Steps for Anti-Racist White People

July 10, 2015

Below are some notes and thoughts on next steps for white anti-racist organizing.  These notes are based on Ahjamu Umi‘s community education and organizing work.

  • cops take “path of least resistance” in enforcement and arrest, so we need to attack the social hierarchies that underly and lead to the targeting of black populations in addition to holding individual cops and the policing institutions accountable
    • “good cops” are not cops who simply do not personally participate in racist activity; they do not stand by passively or remain silent while the “bad cops” run amuck, but work to hold perpetrators accountable and change the racist system.  where are the truly good cops?
    • focus on the more fundamental issue of “public safety” instead of merely trying to reform the police system.  how does the police system help or hurt public safety?  what are the other ways in which we can achieve true public safety?
  • work close to home:  we need to leverage current relationships and develop new relationships to confront white supremacy through respectful dialog vs “othering” overt racists and disowning them to justify our own passivity (e.g,. “i don’t know any racists”)
    • e.g., talk w/friends and family first in calmer settings instead of just confronting strange white supremacists on the picket line when emotions are heated
    • e.g., northern white liberals need to talk with and activate other northern white liberals and understand their relationship to racism vs demonizing and othering “southern racist conservatives”
    • recognize that white supremacist leaders and ideologies tend to target and recruit working-class whites, especially struggling white men who seek someone or something convenient to blame.  Distinguish between the horizontal violence of working class people fighting each-other and the vertical violence of the white supremacist ideology of the ruling class (divide and conquer).  How do anti-racists deal with this effectively?
  • it’s important to “get right with yourself” to do this work effectively from a place of love instead of from simple fear, anger or “having something to prove”
  • keep educating yourself on social revolution: join or set up a study group, curriculum or other plan
    • revolution means mass political education
    • social revolution means challenging one-another to become better people
    • no pain, no gain:  just like any exercise program, stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone in order to learn and grow
    • Get active: turn off the TV and the passive mass media consumption and start reading and seeking and interacting
  • join and support existing organizations doing revolutionary work

    • many different organizations with different focuses is a good thing
    • coordinate within and between organizations to avoid duplicating work or spreading yourselves too thin
  • Break your dependency on and allegiance to slave-based institutions that continue to thrive today, such as
    • the chocolate industry, “When People Eat Chocolate, They Are Eating My Flesh”
    • the sugar industry
    • the coltan mining industry underlying all computing, electronics and telecommunications infrastructure today
    • the banking industry, which grew to prominence based on profits from the slave-based cotton industry
    • the insurance industry, one of the first industries to profit from and provide legal and economic facilitation of chattel slavery by reducing economic and legal risks associated with being a slave owner
    • Note the common thread above:  industry, aka consumer commodity culture.  This isn’t to say that, “(eating) chocolate is bad” or ” (having) insurance is bad,” but that their economic existence as for-profit global commodities depended (and still depends) on racism and slavery and other forms of oppression.  So we don’t seek the destruction of chocolate.  But we seek the destruction of the chocolate commodity industry, in part, to protect and respect the existence of chocolate itself.  What, you say?  Consider that Danish colonists directly and explicitly caused the extinction of several speices of clove trees to control production, limit competition for clove as a commodity and inflate clove prices (source: Amy Stewart, The Drunken Botanist).  Commodity culture filters everything through its profit value, supporting all atrocities that increase profits.  So we must find new ways of accessing goods and services important to our lives without participation in commodity culture, aka decommoditization.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but a starting point for people who want to participate in the liberation of society from racism and chattel slavery.  There are plenty of things, simple and intensive, that anyone can do to contribute to freedom and liberation for all.

Thanks also to Samantha and Caiti for their contributions.

060915 digital adversity

June 10, 2015


my recovery means
a life leading me back to the infirmary
because the firmness of spirit in me has faded
from years of abuse, internal and external
i exist as a past participle of the life i once led
a collection of stories i now recite in my head
the same way that alcoholics choose between
the loose faith and bumpy road of recovery
winding serpentine and anything but easy
or the familiar certainty lying between
deceptively transparent walls containing liquid hate
(where a bottle of booze looks more like a lens
to distort, frame and perpetuate our focus
on the distilled Trojan Strawman dwelling therein)
another distraction to obfuscate the larger social truth:
that addiction is every day more
the social affliction of a profoundly sick society
(comprising heavily of well-adjusted individual
insanity, rampant dishonesty and other civil impropriety)
than it is a physiological excuse
to avoid accountability for whatever we choose
when something outside us worms its toxic way within
(for the sake of discussion, let’s call it “oppression”)
and incites us to pick and choose and press
the button clearly labeled “self-destruct”
over and over and over again.

sometimes its hard to read the thoughts i think
in the things i write in a blink to say,
“we’re fucked,” and i hope with intense inflection
that these words depict an inaccurate reflection —
an errant worldview too intent on the inherent negativity
of entropic introspection — radical activist collective
supposedly, lacking in praxis? to keep some perspective
meet the princess and the pea, normalizing himself
in the form of a conservative subculture complete
with social roles, costumes and alienating conformity
others’ clothing and ink say nothing of substance to me
but i read plenty regarding group structure and hierarchy
broadcast identities, merely unproven labels
smoke and mirrors where monsters primp and preen
while behavior to back the claims
evidence outstanding remains conspicuously unseen

my recovery means life leading me beyond
what i currently know to be true
by blurring the lines of industry inside of me
demarcating and limiting with digital adversity
the analog universe of divine poetry
spitting its verse of infinite diversity
right through me…when i choose to listen
to the subtleties of difference within
evolutionary creation embodying the creator
who spares no expense with every fiber of her being
to give us every opportunity to sense the intent behind
the meaning inside the scene she wants us to see
like how the civilogical narcissistic narrowness of,
“i eat what i grow” and “i grow what i know,”
simplifies itself through time with help from a new(ly re)found
innate curiosity and openness of mind into
“i seek to know and eat what grows”
somewhere in between the sharing of such simplicity
outside the civilogical confines of ethnocentricity
i discover new (to me) depths of complexity
fundamental and unfolding
inalienable and perplexing

in this case, every bottle of booze we abuse
finds itself entangled in a context of greater proof:
someone just wants to feel calm and OK
or at least, to become numb and aloof of her
pain, to overcome and not succumb to her
chronic anxiety, aka “that voice inside of me”
insisting quietly — sometimes screaming —
“something feels wrong”
prying my eyes wide open while dreaming
to show me the machinery of co-dependency
from the limits of my cage, she asks
“are you leaving?”

my recovery means shedding tears:
physically wasted on pasty white sun-basted
faces inhabiting strange places
these phrases read with an asynchronicity in colonial spaces
strangers in a strange land not for any lack of color
on the back of our hands but for the lack of mela(to)nin
in our thoughts that keep us subservient to The Man, Burning:
world turning, stomach churning, heart yearning, body learning
automatic somatic lessons from subtle confessions
the more i listen, the less i make
ethical concessions in exchange for good impressions
the less i need a therapeutic profession with the ever-present
“time’s up for today, please see the secretary to schedule your next session”
because this form of vulnerability has its own
built-in protections against
the patriarch plutarch oligarch spitting crude dark
into the atmosphere and my body, with my breath
let these cancerous words you hear
create the spark
ignite the fear and live to make your mark
free and clear of civil sociopathy, it took me
31 years to see all she really wants of me, i now summarize:
liberated empathy, from what i can surmise.