LA Turned Me Onto This…

This said so many things I’ve felt for so long:

 

The following speech was given by Russell Means in July 1980, before several thousand people who had assembled from all over the world for the Black Hills International Survival Gathering, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is [said to be] Russell Means’s most famous speech


The only possible opening for a statement of this kind is that I detest writing. The process itself epitomizes the European concept of “legitimate” thinking; what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken. My culture, the Lakota culture, has an oral tradition, so I ordinarily reject writing. It is one of the white world’s ways of destroying the cultures of non-European peoples, the imposing of an abstraction over the spoken relationship of a people. So what you read here is not what I have written. It is what I have said and someone else has written down. I will allow this because it seems that the only way to communicate with the white world is through the dead, dry leaves of a book. I don’t really care whether my words reach whites or not. They have already demonstrated through their history that they cannot hear, cannot see; they can only read (of course, there are exceptions, but the exceptions only prove the rule). I’m more concerned with the American Indian people, students and others, who have begun to be absorbed into the white world through universities and other institutions. But even then it’s a marginal sort of concern. It’s very possible to grow into a red face with a white mind; and if that’s a person’s individual choice, so be it, but I have no use for them. This is part of the process of cultural genocide being waged by Europeans against American Indian peoples’ today. My concern is with those American Indians who choose to resist this genocide, but may be confused as to how to proceed.

(You notice I use the term American Indian rather than Native American or Native indigenous people or Amerindian when referring to my people.) There has been some controversy about such terms, and frankly, at this point, I find it absurd. Primarily it seems that American Indian is being rejected as European in origin – which is true. But all the above terms are European in origin; the only non-European way is to speak of Lakota – or, more precisely, of Oglala, Brule, et. – and of the Dineh, the Miccousukee, and all the rest of the several hundred correct tribal names.

(There is also some confusion about the word Indian , a mistaken belief that it refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Look it up on the old maps. Columbus called the tribal people he met “Indio,” from the Italian in dio , meaning “in God.”)

It takes a strong effort on the part of each American Indian not to become Europeanized. The strength for this effort can only come from the traditional ways, the traditional values that our elders retain. It must come from the hoop, the four directions, the relations: it cannot come from the pages of a book or a thousand books. No European can ever teach a Lakota to be Lakota, a Hopi to be Hopi. A master’s degree in “Indian Studies” or in “education” or in anything else cannot make a person into a human being or provide knowledge into the traditional ways. It can only make you into a mental European, an outsider.

I should be clear about something here, because there seems to be some confusion about it. When I speak of Europeans or mental Europeans, I’m not allowing for false distinctions. I’m not saying that on the one hand there are the by-products of a few thousand years of genocidal, reactionary European intellectual development which is bad; and on the other hand there is some new revolutionary intellectual development which is good. I’m referring here to the so-called theories of Marxism and anarchism and “leftism” in general. I don’t believe these theories can be separated from the rest of the European intellectual tradition. It’s really just the same old song.

The process began much earlier. Newton, for example, “revolutionized” physics and the so-called natural science by reducing the physical universe to a linear mathematical equation.

[JS Dill note: …we are not witnessing a peculiar twist in the fortunes of postwar Europe and America, an aberation that can be tied to such late twentieth-century problems as inflation, loss of empire, and the like. Rather, we are witnessing the inevitable outcome of a logic that is already centuried old, and which is beng played out in our lifetime.

The collapse of capitalism, the general dysfunction of institutions, the revulsion against ecological spoilation, the increasing inability of od the scientific world view to explain the things that really matter, the loss of interest in work, and the statistical rise in depression, anxiety, and outright psychosis are all of a piece.

The Reenchantment of the World, Morris Berman, ISBN 0-8014-9225-4]

Descartes did the same thing with culture. John Locke did it with politics, and Adam Smith did it with economics. Each one of these “thinkers” took a piece of the spirituality of human existence and converted it into a code, an abstraction. They picked up where Christianity ended: they “secularized” Christian religion, as the “scholars” like to say – and in doing so they made Europe more able and ready to act as an expansionist culture. Each of these intellectual revolutions served to abstract the European mentality even further, to remove the wonderful complexity and spirituality from the universe and replace it with a logical sequence: one, two, three. Answer!. This is what has come to be termed “efficiency” in the European mind. Whatever is mechanical is perfect; whatever seems to work at the moment – that is, proves the mechanical model to be the right one – is considered correct, even when it is clearly untrue. This is why “truth” changes so fast in the European mind; the answers which result from such a process are only stopgaps, only temporary, and must be continuously discarded in favor of new stopgaps which support the mechanical models and keep them (the models) alive.

Hegel and Marx were heirs to the thinking of Newton, Descartes, Locke and Smith. Hegel finished the process of secularizing theology – and that is put in his own terms – he secularized the religious thinking through which Europe understood the universe. Then Marx put Hegel’s philosophy in terms of “materialism,” which is to say that Marx despiritualized Hegel’s work altogether. Again, this is in Marx’ own terms. And this is now seen as the future revolutionary potential of Europe. Europeans may see this as revolutionary, But American Indians see it simply as still more of that same old European conflict between being and gaining . The intellectual roots of a new Marxist form of European imperialism lie in Marx’ – and his followers’ – links to the tradition of Newton, Hegel, and the others.

Being is a spiritual proposition. Gaining is a material act. Traditionally, American Indians have always attempted to be the best people they could. Part of that spiritual process was and is to give away wealth, to discard wealth in order not to gain. Material gain is an indicator of false status among traditional people, while it is “proof that the system works” to Europeans. Clearly, there are two completely opposing views at issue here, and Marxism is very far over to the other side from the American Indian view. But lets look at a major implication of this; it is not merely an intellectual debate.

The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person. And who seems most expert at dehumanizing other people? And why? Soldiers who have seen a lot of combat learn to do this to the enemy before going back into combat. Murderers do it before going out to commit murder. Nazi SS guards did it to concentration camp inmates. Cops do it. Corporation leaders do it to the workers they send into uranium mines and steel mills. Politicians do it to everyone in sight. And what the process has in common for each group doing the dehumanizing is that it makes it all right to kill and otherwise destroy other people. One of the Christian commandments says, “Thou shalt not kill,” at least not humans, so the trick is to mentally convert the victims into nonhumans. Then you can proclaim violation of your own commandment as a virtue.

In terms of the despiritualization of the universe, the mental process works so that it become virtuous to destroy the planet. Terms like progress and development are used as cover words here, the way victory and freedom are used to justify butchery in the dehumanization process. For example, a real-estate speculator may refer to “developing” a parcel of ground by opening a gravel quarry; development here means total, permanent destruction, with the earth itself removed. But European logic has gained a few tons of gravel with which more land can be “developed” through the construction of road beds. Ultimately, the whole universe is open – in the European view – to this sort of insanity.

[JS Dill Note: For more than 99 percent of human history, the world was enchanted and man saw himself as an integral part of it. The complete reversal of this perception in a mere four hundred years or so has destroyed the continuity of the human experience and the integrity of the human psyche. It has very nearly wrecked the planet as well.

The Reenchantment of the World, Morris Berman, ISBN 0-8014-9225-4]

Most important here, perhaps, is the fact that Europeans feel no sense of loss in this. After all, their philosophers have despiritualized reality, so there is no satisfaction (for them) to be gained in simply observing the wonder of a mountain or a lake or a people in being . No, satisfaction is measured in terms of gaining material. So the mountain becomes gravel, and the lake becomes coolant for a factory, and the people are rounded up for processing through the indoctrination mills Europeans like to call schools. But each new piece of that “progress” ups the ante out in the real world. Take fuel for the industrial machine as an example. Little more than two centuries ago, nearly everyone used wood -a replenishable, natural item- as fuel for the very human needs of cooking and staying warm. Along came the Industrial Revolution and coal became the dominant fuel, as production became the social imperative for Europe. Pollution began to become a problem in the cities, and the earth was ripped open to provide coal whereas wood had simply been gathered or harvested at no great expense to the environment. Later, oil became the major fuel, as the technology of production was perfected through a series of scientific “revolutions.” Pollution increased dramatically, and nobody yet knows what the environmental costs of pumping all that oil out of the ground will really be in the long run. Now there’s an “energy crisis,” and uranium is becoming the dominant fuel.

Capitalists, at least, can be relied upon to develop uranium as fuel only at the rate at which they can show a good profit. That’s their ethic, and maybe that will buy some time. Marxists, on the other hand, can be relied upon to develop uranium fuel as rapidly as possible simply because it’s the most “efficient” production fuel available. That’s their ethic, and I fail to see where it’s preferable. Like I said, Marxism is right smack in the middle of the European tradition. It’s the same old song.

There’s a rule of thumb that can be applied here. You cannot judge the real nature of a revolutionary doctrine on the basis of the changes it proposed to make within the European power structure and society. You can only judge it by the effect it will have on non-European peoples. This is because every revolution in European history has served to reinforce Europe’s tendencies and abilities to export destruction to other peoples, other cultures and the environment itself. I defy anyone to point out an example where this is not true.

So now we, as American Indian people, are asked to believe that a “new” European revolutionary doctrine such as Marxism will reverse the negative effect of European history on us. European power relations are to be adjusted once again, and that’s supposed to make things better for all of us. But what does this really mean?

Right now, today, we who live on the Pine Ridge Reservation are living in what white society has designated a “National Sacrifice Area.” What this means is that we have a lot of uranium deposits here, and white culture (not us) needs this uranium as energy production material. The cheapest, most efficient way for industry to extract and deal with the processing of this uranium is to dump the waste by-products right here at the digging sites. Right here where we live. This waste is radioactive and will make the entire region uninhabitable forever. This is considered by industry, and by the white society that created this industry, to be an “acceptable” price to pay for energy resource development. Along the way they also plan to drain the water table under this part of South Dakota as part of the industrial process, so the region becomes doubly uninhabitable. The same sort of thing is happening. The same sort of thing is happening down in the land of the Navajo and Hopi, up in the land of the Northern Cheyenne and Crow, and elsewhere. Thirty percent of the coal in the West and half of the uranium deposits in the United States have been found to lie under reservation land, so there is no way this can be called a minor issue.

We are resisting being turned into a National Sacrifice Area. We are resisting being turned into a national sacrifice people. The costs of this industrial process are not acceptable to us. It is genocide to dig uranium here and draw the water table – no more, no less.

Now let’s suppose that in our resistance to extermination we begin to seek allies (we have). Let’s suppose further that we were to take revolutionary Marxism at its word: that it intends nothing less than the complete overthrow of the European capitalist order which has presented this threat to our very existence. This would seem to be a natural alliance for American Indian people to enter into. After all, as the Marxists say, it is the capitalists who set us up to be a national sacrifice. This is true as far as it goes.

But, as I’ve tried to point out, this very “truth” is deceptive. Revolutionary Marxism is committed to even further perpetuation and perfection of the very industrial process which is destroying us all. It offers only to “redistribute” the results – the money, maybe – of this industrialization to a wider section of the population. It offers to take wealth from the capitalists and pass it around; but in order to do so, Marxism must maintain the industrial system. Once again, the power relations with European society will have to be altered, but once again the effects upon American Indian peoples here and non-Europeans elsewhere will remain the same. This much the same as when power was redistributed from the church to private business during the so-called bourgeois revolution. European society changed a bit, at least superficially, but its conduct toward non-Europeans continued as before. You can see what the American Revolution of 1776 did for American Indians. It’s the same old song.

Revolutionary Marxism, like industrial society in other forms, seeks to “rationalize” all people in relation to industry – maximum industry, maximum production. It is a materialist doctrine that despises the American Indian spiritual tradition, out cultures, our lifeways. Marx himself called up “precapitalists” and “primitive.” Precapitalist simply means that, in his view, we would eventually discover capitalism and become capitalists; we have always been economically retarded in Marxist terms. The only manner in which American Indian people could participate in a Marxist revolution would be to join the industrial system, to become factory workers, or “proletarians,” as Marx called them. The man was very clear about the fact that his revolution could occur only through the struggle of the proletariat, that the existence of a massive industrial system is a precondition of a successful Marxist society.

I think there is a problem with language here. Christians, capitalists, Marxists. All of them have been revolutionary in their own minds, but none of them really means revolution. What they really mean is a continuation. They do what they do in order that European culture can continue to exist and develop according to its needs.

So, in order for us to really join forces with Marxism, we American Indians would have to accept the national sacrifice of our homeland; we would have to commit cultural suicide and become industrialized and Europeanized.

At this point, I’ve got to stop and ask myself whether I’m being too harsh. Marxism has something of a history. Does this history bear out my observations? I look to the process of industrialization in the Soviet Union since 1920 and I see that these Marxists have done what it took the English Industrial Revolution 300 years to do; and the Marxists did it in 60 years. I see that the territory of the USSR used to contain a number of tribal peoples and they have been crushed to make way for the factories. The Soviets refer to this as “the National Question,” the question of whether the tribal peoples had a right to exist as people; and they decided the tribal peoples were an acceptable sacrifice to industrial needs. I look to China and I see the same thing. I look to Vietnam and I see Marxists imposing an industrial order and rooting out the indigenous tribal mountain people.

I hear a leading Soviet scientist saying that when the uranium is exhausted, then alternatives will be found. I see the Vietnamese taking over a nuclear power plant abandoned by the U.S. military. Have they dismantled and destroyed it? No, they are using it. I see China exploding nuclear bombs, developing nuclear reactors, and preparing a space program in order to colonize and exploit the planets the same as the Europeans colonized and exploited this hemisphere. It’s the same old song, but maybe with a faster tempo this time.

The statement of the Soviet scientists is very interesting. Does he know what this alternative energy source will be? No, he simply has faith. Science will find a way. I hear revolutionary Marxists saying that the destruction of the environment, pollution, and radiation will be controlled. And I see them act on their words. Do they know how these things will be controlled? No, they simply have faith. Science will find a way. Industrialization is fine and necessary. How do they know this? Faith. Science will find a way. Faith of this sort has always been known in Europe as religion. Science has become the new European religion for both capitalists and Marxists; they are truly inseparable; they are part and parcel of the same culture. So, in both theory and practice, Marxism demands that non-European peoples give up their values, their traditions, their cultural experience altogether. We will all be industrialized science addicts in a Marxist society.

I do not believe that capitalism itself is really responsible for the situation in which American Indians have been declared a national sacrifice. No, it is the European tradition; European culture itself is responsible. Marxism is just the latest continuation of this tradition, not a solution to it. To ally with Marxism is to ally with the very same forces that declare us an acceptable cost.

There is another way. There is the traditional Lakota way and the ways of the other American Indian peoples. It is the way that knows that humans do not have the right to degrade Mother Earth, that there are forces beyond anything the European mind has conceived, that humans must be in harmony with all relations or the relations will eventually eliminate the disharmony. A lopsided emphasis on humans by humans – the European’s arrogance of acting as though they were beyond the nature of all related things – can only result in a total disharmony and a readjustment which cuts arrogant humans down to size, gives them a taste of that reality beyond their grasp or control and restores the harmony. There is no need for a revolutionary theory to bring this about; it’s beyond human control. The nature peoples of this planet know this and so they do not theorize about it. Theory is an abstract; our knowledge is real.

Distilled to it’s basic terms, European faith – including the new faith in science – equals a belief that man is God. Europe has always sought a Messiah, whether that be the man Jesus Christ or the man Karl Marx or the man Albert Einstein. American Indians know this to be truly absurd. Humans are the weakest of all creatures, so weak that other creatures are willing to give up their flesh that we may live. Humans are able to survive only though the exercise of rationality since they lack the abilities of other creatures to gain food through the use of fang and claw.

But rationality is a curse since it can cause human beings to forget the natural order of things in ways other creatures do not. A wolf never forgets his or her place in the natural order. American Indians can. Europeans almost always do. We pray our thanks to the deer, our relations, for allowing us their flesh to eat; Europeans simply take the flesh for granted and consider the deer inferior. After all, Europeans consider themselves godlike in their rationalism and science. God is the Supreme Being; all else must be inferior.

All European tradition, Marxism included, has conspired to defy the natural order of things. Mother Earth has been abused, the powers have been abused, and this cannot go on forever. No theory can alter that simple fact. Mother Earth will retaliate, the whole environment will retaliate, and the abusers will be eliminated. Things will come full circle, back to where they started. That’s revolution. And that’s a prophecy of my people, of the Hopi people and of other correct peoples.

American Indians have been trying to explain this to Europeans for centuries. But, as I said earlier, Europeans have proven themselves unable to hear. The natural order will win out, and the offenders will die out, the way deer die when they offend the harmony by over-populating a given region. It’s only a matter of time until what Europeans call “a major catastrophe of global proportions” will occur. It is the role of American Indian peoples, the role of all natural beings, to survive. A part of our survival is to resist. We resist not to overthrow a government or to take political power, but because it is natural to resist extermination, to survive. We don’t want power over white institutions; we want white institutions to disappear. That’s revolution.

American Indians are still in touch with these realities – the prophecies, the traditions of our ancestors. We learn from the elders, from nature, from the powers. And when the catastrophe is over, we American Indian people will survive; harmony will be reestablished. That’s revolution.

At this point, perhaps I should be very clear about another matter, one which should already be clear as a result of what I’ve said. But confusion breeds easily these days, so I want to hammer home this point. When I use the term European , I’m not referring to a skin color or a particular genetic structure. What I’m referring to is a mind-set, a worldview that is a product of the development of European culture. Peoples are not genetically encoded to hold this outlook, they are acculturated to hold it. The same is true for American Indians or for the members of any other culture.

It is possible for an American Indian to share European values, A European worldview. We have a term for these people; we call them “apples” – red on the outside (genetics) and white on the inside (their values). Other groups have similar terms: Black have their “oreos;” Hispanos have “coconuts” and so on. And, as I said before, there are exceptions to the white norm: people who are white on the outside, but not white inside. I’m not sure what term should be applied to them other than “human beings.”

What I’m putting out here is not a racial proposition but a cultural proposition. Those who ultimately advocate and defend the realities of European culture and its industrialism are my enemies. Those who resist it, who struggle against it, are my allies, the allies of American Indian people. And I don’t give a damn what their skin color happens to be. Caucasian is the white term for the white race: European is an outlook I oppose.

The Vietnamese Communists are not exactly what you might consider genetic Caucasians, but they are now functioning as mental Europeans. The same holds true for the Chinese Communists, for Japanese capitalists or Bantu Catholics or Peter “MacDollar” down at the Navajo reservation or Dickie Wilson up here at Pine Ridge. There is no racism involved in this, just an acknowledgment of the mind and spirit that make up culture.

In Marxist terms I suppose I’m a “cultural nationalist.” I work first with my people, the traditional Lakota people, because we hold a common worldview and share an immediate struggle. Beyond this, I work with other traditional American Indian peoples, again because of a certain commonality in worldview and form of struggle. Beyond that, I work with anyone who has experience the colonial oppression of Europe and who resists its cultural and industrial totality. Obviously, this includes genetic Caucasians who struggle to resist the dominant norms of European culture. The Irish and the Basques come immediately to mind, but there are many others.

I work primarily with my own people, with my own community. Other people who hold non-European perspectives should do the same. I believe in the slogan, “Trust your brother’s vision,” although I’d like to add sisters in the bargain. I trust the community and the culturally based vision of all the races that naturally resist industrialization and human extinction. Clearly, individual whites can share in this, given only that they have reached the awareness that continuation of the industrial imperatives of Europe is not a vision, but species suicide. White is one of the sacred colors of the Lakota people – red, yellow, white and black. The four directions. The four seasons. The four period of life and aging. The four races of humanity. Mix red, yellow, white and black together and you get brown, the color of the fifth race. This is the natural order of things. It therefore seems natural to me to work with all races, each with it’s own special meaning, identity and message.

But there is a peculiar behavior among most Caucasians. As soon as I become critical of Europe and its impact on other cultures, they become defensive. They begin to defend themselves. But I am not attacking them personally; I’m attacking Europe. In personalizing my observations on Europe they are personalizing European culture, identifying themselves with it.By defending themselves in this context, they are ultimately defending the death culture. This is a confusion which must be overcome, and it must be overcome in a hurry. None of us has energy to waste in such false struggles.

Caucasians have a more positive vision to offer humanity than European culture. I believe this. But in order to attain this vision it is necessary for Caucasians to step outside European culture – alongside the rest of humanity – to see Europe for what it is and what it does.

To cling to capitalism and Marxism and all the other “isms” is simply to remain within European culture. There is no avoiding this basic fact. As a fact, this constitutes a choice. Understand that the choice is based on culture, not race. Understand that to choose European culture and industrialism is to choose to be my enemy. And understand that the choice is yours, not mine. This leads me back to address those American Indians who are drifting through the universities, the city slums, and other European institutions. If you are there to learn to resist the oppressor in accordance with your traditional ways, so be it. I don’t know how you manage to combine the two, but perhaps you will succeed. But retain your sense of reality. Beware of coming to believe the white world now offers solutions to the problems it confronts us with. Beware, too, of allowing the words of native people to be twisted to the advantage of our enemies. Europe invented the practice of turning words around on themselves. You need only look to the treaties between American Indian peoples and various European governments to know that this is true. Draw your strength from who you are.

A culture which regularly confuses revolution with continuation, which confuses science and religion, which confuses revolt with resistance, has nothing helpful to teach you and nothing to offer you as a way of life. Europeans have long since lost all touch with reality, if they ever were in touch with it. Feel sorry for them if you need to, but be comfortable with who you are as American Indians.

So, I suppose to conclude this, I would state clearly that leading anyone toward Marxism is the last thing on my mind. Marxism is as alien to my culture as capitalism and Christianity are. In fact, I can say I don’t think I’m trying to lead anyone toward anything. To some extent I tried to be a “leader,” in the sense that white media like to use that term, when the American Indian Movement was a young organization. This was a result of a confusion that I no longer have. You cannot be everything to everyone. I do not propose to be used in such a fashion by my enemies. I am not a leader. I am an Oglala Lakota patriot. This is all I want and all I need to be. And I am very comfortable with who I am.


First

20 Responses to “LA Turned Me Onto This…”

  1. Oh.

    Thank you so much for posting this, and my thanks to LA for bringing it to you.

    This is just freaking exactly what I needed to see right freaking now. Not that your blog is about me, you know, but it’s just — thank you thank you thank you.

  2. Its the truth! Just when I think I’ve read it all, there’s a new gem that somebody turns me on to. Thank God for live people.

  3. This gave me a lot to think about when I first read it.

    I’m pretty sure that I’m going to get a lot of flak for saying this, but is rationality really that much of a problem as compared to the underlying assumptions (which are never really challenged by white people) that they use it in the defense of? I’ve often seen people led along the garden path because of their irrationality and spirituality or religion, and I’ve often seen a lot of white people as deeply irrational due to the ease with which they’ve been manipulated by other white people that can mouth off about how god wants them to hate other people, or push their white-supremacist buttons into denying all manner of fact and truth if it comes from or has anything to do with someone who isn’t white.

  4. Visible, I have one thing to say to you: where the HELL have you been??????

    I’m gonna have to think on what you said, though.

  5. !!Critiques!! And, why would there be flak here if it’s leading into true!?

    I personally feel like this questioning from Visible Man gets at some weak/blurry spot in what Means is saying. And in fact, about this part:

    Humans are the weakest of all creatures, so weak that other creatures are willing to give up their flesh that we may live. Humans are able to survive only though the exercise of rationality since they lack the abilities of other creatures to gain food through the use of fang and claw.

    But rationality is a curse since it can cause human beings to forget the natural order of things in ways other creatures do not. A wolf never forgets his or her place in the natural order.

    On reflection — hmm, I did notice and feel that part as a slightly dissonant aspect of this speech when I read it at first, and now again. I didn’t focus on it because I was so delighted with the overall, but since it’s coming up now … I really do wonder if this is a place where he is somehow intertwining Euro-white cultural assumptions with other actual truths.

    The underlying disconnection from the larger web and the orientation to power and control as primary — that isn’t rational, that is serious shattering lunacy and from what I can see that animates a lot of what white people feel and do. I would agree with Visible Man on this, questioning what the real issue is here.

  6. Visible, I have one thing to say to you: where the HELL have you been??????

    I’m gonna have to think on what you said, though.

    I often take off for a while from the internet and posting in order to think through various things before returning to it.

  7. Thinking about this further, I had some more questions…some of which I’ve sort of been thinking about for a long time, and wish I had answers for:

    Where, exactly, would we as black people really fit into what Means is talking about? I’m not really sure if we could be considered to be, well, a tribe in the way that he defines it-certainly we don’t really have a land base.

  8. VM: I don’t think we need to fit into what Means is talking about. I think we do need to see how we AREN’T meant to be a part of this thing we are a part of. One of my recurring nightmares is that the public high school in the main black neighborhood is “Thomas Jefferson.” What does it mean for black children to attend, attempt to learn in that man’s school? (Slave owner, perhaps, rapist)

    That microcosm is our macrocosm. We live in that society – how do we vision our future and is it tied to this sick society which is anti-life, anti-democracy, anti-humanity? Do we continue to hope that it will change on its own, or through getting out the vote?

    Or is something more drasitce necessary? Do we need to develop a landbase? I was in South Africa last summer – a part of me is ready to go home.

  9. VM: I don’t think we need to fit into what Means is talking about. I think we do need to see how we AREN’T meant to be a part of this thing we are a part of.

    But how does that really help tell us who we ARE, or what we should do next?

    One of my recurring nightmares is that the public high school in the main black neighborhood is “Thomas Jefferson.” What does it mean for black children to attend, attempt to learn in that man’s school? (Slave owner, perhaps, rapist)

    My nightmares tend to be more…visceral than this. I dream of being put on a ship with other black people, and it being clear that the ship will be sunk with all of us on it. I try and tell everyone else what’s going to happen, and they drown me out by singing hymns about god is going to save them.

    When the ship starts sinking and I start drowning, I wake up.

    That microcosm is our macrocosm. We live in that society – how do we vision our future and is it tied to this sick society which is anti-life, anti-democracy, anti-humanity? Do we continue to hope that it will change on its own, or through getting out the vote?

    Or is something more drasitce necessary? Do we need to develop a landbase? I was in South Africa last summer – a part of me is ready to go home.

    I do think that something more drastic is necessary. I don’t think that any amount of voting really changes anything, because too much of the structure of what’s wrong never comes up for a vote, would be voted in numbers that indicate any commitment to change anything, or would even be respected in the case of such a vote.

    I do think that we need a landbase (although I’ll be the first person to say that I have no idea how we’d defend it) since we really can’t be said to ‘have’ anything right now, but at the same time, would Africa really be a home for us by this point?

  10. V: Why you gotta dog my nightmare? I never think about ships cuz I’m worried about spiders.

    Something more drastic, but I don’t have the answer and I don’t know how its gonna shake out. I ain’t no Jamaican psychic! I’ve thought about forming an intentional community of folks who share communally. I’ve thought about Africa or Paris – but I have a daughter with an ex and I can’t leave her behind.

    I was only in Africa for a minute, in Cape Town only but it felt good, people were very cool. We might want to consider it cuz we sure aren’t home here.

  11. V: Why you gotta dog my nightmare? I never think about ships cuz I’m worried about spiders.

    Spiders actually have never scared me at all. For that matter, neither have snakes.


    Something more drastic, but I don’t have the answer and I don’t know how its gonna shake out. I ain’t no Jamaican psychic! I’ve thought about forming an intentional community of folks who share communally. I’ve thought about Africa or Paris – but I have a daughter with an ex and I can’t leave her behind.

    I was only in Africa for a minute, in Cape Town only but it felt good, people were very cool. We might want to consider it cuz we sure aren’t home here.

    So what would actually help us?

    And in general, what would help us to the point of having a sustainable population of us-since part of what I’m concerned about with the idea of us moving someplace else like you’re talking about is that:

    1) Only people with money (or enough money to get out) are going to be able to afford to get out.

    2) How would this actually work in terms of any place else taking us in, much less in enough numbers that it doesn’t become, well, another ‘lifeboat’?

  12. V: It may be that those of us who can ‘go first’ can make a way for the ones to follow. I mean, I can’t see an ‘Ellis Island’ moment where we are all queuing up at the docks to escape. But, like other immigrant groups, those that can leave get the fuk out, and their families/friends go once something is set up.

    Obviously, massive rehab – spiritual, intellectual, educational – would precede any move. We’d have to caucus over and over and over again in all of our communities; we’d have to deal with the “Willie Lynch” sydrome within us, the self hate, distrust, etc. We’d have to learn how to be a people again, learn to rely on self, learn to believe in us. Huge task, maybe impossible, but we have to vision it, lay the groundwork mentally.

    Some of us will have to be the intellectual architects, lay the propaganda foundation that blows up the euro-thought and moves us to black consciousness. Some will have to be diplomats who connect us with our people in Africa, be our foreign service and lay THAT groundwork.

    We’d have to withdraw our chips from this system and start putting them in another roulette wheel. No taxes, no bling, no voting, no running for office, go off the grid, save our money to buy that land in the Motherland.

    I mean, this is a dream. Can it become a reality?

    One of the main reasons I’ve focused on racism/white supremacy lies in a quote I’ve used before: ‘If you don’t understand racism/white supremacy, everything else will only confuse.’ Consider me trying to become less confused and more aware of me/we’re up against.

  13. And on the other hand…you can’t make folks leave this joint. Should one wait in Auschwitz with folks who love the violin concerto being played by their fellow prisoners? Or should you squeeze your ass through the fence and escape, be an example for people to follow?

    Rev. Ike said ‘the best thing you can do for poor folks is to not be one of them.’

    What’s your prescription?


  14. And on the other hand…you can’t make folks leave this joint. Should one wait in Auschwitz with folks who love the violin concerto being played by their fellow prisoners? Or should you squeeze your ass through the fence and escape, be an example for people to follow?

    Escape, but provide some kinds of instructions and help to the people that want to escape after you. For that matter, how about blowing up the damn camp?


    Rev. Ike said ‘the best thing you can do for poor folks is to not be one of them.’

    What’s your prescription?

    I can’t say I’m sure. I can definitely say that I’m thinking about it.

    At the same time “Don’t be one of them” really doesn’t seem to be helpful. How do you not “be one of them”? Who helps each other out? If there is one thing that I’m really sick of, it’s getting aphorisms instead of specific advice.

  15. V: If there’s something you want to come out with, by all means speak on it. I’m hearing something beneath your questions and I find that more compelling than the surface interrogation. What do you really want to know/say?

  16. After having to think about it for a while, I think I (sort of) figured out what I’m trying to say-although I’m likely to contradict myself really badly. My concern is that this, even if it got off the ground, would be something else that I basically wouldn’t/can’t be part of , and I’m already phenomenally isolated.

    On one hand, this article’s sort of an attack on one view of rationality-which is probably one of the only things that I’ve ever really been good at. On the other hand, you say “don’t be poor”-but if I already knew that, would I be poor? For that matter, would anyone, if it was really a question of what people know instead of what happens to them? On your most recent thread you talked about this (our independence, if you think that’s a good word for it) being a we thing, but at the same time, I think there’s a difference between it being a we thing and a lot of the me’s in the we basically having no idea what to do next on an abstract level, but then being told “Oh no, don’t do it that way!”

  17. V: can you be specific and identify where someone is being told, ‘oh, no don’t do it that way!’

    In general, I don’t think we can stay in our little individualistic, hierarchical camps. If I’m striving to be “known” versus trying to figure out a way to “set us free” it will become apparent in my proposals and action.

    I feel like we have to put our heads together and toss around ideas. “The Wisdom of Crowds” is a book that suggests that there is more truth/knowledge in the many than the few. Thus, the idea that communities caucus, create community programs/platforms, etc, is far more appealing, than buying into some myopic, self aggrandizing, set piece.

    If the “me’s in the WE basically have no idea what to do next,” why don’t they reach out to other people and talk about it?

  18. [i]
    V: can you be specific and identify where someone is being told, ‘oh, no don’t do it that way!’[/i]

    Yes. This issue stands out very clearly in my mind, but it’s also, well, a bit too personal for me to really say outright. Suffice to say, it’s something that I hear a lot.

    [i]
    In general, I don’t think we can stay in our little individualistic, hierarchical camps. If I’m striving to be “known” versus trying to figure out a way to “set us free” it will become apparent in my proposals and action.

    I feel like we have to put our heads together and toss around ideas. “The Wisdom of Crowds” is a book that suggests that there is more truth/knowledge in the many than the few. Thus, the idea that communities caucus, create community programs/platforms, etc, is far more appealing, than buying into some myopic, self aggrandizing, set piece.

    If the “me’s in the WE basically have no idea what to do next,” why don’t they reach out to other people and talk about it?[/i]

    Perhaps the ‘me’s’ have tried before and often gotten slapped down for it. Not referring to you at all, of course.

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