Blog Post

Where are we going?

 

Dear HASTAC Scholars Community,
 
From here on out, Kalle Westerling and I, as your Co-Directors will approach you bi-weekly prompting you with a question to generate a lively and conclusive blog. Below I have provided some context and what I hope will serve as inspiration. This week's theme "Where do we go from here?" takes up Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s poignant and revolutionary question. 
 
Prompt:
 
On August 16, 1967 in Atlanta, Georgia, the revolutionary, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech that questioned, "Where Do We Go From Here?" at the annual meeting of the 11th Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Throughout the speech, Dr. King challenges what I see as a colonized notion of power, rooted in a western philosophical tradition. He states:
 
"What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best…power at its best is love, implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love."
 
What we learn from Dr. King, and many other brilliant souls, is that power is able to be used to love and to revolt. We also learn that power is not inherently bad or evil. Last spring, the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center, CUNY held an event apart of our University Worth Fighting For Series, entitled “Teaching as Social Justice.” There the astonishing and world-renowned abolitionist geographer, Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore, made a similar claim--calling us to see power in its full sense and not what she calls a “fatally weak understanding of the word 'power'.” Gilmore also disrupts another very weak understanding about power; and that is, that power is something only located within the realm of the bad guys and that what other people have is agency. Contrarily, Gilmore (2016) explains power as a collaborative effort and she says, “Power is the capacity to get someone to do something that they couldn’t do on their own.” Gilmore corrects this colonized logic surrounding power by stating, "power and difference as they construct relations of dependency that are radical, are good things, not bad things...and [when] we are equally dependent on each other, which means collectively, we have a lot of power." I get at a similar point in my 2015 blog, "(Un)bordered Emancipation of the Activist/Academic “divide”: A Different Type of Discipline" when I talk about the act of, "uniting dissimilar energies" (which I later referred to as "bundling") to "bring forth collective balance, powerful completion and shared abundance." This too, is about a different, decolonial, use of power towards emancipatory ends.

Thus, with these wisdom(s) in mind, how do we move forward as a collective group of HASTAC Scholars to utilize power in a time that for many of us might feel inimical to empowerment? Where do we go from here as we conclude the Fall 2016 semester and look towards a new year at the horizon all while keeping in mind changes in the United States’ leadership and the implications that this may have on the planet? What are the fertile grounds for which power can take root and flourish into real, loving, reciprocal and committed change? How can we move away from simple notions of love that remain to be paired with the use of power and what are the ways that we can resist wallowing in and pitying our predicaments-- engaging in what Dr. King saw as merely “sentimental” and “anemic” outcomes? Instead, I ask you to meditate on the above and write a blog to express how you all, as HASTAC Scholars, might create the powerful conditions for radical revolution to pollinate this network as well as other institutions and organizations outside of the HASTAC community.

 

References

Allison Guess. Comment on "(Un)bordered Emancipation of the Activist/Academic 'divide': A Different Type of Discipline." Critical Ethnic Studies (web log), September 1, 2015. http://www.criticalethnicstudiesjournal.org/blog/2015/9/1/unbordered-ema....

King, Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. "Where Do We Go From Here?" Speech, 11th Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Atlanta, GA.

The Futures Initiative. Accessed December 14, 2016. http://futuresinitiative.org/videos/.

 

In Power,
 
Allison Guess
Director of HASTAC Scholars
PhD Student, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geography)
The Graduate Center at the City University of New York
 
~In Breath, in optimism and in life.

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