Saturday, January 12, 2019

The intersectionalist's mythical history: Combahee River Collective or Derrick Bell?

On social media, I posted,
Intersectionality question: Was Kimberle Crenshaw influenced by the Combahee River Collective? Obviously, she was influenced by Derrick Bell, a very problematic figure. Do intersectionalists cite the CRT to avoid discussing Bell? He and Crenshaw were far to the right of the CRT.
A Facebook friend who is not a socialist but who is often a better researcher than I replied,
Mostly an attempt by what I have seen of creating a history. I can't find direct links from the 80's 90's with combahee, I find that after 2014.
It is very important to intersectionalists that the theory comes from a black woman. When most intersectionalists were liberals, they simply ignored Crenshaw's connection to Bell. But as intersectionality was adopted by some leftists, its roots mattered more. Bell was a male antisemite who had no interest in socialism, which makes three reasons to erase him from intersectionality's official history. The Combahee River Collective were black lesbian socialists who said this in The Combahee River Collective Statement:
We believe that the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else's oppression.
That may be the most selfish statement I've seen from people who claim to be socialists. Compare their take with that of a far more important socialist woman:
"I am just as much concerned with the poor victims on the rubber plantations of Putumayo, the Blacks in Africa with whose corpses the Europeans play catch […] they resound with me so strongly that I have no special place in my heart for the ghetto. I feel at home in the entire world, wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears." —Rosa Luxemburg