Category Archives: Black Radical Thought

Smashing Whiteness

So, yesterday I was riding the light rail on my way to do a workshop in Phoenix when I got into a conversation with a fellow traveler. This person was an elder who was very proud of his Italian identity and the quality of the taste of food that comes from Italian tradition. I respect that and enjoyed the delicious descriptions as well. He also complained about the cost of underwear, calling it highway robbery. I listened respectfully as this elder told his stories because he is an elder.

 

 

Somehow the conversation veered to the question of my heritage. I don’t know how or why. I did not bring anything up about it. I made no references to the food I like or otherwise. I knew this was going to get awkward and it did real fast. I told the truth and said, “I am African and Cherokee.” The elder looked at me with this puzzled look in his eyes, shaking his head and goes, “Cherokee, like ‘Indian’ Cherokee?” I was hoping to escape without having to try to correct this old white man on the light rail about his sideways thinking. Then he goes, “you don’t look African… I mean you are no Sidney Poitier.” There went the sledge hammer to the anvil, but that wasn’t it because he continued with “you look Mexican or Puerto Rican…”

 

I chose not to get up in arms in opposition to all the microaggressions that were coming at me in public because at the time I did not feel that it would do any good for him or me. This elder was fast set in his ways and beliefs and no amount of talking, yelling, screaming, or otherwise would have changed his mind at all in the time that we had together. And I wish that would have been it, but it wasn’t.

 

He then went on to say how he grew up with all these Black and Brown folx, (though not in those terms) and how he had worked with many “blacks” and about how they were good to him and were not cheats and so on and so forth. This was then used as his evidence to support his claim that he was not a “bigot”. ‘Blacks’ were alright in his book. Then he went on to talk about the animals on the African continent and how much he should like to see them one day, like all there is on the Continent of Africa with its many countries are ‘animals’.

 

Something that stood out very starkly about this very insulting conversation, especially giving how it began, was this man’s inability to grasp that my heritage can be African and I not have been born there. It was okay for this American white man to reach back and to identify with his Italian heritage without any question, but it was not okay for me to do so. He could not comprehend it. It was almost as if he had no conception that my ancestors were stolen from their homes, families, and motherlands and brought to this place that despised them for everything but what their bodies could produce. That my direct lineage is from the first African Diaspora and that in no document have I or anyone in my family ever truly be counted as amerikkkan. No, for him I was American. Yet another identity imposed upon me without my consent. Like, how dare I hearken to a heritage that this society has worked so hard for generations to eradicate in our Peoples. It could not and would not compute for him that I have an identity distinct of him; that my People are not defined or measured by his People. For them, for him, that is a terrifying idea.

 

This soft-racism, this skirted veil of ignorance and hatred and OTHERNESS was both offensive and disgusting. This sort of thinking is pervasive. This paradigm that “white” as a political ideology and identity that surfaced and has been sustained in the U.S. since the time of Chattel Enslavement as a foil to “black” as a political-social-economic subjugated class is dependent on the practice of making specific people the other. It is only by establishing this otherness that such things as Walls to keep out migrants and I.C.E., and rampant over-policing of Brown and Black communities who are perceived as the villains of this society can function. It’s coddled in COLOR-BLIND language (please forgive the ablist term) to hide the results of the practice. Yes, it is true that much has changed since the end of the American Civil War and even the public defeat of blatant Jim Crow segregation. However, so much remains, when what we are measuring is net results and impacts.

 

We are still considered OTHER. We are still subjugated into a subordinate class and marginalized. We are still suffering under the lashes of enslavement, albeit, behind ‘prison’ walls and not out in the open. Education is still not equal. Prison bunks are being estimated based on third grade reading scores and prisons are going up faster than schools at all levels. We are still looked at as “Super Predators” whether we are Black or Brown, and people still fear even the sight of us, no matter how much we whistle Vivaldi while walking down the street. This society is barely a century and a half removed from the open system of enslavement wherein many human beings were counted as beasts of burden, and our Indigenous relatives were counted as much less. Far too short a time for the evils of that culture to be wiped away, especially when the dominant group has yet to truly face and come to terms with their cultural memory and responsibility. This includes their unjust position in this society achieved only by the exploitation and murder of millions that still continue to this day.

 

That old man on the light rail, like most of white amerikkka, is not ready to hear all this or to truly face what is necessary to make amends for all the harms that have been done and that still continue to happen to this day. We will hear or read vast and innumerable objections and excuses about how this white person grew up poor, or how this white person was abused by the police, or that this white person was incarcerated. We will also hear that many of the issues and circumstances I and my fellows have and are bringing up about this society happened a long time ago and that no one who is alive today shares in any responsibility of what their predecessors did. We will hear so much talk about how they are good white folks and how they get us ‘blacks’ or us ‘Indians’ or us “Hispanics’ or so forth. All of this in attempt to thwart and avoid the very real truth, that they themselves are still benefitting from what happened in the past and as a result share the burden of rectifying the harms of the past. Rewrite history however you like, tell whatever stories you want to try to hide the facts, the past does not forget. If white is supposed to be so pure, then why does it get dirty so fast? Stains cannot be removed by looking the other direction and wishing them not to exist.

 

What we need in order for this society to heal is to recognize that the foundation upon which it was built was faulty to begin with. We also need the people who have grouped themselves into the political identity of those considering themselves white to challenge their whiteness, their white privilege, and the persistent notions of white supremacy among themselves. Instead of pointing their fingers at the ‘OTHER’ as the root of the problem, those with the least amount of power in this society, they need to take a deep and searching look into their own role in the creations of the problems of this society. In the end, what needs to be smashed is the conception of WHITE. When these things are achieved then, just then, we might actually have some common ground upon which we can begin to design a foundation upon which a healthy society might exist.

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Similar Patterns: Learning from the Past

 

Minor observation as a historian, activist, and organizer:
I am not one to declare that history repeats itself because I do not believe that is possible. However, what I do observe often are patterns and similarities. There is something interesting happening right now that has happened several times in the past.

 

As a major push for #BlackPeople in the United States to be recognized as full #HumanBeings emerges, shortly after and running concurrently a push for #Women in the United States to be treated as full Human Beings emerges.

 

Both from my historical knowledge and my contemporary participation I know full well that the struggle for neither, never died. I also know, being a #BlackLivesMatter activist that the struggle against #Patriarchy and #Misogynoir has been active the whole time I have been in the movement.

 

A fear I have that stems from my historical understanding is a diffusing of the energy to push for change in this moment of our movement for justice to be distributed and diluted among the struggles as if they are distinct. It is my belief that the struggles are not distinct and that they are interlinked in intersectional ways that cannot be completely separated, although, they do have different components. For example, in the struggle for #BlackLiberation Black Womxn, Black Fem, Black Trans, Black Queer deal with very particular dicriminations and oppressions that Black Men do not, and very often Black Men are the progenitors of the harm (I am not innocent). Likewise, among Womxn, and People who identify as LGBTQIA, many of who are Black, Latinx, Native, or POC deal with additional discriminations and oppressions that others do not.

 

“An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” a quote from Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior, holds the essence of what is on my heart at this moment. Specifically, that these two struggles cannot be torn apart and isolated as they have been in the past.

 

Thus, as I take notice of a similar pattern emerging, it is my hope that our People recognize this as a pivotal moment for us all to pull together and to unify in a way that our People have not accomplished in the past, with a full understanding that all of our #Liberation is collectively interlinked.

 

 

We men have much work to do in guaranteeing the liberation of those who deal with the oppression we are party to being responsible for. Those people who are White and who are suffering discrimination and oppression, have a lot of work to do in guaranteeing the liberation of those who deal with the oppression they are party to being responsible for.

 

If we choose to, we can make this more than merely another moment, we can make this a movement that will finally achieve and guarantee our #Freedom and #Humanity

Dealing with Trauma in amerikka

I took a much needed break from organizing for a few days. The excuse was that I was moving, and while that was actually the case, the truth is that the police violence has had a much greater toll on me than I would have liked to admit. 
I didn’t realize how wound up I was until I was walking down the street to the store and discovered that I could neither keep my eyes nor my head still as I scanned every car and every face for an impending threat. I was doing this subconsciously. When I finally realized I was suffering from trauma was when two little Chiwawa sized dogs barked at me and I damn near jumped out of my skin. Heart racing, palms sweating, head throbbing, and ready to fight whatever was coming.
I have this emotional valve that allows me to shut down my emotions in moments of crises to focus on the tasks at hand. It can be a doubled-edged sword at times because sometimes when people are looking for an emotional response I may be pragmatic and practical, even logical and seemingly heartless when confronting and addressing an issue. Nonetheless, there always comes a point after the threat has subsided that when it is safe my emotions surface. When the ancle-biters had me fearing for my life was that moment.
Being a Black man in amerikkka, even with the light-skinned privilege I have, is a constantly traumatic experience. In addition to that because I fight for the justice and respect our Peoples deserve, I am often a very visible ‘target’ of those who would suppress and repress. The police attack on innocent, peaceably assembled political dissenters in Phoenix, Arizona on August 22, 2017 was not the first time I have been in a situation of violent state repression. Standing Rock was not an isolated event. These are well-honed strategies of the repressive regime under which we struggle to assert our right to exist. The tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bombs are not far removed from the fire hoses and attack dogs that Bull Conner unleashed on people in Birmingham in 1963. The state unleashed fire hoses on the people at Standing Rock in below freezing temperatures the night before I arrived, less than a year ago; ain’t nothing changed.
With the emergence of the alt-right and a resurgence of the kkk, it is not only the police we have to worry about–who we can easily identify–but also general citizen looking people who believe they have been sent on a holy mission to exterminate us. So, it makes sense that I am scanning every car and face to analyze who and where a threat may emerge at any given time. It is people like this, in collusion with the state, who have banished, stolen, incarcerated, or killed many of our people who have been outspoken against the oppression we suffer. However, although it makes sense, it does not dismiss the fact that living like this, in constant fear, is traumatic and it takes it’s toll. 
There is nothing that can justify terrorism like this!
My normal response is to exist in a constant state of rage. I am often told that this is unhealthy. I agree. What happened was that as a result of my constant state of tightened awareness and protection, that I put up walls to shield from those I loved most. I could not separate the defensiveness required to survive the state and the fascist from being part of my family. Unknown to me, this trait was generalized to everyone and I reacted to everyone as if they were out to harm or kill me. They weren’t. However, the psychological trauma I was suffering would not make that distinction for me; in survival mode it was occurring subconsciously.
After an emotionally draining fight with my partner and the Chiwawa fiasco I knew a moment of deep reflection wad needed. It was during this time that I got clarity about what was going on inside of me and why. Then, I communes with my ancestors on multiple occasions asking for guidance and to be led. While I sorted through my possessions getting rid of what was no longer needed or necessary, as I scrubbed the gunk from my old apartment, as I hauled all the things from my old residence to the new, and as I have constructed my new place of peace; the same has been happening within my soul.
The struggle we are in is not only physical, but also, and perhaps more so, spiritual. The physical stress takes a toll on my spiritual integrity. Not that I didn’t know, but this experience reaffirms the vitally necessity of continued spiritual health and well-being especially, while I am in a constant struggle against injustice and those who seek to eradicate our people.
Not everyone is my enemy. Those who are not my enemy should not be treated as such. To do so is vastly inconsistent with the world we are working to create. When I recognize that I am undoing the work I have been doing it is my responsibility to pull back and to get regrounded. To be certain, I am still dealing with the trauma of being Black in amerikkka and the response to my being vocal and active against our oppression. There is much work to be done to overcome the harm that has been done to me. However, the last thing I want to do is to revisit the harms laid upon me upon others. Thus, breaking the cycle of oppression is necessary.  This can only be achieved on a spiritual plain and with those who love us. 
Bad energy can become trapped within us and become stagnant and festering, like water that has been choked from flowing. Hatred, fear, and anger are emotions that we all must feel in amerikkka at times, but they are not things that we must hold onto. When we do it shuts us out from the sunlight of the spirit and blocks us from the love those around us have to share. 
I did not want to acknowledge that I was terrified, and so, I held onto it. I had a rage inside of me that I thought would protect me and all it did was lead me to hurt those whom I care the most about. I had to feel those emotions and let them go so that I could have room for the love that truly fuels my actions and nourishes my soul.

Beware of the Shroud

People are suffering. People who are in a position in society like most of us who have no real say in what the governments of our countries do are being harmed by the actions of those governments. People who may or may not be entirely innocent, but most of who are not committing massive human rights violation are nonetheless, victims of actions that are human rights violations. I am sending my love and condolences out to them and their loved ones on this sad morning. This is not how our world has to be. However, this is how it is for now and it is disgusting and deplorable, it is dehumanizing and it is unacceptable. We are trudging through intolerable times.

The usage of chemical weapons in Turkey that hurt and killed civilians indiscriminately harming children, women, and men;  people who like most of us have no authority in how our countries are run and who were merely struggling to live a life is horrible and inhumane. The United States launching 59 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles at Syria, supposedly for the usage of chemical weapons, is no better.

The words that follow are merely opinions based on reports, historical knowledge, and critical analysis. They are opinions because the position I hold in society removes me too far from having access to the most critical of facts. However, that is for another discussion and for now I am going to focus my attention on some troubling observations I have made.

After ordering and executing the bombing of Syria Trump claimed that it was for the sake of “national security interest,” but this does not make much sense because Syria is more than an ocean away from U.S. borders. The words national security make me, and I think most people think of preventing a physical attack and for most of history that is precisely what it meant. Yet, over the last few decades and especially since 9/11, the term national security has encroached the realms of economics, resources, and in particular, oil. So, when I hear a playboy, pop-up president say “national security interest” and have every doubt in my mind that any chemical weapons from Syria will ever reach the United States borders, by the process of elimination of definition I am only left with economic and resource security.

Given the record of the United States, and this includes the continuation of the neo-liberal state under Obama, this conclusion is not surprising. The United States is an imperialist state that uses coercion and force to impose its domination on the Global South and the people there. Far removed from the major media outlets of the U.S., and quite literally disenfranchised from any serious debates with the people who are deciding their fates, much of this global terrorism goes unnoticed, or is shrouded in cryptic political language to rationalize to the Amerikan people reasons to support the actions of our government, like for example, chemical weapons. Yet, time and again, the U.S. has invaded, attacked, or destroyed peoples and their homelands under false pretenses. The war in Iraq, prefaced on 9/11 and the search for Osama bin Ladin, was actually planned and approved by the United States Congress in 1998 under President Clinton as the Iraq Liberation Act. The plan was for the U.S. to invade Iraq, depose Saddam Husein, and create a democratic government. 2001 was an emotional time for most of the people in America for many reasons and 9/11 was used as a shroud to rationalize national treaty and United Nations violations as the U.S. went rogue and invaded Iraq. Much the same as the U.S. has yet again gone rogue and bombed the Syrian people.

Not that I would expect Trump to know, but the United States is not innocent of the charge of using chemical weapons. Furthermore, when Trump says that “no child of god should ever suffer” after ordering the bombing of Syrian people, it is clear that Trump believes only some people are the children of god. If that was not the case, then how could he order the bombing of a people? This was yet another ploy to pull at the heartstrings of Christians in the United States to rationalize human rights violations. It is also ironic what this state considers to be suffering, as if, the only thing that causes suffering are chemical weapons. As the results of U.S. imperialism people are starving all over the world, entire ecosystems are being destroyed, people are being forcibly displaced and when they do not concede they are being hurt, imprisoned, or killed. Countries are indebted to the World Bank housed on Wall Street in New York and the people in those countries suffer from the harmful and unsustainable practices of major agro-businesses, lacking adequate access to education, health care, water, and food; basic human necessities. In this country, children are starving and being funneled into the School-to-Prison Pipeline, the system of mass incarceration negatively impacts people of color and migrant communities; thousands of people are about to lose their residences with the reforms to Housing Authority, and millions of people will be put into jeopardy with the constriction of the Environmental Protection Agency. What consists of suffering to Trump and his administration is problematic and suspect.

I do not believe for a second that the U.S. involvement with either Syria or Turkey has anything to do with the well-being of their peoples. It is troubling that I have seen and studied this type of geopolitical posturing in the past and it has never turned out well for the people. That the Russian government is involved only serves to make my analysis that much more stark. Prior to and throughout much of the Cold War the U.S. and Russia were responsible for arming and supplying many of the countries of Africa and the Middle East, and elsewhere. Far from the borders and the citizens of these empires proxy wars were waged in front of the homes of innocent and disenfranchised peoples. Part of it was the Containment Doctrine to stop the spread of Communism, and part of it was for control of the resources of the Global South for Amerikan consumption. Yet, the presidents of this country have had the audacity to shun terrorism as if it was not something that their regimes were fully engaged in and profiting from.

My concern is for the people, who for most intents and purposes are just like you and me, save for the fact that we are behind the feudal privilege walls of the United States. Who have been, are, and will be the victims in wars they have no say in whatsoever. My concern is that this regime is yet again attempting to pull a shroud over the people’s eyes and rationalize further human rights atrocities in the guise of “national security interests.” They are not my interests and they should not be yours. We all have an interest in people not being subjected to tyranny, war, and terrorism by any empire because as Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” These acts are acts of injustice and are in my opinion being enacted under false pretenses.

We can do better. We must do better. For all of our sakes.

 

(https://www.congress.gov/105/plaws/publ338/PLAW-105publ338.pdf)

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Understanding Repression, Suppression, Oppression

We tend to conceptualize the terms oppression, suppression, and repression to mean exactly the same thing in general conversation and while this is not true, they are nonetheless, interrelated.

To repress is to keep under control, to keep down or to suppress.

To suppress is to put an end to the activities of a person, body of persons, etc.

To oppress is to burden with cruel or unjust restraints, subject to a burdensome or harsh exercise of authority.

The aim of all three of these is to seek to control a person or group of people for some end that is not defined by the subject but, rather, by the object. Any time person (A) seeks to limit or control the actions or thoughts of person (B) is an expression of repression. Both suppression and oppression are means to achieve repression. At the core of this is the denial of person (B)’s agency by person (A), which is in turn a rejection of person (B)’s humanity. This is precisely how Paulo Friere defines oppression and what is wrong with it in the book Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

However, the situation is a bit more complex because not all acts that appear to fit the definition of repressive are by their very nature unjust. To seek to control the actions or the thoughts of a rapist, molester, or murderer, or an anti-Black racist Ku Klux Klan member with the aim of preventing harm to others is not necessarily unjust. The factors that may make such repression unjust are not the repression, but the manner in which the repression is carried out. For example, murdering members of a racist group merely for their affiliation and not because they have themselves done anything harmful. To do so is to become the oppressor and not to achieve real liberation for our people, as Paulo Friere argues can happen. Furthermore, this is by definition one of the conditions of genocide.

 

On the other hand, accountability circles and restorative justice practices which bring into focus a person’s behavior respecting their agency and humanity and working through what was wrong with a particular situation and working with them to grow so as not to recreate those same harms is a just form of seeking to help a person develop their thoughts and actions. As such, this overcomes the definition of oppression and is not exactly consistent with suppression because it is not an outside entity that shifts the behavior of person (A), but rather internally within person (B) because through a process of reconciliation their analysis has broadened and deepened, thus, becoming more humanizing.
Understanding these terms and what they mean is vital to developing our critical analysis of the conditions under which we live through deep personal and interpersonal examination. Furthermore, it permits us to engage with the complexity of social organization and what may on the surface appear to fit the definitions of oppression, suppression, or repression and to draw a clearly defined boundary between the just and the unjust practices, policies, procedures, and socialization processes of our world.

True Liberation Requires

I think most people miss the point of what is truly implied by the statement “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I believe that most people miss the duty that is presupposed by this statement that we all have to rout out injustice, exploitation, and oppression from whence it emerges, wherever and whenever. Whether that be from KKK members, racist presidents, teachers, or friends. When our homeboys are being sexist, when our fellow revolutionaries are screaming and fighting to be treated and valued as human beings and are dehumanizing women. To the people we pass on the streets whatever the case may be.

The statement means that I can not experience liberation if someone else is being oppressed or exploited. Our system, as it exists, cannot permit liberation, will not permit liberation, because it requires exploitation and oppression to sustain its existence. To achieve liberation, we have to achieve an entire psychic change, experience a complete overhauling of our collective system of values, completely revolutionize our entire economic structure, and most important our own personal perceptions about ourselves each other and our world must be radically altered and compelled to evolve.

Only then, when injustice in all of its ugly forms is shunned and rebuked, by everyone, will we ever begin to achieve liberation. This is what I understand this statement to mean.

The Struggle to Decolonize

Has anyone else noticed that it is difficult to decolonize one’s thoughts and actions while living in the belly of the beast of a colonizing empire?
The system we live in (or under) is founded on exploitation and practices it in nearly all of its endeavors. The system forms a binary, a dichotomy wherein one is either an exploiter or one is exploited. Put another way, one is either the oppressor or the oppressed. Much of our understanding, false though it is, begins with our education that is more correctly an indoctrination. Even the style of education within this system presupposes hierarchical structure of dominance in what Paulo Freire termed the “Banking System” of education in the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, wherein communiques are merely deposited into students who are presupposed to be ignorant, and thus, inferior. The students in order to succeed must concede and adapt to this position of inferiority thereby solidify the exploiter-exploited relationship and contradiction. This system denies the agency of the student and rejects the proposition that all human beings who are not suffering from dehumanization are members of the creation and re-creation of knowledge. Only when such an understanding is reached is it possible to respect and honor the agency of every human being as full human beings. And for so long as the system denies the agency of full human beings then it is an exploitative system.
The learned and practiced adaptive preferences of this system become solidified within a person long before that person enters the workforce, so resigning one’s self to an inferior position of exploitation for another’s gain is standard operation; i.e., it is normalized. Any human being who thinks for them self, who is critical of the system is considered a pariah, is considered an outsider, a person who is against “order,” and is to be punished. This is essentially because the exploiters cannot permit those who have not received the stamp of approval, which has been codified into law, to be the agents of change even in our very own lives and communities, are to be punished, suppressed, and silenced.
This is part of the reason why I believe it is so difficult to decolonize one’s self while living in the belly of the beast of a colonizing empire. W.E.B. Du Bois called it the “Double-Consciousness,” Audre Lorde called it, “Double-Think,” Paulo Freire called it the “oppressor consciousness,” but all pointed to the internalization of the colonizer’s, the exploiter’s identity and perception of the world and of ourselves. We must overcome this indoctrination if we ever mean to achieve liberation for ourselves and all of our sisters and brothers from this system of exploitation and imperialism.
Trust in the power of WE. All long-lasting and effectual change emerges from the bottom-up, not from the top-down, and this is especially true of cultural revolutions. This means that the power to overcome this evil resides within us. It resides within us all.
#AllPowerToThePeople

Where the Vision Comes From

The overall objective is a complete overhaul of the entire system, which includes imperialism, capitalism, sexism, patriarchy, climate change, classism, the prison industrial complex, immigration, and so on. However, if there is anything that we have learned from the history and the present of this protracted struggle is that it will not be won overnight. In the mean time people and the circumstances of their lives continue to worsen and our people continue to suffer. Therefore, a major component of our work must be directed toward mitigating the negative impacts of this racist, xenophobic, patriarchal system. This work must not only be done here in the US, but globally because our people are suffering from the same tyranny worldwide. This is often enacted as defensive measures in response to harmful policies and practices. Those defenses should most definitely continue. And in addition, an offensive is desperately required. Waiting on a government that was not designed to serve us or protect us is a strategy doomed to fail.

 

WE must build our own, for our own. WE can and we must. WE have agency. WE are in control of our own destinies. WE are powerful. WE are courageous. WE are ingenious. WE come from the longest lines of Queens and Kings, Astronomers, Mathematicians, Scientists, Engineers, Architects and Agriculturalists. It is in our genes, our hearts, and our souls.

 

 

The false histories we are taught are designed to deprive us of hope and to strip us of the desire to strive and work toward something better. The false histories we are taught are designed by those in power to keep themselves in power. Our educational systems are not designed to develop critical thinkers who are capable of developing an analysis of the system on our own. It is most certainly not designed to teach the oppressed peoples of the world how to assert our agency and to effect change in this system. This is why the education of Social Justice was removed from the public school system in Arizona, and why ethnic studies are being attacked nationwide. Thus, it falls to us, as it should, to be our own educators to ensure that our people are receiving a radical education that will prepare them to critically analyze our societies and ourselves. It is only through critical self-reflection that we can hope to improve upon what we have done, or what has been done in the past.

 

 

One of the largest pitfalls that our people fall into is a lack of vision about what our world and our societies within our world can be like. This is in large part because the indoctrination that most of us receive constricts our perspective into a fatalistic tunnel vision of potentiality. That is why no matter how bad the system of mass incarceration has been proven to be, or how certain 98% of the brightest and most prolific scientists of the world are concerning climate change, that the public and our politicians hold staunchly to the trajectory that our society is on. They cannot and will not envision alternative means to achieve the same goals.

 

 

Critical analysis lends itself to creativity and creativity is what is necessary for the formation of a new vision. The stifling of critical analysis is the process responsible for constricting the peoples’ ability to envision alternatives. This process furthermore restricts agency and supplants in its place a dependence on large structures of government as the provider of stability and direction. Thus, removing and denying the responsibility of the people to think and act, and furthermore to only be concerned about their selves, as if, as people we are somehow self-contained “monads” unaffected by the world. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

 

Individualism is an illusion that is destructive to the very fabric of our society and to our connection to the earth. There is nothing that any one of us can ever do that does not impact someone or something else in some way. The concept that we are self-contained is fallacy. Take for example again, language. Language cannot be learned in isolation. In fact, language would be entirely unnecessary if every person was self-contained an unaffected by the world. Quite contradictory, language is one of the basic means of interaction by beings who are not self-contained, precisely because we need each other for survival at the very least, and to thrive at best. Thus, any institution of education that does not explicate and replicate this fact in its indoctrination and inculcation of a generation is not only destructive to the society, but is harmful to the person.

 

 

When humans cannot envision and feel the interconnection and the symbiotic relationship that we have with the Earth, then the destruction of the planet is not perceived as the destruction of ourselves. When humans cannot envision and feel the interconnection and the symbiotic relationship that we share with each other, then the destruction and torture of people is not perceived as the torture and destruction of ourselves. For example, if we value, as I am sure that most people in the United States do, the Freedom of Speech, then this value must govern all speech given a few caveats, which the people agree to. To censor the speech of one person or group merely because they are not liked or agreed with opens the floodgates for all speech to be censored, or to be arbitrarily censored at a whim. That which is done to one of us affects everyone else. Furthermore, and often more disconcerting is that more often than not those whose freedom of speech is constricted are those who have a critical analysis of our societies and who are actively working to improve the conditions of those who are most impacted by them.  In turn, when the torture of one human being is permitted, or the bombing of one town is permitted, that then opens the floodgates to permit those policies to be generalized to others. Lastly, and perhaps the most relevant is that what is done on one side of the planet is not contained to that region, but rather, is felt throughout the world. The eradication of the Amazon rain forests, the burning of fossil fuels, the dropping atomic bombs, the explosions of nuclear power plants, the displacements of peoples, or the extinctions of species are all phenomena that are felt globally. Individualism is an illusion and it is one of the most destructive aspects of our contemporary culture. It is thus vital that our people begin to construct a new vision for what our world can be like.

 

 

This new vision and means will not come from the top-down, but rather, from the bottom up. It is a false education that teaches us that the most effective changes come from the top when the evidence proves that cultural shifts surface from the bottom and permeate an entire society. Language also functions in this manner because language is a function of culture. Grammar is a top down push meant to institute a particular and prescribed form of a language stigmatizing all other dialects and forms of the language. However, that does not cease or stop the natural evolution of a language. The version of English spoken in the United States today was at one time the stigmatized form. The prevalence of a system of education that teaches the opposite of this only serves to maintain the status quo, to sustain the dominance of those in power, and to continue the process of the worsening conditions of our peoples. It is an attempt to stifle the natural and necessary cultural evolution that must occur for us to overcome the injustices of our societies.

 

 

The first step in creating a new vision of what our world can be like and to addressing the issues causing the worsening conditions of our people is to institute a radical education ourselves to help foster the critical analyses our people are capable of and responsible for.  We must start with education because for so long as the fatalistic tunnel vision of potentialities is maintained and continues to persist among the most impacted by the harmful impacts of this unjust system, for just that long will our peoples believe we do not have the power or the means to effect beneficial change. The mere act of carrying out this radical education, wherein true histories or rather more complete, comprehensive, and complex histories are taught through a dialogic and dialectic method will provide the fertile ground for solutions to be created and to surface. The system will begin to be seen and understood for what it is, and once that understanding begins to take hold of the consciousness of our people and we are reacquainted with our agency as peoples, acting upon the vision and solutions that take shape is the natural corollary or outcome that follows.

 

 

The first things that will most likely be addressed by our critical analyzers are the immediate conditions causing the suffering of our peoples. The solutions to those immediate problems will permeate our societies from the bottom-up and as the society shifts its cultural center of gravity, the institutions and systems it relies upon will also be revolutionized.

The Illusion of Individualism

The people who believe “crime” is an individual act are still trapped in the illusion of individualism. They are unwilling to see their responsibility in the situation and that until society is healed crime will be a problem and incarceration will increase.

 

Furthermore, the profit motive of the prison industrial complex only serves to interrupt the process of seeking alternatives to incarcerating youth.

 

Blaming and punishing youth, whom it is our responsibility to socialize, for our failure to properly instruct them and providing them an environment in which they can thrive is wrong. That is blame-shifting and it is destroying the fabric of our society.

 

One of the biggest problems the illusion of individualism has create is the destruction of our human necessity for interdependence. One of the factors is simply the size of our society because its very structure denies participation on a level that is necessary to foster interdependence. In a civilization that is so disparate and where participation so minimal the agency and control by people over their environment is fleeting at best. Major corporations are also culprits in this regard. When I refer to creating an environment conducive to the development of youth, I am thinking about an environment that has a foundation of interdependence. When your neighbor is the one growing the food you eat, and you are producing the tools they need to farm it creates a motivation to not harm those we depend upon for survival. Intra-communal violence and harm are reduced by necessity and when the people simultaneously may express more control and agency over their own environments many of the other factors that lead into “crime” are averted. The people will have more time and opportunity to socialize the youth and can elect the method and manner in which they are socialize them that is localized to the needs of the community, not standardized to an entire civilization in a manner that may have no meaning to the youth.

 

Individualism, hierarchical systems of power and control, and agency are the major factors to the ills of our society, and as such, are the major component of the prison industrial complex and why most Amerikans are afraid to even consider an alternative to incarceration. Furthermore, the indoctrination that most Amerikans have received systematically denies the very type of shift we need to occur, and thus, they deny the evolution our society needs in order to thrive healthily.

“All Lives Don’t Matter” by Renaissance

 

Written in response to the “All Lives Matter” slogan and belief that has been a tactic of invalidation of the Human Rights and Civil Rights struggle, which the #BlackLivesMatter Movement embodies, this piece rips into the history of legislation, constitutional amendments, the rise of the prison industrial complex, and the impact these racialized systems of oppression, socially and legally reinforced, and how they harm People of Color.

The twisted and disgusting perversion of my declaring that my life has value and that I deserve respect merely by the fact that I am a human being, into something that is a denial of anyone else’s life having value and deserving respect is purely idiocy and ignorance, and extreme expression of #WhiteFragility and privilege. This system does not treat people all the same and the data that proves this is astounding, but one need only look at the laws and how they have been applied to perceive that this system is racist at its core