Ava DuVernay Interviews Angela Davis on This Moment—And What Came Before


AVA DuVERNAY: I was reading an interview in which you talked about something that’s been on my mind quite a bit lately. It’s about this time we are in that I’ll just call a racial reckoning. Do you feel that we could have encountered this moment in as robust a manner as we’ve felt it this summer without the COVID crisis having been the foundation? Could one have occurred with this much force without the other?
ANGELA DAVIS: This moment is a conjuncture between the COVID-19 crisis and the increasing awareness of the structural nature of racism. Moments like this do arise. They’re totally unpredictable, and we cannot base our organizing on the idea that we can usher in such a moment. What we can do is take advantage of the moment. When George Floyd was lynched, and we were all witnesses to that—we all watched as this white policeman held his knee on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds—I think that many people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, who had not necessarily understood the way in which history is present in our lives today, who had said, ‘Well, I never owned slaves, so what does slavery have to do with me?’ suddenly began to get it. That there was work that should have happened in the immediate aftermath of slavery that could have prevented us from arriving at this moment. But it did not happen. And here we are. And now we have to begin. The protests offered people an opportunity to join in this collective demand to bring about deep change, radical change. Defund the police, abolish policing as we know it now. These are the same arguments that we’ve been making for such a long time about the prison system and the whole criminal justice system. It was as if all of these decades of work by so many people, who received no credit at all, came to fruition. …”
Vanity Fair
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