Alicia Garza: Situated Analysis and Practicing Being Free
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This paper explores the tension between remaining situated in the context of the current socio-political moment and looking ahead to how the world could be different when practicing activism or working towards social justice. I assert that any action or theory cannot make meaningful change unless it holds space for what is and what could be simultaneously, and use Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza as a case study. My analysis of Garza’s work is anchored in Toni Morrison’s essay entitled “Home,” in which she explores how one can be both “free and situated” within our white supremacist world. I wrote this piece as part of the Peace Studies course “Rewriting Race,” taught by Prof. Ailish Hopper. Each of us was charged with selecting and analyzing a person who we felt re-wrote race, as a culmination of our work engaging with numerous and diverse race theories throughout the semester. I was inspired to focus on Alicia Garza after attending her talk at Goucher in the spring of 2016; she was both grounded and hopeful in a way that I had not encountered in other social justice advocates. She ended her talk with a charge that I found particularly compelling: “If you believed that freedom was possible in our lifetime, what would you do? How would you do it? Who would you do it with? And then I beg you, to do it.” This encapsulates the paper’s focus of being both “free and situated” and challenges the listener or reader to have the strength to believe in justice in an unjust world, a strength which I assert is necessary to creating meaningful change.