White Power’s Defeat of the Black Revolution in the 1960s: The Consequences of Imperialism

 

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The individual human will can be a powerful thing.  It’s good that each person’s will is so strong, for this helps each of us to persevere against the biggest odds when our lives are on the line.  And it may also be a good thing whenever the willful individual doesn’t give in to any person who asserts their own will, or whenever this individual doesn’t follow every group that attempts to impose its will on them.

We frequently see this attitude of refusal and independence in little children.  But as they grow up, children learn that it’s in their interests to go along with the group; as adults, they find that they can more effectively get the things they want by obeying or conforming to existing power structures than by throwing temper tantrums.  This is particularly true for white people, for whom the power structures of capitalism have been built.  But even as white adults conform to a system of power built by and for white people– which is the system of European imperialist capitalism– the will of the individual remains strong beneath the surface, particularly the will to defend a system which has brought us everything we have.  The power of the individual will in a white “American” cannot be overestimated.

Prior to the 1960s, “Americans” collectively showed a respect for authority which often approached the level of reverence.  In political offices, the military, media, schools, workplaces, churches, clubs, and families, the prevailing attitude of people in the United States toward any position of authority was one of unquestioning respect.  Some of this conformity of the “American” will was a result of the strict order within a militarized society which occurred during the Second Imperialist War (“World War II”).  The main source of agitation to conditions of the U.S. (supposedly) came from the outside– from Germany and Japan, so the “American” people more or less willingly imposed this strict order on themselves inside of the nation and unified internally against a common enemy or foreign aggressor.  Following 1945, the ruling class of the U.S. opportunistically exploited this militarized, national(ist) mentality to further mobilize the people (and the economy) against another foreign aggressor: the USSR.  Unified by the fear of invading “Communists,” the “American” people projected a facade of bland placidity during the 1950s, while the agitated internal contradictions of imperialist exploitation and white supremacist oppression boiled below the surface.

During the second half of the 1950s and in the early 1960s, Africa was already in the process of rebelling against European imperialist capitalism: in the Congo (Patrice Lumumba), Ghana (Kwame Nkrumah), and in dozens of other colonies on the African continent.  There was also the revolution in Cuba.  And the Vietnamese were rebelling against the French and U.S. imperialists.  A global revolution was in progress as the 1960s began.

In the United States, the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling on Brown v. Board of Education had heightened the internal contradictions of white supremacist capitalism.  The system of white power refused to integrate Black people into the post-War political order of the permanently militarized state, which had appeared to be so stable, and yet– at the same time– the federal government was compelled to send the National Guard into Little Rock in order to impose its will.  White power’s will opposed integration, yet it also enforced it, creating a crisis of power within the system: something had to give.

Initially, colonized Africans in “America,” or the Black community, simply wanted access to the existing system of power, one that had terrorized them for so long.  Their will was aligned with the will of the capitalist colonizer (their aggressor, never mind Hitler or Russia), because an attempt at conformity seemed to be the best way to gain access to the material benefits of the system.  Rosa Parks simply tried to sit down on a white-owned bus in Birmingham.  James Meredith simply wanted to enroll in a white-controlled university in Mississippi.  Colonized Africans in the south simply wanted to register to vote as Democrats.  Yet, in each instance white power resisted.  The system (and white people who both support and benefit from the system) refused to allow Africans access to this system.  The alternative (a separate system of power), as promoted by Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, became more and more popular among colonized Africans, still terrorized by white power, as they had been when Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) had become so popular in the 1920s, and (of course) long before.

These internal contradictions of white power’s colonial rule imposed on Africans heightened to the point where they boiled over in 1965 during the Watts Rebellion, which occurred after Malcolm X had been assassinated and as the Voting Rights Act was being signed into law.  Patrice Lumumba had been assassinated, with the backing of the CIA, in 1961.  The CIA would back a military coup against Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana in 1966.  But the African revolution– and the world revolution against European imperialist capitalism– had now reached the U.S. settler colony, in the form of Black Power.

Inclusion by a system of power which didn’t want to include them was becoming less and less desirable to colonized Africans, and their resistance to white power’s refusal to integrate was creating a consciousness of their own power, and their own will, and this consciousness shaped a new political identity.  So when Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) called for “Black Power” in 1966, colonized Africans were no longer seeking mere inclusion by a system which refused to include them; they were seeking the same thing as Africans in Africa, as Latin Americans, and as Asians: self-determination, independence, control over their own lives and destinies.  The will of the people was being asserted.

This movement for Black liberation in the 1960s expressed the collective will of the people.  “Black Power” was not about the individual, because white power was (and is) not about the individual.  Africans were (and are) systematically oppressed.  Africans are colonized by a system, a political, economic and social organization which collectively moves against their interests.

There wasn’t one revolutionary Black individual in the 1960s who acted all alone.  Malcolm X was in the Nation of Islam, and then formed the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU).  Fannie Lou Hamer was in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP).  Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) was in SNCC, along with Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown).  Robert F. Williams and Mabel Williams were in the NAACP– and, during exile, Robert F. Williams was named President of the Republic of New Afrika.  The individual will of Africans colonized by the U.S. capitalist system was expressed through the collective will of these organizations, because Africans, and all oppressed peoples, collectively recognized in their communities that the power of white supremacy and capitalism grew out of its organization.

During this time, the rebellion by the Vietnamese against the ruthless imperialist power of the U.S. was grabbing the attention of the “American people”– specifically white youths.  Young white people were already beginning to experience the physical and emotional rush of rebellion as they moved against the forces of “American” conformity which had kept the people in check since the Second Imperialist War (“World War II”).  White youths not only rebelled against the war in Vietnam but against traditional white attitudes toward sex, drugs, “popular” culture and the roles of white women and white gays in “American” society.  For inspiration, the rebelling white youth of the U.S. in the 1960s looked to the Black revolution and its organized individuals, forming their own groups which seemed to be natural allies to the Black struggle.  The rule of European imperialist capitalism was being threatened on a global scale, from within and without white power’s home base in the U.S. settler colony.

Huey P. Newton recognized these historical forces and counter-forces in the fight for power over the means of production in “American” society when he formed the Black Panther Party with Bobby Seale in 1966.  The Black Panthers sought to create alliances with organizations representing Latinxs, Native peoples, Asians and poor whites.  Huey Newton viewed the Black liberation struggle as a fight by all oppressed peoples against imperialist capitalism.  Huey Newton recognized that these oppressive conditions required a global struggle, so the Black Panther Party also reached out to the Viet Cong, to China, to Cuba, and to revolutionary organizations on the African continent.  The revolution against white power was not only a collective assertion of the people’s will, it was growing into an internationalist movement of organizations aligned against this common enemy of humanity: European imperialism.

Reactionary forces were also at work in the United States during the 1960s, threatening to crush the Black revolution.  These reactionary forces against Black liberation came from all branches of white power: the federal government (FBI, COINTELPRO, Johnson, Nixon), state government (then-Governor Ronald Reagan), city government  (including the police, such as the Chicago Police Department, which worked with the FBI to assassinate Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party), media and other businesses, and the masses of white people.  Ultimately, COINTELPRO and the ruthless power of the white ruling class was responsible for the defeat of the Black revolution in the U.S. during the 1960s, which used the contradictions within the movement against the movement.  The Black revolution, as part of the larger global revolution, was crushed by white power because it became a real threat to the capitalist system’s oligarchical rule over the majority.

However, the defeat of the Black revolution by white power was also brought about by social forces which (like the political and economic forces) have consequences to this day.  In essence, the emphasis on individualism, as promoted by the European imperialist system, crushed the spirit of collective power by the people.  The patriotic ideal of individualism became one of white power’s biggest weapons against the people.  White individuals, who had looked to the Black revolution for inspiration regarding our own rebellion against the system, felt a rush of will power, of resistance, a surge of energy borne of refusal to conform.  Individual anti-authoritarian, nonconformity became the rule of the day– as opposed to collective action against the capitalist system, which was organized and, therefore, actually did rule the day.  The collective will of revolutionary movement building– the work of organizers like Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, Kwame Ture, Huey P. Newton, Elaine Brown, and countless names mostly forgotten by history, which erroneously emphasizes individual achievement– was fractured and dispersed by reactionary forces into millions of individual wills.

The individual will felt a sense of power like never before, a will to proclaim one’s identity, one’s lifestyle, and one’s personal values and personal tastes.  Since the collective will of white power crushed the Black liberation movement– as well as the global socialist revolution against systemic oppression– the legacy of resistance movements of the 1960s has become a liberal, libertarian, individualistic resistance to conformity expressed by singular attitudes, behaviors and other personalized displays of will, which was not the actual goal of the revolution.

Isolated from each other by capitalism’s will, the individual is– in reality– mostly powerless.  Our only actual power comes from the material benefits brought to us by this system.  Therefore, white people enjoy more power (and more wealth), because our material benefits come exclusively from the exploitation of Africans and all oppressed peoples (the majority of the world’s population).

Within the little box of our individual domain, we rule.  Nobody can convince us to do this or not to do that.  But the box itself is manufactured by USA, Inc., by the system of white power– and the materials and labor for it are stolen from Africans and all colonized peoples.  We can smoke pot, get drunk, have any type of sex we like, watch any show we want, tweet to our heart’s (dis)content, shout, sing, cry, laugh, pout– but we are empowered to do all these things only by our access to resources, and these exist for white people only on account of the oppression of Africans and most people on the planet.

In reality, our physical positions within the system of power are more fixed than ever.  Perhaps this is why our individual will is so strong: it’s all we have.  Real power is in the hands of the white ruling class, which will crush us if we display the slightest amount of resistance– so we cling to whatever ability to refuse we have that is left over.

White people in particular learned the wrong lessons from the Black revolution of the 1960s.  We took inspiration from a global movement, led by Africans, that was based on their life-and-death struggle for resources and power, and turned this collective resistance into an individual expression of rebelliousness.  White people thought it was cool to call the police “pigs” and give the middle finger to “The Man.”  Whites recognized the feeling of power that Black people were experiencing when they began to become conscious of their collective power as a political identity, and we appropriated this Blackness as an expression of customized personal style, and unique values and views, tailored to meet individual needs for self-actualization and self-assertion in a claustrophobic system of capitalist control.

In the 1960s, white people– who benefited, then as now, from the systemic oppression of Black people– also felt oppressed by this system of power, boxed in by its cookie-cutter attitudes, its dull conformity and its post-War militarized sense of order.  Yet, for most white youths, this rebellion against the forces of conformity was fought on top conditions that were the result of imperialist oppression.  So their rebelliousness, as a class of colonizers, was about idealism rather than physical matter– the necessities of life.  The lesson white people learned from the 1960s was to enjoy the material benefits of colonial exploitation while rebelling against the idealism– or the “image”– of this conservative racial caste system.

One Black leader and writer in the 1960s who misread white people’s rebellious behavior and attitudes toward the Black revolution was Eldridge Cleaver.  While the prose style of Soul on Ice is brilliant, Eldridge Cleaver actually attacks James Baldwin for criticizing Norman Mailer, defending the white Norman Mailer as someone who understood Black people more than James Baldwin did.  Huey P. Newton didn’t completely fall for this nonsense when he asked Eldridge Cleaver to join the Black Panther Party, a move which turned out to be disastrous to the party.  But the Black Panthers trusted the rebellious spirit of white people– particularly young white leftists– perhaps more than they should have.  Fred Hampton famously said, “You don’t fight racism with racism.”  But Black people can’t be racist, not against white people in the U.S. at any rate– not then, and not now.  Racism is based on a system of power and the ability to control people.  On account of white power, Black people don’t have that ability– they can’t be racist.  But Fred Hampton’s famous line reflected the attitudes that Eldridge Cleaver and Huey P. Newton also held toward white people: we should not be excluded.  This proved to be a mistake, because white people were in the process of learning the wrong lessons from the Black revolution, one of individual rebelliousness rather than organized, collective, principled rebellion against the system which white people benefit from.

Kwame Ture recognized this contradiction in the attitudes and behaviors of white people on the left and wanted to exclude whites from the Black Panther Party (as had occurred in SNCC).  For this reason, the Black Panthers turned against Kwame Ture and– if Eldridge Cleaver’s people didn’t murder him, through the deceitful manipulations of COINTELPRO– the government would have found some way to eliminate Stokely (as he was called then).  So Kwame Ture went to Africa (to Guinea-Conakry) in the late 1960s and studied revolutionary theory under the mentorship of Sekou Ture and Kwame Nkrumah.

COINTELPRO and white power were going to crush the Black revolution either way– whether the Black Panther Party had chosen the path which Kwame Ture advocated, or had gone (as it did) down the path chosen by Eldridge Cleaver, who was infatuated by white leftists and the individualistic ideal of the stylish rebel.  And the consequences of this choice, long after the Black revolution was destroyed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, have had a devastating impact on the global movement for liberation.  The image of the cool, rebellious non-conformist has become a marketable commodity which the very system that crushed the Black revolution can profit from.

Almost every so-called “American” today has a bit of that 1960s revolutionary in their persona.  Whether it’s their taste in music, their use of slang, or a T-shirt they are wearing, every individual wants to be some kind of rebel.  And who can stop them?  Their will is too strong.  It would be an oppressive act– considered immoral to the true socialist revolutionary– to coerce a person to do something they don’t want to do.  And they probably wouldn’t do it anyway.  Since the defeat of the African revolution in the 1960s, the will power of the individual has been built up by the system which holds the actual power (for it controls access to material resources that support the individual).  In 2015, the so-called “American” individual has an impenetrable, unbending will, a brittle resolve to do whatever they want to do– all within the confines of what white power makes possible for them.

The defeat of the Black revolution in the 1960s has had the devastating consequence of fracturing the collective will of the masses into millions and millions of unbreakable, inflexible wills– each individual clinging to their coping mechanisms within the ever-increasing power of European imperialist capitalism.  The energy of the people, which would be directed against the source of their oppression, is redirected into the operation of high-tech devices and their predictable framework of for-profit media.  The uniformity of the medium, and of each device’s design, homogenizes the expression of free speech, and diverts the energy of resistance into these carefully controlled paths– as any display of collective will is siphoned off into various channels of specific “demographics” or “target audiences.”  Everything is tailor-made to the individual, creating the illusion of control, while the real power– which profits off the people’s labor and resources– lies with the wealthy few.

While the masses focus on the individualized coping mechanisms for oppression, European capitalist imperialism consolidates its power and grows and grows, creating ever more oppression.  Yet the people’s refusal is not against the system (which they may feel is simply too powerful to resist) but, instead, is against the voices of dissent coming from the oppressed, exploited masses.  Activists in the Black Lives Matter movement are criticized far more harshly than the police actually committing violence are criticized.  The will power of the individual– particularly if they are white– is expressed by their rigid refusal to pay attention, and instead, just to keep driving, or to keep scrolling down the page on Facebook, or to change channels.  Meanwhile, the sense of freedom– “Casual Fridays” and saying “fuck”– reaffirms the white person’s post-1960s identity of the autonomous individual.  The more oppressive European imperialist capitalism becomes, the more we cling to these little expressions of individualized identity.

The (concluding) question is: are volatile or unstable material conditions for revolution still a trigger for resistance against the oppressor by the oppressed masses, or has European imperialism– having defeated the Black revolution in the 1960s– simply become too skillful in its manipulation of our collective psyche for the people to see organized rebellion as anything other than a crazy, cult-like, and practically (or impractically) suicidal move?

But there’s another question: can any movement for mass political education be viewed by the masses as materially beneficial to humanity (and to themselves, as members of humanity), or is the individual will so resistant to rational, scientific persuasion, that any effort to educate them can only be seen by this refusing individual as a form of oppression?

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White Power’s Defeat of the Black Revolution in the 1960s: The Consequences of Imperialism

The White Liberal and Racism

WhiteLiberal

Morality does not determine history.  History is determined by the masses’ ongoing struggle for power over the means of production within the evolving material conditions of society, which then become the basis for our morality.

What people feel, think and say about themselves– and about the world around them– is quite often an inaccurate reflection of their actual material position in the world.  A person’s stated morality frequently does not match their impact on humanity and the planet.  This difference between what we say and where we are (that is, the difference between morality and matter) is not based on personal dishonesty, but, rather, on a system of wealth and power which requires such a difference, and, furthermore, requires our ignorance about this difference.  For when we become conscious of this difference, our consciousness becomes a threat to the source of the system’s wealth and power: we are no longer focused on how we feel about things, but on the actual things— the materials which are controlled by a political system for its benefit.

If we were to attempt to understand the world according to what white people say about it, and attempt to understand ourselves by what we say about ourselves, it would be fairly clear that white people care about “right” and “wrong” and “good” and “evil.”  Determining exactly what is “right” and what is “wrong”– or what is “good” and what is “evil”– is cause for endless debate: in political campaigns, on television, on Twitter and other media, and among friends, family and coworkers.  Each of us wants to believe we are “moral”– we are good, decent individuals.  Whenever we argue with people about what we believe to be moral, we (subjectively) differentiate between what we say is “right” and “good” and what they say is “right” and “good”– which we judge to be “wrong” or “evil.”

Whenever people argue that what they believe is moral, there really isn’t any argument about whether their belief is correct or incorrect: they are correct that they do believe that.  And their opponent is also correct that they do, in fact, believe what they are saying– unless one of them is being dishonest, but this too doesn’t make a material difference.  Because neither one of them is actually arguing about the world itself, but only about how they feel regarding the world (whether they are speaking honestly or dishonestly).

But when we look at the objective reality of the world– at even just a map of it– we begin to understand the material foundation for our arguments about morality.  Let’s take England as an example.  Here is a cluster of islands off the European continent, rather small in physical comparison with the rest of the planet.  Yet English-speaking people– particularly white people (Anglo-Saxons)– have come to dominate the world.  English-speaking people conquered most of the “North American” continent: occupied Indigenous lands now called “Canada” and the “United States,” as well as land stolen from Mexico.  White people in the united former colonies of Britain have settled all across a land mass which was once inhabited entirely by Indigenous nations, and this settler colony (the United States) has come to dominate the majority of the world: politically, economically, militarily.

We also find English-speaking white people building a replica of England in Australia, once inhabited exclusively by the Aboriginal peoples of that continent, indigenous to their land just as the Native peoples of the Americas are here.

Wherever Africans, Asians, and “Latin Americans” live in the world, they learn English, the language of this small cluster of islands.   Famously, or (infamously) England was “the empire on which the sun never set”– and perhaps still is.

Of course, England has not been alone in Europe’s exploitation and domination of the globe: it has been joined by Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium and nearly every other western European nation.  The wealth of Europe, and its settler colonies like the United States, Canada and Australia, has blossomed in the rich soil of exploited lands and peoples.

So tell me: what in the world does morality have to do with any of this?

By examining the actual material and historical conditions of Europe, and of England in particular, we find that the gap between (subjective) morality and objective reality is very great.  It is for this reason England and the English promote a cultural or moral identity which emphasizes politeness, civilization, character and Christian values.  But if we look at the actual words of Jesus in the Christian Bible, can we say that the historical behavior of England and Europe has reflected his religious teachings in the least?

In essence, white people have become experts in saying one thing about ourselves (and others), while doing quite the opposite.  The language we use is often elegant, precise, subtle, persuasive.  Yet our behavior is that of a ruthless butcher hacking away at the bodies of children, imprecisely slipping this way and that on a path of blood, with our one means of persuasion being our unlimited capacity for violence, which is anything but subtle in its rape, plunder, and red-faced brutality inflicted on anyone who stands in our way.  After such staggeringly violent behavior, white people need a strong sense of morality, expressed by a pretty language, to conceal the stench of death below us.

England’s real claim to fame is its willingness to commit any amount of atrocities against humanity in order to gain wealth and power– and that’s why England and Europe dominate the globe.  It’s certainly not on account of morality.  Our morality is simply the difference or the void that white people fill between unmatched levels of genocidal violence and our (subjective) desire to believe we are right, decent and justified in our actions.  White people invent the soothing language of morality in order to obscure the agitated material reality of our violence.

For white conservatives, there is less of a gap between genocidal behavior and moral language.  There are always the white people who have the mentality of “kill them all” or “might makes right.”  This is why conservative whites tend to dominate business, military and politics under capitalism (even when they supposedly aren’t in power).  Morality is less of an issue for them because their morality more closely resembles their behavior.  If we watch Fox News even for two minutes (that is, if we can endure it), we find a mentality which is totally comfortable and confident sneering at the suffering of humanity, a bellicosity which never abstains from advocating war, and an endlessly glossy parade of gleeful, simple celebrations of Whiteness.

“American” conservatives are unashamed white nationalists, their morality unclouded by self-criticism (“revisionist history”), empathy (“wimpy political correctness”) or intellectual curiosity (“too much book-learning”).  Conservatives get right down to the basics: bomb them, beat them, profit off them and watch the stock market rise.  This isn’t to state that conservatives are honest about who they are.  That would perhaps be a wildly inaccurate statement on my part.  Conservatives have simply (or simplistically) invented a morality which matches the physical reality of European imperialist capitalism’s wealth and power.  Yes, there’s a lot of huffing and puffing among conservatives about Christian values; but then, to the “American” conservative, Christianity is obviously nothing more than an expression of white nationalism.

What about the “American” liberal?

Assata Shakur wrote:

“I have never really understood exactly what a ‘liberal’ is, since I’ve heard ‘liberals’ express every conceivable opinion on every conceivable subject. As far as I can tell, you have the extreme right, who are fascist, racist capitalist dogs like Ronald Reagan, who come right out and let you know where they’re from. And on the opposite end, you have the left, who are supposed to be committed to justice, equality, and human rights. And somewhere between these two points is the liberal. As far as I’m concerned, ‘liberal’ is the most meaningless word in the dictionary. History has shown me that as long as some white middle class people can live high on the hog, take vacations to Europe, send their children to private schools, and the reap the benefits of their white skin privileges, then they are ‘liberals’. But when times get hard and money gets tight, they pull off that liberal mask and you think you’re talking to Hitler. They feel sorry for the so-called underprivileged just as long as they can maintain their own privileges.”

In terms of material conditions, there is no difference between the white liberal and the white conservative.  Objectively, the white liberal lives on the same occupied land of Indigenous peoples, benefits from the same U.S. exploitation of the majority of humanity, and enjoys the same “white skin privileges” as the white conservative.  The only difference is that a white liberal may start to feel bad about this reality, and this gap between their morality and the material basis for this morality leads to guilt.  If we go back to the observation that Europeans are experts in saying one thing and doing another– in creating infinitely subtle, passive aggressive language in order to obscure our actual aims– we find that the white liberal must invent a more complex morality to match their disquieted comprehension of violent European imperialist behavior.

Therefore, the white liberal is the greater expert in the construction of the elaborate, sophisticated language of morality which is used to mask the true imperialistic behavior which supports all whites.  Some of this guilt or anxiety felt by the white liberal is deflected– or redirected– at conservatives: they are to blame for all these horrible things happening in the world.  Yet who benefits from these violent acts?  White people.  White conservatives, white libertarians, white liberals– and, for that matter, white socialist revolutionaries.

All white people benefit from a system of parasitic European capitalism.  Our very existence is dependent upon the oppression of Africans and the rest of humanity.  Yet white people invent different ways of speaking about (or avoiding) the reality of violent exploitation.  The material conditions of white people are more or less the same; only our (subjective) judgment of these conditions differs.  White individuals speak the moral language which provides the most psychological comfort to each of us; yet our collective ability to speak, think, feel and live at all is based on the objective reality of white power’s control over our access to resources.

White liberals drive on the same freeways as white conservatives, burning the same gasoline in cars manufactured by the same capitalist system of oppression, and pull into the same middle-class white neighborhoods in a nation which is essentially still segregated by race.  Portland, Oregon is a very liberal city.  Yet Black and Brown people are priced out of Portland, and literally cannot afford to live in this haven of progressive, inclusive open-mindedness.  No matter what white liberals in Portland say about themselves or about the world, and no matter what their moral beliefs are, the physical reality of their behavior is the displacement and further impoverishment of Black and Brown people.  In reality, Portland is a very white city.  It’s a haven for whiteness.  Portland’s inclusiveness is only decorative.  Its mind may be open, but its economic opportunities are closed to people who aren’t white.  That’s the material reality of Portland, which isn’t unique: it’s the material reality of the United States.

The question is: can white liberals become conscious of this gap between who they say they are (their morality) and the actual material conditions under white settler colonialism?   Put another way: is there any difference between white liberals and conservatives when it comes to educating them about the reality of material conditions in the U.S. settler colony, in order to change actual white behavior?

The answer lies in the ability of the white liberal to approach white imperialist behavior using the scientific theories of revolution.  White liberals (and some conservatives) place great faith in science.  We benefit materially from scientific knowledge.  Yet white people then turn to our (always subjective) morality in order to idealize our physical situation which rests upon these benefits of science.  We value knowledge if we can use it as an object: a thing.  Then our lazy, hazy idealism kicks in, and we begin to argue about how we feel about all this knowledge.  Again– nobody is wrong.  Because the focus is on feelings which arise from material conditions, rather than the actual conditions.  Feelings aren’t wrong.  But white people (liberal, conservative, or otherwise) can only begin to grasp the reality of European imperialism after we have moved beyond our (subjective) feelings and judgments about who we are and what the world is.

For instance, no white person wants to be called a “racist.”  Yet all white people are racist.  Yes, all white people are racist.  But the white liberal angrily or defensively shrinks from this reality, because they interpret it to be an attack on their morality– a negative label attached to who they are.  They subjectively (and understandably) want to be good.  They must be good.  Racism is bad.  Therefore, that can’t be who they are.  And the negative reaction of white liberals to what they perceive to be an attempt to attach a negative label on them leads to additional racist behavior.  The reaction of a racist white person (who could be any white person) to the observation that they are racist is most often also racist, because it’s defensive.  Their reaction is equally aggressive (to the force of the perceived threat), resulting in self-righteous defense intended to relieve what they (subjectively) feel is an injury to their ideal sense of being, and not just a description of the world.

Bertrand Russell said, “Those who forget good and evil and seek only to know the facts are more likely to achieve good than those who view the world through the distorting medium of their own desires.”

White people are so afraid of “evil” racism that we don’t actually “view the world” or racism as it is: we see it only through the “distorting medium” of our “desires.”  White people look at racism through the distorting desire not to be racist– that is, not to be “evil.”  As we do with most of our problems, whites approach the problem of racism as a personal moral issue rather than a systemic issue that requires objective, scientific knowledge of the system (and the material conditions under its power).

Bertrand Russell also said, “Every man [sic], wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.” 

Once white people have removed the sting of the “racist” label from our idealized sense of self, we feel comfortable going on our way, insulated from the grim reality of our behavior and the inequality in the conditions which support us.  We believe we are good, so all must be right on heaven and earth; now we can rest easy in our newly renovated house in Northeast Portland.

This is the downfall of the white liberal.  It’s not a moral downfall: it’s a failure of the senses and of the critical faculty, a failure of the white liberal’s belief in the ideal of liberalism itself, rather than in a rational understanding of objective reality.  A final quote by Bertrand Russell: “What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite.”

But if white liberals are to become conscious of the material reality of their racism, the first thing they will want to do is “find out” what racism actually is.  They will get beyond the labels of “good” and “bad” and what they believe to be “right” and “wrong.”  These labels aren’t the basis of history.  People must eat whether it’s right or wrong for them to steal food.  And capitalism must oppress the many for the benefit of the few, with moral beliefs nowhere in sight.  In one sense, oppression isn’t a moral issue; it’s a question of inequality or imbalance in material conditions.

So what is “racism”?

Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) and Charles V. Hamilton define racism in their book Black Power: The Politics of Liberation:

“By ‘racism’ we mean the predication of decisions and policies on considerations of race for the purpose of subordinating a racial group  and maintaining control over that group.”

The authors of Black Power go on to explain the differences between “overt racism” and “covert racism.”  So the white liberal will want to read this book by Kwame Ture and Charles V. Hamilton if it is their desire to understand and address racism in the United States.  The authors discuss these racist acts and attitudes in the context of “institutional racism”:

“Institutional racism relies on the active and pervasive operation of anti-black attitudes and practices.  …  institutional racism has another name: colonialism.”

If the white liberal can move beyond not only the value judgments of the term “racist” but also the invisible concept of “racism,” they will begin to recognize that the material basis of racism is colonialism.  The problem is colonialism.  We can’t see racism.  Racism isn’t a person, a building, a piece of land, or a big sign above it.  These things express racism— that is, they suggest the existence of a problem and are interpreted as being racist.  But when we focus on the concept of racism, rather than its colonial basis, it becomes a subjective argument about whether these specific expressions or suggestions are racist or not– based on what we judge to be racist.  What is not debatable is the colonial basis of these things.  We can’t see the concept.  But we can’t help but recognize the material reality of colonialism as it relates to Black people in the United States.

Why are white people on land once exclusively inhabited by Native nations?  Why are Black people– Africans– also on this land?  The answer is colonialism.  When we begin to look at racism in this context of colonialism, we recognize that the issues of inequality and injustice go back to the problem of colonialism.  White privilege, white fragility, microaggressions, tokenism, cultural appropriation, and– yes– gentrification, all go back to the source, or root cause, of these forms of oppression: colonialism.  The same is true of the prison-industrial complex, the school-to-prison pipeline, and, of course, police brutality.  These are demonstrable, measurable phenomena which occur in a system of colonial capitalism.  They are phenomena we can define and describe, and then discuss, rather than simply talking about our personal feelings and our individual morality.

If the white liberal can begin to recognize the historical and material basis of racism, perhaps they will organize to move against the system of colonialism.   Yet every white person draws an invisible line in the metaphorical sand: we will go that far, but not beyond it.  I will take some actions to fight white supremacist colonialism, but my invisible line is drawn at that self-defined limit which is the refusal to give up my apartment and belongings to an Indigenous person, and leave the country– and go back to England.  And that line becomes my complicity in genocide.

Every white person has this imaginary line that we draw, which we refuse to cross where our own material advantage is concerned.  Yes, we’re against racism.  Yes, we are able to recognize colonialism.  Yet are we willing to give up a full stomach and a warm bed in order to end colonialism?  Not on your life.  Or, rather, not on my life.  This line is where material benefits end and morality begins.  There’s plenty of room for us to move materially around on the moralistic side of this line– it’s the strictly materialist side that is walled off by a thousand comforts, and idealistic excuses which are tailored to fit the supposed uniqueness of each individual.

The white liberal’s line might drawn farther out than the conservative’s line, and not as far out as the white socialist revolutionary’s line.  That distance (whatever it is) is the difference between the stated morality of whites and our material position.  This difference can be judged in terms of smugness, arrogance and any other racist attitudes of whites which arise from a material advantage created by capitalist exploitation.  But it’s only a question of where we’re going to draw the line until the colonized working class peoples of the world draw it– or redraw it– without consulting our feelings about it first.

It’s safe to say, the conservative is aligned with the enemy: European imperialist capitalism.  They show who they are.  They simply do not care about racism.  The white socialist revolutionary is on the margin, able to describe what they cannot change.  So the white liberal becomes the key figure in the struggle between the capitalists and the working class, because their education– or re-education– can become a mass reorganization of consciousness.

A revolution only comes from the masses, not the margins; it originates in a mass revolutionary consciousness, and the majority of “leftists” in the U.S. are white liberals.  A white supporter of Bernie Sanders is much closer to recognizing the material basis of colonial control, and becoming revolutionary, than the supporter of Ted Cruz or some other Republican (take your pick). [12/8/2017 Note: maybe not any closer at all]

Or is the white liberal willing to confront their own racism more than any other white person is?  Perhaps this is only a wish on my part, and a mere reflection of my own racist investment in the spoils of capitalist exploitation which are the basis of my own life.   Can white people become politically conscious?  Perhaps not: with white people, each of us has our own invisible line that we draw in the sand, enjoying our colonizer’s lifestyle on this side, at the expense of the masses beyond the other side of the line.

Whites willfully cling to our own little guarded comfort, regardless of who suffers, and create the moral language for it later …  until we are forced by conditions to do otherwise.

 

 

 

 

The White Liberal and Racism

President Ronald Rump

EssayPicture

[note: written in November 2015 before i became a Muslim.]

On his first day as the leader of the Freeloading World, President Ronald Rump entered the Grovel Office.  Later on that day, the rest of his combed-over hair arrived, and– like the Greeks from a Trojan Horse’s butt– out of the hair jumped the President’s gang of advisors.  After asking Rupert Murdoch his permission to sit behind the President’s desk, the President sat down and gave his best manly glare at a world full of so many threats.

“OK, you assholes!” yelled President Rump.

“Um, are you talking to us or all the enemies of American decency … sir?” asked one of his advisors, a timid ex-Marine used to taking orders.

“I’m not talking to any of you assholes– I’m talking to these CEOs from Boeing, Walmart and Amazon.  What’s the first thing on my ‘To Dominate’ list? … Assholes!”

Three white guys popped up from behind a potted plant.

“Give us tax cuts!”

“More war!”

“More tax cuts!”

“Just give us the money!” they all said.

“Alright, alright,” Ronald Rump replied, staring down his pals, as they glared back– a little game they played to keep from turning gay.  “Numero uno on the list, done.  What’s next?”

“Well, that’s about it– same as the last guy.  You know the routine,” one of the CEOs said, glaring at the potted plant, which looked to him as if it had some terrorist plot in mind.

More glares were exchanged during an awkward pregnant pause, as all pauses should be, like women.

“OK, then,” said President Rump, “Then I guess I can get down to some of the fun stuff of being Commander In Chief.  Any Black activists we can spy on?  Any countries with funny-sounding names we can bomb?”

“That’s already happening, sir,” an advisor advised, agreeably deferential without sounding gay (for he had practiced his straight voice with his partner Mike that morning).  “But we always could bomb another country, if you want– as long as it’s not in Europe.”

“Well, maybe later.  Didn’t I promise something about deporting some Mexicans?  I might as well keep one promise to the ‘good, decent, hard-working American people’!” President Rump joked, laughing through pursed lips from red bloated cheeks.  It was not an attractive look.  The advisors laughed anyway– they were getting paid, so “What the fuck, why not?” each of them thought.

“Actually,” President Rump continued, “Deportation is too good for these mothers.  Literally, mothers.  And babies.  Let’s do something even worse.  It’s time to step up that tough love and all-American know-how, that … whatever … which built this … whatever.  So let’s send a strong message that the good’ ol’ USA is back baby, back like a mother– a motherfucker, that is– morning in America, you bastards!”

The congregation broke out in a slightly off key performance of The National Anthem.   Mike’s boyfriend killed it– show tunes being his thing.  But after hitting the last long note he made sure to spit in the potted plant just to keep it from going too gay.

”  … and the ho-ome of theeeeeee brave.”

“OK, good job men,” Ronald Rump said, “I mean, assholes.  Now where were we?  Oh yeah, about to send a message in American know-how, part of that can-do spirit, that … whatever.  Say, Bob, hire a couple new speechwriters for me.  In fact, hire some speechgivers.  This talking wears me out.   Let these asshole Americans listen to someone else while I chase some tail.  Say, Bob, bring me some tail.  But anyway … where were we?”

“Mexico.”

“Oh yeah, Mexico.  Sending a message of American can-do, hee-haw, booyah, and blah blah to these Mexican mothers who refuse to learn English and … say, Bob, can you finish this sentence for me, I’m tired of talking.”

“Sure thing Mr. President.”

“No, get lost.  Asshole,” Ronald Rump said, revived by an image of himself he caught in the reflection on the glass of Churchill’s portrait (UK, US– what’s the diff?).  “OK, what to do with these lazy Mexicans.  We just need to put them in their place, like we did the Mau Mau.  Let’s cook up something really patriotic, really British, really step up our game.”  Rump was getting in a groove, revved up in full presidential mode.

“OK, so all those brown people intruding on American land, we need to fix this problem.  And I know how to fix this problem.  Because I’m a problem-fixer.  I’ve got the know-how.  I’m a man.  I’m a …”

“Mr. President, get to the point.”

“Right.  OK, brown– bad.  White– good.  Black– worst.  Got that straight?”

“We’re taking notes, sir.”

“No no, no notes– strictly off the record.  Let’s do it like the first 44 mothers, even that last asshole.  National security, you know.”

Much laughter.

“Alright, so getting down to brass tacks and– whatever the fuck that means– let’s focus.  Fo-cus!  Let’s send a message to these anti-American mothers that they’ll never forget.  Something better, more American, more white than anything the motherfuckin’ forefathers ever dreamed up– something really deadly.  Let’s round them up and cut off their hands.”

“Sounds good sir,” said Mike’s beau, “But Columbus already thought of that and did it.  Any ideas to move things beyond the 15th century?”

“You got a problem with the 15th century?  Get out!”

“Don’t you mean ‘you’re fired’?” an NBC exec piped up, as he popped out from behind a plotting plant.

“No, Mike’s beau can stay.  Good work.  Just keep the gay shit to a minimum.  Not comfortable with that.  But getting back to the task at hand … whew, this presidency shit is hard work.  When is my first four week vacation?  Never mind that, Bob.  We’ve got to deal with these lazy illegal aliens.”

Some inhabitants of the planet Quog appeared from behind the plotting plant.  “Us, sir?”

“No, Quog dudes, you’re cool– you’ve got that Anglo-Saxon glow to your asses, and Whole Foods might be able to use your invasion techniques.  A few Black neighborhoods in Deportland, Orygun still need to be gentrified.”

“Done, and done,” squeaked Quogling 3, picking up on the lingo of the day and of the solar system.

President Ronald Rump continued:

“Let’s force a European language on these brown-assed people– maybe Spanish.”

Blank stares.  Triple-eyed blank stares from Quogling 3 & Co. (already catching on to American tribal rituals of IPOs and shit).

“No?  OK, let’s force Christianity on them.”

“Sir, you really need to catch up.”

“OK, Mike’s beau, way to show some ‘tough love.’  I’m into that tough love.  Tough, sweaty, man on man … Where were we?  Oh yeah, so cutting off hands, forcing them to speak Espagnol, and making them pray to white Jesus apparently are off the table.  So, table-wise, and torture-wise– what else you got?”  Ronald Rump was really New Yorking the fuck out of these phrases.

“How about SuperNAFTA?” Walmart’s CEO said.

“You’re still here?” President Rump barked. “Here’s two billion dollars– now get the fuck outta here!  All you CEOs– git!”

“Just remember who you work for, Rump!” the CEOs said, leaving the Grovel Office, smiling through their glares at their billion dollar checks.

“OK– this is fun,” Ronald Rump continued, straightening his tie made by tired hands of Chinese children.  “So the 15th century is out.  Any other centuries?  Maybe spread some small pox to wipe out these mothers?  We must have some other European diseases?”

“We could start another ebola scare.”

“Nah, that’s for Africans.  You know, bottom of the totem pole.  Remember your American history, people!  Pecking order.  Food chain– all that jazz.”

“Right.”

“We could go Hiroshima or Nagasaki on them.  Maybe drop a little Black Wall Street or MOVE Organization on their asses.  Where’s that red button I was hoping to play with?”

“You need the key from the NSA, CIA and Rupert Murdoch first, sir.”

“Alright.  Get me the key– and a pumpkin latte.  Make sure the cup says ‘Merry Christmas’ on it– don’t want to piss off O’Reilly.”

Four advisors rushed out.

“Oh Bob!” the Prez shouted to one of the advisors, who rushed back.  “And don’t leave any tips for those Starbucks baristas– the lazy fucks make too much already.  Greedy bastards.  Can’t even get people’s names right.  Wrote ‘Ted Cruz’ on my cup one time and ‘Ben Carson’ another time.  So got that?  Alright?  Good.”

Rump gave the room a good staring down, real NBC prime time stuff, very Presidential, and continued:

“OK, people.  Con-cen-trate!  We’ve got to be original.  Let’s not be too white after all!  We need to find a way to get rid of these illegal aliens– no, not you Quog dudes.  Ideas, we need ideas.”

“Say, boss,” said one advisor, who for some reason sounded like a mug in an old Edward G. Robinson gangster picture, very Allen Jenkins [google it].  “How ’bout we sterilize ’em– kill ’em off slow-like, ya know, like voimin?”

“Voimin?  What the fuck is ‘voimin’?”  Rump snorted.  “Oh, vermin.  No, Herman, that won’t do.  It has been done.  Original.  Orr-idg-inn-all.”  Hyphenated syllables were the surest indication of cisnormative macho leadership, next to saluting the uniformed servicemen as you step off Forced Air One.

Rump suddenly had an idea.

“OK, people, get this: we put these brown people in uniforms, you know, like the Mets wear on Mondays.  I hate the Mets– go Yankees.  But never mind that– put them in camo, teach them to love America and all that shit, and have them go attack one of the countries their kinfolks are from.”

“Sorry, sir, that’s been done,” Eduardo, the ex-Marine, said.

“Ah, shit.  Isn’t there any form of torture or brutality we can inflict on these uncivilized rapists and … brutal torturers … that America hasn’t inflicted before?”

“OK, boss, get this,” the Allen Jenkins-wannabe said as he jumped up, fedora tilted back on head.  “Let’s dump a whole bunch of drugs and guns into their neighborhoods, remove all the jobs and grocery stores– got it?– put in some patriotic teachers who will teach their children to hate themselves, build a whole bunch of prisons for the ones who act up, and then just watch the whole thing blow up while we sit back and rake in the dollahs?”

“Hmm … sounds familiar, Al (I mean, Herm).”  President Rump rubbed his chin (his own chin), practically stroked it, lovingly, his ego purring.  “Nah, gosh darn it– it’s been taken.”

Another advisor chimed in (as President Rump made love to his own exquisitely formed chin, so he deemed, with his soft, unchapped hands, so free from grubby work): “Mr. President, it seems to me … Mr. President, please, listen … this nation is a well-oiled machine that is operating just fine without your needing to do too much.  Should I get your golf clubs?”

Ronald Rump slumped in his chair, dejected, and gave a big sigh.

“Well, gentlemen, all we can do now is wait and pray.  Wait– that’s not the line.  Well, gentlemen, I was hoping to bring some real American law and order to this country, but it seems all those anti-Black, anti-brown, and pro-lily white ass gentrifying, colonizing, imperialist as shit policies have existed all along.   Being President is no fun– I should just go back to being a multi-billionaire, that way I can give the orders to the President.”

He picked up the Presidential Phone and dialed.  Ring …  Ring.

Ring …

“Hello?”  A woman’s voice was on the other end.

“Hey, Hillary, you still want the job?”

“Sure!”

“And sorry about calling you a cold bitch in the debates.”

“Water under the bridge, Ronald.  So what have you done so far that I need to undo?”

“Well, not much new.  We’re just brainstorming here about bombing a few more countries, roughing up some more Black and brown kids in some schools, encouraging some more gentrification in Deportland, and other shit like that.  You know, the usual.”

“OK.  Well, I’ll need to change the language for what we’re doing (soften it a bit, make it sound more humane), and probably change the chair you’re sitting in, because– quite frankly– Ronald, you give me the creeps.  Seriously, you make my skin crawl.”

“I hear ya, Hill.  I tend to do that to women, until they take a look at my bankroll.  Anyway, the CEOs got their money, so you probably don’t need to start until next week.  I’m not sure anyone will notice if the President is missing.  Things seem to run pretty well on their own around here!’

They both have a good laugh.

President Ronald Rump

One House, Four Walls? – Justice, Freedom, Equality, Peace

Circles

Justice, freedom, equality and peace are all connected.  Without one, there can be none of the others.  In fact, the argument here is that justice, freedom, equality and peace are synonymous: they are the same thing.  But first we can think of these four separate concepts as the four walls which hold up the house, and this house is: our home?  Humanity?   More on that later.  For now, let’s consider the meaning of these words and how they are symbolized by the four walls of the one house:

In order to understand this metaphor, or– rather– understand the reality that it represents, we must occasionally break away from it and not adhere too closely to its image, adjusting our focus on the object by approaching it from different angles, and using the variety of language which is available to us.  Reality is fluid, flexible, so it is only demonstrable when we (who are part of reality) display fluidity and flexibility as well.  The universe is full of so many things to observe, and so many ways of observing; if we are to understand fully the universe, we should use as many of these things, and observe them in as many ways, as possible.

So if we consider the meaning of justice, we can use the familiar image of the scales.  Justice is equilibrium: the same weight on each side of the scales.  We can immediately relate this image to equality.  Without justice, there is no equality, because the scales tip too much in one direction or the other.  Only by an equitable distribution of weight on each scale do we achieve justice.

How does this image of justice relate to freedom?  What is the meaning of freedom?  In order to be free, one must be free from something.  Freedom requires the dialectical relationship with non-freedom: slavery, servitude, imprisonment.

Perhaps a more helpful way of looking at freedom is to think in terms of oppression.  There are two objects– or two parts of the same object (the dialectic).  That is, we are thinking in materialist terms.  So non-freedom is when one is oppressed.  Freedom is not when the material source of oppression is eliminated, or when the object below– struggling against the object above– switches places, gets on top, and oppresses the oppressor.  This may be the proper understanding of the dialectic, but freedom (it seems to me) is when both parts within this relationship are in equilibrium: equal weight upon each other.  And this image of the weights takes us back to the scales, which “rest” at a state of equilibrium when both scales contain the same weight: freedom from non-equilibrium.  This image has already been connected to the concept of equality.  Switching (or mixing) metaphors, we now have three walls.

If we think about these things in dialectical materialist terms, we learn that justice, freedom and equality do not mean the destruction of people who have prevented justice, freedom, and equality.  Perhaps those who stand in the way of this material transformation must be destroyed, for they create (or exploit) the force in the opposing direction of the revolutionary force.  Yet it is their reactionary force, not the people themselves, that is the enemy of justice, freedom and equality.  And this force, which is always systemic, is also always based on their material conditions.  If we transform the material conditions which create injustice, oppression and inequality, we bring the opposing force into a state of balance or alignment.  This process of transformation is brought about by revolutionary change, or one system replacing another system.  The reactionary system (reactionary to the forces for justice, freedom, equality, and peace) is based on imbalanced material conditions.  These conditions are out of alignment and are unstable, and it is their volatility which creates the need for systemic oppression– and violence.

Therefore, peace is simply an alignment, a stability and a balance (all the same thing) established in material conditions through revolution: the once volatile systemic phenomena have been brought to a state of equal force upon each other when there is peace.  Matter still moves– it does not, in fact, rest, but rather the force of each opposing matter is equal (and therefore stable) and it is this equality or stability that creates peace.

There can be no peace if the stability within material conditions has been established through oppression (that is, by a downward force of systemic control), for the direction of this weight will only create an upward force pushing against this power and struggling to break free from it.  While there is a state of inequality within this relationship of downward and upward forces, it is an unstable or volatile state, which leads to violence: no peace.

A state of peace, and justice, occurs only when the inequitable weight of the opposing force is brought into alignment, and this requires a shift in the material advantage from one side to the other: from the oppressor to the oppressed.

When we become conscious of the physical, measurable phenomena of the world and the relationships between these phenomena, we observe (through our senses and our rational, critical faculty) that justice, freedom, equality and peace are based on material conditions.  Since all matter is connected, we then see the connections between justice, freedom, equality and peace and (while each is a distinct concept) we see that, in terms of systems of power, these concepts are all part of the the same thing.  They are all matter.  All matter is connected.  And when matter is out of alignment, and becomes unstable, it is in this state of volatile imbalance that injustice, oppression, inequality and violence dominate humanity.

Peace is very much connected to justice.  If we look at these concepts in yet another way, using another image, we can see that peace and justice are a kind of payment.  If someone steals your wallet, and tells you to remain calm but does not return your money, they are not encouraging peace– for a state of injustice still exists while they still have your wallet and your money.  This is why we speak of “paying for a crime.”  Justice is a kind of payment.  If one has not been paid for a wrong– or the withholding of a payment itself is wrong– then agitation is a natural, inevitable response to this injustice.

Peace can only come about through restitution.  We think again of the scales of justice, moving up and down in a state of agitation, until the exact amount of gold is placed on the scale with less gold, bringing the two scales into alignment.  Once there has been restitution– or reparations— then there can be peace: equilibrium, balance, everything on one level, in complete alignment.

Socialism is the system that brings about this state of alignment among material conditions.  The current system–capitalism– requires the few, who have the most, to control or oppress the many, who have far less, and who labor to add to the material advantage of the few.  There can be no justice under the system of capitalism, because the many never willingly (or consciously) submit to the force of the few in order to make the latter even wealthier than they are already: the former must be oppressed in order for them to passively (not peacefully) accept such an unjust, inequitable social arrangement.  The masses become justifiably agitated by the volatility of imbalanced material conditions, and their collective effort to destroy the system (and those who defend it) is an inevitable, natural act within the evolutionary process.  War becomes necessary in order for there to be peace.

But let’s go back to the metaphor of the walls and the house.  What we have found is that there are not four walls to this house, but rather one wall.  One continuous wall: a circle.  And this causes us to think of Marimba Ani’s discussion of how Africans might build their buildings, and how the shape of these buildings might reflect African thinking and African culture.  Marimba Ani has asked, “Suppose when we come together, we form circles: would that make a difference?”  We think also of the circular house in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.  So we can begin to think about how these walls of the house (and the house itself) are organically and spiritually connected to each other and are unified within the universe: one.

What we find is that justice, freedom, equality and peace connects us: we are part of these things, and these things are part of us.  In order to be human, we must have justice, freedom, equality and peace.  In order for humanity to be in alignment with each other and the universe, we must have a system that ends injustice, oppression, inequality and war.  The foundation and the materials for the house, and for us, can be found through socialism.  Everything in the universe is based on matter: people, things, and ideas.  But within matter is spirit, and within humanity is spirit: so the house, when its material and humanity’s material are unified, becomes a home.  Only people living in it, happily, make a house a home.

Through revolution humanity can restore the material alignment that will become our collective home.  There are four connected parts of this one structure, which are justice, freedom, equality and peace.  Without one, none of the other three can exist.  The structure crumbles.  The house falls down.  Only humanity can create our home, and we can only build this home by lifting up the materials which have been crushed by capitalist oppression.  There can be no peace, no equality, and no end to oppression (no freedom), without connecting these to the struggle for justice, which takes the form of payment to those whose peace, equality and freedom have been stolen from them by a system designed for this very purpose: European imperialist capitalism.

One House, Four Walls? – Justice, Freedom, Equality, Peace

Rachel Dolezal Is a Parasite

Dolezal

Like most parasites, Rachel Dolezal just won’t go away.  Yesterday The Fake went on The Real and admitted to not being born Black– but still insisted she identifies as “black.”  Next time Rachel Dolezal might consider taking that nonsense to The View, because it didn’t play well with these women who keep it real.

And the reality is: Rachel Dolezal is a parasite.  In fairness to Rachel, white people, generally speaking, are parasites.  Whites are parasites.  Why?  First, let’s talk about what it means to be a parasite: parasitism occurs when one organism “benefits at the expense of another” (yes, that’s a quote from Wikipedia– so hate me!).  “Parasites increase their own fitness by exploiting hosts for resources necessary for their survival.”  The ability (or power) of the host organism to feed itself and stay healthy is impaired by the parasite, whose life is completely dependent upon the host.

White people’s lives and well-being are based on the parasitic relationship of European imperialist capitalism’s ongoing genocide against Africans, Indigenous peoples and most of humanity.  The rise of European power and wealth has come at the expense of Africa and the majority of humanity, ever since Europe invaded Africa, stole its people and resources, and also stole the land and lives of Indigenous peoples in the “Americas.”  Without parasitic capitalism’s murder and theft of Africans and all oppressed peoples, whites wouldn’t be present upon this continent, nor would we enjoy any of the benefits we have.

If that sounds like too much, let’s just focus on the specific relationship of white people to African (Black) women.  During slavery, white people– including white women– depended on the forced labor of Black women.  The very life of a Black woman, under white supremacist capitalism, was meant to be dedicated to making white people happier and healthier.  Black women took care of white children, fed white families, cleaned the homes of white people, worked in the fields of white property owners, and bore children who were intended by this system to be a further source of labor and capital.  Black women supported this settler colony as it grew into an empire, and in return, they were mocked, raped, beaten and murdered by white men– as white women looked on in approval.

This specific parasitic relationship between Black women and white women continued into the Jim Crow era, but it has never been exclusive to the South: anywhere the European colonists have settled on Indigenous land, colonized Africans have been exploited by whites.  During the Jim Crow era, Black women still took care of white children, fed white families, cleaned the homes of white people, worked for fewer wages in factories and fields and bore children who were designated by European imperialism to be second-class citizens.

In the 1960s, as the official era of the old Jim Crow was ending, the New Jim Crow became the unofficial law of the land.  Since the 1960s the same colonized/colonizer relationship between Africans and whites has continued to oppress– specifically, the parasitic relationship of white women to African women.

White women need Black women.  We need to “discover”– Columbus-like– that Black hairstyles are the latest “thing” (among whites), that big butts are now “in” (among whites) and that every little dissected piece of Black culture, here and there, is ours to use.  White women need Black women to comfort us, to affirm our humanity, to stand with us in feminist organizations (on our terms) and, most of all, white women need Black women just to be there whenever they are needed by us.  This dynamic is the same parasitism which existed during slavery.  Essentially, white women begin to notice Black women when they can be used.

White women’s perceived use of Black women’s bodies, and their entire identity, reflects the mechanized nature (the anti-nature) of the capitalist machine.  European parasitic capitalism dehumanizes the source of its material benefits, separating the European from the “Other” who is objectified for the purpose of exploitation.  This is the reason Black girls are six times more likely to be suspended than their white counterparts in schools: once a Black girl has been colonized and objectified by the white colonizer, she is no longer regarded by the capitalist machine as a human being, and this begins a lifetime of disrespect and abuse by the system.

How does this objectification and colonization of Black women relate to Rachel Dolezal’s parasitism?

If Rachel Dolezal truly loved and respected Black people– and especially Black women– she would have realized right away how disrespectful and hateful it is to pose as a Black woman.  In a lifetime apparently dedicated to the celebration of Blackness, Dolezal would have listened to Black women, read Black feminist literature and very quickly realized that wanting to be Black is not only ridiculous, but dehumanizing– in short, it’s racist.  By wanting to be Black, Dolezal forgot the first rule of loving Blackness and Black people: Blackness and Black people do not exist for the fulfillment and pleasure of white people.

As a parasite, Dolezal picks and chooses those parts of Black womanhood– the hair, the skin “color,” the art– which fit in with her colonial identity.  In fact, wanting to be Black is just about the whitest thing a white person can do.  Lacking humanity, Europeans have long desired to attach to our empty identities those aspects of Blackness which appeal to us.  Like going shopping and digging through handbags that are on sale, we assume for ourselves those aspects of “non-European” culture which amplify the assumed superiority of whiteness.

It’s clear that Rachel Dolezal has not paid attention to the voices, lives and identities of Black women, particularly Black women who control their narratives in spaces such as the webinars by the African American Policy Forum.  If Dolezal had been paying attention to Black feminists, she would have learned early on the dehumanizing process of capitalist oppression committed daily against Black girls.  Being a Black woman isn’t a lifestyle choice (no matter how spiritually connected to it we may feel).  Black womanhood is not an identity that we can decide to wear later on in life: being a Black woman means growing up as a Black girl in a system of colonial control which even the most empathetic white person has not experienced, and, therefore, the oppressive reality of which we simply cannot grasp.

Dolezal uses Black women for her purposes of self-fulfillment, and through this parasitic theft of Black identity she dehumanizes Black women and adds to their oppression.  She is hurting Black women.  She is making it even more difficult to be an African woman today in the U.S. settler colony.  The parasite harms the host for its benefit.  Dolezal’s parasitism has forced Black women to defend their very identity and personhood from her theft and her misrepresentation of their real humanity, encroaching on their time, energy, health, and resources.

Yet Dolezal’s dehumanizing parasitism does not make her unique (never mind authentic).  White people– and white women in particular– continue to disrespect and ignore the real humanity of Black women, selecting instead the harmful stereotypes and commoditized traits which suit our purposes in a capitalist system.  By limiting what it means to be a Black woman– and Dolezal becomes a sort of caricature of Black womanhood– the selection of those parts of Blackness which we like (and rejection of those we don’t like), actually elevates white womanhood.  Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery– but in this instance, the choice of which “things” about Black women that white women imitate or don’t imitate, gives white women a sense of power and control, which is exploitation and colonialism.

Black women do not have the choice to be white, not without the great historical risk of “passing” in a violent white supremacist society.  By choosing “to be Black,” the relationship of colonizer-colonized is reinforced: Black women are here for white women to choose to be, or choose not to be.  Or we can choose to attach parts of Black womanhood to our being, like accessories– an act which, by itself, reflects power over the “Other.”  Black women cannot choose which parts of their personhood belong to them or don’t belong to them– their entire identity as Black women must be embraced, in spite of a system of capitalism which places higher value on the bodies and identities of white women.  The key word in this paragraph is “belong”: white women who choose to be “Black,” or adopt aspects of “Blackness,” treat African women as if they belong to us.  This is the same parasitic relationship that existed under chattel slavery.

Rachel Dolezal is a parasite.  White people are parasites.  Yet being a socialist revolutionary means never giving in to fatalism or defeatism.  A revolutionary identifies the enemy and then identifies the long-term objective.  Dolezal is not the enemy.  She is not the main problem.  The enemy is European imperialist/parasitic capitalism– white power.  White power over the lives and resources of Africans will continue to lead to the existence of parasites like Dolezal, and the parasitism of white people.  Therefore, the long-term objective is the self-determination of African people: complete control over their own lives and resources, free from the colonial oppression of white power.  If we oppose parasites like Rachel Dolezal, white people must support Black liberation in material ways (that is, through reparations and active, organized resistance to capitalism).

Rachel Dolezal Is a Parasite