Interview: Alicia Garza on ‘The Purpose of Power’
How to create sustainable revolution and be kind to yourself
Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement wrote a book, The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart, which left me being kinder to myself. Her words never made me feel guilty about the times I could have and should have spoken up, or left, or complained, or campaigned. To her, it didn’t matter that I had once been afraid to be unapologetically Black, brave, and absolute in my love of myself and my people.
Garza’s masterful guide to sustainable revolutions taught me:
· How to understand power
· How to get power
· How to measure power
· How to keep power
· The language of articulate power
I spoke to her about it for ZORA.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
ZORA: Why did you write this book?
Alicia Garza: I wanted to open the curtains so people can see what it takes to build movements like this. I’ve been asked so many times: “how do [you] turn the hashtag into a movement?” And I hope this book tells people that’s not how it works. I mean honestly, so much of what we’re seeing now is the result of decades of work and relationship building.
It’s also really the book that I wish I had 20 years ago when I started doing this work. There are so many things about social change and making change, that isn’t obvious to people and for a lot of us who have gotten into this work, we learn it by trial and error.
You shared so many funny stories that I could relate to — especially about when you were caught shoplifting. Considering you are from a crime-free background, how did you feel sharing that story?
You know, I was hoping that these were stories that people could relate to and for me sharing these kinds of stories was really about helping to locate myself inside of this broader political context.
I wanted to make sure that in these conversations right, that we are stripping away what I call the superhero complex. Every time we are talking…