Queered Outrage: Reclaiming Anger amid Facile Calls for Campus Civility

By Cathryn Bailey and Susan K. Freeman


Campus calls for “civility” tend to limit access to legitimate anger expression, especially for those on the margins of power. By exploring how socially permissible anger is racialized and gendered, and highlighting anger-infused queer activism of Stonewall and ACT UP, we identify anger as an important tool for interrogating facile notions of civil discourse, with significant implications for campus life. Anger from the margins is a necessary corrective to power abuses, and its full expression is essential to securing academic freedom. This reclamation of a supposedly “negative” emotion can motivate truth-telling and institutional change. Although campus communities prefer to embrace optimistic speech—think happy Pride rainbows and uplifting calls for diversity and unity—a truly progressive campus environment requires richer appreciation of and engagement with speech containing sorrow, ambivalence, anger, and darkness.

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