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Abstract

This essay by Rodney D. Coates, titled “Rod Bush and the Quest for Social Justice: Beyond Binary Constructs of Race and Class,” is a chapter in the anthology Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice, edited by Melanie E. L. Bush, and co-edited by Rose M. Brewer, Daniel Douglas, Loretta Chin, and Robert Newby (2019). Coates argues that Rod Bush’s journey for justice is best understood as a quest for social justice derived from his interrogation of imperialism, racism, and exploitation, to move beyond binary constructions of race and class. He was critical of complacent sociology that frequently misdiagnosed social movements, misinterpreted social protests, and misunderstood how to bring about meaningful change. He proposed that the agency of change begins at the grassroots level and extends outward. Bush demonstrated that the sequence of events that produced the modern racial state were wrapped in the language of freedom and democracy, but were birthed out of the misery of black, red, brown, tan, and yes white laborers. This praxis for change represents a new consciousness, much like Black Nationalist consciousness that, according to Bush, “… almost always appears to most whites as a great ideological transformation, and a quite unfathomable transformation at that. But it should not be a mystery.” Rod’s emphasis on radical Black Nationalism is to point out distinctive ways in which revolutionary change can come about.

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