Commentary on Patricia Hill Collins' Lecture

Rachel Lopo
11-01-16
WGS 4120 & EDAH 5970
Critical Reflection #3
Dr. Edwards & Dr. Davidson

The central argument of Patricia Hill Collins’ lecture was how power operates within a system where racism is seen as a thing of the past. Hill Collins asserts that we in fact do not live in a post-racial society and that we cannot rest and be idle if we wish to change the system which promotes the degradation of people of color.

Hill Collins also notes the importance of allyship and the impact supporters of movements like Black Lives Matter have on challenging the current ideology that we live in a post- racial society. The first step in challenging this ideology she stated, is to recognize that the idea of postraciality, or in other words, living in an almost utopian society where everyone is “colorblind” is not a realistic notion.

This idea of “colorblindness” which many might argue is the most idealistic answer to racial injustice is ineffective because it does not address the imperativeness of taking action in order to rectify the issue. Hill Collins discussed the importance of taking action in regard to resisting anti- black racism. She suggested that many forms of taking action can be seen in everyday modes of activism, and that in many cases (even in the Black Lives Matter movement) black women tend to be at the center of these movements.

Prior to the Hill Collins lecture, I was aware of the importance of taking action and promoting resistance to racial injustice, but I had never really seen the various movements through a black feminist perspective before. A great deal of literature on the issue of anti- black racism and the movements which aim to resist the notion focus mostly on the lives of black men and tend to leave out the perspectives of black women.

Considering black women are leaders of many of the social justice movements, it seems absurd to leave out such a large piece of the dialogue surrounding these said movements. Thus far, the readings we have done in this class have done a fine job of incorporating the perspectives of black women on issues which effect the entire black community, not just the men alone.

Hill Collins brought up the pertinence of intersectionality in regard to supporting social justice movements. Many of the course readings have focused on the importance of intersectionality when considering the problems faced by marginalized groups. Mariana Ortega’s work in particular is one that I believe works well in tandem with Hill Collins’ work. Both works comment on the reality of intersectionality as feeling as though one lives on the margins of many different groups.

In addition to intersectionality, Hill Collins highlighted the effectiveness of taking action both inside and outside of the academic sphere. She asserted that some of the most successful protest groups and social justice movements focus on both formal education within institutions of higher education as well as engaging the public and local communities to take part in supporting their cause.

Steps that one can personally make as an individual which can contribute to the success of anti- racist movements do not necessarily have to be huge gestures. Hill Collins suggested that simply creating a space for people of color to be heard is tantamount in making sure that anti- racist movements are effective. She stated it is also important to remember that movements such as Black lives Matter should be centered around the black community and for white allies to take a step back and be careful not to take over the movement. Thinking about the bigger picture as Hill Collins stated is the first step in taking a part in any social justice movement.