Political activist Angela Davis told students radical feminism is crucial to fighting sexism and racism in the 21st century at a speaking event on campus.
“This is a great time to talk about feminism and activism,” Davis said in her March 7 speech in MGC 1, sponsored by Women’s Initiative and the Kennedy Political Union.
Students welcomed activist Davis to with a standing ovation.
Davis, a former Black Panther and member of the Communist Party, spoke about liberal feminism and how it emphasizes social change. Liberal feminism fights against the idea of the individual as the unit of society, she said.
“The struggles were not so much about the individual, but uplifting the entire community,” Davis said.
Davis said women’s rights have improved over the last 40 years, especially in the number of career opportunities offered to women.
But she said certain demands, like birth control and childcare, are available for the first time but can too expensive for working class women.
“I think the economic issues complicate and further emphasize the social issues and vice-versa,” Davis said in an interview with The Eagle.
Davis also said this perspective must be used to examine racism and inequalities for women.
“Anyone who’s truly averse to racism also has to stand up against sexism,” Davis said. “And anyone who’s against sexism must be opposed to racism.”
In her speech, Davis pushed for feminism that does not only involve white women.
“Racism is more entrenched in the 21st century,” Davis said. She later explained that there is an unequal balance of race in the American prisons.
Although Davis advocates for equality for women, she does not believe feminism focuses only on women’s rights. Instead, she believes that feminism is comprised of many issues, including environmental and same-sex marriage.
Davis emphasized the importance of education and knowledge to activism.
“I’ve always believed that knowledge should be transformative,” Davis said in an interview.
As a professor at University of California Santa Cruz, she encourages her students to follow their own career choices.
“Not everyone needs to do the same thing to transform the world,” Davis said in the interview.
However, she emphasized the importance of helping the community.
“My mother gave back and she constantly encouraged us to give back,” Davis said in her speech. “And I guess that’s why I became an activist.”