Monday, November 24, 2014


By the time you read this you will probably know what the grand jury in Ferguson did or did not do.  As I write this we are waiting to see.  Nothing would surprise me.  If they do indict, we should all remember that still doesn't mean a hell of a lot.  What will mean something, never enough, but something will be the day this killer cop sees the jail door lock behind him.  Until then, nothing.  Even if that ever happens, which seems very doubtful to me, justice will, of course, not been done.  Mike Brown will still be dead.  White supremacy will still continue.  Cops will still be shooting down African Americans.  In other words, we are a long way from justice.

I want to add a few things I wrote in earlier posts on Ferguson that I think still are pertinent.  

...point out how old the story of Ferguson really is. White cop shoots young black man, film at ten.  Of course, the story didn't start in Lawrence or anywhere else in the started long before when Africans were kidnapped by white men, taken to America, and sold into slavery. It is a story also of resistance.  It is a story that has not ended.  It is a story that I am sick and tired of living and writing about.  It is a story that if I, a white man, is sick and tired of, I cannot even presume to imagine what African Americans are feeling about it today, yesterday, and beyond.

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.
  I can't understand why so much space is spent calling on us to be peaceful, rather then pointing out that it is the police who come with guns, tear gas, pepper spray, horses and the like.  


I am not suggesting any type of tactic. I am not here advocating anything at all, but I feel sometimes that the apostle of non violence become more concerned with peace and less concerned with justice. I am posting below (again) a piece, "Three Days That Shook The World," which pertains to the uprising in LA in 1992 because I think it speaks to that and much more. As my friend Ajamu Nangwaya puts it,
"Why are the riot shamers so silent in the presence of acts of structural violence such as homelessness, inadequate housing, poor quality or inaccessible public education, limited or no access to healthcare, poverty, over-policing and unemployment that are imposed on Fanon's "wretched of the earth"?
"However, when the people demonstrate their contempt for their oppressive condition, the bleeding heart and other misguided voices are ready to call for non-violence or patience."
"These characters would have counseled non-violence during moments of armed rebellion against plantation slavery by enslaved Afrikans. We cannot steal from the plantation or the master. We are merely expropriating the expropriators and their enablers! "
"Is that an unconscionable or revolting behaviour by members of the unwashed masses?"
For me, I don't condemn Nat Turner and I don't condemn the people who have been involved in what white people and their media call riots, be they in Detroit or Watts in the 60s, LA in the 90s or near St. Louis in the last week.
It disturbs me when I read things like," the violence started following the shooting of Michael Brown." Was not the shooting of Michael Brown VIOLENCE? Is not the firing of wooden bullets, tear gas, and the like at a crowd of protesters VIOLENCE? Is not pointing automatic weapons from the top of an armored military vehicle VIOLENCE? Is not the long history of white supremacy, racism, police brutality VIOLENCE?

The following is just a little something from Dissident Scrapbook mostly aimed at whites.

Where Will You Stand When Wilson Walks and Black America Rises?

by Brian Dominick

In the very likely case that officer Darren Wilson gets away with murdering unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, one can guess how most white liberals will come down: sympathetic to Black America’s outrage, but eager to seek change exclusively through sanctioned channels. To please these liberals, resistance to the racist system would have to be strictly peaceful and orderly—petitioning legislators, voting, and “respectably” marching or vigiling. Liberals will argue against reciprocal hostility by black communities fed up with racist police forces and the system standing behind them.
Make no mistake: when authorities fail to convict or even prosecute Wilson, the state will be telling black people and other victims of systemic brutality that they just have to put up with institutionalized injustice. Failure to convict or even try Wilson will be the system saying to black folks, This is just how life is for you: live in a state of fear whites don’t have to. The message to police will be: There are some people you can just kill with impunity—in fact, your fellow racists will fundraise to reward you!
Liberals will join conservatives in counseling against “overreactions” to these messages from the system. They’ll suggest “peaceful” means of making change through a rigged political apparatus controlled by elites. For generations, mind you, there has been overwhelming rational reason to reform the system of police, courts, and prisons across the US, but if anything, we’ve lost ground. This incident and the tragic miscarriage of justice only adds one bit to the massive stack of compelling reasons for change. But actual reasons aren’t enough. The system hasn’t changed yet because it doesn’t respond to logic or facts or principles; it won’t change just because it would be overwhelmingly reasonable for it to change.
Black communities have long understood what is actually required to change the system: social movements and pressure. Being right has never gotten black people anything. Beingstrong has. Placating platitudes and promises of reform on the part of liberal politicians and pundits will not be enough. When Wilson walks, white supremacy will be inciting its own destruction.
Many activists of color will take steps, through a range of tactics, more or less in pursuit of one simple strategy: raise the social costs to White America until they exceed the perceived benefits of maintaining two distinct justice systems. Put differently, the objective is to make the two-tiered system of justice untenable by threatening whites’ very privilege in a wholesale fashion. Whites will only give up their slanted injustice system when it looks like hanging onto it may cost them far more.
The question for white people: what will we do at this critical juncture? Most white liberals will support suppression of the uprising, passively or vocally; out of fear, they will curate a narrative by which even brutal responses to righteously outraged black people will be justified for their own good. In so doing, they’ll actually be protecting the white privilege that keeps prisons and chalk outlines filled with black and brown bodies and lets white people walk away from police encounters, get off in court, and never fear trigger-happy stand-your-ground enthusiasts. A fairer justice system would inevitably expose and address contradictions in the rest of society, thereby challenging white supremacy and white privilege broadly. This frightens just about everyone benefiting from the current system, including white liberals.
The alternative is solidarity. This means doing what is asked of us by the movement to shake up the system. At its base, it means opposing repression and enabling the uprising to take its course. I can think of 100 ways the authentic leadership of this burgeoning movement might ask true white allies to participate, but it’s not for me to suggest them. My responsibility, for now, is to convince white people to listen to emerging black leaders at this amazing moment in history. When the shit hits the fan, will you be on the sidelines critiquing tactics, or will you find ways to actively support resistance, no longer able to stand living in a society with two different systems of “justice”?
If you’re white and you feel compelled to lash out: do it somewhere and in some way that does not lead to repercussions for people of color. By all means, find ways to distract authorities from brutal repression of black folks. Be tactically creative. But don’t do it to further your personal brand or ideology. Don’t tack on your preferred revolutionary message or a promotion of your organization. Don’t try to take media attention away from the black-led uprising or distort or distract its expression. Instead of your ideological flag or faction, redirect attention to messages like #JusticeForMikeBrown and #BlackLivesMatter.
The question, asked another way: When the chant is, “There ain’t no justice, just us”—will you be them, will you be you, or will you be us?
Brian Dominick is a street medic who has been participating in and analyzing social movements for 22 years. His hope in the power of protest was revitalized while supporting the Justice for Mike Brown actions on the ground in Ferguson last August. This commentary is the third in a series addressing how white activists can relate to the burgeoning movement. 

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