Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Last night there was the strange few moments when CNN especially suddenly called it like the camera showed it.  They took on the police.  They admitted, even charged that the protesters were doing nothing while the police were egging them on by donning gas masks, by pointing weapons at the crowd, by driving armored vehicles into the crowds, by suddenly, and for no reason tossing stun grenades and firing tear gas.  For a moment there CNN correspondents couldn't help themselves (or, perhaps, their masters realized that the WHOLE WORLD REALLY WAS WATCHING and that the blatant oppressive actions of the police, of the police state, were no longer exactly corresponding with the longer term interests of the STATE).  Who knows?  I remember when that happened for a moment in 1968 when the police rioted at protests outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago.  It was too much and the media couldn't avoid what everyone was seeing on camera.

It doesn't last though.

Then, they changed their tune again.  All of a sudden every network began talking about the "rotten apples" in the crowd.  Every network using the same language.  Every network taking their "eye" off the police and focusing it on rotten apples from out of town.  I am not here to say there are no "rotten apples," but that is not and was not the story.  The real "rotten apples" remain the people in uniforms, with guns, grenades, tear gas, armored vehicles and helicopters.  They are the real agitators NOT FROM THE COMMUNITY who are stirring up the pot by clamping down on the pot, so to speak.  You know that, I know that, we all know that.  For a briefest of moments there, even CNN knew that.

Now,  I want to say the following.  Let me start off it by making perfectly clear that I realize throughout history (and I have personally heard it too many times to count) whenever a community militantly fights back up comes the canard of outside agitators (see rotten apples above).  There are always claims by the authorities and the media of these nebulous, shadowing people who come from somewhere mysterious (and return somewhere equally mysterious) who are stirring up the good local people and making a bad show for all of us.  Do outside agitators exist?  Sure, there must be some.  However, it doesn't take outside agitators to explain to anyone that when the State is gunning down your children, your people on the streets, something must be done. It doesn't take outside agitators to create anger.  Hundreds of years of experience with white supremacy and the State takes care of that.  There is always a split between the more militant and the less militant, between those who want "legitimate" protest and those who want something more.  I cannot pass judgement on who is doing what in Ferguson.  I will not do so.  It is not my place to do so.  The community of African Americans there will decide and they will deal with it all as they feel is necessary.  I can pass judgement on the media and the authorities, and I do.

That said I have something else to pass along to my white brothers and sisters on the left.

Any white people, regular folks, anti-racists, activists, communists, anarchists, whomever who are in Ferguson absolutely must act only under the leadership of the community, of African Americans. This is no place for some white, leftist agenda. I have no clue if there are people violating that principle, hopefully not, but if there are, that is shit. I have seen some things that make me wonder. I understand the desire for solidarity. I understand the desire to stand up. It is a good thing to stand together with the black community of Ferguson, but you must do so under the leadership of the people of the community. If you are a white person or organization with your own political agenda, then take it to the white community. African Americans do not need white people to explain any of this to them. African Americans understand this shit better than any white person of any political orientation.

That may sound like some sort of arrogant command, but it is merely meant as a statement of principle.  I can't command anyone to do anything.

Malcolm X can though, and he did.  In a 1964 speech at the founding rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity he said, 

Now, if white people want to help, they can help. But they can't join. They can help in the white community, but they can't join. We accept their help. They can form the White Friends of the Organization of Afro-American Unity and work in the white community on white people and change their attitude toward us. They don't ever need to come among us and change our attitude. We've had enough of them working around us trying to change our attitude. That's what got us all messed up. So we don't question their sincerity, we don't question their motives, we don't question their integrity. We just encourage them to use it somewhere else in the white community. If they can use all of this sincerity in the white community to make the white community act better toward us, then we'll say, "Those are good white folks." But they don't have to come around us, smiling at us and showing us all their teeth like white Uncle Toms, to try and make themselves acceptable to us. The White Friends of the Organization of Afro American Unity, let them work in the white community.

Want it put more succinctly,  Malcolm said in 1965 in an interview for the Young Socialist,

Whites who are sincere don’t accomplish anything by joining Negro organizations and making them integrated. Whites who are sincere should organize among themselves and figure out some strategy to break down prejudice that exists in white communities. This is where they can function more intelligently and more effectively, in the white community itself, and this has never been done.

Or how about this also from Malcolm,

 If a white man wants to be your ally, what does he think of John Brown? You know what John Brown did? He went to war. He was a white man who went to war against white people to help free the slaves.

If we want some white allies, we need the kind John Brown was, or we don't need any.

Malcolm wasn't alone in trying to pass along this message to would be white allies.   Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (known still to many as H. Rap Brown), put it like this,

Everybody in the black community must organize, and then we decide whether we will have alliance with other people or not, but not until we are organized.

I am not presenting all this as some sort of general prescription for the destruction of global capital, of capitalism.  So don't go there with me, okay?

The following is from  "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," pp. 383–384.

You may not like what Malcolm says below.  It may sound too separatist for some of your ears.  You may not understand it.  You may not have been alive in 1964.  You may not understand the context or how it relates to now, to you.  You may not like the book the quote is taken from.  But here it is anyway.  Think about it.  Yes, I know about class.  Yes, I realize the problems with separatism and all that.  No, I am not endorsing every single word that left the mouth of Malcolm X.  I am presenting this to you as something for white leftists to keep in mind as they so often, almost always with the best of intentions, substitute their own agenda, be it one of some sort of vanguard communism, or one of anarchism, for the wisdom of the multitude itself.  In this case, of course, we are talking of/to white folks who just can't get it through their thick skulls that African Americans actually do not need their leadership, white leadership, in the struggle against white supremacy and racism...no matter in what framework it comes.

Finally, let me just say, I find the tenacity of the people of Ferguson struggling for justice is quite simply amazing.

Malcolm X on White Allies:

“I knew, better than most Negroes, how many white people truly wanted to see American racial problems solved. I knew that many whites were as frustrated as Negroes. I’ll bet I got fifty letters some days from white people. The white people in meeting audiences would throng around me, asking me, after I had addressed them somewhere, ‘What can a sincere white person do?’

“When I say that here now, it makes me think about that little co-ed I told you about, the one who flew from her New England college down to New York and came up to me in the Nation of Islam’s restaurant in Harlem, and I told her that there was “nothing” she could do. I regret that I told her that. I wish that now I knew her name, or where I could telephone her, or write to her, and tell her what I tell white people now when they present themselves as being sincere, and ask me, one way or another, the same thing that she asked. The first thing I tell them is that at least where my own particular Black Nationalist organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, is concerned, they can’t join us. I have these very deep feelings that white people who want to join black organizations are really just taking the escapist way to salve their consciences. By visibly hovering near us, they are "proving" that they are "with us." But the hard truth is this isn't helping to solve America's racist problem. The Negroes aren't the racists. Where the really sincere white people have got to do their "proving" of themselves is not among the black victims, but out on the battle lines of where America's racism really is—and that's in their own home communities; America's racism is among their own fellow whites. That's where sincere whites who really mean to accomplish something have got to work.
“Aside from that, I mean nothing against any sincere whites when I say that as members of black organizations, generally whites’ very presence subtly renders the black organization automatically less effective. Even the best white members will slow down the Negroes’ discovery of what they need to do, and particularly of what they can do—for themselves, working by themselves, among their own kind, in their own communities.

“I sure don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but in fact I’ll even go so far as to say that I never really trust the kind of white people who are always so anxious to hang around Negroes, or to hang around in Negro communities. I don’t trust the kind of whites who love having Negroes always hanging around them. I don’t know—this feeling may be a throwback to the years when I was hustling in Harlem and all of those red-faced, drunk whites in the after hours clubs were always grabbing hold of some Negroes and talking about ‘I just want you to know you’re just as good as I am—.’ And then they got back in their taxicabs and black limousines and went back downtown to the places where they lived and worked where no blacks except servants had better get caught. But, anyway, I know that every time that whites join a black organization, you watch, pretty soon the blacks will be leaning to the whites to support it, and before you know it a black may be up front with a title, but the whites, because of their money, are the real controllers.

“I tell sincere white people, 'Work in conjunction with us—each of us working among our own kind.' Let sincere white individuals find all other white people they can who feel as they do—and let them form their own all-white groups, to work trying to convert other white people who are thinking and acting so racist. Let sincere whites go and teach non-violence to white people! We will completely respect our white co-workers. They will deserve every credit. We will give them every credit. We will meanwhile be working among our own kind, in our own black communities— showing and teaching black men in ways that only other black men can—that the black man has got to help himself. Working separately, the sincere white people and sincere black people actually will be working together.

In our mutual sincerity we might be able to show a road to the salvation of America’s very soul. It can only be salvaged if human rights and dignity, in full, are extended to black men. Only such real, meaningful actions as those which are sincerely motivated from a deep sense of humanism and moral responsibility can get at the basic causes that produce the racial explosions in America today. Otherwise, the racial explosions are only going to grow worse. Certainly nothing is ever going to be solved by throwing upon me and other so-called black ‘extremists’ and ‘demagogues’ the blame for the racism that is in America.”


Roger said...

This is the most Leftist shit i have ever read

Oread Daily said...

lions and tigers and bears, oh my