“But social media traps us in a tautological loop, in which we express ourselves to be ourselves to express ourselves, trying to claim better attention shares from the people we are ostensibly “connecting” with. Once we are trying to “win” the game of selfhood on the scoreboard of attention, any pretense of expressing an “inner truth” (which probably doesn’t exist anyway) about ourselves becomes lost in the rush to churn out content.”—Internal exile (via socio-logic)
It’s like déjà vu. We saw it happen in Watts in 1965, Chicago in 1968, Miami in 1980, and in LA in 1992. The people of Ferguson were fed up with continuous terrorization, brutalization, and overall systemic oppression and rose up in righteous rebellion against the power structure. For every action, there is a reaction. What happened in Ferguson was a reaction, to the oppressive actions of police and state.
For weeks all eyes were fixed upon the town of Ferguson, MO. The media frenzy was high as the enemy scrambled to suppress the mass of uncompromising people demanding justice for Mike Brown. The oppressor used every trick in the book, from putting a Black man “in charge” to calling in so-called Black leaders to pacify the people. The enemy even turned the town of Ferguson into a literal warzone where people on the ground had to engage in a revolutionary struggle to preserve their humanity.
Around the country people had their false-sense of comfort shaken again by what happened to Mike Brown and the vicious attack on the people of Ferguson. Rallies, vigils, and protests spread like wildfires through Amerikkka and around the globe. Social media timelines were filled with #DontShoot and #HandsUp pics. Celebrities, dignitaries, and even the President commented on Ferguson. However in spite of this humungous response from the people, we still haven’t even received an arrest for Darren Wilson. Now the hype has begun to die down, and many people are slowly going to back to sleep. Where did we go wrong?
Every time we have a sensationalized injustice, we get mad, we protest, we wait on justice, and eventually we go back to sleep. Why does this happen? It happens because we are mobilized but not organized. History can’t be repeated, but errors can be. We have continued to make the error of mobilizing around issues, and not organizing against the system. In order to be productive in a liberation struggle the difference between mobilization and organization must be understood. Mobilization is temporary, while organization is constant. Organization is proactive, calculated, and uncompromising. Mobilization is reactionary, compromising, and often non-specifically center around action.
It’s easy to mobilize people these days, especially during sensationalized events as the murder of Mike Brown. After a while, it even became trendy to respond to Ferguson. This is not to discredit anyone’s contribution, because trendy or not, it showed solidarity with Ferguson and raised awareness. However trendy consciousness and mobilization will not get us the liberation and power we so desperately seek. Power only comes from the organized masses. We have seen time and time again how unsuccessful mobilization alone is when it comes to improving our condition.
Mobilization at its best leads to reform, and reform is not going to solve our problems. The only way oppressed people will achieve liberation in this land is through revolution. Revolution takes organization, without organization it’s just a mobilized unproductive reaction that is bound to fail.
I know that Black creativity has saved your life many times before. I know, because I’ve seen it happen. I’ve listened as non-Black people in my communities raised on Hip Hop talked about how it was the only relatable, empowering culture they found that also educated and radicalized them as a youth. It was formational. I’ve watched people become politicized, shaping their new political identities after bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis and Frantz Fanon. I’ve watched as folks become activist celebrities using radical ideas from Black Power and Civil Rights movements to shape programs that do not benefit Black people. I’ve watched as people make livings and loads of social capital off of DJing Black music, dancing, walking and dressing like Black people, selling the Black aesthetic to others. I’ve heard that friends use Nina Simone and Sade to sing them back from depression, Rihanna and D’Angelo to get them in the mood. So many people in my communities, lately, have been using Octavia Butler to renew their hope for radical futures. Without Black people, what would your lives be? You might be thinking, you know, it’s so much more complicated than all this, race is complex, we’re all part of the human family, etc., etc…
Black art is not free for all damaged souls. When Nina sang about strange fruit, she was talking about a lynching…of Black people. When Black rappers say Fuck the Police, they speak to a state system of lynching…Black people. Your pain and isolation, however real it may be, is not the same as being Black. Your self-adoption into hip hop and djembe drumming and spoken word, makes our art forms all about you. You, however well meaning, have stolen Black labour and invention and used it for your own purpose. It warps the medium and changes the message, the magic, the healing. From now on, consider how the cost of consuming, appropriating, regurgitating, and getting your life in multiple ways from Black art, Black culture, and Black peoples’ creative genius detrimentally impacts our lives. Being Black in an anti-black world means experiencing daily attacks that threaten our dignity, our happiness, our freedom, and often our lives; and in order to enjoy Black culture, you’re going to have to take action to help get these back.
But because Black people’s labour, language, intelligence, creativity, and survival arts have always been considered free for the taking, you probably didn’t feel ways about using it. You probably didn’t think twice. Black culture is the most pilfered, the most ‘borrowed,’ the most thieved culture, and we’ve seen this happen time and tie again.
Quote is from her essay Black Art Is Not A Free For All on Black Girl Dangerous. Read it all. Truly exquisite writing, especially as non-Black people continue to use, consume, pilfer, plagiarize and be appropriative of Black cultural production and art while simultaneously suggesting that Black culture, especially that Black American culture, does not exist.
I’ve also watched non-Black people suggest Black people contribute “nothing” to anti-oppression theory or praxis while their ENTIRE FRAMEWORK for approaching it is via Black cultural production or Black women’s epistemology.
Like…the cognitive dissonance proffered via perspectives shaped by anti-Blackness is astounding.
Boomers inherited a vast system of interstates built by their parents and now, a generation later, 67,000 bridges are “structurally deficient” and they complain how the highways are too congested with the young people that they made.
Boomers grew up seeing the Civil Rights Act enacted and President Kennedy putting a man on the moon as he boldly promised.
Unfortunately the Baby Boomers weren’t able to replicate such paradigm shifts of civility or ambition.
Boomers grew up in a country that was ascendant toward becoming the world’s first Superpower, and instead of taking the ball and running it, they handed it off to China.
After jacking up the price of a college education, Baby Boomers started for-profit colleges and predatory education loans for our generation, which temporarily lined their pockets at the expense of America’s future both domestically and on the global commercial stage. Since 1978 compensation for CEOs has risen 725%, while the growth in worker compensation has risen only 5.7% in that time (making our income inequality WORSE than Ancient Rome’s). After having their balls plated in brass, the Baby Boomers are blaming this generation for not contributing very much to the economy.
The greatest irony from the worst generation is their inexorable refrain that we are, “losing traditional America”, which is to say, “Things used to be better”, and they are exactly right- things used to be far better before they were handed the keys.
You can tell a girl she’s smart her whole life, encourage her in school, buy her a chemistry set, send her to math camp, help her apply for college scholarships in STEM fields, and she’s still eventually going to walk into a classroom, a lab, or a job interview and have some man dismiss her existence, deny her funding, pass her over for a promotion, or take credit for her work. How about you work on getting those assholes out of power and quit telling me not to call girls pretty.
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”—Seneca (via azspot)