Anthology: Toward An Ethics Of Activism: A Community Investigation of Humility, Grace and Compassion in Movements for Justice

Front Cover, watercolor by Erin Naomi Burrows

Toward An Ethics of Activism: A Community Investigation of Humility, Grace and Compassion in Movements for Justice is a free, community-developed reader I compiled that seeks to disrupt dogmatic, exclusionary activist culture with kindness and connection.

In this reader are timely contributions from leaders in powerful activist movements shaping the national and local political landscapes — Sylvia Rivera Law Project, #BlackLivesMatter, Seattle Poetry Slam. These contributors have each taken a moment to reflect and share their wisdom on how to keep their liberation movements intact, flourishing, and flexible. Through essays, comics, and poems, this project explores gentler ways of being together, attending to internal conflict, and living a sustainable life of activism.

Featured Contributors (Bios below):
Alicia Garza, Corinne Manning, Dean Spade, Erin Naomi Burrows, E.T. Russian, Frances Lee, Maisha Manson

-Frances Lee

Note on format: This reader was originally designed as a PDF.

Download the PDF.

Download the screen-reader accessible PDF.


Introduction — Frances Lee

The Ethics of Being Allowed to Change — E.T. RUSSIAN

Seen — Maisha Manson

Practicing New Social Relations, Even in Conflict — Dean Spade

The Ethics of Throwing People Away — E.T. RUSSIAN

Seen II — Maisha Manson

Latency — Corinne Manning

Body III — Maisha Manson

Children of the Panopticon — Maisha Manson

Staying Centered in the Face of Adversity — Alicia Garza

The Ethics of Changing Your Leadership — E.T. RUSSIAN

Heard/recognized, Mediation, Untitled — Maisha Manson

The Ethics of Floating and Friendship — E.T. RUSSIAN

The Pain of Belonging — Frances Lee

The Ethics of Vulnerability and Intimacy — E.T. RUSSIAN

Contributor Biographies

Alicia Garza is an Oakland-based organizer, writer, public speaker and freedom dreamer who is currently the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States. Garza, along with Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, also co-founded the Black Lives Matter Network, a globally recognized organizing project that focuses on combating anti-Black state-sanctioned violence and the oppression of all Black people.Since the rise of the BLM movement, Garza has become a powerful voice in the media. Her articles and interviews have been featured in Time, Mic, The Guardian,, Essence, Democracy Now!, and The New York Times.

Corinne Manning is a prose writer, literary organizer and performer whose fiction has appeared in Story Quarterly, Calyx, Vol 1 Brooklyn, Moss, The Bellingham Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Wildness from Platypus Press. Additional stories and essays have appeared in Literary Hub, Vol 1 Brooklyn, Drunken Boat, Arts & Letters, been anthologized in Shadow Map: An anthology of Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM Press), and been recognized as notable in The Best American Series. Corinne has received grants and fellowships from 4Culture, Artist Trust and the MacDowell Colony and founded The James Franco Review, a project on visibility and reimagining the publishing process.

Dean Spade is Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law. In 2002, he founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services to low-income transgender, intersex and gender nonconforming people and works to build trans resistance rooted in racial and economic justice. He is the author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law (Duke University Press 2015). Spade is the recipient of the 2016 Kessler Award from The Center for LGBTQ Studies and Gay Studies for his transformative impact on the field of LGBTQ Studies.

Erin Naomi Burrows is a communicator by trade, historian by training and artist by trial/tribulation. She brings ten years of labor-of-love experience in community education, training, collaborative project management and anti- racist organizing with a focus in primary prevention of interpersonal violence with young audiences. She currently is the Communications Specialist at the Center for Community Engagement at Seattle University and founder of Oyster Hinge, a creative consulting micro-agency. You can find her sniffing flowers, taking photos, painting and organizing in Seattle, WA.

E.T. RUSSIAN is a multi-sensory artist, author, filmmaker and healthcare provider from the Pacific Northwest. RUSSIAN is the author of The Ring of Fire Anthology and has published work in The Stranger, The Seattle Weekly, When Language Runs Dry, The Graphic Medicine Manifesto, Gay Genius, and The Collective Tarot. RUSSIAN is a featured artist with Sins Invalid and dance company Light Motion, and Co-Director of the movie Third Antenna. Themes of light and shadow, power and interdependence, resilience and struggle feature heavily in RUSSIAN’s work.

Frances Lee is a cultural activist, writer, and Cultural Studies scholar in Seattle, WA. Their work addresses the ideologies of current social justice movements on a national level, and is powered by their deep investments in community interventions on the local level. In 2017, Frances was named on the Bitch 50, a national list that recognizes the most powerful cultural creators in the US. They were also awarded the Gender Justice League Survival Guide Award for producing the the 2017 King County Trans Resource & Referral Guide. Their writing and interviews have appeared in Catalyst Wedding Co, Autostraddle, YES! Magazine, CBC, KUOW, Bitch Media, and more.

Maisha Manson is a Queer, gender non-conforming, Black identified artist, activist, teacher and writer. They have devoted their personal journey to self healing through reclamation of personal history, knowledge and empowerment as well as creating spaces for the healing of others who are marginalized due to their race, gender, sexuality, religion, or economic status. Maisha is a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Master of Arts in Cultural Studies program at the University of Washington Bothell. Originally from San Diego, they completed a BA in Deaf Education at CSU Northridge. Their research analyzes intersecting systems of oppression — regarding ability, race, class, gender and sexual identity through ghost stories and poetry.


I offer my wholehearted gratitude to all of my collaborators, advisors, friends, and family. Thank you to all of the collaborators in this reader for taking time away from your packed schedules and life commitments to share your brilliant and necessary reflections shaping the futures of activism. A special thank you to Alicia Garza and her team for allowing me to republish your Complex piece. Thank you to my professors and advisors at the University of Washington Bothell: Jade Power-Sotomayor, Sarah Dowling, Jed Murr, Lauren Berliner, Thea Quiray Tagle, Dan Berger, and Chandan Reddy (Seattle), and so many more.

Thank you to my dearest Cultural Studies graduate cohort. Thank you Ryan Diaz for teaching me the basics on how to layout text. And a special thanks to Em Fuller and Leax Zajac for volunteering their generous editing and laser sharp proofreading skills to elevate the finish of this reader.

Thank you Erin Naomi Burrows, for being my amazing partner and co-collaborator who constantly pushes me to higher standards in my writing and community commitments.

Finally, a heartfelt thank you to my parents Joyce and Harold for raising me with unconditional love and instilling in me a deep-rooted sense of worth, without which I could not begin to do any of this work.

Writer, Cultural Activist, Designer.