“Perhaps It Is YOU Who Wants Racism To Stay Around – Because It PAY$”

It is interesting how people tell on themselves unintentionally.

Now, I gave ms. damali ayo a forum to voice her displeasure. She did – however, the analysis part was MIA. Her comments and the organized outrage of her friends simply cast me as ‘da bad guy.’ I don’t mind that so much, but where’s the tofu?

Coupla things really stood out for me:

From (ironically) ‘you are mistaken’: “damali ayo has dedicated her life to this work. this is what she does for a living and is very outspoken that both artists and anti-racist activists get paid for the work they do. she’s way ahead of you. this is her full time pursuit and i see no reason why she should not get paid (and paid well) for it.”

AND, from the lady herself: “you think people are going to hire me to kick their ass if i say “bring me to your school, i’m gonna be a real bitch and tell you that racism can never be fixed?” no. they’re not. what will happen is that i present them some serious solutions- that yes, are easy to do- racism has some very easy to do solutions that people have avoided for too long. it’s time to stop making the excuse that this work is so hard that we can never fix it….it seems like you want racism to stay around so you can complain about it.

Let me get this straight: damali’s ‘way ahead of me’ in terms of believing that anti-racists activists should be ‘paid and paid well’ – by white people – to ‘fix’ racism?

Here are the problems with this framing of the issue by “You Are Mistaken”: Way ahead of me indicates that the ‘one-up/one-down’/’good-bad,’ binary system is in full affect. That is the thinking of the slavemaster. Good slaves are this, bad slaves are that; good white folks are this/bad white folks are that. Some people know, others should shut the fuck up and be led. That opposed to, there’s a bit of good and bad (and a lot of racism) in all of us; calling out the nuances of the behavior is critical in challenging that brainwash Euro-mentality.

One of the reasons I challenge white progressives is because, from experience, their good, stated intentions to the contrary, they act like racist pinatas, with their racism coming out the side of their neck. Well, I challenge black so-called progressives for the same reason. Racism is a virus, a mental illness; many if not most are morally, spiritually and intellectually compromised by it.

So when white people bring in the diversity speaker, they expect a little heat, but they don’t expect a full-on challenge to the racist system itself, to the system’s right to exist. They don’t expect static regarding the breadth and depth of this racialist, imperialist, sexist monster. They want exercises that ruffle the feathers – to a point. That sophistication – something that is lacking in the idea that you can ‘fix’ racism with a ‘personal touch’ – fails to understand how rhetorical challenges to the ways of white folks make it appear that the system IS working. That is the end these whites are after, NOT the actual destruction of White Disney.

They need willing (naive) non-white advocates for change who seek only to prune the roses in the concentration camp – as opposed to overthrowing it.

Money corrupts; when you make your work for REAL change your lottery ticket – you are compromised. You may not see the subtlety of it (not that there is any in this case), but you will “tailor your message,” and yourself , to the audience. (This, as opposed to tailoring the audience’s ear to your liberatory message – if you have one.)

If the audience isn’t charmed by your delivery, YOU DON’T WORK! You won’t get those referrals and those precious contacts that ms. ayo is working so hard for. If the work speaks for itself, why send out letters to the email network for help getting more?

damali asks…”“you think people are going to hire me to kick their ass if i say “bring me to your school, i’m gonna be a real bitch and tell you that racism can never be fixed?”

Look at these assumptions: ‘deepening the analysis/telling the truth’ is conflated as , ‘hiring me to kick their ass,’ etc. My doubt that racism can be fixed using ‘her’ methods and my skepticism that an approach that assumes that there are “easy to do solutions” to racism, crafted by an artiste who believes that “anti-racist activists should make good money doing the work,” is somehow unreasonable. Because I dont’ believe in her ‘program,’ I don’t believe racism can be fixed. Her way is THE way in this reasoning.

damali said…”it seems like you want racism to stay around so you can complain about it.” But who really profits from racism hanging around? What I do, I do for free. I’ve done radio, interracial dialogues, organized community meetings. And I do profit from that because I feel I am deepening my understanding of racism. I profit because I meet amazing people, on and off the net, who are trying to understand and END the system of racism/white supremacy. But I ain’t trying to get paid for it by the white man.

‘Fixing’ racism requires a mechanic, someone to get under the hood and repair it for the passive car owner. Ending racism does not. Ending racism requires all hands on deck to step up; not to be mechanics, but to be a demolition crew, to be landscapers, architects, visionaries. All of US.

{Mechanics need the system of gas powered auto transit to continue in order to make their money “fixing” them. An approach that seeks to eliminate gas powered vehicles altogether, would eliminate the need for a (racial) mechanic.}

The expert,messianic, race worker paradigm is dead: it only makes deluded slaves out of us all. It teaches us to sit in the waiting room of our freedom and let the one “who’s way ahead of us” lead the way. And what if they don’t know where they are going?

What if where they are going ain’t leading you to your freedom, but rather, is leading them to theirs?

The last aspect of this is a criticism I have of myself as well: how is a person of color working primarily with white people going to change the system? Is this not a form of mammying? Beulah fixing the good white folks and getting paid in cornbread at the same time? Now, I spend more time than I want to with white folks. Living in Portland makes it quite easy to do. And its been difficult to connect with people of color/black people cuz many of us are so beaten down, we won’t even look at each other, speak to each other.

HOWEVER, some of us are getting together in PDX to create a conscious community, trying to break down the resistance/break down the Willie Lynch syndrome in our souls. I invite you, damali and any other local people of color (latino/latina/asian/indigenous, etc) who want to connect with their community to contact me (antibes13@hotmail.com) and I’ll let you know when we are meeting again.

I know I want racism to end and I believe it can be ended – the external and the internal. I just don’t believe that a system of racism/white supremacy will hire people to dismantle it.

9 Responses to ““Perhaps It Is YOU Who Wants Racism To Stay Around – Because It PAY$””

  1. Excellent commentary and rebuttal Lubangakene!!!! It is bad enough that she (spoken through her “supposed” proxies no doubt) feels it is her right, no DUTY, to make money from the tribulations and historical stripes on our backs caused by the slave master’s whips, but it is utterly disgusting that she presents herself to the white establishment as one who has “easy-to-do solutions to these problems”, i.e. race relations, and then goes on to guarantee: “The process is exciting and creates real change- my approach works!”

    In my organization, I was asked to be a diversity facilitator for some mandatory training that was put in place to address issues of tolerance and appreciating the similarities and differences that others bring to a workplace. It wasn’t race specific, but it did attempt to encapsulate all the varieties of people in our workplace and the variables and dynamics that blend can bring, both positive and negative. It was an open forum and the rules of engagement were that participants were free to speak their minds (as long as they were respectful) without any fear of reprisals. Well let me tell you… I was shocked by the deep-seated animosity towards “people of colour”, especially Black people, which the white male and females alike expressed. They would make certain comments and I would wonder to myself: “don’t they see that I am Black and I have ears?!” It’s not that they didn’t see me, it was that they didn’t care! And I’m in Canada which is viewed by many as the most tolerant country in the world!!!!

    Victimology and race relations workshops are BIG business and you are messing with her money…. her livelihood! You are so on point when you state: “So when white people bring in the diversity speaker, they expect a little heat, but they don’t expect a full-on challenge to the racist system itself, to the systems right to exist. They don’t expect a challenge to the breadth and depth of this racialist, imperialist, sexist monster. They want exercises that ruffle their feathers – to a point.” They do prefer a “mammy”… a “Beulah” to confirm to them, as they feign discomfort and drink a little lemonade to quench the heat, that they are still privileged, and it doesn’t matter to them if it is real or perceived privilege. The point is that the “niggers” (permitted use of the n-word) know their place, and white folks are more than willing to pay any amount of money to “Rent a Negro” who will feed into this ego.


  2. Hey man, blog about something else! You and I both know that there are bigger more important things to break down than this one woman. Get back to the good stuff!

  3. John,

    You blog about something else. I never blog about one person. This is about a composite, a type, a manifestation of the slave mentality, co-optation. Seeing the underneath, the hidden. The conversation makes clear the depth of the problem, for me anyway.

  4. I think you raise a good point that ending racism can’t go corporate, just as identity and humanity can’t. You can’t put a price tag on systemic change.

  5. It might be that some parts of Ayo’s program could help some people overcome what we used to call *prejudice* … but that’s about as far as it can go, I’d say.

  6. Arundati Roy said something like, “The Revolution will not come with a paycheck”.


  7. “But the counter-revolution will,” LA, “the counter-revolution most definitely will.”

  8. Hi,
    It is logical to me, that the system of racism/white supremacy is a business, meaning that it functions in a way that it is promoted, maintained, and refined, at all times, in all places, and in all areas of activity including economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, and war.

    Going with this concept it is possible to believe that people both white and non-white are indirectly and/ or directly cooperating with its existance. It is also possible then that people both white and non-white could resist its existance. However, its still here. So, then that means that there isn’t enough people working fulltime to eliminate it.

    One reason that its still here is because the system of R/WS keeps many people bogged down with “just surviving” and distracted with entertainment. The system also tells us that we have to work (ususally for white folks) in order to “just survive”. Now, if one is bogged down with a ‘9 to 5’ and all that goes with it (stress, traffic, etc.) how can they invest the time that is needed to eliminate racism? It needs to be a full time effort because racism is a full time system.

    Now, if you are going to do it full time and you still have to eat, pay rent or a mortgage or any other bills, then getting paid to do it, is necessary, unless you have a source of income that’s huge, and allows you to do whatever you like with your time. Stay strong in the struggle.

  9. Welcome, Khalif.

    I don’t believe that it is impossible to get paid for work in the field of fighting R/WS, but I’m highly skeptical of anyone touting themselves as ‘freedom fighters for hire.’

    Just because someone says they are fighting against something, doesn’t mean that they actually are. Joseph Kennedy said that ‘its not who you are that counts, its who you appear to be.’ Many people find it difficult to tell the difference between a facade and the real thing.

    And, when people get paid to fight oppression (by the institutions of the oppressor), one must at least question the motivation of the payee and the payor.

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