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The Abolition of White Democracy with Joel Olson

Friday, March 18, 2005
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Event Type:
AK Press
Location Details:
At the AK Press Warehouse 674-A 23rd. St Oakland, CA
between MLK and San Pablo - near 19th St. BART and West Grand Exit of 80/980
For more info contact AK Press at 510.208.1700,
or visit
All events at AK Press are wheelchair accessible.

Friday, March 18th – 7 PM - FREE
The Abolition of White Democracy
A night with author and activist Joel Olson, offering a new way of understanding the tortured relationship between race and democracy in the United States.

"The Abolition of White Democracy by Joel Olson should be required reading for anti-racists and anti-imperialists. Olsen presents a tight historical analysis of white supremacy and capitalism as the foundation for a democratic order that requires gross racial inequality. Olsen isn't just offering critical analysis, but tools to help us abolish this system and win liberation. At a time when the Left is faltering under the Right, this book gives us perspective and guidance to flip the script." —Chris Crass, author of Collective Liberation on My Mind, member of the Catalyst Project, will introduce Mr. Olson

"The Abolition of White Democracy is essential reading for all those seeking to realize the promise of democracy in America." —Noel Ignatiev, author of How the Irish Became White

Racial discrimination embodies inequality, exclusion, and injustice and as such has no place in a democratic society. And yet racial matters pervade nearly every aspect of American life, influencing where we live, what schools we attend, the friends we make, the votes we cast, the opportunities we enjoy, and even the television shows we watch.
Joel Olson contends that, given the history of slavery and segregation in the United States, American citizenship is a form of racial privilege in which whites are equal to each other but superior to everyone else. In Olson’s analysis we see how the tension in this equation produces a passive form of democracy that discourages extensive participation in politics because it treats citizenship as an identity to possess rather than as a source of empowerment. Olson traces this tension and its disenfranchising effects from the colonial era to our own, demonstrating how, after the civil rights movement, whiteness has become less a form of standing and more a norm that cements white advantages in the ordinary operations of modern society. To break this pattern, Olson suggests an "abolitionist-democratic" political theory that makes the fight against racial discrimination a prerequisite for expanding democratic participation.

Joel Olson is assistant professor of political science at Northern Arizona University. He has been a member of many political organizations, including Minneapolis Anti-Racist Action, Phoenix Copwatch, The New Abolitionist Society, Love and Rage, and Bring the Ruckus. He has also co-edited radical publications such as Profane Existence, The Blast!, New Abolitionist, and Bring the Ruckus.

The Abolition of White Democracy will be available for purchase.
Added to the calendar on Fri, Feb 25, 2005 3:15PM
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