Notes #2 from Sarah Schulman’s The Gentrification of the Mind
“It is helpful in this moment to think back to ACT UP’s politics of accountability: If someone hurts you, you have the right to respond. Your response is the consequence of their violating action. Pharmaceutical executives, politicians who have pledged to represent and serve the American people, religious leaders who claim moral authority - anyone who interfered with progress for people with AIDS was made to face a consequence for the pain they caused. To do this, ACT UP had to identify what needed to be changed, identify the individuals who were obstructing that change, clearly propose courses of action that were doable and justifiable, and then force the people with power — through the tactic of direct action — to do something different than what they wanted to do. Making people accountable is always in the interests of justice. The dominant, however, hate accountability. Vagueness, lack of delineation of how things work, the idea that people do not have to keep their promises - these tactics always serve the lying, the obstructive, the hypocritical.
I’ve noticed through my long life that people with vested interest in things staying the way they are regularly insist that both change and accountability are impossible.
“It’s never going to change,” a wealthy, white, male, MFA-trained playwright told me about the exclusion of women playwrights from the American theater. “And if you try, people will say you are difficult.”
On the other hand, Audre Lorde— Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet—told me, “That you can’t fight City Hall, is a rumor being spread by City Hall.”
As we become conscious about the gentrified mind, the value of accountability must return to our vocabulary and become our greatest tactic for change.”
~ Sarah Schulman, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination