Robyn C. Spencer
The Revolution Has Come
Black Power, Gender and the Black Panther Party in Oakland
Duke University Press 2016
New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in Critical TheoryNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network February 1, 2017 Taylor Fox-Smith
As the first substantive account of the birthplace of the Black Panther Party (BPP), Robyn C. Spencer’s The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender and the Black Panther Party in Oakland (Duke University Press, 2016) rewrites elitist accounts that narrowly defined the party by its male leaders and masculine militarism. With a panoramic and critical lens on the role that gender politics played in effecting and affecting the Revolution – an internal and external activist project of overcoming oppression – Spencer’s organisational history weaves the urban parameters of Oakland, California, into a national and international narrative of racial consciousness.
A book that Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams, has said “tears down myths and distortions,” The Revolution Has Come traverses the BPP’s uncritical embrace of heteropatriachy in self-defense tactics, the dialectic relationship of state oppression and Black Women’s leadership of the party, the role of community programs in reshaping notions of masculinity and the personal toll of sexual double-standards in unspoken dating rules. Using archival and interview research that includes artwork, wiretap transcripts, poems, trial documents and the BPP’s newsletter, Spencer provides an example of historical scholarship that forefronts the voices and mouthpieces of the BPP to creates a unique intimacy with the “coming of age” of the men and women who set the groundwork for current iterations of Black resistance. In the words of Spencer herself, “this book is right on time,” and is necessary reading for activists and scholars alike who are attempting to define the gendered assumptions and history of strength, self-care and endurance.