Rise: Emergent Strategies for Reclaiming Joy and Agency Against Neofascist and White Supremacist Assaultive Speech

  • Tyson E. Lewis
  • Amelia M. Kraehe
Keywords: art education, joy, strategy, facism, racism, White supremacy, alt-right, critical race theory, assaultive speech, harassment, university faculty, phenomenology, democracy



Since the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, there has been an uptick in the number of faculty reporting that they have been the subjects of harassment and intimidation by organizations and individuals espousing views consistent with ideologies of the alt-right, neofascism, and global White supremacy. In this new virulent environment, verbal assaults and threats of violence against progressive scholars are increasingly common, particularly in the case of women academics, minoritized professors, and those whose writing deals critically with racism and other forms of supremacy. This essay, informed by critical race theory, presents a phenomenological narrative and critical analysis of actual events in which an art education scholar was the target of assaultive speech and threatened physical harm following the publication of a book chapter critical of Whiteness. Understanding assaultive speech as an attempt to replace joy with affects of fear, paranoia, and hate, the authors examine the events that occurred in the course of performing one’s duties as teachers, researchers, or concerned citizen-scholars, in detail to reveal (a) the overarching structure and life cycle of these all-too-common attacks and (b) how they affect the targeted person’s mind-body. This combination of structural and embodied forms of knowledge can inspire new liberatory projects as a part of an emergent strategy for scholars, teachers, and activists interested in justice, critical pedagogy, or transformative practices to rise and reclaim joy and agency in troubled times.