Capitalism’s Purpose for Focusing on Annoying White Celebrities

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In order to understand why capitalism places so much of its focus (and ours) on annoying white celebrities, we probably need to understand why the capitalist media works the way it does.  We already know that the overall system of capitalism only cares about profits, not people, and so greater wealth for the ruling class of this system is the reason it lies, murders, steals land and resources, appropriates culture, exploits workers … or does anything.  And because the only aim of capitalism is to make profits grow, the media that this system controls must continually place its focus on any narratives that create more wealth, while at the same time erasing narratives– and lives– that may threaten its wealth.

So if you turn on the TV and you see that a crime– or “crime”– has been committed in what white people call “the bad part of town” (where there’s all that “gang violence” and a lot of “minorities”), you might wonder why it is that the thin white news lady with blue eyes and blond hair is talking about this particular incident.  Or you probably won’t wonder– not if capitalism has its way.  You’ll just watch ten minutes of “news coverage” and seven minutes of commercials, and hopefully then go out and buy the stuff that was advertised.  But why would KGW– “where the news comes first”– feel it is so important to cover this particular story, when millions of people are dying and are hurting from poverty, hunger, war, disease, deportation, imprisonment, murder of their loved ones by the police, and theft by the banks, and lies by politicians?

The reason for covering this story– other than “if it bleeds it leads”– is that capitalism wants us to believe that crime is an individual thing.  This person shot that person– one criminal.  Another person robbed somebody else– one criminal, that’s all.  Each incident is isolated.  And then we’re supposed to believe that the police are there, first, to prevent these crimes.  And yet, there are so many of these crimes, and usually where there are so many of these cops.  Obviously, the police don’t keep the crime from taking place.  This means the police must be there to catch the bad guy– this one person who committed the crime– after he already killed or robbed another person.  And this is suppose to make us– white people, that is– feel safer.

But how do you feel when you see a whole bunch of cops in your neighborhood?  If you’re like me, you think something bad already happened.  The sight of a cop is never a good thing.  They slow down traffic, they go around acting like they’re in charge of everybody: beefy shaved heads under their hats, chests way out, legs wide apart moving aggressively, as if to say “Get out of my way, I’m a cop.” And that’s only what happens when there’s the unwelcomed sight of a cop in a white neighborhood.  In other words, not often.  Let’s face it– historically, nobody has liked cops.  And we would continue to dislike them if they didn’t receive free advertising from the capitalist media and its coverage of the “news.”  But the actual news is: the media must convince you and me that we should like cops, and that we should want even more of them– the same way a car dealership just wants to make us happy.  Ri-ight.

But capitalism gives nothing away– for free or otherwise.  So, in return for its continually repeated marketing campaign to make the police look better (or good at all, when there is no such thing as a good cop), the police move to protect the property of the advertisers, and the multimedia conglomerates who depend on this advertising for revenue, and the millionaires who grow wealthier off this entire arrangement.  If the news coverage focused on how much damage these millionaires, and these corporations, and these cops (as well as the military) inflict on people all around the world, we would be outraged and would organize to move against them, and we would overthrow this arrangement.

The media recognizes this threat in advance, and attempts to distract us from the root cause of crime, and the basis of all oppression and violence: it’s not an individual thing, it’s at the level of a system, a system of power which is controlled by the few at the top who are rich, and who are typically white.  The media needs to dupe us, to take our focus off the real criminals, as it leads us in one direction and the criminals– the racist capitalist class– haul their stolen goods in the other direction, or drop more bombs on people who don’t look like us (if we’re white).  There’s a whole war going on against Black people, colonized peoples, the working class of the world, but the local channel wants us to focus on one store that was vandalized last night.  And if we enjoy the most benefits from this war on colonized peoples– which is to say, if we’re white people, or colonizers– then we’re probably going to allow this violent, exploitative arrangement to continue.  It’s in our interests.  “Just let me get richer, or at least keep my job; let me feel safer and more comfortable, and the capitalists can mislead me all they want: shoot, my uncle is a cop, and he’s a good guy.”  That’s the way it works.

And that’s also why the capitalist media focuses on “murder mysteries” and “real crime stories.”  These programs usually focus on rich and middle-class individuals– usually white– where the husband suddenly decides to murder his beautiful wife.  Or their handsome white kid (who was so nice and quiet) decides to murder some random stranger, just to see what it feels like.  You know, typical white-on-white crime.  Except this violence is only the tip of the iceberg, or ice pick, or some gruesome image– like the image of the fighter jet that costs fifty million dollars, or the growing expense of locking up Black and Brown people, or the salary of an executive.  With so much crime being carried out by the military, the courts, the cops and the wealthy few, it’s no wonder that some of this violence trickles all the way down and eventually leads to the next door neighbor hacking up his blond wife, as we learn at the end of “Dateline” (wow, it wasn’t her cousin after all).  But the capitalist media would have us believe there is a crime wave of “senseless murders”– these countless “great mysteries”– going on all across the United States, and not only in Cabot Cove.

Yes, white people are that violent.  There is a lot of crime, but it’s not senseless or mysterious.  Our violence is easy to explain, and makes perfect sense when we recognize that we are colonizers who depend on genocidal violence for our very existence on stolen Indigenous land.  The only mysterious thing is where our humanity went.  Next week on “48 Hours.”

So this takes us to those annoying celebrities.  And what’s almost as annoying as the celebrities is the sort of person– the elitist– who tries to make anybody who watches “Entertainment Tonight” or “Real Housewives of — Wherever” feel like trash, like they’re dumb or they don’t know the difference between right and wrong.  Let people have their guilty pleasures … and eat McDonald’s while they are enjoying these guilty pleasures.  Because we can’t boycott all of capitalism.  It’s true, we just work here, we’re not the boss– but we do need this job.  We need to eat.  And sometimes we need to watch bad TV and eat Doritos.  Nobody is going to support socialism if revolution sounds like: no TV, no snacks, and no gossip in the break room about celebrities.  Well, it would still probably be supported by me, but those “masses” we always talk about won’t support anything if we act like elitist, know-it-all, holier-than-thou, out-of-touch grumpy do-gooders (fellow white vegans, take note).

OK, now that we have that point out of the way– what about these annoying white celebrities?  As you might guess, one of their functions in capitalist society is to distract us.  You may have seen that one coming from a mile away.  But it’s still true.  And capitalism knows we need these distractions because– after dealing with work, rush hour traffic, higher living expenses, medical issues that are no longer covered by our insurance, smog, anxiety, the fear of another terrorist attack (or maybe a more likely attack by a white guy), migraines, the Mets, and Comcast– we’re tired.  We’re not dumb, or mean, or undisciplined– we’re just tired.  But we shouldn’t think for a moment that capitalism doesn’t know this, and doesn’t try to exploit our sad situation, as it creates more profitable coping mechanisms for dealing with its oppression (and then raises the price on them).

But annoying white celebrities have another purpose in capitalist society.  We look at them doing all these, well, annoying things, and we make fun of them.  We might even call them dumb, mean, lazy, or whatever.  And then we think– you know, these wealthy people sure have messed up lives.  When they aren’t hacking each other up on their yachts, they are still always getting into trouble.  Of course, they always get out of trouble– they’re rich, and white.  Even so, my middle-class lifestyle is looking pretty good right now.  There are those poor people over there– supposedly, since we never see them, unless they’re being removed to make room for a new Starbucks or Whole Foods.  We don’t want to be like them– lazy, criminal, uneducated.  But we don’t want to be like the rich either.  So let’s support a system that helps us stay right here in the middle.  Ah, that delicious white mediocrity, it’s so … bland.  But it’s safe.  And it’s better to play it safe in this increasingly dangerous world (according to NBC Nightly News): a world of Black gangsters, Muslim terrorists, Mexicans going across the border with illegal drugs (unlike our own medicine cabinet full of drugs advertised on World News Tonight, or this joint we’re legally smoking at the end of a suburban cul-de-sac).

The capitalist system in the United States works on the contradictions of a society controlled by the wealthy few– most of whom are white– by resolving these contradictions on its own terms.  What does this mean?  It means: yes, we do hate the rich– they’re spoiled, they’re lazy, they’re entitled, and they’re just plain annoying.  And that’s the “American” way– to hate the rich.  But we also envy the rich.  We’re jealous that they have it so easy, while we’re struggling from month to month, barely paying the bills.  And capitalism knows this.  So it showcases a few of the more entertaining members of the ruling class, who are always eager (or greedy) to make an extra million or ten.  And we watch these wealthy individuals with all their problems, as well as their big egos, and the constant drama one way or the other, and then we realize that we should be content living off the stolen labor, resources, land and culture of the world.  Actually, we probably don’t realize things in those terms, but on the terms dictated by the ruling class: instead, we are hard workers, and we’re lucky to have a job, a home, a widescreen TV, and credit to buy an even  bigger widescreen TV (not recognizing that all these benefits come from racist, imperialist capitalism’s violence against the majority of people on the globe, and the planet itself).

This constant focus on annoying white celebrities– who are famous for being famous, and then for cashing in on their fame on HSN or QVC– is meant to be a sort of safety valve that capitalism controls.  Capitalism has violently created the white middle-class as a barrier between the wealthy few and the masses of oppressed people around the world.  In exchange, it wants our loyalty.  It’s OK if we make fun of the rich, even if we hate the rich.  Just don’t move against the rich.  And who wants what they have anyway– other than their money– when they are such a messed up group of childish brats?

So let the rich act selfish and foolish– and grow wealthier in the process of such “foolishness”– while we in the white middle-class play it safe, go to work, and vote Democrat (or Republican, what’s the diff?).  And if we ever win the lottery, or start our own business, and become rich ourselves– we know that we won’t act that way, like the rest of the rich do.  Why?  Because “America” has taught that (like itself) we’re exceptional, we’re special– each one of us is unique.  No, we’re happy and content just to love the United States, support the military, celebrate the Fourth of July, and trust it will all work out at the end of the day … but if only we could elect some average guy, a straight-talker, who isn’t one of these arrogant, loud-voiced, annoying, airhead celebrities with bad hair.

Uh oh.

After all, the contradictions of this backward system are being exposed, and capitalism is failing.  In case you didn’t notice.

 

 

 

 

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Capitalism’s Purpose for Focusing on Annoying White Celebrities

Why the “White LGBTQ Community” Continues to Fail in Our Support for Black Trans Women

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What is the matter with the “white LGBTQ community”?  What’s wrong with us?!

Part of the problem is: there is no such thing as the “white LGBTQ community” because there is no such thing as the “white community.”  There’s capitalism.  And there’s the United States– a settler colony of Europe built on genocide, slavery and imperialist violence against the global majority (who are not “minorities”).

And it’s this system of power (not community) that continues to divide the world into two opposing or antagonistic classes: the colonizer and the colonized.  So, the main thing that’s wrong with white people, including whites who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or more than one of these historically oppressed categories) is that, as long as we benefit from capitalism and its violence against Africans/Black people and all so-called people of color, then we won’t care that we are colonizers.  While it’s true that we are oppressed within the white identity, white LGBTQ people also enjoy the wealth, security and comfort that whiteness brings (even if it’s only a small share of white supremacist empire).  And, therefore, we refuse to move against the system of power whose violent exploitation of the global population makes our own existence possible.

I have a theory: guarantee (or recognize) the rights of any historically oppressed group of whites and we will turn against Black people and so-called people of color faster than you can say “I’m with her.”  And– also faster than you can say “Feel the Bern”– white people whose identity has been marginalized by capitalism, but who have just won a few benefits within the current system of power, will now show our loyalty to this same oppressive system.  Never mind that the capitalist system can only stay in power by violently exploiting Africans, Indigenous peoples, Latinxs and the majority of humanity (as well as the planet).  This is why the cops who murder (or attempt to murder) Black people often have Italian names or Irish names.  This is also true of judges with Italian, Irish or “non-British” names: the very people who were once oppressed and bullied by this white supremacist system, because they weren’t “white enough,” now join the ranks of their oppressor, so they can engage in anti-Blackness, misogynoir, and transmisogynoir– empowered by the badge or a judge’s robes.

And this situation is no different for whites who are lesbian, gay, bi or trans: grant us a few rights and we will gladly murder for capitalism, protected by the uniform of the cop or the U.S. military.  In fact, a gay white supremacist is probably the most effective white supremacist: the capitalist system gives them a few so-called rights, for which they should be very grateful, or else, because this system can take these rights away at any moment.  And so the gay cisgender man must work overtime to show that he’s worthy of inclusion by the ruling class that hates “his kind.”  (The same thing happens with cisgender white women in relation to the misogynistic ruling class.)  Plus, capitalism only cares about profits, not people.  So if a gay cisgender man can grow wealthy by making the homophobic ruling class even wealthier, capitalism will be thrilled with this arrangement.  This is why so many cis white gays and cis white lesbians are proud to join the U.S. military or their local police department, and why so many cis white lesbians enjoy being TERFs (trans exclusionary radical feminists): having once been denied power, and safety, and even life itself, they are now able to cash in on their colonial status, and fight against the majority of humanity on behalf of their white (or “American”) identity.

While we are still divided by colonialism, it doesn’t matter how many of our “rights” are recognized by this colonial system, there cannot be actual equality.  And it seems that a lot of whites who are LGBTQ know this to be the case.  We can’t be that ignorant.  Or maybe we are.  However, capitalism isn’t taking any chances– growing political consciousness by the masses of historically oppressed identities is bad for business.  So, somehow, capitalism has had to convince not only the European (white) population of the U.S.– including whites who are LGBTQ– but also colonized people who identify as “American,” that “we” are slowly but surely making progress: more slowly and less surely if “we” happen to be Black or Brown.  “We the People” has never meant Black and Brown people in “America”: colonized communities.  But capitalism tries to convince “us” that “we” are one great big happy family: one LGBTQ community.  One transgender community.  The system of colonial capitalism, which gains all its wealth and power by dividing the world into haves and have-nots, then attempts to erase this essential divide in our consciousness, and– in the process– it also erases the specific oppression of Black trans women.

Socialist revolution is based on science.  Capitalism is based on lies.  So capitalism lies to you and me by convincing us that, if something hasn’t happened to you or me, then it simply hasn’t happened at all (or, at least, it’s none of my concern).  Everything that matters is up here in my own mind: my ideas about “equality,” as well as “justice,” “freedom” and “peace.”  As long as each of us believes– on an individual level– that “America” stands for these things, and that there is (slow but sure) progress for some generalized, lazy-hazy idea of the “LGBTQ community,” then we won’t care that the measurable, observable conditions around us prove, again and again, that we are wrong.  We just keep saying “things will get better” (once we elect another Democratic President); “things move in cycles” (my family lost their house, but somehow they were able to buy a new one, a real fixer-upper, in that “bad part of town” where, lately, there has been a lot less crime); and “people are just people,” so it doesn’t matter what type of system we have.  Hey, life is pretty good for me right now, so it must be possible for everyone to have a good life.  I guess it’s their own fault if they aren’t succeeding, since we now have all these “rights.”

So, the more “rights” that we gain as whites in the “LGBTQ community,” the more we believe that everyone else is making progress in their own lives– or should be.  It doesn’t matter what the statistical evidence may tell us, or what we may learn from the narratives of individuals whose identities are the most marginalized.  Capitalism makes sure we aren’t paying attention to them anyway.  Which posts on Facebook get the most likes and shares?  Which stories confirm the optimistic narrative of the rich, white ruling class, and their dominant ideology which constantly brags that “America” represents something “good,” “decent,” “progressive,” and “liberal”?  But it’s very convenient for whites are who lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans to believe this lie.  We gain greater security, comfort and wealth by going along with capitalism’s definitions of reality– created (like capitalism itself) for the benefit of the white minority.

As a result, whites in the “LGBTQ community” continue to fail Black trans women, who are the most marginalized and endangered by capitalism.  We perpetuate this disconnect between the ideals we uphold in our minds and the material reality that– regardless of our gender or sexuality- our existence as colonizers on stolen Indigenous land is entirely dependent on violence against colonized peoples.  If we believe “America” is essentially good, and we’re proud to be “American,” then whites who are lesbian, gay, bi or trans have our heads so far up in– well, let’s say the clouds—  that we can’t even recognize the violence that is going on around us.  How can “Pride” be a corporate-sponsored celebration, a big parade, when Black trans women continue to be murdered by the very system that benefits these corporations, not only in the U.S. but all over the globe?

Whites in the “LGBTQ community” will buy gas to drive our cars to parades during “Pride Month,” and will pay for hotel rooms, meals in restaurants, souvenirs, and costumes.  And, meanwhile, Black trans women can’t even receive full funding for their art and survival.  We disrespect their work and their very lives.  And then we cry when “our” community loses another member to transphobic violence.  If Black trans women are part of “our” community– and the world has to undergo a lot more revolution and decolonization in order for that to be true– then why aren’t white trans women paying “our sisters” for their organizing, art, survival, and well-being … all of which is work?

Why are we posing for pictures with blue-uniformed pigs and smiling as if this disgusting country isn’t at war against Black trans women, Black trans men and trans people of color?   It’s because we’re colonizers too.  We are white trans colonizers, white bi colonizers, white gay colonizers, and white lesbian colonizers.  It’s hard to destroy whiteness, and the colonial system that empowers this political category, when you enjoy the benefits of whiteness: even if you’re transgender or gay.

If white LGBTQ people can’t feel the urge to throw a rock at a police car– or we can’t find a rock– we can at least honor the trans women whose own courage made it possible for us to walk safely past the cops.  We can honor true revolutionaries like Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, as well as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera– the co-founders of S.T.AR. (Street Transvestite [sic] Action Revolutionaries).  And we can honor their contributions to our lives by showing respect to Black trans women today, by paying reparations to Black trans people, and by doing everything in our power to make sure they survive, so they can move to create a new system for themselves and for their community, with control of their own lives, resources, wealth and land: their own power.

Why the “White LGBTQ Community” Continues to Fail in Our Support for Black Trans Women

Police Departments Are Only Necessary to Create Crime

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“Once the police has convinced the white public that the so-called Negro community is a criminal element, they can go in and question, brutalize, murder unarmed innocent Negroes [sic], and the white public is gullible enough to back them up.

“This makes the Negro community a police state … It is the most heavily patrolled neighborhood, it has more police than any other neighborhood, yet it has more crime than any other neighborhood. How can you have more cops and more crime? Why? It shows you that cops must be in cahoots with the criminals.”Malcolm X

According to a 2012 survey, Portland, Oregon has fewer cops per resident than other big cities in the United States: “16 sworn officers per 10,000 residents.”  Portland is also one of the whitest cities in the United States.  Only about 6% of its population is Black.

Washington, D.C. has the highest number of cops per resident: 61 sworn officers per 10,000 residents.  Nearly half of Washington’s population is Black.  The percentage of Detroit’s Black population is even higher: 84%.  And if we can rely on Forbes Magazine as a good source of information, Detroit has the highest violent crime rate of any big city in the United States: 2,137 per 100,000 residents.  Next on the list: St. Louis (1,857 per 100,000 residents).  These cities round out the top ten: Oakland, Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, Baltimore, Stockton, Cleveland and Buffalo.  All these cities have large percentages of Black and brown residents, while Portland’s housing market has become unaffordable for Black residents and brown (Indigenous and Latinx) residents.  The “full-time sworn personnel” in the police departments of major cities in the United States with large Black populations continues to be a much higher figure than the figure for Portland and other “mostly white” cities.

What are some of the conclusions we can draw from these facts?  One conclusion which the media puts out there for us to consume is that the Black community is (in the words of Malcolm X) “a criminal element.”  If you watch the local news (why?), you most likely will see, again and again, the friendly, helpful blue-uniformed police arresting Black people and Latinx people and keeping “gang violence” under control.  Malcolm X said “the white press inflames the white public against Negroes [Black people].”  And he said “the police are able to use the press” to make the white public think that most Black people are criminals.

So if we buy into this narrative that is pushed by the media, and by the police and politicians, what we are saying is that the fewer Black people there are in a city the safer it will be.  Then white people can go around thinking we’re safer– first, because there are more cops to keep us safe, and, second, because there are fewer Black people (although we may wish to avoid “making it about race” and instead will use language like “gang members” or the “criminal element”).  As a result of this “mainstream” [white] narrative, we’re also probably going to support higher rates of incarceration, and more prisons and “tougher” laws.  But who benefits from this belief that we hold?  When the median net worth of Black households in the U.S. is $11,000 and the median net worth of white households in the U.S. is $141,900, we can be assured that the vast majority of people buying homes and other real estate in these “safe” areas, and the people starting new businesses where there is “police protection,” and the people whose 401(k) plans are invested in stocks for prisons and “security services” corporations (like G4S)– most of these people will be white.

And yet most of the crime– as it is defined by the legal system of the United States– is going on in communities where there are more police.  One would think that, without any police around, all hell would break loose and people might start robbing, killing, and looting.  But somehow there are always more crimes where there are more cops.  Why is this?   We know that the capitalist system will continue to accumulate greater wealth and greater profits off our racist belief that Black people (as well as Indigenous peoples and Latinxs and all so-called people of color) just can’t control themselves and will start committing crimes as soon as a cop turns his back.  That’s the history of “America.”  And this “all-American” belief is similar to the one that the white public is taught for the benefit of weapons manufacturers in the “defense industry,” and politicians who want to be reelected, those who tell us that, if the U.S. military leaves Afghanistan, Iraq, or Africa, then things will turn very ugly.  They argue that violence will increase once we’re gone.  Apparently, we need a constant war against people of color– at “home” and “abroad”– otherwise there can’t be peace.

But George Jackson taught us a very different lesson about crime in his book Blood in My Eye when he wrote that “crime is simply the result of a grossly disproportionate distribution of wealth and privilege, a reflection of the present state of property relations.”  George Jackson taught us: “All crime can be traced to objective socio-economic conditions– socially productive or counterproductive activity.  In all cases, it is determined by the economic system, the method of economic organization.”

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has an annual budget of over $1 billion.  And how much of that budget is used to employ officers who arrest, beat, harass and spy on people whose labor is exploited for the benefit of the wealthy few?  People who can’t find decent jobs or afford decent housing or access to healthcare and education?  The LAPD, like any police department in the U.S. (a settler colony of Europe), doesn’t exist to keep the people safer, but rather to enforce the “grossly disproportionate distribution of wealth and privilege” and “the present state of property relations” between the haves and the have-nots.  If the have-nots actually had power, they could take that $1 billion and create conditions in their neighborhoods where crime was no longer a necessary function of society.  But the ruling class– the haves– will never allow this redistribution of wealth, not while they have power, even if it truly made everyone safer, because it would mean fewer profits for them.  As George Jackson also wrote: “The law and everything interlocked with it was constructed for poor, desperate people like me.”

So the police are necessary for the conditions that create crimes, just as these crimes are necessary to enforce the existing relationship between the white colonizer and colonized Africans-– a colonial relationship in the United States which continues to make the white ruling class richer and more powerful.  And that’s the thing we’re talking about here.  Two things, actually: first, Black people or Africans are a colonized population in the United States– they are part of an oppressed colony– and, second, the state (with its legal system, its wealthy corporations, its media and all its colonial institutions) is at war against Black people and so-called people of color.  If we remove the police, and in their place have jobs, schools, healthcare, clean water (that isn’t poisoned), and access to good food (with no more food deserts), then the relationship between the exploiting colonial class (supported by whites) and the exploited masses of colonized subjects (the global majority) would break down, because Black and brown people would no longer be controlled by violence– the violence of the police and of the entire capitalist system.

But capitalism has most white people believing the opposite to be true: if we removed police from Detroit, Washington, and Los Angeles, and even had fewer cops in Portland, then the safety and comfort that we enjoy would break down.  Instead of law and order there would be chaos and destruction, right?  Wrong.  The capitalists know that the resources that are directed toward “law and order” could just as easily be redirected to the people whose exploited labor makes it possible for these capitalists to enjoy greater power and greater profits.  There’s no other reason to move thousands of jobs out of Baltimore to some other country– whose own economy is controlled by the missiles, bombs and loans of Western imperialism– except to create more wealth for the white ruling class.  These conditions for crime were manufactured by the capitalist system with much the same purpose in mind as that of any industry when it manufactures a commodity: it’s profitable.

Capitalism wants us to believe that removing the police will make the people less safe, while– at the same time– it removes jobs from cities that have large Black populations.  If you want people to be safe, eliminate the police, and bring back the jobs that actually contribute to the well-being of society.  In fact, don’t even worry about bringing back the jobs– just pay the money to Black people.  They’ll create their own jobs.  As Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) said in 1966: “A man is poor for one reason and one reason only: ’cause he does not have money– period.  If you want to get rid of poverty, you give people money– period.

Now, if you believe in Senator Bernie Sanders’ type of socialism, where– instead of paying the reparations that we owe to Black people, because that’s too “divisive”— we should “invest” in jobs, infrastructure and all that jazz, then what you’re saying is that the people whose labor, resources and land built the United States, and made it the wealthy, powerful country that it is today, shouldn’t have control over their own lives.  In other words, you’re saying Black people shouldn’t have power.  And when people don’t have power then they don’t have the ability to stop those who do have power from criminalizing them, or forcing them into a situation that creates crime.  And that is the function of the police in this white supremacist, capitalist country, this colonial situation: that cop on the corner isn’t there to keep you safe, or me safe, or any people safe, but instead is there to make sure colonized people don’t have power.

There is no other reason for the police to exist except to enforce the “law and order” that benefits the actual criminals– the racist whites who keep oppressed people from gaining access to resources.

Police departments are necessary only for the creation of crime– crime, which, in turn, allows the ruling class to remain in power, while enjoying greater wealth through their increased exploitation of the majority of the people.

The racists on Wall Street and in Congress and in the White House want us– the majority– to believe that, if we take away the cops, there will be massive chaos and destruction all across the land (which has been conquered and occupied through colonial genocide).  The ruling class doesn’t want us to recognize that, by taking away these “police lives” that don’t matter, the resources that previously went to them can then go toward lives who do matter.

It’s not as if– once we wipe the police off the face of the earth– there will just be a void where they once were.  That may be an enjoyable thought, but the resources that used to go to the police– and to prisons, and to the military, and to immigration agents, who are all unproductive (as well as criminal) elements of society– would then go toward the empowerment of communities who have been robbed of their power by the state.  But if we ever recognized this reality, then the white supremacist, patriarchal ruling class of the settler colonial state would know that their days are numbered too, because they too contribute nothing to society.  So they can’t let us imagine a world without police.  It might lead us to imagine a world without people who have more wealth and power because they steal it by creating more violence– a world of peace.

Want to enjoy a society free from crime?  Just destroy the police.

 

 

Police Departments Are Only Necessary to Create Crime

The White Colonizer– Open-Minded About Transphobic Opinions, Closed-Minded About Power

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I’m not reading your transphobic article, even to critique it.  And, pardon me, but fuck you for writing it.

“But that’s so closed-minded of you!  We’ll never get anywhere in this society if we can’t have honest dialogue and be open to ideas that differ from ours.”

I used to go into the “Reading Room” of the library during my breaks and read The National Review and The Weekly Standard.  That was part of being a good liberal.  My main goal was to be open-minded– in other words, to be the opposite of conservatives.  I mean, the only thing that conservatives do is watch FOX News or listen to Rush Limbaugh, right?  We can’t be like that: closed-minded and uninformed.

That was back when “liberal” was associated in my mind with everything moral, intelligent or just plain nice.  I felt obligated to slog through George Will’s terribly boring column in The Washington Post, and fume at Charles Krauthammer (is he dead yet?), although my main enjoyment was reading Paul Krugman’s column in The New York Times.  I was getting (in my own mind) a well-rounded, balanced view of the world, and getting out of my comfort zone (“listening to diverse voices”), all while giving myself a pat on the back.

Here’s the problem: conservative or liberal, the view that was being formed for me was the view of the colonizer.

The bourgeois or petty bourgeois colonizer, and even the proletarian colonizer, sits atop the world forever trying to solve the crises of poverty, racism, war, injustice– crises which have been brought about by the colonial class, and not only by the rich white men in the “1%” but by the European population in general.  White people created the institutions within capitalist society for our own benefit, and the ideologies which these institutions promote– conservative, liberal or otherwise– are always reflections of our own class interests as colonizers, particularly if we are wealthy or middle-class.

So the open-minded colonizer is still a colonizer whose view of conditions in the world is still shut off by their elevated status within capitalist society.  The colonizer’s access to resources– to wealth, power, comfort and security– shapes their view of themselves and the world, including their view of people who have ideas that differ from theirs.  And the system of capitalism tries very hard to make sure that any opposing views that it lets through its institutions– media, schools, workplaces, political campaigns, and so forth– don’t actually threaten the hierarchy of power that benefits the white colonial class.

Promoting “open-mindedness” and the virtue of “agreeing to disagree” is one of the many (literal) luxuries granted to the white colonial population of the United States.  So what if a person holds a view that differs from the view we hold?  Our own survival isn’t at stake.  Language shouldn’t be a threat anyway– they’re just words.  “I enjoy hearing opposing views.”

Like the Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention (who held opposing views, and who were also slave-holders who supported genocide against Africans and Indigenous peoples) we must be willing to engage in constant debate.  But the one thing we want to avoid, at all costs, is a complete disruption of the present society– the total chaos that comes about when the power we’ve been granted (by the capitalist-controlled government) is seriously challenged by a self-determined, unyielding, inexorable force.  When oppressed people stop being “reasonable” and “nice,” and rise up on their own terms to overthrow their oppressor, then the colonial population (white people) inevitably unites to put down this force, using the bourgeois, libertarian or liberal virtues of open-mindedness, free speech, and common decency– and even the co-opted term “safe spaces”– as weapons to promote our own class status.

And this brings us to the question of transphobia– coming from the right-wing, the left-wing, and the in-between-wing of the colonial class, and also from those individuals in the oppressed classes who may feel some relief from their own oppressed situation by aligning themselves with the dominant ideology of the capitalist system controlled by racist cisgender whites.

There isn’t any need to debate our own identity.  For instance, if Africans say they are one nation– in Africa and around the entire globe– and non-Africans argue, “No, you’re Africans in Ghana, or African-Americans, or Black people in Europe” or whatever, then we can argue about their identity all day.  But if Africans were to win power for themselves, and were to create a totally liberated and unified Africa, then there would be nothing we could say– non-Africans would be forced to recognize their power.  Until then, Africans in North Africa could argue that they believe in Pan-Arabism, not Pan-Africanism, and could identify with Arabs in West Asia.  What is the material difference?  A small strip of land connecting Africa to Asia.  There isn’t any objective, scientific basis for Egyptians identifying themselves as part of the Arab World or identifying as Africans.  In fact, they could do both.  The only difference is the question of power.

Cisgender people who are transphobic keep convincing themselves that there is some biological or objective basis for their argument that “transwomen” [sic] aren’t actual women.  They don’t even want to use the language that many women have chosen to define our identity, terminology which states some women are cisgender and some women are transgender.  And these ongoing disagreements about who is or who isn’t a “real woman” wouldn’t matter very much at all, except– guess who has been empowered by capitalism to enforce their views on womanhood?  That’s right: cis people.

And who created the system of capitalism that dominates the globe, and allows cis people to make these arguments about trans women?  If you said “white people” or “Europeans,” you’re absolutely right.  So what this means is that the power to be transphobic comes from a system created by and for white people.  It didn’t come from Indigenous peoples, from Africans, or from Muslims of color (who are the vast majority of the ummah).

The framework for this debate about the identity of women (on either side) exists only as part of a political, economic and social structure that white people created, and from which white people gain the greatest benefits.  These are facts.  Look at any history book– well, not any history book, truth be told, because capitalism still has the power to write and rewrite the textbooks which tell (or don’t tell) its history of genocide, slavery, and the ongoing subjugation of humanity and planet.

So one of the key obstacles when it comes to arguing against cis people’s transphobic definitions of womanhood (and overall views on gender) is that a large part of the equation is omitted from these arguments.  That is, white people (cis, trans, gender nonconforming, agender) tend to omit this necessary element from the debate: African people, Indigenous peoples, all colonized communities don’t have the power to shape this debate on their terms.  Whatever we have to say about gender, sex, women, and identity in general, the context for these debates is controlled by a system of power in which white people– colonizers– have greater access to the riches of capitalist empire, entirely at the expense of colonized peoples.  Either way (“pro-trans” or “anti-trans”), we’re protected from the violent force of transphobia, the same as white colonizers are protected from the reactionary violence of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, Islamophobia and capitalist exploitation.

It’s quite easy for us to have an open mind when we enjoy protection from the state (the police, the military, immigration agents, prisons, schools, workplaces, and even the churches and mosques where anti-Blackness dominates).  Maybe words are just words from where the European colonizer is situated inside the class structure of this society– we’re safe in general, so of course we’re safe when it comes to debates about our identity.

This means, if we truly want to argue against transphobia– or any other form of systemic oppression– we must center the interests and identities of people who are the most endangered by transphobia.

Transphobia is white supremacy.  Transphobia is capitalist violence.  The cis white women who argue that they don’t feel safe around “transwomen” (especially if one of us has a penis), and the cis white women who feel bullied, and harassed– and believe they are victims of society’s attempt to push them out and silence them– are also part of the same white colonial class that is scared of Black people, that calls the cops on Black people, and that cheers at a “Pride” march in Columbus, Ohio when Black organizers are attacked by the pigs and arrested.

In other words, there can’t be any meaningful argument against the transphobia of cisgender people if we aren’t placing transphobia in the context of a system that gives this “hateful” ideology its actual political force.  And it’s this same system– colonial capitalism– that empowers all whites, no matter what our identity may be within the greater class category of whiteness.  Wealthy, middle-class, working class, impoverished– this system allows all white people to survive on stolen, occupied lands in the United States of America, a settler colony of Europe whose very existence depends on the ongoing subjugation of African people everywhere on the globe.  Africans built this nation and yet whites in the United States refuse to pay reparations.  Why?  Because white people owe more than we could ever pay without being forced by a greater power to give up what we have stolen.

So we can’t really talk about having an open-minded dialogue when it comes to gender or anything else unless we’re talking about how the white colonizer’s life is elevated at the expense of colonized Black lives– including transgender Black women.  White women have some kind of nerve to sit around in bourgeois schools, or argue on Facebook, discussing what it means to be a woman when Black trans women are being murdered simply for existing in this society.

If you’re a transphobic European colonizer (white person in the U.S.), your transphobia will probably just make me wish that you’ll drop dead, soon.  But your transphobia will actually cause Black trans women to die.  So we could be “open-minded” about discussions of gender identity all day, but one fact is inescapable: it’s already a safe space for any white person to display all this wonderful open-mindedness, when we have a paycheck on the way every month, and if our workplace has “all gender” restrooms and nice liberal cis coworkers with fake smiles who ask about our surgery (when they weren’t supposed to know about it, but somehow the whole school found out).  Yet there’s no such thing as a safe space for an African in America, in Europe, in Africa or anywhere else in the world.  So how do we think these open-minded, easy-going arguments about identity affect Africans/Black people who are transgender?  They are deadly.  It’s amazing how quickly the open-minded European colonizer– liberal, conservative, or otherwise– closes their mind off to this reality.  It’s because this reality (the recognition of how we benefit from white supremacist, global capitalism) threatens our own power.

The New York Times, The Washington Post, The National Review and The Weekly Standard never taught me about Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, or any Black trans women and trans women of color who have struggled to survive in spite of these white-controlled institutions, as well as every other part of the capitalist system.  We could be “open-minded” forever when it comes to the dominant narrative of transphobic capitalist empire, and we still wouldn’t learn what it means to be part of the white oppressive class that always centers our voices, and only has the power to do so through its violent exploitation of Africans/Black people and every oppressed community on the planet.

If we wish to counter the arguments of transphobic cis people– or better yet challenge the power that allows them to make their toxic arguments– then we will actually be part of the problem unless we are recognizing how the ideological framework for both sides of this “debate” endangers Black trans women, specifically in relation to their status as colonized Africans whose power, resources, land, and labor continue to be stolen by a system that benefits all white people.  If we want to “smash patriarchy” and put an end to transphobia, and all forms of systemic oppression, we must recognize how oppressors get our power to oppress mainly from capitalism, and capitalism (or whiteness or “America”) cannot exist without the global domination of Africans and colonized peoples.

The greatest argument we could make against TERFs and other transphobic people today is to uplift, love, respect and PAY Black trans women, until that day when they will take power from white people, as part of the historical process of socialist revolution.  Open-minded or closed-minded, cisgender or trangender, the white colonizer will have nothing to say about the inexorable force of revolutionary change– at least nothing that can stop it.

History– like any process based in nature– has a way of not caring what individuals think about it, no matter how open-minded we may be when the whole thing comes crumbling down, only to be transformed into something new.

 

The White Colonizer– Open-Minded About Transphobic Opinions, Closed-Minded About Power

How “We” Feel Today About Violence Against Nabra, Charleena, the #BlackPride4 and Philando

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My heart is heavy this morning.  My entire being is weighed down by the horrible news about the murder of the young Muslimah Nabra Hassanen, the murder of Charleena Lyles by the pig police in Seattle, and the arrest of the #BlackPride4 in Columbus, Ohio (also, of course, by the pigs).  All this following the verdict in the trial of the pig who murdered Philando Castile.

But one important thing we’ve learned if we’re “white allies,” “white accomplices” or– whatever– is not to center our own feelings.  In fact, if every Black person in ameriKKKa called in sick today, or punched the first white person they saw, such a response would be perfectly understandable and justifiable.  I can’t imagine the weight on the heart of any Black person who feels the great impact of these tragedies day after day, week after week– all while dealing with their own struggle to survive this white supremacist, capitalist system.

At the same time, we shouldn’t shut off our feelings.  These feelings are necessary for the creation of a healthy society: feelings of hurt, anger, love, hate, sorrow, fear.  We need all the feelings.  And in a sea of white indifference– quite evident on Facebook, creating even more anger– we need to connect with anyone who gets that sick feeling in their stomach, that gnawing hurt again and again, when white supremacist capitalism strikes once more.

And while we are connecting, it’s important that “white allies,” “white accomplices”– or whatever we want to call ourselves– place our most vulnerable, emotional selves in the situation at hand.  If we’re Muslim and we’re women, we grieve and feel anger for Nabra because we are touched as Muslims and women.  We’re connected to the situation in some small way by that part of us that feels the greatest pain.  When anyone in the transgender community (divided as it is by colonialism) is harmed by this transphobic society, we are deeply affected too, if we are trans.

Every fight on the planet for liberation, justice and power can be our fight on some level.  And we should be able to taste this fight.  The sickening odor of white supremacy, transphobia, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and capitalist oppression should fill our senses, creating the greatest repugnance toward this system that our class or identity may allow.  Breathe in those fumes– don’t run from them.  We can use those feelings of repulsion as a fuel to throw back on the fire, when the masses of the people finally move to burn this thing down.

However– however

Let’s not make ownership of our pain yet another colonial stake that we attempt to claim on stolen land, or yet another form of erasure by the European settler.  Let’s recognize where this anger belongs– to whom it belongs.

For instance, the murder of young Nabra in Virginia is a tragedy for all Muslims, including me.  But when Black Muslimahs are murdered or otherwise harmed, let’s remember that violence against them is violence against the Black community, against Black women– against Black trans women (who are women and are Black women).  Let’s not disconnect the meaning of this violence which is also against Black trans women, just because the dominant narrative of capitalist society continually engages in transmisogynoir which demands that we have one category for each tragedy: a tragedy for Muslims, a tragedy for Black women, a tragedy for Black trans women.  The murder of Charleena Lyles– a Black woman– is connected to the lives and identities of Black trans women, who are part of the Black community and are Black women.  Much of the violence against Muslims in ameriKKKa is violence against the Black community– Black Muslims.  Let’s not erase this fact in our rush to share our own response to this ongoing violence.

And the fact is, this country almost never grieves for Black trans women or recognizes their grief, even when it comes to violence against Black cis men and the lack of justice by this evil system toward the entire Black community.

Capitalism encourages us to put our feelings– if we have any left, between commercial breaks– into little boxes and to label one box “transgender” and another “Black” (or “minorities”) and another “immigrants” and another “Muslims” and another “women” and another “gays.”  I mean, yes, we are talking about intersectional feminism here, without talking about it because … too many people who don’t really know what intersectionality is keep bringing it up.  But we’re putting it in concrete terms: Muslims are Black, immigrants are Black, and when someone in the Black community is harmed by white supremacy, we should recognize how this experience doesn’t stop with cisgender Black people, or Black Muslims.  Capitalism wants us to put Black trans women in a very small container, a tiny category of society hardly worth our attention, and then throw that container in the trash.

NO!

If we’re going to feel on a deep and authentic level the great weight of violence in this racist, sexist, transphobic, Islamophobic country, then we must take the focus off our individual identity and examine how the breadth and depth of this violence extends into those marginalized identities who are continuously erased.

So today– like every day– is a day to uplift, love, materially support and center Black trans women, and Black trans men and trans and gender nonconforming people of color.

“Allies” need to avoid the mistakes that we made following the Pulse tragedy in Orlando, Florida.  The “LGBTQ community” and the violent system of capitalism itself tried to exploit a tragedy that was specifically about queer and trans people of color– and even more specifically about the queer and trans Puerto Rican community.  If it’s not enough for us to grieve and feel anger for the ongoing colonization of Puerto Rico and the capitalist oppression of Puerto Rican people, then our feelings are neither deep nor authentic: they are self-absorbed, individualistic, and reactionary.

So if we are among those whose hearts have a great weight on them, with an ache in our stomachs, then let’s not make capitalist violence about anything other than what it truly is: a war against Black people/Africans all over the globe.  And a war where Black trans women are the most hated, disrespected and unprotected targets of capitalist violence.  Let’s center their lives, survival, art, well-being, organizing and work (it’s all work) and move to materially support Black trans women and Black trans people.

Workers of the world unite, yes– but unity should never be based on denying reality and (echoing Audre Lorde) the power of difference within our real or authentic selves.

This pain today is not felt the same by all.  Therefore, are we able to place the focus of our revolutionary responses to this pain on those identities whose pain and work, whose very lives, rarely receive the attention which revolutionary and humane principles demand?

 

How “We” Feel Today About Violence Against Nabra, Charleena, the #BlackPride4 and Philando

Beyond Black-and-White: The European Colonizer’s Need to Spy, Control, Punish

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“Increased punishment is more often a result of increased surveillance.  Those communities that are more subject to police surveillance are much more likely to produce bodies for the punishment industry.” — Angela Davis

The relationship of whites to Black people tends to be thoroughly mystified, at least in the minds of whites.  That is, the reason for historical inequity “between the races” is attributed by whites to a million different causes– many of them mythological or just plain incorrect– when the basis for this unequal relationship boils down to one thing: power.  Whites enjoy more power because Africans/Black people have less power.  And whites on an individual level have only been able to enjoy more power on account of a system of power: capitalism.  As long as a system that is inherently white supremacist, patriarchal and imperialist– capitalism– is in control of the global economy, there is going to be an unequal relationship of power between Europeans (whites) and Africans/Black people; and this oppressive situation will continue to lead to oppressive behavior and ideas: strange, erratic, volatile actions and attitudes on the part of whites when it comes to our relations with Black people.

In fact, the entire “black/white” dichotomy is itself a reflection of this imbalance of political power and the unhealthy ideas that emerge from one identity enjoying too much power at the expense of the other (or “Other”).  Capitalism, a system of violent colonial exploitation, has required that white people be placed on top of its class structure and Black people– whose labor, resources, land, culture and lives are the basis of capitalist wealth and power– be placed on the bottom.  So the entire globe has been locked into a black-and-white view enforced by capitalism.  And within this imposed artifice there are gradations– colorism, proximity to whiteness, shades of brown, degrees of “acceptability.”  And these gradations are not merely a question of skin color.  They often determine wealth and power– access to resources– as well as protection from the violence of the capitalist state.  Dark skin is a signal, or an indicator, to a system built on violence against Africans, that a person is a suitable target to increase the profits of the rich ruling class within this system (which mainly consists of Europeans or whites).

Humanity was created to be many nations, many colors, as varied as the colors of mountains or the fruit of trees.  This is the Islamic view of people that is harmonious with nature, of which we are a part.  However, capitalism is unnatural: it’s based on legalized cruelty against people and planet, and so it requires a cruel, bizarre view of humanity.  Otherwise, the capitalists could not justify oppressing the many for the benefit of the few.  And white people, who benefit the most from this unnatural system of capitalism, wouldn’t be able to say why we get the greatest share of the world’s resources without believing in the dehumanizing views of the racist bourgeoisie.  So we end up holding a black-and-white view of a multicolored universe.  This ideology becomes ingrained in our thought processes.  And we’re not able to escape this ideological force of capitalism just by “being a good person”– we’re taught by schools, the media, government, workplaces, courts, churches, and even mosques to give dark skin more scrutiny and to attach negative ideas to the lives and identities of Black people.  The wealth and power of the white population, as well as our security and comfort, are entirely dependent on this intense scrutiny of Black people, within a system upheld through the perverse black-and-white view imposed by capitalist power.

At the same time, because capitalism requires that we hold this mystical, unscientific view of “race” (“race” itself being a creation of the European ruling class), white people tend to lurch between the two extremes of this imposed “racial” construct.  As a result, we’re used to being all over the map (quite literally) when it comes to matters of “race.”  So, one moment whites are intensely focused on “the blacks,” and the next we totally erase Blackness and Black people/Africans.  We move from a great obsession with Black people to a complete disregard for their existence.  In fact, one might argue that white people, at either extreme, cannot recognize the real value and humanity of Black lives, both during the time of our exaggerated focus on what the Other is doing (saying, thinking, feeling), and during the time when we smash our shopping cart into them in the grocery store because we didn’t see them.  In either case, our view of humanity has been twisted and distorted by the ideological force of colonial capitalism, from which white people benefit the most.

As we veer between the opposing poles of this capitalist binary– from whites intensely scrutinizing “the blacks” to whites totally erasing “people of color”– we often come up with bizarre justifications for why “racial inequality” exists, or why “minorities” experience poverty and other forms of systemic oppression.  We ignore the material basis for this historical inequity: a lack of political power, or a lack of control over the means of production by the global proletariat (mainly Africans, Indigenous peoples, Latinxs, so-called people of color).

When we fail to recognize the material basis for “racism,” the result of our collective ignorance, or lack of political consciousness, is that we start to formulate language and ideas that are based on the mythological views of “American exceptionalism” (and “America” itself).  European colonizers (whites) on occupied Indigenous lands use all sorts of ideas about individual know-how and hard work– that rugged pioneer spirit, the self-made man, the rags-to-riches story– to justify our position in the capitalist hierarchy.  And so the various thought processes of white people become very bizarre, as we run from one extreme to the next in our class views of “the blacks” and “other minorities.”

For example, there’s a tendency on the part of whites to equate Black people with poverty.  Donald Trump, the racist candidate that white people (including white women) elected, held this view when he told Black people they had “nothing to lose” by voting for him.  Basically, you all live in ghettos anyway.  Gangs infest your neighborhoods.  The plague of black-on-black crime is so bad right now that you might as well try anything– such as electing a white supremacist– to fix the problem.

But we (whites) ought to notice how our language dehumanizes Africans, and turns them into inanimate objects, or beasts, or little children who must be saved (at least in our own colonial imaginations).  It’s not that we care about poor people– that is, impoverished people– because capitalism has taught us to hate the poor in general; it’s just that our black-and-white view of the world requires black to be equated with poor.  Once sequestered in that part of our minds, we can then formulate policy that will control the situation: more prisons, more police, bigger government.  We can’t (or won’t) give back what we’ve stolen, so white people say: let “minorities” have more programs, more welfare, just a little bit more to show that we care for them (we who are forever in charge of the situation).

That’s on one extreme.  But then we go to the other extreme: politicians like Senator Bernie Sanders act like the working class is equated with white people (“middle America”: good decent, hardworking white folks who may have voted for Trump, but only because they are anxious about their future).  What this view means is that the poor blacks aren’t hardworking (or decent or respectable, at least until they prove to us that they are).  All they do is collect welfare checks and commit crime– and the white savior will help them, sure, but that’s a separate issue from the problems of the working class.  So we move from one extreme to the other.  One minute all Black people are poor, the next they are the (uppity) elite, liberal establishment of the Democratic Party that keeps the (white) working class from getting ahead.  The problems of poor whites aren’t due to our lack of revolutionary political consciousness, but should be blamed instead on arugula-eating, wine-sipping women of color who drive nice cars and have law degrees.  They aren’t progressive, because all they care about is their identity– in a system built on sexism, racism, and ongoing colonial violence against people of color.  Ridiculous!  This is how bizarre our thinking has become, as it has been shaped by the capitalist system of power.

Another example: one minute white people try to portray Black people as angry, lunging dangerous animals, all muscle and instinct.  The next minute we imagine Black people as weak: little children, pets (still the beasts, in a system that slaughters animals for profit).  We go from one extreme to the next.  Perhaps this is why it has been said that white people treat Black children like adults and Black adults like children.  In colonial capitalist society, Black children aren’t allowed to grow and develop in a state of innocence that is one of the luxuries of whiteness.  But once they are adults, Black people– Black women in particular– are treated by whites as angry children whose bodies and behaviors need to be policed, controlled, punished.

And this need on the part of whites to control Black people leads to the question of “the punishment industry” (as described by Angela Davis).  Whites are forever scrutinizing Black people.  European colonizers spy on colonized Africans, keeping an eye on them.  We want to talk like them, dress like them, touch their hair, and use language that only belongs to them, no one else.

At the most basic level, this is simply a question of power: the power that the colonizer has over the colonized.  That’s the dialectical relationship that exists between whites and Black people at the material level– the foundation of power when we talk about who controls resources, labor, land, culture.

But capitalism doesn’t want us to think at that level.  Capitalism requires that we buy (quite literally) into all these mystical, far-fetched, bizarre ideas about “race” and “racism.”  This mythological black-and-white view of bourgeois society tends to erase Indigenous peoples, and Africans who aren’t “American,” and Africans who are also Indigenous or Latinx.  The global struggle for power means whiteness must always dominate blackness, both materially and ideologically– because capitalism, and all the wealth of Europe and its settler colonies, began with slavery and the invasion of Africa.  So capitalism will use any mythology which props up this global black-and-white arrangement.

As whites buy into capitalism’s mythical view of “race” and “racism,” we give greater scrutiny to Black people– and to anyone with darker skin.  And because we live in a capitalist democracy, our class interests– that is, the class interests of white people and whiteness– are expressed in the government that represents us.  “Us” tends to mean cisgender whites, but it’s also the entire white colonial population in this settler colony of Europe: cisgender, trangender, gender nonconforming.  Gay, straight, bi, pan, asexual– it doesn’t matter.  The class interests of the white identity are expressed in the institutions of capitalist power.  So, on an individual level, whites scrutinize Black people: spy, study, control and try to use whatever aspects of their identity that we think could be useful for our own identity (“slang,” music, clothing, labor, emotional support, reminders that we are perhaps human too, helping us to get rid of our white guilt).

But since we only possess this power to scrutinize people of color, to correct or police women of color– Black women– on account of a system of power, our individual behavior is really a reflection of our class status within the overall structure of capitalist society.  These ideas to control, to police, to take up more space, must come from somewhere– we weren’t born to colonize.  Whites must be infused with “racist” ideology, and the urge to colonize, to spread out, to occupy more territory, to police Black and brown bodies … and to call the police whenever we feel threatened by their bodies.  And these ideas that infuse our thinking come from the capitalist system of power.  We know the police– like the military, like prisons, like ICE– have our backs.  These institutions were created to perpetuate whiteness.

And so here we are stuck in this inhumane racial framework: a black-and-white world where Blackness means greater scrutiny, greater surveillance, not only by the white gaze of the individual European colonizer, but by the entire colonial state.  All eyes are on people with dark skin, ready to keep them check.

Think about Trump’s ameriKKKa– really just a continuation of George Washington’s ameriKKKa, from President One to Forty-five, along with nearly all the white population.  But think what brown skin means in this climate of terror: greater scrutiny, and its counterpart, less protection from state violence.

Africans and Indigenous peoples have long been the main targets of colonial genocide: lynching, prisons, violence from the police, racist judges in courts, racist teachers in schools, politicians (Republicans and Democrats) trying to run up the white vote.  And here we are today, in 2017, with centuries of accumulated wealth and power– “white privilege”– on the part of the European colonial population, and just as many centuries of white scrutiny, and white supremacist state surveillance directed at colonized communities.  At this stage of the process it’s a simple thing for the racist ameriKKKan state to target a woman with dark skin who wears the hijab– an African immigrant, a Somalian Muslim woman– whether the violence comes from the individual white colonizer or the imperialist government that empowers him.

This system is designed “to produce bodies for the punishment industry,” whether we are talking about prisons, detention centers and targets for drones that carry bombs, or we’re talking about “innocent,” guileless white women– nice white gay men– who police the lives of Black people on social media, in gentrified neighborhoods, at protests that are supposed to be aimed at the white supremacists.  What we find is white leftists who have good intentions are just as violent, and our language and behavior just as indicative of the need to control, police, and harm, as the blatantly racist white supremacists.

Here again the erratic, inhumane behavior that is inseparable from the political category of whiteness reveals itself in seemingly bizarre ways: whites who “want to help,” who want to be “the good guys,” end up mirroring the very thing we wish to oppose.  Why?  Too much power, at the expense of colonized communities.  And too little consciousness of our colonial behavior– as designed by white supremacist, patriarchal capitalism.  We’re acting the way that whiteness and the capitalist state have trained us to act: we must scrutinize so-called people of color, keep them check, control, and (when necessary) punish.  Every white person is a spy for capitalism, our gaze trained to recognize and measure any potential threat against its power coming from colonized Africans.

If we don’t like this inhumane arrangement, then all that’s left for us to do is to destroy it.  Right now, whites enjoy our elevated status within the capitalist arrangement of power far too much for us to organize and move against it to destroy it.  We may not like the prison-industrial complex, but we enjoy the college education we received at the private university at the same age that Black people– surrounded by police cars and helicopters, racist teachers and racist bosses– were pushed into prisons, out of sight, out of mind.  We may not like detention centers, but if the economy were to improve for whites, no matter who in the world was deported, shot, or bombed, then whites would absolutely vote for Trump again.  We might want to say “Fuck Tha Police”– and really, really want to say all the words used by N.W.A– and we might even have a “Black Lives Matter” button on our jean jacket, but the fact remains: white people in the U.S. are able to gain access to resources, or exist at all, entirely on account of more political power which comes from police violence against people in colonized communities.

All whites are complicit in this system of colonial genocide because, objectively speaking, we all benefit from the surveillance, control and punishment of Africans, Indigenous peoples, and the majority of the global population.  And until we are confronted by a greater force against this dominant colonial power, our behavior on an individual level will reflect the inhumane, twisted, evil ideologies of the white supremacist system of capitalism.

Beyond Black-and-White: The European Colonizer’s Need to Spy, Control, Punish