If one were to type “Angela Davis quotes” into their Google search engine, they would never find my favorite. That is because I believe the most profound thing Angela Davis has said is “According to W.E.B Dubois.” These words reside on page eighty- nine of her groundbreaking book, Women, Race, and Class, and initiate one of the many conversations she has with the reader on the intricate connection gender, race, and socioeconomic status have with each other. In the chapter that Davis alludes to W.E.B Dubois, titled “The Meaning of Emancipation According to Black Women,” Davis debunks any belief that a universal battle for women’s rights satisfies women that are racially and socially marginalized.
Now, “According to W.E.B Dubois” is significant to me because it highlights the importance of Black leaders and their legacy. Davis used Dubois’ account on the convict lease system to build her account on the lack of intersectionality, the lack of liberation of Black women, within feminist movements. She used the work of other Black people bold enough to share their truth so her legacy would involve millions of people living in their truth. That is exactly what her work has done for me. Once anyone begins to view specific movements through a lens where multiple demographics must be represented, it is very challenging to stop doing so. This has allowed me to live in my truth, to never let any movement – any space – lack a perspective that would bolster the impact. Although Angela Davis did not coin the term “intersectionalism,” her contributions laid the groundwork for the consideration of making spaces account for diverse perspectives. Her book, Women, Race, and Class, exposes the aggressive effects of homogenous women’s rights movements, homogenous Black rights movements, and homogenous working-class developments.
With Angela Davis’ motivation, I have cultivated spaces where intersectionalism is more than an idea. At the community events I have organized, for gun violence and suicide prevention, I ensured there was a platform for Black and Latinx people, as well as transgender people, to voice their unique experience with gun violence. In my school’s diversity quarterly, of which I am chief editor, I have searched for perspectives that not only highlight a specific culture or race, but I dive deeper. I look for the varying gender or sexuality perspectives in a culture and how unique that experience is.
In any Black creator and leader’s work, “according to” is an honor. “According to” is a connection. “According to” is a prevailing legacy. So when Angela Davis uses “according to” to take something already large and make it grander by highlighting the ignored perspectives, I feel the obligation to do the same. Her contributions are a beacon for the people that will change the world; and the people who will change the world are the ones that understand it cannot be done without intersectionality. “According to” are the two words that link the ignored perspectives to a world- altering shift.