Myisha Cherry highlighted rage, the way it affects anti-racism efforts and how it can be used productively to further a purpose, in a lecture on Nov. 11 at Weber State University.

Students, staff and faculty at Weber State University listen as Dr. Myisha Cherry, assistant professor of philosphy at the University of California, gives a lecture. (Nikki Dorber/The Signpost)
Students, staff and faculty at Weber State University listen as Dr. Myisha Cherry, assistant professor of philosphy at the University of California, gives a lecture. Photo credit: Nikki Dorber

Cherry is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of California. She has had her work featured in multiple scholarly journals and has written a number of books about the psychology of anger and social justice.

Based on the fifth chapter of her book “The Case for Rage: Why Anger is Essential to Anti-Racist Struggle,” Cherry describes Lordean rage as anger that brings motivation to do something productive. This type of anger is the driving force for productive action in the face of racism.

She described a true ally, saying, “We would hope that people in solidarity with the oppressed… will also have this anti-racist anger, particularly if they value all members of a society, judge that racial injustice is wrong, do not consider themselves as free until all people are free and aim to resist racist systems.”

Myisha Cherry, a professor from the University of California, gave a lecture to students of Weber State University on Nov. 11, discussing racism and how to collaborate as a society. (Nikki Dorber/The Signpost)
Myisha Cherry, a professor from the University of California, gave a lecture to students of Weber State University on Nov. 11, discussing racism and how to collaborate as a society. Photo credit: Nikki Dorber

Cherry discussed the ways allies’ rage on behalf of anti-racism can be detrimental instead of supportive if it’s used recklessly. She explained the ways that allies can behave badly, such as mistaking their feelings as the same experience of the oppressed, thinking their anger matters more than the racially marginalized, morally grandstanding and believing in white saviorism.

“Justice is the aim, so actions that bring justice should be the focus,” Cherry said.

During the question-and-answer session following the lecture, Cherry said one of the most important ways to express oneself is to admit that one is angry. She talked about how anger doesn’t necessarily need to leave the body with violent action, that it can rather be used in productive ways, like how she wrote her book while angry.

She also noted that suppressed anger only leads to violent action.

“There are a variety of acts that one can do and one can engage in with one’s anger, and protest is just one of them,” Cherry said. “It’s important that we use this anti-racist sentiment in the most productive way for our just aims.”

Myisha Cherry, an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of California, speaks to Weber State University students about racism on Nov. 11 in Ogden, Utah. (Nikki Dorber/The Signpost)
Myisha Cherry, an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of California, speaks to Weber State University students about racism on Nov. 11 in Ogden, Utah. Photo credit: Nikki Dorber

Cherry was the eighth speaker to lecture as part of the annual Distinguished Lecture in Philosophy held by the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences as a way to bridge the gap between philosophy and other scholastic disciplines.

Robert Fudge, philosophy professor, explained that they had asked Cherry to speak two years ago, but the pandemic pushed the lecture back. He agreed that this lecture is still relevant and timely, pointing out one example of the coincidence of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaking for the Ogden School Foundations Fall Author Event last week.

“Some of the white people around him would tell him ‘just be patient, don’t be angry,'” Fudge said. “But is that really going to be productive? Isn’t it necessary and appropriate at times to be able to express anger and rage to bring about these changes that we need?”

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