Jessica Hoffmann

Notes from the USSF (or, What Andrea Smith Said)

Filed By Jessica Hoffmann | July 02, 2007 7:25 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Andrea Smith, colonialism, feminism, genocide, heteropatriarchy, Imani Henry, INCITE!, Loretta Ross, Mia Mingus, queer, sex, United States Social Forum, USSF

"How does heteropatriarchy keep white supremacy and colonialism in place? How does the heterosexual family serve as the building block of empire?"

That's how INCITE!'s Andrea Smith opened Saturday night's plenary on "Liberating Gender and Sexuality" at the US Social Forum. From there, she raced through an argument linking U.S. colonizers' implementation of patriarchy in indigenous communities as "the first task" of the Native American genocide, the tendency of mainstream organizers against violence against women to turn women over from the patriarchal family to the patriarchal state, and much more (as the sign-language interpreters moved with wild-fast grace to keep up with her).

The panel was fiercely critical and visionary all the way through, as Mia Mingus incisively linked struggles for queer liberation with struggles against ableism (ableism set the stage for communities of color to be deemed enslavable, for queer desires to be pathologized); Loretta Ross insisted that "everyone who's having sex needs to be a feminist"; and Imani Henry railed against the incarceration of the Jersey 4 -- a group of black lesbians currently in jail for the "hate crime" of defending themselves against a sexist and homophobic assault by a white man.

Keep an eye on media.ussf2007.org for audio or video footage of the whole thing.


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Andrea's words are what made the forum come together for me. Up to that point, I was feeling that it was an big mixer for folks in the movement. Andrea's words gave me much to reflect on both personally and professionally.

I'm waiting for media files of that plenary.