The Subtle Genocide of the New Afrikan
We are living in an epoch different than those faced by the past people of African descent in the United States. We are neither fighting against chattel-slavery, nor are we fighting Jim Crow apartheid. Today the struggle for Black Liberation is a neocolonial struggle. Neocolonial because while Blacks are de facto colonized by US White settler-colonialism, and still de facto have a colonial relation to the US State and ruling class, it is no longer a mere legal struggle (de jure) against second class citizenship as it was under Jim Crow Apartheid. Today the struggle is far more complex than the Civil Rights Movement. While today many are wondering if we need a new Civil Rights Movement, they are failing to understand the concrete conjuncture we are living in today and are not adjusting to the new political landscape accordingly. We have already won civil rights. Blacks are no longer de jure second class citizens. Fifty years later we now have ‘civil’ Blacks: more black police officers and police chiefs, more Blacks in higher education, more Black CEOs, and ultimately a half-Black president. Yet we are still fighting a new beast, a subtle genocide.
No longer are the old ways of fighting going to cut it. Civil rights gave us the legal bourgeois status on par with ‘regular’ (white) Americans. And we still feel this subtle genocide in spite of civil rights because no amount of money and legal representatives can replace political power. While many in the Black community speak of building businesses to empower the community, they forget that Black Wall Street (Tulsa, Oklahoma) did not build a political power to withstand white supremacists, and was therefore destroyed. They forget about the likes of Michael Jordan who became a successful Black man in Amerikkka by super-exploiting Third World people making sneakers for less than $3, selling them for $200, and then investing in the concentration camps (prison system) which will incarcerate his own people who are wearing his sneakers – while having to take them off inside the prisons he invested in. His economic success meant that he joined a new community of capitalists and his allegiance shifted away from his oppressed nationality community. This is the success of civil rights. Jordan has now joined the ranks of the civil capitalists.
While liberals always quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., they fail to recognize he too saw the limits of civil rights:
“I’ve come upon something that disturbs me deeply: We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know that we will win. But I’ve come to believe we’re integrating into a burning house.”
Fundamentally, black lives CANNOT matter under white supremacy. No amount of pleads to the enemy will sway them. HANDS UP? Get shot. There can be no justice in an unjust genocidal system. How many more will die? How many more will be put in concentration camps? How many agents of the state and white supremacy will go unpunished?
The questions concerning our liberation will not be answered by voting for lesser evils, or hash tags; they will be answered by revolutionary war against a reactionary enemy. This subtle genocide is an undeclared war; the struggle for Black Liberation will come by winning this war. What is politics but a matter of life and death. Law and war are the opposite expressions of political power. We cannot ‘legalize’ Black people, because, in fact, since civil rights Black people have become de jure legal equals to white Americans. Yet, we know this to be a farce. The ‘Drug Wars’ in the US were a pretense to criminalize Black and Brown people post-civil rights and deindustrialization, creating the largest imprisoned population in the history of humanity. The labor of the enslaved African was the masters’ property. The labor of super-exploited Black workers was a commodity, a function in the capitalists’ equation of maximizing profit. Today, the concentration camps we call prisons are housing the surplus population, excess people from the perspective of white power heteropatriarchal imperialist capitalism. New Afrikans and other oppressed nationalities in the US are expected to obey laws, which are not de facto applied to them equally. We are expected to accept the rule of such a law which is NOT overtly racist, but in its actual enforcement continues the genocide. In the US prison system, a majority of those who are incarcerated are there for drug related reasons in spite of the fact that whites and non-whites sell drugs at the same rates, and the fact that whites use more drugs quantitatively, and do harder drugs qualitatively. These facts do not change the fact that Black and Brown communities are overly occupied by police under the pretense of a ‘drug war.’ Further it is law enforcement itself which proves the subtle genocide while still being de jure an ‘equal’ system. The extrajudicial killings of Blacks, Latinos and Muslims in the United States with impunity demonstrate the existence of an undeclared war. Case and point is how a white person can enter into a movie theatre with a rifle and shoot more than a dozen people, but still be taken in alive by law enforcement. Yet, unarmed Black people are shot on the spot. Even still, it is not only the repressive organs of the state which lead this genocidal war. The ideological organs are also at the forefront. It is the media and the schools which teach us the morals and ethics of the oppressor. This is why when a police officer is killed or wounded, it is never acceptable to the dominant ideology. Even a liberal ‘progressive’ would say that while the structures of the police and law are biased, unfair, etc. it is still ‘not okay’ even if the system isn’t fair. Conversely, whenever a Black/Brown person is mercilessly killed by police with impunity, there is always reference to their past acts, what they were wearing, how they were moving to justify more casualties of war.
New Afrikans as an Oppressed Nation
We must begin by understanding the particularity of the Black struggle in North America. While there is a racial oppression faced by all people of African descent in the US, there is still a particularity of the New Afrikan (‘African-American’) as a nation subjugated under the White settler-colonial regime.
Under colonial slavery various African nationalities, kingdoms and tribes were first of all not one people; they were part of various different societies. Some societies were kingdoms, some were city-states, others were tribal, etc. Being that they were not one people, they had contradictions with each other like any other region, and these were contradictions which Europeans exploited to their benefit and to the benefit of the ruling classes of different African societies. Yet in this process of amalgamation, a nation formed. Black people were concentrated in a very specific area in the South called the Black Belt, and today it still holds slightly under half of the population of Black people. This is a continuous territory which Black people are the majority for the most part. Just like other nationalities relate to their geographical-political spaces, New Afrikans relate and still have kinship networks throughout the Black Belt (in fact, New Afrikans are even returning in large numbers back to the South).The migrations from the Black Belt South to the North is akin to many immigrant groups, except that Blacks were always colonial subjects internal to US Imperialism. Further, New Afrikans have a distinct experience from white Americans, for example, speaking their own version of English (African American Vernacular). Yet, while New Afrikans are a nation, they lack self-determination; there is no separate state for New Afrikans. This is the national oppression faced. Things like having a hairstyle which is too ‘ethnic’ will not get you hired. This is not about hairstyles or speaking a certain way. It is about the national oppression of New Afrikans in which their standards must conform to the dominant Euro-American colonizer. To push the point, under Jim Crow apartheid, there were delegates of different African nationalities who were able to enter spaces which were not allowed for Blacks. This is similar to Israeli apartheid over the Palestinians today, where other Arab nationalities are able to enter spaces Palestinians cannot, in spite of them being Arab like the Palestinians.
Racialarchy and Anti-Blackness
Slavery had existed around the world across nearly every continent, from Islamic Caliphates, to the Roman and Chinese empires, to Aztecs and Incas. Yet, it was European settler-colonial expansion into the ‘New’ world which brought about racialized slavery. Further this question of slavery was pivotal to the warmer areas in the Americas. While enslaved Africans did perform skilled work, from carpentry, to blacksmithing, the vast majority of enslaved Africans were to be deployed in ‘cash crops’ plantations: tobacco, sugar, and cotton. This slavery was a different type than that of antiquity. This was racialized slavery for the needs of a rising capitalist class.
In the US, the particularity of the ‘one drop rule’ created a very different racial system than what was exercised by Spanish, Portuguese and French colonialism. This created a segregated Black society unlike what took place in other colonies. While enslaved Africans originated from various different peoples on the continent, the common experience of an African descended person laid the basis for forming a new nation and racial experience (which will be discussed later). It is this particularity of the US racialarchy which produced a distinct people based on ‘race,’ but also produced a nation into itself which is trapped and subjugated by an oppressor colonizer nation.
Still, we should not lose focus on the economic. Europeans did also not see themselves as one people. The creation of ‘Blackness’ is simultaneous with the formation of ‘whiteness.’ It was not that Europeans were racist and decided to enslave Africans, but rather that enslaved African labor was the backbone to Western capitalism, and that ideologically racism was a result, catalyst and a justification for their enslavement. The proof is in the ideology: When feudal Spanish conquistadors were committing genocide and expanding slavery in the Caribbean, the feudal church rationalized this as whether Amerindians and Africans had souls, and whether they could be saved by Christianity. In the later 1700s and 1800s when capitalism had defeated feudalism in Europe, the justifications were not based on religious ideology, but ‘scientific’ ideology. Scientific racism had replaced religious racism, yet the reasons were the same: super-exploitation. Anti-Blackness is then an outcome of racialized slavery. Similar to islamophobia, which is a racialization of Islam resulting from western imperialism’s pivot to the Middle East, Anti-Blackness is the stigma of racialized slavery. The colonial mindset of Black North Americans is apparently also embedded with Anti-Blackness. The value of lighter skin in the Black community is indicative of this, likewise the devaluing of African American Vernacular; we all see those middle class people of color consistently emphasize that there is no such thing as ‘speaking white’ when in fact there is, since having a different dialect doesn’t substitute intelligence, or articulation, but it does demarcate a different culture. There is then alongside national oppression of New Afrikans (Black North Americans), the racial oppression of all Afro-descendants. Amadou Diallo was not an African-American, but he was shot 41 times regardless. Afro-Latinos, continental Africans, and Afro-Caribbean people all face the repercussions of racial oppression inside the US.
Experience of the RSCC in NYC
The Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee (RSCC) is a revolutionary student organization which plans to organize youth and students on an Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Imperialist, Proletarian-Feminist basis. Mostly but not exclusively based in NYC’s CUNY system, the first point of unity:
“1. We want an end to white-supremacist national oppression and the right to self-determination for all oppressed nationalities. The US was founded on the genocide of the First Nations and the theft of their lands, the kidnapping and enslavement of Africans, the takeover of Aztlan and Hawaii, and the colonization of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and other places. The US oppresses third world people inside and outside of its borders, throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America.”
Coincides with the first point in the platform:
“1. We want the seizure of CUNY by oppressed people as a form of reparations for slavery, colonialism and imperialism. We want community control of CUNY and the opening-up of every campus for the community’s use. We want the abolition of the CUNY Board of Trustees.”
The ideological organs which promote the white power heteropariarchal capitalist ideology are fronts of struggle. We aim to struggle in the school system for the battle of ideas. The Black Panthers arose in this context. Instead of becoming refined skilled laborers for capitalism, revolutionaries from oppressed communities returned to their communities to prepare them for revolutionary struggle.
In the Fall of 2013, The Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Center was seized by force by the CUNY administration. For 23 years since 1990, the Morales/Shakur Center was a link between the student and community struggles in City College and Harlem. It was won by revolutionary students in the 1989 student strike and names after Guillermo Morales, a Boricua (Puerto Rican) revolutionary, and Assata Shakur, a New Afrikan revolutionary. The administration had always wanted to close down such a liberated space, but the arrival General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander of US Imperialist forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, to CUNY ‘honors college’ and the return of ROTC to CUNY after 41 years, began the Anti-Militarization of CUNY campaign led by RSCC and its allies. After various protests where students who were RSCC member were beaten and arrested at a peaceful protest and the campaign going viral, the Morales/Shakur Center was seized because it was an important base of operations for the campaign. Protests then ensued on City College campus and two students who were RSCC members were suspended and arrested for their organizing. The center has yet to be won again.
Still, the same year the center named after Assata Shakur, who attended City College, had been shut down, the entire division of social sciences had been renamed the Colin L. Powell, who also attended City College, School for Civic and Global Leadership. It is at this conjuncture that we see the struggle of the New Afrikan in the post-Civil Rights period. Revolutionary New Afrikans, struggling against National oppression, patriarchy and capitalism were not welcome. Blacks who integrated, and fought for US Imperialism were good examples to strive for. This point only touches on a shift going on in the US today. That the old white settler-colonial legacy is fighting to roll back the integration of upper-class Black and Brown people, but there was a real new rising Multi-cultural imperialism challenging the white settler-colonial legacy yet still focused on exploitation of the world’s people, and not putting forth the interests of the Black and Brown masses targeted by the genocidal US war machine. Who are these New Multicultural imperialists? They are those striving to be Obama, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Sotomayor, Jindal, etc. We aim to change both who gets access to higher education, but also change the content of education. Struggling to have free and accessible daycares on campus so that working mothers can have an education, or struggling for reintegration programs for convicted felons (who are many in our communities) are campaigns which aim to change the class, gender and nationality aspects of who gets access. Still, it is not enough to fight for access without being critical of the content of education. We need social sciences which are geared for teaching working-class, oppressed nationalities, and oppressed genders their role and relationship to US imperialism. We need natural science students to think critically of what they are learning, that instead of being a doctor, or engineer for US capitalism, they can put their skills to use for Revolution.
In the fall 2014 semester NYC was a hotbed of activity against the genocidal state and for the defense of Black lives. Ferguson was still resisting for Mike Brown, and the death of Eric Garner for selling cigarettes was a spark which lit the masses. The RSCC was part of many rallies and marches. These were militant and unpermitted. The height of this was on November 25th, 2014, when ten thousand people took the streets and shut down both highways in Manhattan.
Yet, 2015 was different. Marches have continued, with the extreme repression of activists. Beatings and arrests, followed by tedious legal battles, drain from political organization. The old methods are no longer challenging the system in the same way. We need to shift from just rallies, marches and die-ins. We need to base build: at the workplace, in the schools, and in our communities. To protest is to express our dissent. We need to move past this. We need to build actual resistance, because while protest only demonstrates our discontent, resistance actively tries to stop the enemy. We need to build self-defense committees in our community, beginning as cop-watch units, which can grow into actual protection teams. We need to organize labor which, in spite of deindustrialization, Blacks are still pivotal in employment being the most unionized group in the nation – mostly in the public sector – which means organizing this section is vital to defeating the white supremacist enemy.
What is to be Done? Black Lives Matter OR Black Liberation Movement?
This is the most pivotal question of our time for Afro-descended people and New Afrikans generally. There is a genocidal war being waged, which is the legacy of our colonial status to the US. In the 50s and 60s the question was between a Civil Rights Movement, which attempted to integrate blacks into the society ending their second class status under apartheid, and there was the Black Liberation Movement, which saw its struggle in a global revolutionary context. as part of an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggle being waged world wide.
“I must be honest. Negroes-Afro-Americans-showed no inclination to rush to the United Nations and demand justice for themselves here in America. I really had known in advance that they wouldn’t. The American white man has so thoroughly brainwashed the black man to see himself as only a domestic “civil rights” problem that it will probably take longer than I live before the Negro sees that the struggle of the American black man is international.” ~ Malcolm X
Civil rights had won, but today there are more Black people in jail than were enslaved. Today there are Blacks being killed every 28 hours with impunity. The path for our survival is nothing short of revolution. And in the global context we are not alone. US White power imperialism has identified who the enemy is. Blacks are ‘thugs,’ Muslims are ‘terrorists,’ and Latinos are ‘illegal aliens.’ The struggle for New Afrikan liberation is one which can only be achieved in understanding the need for a revolutionary united front against a common enemy. This is likewise hinges on organizing the lowest sections of society, the working class, because unlike upper class Blacks, working class New Afrikans have no stake in White power US Imperialism, like upper class Blacks do. Working class Blacks are the pivot to uniting and leading middle-class Black progressives, and even some sections of the criminal class who is exploited by being excluded from production. A revolutionary united front with the immigration movement, and the women’s and queer movements is on the horizon.
But we need to learn from the past. The Black Liberation Movement of the 60s and 70s was plagued with patriarchal and homophobic practices and ideas which set back the movement for liberation. We need to view our struggle as part of a global struggle; Palestinians under Israeli occupation were the first people changing tactics to resistance fighters in Ferguson against tear gas and other defenses against militarized police. We need to have a clarity of who the enemy is. The recent focus on the confederate flag misses the fact that this flag is not in political power, that this flag only represents one small section of the enemie’s ranks. The US flag has not only killed and exploited our communities more, it represents the current enemy we are fighting.
What will revolution take? Sacrifice, blood, tears, theory, organization and, fundamentally, people. There needs to be various organizations organizing different sections of the people: students, women, tenants, workers, etc., etc., able to carry out revolutionary struggle locally. There needs to be a revolutionary political party, which is disciplined and dedicated to coordinate strategically and withstand attacks from the US government. We have seen since COINTELPRO that the ruling class views our communities as enemy combatants in an internal insurgency. We should not shy away from this reality. And of course we need an army, a people’s army which would be able to resist and ensure our liberated spaces from the police and National Guard which are deployed in times of crisis.
Ferguson, Baltmore, Detroit, New York. Emmit Till, Sean Bell, Rekia Boyd, Anthony Baez, Reynaldo Cuevas, Ramarley Graham, Shantel Davis, Aiyana Jones, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland. How long will we be passive in a genocidal war? We don’t want war, but if war is waged against us, our only solution is to win this war. Black lives don’t matter to US Imperialism, so we need to fight for our liberation, we need to fight for power and make them matter. How many more brothers and sisters are to be killed without impunity before we realize the gravity of our situation? Our fronts are ideological, political and economic. We need to recognize the struggle for New Afrikan Liberation as one which coincides with so many other oppressed nationalities under the boot of Western imperialist power. There can be no peace without justice. Let us win the war we’ve been trained not to see. The future is ours for the taking if we choose so. Let us make Black lives matter through revolutionary internationalism. Let’s make Black lives matter by building power.
“I have declared war on the rich who prosper on our poverty, the politicians who lie to us with smiling faces, and all the mindless, heartless, robots who protect them and their property.” ― Assata Shakur
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