Sex, Race, and Class: The Perspective of Winning
A Selection of Writings 1952–2011

Selma James

The publication of these essays reflects in concentrated form the history of the new society struggling to be born. Their appearance today could not be timelier. . . . Selma James embodies in these essays the spirit of the revolutionary tradition at its most relevant.

Selma James’ “Sex, Race, and Class”offers enduring meditations on themes, issues, and histories that we directly confront in our movements today. James’ formulations have always been deeply internationalist, concerned with the circulation of struggles globally and the challenge of uniting struggles despite deep racial and patriarchal divisions in the planetary body of working people. She powerfully reminds us that the force of the capitalist wage as a significant source of these divisions and fused a Marxist reading of the work process to its instantiations and entrenchments in systems of domination of race, gender, and imperialism.

Her political training and organizational experience spans decades and continents—first in the 1950s with her late husband C.L.R. James in the Johnson-Forest Tendency, and then with the Wages For Housework campaign, founded in Padova July 1972 by a gathering of women who formed the International Feminist Collective. Throughout, she has relied on the shared analysis and political experiences of comrades networked across the United States, Europe, and much of the decolonizing world, to set out a new political perspective that redefined the working class to include sectors previously dismissed as “marginal.”

In order to unite disparate sectors of the planetary working class—understood in its widest sense—beyond the division of the wage, thier starting point was the millions of unwaged women who, working in the home and on the land, were not seen as “workers” and their struggles viewed as outside of the class struggle.

On the occasion of this publication, Mariarosa Dalla Costa has written a statement describing the circumstances of her collaboration with Selma James in the co-authoring of Power of Women and Subversion of Community and as organizers of the Wages for Housework Campaign. That statement can be viewed here. (see also a document that clarifies Mariarosa Dalla Costa's collaboration with Selma James as well as the original and modified 1972 Introduction to Power of Women and Subversion of Community)


Selma James is a women’s rights and anti-racist campaigner and author. From 1958 to 1962 she worked with C.L.R. James in the movement for West Indian federation and independence. In Padova 1972, she helped co-found the International Wages for Housework Campaign with a number of women whoformed the International Feminist Collective, and in 2000 helped launch the Global Women’s Strike whose strategy for change is “Invest in Caring not Killing”. In the 1970s she was the first spokeswoman of the English Collective of Prostitutes. She is a founding member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

Marcus Rediker (Foreword) is a an activist and Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh. His books include: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (1987), The Many-Headed Hydra (2000), Villains of All Nations (2004), The Slave Ship: A Human History (2007), and many more.

Nina López (Introduction) is the joint co-ordinator of the Global Women’s Strike. Her writings and edited volumes include:Prostitute Women and AIDS—Resisting the Virus of Repression (1988), Some Mother’s Daughter: The Hidden Movement of Prostitute Women Against Violence (1998), The Milk of Human Kindness (2002), and Creating a Caring Economy: Nora Castañeda and the Women’s Development Bank of Venezuela (2006).


Praise

“For clarity and commitment to Haiti’s revolutionary legacy . . . Selma is a sister after my own heart.”  

—Danny Glover, actor and activist

 

“The publication of these essays reflects in concentrated form the history of the new society struggling to be born. Their appearance today could not be timelier. As the fruit of the collective experience of the last half-century, they will help to acquaint a whole new generation with not only what it means to think theoretically, but, more importantly, the requirement of organization as the means of testing those ideas. In this respect, Selma James embodies in these essays the spirit of the revolutionary tradition at its most relevant.”  

—Dr. Robert A. Hill, Literary Executor of the estate of C.L.R. James, University of California, Los Angeles, Director, Marcus Garvey Papers Project

“In this incisive and necessary collection of essays and talks spanning over five decades, Selma James reminds us that liberation cannot be handed down from above. This is a feminism that truly matters.”  

—Dr. Alissa Trotz, Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Director of Caribbean Studies, University of Toronto

 

“With her latest book, Selma James reaffirms what has been evident for some time:  she is—quite simply—not only one of the most outstanding feminist thinkers of her generation but, as well, an insightful and exceedingly intelligent political analyst.”  

—Dr. Gerald Horne, historian and author, John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston


Product Details

Author: Selma James
Foreword by: Marcus Rediker
Introduction by: Nina López
Publisher: Common Notions/PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-454-0
Published: March 2012
Format: Paperback
Size: 9 by 6
Page count: 300 Pages
Subjects: Feminism, Literary Collection, Politics