The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house

In 2008, my grandfather put a McCain sign up on his lawn. In Williamstown, Massachusetts, a college town full of liberal academics, it is difficult to label oneself as a conservative. Although I don’t necessarily agree with my grandfather’s political views, I’ve always been impressed by his ability to hold his own with people who disagree with him. My mother always says that if he lived in a conservative area, he’d be much more liberal. I’m beginning to see the logic in this statement. For much of my life, I’ve based my political views off of what I heard at my family’s dinner table. The community that I have been immersed in for the past six weeks is much more radical. As a result of being exposed to this community, I have been able to form my own, contrary political views.


There are countless times this summer where I have bristled at other people’s comments about the American governmental system. Yesterday, we talked to Raul, who is one of the directors at Southside Workers’ Center. He advocated for no borders, no states, and no prisons. Although his views are probably more extreme than most, many of the people who I interact with find inherent flaws in American policy. Yesterday, during one of our many reflection sessions, Raul had us reflect on a quote by Audre Lorde: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” 


I feel that this quote is indicative, as well, of the attitudes of many Tucsonians within the immigration community. There is so much talk about an evil other, about hostility towards governmental structure, and about shaming federal authorities. The pro-immigration community preaches tolerance towards people who want to be a part of the American community, yet holds intolerance for the fundamental American governmental structure. During rallies, I’ve heard the words “shame on you _____” (insert cause here). I don’t see this language as constructive, as it lacks pragmatism. By shaming federal agencies and denouncing hatred for them, we create bipartisanship. I find it frustrating, because in these impassioned statements, no solutions are offered.  It’s counter-productive to change to vilify governmental structure and particular politicians. My view is that we don’t need to dismantle the master’s house, but rather we need to rebuild it alongside the “master.” Although I am often upset by the language people use, it has strengthened my ability to argue my own point of view and realize how much I value compromise and public policy. 


2 thoughts on “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house

  1. Hi Phoebe: Thanks again for the plug! I’m looking forward to discussing your adventures when you get home next week, especially your rethinking about politics. Are you leaning like your brother to libertarianism?

  2. The metaphor of building a new house is really interesting, especially as it ties into your observations on language. We use language to represent ourselves and our ideas but as with the “master’s tools” our language is compromised. We try to use language to express our individual thoughts and yet language is not individual, it is a system that has many historical, social, political, etc. influences/references that are imbedded in it. It is a conundrum to ask “How are we to build something new? when our tools are “tainted”. Looking forward to hearing more about your summer when you arrive back on campus! Joan


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