Last night I had this Twitter exchange with Marc Lamont Hill regarding anarchists in Ferguson:
Lots of people retweeted and favorited the exchange and lots of people felt like it was unnecessary blame placed on folks opposing police brutality and authoritarian rule. These people claim that this is not about race because as one person pointed out “it’s not just black people that are victims of the police.” This is true,but its also problematic because while white people are often brutalized by the police they also often live to tell about it. See, white folks don’t get killed by the police, at least not once every 28 hours as the study from the Malcolm X Grassroots movement showed black people do. And while Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s piece in Time pointed out a lot of crucial things about class in this country he also misses a crucial point, as Dave Zirin points out: race matters. So, what does that mean for folks like me and the white anarchists I was talking about with Professor Hill last night?
Primarily, I believe it means that we must understand whiteness. I don’t mean understand that being white means you have less melanin and lighter skin. I mean understanding the sociopolitical tool that is whiteness and how it has been used to divide and conquer economically, physically, socially, politically and spiritually oppressed people since the beginning of this country.
Once we understand that then I believe we are in a position to understand how that history is impacting our everyday life via the institutions we are all a part of. We can then do our best to divest from these and be in opposition to empire. It is important to point out though that true opposition can not come via a race-neutral, we are all oppressed worldview, as many white radicals believe. True opposition starts from rejecting whiteness.
At this point, then, it becomes all too clear how you should position yourself in a situation like Ferguson. You understand that you would never and could never be Mike Brown. You understand that the relationship you have with the police, while you may hate them with every fiber of your being (as I do), it is not the same relationship as a black person has with the police. And, you certainly understand that as much as you hate the system and want to see it dismantled (as I do) you absolutely do not go to a community you are not from (geographically or socially) and throw Molotov cocktails at that police because…. wait for it….. you can go home! Where the police won’t kill you! It’s not about you or your desire to rebel. This is about black and brown lives and while you can come and go from that reality, they can’t! What you can and should do is fall in line with the people of Ferguson to see how you can be of service. If they ask you to get buck then by all means get buck BUT NOT BEFORE THEY TELL YOU TO! Is this your fight, yes, in a way. It is all of our’s. It is good to be there in solidarity, but we should be soldiers not the fucking generals!