“Distinguishing “the political” from “politics” has become a foundational conceptual operation for many contemporary political thinkers. The meanings attributed to these two concepts and the value invested in the distinction between them, however, vary widely. Some authors, for example, affirm…
This should make a good read (aka a good source for critique)
“But blackness also points to a history of mixed racialization that, although always acknowledged among blacks, is rarely understood or seen among other groups. I have argued elsewhere, for instance, that to add the claim of “mixture” to blacks in both American continents would be redundant, because blacks are their primary “mixed” populations to begin with. Mixture among blacks, in particular, functions as an organizing aesthetic, as well as a tragic history. On the aesthetic level, it signifies the divide between beauty and ugliness. On the social level, the divide is between being just and unjust, virtuous and vicious; “fair skin” is no accidental, alternative term for “light skin.”—
Her Majesty’s other children:
sketches of racism from a neocolonial age
Chapter 3: Race, Biraciality and mixed race—-In theory
The economic crisis has disproportionately affected people of color, in particular African Americans. Given the stark economic realities in communities of color, many people have wondered why the Occupy Wall Street movement hasn’t become a major site for mobilizing African Americans. For me, it’s not about the diversity of the protests. It’s about the rhetoric used by the white left that makes OWS unable to articulate, much less achieve, a transformative racial-justice agenda.
One of the first photos I saw from the Occupy Wall Street protests was of a white person carrying a flag that read “Debt=Slavery.” White progressive media venues often compare corporate greed or exploitation to some form of modern-day slavery. But while carrying massive amounts of debt, whether in student loans, medical bills, or predatory balloon-payment mortgages is clearly a mark of a society that exploits poor and working-class people, it is not tantamount to chattel slavery. In fact, slaves, who were the property of others by law, for centuries symbolized wealth. A slave, as property, could be sold as a commodity to clear debt. Currently, black households carry about $5,000 in wealth compared to $100,000 for white households, according to a recent Brandeis University study. Arguing that white working- and middle-class people are slaves to debt or corporations undermines not only the centrality of the African slave trade to the birth of the modern corporation but the distinct ways in which debt prevents many blacks from achieving middle-class status.
In this way, white progressives subscribe to the same “slavery” line conservatives use to incite white fears of economic and political subjugation. Rush Limbaugh, according to Media Matters, equated the 2009 health-care law to slavery, noting, “It’s not going to be a matter of whether you can or cannot pay. It won’t be a matter of whether you have coverage or don’t have coverage. What’ll matter is that all of us will be slaves.”
Pundits have observed that many black people may be staying away from the Wall Street protests to avoid (additional) direct contact with police. Last year, New York City carried out 600,000 random stop-and-frisks, half of which were conducted on black citizens, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union; it makes sense that blacks, who are often in daily contact with police, would stay away from an event where interaction with law-enforcement officers would be inevitable. In fact, on October 22, scores of OWS protesters joined a Harlem demonstration against the practice of stop-and-frisk, during which several people were arrested.
But when the New York Police Department began to act violently against the mostly white protesters on Wall Street, many of the videos posted by OWS attendees on YouTube made the point that protesters were arrested, beaten, or pepper-sprayed “just for asking the police a question” or for “just exercising their right to protest.”
In contrast, many nonwhites assume the worst in any interaction with police, and if the worst doesn’t occur, we often consider that the exception, not the rule.
In a London Guardian op-ed, white feminist writer and Democratic strategist Naomi Wolf wrote that she was arrested at an OWS demonstration while “standing lawfully on the sidewalk in an evening gown,” as if to connote that nice white ladies on the way to high-society gatherings wouldn’t or shouldn’t be treated as criminal by the police. She went on to detail the ways in which police lied or broke the law in handling the protest. Though blacks and Latinos are never mentioned directly, statements that accuse police of misconduct when they clash with ostensibly law-abiding activists highlight how much white occupiers take for granted that only “criminals” will be the target of police violence and harassment.
Another fundamental flaw of white progressives (like many participating in the OWS movement) is the “take back our country and/or democracy” framework. In order to be invested in that idea, you have to see and believe that you had some stake in it to begin with. If you’ve been stopped and frisked 50 different times with as many fines to pay, or you’re HIV-positive and your welfare benefits were cut off because you were too ill to keep an appointment with a case manager, it’s hard to believe that the government is just broken—it seems pretty insistent and hell-bent on your demise.
Comparing debt to slavery, believing police won’t hurt you, or wanting to take back the America you see as rightfully yours are things that suggest OWS is actually appealing to an imagined white (re)public. Rather than trying to figure out how to diversify the Occupy Wall Street movement, white progressives need to think long and hard about their use of frameworks and rhetoric that situate blacks at the margins of the movement.
[I’m posting this because it speaks to questions of coalition-building and radical political organizing. Also because it offers insight on what is considered the high water mark of a previous generation’s activist work, with disturbing resonances to contemporary social movements.]
THE MAY 7  “victory” for Ethnic Studies needs to be recognized not as another radical milestone at UC Berkeley, but as a series of political events in which it became a disturbing priority to suppress dissent, concentrate decision-making power, and enforce law-and-order within the twLF movement itself.
It was important as a moment that brought political actors back into the public space and exposed, yet again, the willingness of the administration to use police violence to maintain an unjust status quo. But equally important are the lessons we learned about how we often restrain our own most radical potential for change in action.
"Here we ‘touch’ without touching this extraordinary paradox: the inaccessible transcendence of the law before which and prior to which ‘man’ stands fast only appears infinitely transcendent and thus theological to the extent that, so near him, it depends only on him on the performative act by which he institutes it: the law is transcendent, violent and non-violent, because it depends only on who is before it — and so prior to it—, on who produces it, found it, authorizes it in an absolute performative whose presence always escapes him. The law is transcendent and theological, and so always to come, always promised, because it is immanent, finite and so already past." - "Force of Law," Jacque Derrida
On the season 2 finale of IKONOKLAST SPEAKS!, the Ikonoklast is joined by renowned radical scholar Dr. João H. Costa Vargas to discuss the conditions of African people in the Diaspora from the U.S. to Brazil, and what it means for African people in the context of U.S. Imperialism…
Send letters of support to the Maryland Parole Commission
Good news! I was just told that I have a parole hearing on November 1, 2011. We will need as many letters of support as we can get. I would appreciate any assistance you can give in our pursuit of a favorable recommendation from the parole board. If you need any information please call Dominique Stevenson at 410-948-6302.
Please encourage people to send letters on my behalf. They can simply say they believe I should be granted parole based on my many contributions to the prison population through mentoring projects and other activities, and my record as a ”model” prisoner. For those of you that know me personally, please speak to the work I have done for prisoners and the community.
Send letters of support for Marshall Eddie Conway’s parole to:
Maryland Parole Commission Attention: Mr. Blumberg 6776 Reisterstown Road Suite 307 Baltimore, MD. 21215
(Letters should be mailed no later than Weds 10/26)
“Well, I think that the question of civil society, not all the questions but the truth of civil society, not the totality of it, but one of the concerns of civil society is how to contain “the Black”, and the answer to that question is like a hundred different splices of light going out in all directions. The professor uh, Desmond, I can’t remember his last name(A UCD prof that attended the lecture that afternoon), the older Black man who was speaking in the middle you know, he used to teach Economics here….he, talked about Jamestown and one of the things that I came across in the research for this book was a dissertation, a pro-slavery dissertation written by a White intellectual in 19-something in Virginia, and he was writing about the grain of sand, the germ, that creates the modern police force. And he locates this germ in the question of Black mobility. He charts how throughout the colonies all the way through the Civil War this thing that will become the modern police force, starts off as small collections of people just coming together to monitor the movement of Blacks. And that was really fascinating to me, you know. Obviously the police do a lot of other things today, they do the border patrol, and they do white collar crime…. but what his dissertation is saying is that the constituent element of policing is the maintenance of surveillance of Black bodies. I see the prison industrial complex as an extension of a kind of need, based upon what I would say is a fundamental anxiety concerning where is the Black and what is he or she doing.”—
Frank B. Wilderson, III *Writer *Filmmaker *Critical Theorist
Not tall of them. The one with the black guy. Most of us aren’t going to find out anything happy like our great great grandfathers dying as business men. And that’s just real life. But I guess you’ll catch a few people with that AMAZING marketing strategy.
OMG I hate this commercial sooooo much too! I always do a voice over saying “my great great grandfather was born as a slave … and died a slave” … Now build a marketing strategy around that ancestry.com
“Like the work of Jared Sexton, Saidiya Hartman, David Marriott, Hortense Spillers, Frantz Fanon, Lewis Gordon, Joy James, and others, my poetry, creative prose, scholarly work, and film production are predicated on the notion that slavery did not end in 1865; the United States simply made adjustments to the force of Black resistance without diminishing the centrality of Black captivity to the stability and coherence of civil society.”— Frank B. Wilderson, III (via howtobenoladarling)