“We all agree that ‘race’ is invented, but are then required to defer to its embeddedness in the world.”-Paul Gilroy
“ ‘Racism’ is used to justify and facilitate the exploitation of peoples, and it’s based on the false belief that humanity is divided into a plurality of ‘races’ that stand in relation to each other as ‘inferior’ or ‘superior’ based on physical and/or cultural differences. There are no ‘races’ – only people(s), groups of people(s), united and distinguished by common history (social development), habits, interests etc. – sometimes we call all of this … ideology.
To be ‘anti-racist’ is, first of all, not to hold the false belief in an alleged plurality of ‘races,’ to be ‘against racism’ is to combat all beliefs and practices that facilitate the exploitation of peoples, particularly when such exploitation is supported by the social construction of ‘race.’
Any attempt to destroy ‘racism’ without an explicit link to the struggle against capitalism ultimately serves only to reinforce ‘racist’ ideology and to shield capitalism from attack. On the other hand, an attempt to combat capitalism without an explicit link to anti-racist discourse and struggle allows capitalism to use belief in ‘race’ held by oppressed peoples, and appeal to the ‘racism’ of citizens of the oppressive state, thus undermining all revolutionary initiative.” – James Yaki Sayles (Meditations on Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings by James Yaki Sayles)
Greetings Brothers and Sisters,
The events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri present us with yet another opportunity to address the inhumanity of racism. But the country will again not take advantage of it because we will continue to treat this act of inhumanity as though it is an isolated incident, and not an act that flows from the very structure of the nation.
This is a system that, over hundreds of years, has indoctrinated people (particularly “law enforcement” elements) to look at people, and based on their physical characteristics, particularly their Black skin, determine whether they represent a threat and respond accordingly. Because Afrikan, Latino and Native American men (males) have – for hundreds of years – been considered to be the enemy, the “savage,” the “worst of the worst,” there is this kill-first mentality (and anytime you fire “a hail of bullets” at a person the intent is to kill), and that intent to kill is motivated, either consciously or unconsciously by fear and/or hate!
No one wants to think that they are under the influence of patriarchal authoritarianism / White male supremacy in how we think or conduct ourselves. We have been indoctrinated to believe that it’s not the system, it was a mistake, an over-reaction on the part of the individual officer–or Klansman–and all it takes is for that individual to be fired or prosecuted and the country is satisfied…until it happens again, and again, and again! We genuinely do believe that this is not the same country as it was 30, 40 or 50 years ago and we believe this in the face of so much racist / sexist / misogynistic / homophobic / religiously intolerant / anti-poor hate!
What we are facing in this nation, as it relates to the murders of New Afrikans (Blacks) by police is simply the ongoing legacy of socio-economic relations between the White ruling class and the New Afrikan underclass, a manifestation of patriarchal authoritarian White supremacy enforcing the dictates of the race caste system in Amerika. Institutional racism is a structural component of Amerikan culture and property relations. As such it cannot be “reformed.” It is irrational to assume you can legislate away hate in a society where every institution reproduces and reinforces it in the population’s core (and developmental) psychology.
The very nature and structure of American society preserves White male supremacy and hatred of New Afrikans (Blacks), it is only that within policing this power dynamic is most visible (it is the police who in the first line of defense for the ruling class and the police have the most frequent contact with the population). This power dynamic, as it relates to policing, gives its visibility primarily to the fact that the underlying basis of power upon which White male hegemony in Amerika rests is violence. It is a power which must be seen to be effective.
As consciousness of oppression metamorphoses into resistance, no matter how minute, fleeting or legitimate that resistance may be, the response of the state’s police forces is violence–lethal force…murder. It has always been thus, from the slave catcher to the “strange fruit” of the lynching trees, from the slaughter and raiding of rosewood, to the slaughter and siege of Ferguson–the initial, the primary, the first response of the police to New Afrikan resistance is violence.
What should disturb us is the irrationality of people and pundits who condemn resistance to such overt force; the condemnation of those who seek to exert their own coercive force to end such hate-based violence. In Ferguson there is a great deal of talk of “outside agitators” who have come in and “hijacked” the protests [for instance here on the Daily Beast, 8/19/14, and echoing here], as though, somehow, no one outside of that community has an interest in abolishing hate. Every citizen who has an interest in creating and maintaining a society/world based on equalitarian principles should converge on Ferguson, and anywhere else in which the humanity of people and the planet is under assault.
When you look at the historical record, particular forms of protests have intensified, particularly over the last 30 years, only because the system that produces the inhumanities remains in place. Even people, particularly young people, who may not be knowledgeable about the country’s history, are immediately introduced to that history. Images from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, and beyond, are introduced to them. They look around and see citizens, neighbors and others within their own communities and towns rushing out to buy guns, symbols of hate and destruction, instead of joining the protest in fear off those whose humanity has been assaulted. This is the most definitive proof that among large segments of the population, nothing has changed in their thinking. Even among some segments of the New Afrikan (Black) population, it is felt that the officer/the system acted appropriately -and that represents the most definitive proof that, among large sections of the population, nothing has changed.
In a clear illustration of the institutional nature of racism in Amerika, the mass media instantly sought to tacitly defend the police by professing justifications for murdering this latest New Afrikan child, Michael Brown, while condemning direct action force by protesting as “criminals,” “looters,” “outside agitators,” [see here and a later ‘analysis’ here ] and “thugs,” [see also this news on October 2nd] “seeking to capitalize off the latesttragedy,” as opposed to the rational, although disorganized, response to some 400 years of unbroken racist violence against New Afrikans (and Native people) in Amerika.
Yet, irrationally, New Afrikans continue to refer to themselves as “Afrikan Americans”– an oxymoron which consciously ignores the fact that “Americans” had killed “Afrikans” as a practice in Amerika since 1619… And therein lies the contradiction–the psychological cleavage of the New Afrikan mind when subject to Amerikan state violence: they unconsciously do know this, and act to move against it just as one would reflexively swat at flames on one’s flesh or a stinging bee on one’s skin, you meet the pain of force with force of your own, in order to make the pain stop.
It is an act of intelligence with intent, yet many would have us accept such patently racist violence with nothing more profound or transformative than passive pleas of “hands up-don’t shoot!” to justify such irrationality. They point to Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi’s courageous examples of nonviolent resistance, while conveniently ignoring the fact that both were killed for their efforts and their aspirations have yet to be realized. The rabid poverty, gross inequality and brutalization of women, which dominates neo-colonial Indian society is not the “independence” Brother Mahatma gave his life for and the fact that we are even having this conversation with Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and countless others cold in the ground, is the best proof the dreamers’ dream remains Amerika’s nightmare. These mentacidal (mental suicide) contractions in social analysis render the prospect of solutions–effective solutions–all but impossible.
Many of the New Afrikans (Black), clerical, political and community leaders we’ve heard speak thus far have, in the midst of the latest events in Ferguson called for a change in the way law enforcement officers police New Afrikan communities, in hopes of returning these state agents to their stated role of “serving and protecting” our communities. Because this starting premise is so incorrect, every other idea or effort that flows from it will prove equally flawed, a voyage into circular thought which will inevitably lead us back to the same problem repeatedly. The first thing we must understand is what the police is, and what is their purpose.
The police, at their core, are the enforcement mechanism of the state’s dictates on the populace. The state is a tool to ensure the dominance of the ruling class and its cultural imperative (capitalist White supremacy) over all other classes and cultural interests. This determines the policies’ purpose. The purpose of police in the capitalist state is to “serve and protect” the ruling class (and their constituents) while controlling, containing and repressing the remainder of the population, especially underclass and non-White communities.
The core flaw in thinking by mainstream (state-approved) and clerical “leadership” in the New Afrikan and other concerned communities is it begins with the premise that police are in their communities to “serve and protect” them, when all objective observations and historical analyses reveal the police’s function is to control, contain and repress them… Until this is understood, accepted and acted upon, the development of viable solutions by New Afrikans to this scourge will be futile.
Consider this: within the bowels of the prison industrial complex’s Super Max (Secure Housing Unit or SHU) torture units in California, hundreds of New Afrikans have been consigned to “the hole” for the remainder of their lives (if they are not broken) for studying their culture, history, political ideas–and even current events if they are presented through a New Afrikan lens.
In recent 128-B chronos authored by I.G.I. Officer T. Turmezei, the overly racist hostility of the state is on full display. In the documents, the officer actually criminalizes New Afrikan cultural celebrations (like “Black August Memorial”), the terms “Black,” “Brother,” “Elder,” and “Comrade,” stating:
“[Subject] specifically identifies his B.G.F. allegiance with “Comrade,” ethnic race as Black through “Brother”… In so stating, [subject] identifies himself as a “comrade” of the B.G.F.”
He goes on to state:
“…[subject]’s B.G.F. allegiances is further supported [by]…the use of the word “elders” to identify the senior membership of the B.G.F. housed at Pelican Bay …Within the prison system a Black would not reference a White, Hispanic or other raced gang member as his “elder.” Members and associates of the B.G.F. show reverence and allegiance to senior B.G.F. membership of the B.G.F. housed at Pelican Bay State Prison.”
That the terms “brother” and “elders” is commonplace in most every underclass community, regardless of racial competition, and the term “comrade” is universally used in leftist circles of every hue and has been since the 1800’s, we can only assume he has another motivation for such baseless lies.
He goes on to criminalize progressive political parties like the B.R.L.P. (Black Riders Liberation Party), publishers like “Chicago Zine Distro” and legitimate newspapers like the “San Francisco Bay View” as “documented vehicles of dissemination for the training material and communications among members of the B.G.F. prison gang.” If this warped racist perspective was not so demonstrative of the institutional racism which is a structural aspect of the state, perhaps this officer could be laughed off as an ignorant, misinformed crackpot. However, the unfortunate truth of the matter is the one thing all of these things have in common is their connection to New Afrikan (Black) culture, thought and expression.
There are, as we speak, hundreds of crips, bloods, Muslims, Christians and non-affiliates validated as members or associates of the B.G.F. for no other reason than seeking to study, express or embrace their culture, history and political ideas. Though these New Afrikans (Blacks) have no relation to any revolutionary formation, what they do all have in common is their Black skin and their common historical experience with, and development in, capitalist Amerika. The state, unable to bring itself to just admit its hatred of New Afrikan (Black) males and their need to repress any expression or pursuit of self-realization, instead outlaws being “Black” itself–our very culture, history, expression and manner of relating to one another is reduced to a “gang” or “gang activity” and used by the state as a pretext to subject thousands of indefinite SHU torture.
Men who have no affiliation to the B.G.F. or any other progressive revolutionary formation are routinely validated and slammed in the SHU in hopes of breaking their minds. Unfortunately, reflecting many episodes in New Afrikan Liberation history, some New Afrikans (Black) prisoners who have been wrongly validated as freedom fighters have blamed not the state, but the freedom fighters for their being subjected to these torture units; a manifestation of their own under-development which unwittingly aids the state by destroying unity and promoting antagonisms between New Afrikans (Blacks)–all of whom are being subjected to the same racist repression.
Nevertheless, consciousness is directly proportional to oppression and as more of these New Afrikans (Blacks) are confronted with the intensification of these institutional racist practices, the greater their consciousness will become and lead to their turning their antagonism on their actual adversary–the authoritarian police state, as opposed to those who have spent their adult lives resisting the attacks of the capitalist order upon all New Afrikan (Black) people (and have-nots from all cultural groups).
It is possible to change all of this. People must remove, through the ballot box, on a state and federal level, those officials who support the maintaining of a system that produces, indeed encourages, hate and greed! We must replace them with officials who will not subordinate themselves to moneyed interests (who have a stake in maintaining the system that exploits humanity and the planet to enrich themselves). This is the same system that built the torture units called Supermax prisons and the same people who have amassed fortunes by creating and then exploiting human misery.
It is the institutions upon which the authoritarian state and its capitalist masters rely to maintain this hate and greed, that we must focus our efforts on transforming, until the process of progressive social change reaches its logical conclusion. This means we must act to install officials who will oppose the nature and structure of the authoritarian state, officials which will actively wage struggle against racist, sexist, classists homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic and anti-youth thinking and practice within those institutions.
This means restructuring these offices and the electoral process itself, which has been hijacked by moneyed interests. The numeric superiority of the underclass in the context of the democratic process counter-balances, and is capable of overcoming, the moneyed interests of the ruling elite. This will require us to overcome the irrational thinking which deludes many of us into believing our interests, and the interests of the ruling class, are one and the same. Such transformative consciousness is produced only in the crucible of progressive struggle, active participation in organized efforts to eradicate the manifestations of hate and greed demonstrated in such social atrocities as the murder of Michael Brown by Ferguson police, and the criminalization of culture inherent in CDCR’s approach to New Afrikan (Black) men (and others as well) in prison today.
We must begin to view and resist these social contradictions in their interconnections. Our failure to collectively resist actually contributes to the niggerdization of every non-White cultural group by the institutional racism inherent in the authoritarian state.
The current immigration crisis is a prime example of the expansion of this hate. The state, supported by significant swathes of the population is engaged in a blatant anti-Mexican, anti-South American campaign couched in the poorly veiled auspices of “the rule of law.” Indicative of the underlying authoritarian superiority complex of the settler mentality, “Americans” in these border states are holding dehumanizing, anti-immigrant rallies and hurling racial slurs at people (many women and children) whose land the U.S. took by force and violence or which was decimated through imperialist adventures.
Where California now stands is Northern Mexico, part of the traditional home of the Mexica people. Mexicans, who were attacked and driven south by the U.S. military in Amerika’s genocidal bid to fulfill its “manifest destiny”.
In the face of such historical crimes, how then are indigenous people “illegal immigrants”? This history is still being perpetuated in today’s xenophobic venom and congressional policy intent. There is no difference in these forms of hate and the U.S. continued financial and military support for Israeli imposition of Apartheid in Palestine. There is no different in CDCR criminalizing the SF Bay View and the U.S.-backed Egyptian military junta criminalizing journalists from Al Jazeera who were objective in their reporting on the “Muslim brotherhood”. Our failure to oppose these manifestations of hate embolden those who advance these values and ensure they are preserved and reproduced in the next generation.
Based on our society’s current level of development, the only hope we have is to relentlessly struggle against these manifestations of greed and hate in every institution in society, and in so doing, allow the series of illuminations which will flow from such a process of social evolution to reach its logical conclusion: the quantitative increase in the consciousness of the people, leading to a quantitative transformation of society. It is our sincerest hope that each of you challenge yourselves to make such a commitment and join us in forging a more free and just world.
Until we win or don’t lose.
Zaharibu Dorrough, D83611, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B-1L-22, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212;
Heshima Denham, J38283, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B-1L-39, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212;
Kambui Robinson, C82830, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B-1L-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212;
Jabari Scott, H30306, CCI, 4B-7C-209, P.O. Box 1906, Tehachapi CA 93581.