Wonderbread Versus The “Real” Thing
Me and BFP are back at it again. Point-Counterpoint on the Brownhand Side!
(BFP is in plain text; I’m bold/italic):
ok, max, i’m back–been a busy ass damn week!!
i want to say very clearly here that i too have worked with those white folks who “can’t be racists” because “they’re friends with *me*”. i know exactly what you’re talking about, cuz i’ve experienced it. but do you really think that sea is one of those people? i mean, you say this isn’t directed at her, but it sure looks to me like it is. she went to a rally that hundreds of people of color were at as well, and yet she’s doing something wrong? if she had stayed away from the rally would that have made things better? if she had attended and blown something up, would that have made it better?
“BFP, that post was not directed to anyone who it doesn’t apply to. Whoever read it will have to decide on their own if the shoe fits. My quarrel with any rally is what is the objective of it and does the outcome fit the objective stated? What is the “rally” designed to produce? Did they rally to “take back their country,” or did they rally to “demonstrate” their ‘feelings’ about a particular policy or piece of legislation? Do you see the difference?
i have not attended, but i have seen on t.v, on news reports on magazines etc, that yes, many white folks *have* gotten their asses thrown in jail protesting–they’ve gotten beaten up, unfairly imprisoned, seperated from their kids etc protesting that which harms people of color. on free speach t.v. there was a show i was watching just today about a protest in chicago that went miserably wrong–the largely white group of people standing on the sidewalk protesting got attacked by cops–violence and imprisonment occured–protestors got physically assaulted, a daughter got seperated from her mother and imprisoned for over twelve hours–and at the end of the documentary, ever last one of them said that they would do it all again and that they would never stop protesting an illegal police state…even the 17 year old daughter.
The fact that some white folks get beaten up at “rallies” and “demonstrations” is not debatable and I’m not arguing that. What I’m arguing is that 1)the demos aren’t designed to produce what their adherents claim (“Stop the War” is just rhetoric. Not one march has been put together that wasn’t a ‘show’ as Pattrice Jones so beautifully points out in her piece below. And she’s white!). 2)These beatings should have been an indicator of the true face of this society; and, they’re nothing new for us colored folk. Seattle/WTO should have taught white folks that this country is a legal police state and that they’ll mete out niggerized justice to niggerized protestors. But still we use the same tactics that King used in the 60’s to address more sophisticated problems. Losers and leftists do what they want to do; winners and neo-cons do what they have to do.
Or the school of the americas–a mostly white group of protestors protest at the school of americas every year–and as a result of that imprisonment, some people as old as 70 have been imprisoned. and i personally know two white girls who were imprisoned at the protest in miami–and for one of them it was her third political imprisonment and she is only 23.
“That’s great! We need more of that. The protests of today, unfortunately, don’t even have the courageousness and vitality of King’s movement. Think about it. Those people braved death EVERY DAY – not just in A march every six months or every anniversary of some war. The SNCC organizers in Mississippi, Alabama, the kids and adults who filled the jails in Birmingham and Selma, who marched when police violence meant they didn’t find your black-ass for YEARS. Or, you were lynched and left charred and mutilated as a warning to other niggas to be docile.
They filled those jails to cripple the system of oppression; they marched in Montgomery to cripple the bus system until it would accept them as first class citizens. They won because they married thoughtful, aggressive, authentic tactics with a strategy that could win what they wanted. If the people of today showed that resolve AND used tactics that were designed to achieve the objectives they say they want, then I’d sing a different tune.
The people who took part in the FTAA protests, etc, were brave, but were they wise? Is their movement tactically savvy and did they achieve something by their efforts that we can point to? Or are they marching to feel less guilt about the brown bodies they are standing on, or the phat lives they get to live at our expense? Even this racist dude who responded on another post said that left tactics are a smokescreen to make them appear concerned about justice, while maintaining white privilege. And he was admittedly a racist; why don’t WE all see this? If somebody goes to jail – by accident or on purpose – while engaging in activities that have no strategic, tactical basis, and no connection to an ongoing campaign to change society, what good is it? I respect anybody who’s willing to go to jail for a belief, but we need to be sure we relate actions and tactics intelligently and strategically with the idea of winning and not easing our consciences.
last year at the color of violence protest rally, there were white people throughout the crowd–and not one of them took off running when hordes and hordes of cops went driving by trying to scare us.
The thing is, that for me, i don’t think you can dismantle the current power structure as it stands with just *one* tactic.
But who’s advocating one tactic – the current left/progressive leadership nationwide certainly is, anybody else? Folks are programmed to march, march and march. For immigration rights, to stop the war, to end plaque and cavities! Certainly they do other things but….what do they have to show for it?
We need to learn what it means to have a movement, a labor/progressive movement that is real that can shut down the society until the government capitulates and takes care of its people. This government does not take care of its people and is killing people all over the world – on our dime. If the government is violating its own Declaration of Independence and Constitution, then it is the duty of the people to create another government out of the rubble of this one. We ARE NOT doing our constitutional jobs if we allow this government to stand and 99% of the activists don’t want to go near that truth.
it has to be a broad based movement, and it has to be done at multiple levels. (Agreed, but there are certain necessary levels that we keep refusing to operate on that could help us win) broad based because then we have protection, and at multiple levels because the power structure as it stands is *operating* at multiple levels. that’s why i don’t agree with seperatist feminists or feminists who insist that patriarchy is the root of all evil. patriarchy doesn’t run slavery. Slavery is run with the full support of the females in power–the wives, the mothers, the white women who insist on turning a blind eye to her husband’s meanderings. how does dismantling the patriarchy removed the white wives of the slave owners? It doesn’t. but at the same time, how does destroying the white women in addition to the white men destroy slavery? it doesn’t. (I don’t advocate destroying white people, men or women; I advocate correcting wrongheaded “white” thinking and analysis. Including my own.) A structure of power (aka the nation/state) created, supported, and grew slavery.
Destroying capitalism doesn’t eliminate the corupption of the soviet union. Eliminating NAFTA doesn’t destroy imperialism. Cleaning up dioxins doesn’t eliminate nuclear testing. Giving white women the right to vote doesn’t ensure the vote for black men. every last one of these evils is connected not to “racism”–but to a structure of power that uses racism as a tool to further empower and invigorate it.
i feel with every fiber of my being that our mistake as a movement, max, has been to insist that there is only one way to fight–one way to resist. (Agreed. Again, I don’t advocate one way of acting. I advocate using ‘coordinated strategies’ that are designed to liberate us all. If I feel that we are falling short in terms of our strategic thinking/analysis, I will continue to say it. The march is DEAD as it is currently used and THAT is the tactic of first, last and middle resort. If it is overused and is thus, meaningless, you should be pissed – at those who compulsively use it.)
will liberation come if sea stops talking to white folks? it may or may not come if she continues talking with white folks–but i know for sure it *won’t* come if she stops talking to white folks. it is a *structure* of power rather than a *people* that controls things–and if we continue to insist that white folks can’t act as meaningful allies then we are going to continue to have situations where powerful poc (condeleeza rice, colin powell and alberto gonzelez) work together to eliminate poc with no power.
My gripe with whites primarily is that there is a level of depth that they refuse to get to. And they suffer from expert mind. Understand this, BFP: white people who do this work of social justice, social deconstruction are compromised. The reason I say that is because, as bad as George Bush is, he still helps maintain, refine and expand the system of racism/white supremacy – the system and benefits package that most whites are addicted to left, right and center. Few white people will admit it, but they gain from this crazy muthafucka’s rule on SOME MATERIAL LEVEL. White folks are still better off under this system than they would be under an egalitarian, socialist, utopian paradise. The reason: they’d have to give a lot of shit up to make an egalitarian society. They are conflicted. All you have to do is look critically at their behavior.
Look, you hear folks spouting stats about how many Iraqis are dying, how many babies died due to sanctions and such to make themselves feel superior to the racist whites they condemn. They’re trying to keep up with the Jones’. Ask them about all the black babies who were dying of Aids before we did Desert Storm, and how Aids came to be; or ask them about the poor black men who have been incarcerated at a rate that is COMPLETELY OUTRAGEOUS, that screams, systematic, concerted genocide; ask them about the drug dealing by the CIA in the black communities across the country to fund the Contra war. Then ask them what they did to address these issues. When they tell you nothing, ask them to call a march to address a march to take those issues on and see what they say.
Malcolm has this really wonderful quote where he says the white man has a whole lot of pretty sounding words; examine his deeds! I’m not ONLY listening to this man or woman’s words, I’m observing how their words sync up with reality, with the problems that we face and their commitment and followthrough. I’m extremely underwhelmed so far.)
it is a structure–a multi pronged structure–that allows people the power to violate others. it is the structure that must be attacked, not racist whites. (I’m not attacking racist whites; I’m attacking their and OUR racist/colonized thinking and behavior) because as painful and as violent as racist whites are–what are racist whites, really, when you peel back the violence and the pain, but simply another tactic that the *structure* uses very craftily to make us forget what the truth is–that it’s gonna take a multitude of people to dismantle the structure and if we are forever fighting with each other, then we’re never gonna have the power to dismantle the structure.
(We’re never going to fight together and we’re never going to dismantle the structure of this sick society unless and until we dismantle the oppressor within, dismantle the denial, the racism/white supremacy in all its manfestations within us, illuminate the magical thinking that shackles us to behaviors that ultimately serve our masters.)
and when you figure that the structure is run by 10 percent of the worlds population–that means that 90% of the worlds population has a vested interest in dismantaling that structure–that’s 90% of the world we can potentially count on to stand by us in the fight.
(The problem is that that 90% is 100% brainwashed by the media/educational propagandists who help make us think ourselves into pretzels, help make us think we can’t win – subconsciously or consciously – therefore we self-neuter, we stunt our own intellectual horizons with their assistance and trap ourselves in a maze of confused inaction that we erroneously label ‘action.’)
but of those 90%, how many of them do you think are at the level you or i or nubian or sea are at? (Not many, but I share my experience the best way I can and pray they can catch up. I’m not a remedial educator and I try never to talk down to folks. They get that enough, don’t you think?) or lets rephrase that–how did *you* go from taking in every word that white folks were spilling into you, to the radical dude you are today? (Pain from the womb, really. Having racism shoved down my throat repeatedly. Catching myself minimizing it, hardening myself to it, accomodating it, refusing to see it, then seeing the patterns plain as day and naming it something else.) I’ll tell you point blank, i didn’t use to be the way i am today (Me neither.)–it took two years of a committment from a professor of mine–a committement she made to herself and to her cause–that she would use the space of the university setting as a space for grassroots basebuilding. she would meet people where they were at and challenge them to go just a little bit further–but she would do it on her terms. that is, she would control the conversations–she would be asking *them* questions. and when they couldn’t answer the questions, she would give them the books to read to *get* to the questions. I took two years of classes with this woman and i went from being a moderate liberal from a conservative town to a radical woman of color fighting for liberation–that was two years of talking. two years of it. but now, here i am, a person dedicated to liberation and freedom.
(That’s one big reason why I have this blog – to educate and radicalize – in my own way, from my perspective. This is my classroom and the teaching goes both ways.)
education does work max, as does talking and talking and talking and talking again. I’ve seen it work in a classroom setting–in each and every one of the classes that woman taught, there were at *least* ten people who left the classroom at the end of the year completly different people than when they went in. i’ve seen it work within myself. i’ve seen it work on my blog, i’ve seen it work in conversations over the dinner table. it’s called grassroots basebuilding, and it’s what i was trying to get at in my other post.
(Have I advocated not talking in a parallel universe? Its absolutely necessary, particularly when it is focused and honest.)
If sea is creating a safe space where white folks for the first time can express how confused they are–isn’t it good that somebody who is as enlightened as sea is the one talking to them and standing by ready to push them just a bit farther, just a bit more–so that maybe in two years, you’ll have another brownfemipower–a used to be liberal now standing firm in the battle for liberation? (No doubt. But we have to all remain teachable.)
you can’t have a mass movement if nobody shows up. and nobody’s gonna show up if they don’t know what they are supposed to be “moving” for. and nobody’s gonna figure out what they’re supposed to be “moving” for if those of us who have figured it out don’t share our knowlege. (Again, that’s one big reason I have a blog) are white folks supposed to just wake up one day and realize that they are privileged? it’d be nice, but it’s not gonna happen. it’s gonna take that “feminine” trait of talking. that doesn’t mean we can’t choose who we talk to–i’m not gonna sit and talk to that “unlisted” who you were conversing with. but i will talk others. and max, you have clearly chosen to talk to almost exclusivelly people of color. (That’s not true; I live in Portland, OR the whitest city of its size in the country. I have done and do a lot of talking with nothin’ but white folks. Also, I would bet half or more of the people who read and or comment on my blog are white and I’m talking to all of them.) doesn’t sea talking to white folks so we don’t have to help out a lot? doesn’t that make our lives easier? doesn’t that free up the space for us to do what is important to us? catching our people? (Perhaps, unless what is being talked about is a more sophisticated drug than the one society is hooking folks on already. There is a wonderful quote in this book “Drylongso” about Negro/black culture in the States. “The white man has a thousand different kinds of chains.” BFP, I’m learning to be a lot more critical of what sounds good, which I think we often get caught up in. It can sound good, but its got to taste good, and be good. Its gotta give us the nutrients we want and need. If its Wonderbread, which is too often what white people sell US, thanks but no thanks.)