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Selma James

Sex, Race and Class – The Perspective of Winning
– A Selection of Writings, 1952-2011 by Selma James




Her starting point was the millions of unwaged women who, working in the home and on the land, were not seen as “workers” and whose struggles were viewed as outside of capitalism. For James, the class struggle presents itself as the conflict between the reproduction and survival of the human race, and the dictatorship of the market with its exploitation, wars, and ecological devastation. She sums up her strategy for change as “Invest in Caring Not Killing.”


This selection, spanning six decades, traces the development of this perspective in the course of building an international campaigning network. It incorporates Jean Rhys and Virginia Woolf, sex worker activism, Marx and feminism, breastfeeding, unions and workers, the UN Decade for Women, anti-Zionism, jailhouse lawyers, refuseniks, Haiti’s Black Jacobins, Tanzania’s ujamaa, the Venezuelan revolution, SlutWalk, and a reappraisal of CLR James. The writing is lucid and without jargon. The ideas, never abstract, spring from trying to make sense of successes and setbacks, and from the need to find a way forward.



 “Intellectually ambitious attempt to synthesize Marxism, feminism, and post-colonialism, not with the usual sellotaped hyphenations.” — Jenny TurnerLondon Review of Books

 “This book is not only an intellectual tour de force, it is the best how to organise manual I have ever read . . . The staggering breadth of James’ writing takes your breath away . . . practical how-to feminism from one of the outstanding thinkers of our time.” — Cary GeeTribune

 “The final essay ‘Striving for Clarity and Influence’ is a fierce defence of CLR James political legacy against those who would see his achievements in purely literary terms. Fascinating.” — Becky GardinerThe Guardian

 “Strong stuff . . . James has clearly walked the talk during six decades of activism.” — Angela Cobbinah, Camden New Journal & West End Extra

 Why is it that so many of us militant mamas who struggle to balance paid work, social justice work and childraising remain so unfamiliar with Selma James, her writings and her work? . . . a challenge to bring these histories into our present-day organizing for a truly liberated society.  Victoria Law, author of Resistance Behind Bars.

 “In varied contexts and at many venues, including the UN, James’s output over six decades, Sex, Race, and Class,shines with radical clarity on the economy, humanity, and society . . . Hers is a gift of clarifying often knotty issues in words that people can grasp.” — Seth SandronskyZ Magazine

 A ‘must’ for feminist and social issues collections alike, this college-level collection provides powerful assessments of evolving women’s rights.” — Midwest Book Review

 “It's time to acknowledge James’s path-breaking analysis: from 1972 she re-interpreted the capitalist economy to show that it rests on the usually invisible unwaged caring work of women.” — Dr. Peggy Antrobus, feminist, author

 “We have been enlightened and energised by [her] care and passion and commitment.” — Lord Anthony Gifford, QC

 “Clarity and commitment to Haiti’s revolutionary legacy. A sister after my own heart.” — Danny Glover, actor and activist

 “Reminds us that liberation cannot be handed down from above. A feminism that truly matters.” — Dr. Alissa Trotz, Women & Gender, and Caribbean Studies, Toronto

 Why had I missed this writing though much of the perspective has pervaded the movement in some form or another? . . . Her prose at once theoretical and inspirational has provided a renewed praxis to work with.  Amrita Shodhan,, teaching fellow SOAS

 “Selma James is a treasure, as this volume of riches makes clear. Pioneering analysis of ‘race-class-gender’. . . One of the key political thinkers and activists of our times.” — Marcus Rediker, from the preface

 “. . . reflects in concentrated form the history of the new society struggling to be born. In this respect, Selma James embodies in these essays the spirit of the revolutionary tradition at its most relevant.” — Dr. Robert A. Hill, dir. of the Marcus Garvey Papers Project, and literary executor of the estate of CLR James

 “An insightful and exceedingly intelligent political analyst.”  — Dr. Gerald Horne, University of Houston