Saturday, October 22, 2016

wade in the water

Brad Brewer, 1971, published in Right On! Black Community News Service.
This is a good example of art that recognizes, identifies, and condemns the structure of antiblackness in u.s. empire.

"Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of white mothers' sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest..."
--Ella Baker
 "I'm not going to die, and even if I do die, I'm not going to die nobody's hypocrite."
--Assata Shakur

The Unforseen and the smoke
from aaaaaaaall that history
crowding out vision of the way
forward.

They wrote the rules so you couldn't
get here, or that if you did get
here you would be a coward
forevermore
after all they put you through to get here.

But here you are. Ain't no coward.
Maybe some PTSD. No coward though.

Crouch at the edge
of the clearing called
amerikkka,
of the vastness of play,
of war, of bliss, of gitmo,
of a wasteland beneath high-rise condos
starting at $750,000,
with nothing but the bag of tools
looted out of the katrinas,
broke out with the assatas of yestermoment,
heavy on hip.

And Imani, faith. Breathe in.
Hands held and ready.
We move together. Silent.
Ears tuned.

Whoever said don't look down
was a liar, that's where they
hide that shit, stepped in it,
and almost lost it all that time.

Fuck it.

Look everywhere.

But true forward is that way.

Yup. Think so.

Cuz if it were the other ways,
it would have worked by now.

No way to find pleasure
in the tearing
after what feels like
500 years of rape.

No idea how to make it through.

Maybe this time.
Image from video of the Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton sponsored murder of Afrikan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi was considered a threat to white supremacist interests for many reasons, but the biggest one was his attempt to establish a currency based on Africa's gold resources. This move would have meant independence from western financiers for a continent of people that the west is presently starving.

Not yet. Patterollers take your balls they catch you.

Come on, Blackman, you and me.
Do it.

Never that. Not again.

The last one hurt so bad and cost so much.
I don't know that it's in me.
Feel hairs rise
at the creeping of history,
of normative time
just over shoulder,
of shame, got beat
that last cycle
and too much pride not to say
fuck it and risk stumbling
as long as it's that way,
think so, think that's forward.

No idea how it will go down.
Dug down. Broke down last time.

Let's pick the moment.
Then cut from cover.
Crush the fear into vapors
and push it out. Go off balance
headlong into the rush of time.

Imani is the wind at your back,
the collective last breath
of the beloved ancestors
as they dove into that
black black atlantic,
and we all do that some kinda way.

Faith all that is left
after you can't even
sweat no more,
after they've burned
everything else away.

Stay true.

Strap up.

Study up.

Rise up.

Break through.

Communicate. Yes.

That way.

That much we can agree on.

_______________________
copyright 2014 by Omar Ricks

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Yes, White and POC Progressives Are Complicit in the Rise of Trump

White and People of Color progressives--

Y'all love to distance yourselves from the racism of Donald Trump and claim that defeating him at the polls will signal some kind of victory against racism, even though Black and Indigenous people have been telling you that y'all are racist as fuck for a minute. And y'all have been accusing us of being "racist" when we say that. 

You also accuse us of being "violent" when we claim that it's going to take more than nonviolent protest and electoral politics to address our ongoing genocide.

You say we're blaming the people who are "doing the work" when we address the racism you show us in our movement circles. You say that white/PoC liberal progressives are the very ones calling out and responding to racism. But if we're analyzing the racism we live among, callouts and critiques, important as they are, are only the second step. The first step we address should be the conditions giving rise to the thing that happened in the first place that made callout and critique necessary. Addressing that first thing-- the structure of antiblackness that is already there, the group psychology that leads to trigger pulls and crime bills and "anti-terrorism" policies-- in a permanent way should be occupying left discourses more than it is, even (especially) in a season of electoral politics.

Part of the problem is that, when push comes to shove, you go right along with the system you claim to radically oppose, whether by overlooking racism within your own communities, tolerating the ways that the politicians you vote for support u.s. empire, or policing Black articulations of the problem america itself causes for our very biological existence.


How long are you going to displace onto Donald Trump the responsibility for your inaction and unwillingness to put some skin in the game of radical Black and Indigenous antiracist struggle? 

Like y'all really had no idea there was enough racism in this country to raise a Trump to the Republican presidential nomination and possibly to having the nuclear launch codes?

Like, Really?

First, there's all the racism y'all know white people practice-- from stop-and-frisk to gentrification and neighborhood segregation to job discrimination to miseducation. All the antiblack shit people are finally identifying among east Asian American, south Asian American, and Latinx American communities, and y'all don't know nothing, huh? Y'all-- white progressives with all your Fox News-watching uncles and prison guard brothers-in-law? What about the antiblack stuff many families from Latin America and Asia bring with them when they immigrate? And you really thought boycotts and occasional protest marches and votes and letters to the editor would keep these forces in check when they are right there at your family reunions? Don't play us. We been dealing with this shit too long. We see the hustle.

For instance, it's great that progressive Chinese Americans spoke out against their communities' support for NYPD officer Peter Liang, who murdered Akai Gurley in the stairway of his apartment building. But the critique came after thousands of Chinese Americans protested in support of Liang, saying essentially that it was unfair that white police officers get to kill Black people with impunity but Asian American police officers like Liang do not. The protests were steeped in discourses that were uncritical of the model minority myth of Asian Americans-- commenting on how Liang is an immigrant who wanted to serve his community and country. (Cuz, you know, the only way someone can call themselves the "model" minority is if there's some other kind of "minority" who ain't so "model"-like, who is considered a bad kind of "minority." And, of course, that is always Black people. The model minority myth isn't just stressful for Asian American students and workers; more importantly, it's antiblack and used to justify things like police murders of Black people.)

The fact that a protest saying Liang had committed no crime was the primary psychic response of a mass of Asian Americans-- after Liang was convicted of manslaughter-- gives real insight into the implicit-- or unconscious-- thought processes that lead people to do the racist shit they do. And, in the final analysis, the racist structure saw to it that Liang served no jail time. Again, it's great that you protest. But what are you protesting against? Are you just against the moment-to-moment practices of a racist society, without critiquing the fundamentally racist society itself? What you're protesting against is the larger problem we Black and Indigenous folks, and our truly down allies, have to address if we are going to be free.

Look To Your Houses.

Let's get real about where this is coming from so we can formulate an adequate response to it. Trump already knew what played in Peoria long before he ran for office. He just cranked up the already rabidly racist discourse that the tea party, birther, and alt-right blocs have been using to get people into office. These elements have been militarized by u.s. military training and deployment. These elements have been energized by the first Black president. These elements have been galvanized against a queer folks- and poor folks-led Black freedom struggle vanguard that emerged in places like Ferguson, Baltimore, Oakland, Minneapolis, Charlotte, and New York in response to mass incarceration and police murder of Black people.

Lest we forget, this mass incarceration and militarized policing as responses to poverty, drug use, mental illness, and Black and Indigenous freedom struggle were founded by Nixon and Reagan, supported by Hillary Clinton, perfected by Bill Clinton, and sustained under Bush I and II and Obama. Not only were these presidents complicit but most of the expansion of the prison state was happening at state and local levels, especially under the auspices of organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council and with both Democrats and Republicans at the helm.

The status quo was already so violent for Black people and Indigenous peoples-- in our neighborhoods, on borders, globally-- that the musicians that we chill to find it important to talk about it, from Tupac to Manu Chao, Bocafloja to Lauryn Hill.

Here's the root of the problem: The u.s., including its progressive elements, is a fundamentally racist imperial formation built on land stolen in several successive massive genocides and founded on the principle that "all [people] are created equal" except the people who were being raped and held in chains outside the window of the house where Jefferson wrote those very words. But, hey-- at least it produced rock-and-roll, composed Hamilton the musical, and elected Obama twice, so i guess it evens out, right?

u.s. liberal progressives been loving iPhones but not concerned enough about the slave children in Congo who dig up the coltan and the hyperexploited Chinese factory workers who build them to take down the corporations that devalue the lives of billions of people. u.s. liberal progressives been loving their Priuses but have not been concerned enough about the Muslim countries the u.s. and its proxies bomb for the oil or the Indigenous women getting raped in the man-camps of North Dakota's oil country. But hey-- you get 50 mpg and cry during documentaries about coltan, so you're doing your part, right?

The real problem for which progressive white/poc people are (halfway rightly) blaming Trump is something in which the Democrats have long been just as complicit: a resurgence of a white supremacist vanguard that has long been active anyway. It was there in the police officer grampa who locked up Black and Indigenous freedom fighters in the 1960s as part of cointelpro, the army father who massacred and raped whole villages of people in Viet Nam, the loan officer sister who redlined Black people out of whole geographic areas and out of whole ways of building intergenerational wealth, the school teacher daughter who instagrams about how her Black students are "assholes" or how if she had 10 days to live she would "kill all Black people." white people and their junior partners (Latinxs, Asians, and many Indigenous peoples-- who, in many cases, bring antiblack sentiments from other countries if they have immigrated) have been knowing that the antiblack sentiments in their families were articulating into elements of a racist vanguard among their families and friends and communities, and they have been helpless to check its development. Well, the chickens have now really come home to roost.

Because you have collectively failed to address the racists you are connected to, the racism you are a part of, and the racists you are to the Black people in your midst-- that's why now an antiblack, anti-Latinx, Islamophobic neo-nazi misogynist is driving the political discourse. 

Killary

So don't wonder why now the only choice liberal progressives have is someone among whose chief foreign policy "successes" have been the torture and murder of an African leader to prevent him from developing a currency based on African gold that would have relieved African nations' debt to european colonial powers and the assassination of an Indigenous Honduran human rights and environmental activist. Let's not forget Hillary Clinton's initial responses not only to questions about "superpredators," but also her initial response and that of her chief proxy to Black Lives Matter when confronted about her and her husband's role in the growth of the prison industrial complex and police aggression. Again, focus on the initial response, not just the rearguard move of apologies and self-critiques that politicians perform after their racism is showing for all the world to see.

And let's not forget all the liberal progressive POCs who continually try to police Black statements of what the problem is, statements that could actually lead to formations ready to fight (nonviolently if possible, violently if necessary) for an end to the racist social order in which we live. If only you weren't busy trying to manage our "anger" and would actually listen to Black and Indigenous articulations of the freedom drive we have had since before many of you even arrived in this genocidal slave colony-- our movements could articulate into a threat to the murderous structure we live in.

I don't care if you blame Trump for his own performances of racism. He deserves it. But acting like we have to vote for Hillary Clinton to defeat that racism is jejune, myopic, and ignorant as fuck.



The tone of Trump's violently racist discourse is as old as this country, as old as european colonization of the americas. And Hillary Clinton has been down with versions of it too. And she probably still is, although not publicly. It is always there as long as this thing called america is there. Ending Trump's candidacy, just like defeating tea party candidates, does not alter the fundamental wellspring of racism-- a structurally antiblack order of which the u.s. is the anchor tenant.

Seize the Time

It is time to think about the next stages of history in which we must abandon this mystical and ahistorical dedication to the u.s. empire with its propagandistic lie that the only legitimate ways of making change are by electoral politics and petitions and the creation of ever more nonprofit organizations and nongovernmental organizations that rely on rapacious capitalists for their resources. 

It is time to listen to what Black and Indigenous people have been saying about america writ-large for 500 years and counting-- that it is the leader of a racist global empire and an enemy to the freedom of Black and Indigenous peoples everywhere.

It is time to admit that Black and Indigenous revolutionaries like Leonard Peltier and Assata Shakur-- still fighting for their lives-- had the correct analysis of what the problem is. It is time to continue their great work, build on that analysis, and act to bring down this racist structure so that we can build anew.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Piers Morgan, No One Gives a Fuck What You Think about Beyonce's Music

by Zil Nabu



Piers Morgan has had me in my feelings for the better part of 24 hours. I wasn't going to post about this but I'm high on benzodiazepine and lawd knows what other sedatives that have depleted my supply of fucks to give. After reading his opinions on Beyonce's new visual album Lemonade and its preceding lead single "Formation" I'd like to tell this white British man who knows nothing of being a Black woman to "suck on my balls. Pause. I've had enough." First and foremost, this album was not written, created, choreographed, performed, filmed, edited, or released with any concern for YOUR consumption. You, and people like you, should have learned like I did as a child that not everything is about you boo boo.
So let's break down all of everything that you (and people like you) got wrong. 

1. 
"But just lately, Beyonce’s been adding a far more serious, deeply political and race-fuelled tone to her work." - Piers Morgan
And? So what? Yes, her visual work has become markedly more political. While her lyrical content has grown more sophisticated in terms of word play it actually isn't overtly political. But even if it was, why shouldn't it be? Did not Marvin Gaye move from "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" to "What's Going On" and "Mercy Me"? Do our entertainers not live in the same world that all of us inhabit? Does entertaining for income mean that one cannot have opinions about what goes on in the world and wouldn't those opinions and their values be expressed through their art? Beyonce is no longer the 20 year old writing that "I don't think you're ready for this jelly." She's a 34 year old mother who now has autonomy over her creations. What makes you uncomfortable about that? Is it because you've literally watched her grow up? Maybe it's difficult not to see her as a teenager who shouldn't have political leanings. Now, if you think her newer work has a race-fueled tone to it, then you must not have really been listening to her earlier recordings. She's been celebrating and proclaiming her Blackness for over a decade. Maybe it wasn't as overt as liking her Negro's nose with Jackson 5 nostrils, but proclaiming that you weren't "ready for this jelly" was hardly race neutral if you know anything about beauty standards within Black communities. 
2. 
"In February of this year, she dropped the song 'Formation' which contained references to the activist movement Black Lives Matter. 
"A video accompanying it included Beyoncé strewn across a sinking police car in a withering throwback to police mistreatment of the black community in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. 
"Other scenes showed a wall bearing the graffiti “Stop Shooting Us” and a young black boy dancing in a hoodie in front of a line of policemen. 
"It was seen, understandably, as an attack on U.S. police." - Piers Morgan
Actually, it's not understandable to me why that was seen as an attack on police. Was there not police mistreatment and government neglect and mishandling, especially affecting Black citizens in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? Have unarmed Black men and women lost their lives in state sanctioned violence for petty crimes for simply existing? Yes. How is pointing out FACT anti-police? If the people who are supposed to be being served are not being served well then should they not speak out? The actual song "Formation" contained no references to BLM, but the video's imagery implicitly did. If you listened to the song without the visuals you would see it as a danceable song with specific lyrics celebrating Black southern culture ("hot sauce in my bag swag") but nothing political. That is unless you see the mentioning of one's Blackness as a political statement. Let me ask you this, when Eric Clapton sang, "She'll put on her makeup and brushes her long blonde hair," was that also a political statement? I highly doubt that you saw it as such. That lyric is innocuous to you, yet verses from Black artists that affirm the beauty of specifically Black features are political in your eyes.
3. 
"Her back-up dancers had Panthers-style afro hairstyles and black berets, formed an X on the pitch and punched the air in the style of the famous black power salute." - Piers Morgan
Sigh...."Panthers-style afro hairstyles"? Aww, poor tink tink. You thought the Black Panthers invented the afro. No boo boo, this is how Black people's hair has been growing out of our heads since we got on this earth. There is NOTHING political about the natural naps that I allow to grow unaltered from my scalp. You see, that's just us existing as we are and not only accepting ourselves but embracing the beauty in our glorious coils that grow out toward the heavens. As for the black berets and dancing in an X formation and the Black power salute...you can stay mad.
4. 
"The Black Panthers, set up as a group who would protect black Americans from police brutality, became infamous for their own brutality, especially against police, and widespread criminal and murderous membership within their ranks." - Piers Morgan
You know the Panthers also became famous for establishing free breakfast programs for children, which were the precursor for today's free lunch and WIC programs, but you neglected to mention that. Also, look up Co-Intelpro before you talk about "widespread criminal and murderous membership within their ranks." If you're going to tell the story, tell the WHOLE damn thing.
5. 
"My mind went back to my CNN interview with Beyoncé and the moment when we discussed her live performance at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration ball in 2008. "‘Did you experience racism as you grew up?’ I asked."
"‘A bit, but I feel like with my career I’ve now broken barriers. I don’t think people think about my race. I think they look at me as an entertainer and a musician and I’m very happy about that because that’s how I look at people. It’s not about color and race, and I’m happy that’s changing.’" - Piers Morgan
Piers, Piers, Piers, nowhere in this statement was Beyonce saying that she has transcended Blackness. She is making a factual statement that if you make good music and entertain people then her race is not a factor in whether or not they can enjoy it. This quote does not justify the next bit of your fuckery...
6. 
"Beyoncé then was unrecognisable from the militant activist we see now. Then, she was at pains to be seen as an entertainer and musician and not as a black woman who sings. Now, it seems to be the complete opposite.
"The new Beyoncé wants to be seen as a black woman political activist first and foremost, entertainer and musician second." - Piers Morgan
What in the entire fuck?? Beyonce has always been a Black woman. I saw her as a Black woman the first time I saw the Destiny's Child video for "No, No, No, No." Blackness isn't a garment one puts on and takes off at will. Her Blackness is not a costume. The fact you (and other fans) chose to ignore it in order to make her more palatable to you does not mean that it wasn't there. Is she more of an activist now? Yeah, I'd agree with you on that. But she is no more Black today than she was on the day she was born.
7. 
"But I have to be honest, I preferred the old Beyoncé. The less inflammatory, agitating one. The one who didn’t use grieving mothers to shift records and further fill her already massively enriched purse.
"The one who didn’t play the race card so deliberately and to my mind, unnecessarily. The one who wanted to be judged on her stupendous talent not her skin color, and wanted us all to do the same." - Piers Morgan
You see, what you did there? You done fucked up now. No one gives a fuck who or what you prefer. Let me ask you something? What about Blackness do you find inflammatory or agitating? And don't you dare go dragging Martin Luther the King into this with your weak paraphrase of his words. When he said that people should "be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" he did not say that the color of one's skin is irrelevant. Judgement is not the same as recognition. You (and your ilk) took those great words of that great man and twisted them to suit your own agenda. Because you could not tolerate Blackness you chose to simply ignore its existence and then had the audacity to try to require Blacks to help you with that by muting who we are to make you more comfortable. Newsflash! Beyonce never asked to be JUDGED by her skin color. She is asking to be judged by the content of her artistic work, which if it's fueled by WHO she is (a BLACK WOMAN), will exemplify, promote, celebrate and speak to Black womanhood. And what is this race card that you speak of? This is not a game of spades and being Black is not the Big Joker. She is existing. And if in the first 33 years of her existence you chose to ignore what every Black person saw, well that's on you. She will, and we will, continue to exist and thrive in all our wide nose, afro haired, bat wielding glory.


And if anyone has a problem with anything I've said...It's yours, not mine. ‪#‎unapologeticallyBLACK‬


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What is Afropessimism in Common Parlance?

by Footnote

Perhaps a succinct definition will not suffice in granting a comprehensive answer, not withstanding my novice-hood and lay view in the letter, thus i may not equal the task to pronounce what is Afro Pessimism eloquently, however it shall be observed along the text what i personally grasp as Afro Pessimism.

The prefix "Afro" stands for Africa and Pessimism is simple Pessimistic in general language, the two words combined they form a concept called Afro Pessimism. Afro Pessimism is not a political framework or political ideology nor anything of that nature, it is simple a work of understanding, a narrative, a meta-critique of the world. What Afro Pessimism is saying is that the world is an unethical formation, therefore Afro Pessimism only lays out an ethical imperative that, the world has to end as we know it. Afro Pess does not prescribe or say what must be done or how the world ought to be ended, it only describes the world.

One may be baffled by this assertion and wonder what does "ending the world as we know it" really implies ? - perhaps i should highlight the difference between "ending the world" and  "ending the world as we know it" the latter merely implies that there is a world that we do not know as yet, in other words, "ending the world as we know it" is to destroy the unethical permanent structures that form this current unethical world, and that sounds like revolution itself.

I often sense a fomenting animosity and frown upon those who are called Afro-Pessimists, Afro-Pessimists are believed to be self hating, white ass licking blacks, whom talk political rhetorics with "big english" with no actions, ground work and blah blah blah. Firstly it must be noted that such people whom are labeled Afro Pessimist do not exist, there is no one who is an Afro Pessimist, those that use the tool, agree with it's arguments, or make Afro Pessimistic narratives, we may call them Afro Pessimist so to advance grammar.

These emotional and flimsy attacks resides in the failure to hear what is being said, why is it being said, and engaging the argument that Afro-Pess brings forth. It is worth noting that, Afro-Pessimism tends to fly pass the unlettered people's comprehension owing to the intricate language used in Afro Pess narratives. One of my noble brother says "if we look at the world from an Afro Pessimistic view, the world is a big prison for the blacks and the prison conditions can not be improved any better beyond the prison, the walls need to be taken down period. Even though some blacks are elevated to high positions to guard the prison, prevent prisoners from escaping, manage the rage of prisoners, but thats just an illusion cause everyone inside those walls is a prisoner." So ending the world as we know it is in the same way as bringing down the walls of the prison.

Along these arguments the mother of Afro Pessimism, Saidiya Hartman writes "Rather than celebrate Blackness as a cultural identity, Afro-Pessimism theorizes it as a position of accumulation and fungibility" Simple put: Afro Pessimism acknowledges that being black is a cultural identity, however Afro Pess refuses to celebrate being black as such, essentially blacks are in a position of collectiveness and used as replaceable objects to fund white existence just like slaves. This also means that even though black people know themselves as human beings they are not allowed a human life as a result they find themselves in a condition of ontological death - an existence outside humanity.

Also it must be noted that "slaves" knew that they were human beings despite being enslaved, the "slave-master" also knew very well that "slaves" were human beings cause he talked to them, gave them instructions, food, clothes et al, but denied them the birth right of being human and live alike, this is also to say that what defined "slaves" more than anything was the position of slavery, thus knowing that they were human beings meant nothing really, in the same way that we know ourselves as human beings does not translate in living as human beings in a world that survives on black suffering. 

I have heard a thousand times now, people saying Afro Pess says black people are sub-humans, subalterns, non-beings, slaves and all other names you can think of, ok lets say this once and for all, Afro Pessimism does not say those things, you will never find it anywhere in Afro Pess letter, but what these people fail to understand is that Afro Pess is making an argument or it is describing the world as it sees it, in the same way in scientific experiments you will not see atoms, molecules and particles with an naked eye but a microscopic device, the world also needs a particular instrument to see whats beneath the surface and Afro Pess may just be that microscopic device to see the world as it is, not as how its presented.

We need Black Consciousness as a self concept so to self define and find pride in who we are, Pan Africanism to unite as blacks and reject any colonial strategy, also we need to make sense of our suffering, so Afro Pess is that grammar of our suffering spoken by the black body, how else will we free ourselves if we can't make sense of our suffering? So in essence these are all tools that belong in the same tool box that i will call black liberation and sovereignty. 

The concepts used in Afro Pess are often mistaken for "big english" whatever that means, concepts are concepts and if one knows a black small electronic component called an I.C in an electronic board, it is a big circuit board when expanded but compressed in a small chip for size convenience, thats exactly what concepts are alike, a lot of explanation put in one or two words so that you do not have to re-explain every time.

Let us briefly explain a few of them like "Socially death" which simple means the way in which we relate to one another is being created for us and maintained as if we are just objects, in turn we are a society rejected as human beings by another society and that is being carried out by many ways like violence without doing anything, deprivation of humane resources, aids, ebola, and all that has a function of human making. Why is this ? Its because they can.

Another one is "Ontological death" this simple means that we do not exist in the world that human beings exist in, we are expelled from humanity and in other words we are dead cause to die is not only physical but also metaphysical, to exist like you are nothing in this world is also death itself of some sort. Basically we do not matter in this world we are killed as if we are nothing, when we cry we are not being heard, our history is being destroyed and represented as white history, we are not different to slaves and owned along side any other objects even the ones we think we own.

Lastly i will talk about "libidinal economy" this is an economy of pleasure, to oppress blacks is not enough but its also psychologically pleasing and some how it is important to whites, black suffering does not only create wealth for whites but it also gives them happiness and a sense of humanity, So that is also the reasons whites people enjoy helping black people but they are the problem to start of with. 

In Conclusion i guess what Afro Pessimism is saying is that slavery never ended but the ways of slavering have been slightly changed so that a lot will not notice,
today "slaves" are not owned by Masters per se but the system, they can actually choose which master to slave for, so one at times may feel a sense of humanness not knowing slavery kicks in without having to do any slave work, but being in a slave position that ultimately governs your non-existence, in other words a slave is a property of another human being.

********
Footnote - is a black thinker, reader and writer, an african by descent and aspirations and a layman pro-actively narrates the grammar of black condition from a lived experience and conscious point of view, not owned by any political enclave, nor flirt with any veiled hypocrisy as originated or promulgated via the tentacles of anti-blackness stratagems.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

PROFILES IN WHITE WOMEN'S PRIVILEGE: Professor Amy Bishop Anderson


We remember Amy Bishop (now known as Amy Bishop Anderson), a white professor who fatally shot 3 professors, Adriel Johnson, Maria Ragland Davis, and Gopi Podila, and wounded 2 others at a faculty meeting in Huntsville, Alabama, on February 12, 2010.

(Two of those killed were Black, adding yet another form of violence to which the academy exposed them, along with the mental, institutional, emotional, and physical violence of police, students, staff, community members, and other professors.)

It seems that no one expected Anderson to respond violently to her denial of tenure the year before, even though she had a very violent past that, if she had been Black, would have been enough to block her from becoming a Harvard-trained biologist, a respected inventor, an amateur writer, and someone who was able to kill and terrorize multiple times while staying out of jail over a span of more than two decades.

In 1986, she had killed her younger brother with a shotgun blast to his chest. Although the 1986 killing took place under suspicious circumstances, the police ruled it "accidental." Police had also suspected Anderson and her husband in connection with a 1994 bombing aimed at a previous employer.  And Anderson had been arrested in 2002 for punching another woman in the face at an IHOP, although that case was dropped. When Anderson committed the triple murder in Alabama, she did so with an illegally possessed Ruger 9mm firearm, sort of like the weapons that Black men are routinely and disproportionately arrested and imprisoned for possessing.

In the racist society/world we live in, white women are generally construed as "fragile," "innocent," "gentle," "pure," and "in need of protection" (rather than being understood as the ones we need to be protected from, just like white men). It takes a coordination of several sets of forces, from Hollywood to barbie dolls to all the other things that enforce white women as the only true women, including ultimately the police, who see to it that gender roles make this construction stick as a defining characteristic of white womanhood. Her mother seems to have used her white womanhood to have a kind of pull with the police and was able to get them to drop murder and assault charges and bury a homicide. Black mothers do not have this power, and are rarely approached as mothers or women.

Police are just the first step for most Black people, followed by DA, PD (public defender), jury, judge, CO (corrections officer), warden, PO (parole officer), and several other arms of the prison-industrial complex. Each step in that process can convict you or force you to accept a plea or add time to your sentence or bust you back after you've been paroled or tarnish your professional image beyond repair. They are enough to kill you, if you are Black. And they are generally unchecked, by empathy, mercy, morality, bystanders, body cameras-- or even the fact that you didn't do anything "criminal." For Anderson, the police were the first and last step before charges were dismissed-- until she murdered three people. The police protected her even from themselves. If you are white, the momentum of the prison-industrial complex has no gravity, and so cannot gain the traction and inevitability of a runaway train. Implicit bias toward you tends to not make you a target of state and civilian violence. For whites, the violence of the state, says Frank Wilderson, "is repeatedly checked."

Taken together, this multiply sourced stereotype creates a structural position of white womanhood, and may have been a significant reason why, despite Anderson's record, the racist, sexist structure allowed her to pass right under the radar in ways that state and civil society's hyper-surveillance of Black bodies would not have let pass. Anderson was allowed to kill multiple times while maintaining her freedom, continuing a pattern among white people of killing with impunity that dates back at least to Columbus. Nothing she did-- not even a prior homicide, a suspected prior attempted murder, and an assault for which she was arrested-- could make her "fit the profile" of someone the police ought to be protecting the rest of us from.

Meanwhile, Black men are jailed on terroristic threat charges for merely uttering the word "bomb" in a classroom (as happened to a brother i know in Davis, California, a few years ago) and killed for merely picking up a bb gun in a store in an open-carry state (as happened to John Crawford in Ohio).



Most importantly, the two above-mentioned patterns are not separate. They are mutually reinforcing. In other words, Anderson was understood to not be a threat because she was defined in opposition to Black men, like John Crawford, who are seen as a threat.
The "black brute" stereotype shows how the innocence of the white woman relies on the wickedness of the Black man. The contrasts between the two stereotypes couldn't be greater. Not only are they different in color and musculature but the white woman's face is lit, rendering her available for empathy, while the Black man's face is obscured, as though he has no feelings except dumb animal drives. Anderson benefited from this standard Hollywood trope. Johnson and Davis were victimized by it.

Thinking intersectionally, we might notice several attributes in her life that position her according to socioeconomic class and education as privileged, not simply the fact that she is white in and of itself. Yes, Anderson has a PhD from Harvard and several prestigious postdoctoral fellowships. Yes, she was from the Boston suburb of Braintree, Mass., and raised in a well-to-do neighborhood, in an historic old house, and a community where people knew the police chief by his first name. All of these things position her according to her class.

But this only amplifies the original point. Class is a function of race, not the other way around. Capitalism is a weapon that is used against Black people to sustain the anti-black structure. Never forget that Black people are disproportionately poor, and the poor are disproportionately Black.

In the case of Anderson's life, capitalism was the mechanism by which her suburban life was able to maintain its meaning and coherence as a space safe for families like that of her parents-- the Bishops. The Bishop family was able to live in a middle-class suburb outside of a Boston that was, in Anderson's younger years, becoming increasingly Black. They benefited from white flight. Capitalism would also have been the way that Black families were simultaneously kept in the inner city of Boston, via practices like redlining. So, again, to the extent that she was privileged, Black Bostonians, and poor folks in general, had to be deprived. Capitalism is a tool in service of antiblackness. Capitalism might even be thought of as antiblackness, weaponized.

One article even describes families like the Bishops living in the suburbs  and being "proud" that they escaped the "grittier precincts," something that, of course, is at least partially a code word for Black areas in cities that have been subject to white flight and the so-called "benign neglect" of late twentieth-century capitalism. Taking pride that you left people behind in killing fields like Boston should make us wonder why (or whether) more white bourgeois families aren't serial killers.

Despite Anderson's commission of actual homicides, she doesn't fit the profile for a homicidal threat that the police should be shooting down in the streets, thereby enabling her to kill again...
Adriel Johnson


...and again...
Maria Ragland Davis

...and again...
Gopi Podila

...and that is why Dr. Amy Bishop Anderson is another PROFILE IN WHITE WOMEN'S PRIVILEGE.

Please remember, white privilege is really just a nice way of saying white power, and it is based on Black death.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

AUDIO: In the Name of the Motherfucker: Naming the White Symbolic Father: A Lecture by Omar Ricks at UC Davis

In the Name of the Motherfucker: Naming the White Symbolic Father
How do we name the violence of a paradigm of antiblackness that is still going? Hortense Spillers essay "Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book" outlines a revolutionary theory of the violence that created and continues to create Blackness through the rape, murder, incarceration, and misnaming of Black people by a central figure in the psychic formation of western society: the Name of the (white) Father. Spillers reading helps us understand Fanon's notion that African "metaphysics [were]...abolished [by] a new civilization that imposed its own" and calls for a radical renaming of Black people by ourselves.
Black "fathers" or "father figures" have no structural power. The position has been taken by the structural position of the Master. But it would be a mistake to call the Master the "Father." Even Thomas Jefferson cannot be called one of the "founding fathers" by Black America. The best one can say of such a structural position (and the people who filled it) is the rapist, the one who "fathers" children by raping "mothers" to reproduce his property and facilitate enjoyment. Spillers calls this the "mocking presence." and really, all it is is one who fucked the mother. hence, the position should be called the "Motherfucker." Since it is a structural position, white women too can occupy it, and Spillers gives an example of this from Harriet Jacobs.
Bio
Omar Ricks is an educator, writer, artist, activist, and baker in Berkeley, California. He holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies with a Designated Emphasis in New Media from UC Berkeley, where he used film, television, literature, and new media to study the ways that the performance of Black leadership is conditioned within, and resistant to, structural antiblackness. Dr. Ricks teaches Africana Studies at the Peralta Colleges in Oakland. He is a member of the editorial collective of The Feminist Wire and has published in TDR, ASTR Online, ERIC Digest, and Slingshot. He helped found the afropessimist blog Cosmic Hoboes.

https://soundcloud.com/omar-ricks/ricks-omar-uc-davis-mf-talk-8-31-15mp3

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"knowing oneself to be a dead relation": A Review Essay and an Interview with Frank B. Wilderson, III (continued Part 2 of 2)

In honor of Black August, cosmic hoboes is publishing a review essay and interview Omar Ricks did with Frank B. Wilderson III about the release of his book, Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid in 2008. This is Part 2 of the interview. (Part 1 is here.)
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A Review Essay and an Interview with Frank B. Wilderson, III
Review Essay by Omar Benton Ricks
Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid. By Frank B. Wilderson, III. (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2008. Pp. 501. Paper, ISBN 978-0-89608-783-5). (2nd edition coming soon from Duke University Press.)
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Omar: Let me ask you to clarify this seeming paradox: Your membership in a bourgeois community that has access to Walter Mondale and the Marines. Sure, you were eligible for “honorary white status” and often play your Americanness, but, even more directly you have a father who is respected and a white woman who, if anything ever happened to you, would call the police or the Marines. How would you respond to the assertion that you, or the black middle class in general, already have a protective hedge against blackness?
Frank: It is true that, as opposed to two years ago, when I was working on my Ph.D., I now go to Trader Joe’s and I don’t look at the receipt when I leave. It’s absolutely true that I now have a certain kind of respite from the stress of 2004 that is important, and that I appear to be important to a large number of people—other faculty members and students. Those are tangible changes. Those are meaningful and a lot of my physical ailments have left. On the other hand, it was Randall Robinson who was talking one day to some people about one of the books that he wrote, and he made a very curious comment about his son being stopped by the police on the freeway. He said, “Last night, racial profiling came home even to me.” And he wasn’t being ironic, which I thought to be quite sad. Because what had happened is that his enhanced economic capacity—his capacity to have a home in St. Kitts and one in D.C. and his books and everything—had blunted his explanatory power. And there are days when I’m all for that, you know. Like I just don’t want to know shit anymore! [Laughter.] So I can’t say that I find that emotionally reprehensible because as a bourgeois academic I slip into it all the time. It doesn’t mean, however, that I have moved from a fated life to an agential life. I still live the life of “when” as opposed to the life of “whether” and perhaps my nostalgia, my disavowal—which is the misstatement “came home even to me last night”—like his son is not a Negro! “Oh! That’s Randall Robinson’s boy! Let’s not stop that nigger!” [Laughter.] The pigs don’t know and they don’t care. And if they did know, they might vamp even harder. The answer to your question is that one knows that, yes, perhaps Mondale would intervene if the Inkatha Zulus were to kidnap me, perhaps there would be an international incident, but only to the degree that the paradigm momentarily addressed other factors—like my dad’s prominence in the Democratic Party—as opposed to my blackness. There can be situational adjustments. You can even live a life of a situational adjustment. I don’t see how that’s completely possible because your nigger moment has actually packed its bags and is on the way to meet you, you just don’t know when it’s coming or where it’s going to hit you, and that’s an issue of being fated, as Lewis Gordon says. And I don’t think that any black person who’s not in a mental asylum really tells themselves, “I live a life of agential ‘whether’” when they’re alone with themselves. It’s always “when.” “When will I be treated badly?” “When will I be arrested?” “When will I be accosted for acting ambiguously with my white wife,” as Lewis Gordon writes. It’s not whether or not someone will mistreat me; it’s when. If one did not know where one was positioned, regardless of one’s attitude toward that, one could not move through the world. It would be like moving through ether. You’d just be crazy.
Omar: You point out how flimsily founded the ascension of the black bourgeoisie really is. The laughable notion of the Name of the Black Father is a prime example. On p. 150-151, after your father has told you the origins of your family name, you say this of the Name of the Father:
Then he looked at me, that sullen-Wilderson-look that my mom always found so disparaging, but she was wrong, for the first time I knew she was wrong. It wasn't a Wilderson-look, for it could just as well have been a Wilson-look. He looked that look at me, the look of chance, and said, "Now you know.”
“The look of chance.” So, even the features that we think of as the possessions of our families and defining characteristics of our families and things that give authority to our parents—are not ours. They have no name, or, rather, can only ever have an arbitrary (chance) name. Could you also speak to the notion of patriarchy as well as matriarchy and how this narrative troubles these concepts in relation to the African American family?  
Frank: Yes, you’re right. The name Wilderson was a name of chance and ascription, just like all other black names, so our names are symptoms of our bodies being possessions, where other people’s names are symptoms of their recognition and incorporation into kinship structure.
Omar: For example, Smith being the name of somebody whose ancestor was once a blacksmith or Cartwright being the name of somebody whose ancestor was once a cart maker—in the social structure.
Frank: I’m not suggesting that the way in which Europeans, and Asians, and Native Americans, and Latinos attain names is not arbitrary. All semiotics is semi-arbitrary. What I’m saying is that the paradigm recognizes and incorporates those names as the function of paradigmatic agency. So a good critical theorist could go back and look at the way they’re named and say, “Well there’s a pedigree of arbitrariness in this process as well. What are you black people talking about?” And what I’m talking about is that the arbitrariness is a function of subjects naming subjects. And once the name is put on someone, that person is recognized as a subject. This arbitrariness is a function of subjects naming objects. And the name becomes a moniker of further objectification. Every Negro name is a joke to the extent that the person tries to present it as a representation of genealogy. The can of tuna fish isn’t going to jump up and say, “Hey, I got a name! Now I’m a person too! I’m not your thing.”
Omar: Even if the can of tuna fish puts an African-sounding name on itself, it’s still just a can of tuna fish.
Frank: So we have a schism throughout this book—and it’s not a schism that the book tries to solve, it just tries to note it and explain—of someone living their name as though they were a subject, a patriarch, a matriarch, and that’s their attitude towards their name. And there’s a complete irreconcilable dissonance between their attitude toward their name and what their name really means paradigmatically. That is the paradox of negrohood. That is the lifelong struggle, which is why Cornel West says that blackness is a kind of meditation between suicide or madness. Do I just go through this dissonance for 80 years that no one else has, or do I just kill myself? And I’m not sure that either choice has any purchase over the other.
Omar: Your socio-economic position in writing this narrative is key because it exposes the fact that there is no escape from the onslaught. The features of the subject—god-given, inalienable rights, agency, the capacity to create culture out of nameless space and endless time, a contingent availability to violence, a narrative of immigration, the Name of the Father, and ontological resistance (what both Hegel and Lacan called recognition, and what existentialists call Presence)—are continuously embattled, contested, given no harbor, even for black families and individuals that have supposedly "made it." You expose how tenuously "respectability" is layered on the black body, how easily that black bourgeois "respectability" can be and is removed. Your parents find out they have been under surveillance after how hard they've struggled to be "respectable" and loyal Americans. Shelleen Johnson, after being voted chair of the department by her feminist sisters—there’s that language of family again—is policed by her white secretary Helen. This poses important questions to the achievements of the black bourgeoisie and the achievement ethic it teaches its youth and the youth of working-class and non-working poor communities. Many have pointed out how the black family socializes and politicizes its children into this politics of respectability. Absent these kinds of gestures—raising children in a “good” black neighborhood, or a “‘good’ Methodist girl in a ‘good’ Catholic school”—it’s not clear what a black parent is to do. So, what role does the black parent play in this drama of the emerging subject--the black child, the black Manchild or Womanchild?
Frank: I think one of the things that the book is showing is that it is impossible to be a black parent. And, again, I don’t really answer the question of “What should we do?” which your question is posing. I can’t parent my stepdaughter because I have no filial claim to her. Even though I’ve signed all the paperwork, the state and civil society already has the claim. And my parents can’t parent me because they have no filial claim. That was not as maddening and vexing to us on the plantation. In fact it was easier for us to understand than it is now. It is the truth of the paradigm and we don’t accept it today. And that’s where part of the problem is. It is a problem of understanding. If we did accept it, what could we do about it? Again, I don’t know. So, there is a question then of how do you look into the eyes of the black child. That’s a very terrifying encounter, one that I hope never to have again because the question is when you look into their eyes, what do you say? Do you say, “Don’t look to me for sanctuary because I can’t provide myself with that. The reason I can’t provide myself with that is because anything could happen to me at any time and I have no way to stem it. Therefore, your growing and your development and your mind is actually forming in this house right before my very eyes and I’m supposed to give you some lessons based upon a general set of predictive circumstances when all I can tell you is that any kind of shit can come down on you at any time, and there will be no recourse”?
Omar: —and it’s when, not whether. Reba says, “Daddy will they take our money” when the kasspirs [South African police and military armored vehicles] are coming and you say no they won’t, and the voice of your conscience says, “What possessed me to lie to a four-year-old child?” Indeed, not only does black parenting function via such lies of convenience. You seem to point out that the notion of a coherent “black culture” or blackness as an ethnicity—far from being liberatory—requires us to embrace such lies of convenience. So when you say,
I am nothing, Naima, and you are nothing: the unspeakable answer to your question within your question. This is why I could not—would not—answer your question that night. Would I ever be with a Black woman again? It was earnest, not accusatory—I know. And nothing terrifies me more than such a question asked in earnest. It is a question that goes to the heart of desire, to the heart of our black capacity to desire. But if we take out the nouns that you used (nouns of habit that get us through the day), your question to me would sound like this: Would nothing ever be with nothing again?
your answer to Naima’s question is bringing something into focus that often gets missed in conversations about black men dating or marrying white women. The implications of this are that blackness is not fundamentally comprehensible as a sociocultural identity, that we are united only in our nothingness, our position as slaves. You force us to focus on how even the things we see as comprising our culture are more essentially understood as indices of our constant availability to gratuitous violence. Many black women feel a profound sense of rejection when they see black men with white or nonblack women, a sense that issues forth from a sense of cultural entitlement—a sense that black people should be with black people just as Chinese people “should be” with Chinese people or Jewish people “should be” with Jewish people. According to this cultural entitlement, black people are, or should be, about making ourselves into, a culture or ethnic group, consisting of people with specific norms—like endogamy (marrying only within the group). In various places you share with us that blacks do have an unique and vibrant and deeply rooted culture, and that this cultural lens is a very important lens through which to view black people—as you share in the myriad references to “cultural things” like our hair, the mother-son familial dynamics, the common courtesies that black professionals afford each other, or when you cast [Motown founder] Berry Gordy as God in a sort of Ne(gr)o Genesis myth. But in your answer to Naima’s question you’re showing that, while our culture and ethnicity are important to us, they are inessential to blackness, to how we are positioned in the world always and already, before we can even offer performance.
Frank: Our being is a being in pain, as someone once wrote, and that’s very different than say an Asian or Latino or even Native American[1] person’s being as a being who experiences pain, even long periods of pain from U.S. imperialism and the usurpation of Turtle Island, the occupation of the Settlers on this continent. So the question is how to live. And what the book tries to do in this answer is to recognize the truly divided nature of the subject, such that in order to be with oneself and to feel that one is actually alive in the world, the only way to do that—unless one is in a revolutionary moment where one is just against the world—the only way to be otherwise is to have a little bit of whiteness in one’s life. Preferably in one’s bed. That then gets us back to the various gradations of blackness in the black position, such that black women who are black and American are least likely to be able to have a little bit of whiteness in their lives. I don’t think that Naima would ask that question if the racial dynamics were such that black men, thinking heterosexually, could not get black female lovers and black women could. Then I would be asking her that question. She’s asking the question on one level as a question of how am I going to perform in the world. But what I understand the question to mean is bringing us back to the problem of actual existence. Who we are. So I could answer it in the way that it was written that yes next year I’m going to date only black women, which would only put some salve on the question. It wouldn’t actually solve the dynamic. And it’s the same kind of question that I’m asking Khanya, but I’m accosting her in the beginning of the book when I say “You’ve just made a lateral move from kaffir to nigger” but what I’m really saying is, “Why won’t you be with me? You have more whiteness in your life because of your immigrant status and because you have that whiteness in your life I’m feeling abandoned.” Well, yes and no. Her actual performance in the world is not what’s abandoning me; it’s my recognition of how abandoned I already am through her capacity to climb a little bit out of the hole through immigration and she doesn’t want to fall back into the hole because she knows that were we to have a baby and that baby live here [in the United States], going back to your study—you know, Jared Sexton’s work has shown that black immigrants, African immigrants, Caribbean immigrants, are the only class of immigrants, are the only class of immigrants, whose second generation does worse than the first. Every other class of immigrants, the next generation does better, even Laotians. So immigration can’t slip the blackness.
Omar: It’s just another middle passage, then. Let’s talk about black rage. The black revolutionary impulse is always laboring under duress from the policing of whites. It seems that we are forever caught between a need to be, as you and your Grandmother Wilderson say, "mad at the world," and the fear of policing that comes in multiple modes, whether it be an Algiers Motel massacre in Detroit or the fear among African National Congress members in South Africa that the kind of radical reorganization of South Africa, such as Chris Hani advocated, might pose a threat to capital would bring the U.S. Marines to their shores. But you point out that there’s also a substantial amount of policing from white liberals like Harold Milton, your comrade in Berkeley who tells you that “black emotionalism” undermines black movements, that he, a white male, is a “people’s leader,” that he introduced a black girl who is a student leader to Mao and to all the philosophers that black revolutionaries were reading. After protesting the Kent State massacre and the bombing of Cambodia, he says of the Jackson State massacre – “Cambodia was like a universal thing… but …Jackson State…that’s like a special interest happening.” Special interests: How blacks’ demands are isolated performs a policing function similar to the question “What would you have in its place?” Milton wields power in saying that he’s more revolutionary.
Frank: We’re back to our problem being a problem of being. And we find ourselves in these moments with so-called white progressives and so-called white revolutionaries, where we lose ourselves because of a problem of performance and then something happens, a little conversation like that and they remind us that it’s a problem of being. Because I’m actually setting the terms. And he has set the terms because underlying what he’s saying is his understanding of what it means to suffer. He would say that people suffer through economic deprivation, class, they suffer through gender exploitation, patriarchy, and they suffer through American military occupation, imperialism. So he’s got these rubrics, and I’m not saying that they’re not important because I’m out in the streets with him, and I’m thinking that my rubric is in his mind also, and it’s not. And all of a sudden, he lets me know that it’s not. So now I’m jettisoned for the first time in my life into an understanding of really what I mean to white left-wing struggles. I can be a mascot, like a good lefty Negro cheerleader, for their causes, I can be a battering ram, when they need my rage and energy to knock down the doors of something, my “righteousness.” And what I forget in that moment, when I’m going off with my rage in their movement—I think that I’m struggling, I’m exploding, I’m moving forward, I’m battering down the door for not just their liberation but for black liberation—I forget that I’m a captive revolutionary, I forget that I’m captive to their will, and I push things too far. I push things for disrupting civil society on behalf of Jackson State— and it’s like, “Whoa! We weren’t going to the plantation!” he’s trying to tell me. “We were talking about whites and colored beings who did not have adequate access to the promise of civil society. You let your emotions and your mouth get your ass in trouble.” This is what he’s trying to tell me.
Omar: Thank you for bringing this discussion about leadership to the distinction between what is performative and what is ontological. Now, there are some possible exceptions to what you’re saying among whites and nonblacks on the Left, like Marilyn Buck or John Brown, or your Umkhonto we Sizwe comrade Trevor Garden—whites and nonblacks who were willing to die to all of their relations (in other words, become black) and be cast out of civil society as “traitors” and “terrorists” so that reality might be ethical instead of antiblack. But Harold Milton, it seems from this book, did not engage in that sort of ontological self-incapacitation. And this suggests that white and nonblack leftist activists may perform “people’s leadership” but will remain ontologically positioned as Masters in relation to Slaves (their black partners in struggle) and Settlers in relation to “Savages” (their American Indian and Native Hawaiian partners in struggle). Their struggles will liberate their Slave and “Savage” colleagues only to the extent that this liberation comports with their own liberation as Humans. But this concept you introduce of the structural antagonism between the Settler/Master and the “Savage” and Slave remains undisturbed. So who’s left to lead the struggle? Perhaps at this point we can talk about black leadership a bit. There’s a sense now with the looming election of Barack Obama that black rage is something that can be channeled into the electoral process to help give the Left—or if not the Left then at least the Democratic Party—that extra boost, more turnout than black folks have had probably ever, but no attention to what he’s going to do if he gets into office and lives past the inauguration.
Frank: The only way that America won’t kill him is if he can prove that he’s for everybody except blacks and rabidly against blacks. He might live four years. But the moment he seems to be for blacks—I mean, I hope it doesn’t happen. I actually feel sorry for him. But I think one thing that everyone is forgetting is that the only way that voting could actually be an ethical practice is if, say, every Indian had 22 votes and every black had a vote and everybody else sat back. There are only two groups of people who can vote: blacks and Indians. Having other people vote makes—forget the content, forget what you pour into the recipe—makes pulling the lever an unethical act. I’m not saying that people don’t understand this. I’m saying that they disavow it so that they can pull the lever. They pull the lever and call it ethical. They don’t say, “I’m pulling the lever and participating synchronically and diachronically in the massacre and the separation of Indians and in the further social death of blacks because I’m actually strengthening civil society which is a murderous projection.” They say, I’m pulling the lever and I’m making change—ethical change.
Omar: There is this sense that we’re channeling something that could be violent and thereby unethical or irresponsible into something that’s simply pulling a lever to make change. This reminds me of how pacifists aren’t really pacifists.
Frank: Yes. This comes from Joy James.[2] Pacifists prefer the violence of the state to the violence of blacks. And people used to ask me when I’d give lectures on my time in Umkhonto we Sizwe, “Did you ever kill anyone?” And I’d say, “Yes, I’ve killed many people—many people: Every April 15th when I sign my tax returns I become a member of Murder, Incorporated, euphemistically referred to as U.S. citizenry. I become a mass serial killer. Oh, you mean did I kill anyone as a black insurgent? Well, that’s peanuts!”





[1] American Indians and Native Hawaiians are positioned as a liminal case between blacks and Humans. This is because the “savage” is positioned by genocide (as opposed to groups of people that have experienced genocide as an historical event) and also positioned by the loss of sovereignty. Thus, one part (genocide) of the American Indian’s grammar of loss can find no possibility of redress, while the other grammar of loss (sovereignty) leaves intact the possibility, albeit extremely remote, of redress (the restoration of Turtle Island). See Frank B. Wilderson, III, Red, White, and Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms. (Durham: N.C.: Duke University Press, 2010).
[2] Prof. Joy James, in-class conversation, referred to author by Frank B. Wilderson, III, 25 September 2008.