Would whites be just as grateful if– rather than saving this white supremacist, transphobic, misogynistic, and capitalist settler colony of Europe called “America”– oppressed people put the United States to rest (for good) in the graveyard of history?
What would the population of European colonizers say (and white women in particular say) if African women– meaning, Black women– saved themselves, and if their communities were to save themselves, from us? (Although, this is what Black women actually might have been doing last night in Alabama when they defeated Roy Moore.)
Are we grateful for Nanny of the Maroons, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Claudia Jones, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Ella Baker, Gloria Richardson, Fannie Lou Hamer, Assata Shakur, Marsha P. Johnson, Elaine Brown, the Combahee River Collective and the masses of African women who have organized and struggled not just so their oppressor could survive, but so they could survive (and gain power) in spite of “America”?
Or does it always have to be about us, and about preserving this system of power (capitalism), because it benefits whites— at the expense of colonized and exploited peoples?
That’s a lot of questions to ask. But, before we attempt to answer these questions, perhaps we ought to look at the situation that encompasses them and us, or the conditions we are all part of– as the colonizers and the colonized.
It may be hard to understand this situation that we are part of because one of the main tasks of capitalism is to confuse us about how and where we’re situated in a society under its control– that is, it’s the job of capitalism to repress all revolutionary class consciousness.
Of course, the primary objective of the capitalist ruling class is to make greater and greater profits for itself. But, in order to achieve this aim, the ideologies and interests of the ruling class must have the support of the masses– the people who are the majority. Without our support, capitalism couldn’t go about its business of gaining more wealth for the few at the top, through violence. Therefore, capitalism seeks to confuse– or thoroughly mystify– the situation under its control, and us, otherwise the people might rise up and overthrow the ruling class.
As a result, the wealthy capitalists are able to force the majority of the people in this shared situation– this colonial context– to identify with their ideologies, their interests and, well, their identity as a class.
So if you have two parties who represent the interests of rich, cisgender whites– which is the situation in the United States with its Democrats and Republicans– then the masses of voters are supposed to worry about which of these two parties, representing the interests of white-controlled property, wins.
When they celebrate, we celebrate; when they lose, we lose– depending on which of the two parties of white nationalist power we support. If we are “working class” whites, or we are that violently created “middle class” of (violent) white colonizers, or we are rich whites, we give our loyalty to this party or to that, and– in return– we hope we can enjoy some of the spoils of colonial oppression stolen by the ruling class of capitalism. Because that’s what these contests called “elections”– these scrambles for African and Indigenous land, labor, culture and resources– are about: dividing up the loot of white supremacist, capitalist empire.
At no point during any election will any candidate in the Republican Party or the Democratic Party talk about restoring occupied territories to Indigenous peoples, or allowing New Afrikans to create their own nation in the South of this continent. And you won’t hear from any “mainstream” candidate– that is, any candidate who has gained the approval of the ruling class– that “America” must end its theft of Africa’s land, resources, labor and lives. You’ll just hear– if you’re able– that “America” must provide more jobs, better schools, better retirement plans and more access to healthcare for some homogenized group of “American voters,” or “kind, decent hardworking families” (apparently everyone else should be bombed, deported or imprisoned).
And where exactly does “America” gain the wealth to provide these benefits, most of which goes to the “white majority” who have only become the majority through our genocide against Indigenous peoples? By committing genocide against Indigenous peoples, and by occupying their lands, stealing their resources, and forcing Africans– forcing Black women— to build an empire for us, for the white population who have given our full support to the ruling class to carry out its racist objectives.
Again, without our support, or our identification with “America” and its system of power, the ruling class wouldn’t be able to stay in business. We must support capitalism, and its political candidates, or … it’s the end of the world for white people, here in our comfortable little world of whiteness and the bourgeois “American” identity. And, if all else fails to save us from ourselves (so we can commit more violence against the larger world) we call on Black women in the United States (previously erased from our view) to save us. Then we possibly express our gratitude to them (or not) and we return to our regularly scheduled program of colonial subjugation.
So, even (or especially) if we’re “progressive” whites, the ruling class of “America” and the system of capitalism gets us to identify with its aims and its ideals. We spend all our time trying to elect an individual who might be slightly influenced to send a few more stolen resources in our direction. Or at least the other guy (the greater of “these two evils”) won’t be taking more resources away from us, meaning the white population (including whites who want to be thought of as progressive).
Under the current arrangement of power, the battle lines of class– or the historical divide between the haves and the have-nots— are drawn according to the interests of the system’s ruling class, which has gained its power to rule only through genocide, slavery, colonization and capitalist oppression.
We (white colonizers) allow the rich few– who control CNN, MSNBC and all the networks, and both parties, and Wall Street, and the universities, and Facebook and Twitter, and most of the institutions and structures in this society– to tell us what we want and what we believe, and even who we are. The terms of class struggle are determined from the outset by the class that engages in brutal violence against Indigenous peoples, and Africans and the global majority– and thus it wins our support, no matter who wins one of these “free and fair” elections.
However, it’s not just during bourgeois elections that the racist wealthy ruling class gets us to identify with its objectives for maintaining and growing the colonial power of “America.” This need to confuse and mislead the masses permeates our daily lives in every institution we depend on in order to gain access to resources, or merely to cope with capitalist exploitation, which the white colonizing population also experiences even as we enjoy the benefits of its violence. For example, this confusion enters our daily lives whenever we turn on the TV and watch– what else?– a commercial.
And let’s say one of these two or three million commercials we watch each day is the commercial for Sonic Drive-In featuring those two amusing cisgender white guys who sit in a car joking about burgers, soft drinks and other overpriced commodities. Don’t get me wrong: they’re alright. Kind of edgy, yet agreeably bland, and probably more entertaining than the actual program we’re watching, especially if it’s on CNN (or maybe the commercial for Sonic is the actual program).
But, OK, so these two guys are joking in a car (someone tell me to get to the point). And if the viewers, or the voters, or whoever we are as “Americans” (another mystery) think these guys in the commercials are just mildly enjoyable to watch, that’s not the problem, as far as class struggle is concerned. The problem is: capitalism gets us to identify— through the humor of these two guys– with the interests of rich investors, or owners, or whoever they are. It doesn’t even matter if we know who we are supporting– what matters is that now we think we need to spend some of our money on fast food that is cranked out by exploited workers on occupied land in a world economic system which primarily benefits the white or European population. The capitalists use the humor of these two cisgender white guys– just like they use the incisive, edgy political analysis of Rachel Maddow (whatever that means)– to win us over to their objectives, or greater profits for the few. Cheeseburgers or white progressive politics– it’s all the same, profit-wise, to the owners of prime time television.
It would be different if there were two people sitting in a car talking like, well, the people, and one of them were to say: “You know, these onion rings are gross and this chili dog isn’t making my life any better at all. It might be a good idea to organize against Sonic, and Burger King, and McDonald’s, until they pay their exploited workers a decent wage. But, anyway … how’s your milkshake?” And the other person would say, “Actually, I’m enjoying it, and these greasy fries are wonderful too. But you’re right– let’s organize the people for power … after I finish devouring this sundae. Yum.”
Or something along those lines. Writing dialogue isn’t my strength. The idea is: you don’t hear out of the mouths of T. J. Jagodowski or Peter Grosz (had to look those names up, obviously), or out of the mouth of Anderson Cooper, or anyone else on prime time TV anything that might threaten the status quo of capitalist power. And the question is: how can there be actual equality, justice, peace and freedom in this society unless we challenge the status quo? As long as these institutions keep feeding us nonthreatening ideas, images, noises and junk food that only reinforce our loyalty to the programming on CNN or ESPN at 8 p.m. Eastern, then the people won’t move to change this unjust society.
Here’s another example: Major League Baseball’s “Winter Meetings” in Orlando (Disney, what else?) as shown on MLB Network. So, OK, we like baseball. We like sports. But the objective of the capitalist system is to make us identify with all these wealthy owners and “front offices” (management) as they spend millions of dollars on “commodities” that have “good value” (meaning, humans who play baseball for a living). If Giancarlo Stanton gets $26 million per year (or whatever it is) from the New York Yankees, that’s a “good bargain.” Or maybe the Miami Marlins could “ship” Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis, and Christian Yelich to the Giants, since Derek Jeter’s ownership group really needs to dump a few more contracts and “stabilize the financial health of their organization” (you should be very concerned about that, you dumb baseball fan who can’t even afford a ticket to a game). In other words, the capitalists will have us talking and thinking like the capitalists, and identifying with their problems and their concerns, between commercials.
And, of course, it’s time for another commercial break, because it always is. So now Home Depot is telling us that they “give Santa some serious competition.” I get it– it’s just a commercial. But imagine using a fictitious character (Santa) in a fictitious system of competition (capitalism) in a mythical country (“America”) to take nonexistent money from “consumers” (although you can use Visa or MasterCard) as part of a holiday season that is supposed to be about love, peace and worshiping a Higher Being. The only way Home Depot can “compete” with “Santa” is to grow wealthier off people who spend money (even money they don’t have), so they can put Santa’s name on a box under the tree– while capitalism goes off to exploit more workers, more Black women. But the point of the commercial, and its attempt at cleverness, is to get the “consumer” (or the “viewer/voter”) to identify with Home Depot’s interests in stealing– like the Grinch, another fictional character– greater profits for themselves.
That’s only one commercial, but the people in “America” are flooded with these messages all day long, while driving in rush hour traffic to our workplaces (if we can find a job), and while we are in the office, and when we’re burning up more gas in our car as we slowly creep back home on I-5. The result? A total repression of revolutionary class consciousness.
In this situation, we don’t consider how to seize power for ourselves, or power that isn’t based on the oppression of Black women and so-called people of color. Because we identify with capitalism and “America.” What it wants, we want– even when we don’t want it, but can only hope things will change for the better … when a Democrat wins. Yet many people don’t survive until the “next election cycle” when the “pendulum swings” back in the other direction. This system will eat people up, and grind them down, and then convince us that this is “progress.” For whom? Only for those who are empowered to survive, or opportunistically climb up on the destroyed lives of the masses who– by design– aren’t meant to survive capitalist exploitation and oppression.
Therefore, instead of telling Black and African women to identify with our interests and our problems, and then thanking them (or not) whenever they apparently save us from ourselves, perhaps white or European colonizers ought to identify who we are, what we want and what we believe in terms that don’t depend on the continuing oppression of Black women. That is, it’s time for whites to organize against whiteness, and against capitalism, colonialism and “America,” and then reshape our collective political identity according to goals and beliefs that aren’t parasitically attached to violence against Black women and against all the oppressed peoples of the world.