We Go Where They Go: The Story of Anti-Racist Action

Regular price $ 24.95

by Shannon Clay, Lady, Kristin Scwartz, and Michael Staudenmaier

PM Press

1/24/2023, paperback

SKU: 9781629639727


What does it mean to risk all for your beliefs? How do you fight an enemy in your midst? We Go Where They Go recounts the thrilling story of a massive forgotten youth movement that set the stage for today's anti-fascist organizing in North America. 

When skinheads and punks in the late 1980s found their communities invaded by white supremacists and neo-nazis, they fought back. Influenced by anarchism, feminism, Black liberation, and Indigenous sovereignty, they created Anti-Racist Action. At ARA's height in the 1990s, thousands of dedicated activists in hundreds of chapters joined the fights--political and sometimes physical--against nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, anti-abortion fundamentalists, and racist police. Before media pundits, cynical politicians, and your uncle discovered "antifa," Anti-Racist Action was bringing it to the streets.

Based on extensive interviews with dozens of ARA participants, We Go Where They Go tells ARA's story from within, giving voice to those who risked their safety in their own defense and in solidarity with others. In reproducing the posters, zines, propaganda and photos of the movement itself, this essential work of radical history illustrates how cultural scenes can become powerful forces for change. Here at last is the story of an organic yet highly organized movement, exploring both its triumphs and failures, and offering valuable lessons for today's generation of activists and rabble-rousers. We Go Where They Go is a page-turning history of grassroots anti-racism. More than just inspiration, it's a roadmap.

Includes a foreword by Gord Hill.


"I was a big supporter and it was an honor to work with the Anti-Racist Action movement. Their unapologetic and uncompromising opposition to racism and fascism in the streets, in the government, and in the mosh pit continues to be inspiring to this day." -- Tom Morello

"Antifa became a household word with Trump attempting and failing to designate it a domestic terrorist group, but Antifa's roots date back to the late 1980's when little attention was being paid to violent fascist groups that were flourishing under Reaganism, and Anti-Racist Action (ARA) was singular and effective in its brilliant offensive. This book tells the story of ARA in breathtaking prose accompanied by stunning photographs and images." -- Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

"'History, ' as The Story of Anti-Racist Action observes, 'is a weapon.' Yet in this timely, much-needed book, set against the backdrop of today's resurgent fascism, it is far more than that. History is a teachable, or learnable, moment. History is remembrance, or never forgetting, and honoring our dead. Most important, history is possibility. Because as the authors and many ARA participants so ably demonstrate on these pages, and with such clear-eyed insights, those who collectively self-organize and take direct action can make history--a people's history of courage and solidarity. And thus, this engaging history is a compass, guiding us away from unnecessary perils and pitfalls, and toward potentialities for not only community self-defense but also community care." -- Cindy Milstein, editor of There Is Nothing So Whole as a Broken Heart: Mending the World as Jewish Anarchists

"We Go Where They Go takes readers to the front lines of the little-known struggle against white supremacy and fascism that raged across North America at the turn of the twenty-first century. Based on insider accounts, this concise, riveting, and truly groundbreaking history of Anti-Racist Action is essential reading for the movements of today and tomorrow." -- Mark Bray, author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook

"We Go Where They Go is the story of those who bravely went steel toe to steel toe against the Nazis in the 1990s. It is a meditation on organizing when your life and community depend on it and the finest two-fisted street scholarship. Today's foes of fascism will find a treasure trove of perspectives, history, insights, and strategies here. It would be a mistake to call the nineties the 'lost decade' for radical action in the United States, and this book corrects the record." -- James Tracy, co-author Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power: Interracial Solidarity in 1960-70s New Left Organizing

About the Contributors:

Shannon Clay is a student, historian, and community activist from the Mountain West. Coming up after ARA had largely declined, he learned of its little-known history through anarchist networks and saw the need to document and publicize its history for a new generation of activists. He has been involved in student organizing and in prison solidarity and abolition work.

Lady is from Columbus, Ohio and proud to be a working class woman. She worked with ARA in the 1990s and 2000s, and was a member of the North Eastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists from 2001 until it ended in 2011. Lady is a founding member of Keystone ARA and contributes to One People's Project/Idavox. She has dabbled in various anti-fascist how to writings and community projects over the years. This is the first book she will take credit for. She lives with her family in Western Pennsylvania.

Kristin Schwartz grew up with the Toronto chapter of ARA from 1992 until 2003, and is grateful to have had that opportunity to contribute to the long struggle against white supremacy. She went on to work in community radio and has produced several audio documentaries including Women: the Oppressed MajorityThe Latin American Revolution and The Ravaging of Africa; some were syndicated across the Pacifica Network. Her writing has been published in Our TimesCanadian Dimension, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor and Labour/Le Travail.

Michael Staudenmaier is a veteran of many anti-fascist, anti-imperialist, and anarchist projects over the past quarter century, including work with ARA Chicago in the 1990s and 2000s. He is the author of Truth & Revolution: A History of the Sojourner Truth Organization, 1969-1986, as well as other many shorter works of political analysis and historical scholarship. He works as assistant professor of history at Manchester University in Indiana and lives in Chicago with his family.

writer, artist and activist of the Kwakwaka'wakw nation. He is the author and illustrator of The 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance Comic Book, The Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book, and The Antifa Comic Book, as well as the author of the book 500 Years of Indigenous ResistanceHis art and writings have also been published in numerous periodicals, including BriarpatchCanadian DimensionRedwireRed Rising MagazineThe DominionRecherches Amerindiennes au QuebecIntotemakSeattle Weeklyand Broken Pencil.