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“Nothing is purely spontaneous when the people have been self-organizing for 100s of years”

November 28, 2014


A chant I heard over and over again throughout the protests is ‘black lives matter’. The slogan seems to be a rallying cry for this movement of solidarity with Mike Brown against white supremacy. Historically slogans have been important reflections of politics to inspire the people. The Black Panther Party said ‘All power to the people’ (Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, Poor, Womyn, Queer). To me that slogan reflected a radical politic that claimed the source of political power comes from the people; not bourgeois political parties and the police thugs who protect their money and hustle. The Black Panther Party and Black Power movement was also a youth movement. Radical struggles have always sprung from the youth. If our struggles are not centering the visions and actions of the youth then our struggles will lead to nowhere. There are a lot of non-profits that engage with young Black and Brown people and even seek to talk about ‘social justice’ and ‘activism’ but this work often stifles the movement of the youth narrowing it into the fields of education and assimilation, rather into freedom fighters. Outkast said it best, ‘youth full of fire and got nowhere to go’. The non-profitization of parts of the bay area left seeks to take out the fire of the youth and militant struggle, but young people see through these contradictions too. Especially young Black and Brown youth, who know what its like to not have political and social power within this white supremacist system; who see through the contradictions of the amerikkkan dream denied to them. The youth of Oakland have always represented in the streets and I’m proud to struggle alongside them.

So when we claim Black lives matter, who are we really talking to? I don’t need to tell another Black or Brown brother and sister that our lives matter. We know that. We are committed to that. Because if we weren’t committed to it then how would we have been able to survive and continue to survive genocide all these years? Through valuing ourselves in a system that doesn’t value life at all, let alone Black and Native life. We are alienated and isolated, but we are also strong and build our communities up out of nothing, and still have enough energy to take to the streets and resist. Our lives matter so how do we fight back against a system of genocide? We do not need to plea with the slave masters to recognize our humanity. These politics and tactics have come up time and time again during social upheavals against white supremacy and state violence. I saw it during Oscar grant struggles when some folks were pushing police reform. I ask what would Harriet Tubman do? What would Nat Turner do? Certainly not ask the slave master for freedom. We take it. It’s time we start valuing each other enough to struggle for one another so that we may live for one another. We do not need to convince the slaveholding system of shit. But with the legalist and reformist strategies also comes a certain policing of militants by ‘activists’ in the streets. Unfortunately a lot of times this policing comes from more liberal or non-profitized folks of color, who want to keep things non-violent. For me as a Black womyn this policing takes away my agency to get turnt up in the streets, which I need to do, because that is healing too. Black people aren’t just victims of white supremacy, we also fight back and rage against the system too. Always. And it isn’t just White people or ‘outside agitators’ breaking stuff. These claims disempower our people.

On monday night during the march I got in between these womyn of color, who were attempting to snatch a bandanna off this white boys face, who had attempted (and failed) to break some stuff. They yelled at him for taking up space in an event for Black people. Used the same condescending arguments that it will be Black people, who are arrested first (as if Black people aren’t also expressing a certain dignified rage in the streets). Then they demanded he show his face. I jumped between them then so they yelled at me too. I said I feel the arguments around White boys and space, but still, we can’t be snitches…they didn’t get it. A few hours later I smiled in a sea of fire and broken glass as I saw Black faces loot back. It made me think of those womyn from earlier and my peoples who fear these tactics, who want to contain some sense of ‘peace’ In the streets. Peace for what? Whose streets are these? Whose banks are these? Why are we more concerned about keeping the peace towards private property we don’t own, rather then letting people do their thing in the streets? And policing tactics in the name of protecting Black people and our vulnerability to the state? We don’t need that. We’ve been smashing against this private property thang since our ancestors burned down plantations. Monday and Tuesday night in Oakland, CA was no different and we should be proud of that.

Read More | “break the laws/break the chains” | chakaZ | Kissing in the dark…


“there’s actually more women than men”

November 27, 2014

Over the months, he said, the protests have become a “women-led movement. … They’re stronger, smarter, sober. A lot of guys are saying, ‘I can’t be up there [on the front lines], because I’ve got warrants.’ The women don’t make excuses.”

Yet television images tend to give an outsized role to men, said Brianna Richardson, 27, a University City resident who used to live in Ferguson and has lately been drawing inspiration from the autobiography of the radical Black Panther activist and fugitive Assata Shakur.

“What you see on the ground and what you see on the news is two completely different pictures,” Richardson said. “You’d think this is all about men, giving all these speeches, having all these ideas. When you’re there, you see women have a more prominent role.”

In her activism, Richardson said she brings up black women and girls throughout the nation who have been killed by police.

“When it comes to being a black woman, you deal with the oppression of both race and gender,” Richardson said. “You can’t turn one off. I will always be black and a woman. … Black lives matter, trans lives matter, women’s lives matter. I’m standing for all of black lives.”

Read More | “Women find their voice in Ferguson protest movement” | Matt Pearce | LA Times


“No seri­ous chal­lenge has yet arisen to this co-opting of the anti-racist legacy.”

November 26, 2014


There’s a cer­tain lib­eral opti­mism about race in the United States, and last night’s Fer­gu­son grand jury ver­dict unmasked the com­pla­cency that lies under­neath it. For decades we’ve watched as the legacy of anti-racist move­ments has been chan­neled towards the eco­nomic and polit­i­cal advance­ment of indi­vid­u­als like Barack Obama and Bill Cosby. And we’ve watched such indi­vid­u­als lead the attack against social move­ments and mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties – today, they are the ones urg­ing restraint.

No seri­ous chal­lenge has yet arisen to this co-opting of the anti-racist legacy. Within the acad­emy and within social move­ments, intel­lec­tu­als and activists have ren­dered our­selves totally impo­tent. We’ve reduced pol­i­tics to the polic­ing of our lan­guage, to the ques­tion­able sat­is­fac­tion of pro­vok­ing white guilt. And we have allowed our present to become the age of Oscar Grant, Troy Davis, Trayvon Mar­tin, and Mike Brown.

There is a rebel­lion tak­ing place in Fer­gu­son, which has spread to Chicago, Philadel­phia, New York, and Oak­land, and this rebel­lion shows that it’s time for us to wake up. Once upon a time, move­ments against racism came to under­stand that it was not enough to make space for black and brown peo­ple in the Amer­i­can dream of social mobil­ity; it was nec­es­sary to make a demand for power – Black Power, and all the mil­i­tant move­ments of Chicano/a and Asian-American com­mu­ni­ties which emerged along­side it. The action that took place in the streets last night should remind us of the uni­ver­sal and ongo­ing sig­nif­i­cance of this his­tor­i­cal rupture.

Read more  | “Ferguson: Message from the Grassroots” | Asad Haider | Viewpoint Magazine


“Winners are mad when winning lights the shadows”

November 26, 2014


I truly believe that to be a good teacher, a decent writer or a perfunctory scholar one has to concede the limits of evidence, reason, and rationality.

It is no wonder I believe that. Evidence, reason and rationality can rarely explain my place in this world. I know the limits even as I try to stretch them. It is either futile or the human experience or, I suspect, it is both.

For months I have participated and supported the ground work of activists, scholars, teachers, preachers, parents, young people, old people, and people people in Ferguson, MO. My contribution amounts to little more than nil on the grand scale of things. Mostly, I have hoped that people would persist.

It is an unreasonable hope.

Representatives of the State, of a public that includes black people who are also a public, were defiant when they announced the grand jury results of Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson this week. If I accept the argument of every person who thinks it was a good clean kill, there is still little to explain the anger of those who, by all accounts, won. Why are police advocates, prosecutors, white people in online comments, the white guy who yelled at me to get a job as I crossed the street last night so angry? They won.

Mike Brown was a pest, exterminated by the police.

The officer is uninjured, married, employed and un-charged.

People who believe that these things are right and just and proper won. Yet, I find they are still angry.

It stretches the bounds of reason.

Unless, of course, nothing about this is reasonable.

Read more  | “Riots and Reason” | Tressie MC |


“We were small, but not as small as you think”

November 6, 2014


We were basic. We’d earned archery badges. We played piano. We threw I-Ching. The townspeople were little Pharisees. We saw the facts under their Izod vestments.

Who doesn’t finally emerge armed from the creek bed, antediluvian, robust?

Who will ever forget what we did at the railroad interchange, the alleyway, the grain elevator, main street, or on one of two hills?

The first hill was named after a conqueror: the second after the conquered. This was a site on the small patch of the conquistador’s chain mill. This was a rock drenched with indigenous blood. Later in both places generations of fleeing evacuees carved these numbers:

7 Billion

Generations of evacuees carved out these numbers, but this was a museum in which we the peasant girls had long planned to live: the new mall. We went long risk on belly trenches beside the aquamarine fountain. There were defaults among shop rotations where we could realize. Either in the mall or seventeen miles apart, approximately, we could stand without family on the two hills and signal victory over the sign-light of Dairy Queen.

Read More | “The Revolt of the Peasant Girls” | Anne Boyer | PEN America