D.E. #1: Courageous Refusal

On June 19th 2010, Judith Butler declined to accept the 'Civil Courage Award' presented to her by the Christopher Street Day (CSD) organization at Berlin's annual pride parade. Butler's speech outlines the major reasons that she decided to decline the award, after meeting with and hearing from several grassroots organization in and around Berlin about several blatantly racist implications made by the CSD. She makes clear that her main goal of refusing the award is to negate homonationalism, in which the ideal of patriotic, white gay men is pushed onto the general public. Butler says that she "must distance [her]self" from an organization that while fighting for (or perhaps becoming complacent with) the rights of the queer community, disregards (or indeed, deliberately allies itself with racist forces) the need to simultaneously fight racism on a national level and within the queer community.

Butler's speech indicates the theory of intersectionality, which states (more or less) that all the identifiable factors (eg. race, gender, sexuality, class, etc.) of a marginalized group that contribute to their oppression are intricately linked. Through an intersectional approach, groups would fight for and win their freedom from oppression only by addressing all of these factors simultaneously. The CSD's actions fueled by anti-Muslim racism disregards this idea and therefore discredits the organization as one that fights systematic oppression. In her speech, Butler mentions that accepting the courage award would exhibit complacency with racism and would indeed discredit her courage. I would argue that declining the award and very publicly utilizing her power as a celebrity to disagree with the CSD is an act of great courage.

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