. Most importantly she highlights what I call the importance of knowing who your common enemy is, and using that to build a foundation of fighters that don’t just focus on what their struggle is.

We are more powerful in numbers. I don’t have many cons, but if you are someone who is easily agitated by repetition of ideas, then be ready for that, but don’t let it deter you from reading this great work.

I really enjoyed this book because it was really well written, repeated important ideas, and worked as a foundation to working towards social change.