On Getting My House in Order

At all times we should try to set an exemplary example of the type of [personhood] we are advocating: self-determining, strong, sensitive human beings” (Gidra, qtd in Pulido, 2006, p. 205; italics my own).

Pulido’s chapter “Patriarchy and Revolution” spoke the most to me as it illuminated the ways in which activist communities are capable of reconstituting the very relations they/we are attempting to dismantle – racism, white supremacy, patriarchy, sexual violence, heteronormativity, and so forth. I think questions about how to heal the self, of understanding, as Incite reminds us that “the revolution starts at home” must be addressed. In short, we must decolonize our minds (see Perez, 1999). Recently, The Crunk Feminist Collective (CFC) posted a blog devoted to this question. They drew from Toni Cade Bambara’s essay, “On the Issue of Roles”, where Bambara argues: “If your house ain’t in order, you ain’t in order.” CFC followed with this analysis:

“Talk about crunk. Bambara gives the side eye to the notion that you can attack capitalism, racism, or other systems of dominance out in the world without challenging those same systems (especially hetero-patriarchy) within one’s own relationships. That, in fact, leaving your own house “out of order” not only jeopardizes but it, in fact, undermines both your potential for good work and your potential for intimacy and happiness. Indeed, for me, Bambara’s call for us to essentially get our ish together charges us to recognize how important—how revolutionary—it is for us to love (and love on) each other and ourselves fiercely and fearlessly.”

While academic and community work can serve to both highlight and inform our theoretical and practice analyses of systems of power and domination, there is less of an emphasis, particularly in academia, on healing and recovering from our own experiences with physical-emotional violence(s). Feeling questions are rarely asked in academia. How can we work to heal ourselves? How can we put our house in order?

More broadly, Pulido’s text raises a number of interesting questions: what role can (or should) nationalism play, if any, in social movements oriented toward liberation? (How) Can white people serve as effective allies in people of color led movements for social change? (How) Does Pulido’s text help us to better understand the “politics of solidarity” and, therefore engage in coalition building?

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