First-time author Charlene Carruthers' Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements was published in August by Beacon Press.
Carruthers is the co-founder of Black Youth Project 100 ( BYP100 ), a national organizing group that has been at the vanguard of the movement for Black lives. While the text includes lessons learned and anecdotes of key members within BYP100, it is not a full account of the organization. Instead, she shares personal experiences as case studies that serve as a guide for organizers and activists. For people who are not steeped in organizing work, this book offers an opportunity to learn about influential figures, challenges in movement spaces, and winning strategies within the movement both in Chicago and nationally. For example, Carruthers boldly writes about confronting a co-chair of the Chicago chapter accused of sexual assault and the survivor-led process that emerged.
The book argues the origins of the movement for Black lives, but it is important to situate the context in which this wave of organizing flourished. The murders of unarmed Black people by law enforcement are part of a long history of struggle. The senseless killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman was a moment of politicization. After Zimmerman's 2013 acquittal, activist Alicia Garza coined #BlackLivesMatter and created the Black Lives Matter ( BLM ) movement with fellow organizers Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. In Unapologetic, readers get insight and study from an organizer within the Black freedom movement that experienced a political landscape that included a Black U.S. president.
The election of the 45th President of the United States awakened more people's consciousness to social justice, inspiring mass mobilizations around immigration, women's rights and healthcare, to name a few. The surge and interest in civic engagement provide seasoned activists and established groups an opportunity to welcome new members into their ranks. The documentation of Unapologetic is an essential piece for the development of future leaders interested in engaging in movement work through a Black queer feminist framework.
Carruthers contribution is an invitation for social movements to embrace a culture of comprehensive political education and accountability. "Anyone committed to collective liberation must acknowledge ignorance," she writes. Adding that all people concerned with justice must seek learning opportunities about issues that do not directly affect or impact them.
Throughout the book, Carruthers asks, what is your self-interest in the liberation of people who are marginalized? The book is a reflective piece about what brings people to the work in the first place. She confirms that our stake in the work is what invigorates us for the long haul. Unapologetic is a promotion of the rich body of work by Black scholars, artists and writers that speak to systemic oppression. If Carruthers accomplishes her goal, Unapologetic will inspire a renaissance of movement stories by some of today's most prominent activists and organizers from various movements.
Women & Children First will host the book launch celebration for Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements Tuesday, Sept. 25, 7 p.m. For this event, Carruthers will be joined by Barbara Ransby and Janae Bonsu for a panel discussion. This event will be held at the Logan Arts Center, 915 E. 60th St. Attendees who purchase a book with their ticket will pick up the book at the event. All ticket holders are invited to the official book release after-party. See www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3594536 .
See related: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/BYP100s-Charlene-Carruthers-on-being-Black-feminist-and-queer/64101.html .