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In the tradition of Octavia Butler, here is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help to shape the futures we want. Change is constant. The world, our bodies, and our minds are in a constant state of flux. They are a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change, Emergent Strategy teaches us to map and assess the swirling structures and to read them as they happen, all the better to shape that which ultimately shapes us, personally and politically. A resolutely materialist spirituality based equally on science and science fiction: a wild feminist and afro-futurist ride!
adrienne maree brown, co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements, is a social justice facilitator, healer, and doula living in Detroit.
How do we make social justice the most pleasurable human experience? How can we awaken within ourselves desires that make it impossible to settle for anything less than a fulfilling life? Editor adrienne maree brown finds the answer in something she calls "Pleasure Activism," a politics of healing and happiness that explodes the dour myth that changing the world is just another form of work. Drawing on the black feminist tradition, including Audre Lourde's invitation to use the erotic as power and Toni Cade Bambara's exhortation that we make the revolution irresistible, the contributors to this volume take up the challenge to rethink the ground rules of activism. Writers including Cara Page of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation For Justice, Sonya Renee Taylor, founder of This Body Is Not an Apology, and author Alexis Pauline Gumbs cover a wide array of subjects—from sex work to climate change, from race and gender to sex and drugs—they create new narratives about how politics can feel good and how what feels good always has a complex politics of its own.
Building on the success of her popular Emergent Strategy, brown launches a new series of the same name with this volume, bringing readers books that explore experimental, expansive, and innovative ways to meet the challenges that face our world today. Books that find the opportunity in every crisis!
Cancel culture addresses real harm...and sometimes causes more. It’s time to think this through.
“Cancel” or “call-out” culture is a source of much tension and debate in American society. The infamous “Harper’s Letter,” signed by public intellectuals of both the left and right, sought to settle the matter and only caused greater division. Originating as a way for marginalized and disempowered people to take down more powerful abusers, often with the help of social media, cancel culture is seen by some as having gone “too far.” Adrienne maree brown, a respected cultural voice and a professional mediator, reframes the discussion for us, in a way that points to possible ways beyond the impasse. Most critiques of cancel culture come from outside the milieus that produce it, sometimes from even from its targets. Brown explores the question from a Black, queer, and feminist viewpoint that gently asks, how well does this practice serve us? Does it prefigure the sort of world we want to live in? And, if it doesn’t, how do we seek accountability and redress for harm in a way that reflects our values?
Facilitation and mediation are important skills in our highly organized world. Holding Change is a guide for attending to both in ways that align with nature, with pleasure, with our best imaginings of our future. It provides lessons for generating the ease necessary to move through life’s inevitable struggles and for practicing the art of holding others without losing ourselves. Black feminists have evolved this wisdom, but it can serve anyone working to create change, individually, interpersonally, and within our organizations. The majority of the book is sourced from brown’s twenty-plus years of facilitation and mediation work, with additional wisdom from a selection of living Black feminist facilitators and mediators.
Undrowned is a book-length meditation for social movements and our whole species based on the subversive and transformative guidance of marine mammals. Our aquatic cousins are queer, fierce, protective of each other, complex, shaped by conflict, and struggling to survive the extractive and militarized conditions our species has imposed on the ocean. Gumbs employs a brilliant mix of poetic sensibility and naturalist observation to show what they might teach us, producing not a specific agenda but an unfolding space for wondering and questioning. From the relationship between the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale and Gumbs’s Shinnecock and enslaved ancestors to the ways echolocation changes our understandings of “vision” and visionary action, this is a masterful use of metaphor and natural models in the service of social justice.
Whenever we envision a world without war, without prisons, without capitalism, we are producing speculative fiction. Organizers and activists envision, and try to create, such worlds all the time. Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown have brought twenty of them together in the first anthology of short stories to explore the connections between radical speculative fiction and movements for social change. The visionary tales of Octavia’s Brood span genressci-fi, fantasy, horror, magical realismbut all are united by an attempt to inject a healthy dose of imagination and innovation into our political practice and to try on new ways of understanding ourselves, the world around us, and all the selves and worlds that could be. The collection is rounded off with essays by Tananarive Due and Mumia Abu-Jamal, and a preface by Sheree Renée Thomas.
PRAISE FOR OCTAVIA'S BROOD:
"Those concerned with justice and liberation must always persuade the mass of people that a better world is possible. Our job begins with speculative fictions that fire society's imagination and its desire for change. In adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha's visionary conception, and by its activist-artists' often stunning acts of creative inception, Octavia's Brood makes for great thinking and damn good reading. The rest will be up to us." Jeff Chang, author of Who We Be: The Colorization of America
Conventional exclamatory phrases don’t come close to capturing the essence of what we have here in Octavia’s Brood. One part sacred text, one part social movement manual, one part diary of our future selves telling us, It’s going to be okay, keep working, keep loving.’ Our radical imaginations are under siege and this text is the rescue mission. It is the new cornerstone of every class I teach on inequality, justice, and social change....This is the text we’ve been waiting for.” Ruha Benjamin, professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier
"Octavia once told me that two things worried her about the future of humanity: The tendency to think hierarchically, and the tendency to place ourselves higher on the hierarchy than others. I think she would be humbled beyond words that the fine, thoughtful writers in this volume have honored her with their hearts and minds. And that in calling for us to consider that hierarchical structure, they are not walking in her shadow, nor standing on her shoulders, but marching at her side." Steven Barnes, author of Lion’s Blood
Never has one book so thoroughly realized the dream of its namesake. Octavia's Brood is the progeny of two lovers of Octavia Butler and their belief in her dream that science fiction is for everybody.... Butler could not wish for better evidence of her touch changing our literary and living landscapes. Play with these children, read these works, and find the children in you waiting to take root under the stars!” Moya Bailey and Ayana Jamieson, Octavia E. Butler Legacy
Like [Octavia] Butler's fiction, this collection is cartography, a map to freedom.” dream hampton, filmmaker and Visiting Artist at Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts
Walidah Imarisha is a writer, organizer, educator, and spoken word artist.
In recent years, feminism has been at the forefront of social criticism in the United States, but the mainstream face of feminism is still typically white and often focused on gender issues to the exclusion of race, class, and almost everything else. Meanwhile, there are long and rich traditions of women-of-color-centered feminisms that acknowledge all systems of power as connected, and recognize how ending one form of violence entails the transformation of society on multiple fronts.
From 2007 to 2017, a small, Los Angeles-based independent magazine called make/shift published some of the most inspiring feminist voices of the decade, articulating ideas from the grassroots and amplifying feminist voices on immigration, state violence, climate change, and other issues.
Feminisms in Motion offers highlights from 10 years of make/shift magazine, providing a wide-ranging look at contemporary intersectional feminist thought and action.
We are living in a moment of mounting racist violence, xenophobia, income inequality, climate displacement, and war. Intersectional feminism has been creating and pointing toward solutions to these problems for generations. Feminisms in Motion offers ideas, critique, and inspiration from diverse feminists from Los Angles, to India, to Palestine, who are pointing toward a world where all people can thrive.