We refused to cave In

Sept. 24th, 2015 – “We refused to cave In”: Gender, Race, Class, and Decolonial Intersectionality in the Young Lords’ Liberation Politics

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Darrel Wanzer-Serrano
Assistant Professor, The University of Iowa

Based on a chapter from The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation (Temple University Press, 2015), this talk engages the process by which the Young Lords shifted from an organization rooted in the idea that “machismo” could be “revolutionary” to one that rejected machismo as a product of a racist/sexist/imperialist/capitalist system. The Young Lords advanced a nuanced and cutting-edge critique of the intersectionality of oppression and extended their analysis from the internal workings of the organization to society at large. The transformation ushered in by this “revolution within the revolution” was not instantaneous, however. Rather, there was significant struggle within the organization that first led to policy and leadership changes. Once the Young Lords advanced the rejection of machismo in their official platform, it opened space for the emergence of a gay and lesbian caucus and coalitional politics with lesbian, gay, and trans* activists, like Sylvia Rivera. Their intersectional perspective was central, I argue, to a kind of decolonial critical politics that eschewed a focus on rights in preference for attentiveness to and claims for liberation. In this framework, which is also advanced by most scholars of de/coloniality, liberation is an alternative to emancipation—the latter of which relies on claims to recognition that fortify the legitimacy of the modern/colonial system. Liberation, then, seeks a liberty delinked from classical liberalism, mindful of affiliations and fraternal connections, and guided by an ethic of decolonial love, even as colonial wounds can never fully heal.

About the book:

The book summary and a blurb by Andrés Torres can be found on the Temple Press website here: http://www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/2346_reg.html

The publicity manager at Temple is Gary Kramer and can be reached at gkramer@temple.edu.

Author/Speaker Long Bio:

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano (PhD, Indiana University) is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Public Advocacy in the Department of Communication Studies, and founding member of the Latina/o Studies Minor Advisory Board, at the University of Iowa. His research is focused on the intersections of race, ethnicity, and public discourse, particularly as they relate to formations of coloniality and decoloniality in the United States. He recently completed a project on the New York Young Lords with the first scholarly monograph on the organization, The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation (Temple University Press, 2015). He also edited The Young Lords: A Reader (New York University Press, 2010), a sourcebook of primary texts on the group; and he has published numerous articles on the organization and other topics. Darrel is currently working on a new book project, tentatively titled Possession: Crafting Americanity in Congressional Debates over Puerto Rico’s Status, which examines the formation of coloniality and the rhetoric of Americanity within the first twenty years of US entanglement with Puerto Rico.