20 March 2016


(Image source: ClickAmericana.com)

"We rioted because the white man was doin the Negros-- they was taking what the Negros had-- all they had just about-- and I had enough of it."

On a hot Wednesday night August 11, 1965 a 21 year-old Black man named Marquette Frye along with his brother Ronald Frye were pulled over at a routine traffic stop by a white police officer. The stop was reportedly for drunk driving.

"It is very hard to try to explain to someone what it feels like to be Black in a white world. The things that happen to you daily and that affect you and that are so much apart of you are very hard sometimes to even remember because they have become so routine."

California Highway Patrol Officer Lee Minikus made Frye walk the line. The officer berated him with questions. Frye was then forcibly arrested on the scene. His mother's 1955 Buick was going to be impounded. Frye's brother Ronald ran to get their mother, who was only two blocks away. By now, a small group of onlookers gathered around the scene.

"There is really nothing that I can tell you here that would fully-- really let you know what it is like because it is too horrible and too deep to communicate to anyone."

When Rena Frye arrived and saw what was unfolding she wasted no time at all. She pushed through the officers to scold her son for drunk driving. Two more officers had arrived on the scene. One of them pulled his mother away from Frye. Another one struck Frye on the side of the head with a baton. Frye's mother jumped on the officer and tore his shirt. Another officer pulled out a shotgun and shoved Frye against the car yelling: "you get your black ass up against the car! If you get off that car I will blow your ass off!"

"I don't like to use the word riot. I say it was a revolt, or a overthrow. It wasn't a riot. That's a bunch of crazy folk going crazy without reason. There was a reason. And I have always wanted to see some changes around here"

A police officer handcuffed Rena Frye. By now the group of onlookers swelled substantially and reached a fever-pitch. The crowd grew openly hostile towards the police officers. Rocks and bottles were hurled at officers and the police car. Marquette, his brother, and Rena Frye were all arrested and thrown into the police car. "The crowd was pissed when the cops picked on my mama. I got angry. I took a swing at one. They handcuffed my hands and legs, threw me in the car and kicked me. Ronnie was thrown over the top of the car." The police car drove off. In less than an hour the crowd had transformed into a mob. Enraged by the police brutality and the rumors spreading that Frye's pregnant girlfriend was also brutalized by police, the people rose to their feet. The crowd flooded the streets, pulled white drivers out of their cars and beat them. Stones shattered store windows and people scrambled to take whatever they could get their hands on. Firebombs were thrown into buildings and cop cars were flipped over. The streets of Watts ripped open flesh wounds.

"I threw the firebomb right into the front window; right in the front window. A friend of mine went in the store towards the back and threw a firebomb in the back and the place went up in flames. But it was pretty well uh-- emptied by the looters and so forth."

"Then we would decide to burn and the cry in the streets was 'burn baby, burn!' "

was a glorious blaze
I heard the flames lick
then eat the trays
of zircons
mounted in red gold alloys"

"We decided to burn this store because we felt like this man hadn't been doing nothing but gaining on us anyway."

"We scream but we can't be heard. We talk but we can't be heard. It just seem like people don't understand."

It was one of the biggest racial uprisings in United States history. Police came to break up the crowd several times through out the course of the night but were repelled by stones and gun fire. Firemen attempting to put out the fires were shot at and driven out. The rioting continued and intensified into the next night and into the next night and into the next. By the fourth day a curfew had been set and the California Governor had called The National Guard.

By the following Tuesday the rebellion had ended. The uprising lasted for six days and resulted in the deaths of at least 34 people. There were reportedly over 1000 injuries and at least 4,000 arrests. Property damage totaled over $40 million dollars. At least 30,000 people took part in the revolt.

"I didn’t know there was a riot. When I got out of jail and turned on the radio, I heard Wolfman Jack play 'Burn, Baby Burn,' and then I heard my name, my brothers name and my mother's, and I heard about the people killed so far. I just cried."

"After the revolt, they fed us pacification programs. They put their little police department here for control. They were going to make damn sure this never happened again"

The economic deprivation of Watts, the wide-spread employment discrimination, the anti-black racism and heavy policing all contributed to the powder keg. Residence were sick of poverty and joblessness. They were sick of decrepit living conditions. The State's denial of the rights outlined in Civil Rights Act left many residence indignant. The insurrection threw Watts into the national spotlight. America asked the stupid question "what does the Negro want?" Reporters pored into the area after the riots to investigate the reasons for why the rebellion occurred, interviewing many of the residence who were apart of the riot. It was then that America suddenly "discovered" the economic conditions that pushed so many people to the breaking point.

"You are gonna make a black monster down here and this monster is gonna get larger and larger and pretty soon its going to eat all of us up."

Then all the cameras left. And most of the buildings destroyed by the riots have never been repaired. Watts has generally been kept in the condition it was in over fifty years ago.

"There was a Japanese restaurant over there, a corner barber and a liquor store. They all burned up. The trees along the streets were bigger. Police cut them back so we couldn't climb up and throw bottles from there. That green complex across the street is where all the people from the hood came out to watch me do my dance for the officers. The trash, well, that's still here from '65 probably."

Brief Histories

February 2016

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19 March 2016


by Sophia Terazawa

“Decolonizing Touch” is a monthly column about love and intimacy. If the revolution will not be televised, then the erotic, the heartbreaks, and interpersonal relationships most certainly will go unseen. But I believe that what happens in private is the most radical space of all. What does it mean to desire the Other? How does it feel to need the oppressor? I hope to answer these questions (and more) in my column.

Clair de Lune

(“Mùi Đu Đủ Xanh” by Sophia Terazawa)

Decolonizing love requires awe. Oracles would have me thinking otherwise.

Recognize strangers touching dead bodies as another kind of embrace, and the camera watches strangers sending bullets hugging strangers as voyeur, a drone kissing children in the field.

The fire takes it all. I’m tired. Are you?

My uncles were oracles. My uncles carried ships on their backs. Once, they swam like queens, my uncles. The water takes it all.


Before I even learn how to walk, my mother tosses me into the shallow end of a pool. To survive in this world, she knows I must learn how to drown.

And before I even learn how to talk, my mother drives me from Dallas to Galveston Bay. To survive in this country, she knows I must learn how to recognize my womb.

According to my mother, she sat me on the dock while my father took photos, and right then, I pointed joyously at the unforgiving ocean. And right there, I shouted my first word in this country’s wretched language: “Pool!”

According to my mother, she wept.


Decolonizing love requires awe.

It requires one to embody the multitudes of ancestors and move through fire. For many, this fire is very much a reality: the policeman’s aim and border patrol, tear gas, smoke, protestors burning at rallies, protestors burning for simply existing at the end of an executive order, ash and music, the music one hears underwater, the music one hears when making love under fire, the colonizer who cracks open like a flower.

That pain is recognition.

That pain has no words but a sense of loneliness in one’s chest, one’s fingers, the face reflected back in the mirror. Decolonizing this face is simply a measure of time.

When I cry after fucking, I feel my uncles watching.


The colonizer often mistakes his lover’s rage for hatred. That is not true. My grief is as wide as the ocean, and I fight for his freedom, too.


In Kolkata I develop the habit of breaking dishes. It is the sound of glass and ceramic against ruby oxide flooring needing recognition. It expresses what the oppressed have been screaming for centuries: “Enough!”

When I cry, I feel my uncles watching.


Decolonizing love requires awe. I need the oppressor’s touch, though the oracles would have me thinking otherwise.

Sometimes all it takes are those three words: “I see you.”

Sometimes all it takes is a spark to really know how to drown.

Sophia Terazawa

February 2016

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By Patrice Lockert-Anthony

I do not want simple economic reparations (in any amount) for Black Americans. I do believe that White America owes Black America. I do not believe that what has been done thus far through conscience, and/or legislation, in any way, makes up for what has been done throughout history, or is being done now. I think that the vast majority of White America, when it comes to Black America, are irresponsible, and cannot think its way out of a paper bag when it comes to race-based issues. There is entirely too much "lack” for that to happen. There is a lack of consciousness. There is a lack of accountability. There is a lack of culpability. There is a lack of desire. There is a lack of will. While these things are true; White America cannot apply critical reasoning to the problem at hand (their problem made mine).

Here is the two-fold problem around economic reparations for Black America:

One: There is no amount of money in this very wealthy nation (or the world), that would serve as anything more than a very tiny band-aid trying to cover the gaping wound that is racial hatred and treatment of blacks in America. That is obvious to me, and I daresay to many others. Hundreds of years of slavery, decades of Jim Crow, followed by many, too many, decades (into the present) of pernicious policies, rules of behavior, and acculturation to wrong-thinking and wrong doing by both civil society and the official types who are paid to serve, protect, care for, educate, govern, etc., all of America’s citizens.

Two: and perhaps less obvious is that White Americans have, all along, sought ways in which to avoid having to face the egregious nature of their wrong doings. They have also, in many ways, and many times, sought to apply the band aid rather than seek, and work for, the cure to this deadly disease of racism. If then, knowing that, we gave them the out of paying economic reparations . . . what then? Do we believe that the psychology of the racist would somehow magically dissipate? Do we believe that having paid us off; suddenly White America would climb onto the heretofore assiduously avoided bandwagon, to talk about, work through, and heal, the diseased rift of consciousness, that ripping our ancestors from the Motherland and enslaving them, put into play? I have no confidence in such a belief.

Once the monies have been paid out; I believe the conversation will be shut down and whenever cries of “that’s unfair” or “that’s racist” rend the air, the response will be a categorical, “No. No, we’ve paid that debt. We’ve given you the economic means to pull up on the bootstraps. It’s on you now. You can’t blame us anymore.”

That is where all these current arguments are coming from about how it’s all about “class” issues. As if the only reason black Americans are in prison in gargantuan disproportionate numbers, engaging in destructive behaviors, being beat down by bad cops, getting politically tricked out of voting, dying in ways that are far beyond suspicious, etc., is only because we lack the economic means to access success.

Do any of my readers, of whatever makeup, actually believe that nonsense? Remember this. There is always a "Why?”. There is always a, "HOW?”. You must ask yourselves what happened (within the specific construct of race relations in America) to create the economic disparities? When that question is answered honestly; you will understand why approaching the issue as purely economic (class-based) is erroneous and disingenuous.

Black America isn’t less achieving because of class-based issues. Black America is "behind” because of racial intent, race-based planning, and race-based design. It is what it is because of an accrual of damage (psychic, emotional, educational, legal, civil, etc.). Our presidents were involved.

Our Supreme Court judges were involved. Our senators and representatives were involved. Our business communities were involved. Our medical professionals were involved. Our military was involved. For hundreds of years continuing into the present day the cultural, and often legislated, law of the land was to have Black Americans legitimized as lesser human beings and lesser citizens. To behave as if that isn’t so is to, at the very least, behave stupidly. Somewhere in the middle it is to be behave as ignorantly irresponsible. At the very worst, to deny it is to be somehow less than human (somewhere below three-fifths).

In faith~

Patrice Lockert Anthony

February 2016

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16 March 2016


by Jie Wu

Photo by Jie Wu


After three months of soul-searching, I gathered all my hope and energy to return again to India, to visit Ramaswamy, Amina baji and all the dear teachers and students at the school. The school director, Ramaswamy, supported my decision and generously offered me a place to stay in his family house in Kolkata. On a sunny afternoon, Ramaswamy and I sat conversing in the wide-view veranda on the first floor of his family house in Kolkata. As he smoked a cigarette, he calmly said, “India is like an apartheid society.” He gently asked, “Do you know what apartheid is?” I nodded my head and replied that I had read some things about it.

A long silence followed and then Ramaswamy began puffing out some words. “Similar to the separation of ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’ in South Africa, Indian society too is divided along lines of class, caste, religion, gender… The Muslim basti-dwellers in Priya Manna Basti in Howrah are like the ‘blacks’ of apartheid-India.” Another long silence followed as he smoked and I continued meditating on the stream of words that had escaped from his mouth. His mouth now slowly puffed out cigarette smoke, enveloping both of us, as I tried to understand his life’s journey.

It can be said that it is quite a rare occurrence for a person of Ramaswamy’s background to start a grassroots organization in a Muslim basti in Howrah. An “outlier” if you put it in literal terms. Born and raised in an educated middle-class South Indian Brahmin family, Ramaswamy used to work as a consultant to the government in the field of environment and urban poverty in Calcutta. After several life-changing experiences, like the Hindu-Muslim riots in 1992, a long-term study on Islam and Sufism, and working in an environmental improvement project in Priya Manna Basti in Howrah, Ramaswamy entered into an existential struggle that eventually led him to establishing Howrah Pilot Project in 1997.

Howrah Pilot Project or HPP works towards the goal of “building awareness, capabilities and leadership for community uplift among disadvantaged youth in Howrah.” It is through HPP that Talimi Haq School provides non-formal and empowering education in Priya Manna Basti. One might ask, why should an upper-class Brahmin start a school in a Muslim basti? This might be the reason why Ramaswamy assigned the local teacher-coordinators, Amina baji and Binod bhai, to assume leadership of Talimi Haq School. Being conscious of his position of power and privilege, Ramaswamy patiently waited for Amina baji and Binod bhai’s leadership skills to emerge and gradually removed himself from dictating the course of the school. Most matters with regard to running the center are currently managed by Amina baji and Binod bhai. If necessary Ramaswamy steps in and backs them up, but he now devotes most of his time to performing the roles of director of a family-business and translator of the Bengali writer, Subimal Misra. Ramaswamy continued puffing out spirals of smoke as we both sat in his veranda. Quiet and pensive, I looked at all the people of different castes and classes walking past the three-way intersection in front of his house. Ramaswamy puffed out some words again: “The Indian social structure has been designed and functions in such a way that there is no intercourse between the upper-class Hindu Brahmins and the below-the-poverty-line Muslim basti dwellers.” Confused yet awed, I meditated on his words.

There must be some kind of implicit social contract imposed by the upper classes upon the lowly basti dwellers. An oppressive, silent contract, marked by blood and birth. Yes, birth – that was it. Since birth … no from even before being born, the basti dwellers were conditioned into lives of servitude in which they are expected to blindly serve their privileged ‘superior’ masters. If I follow along Paulo Freire’s thinking: poverty, illiteracy and structural oppression would be the major forces conditioning the basti dwellers to cycles of silent servitude to the people from upper classes and castes.

Let’s say a female child is born in the basti. Her mother is an exploited maidservant in an upper-class man’s house and her father is an exploited factory labourer. The child grows in the slum among her many siblings, helps in family chores and goes to poorly-funded, overcrowded government schools. Due to family financial distress, she quits school sometime during middle school and goes on to take up exploitative work continuing their parents’ work-cycle, until her marriage, has her own children, by chance she falls sick (due to poverty, malnutrition and inadequacy of healthcare) which leads to an eventual early death.

Of course, women do have the agency to take control of their lives, but that means they have to fight head-on against structural forces such as poverty, illiteracy and gender discrimination. Yes Amina baji, she is a living example of a brave woman who is battling the oppressive forces consigning women to tragic cycles of life and death in the bastis. And Amina’s teacher and guide was Ramaswamy, this man sitting and smoking in front of me, the man who had seen through these cycles of life and death in Howrah’s bastis and decided to dedicate himself to founding Howrah Pilot Project.

While staying at Ramaswamy’s family house in Kolkata, I was once again confronted by those innermost questions that I had left unanswered during my earlier stint as an English teacher and researcher at Talimi Haq School. Why can’t I fully connect to the teachers and students at the school? What is it that separates me from them?

From March through August 2015, instead of working hard to answer these innermost questions, I spent most of my time trying to develop a children’s dance-drama with this centre. Once again, I encountered major difficulties in trying to work together with the teachers and students at the school. First, I couldn’t inspire people to fully dedicate themselves to this dance-drama project. It might have been that this project wasn’t able to appeal to the teachers’ needs and aspirations for the school. Amina baji, Binod bhai and most teachers wanted to start sewing classes and a women’s health programme, but I had come to offer a children’s dance-drama project. Our goals and aspirations did not match, hence the dance-drama venture came into a halt. Later, conditions arose for me to go to work with Indian Chinese youth to start a Dragon Boat Festival, as a means towards initiating revitalization of the old Chinatown of Kolkata. This new project took up almost all my time and effort until the end of my second trip to India. My existential questions were again neglected and left unanswered. In September 2015, I returned to Lisbon to visit family and start on the path of a writer.

Read from Part 1 here.

Jie Wu

February 2016

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12 March 2016


By Dubian Ade

Misty Upham, Native Actress (Illustration by Vin Ganapathy for The Guardian)

Native women are in danger. Around the country, Native woman are disappearing from their communities at an alarming rate. Three Indigenous women have been found dead in northern Minnesota since May of 2015. 52 year-old Lisa Isham, 31 year-old Rose Downwind, and 44 year-old Dawn Reynolds were all killed in between the months of May and December. Two more have disappeared. In Canada. Tina Fontaine was found dead in the Red River August of 2014. Her death sparked a national inquiry.

Media coverage of these deaths and disappearances have been sparse and inadequate. Police and local authorities have shown no interest in investigating. Low-income Native women and two-spirit people live in a constant state of fear.

Five hours from Minnesota in the oil-rich fields of North Dakota, scores of men toil working the oil boom that recently swept the area of the Bakken. The discovery of the Parshall Oil Field in 2006 prompted the creation of thousands of jobs and nearly doubled the population from 20,000 to 40,000 people. It also prompted the emergence of sex-trafficking rings, which formed around the worker markets. Servicing the violent sexual appetites of oil workers, low-income Native women are often abducted from surrounding reservations.

Oil companies are absolutely complicit in the sexual violence and commercial human trafficking occurring in the Bakken. Some of those companies include Exxon Mobil, Hess, US Energy, Marathon Oil, and Conoco Phillips.

The abduction and sex-trafficking of Indigenous women is not limited to Bakken. In Montana, the trafficking of Native women has increased 15% within the last year according to the Montana Native Women's Coalition. Although trafficking statistics of Native women remain scarce, according to Indian Country Today journalist Victoria Sweet research from related studies suggest that Native women and girls are disproportionately affected by the human trafficking industry.

According to the Justice Department at least 61% of Native woman have been assaulted in their lifetimes. Native women are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted then women from other ethnic groups. 1 in 3 Native women are likely to be raped in their lifetime. In Minnesota 25% of women arrested for sex-work identified as Native American but Natives represent only 2.2% of the total population. In Anchorage, Alaska 33% of women arrested for sex-work identified as Alaskan Native but Natives represent only 7.9% of the total population. In Vancouver, Canada, 52% of sex-workers identified as Native when only 7% of the total population is Indigenous.

The Save Wiyabi Project, an advocacy group dedicated to addressing violence against Native women, has tracked more than 1000 death and disappearance cases of Indigenous women in the United States. In Canada, more than 1200 unsolved murder and missing cases of Indigenous women have been reported.

Many more go unreported.

Oil fields, forestry projects, fracking operations, trucking and shipping routes, lumber yards, shipping ports, construction sites, are all hotbeds for sex trafficking.Traffickers will target young low-income Native women, many of whom are abducted, abandoned, or are runways between the ages of 15 and 20. Often times traffickers will befriend these women, give them nice things, and get them use to a life on the run. Then they will "groom" them for the markets in the cities or in places like the Bakken.

32.4% of Native children live in poverty. 50 to 80 percent of trafficking victims have been involved in the foster care system at some point in their lives. From the 1940s to the 1960s at least one third of Native children were placed in the foster care system. In foster care, Native girls in particular are vulnerable to sex-traffickers who will often use drugs and other means to indoctrinate commercial sex-workers. Many young girls involved in the sex trade were either abandoned or choose to run away from the conditions on the reservation. Many suffer from inter-generational trauma.

Sexual violence against Indigenous women in this country dates all the way back to Columbus. Native women were sold as slaves to European colonizers. Columbus himself condoned the gang rape of Indigenous women. The state sponsored forced relocations of Native tribes destroyed Indigenous families. Native children were forced to go to the Christian boarding schools where they were sexually abused and beaten.

The exotized and eroticized images of Native women make them even more desirable for trafficking markets. The hyper sexual images of the "Pocahontas" pervade mainstream media and pop-culture. White women want to wear headdresses with dream-catcher earrings and be sexy native princesses for Halloween. Everywhere the Native woman's body is rendered disposable, objectified and dehumanized.

Native actress Misty Upham went missing on October 5, 2014 in Auburn, Washington. She was best known for her role in the award-winning 2008 film Frozen River, in which she was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female.

Upham was last seen leaving her family's home on the Muckleshoot Reservation after going through emotional distress. Misty Upham body was found a week later at the bottom of a ravine. According to the medical examiner, Upham died of blunt-force injuries. Police refused to help with the investigation. They did not send a search party when Upham went missing. Local authorities claimed that her disappearance did not fit the criteria for a full-fledged investigation. Volunteers made up of family and fiends had to find Misty's body on their own.

Charles Upham, Misty's father, was told that a witness saw two men beat his daughter and throw her down the ravine. No arrests have been made.

Native women are in danger.

Dubian Ade

February 2016

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From the Annual MLK Community Luncheon Address at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School January 18, 2016.

By Russell Rickford

"Fight for 15" (Image Source: nationofchange.org)

"Neoliberalism” is a funny word. It doesn’t mean “liberal” according to today’s definition of that term—someone who thinks the government should be actively involved in reforming society.

No. The “liberal” in neoliberalism comes from the 19th century meaning; that is, complete freedom from government interference. So “NEO” liberalism, in part, means a return to an era in which there was next to no economic regulation or taxation.

But neoliberalism is much more than that. Neoliberalism is an especially aggressive, especially brutal form of capitalism. It has ruled our lives, and the lives of most people on the planet, since the late 20th century.

What else does neoliberalism mean? Neoliberalism means growing insecurity, unemployment or underemployment for most of the people in the Global North (the rich countries), and economic devastation for most of the people in the Global South (the poor countries).

Neoliberalism means austerity (except for the bankers). It means the crushing of labor unions, the decline of wages, the shredding of the safety net. It means sending jobs overseas. It means the billionaire class sucks up 95% of the economic gains since the Great Recession of ‘08-09.

Neoliberalism means desperation and downward mobility. It means your life is increasingly precarious. You’re swimming in debt. You think you’re running in place, but you’re actually falling behind.

Neoliberalism means even white, middle-class people are dying sooner. (As it turns out, your whiteness won’t protect you.)

Neoliberalism means obscene inequality. It means the redistribution of the world’s wealth to the top 1%. EIGHTY people now hold the same amount of wealth as the world’s 3.6 billion poorest people. In the U.S., 400 individuals have more wealth than 150 million citizens. The Walton family, owners of WALMART, have more wealth than 42% of American families combined.

Neoliberalism means privately run prisons and privately run healthcare. It means billionaires privatizing our public schools and annexing our great cities. Neoliberalism means decay.

It means climate change, the destruction of our planet, the neglect and deterioration of our infrastructure and our public institutions. It means that children in Flint, Michigan are dying of lead poisoning as a result of that city’s foul, orange-hued tap water. Flint is largely black and largely poor. They’re drinking toxic waste. If you think it can’t happen to you, you haven’t been paying attention.

Neoliberalism means widespread ignorance and spiritual starvation. In its lust for profit and world domination, neoliberalism unleashes the most reactionary and vulgar elements of society. The fascists. The bigots. The warmongers.

This is not civilization. It’s barbarism. This is not what King had in mind when he said we would reach the Promised Land.

Who can live elegantly under the neoliberal regime? How can we teach our children decency in such indecent times? The only way to salvage our humanity, to leave our children something besides war and debt and misery, is to fight!

So as I close, I urge you to join the General Strike that is unfolding in many pockets of the world, from South Africa to Saudi Arabia. From Ferguson to Baltimore. From Yale to Mizzou to Ithaca College.

Today, many of our young people recognize the imperative to resist. They recognize the truth of what the democratic freedom fighter Ella Baker said back in 1964: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest.”

These young people are calling for a new social contract. Some of them, particularly those organized under the banner of “Black Lives Matter” and “Fight for 15,” are calling for the reconstruction of democracy. They’re calling for living wages, dignified jobs, a worker’s bill of rights, and the protection and rebuilding of unions. They’re demanding fully funded healthcare, social services, and public schools. They’re seeking universal childcare, full access to reproductive health, an end to racist mass imprisonment, police terror, and the colonial occupation of the Palestinian people.

Some of our young people are now in open rebellion against neoliberalism and its accomplice: global white supremacy. They’re determined to create a massive crisis for the system—a crisis of dissent. They have begun to engage in civil disobedience. Boycotts. Work stoppages. Marches. Rallies. Creative disruption. I think Martin would have been pleased.

As our brother Cornell West has said: “The litmus test for realizing King’s dream was neither a Black face in the White House nor a Black presence on Wall Street. Rather, the fulfillment of his dream was for all poor and working people to live lives of decency and dignity.”

So let’s be like King. Let’s catch up with our young people. Let’s demand a humane economy and an end to war. Let’s become nuisances.

King was a deeply flawed man. As flawed, perhaps, as you and me. If he was great, he was great because some small but determined segment of the people rose up and said “enough.” They launched a general strike. They didn’t hold no picnic. They didn’t have no love-fest. They analyzed their objective conditions. And they went to battle.

So I leave you with the words of the beautiful Fred Hampton, chairman of the Chicago Black Panthers, one of the spiritual descendants of King, and Malcolm, and Ella, who was murdered in his sleep by the mad-dog cops and federal agents in 1969. Comrade Fred said: “People say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don’t fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.”

Thank You. Venceremos! Free Palestine!

Russell Rickford is an Assistant Professor of History at Cornell University.

Russell Rickford

February 2016

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27 February 2016


(Source: digitaltimes.org)

MMIW Report: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women In Canada

The Canadian Parliament has been pressured by indigenous grassroots organizations to conduct a national inquiry into the overwhelmingly large proportion of cases involving missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW). In December the liberal government in Canada announced plans for the inquiry.

Yet there are already discrepancies in data collected by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The reported figure of 1200 cases has been contested by many grassroots groups as being way too small than the actual number. This February, Lisa J Ellwood's Indian Country report confirmed that RCMP collects its data solely from its affiliated police agencies. There is over 300 non-RCMP affiliated police agencies where homicide data on indigenous women has not been collected. Furthermore, police are biased, racists, and colonial in their interpretation of what MMIW cases count as homicides or missing persons.

RCMP has tried to skew its information in order to say that MMIW cases are a result of domestic violence and that the perpetrators are really Indigenous men. Yet RCMP ignores cases involving sex workers. Studies have proven that the majority of cases involve non-indigenous men.

(MarShawn McCarrel, Image: uinterview.com)

Black Lives Matter Activist MarShawn McCarrel Commits Suicide

23 year-old Black Lives Matter Activist MarShawn McCarrel shot himself in front of the Columbus Building February 8, 2016. His last tweet read: "let the record show that I pissed on the state house before I left."

McCarrel was instrumental in organizing BLM protests in Ohio after the killing of Mike Brown in 2014. He was the founder of the youth mentorship program Pursuing Our Dreams. He also founded a Feed the Streets program for the homeless. McCarrel himself was homeless for three years after high-school and had since made it his duty to give back because so many had helped him. He was named one of Radio One’s Hometown Champions, an award for community activists and volunteers, earlier this year.

The McCarrel family believes that his work, dedication, and selflessness took an emotional toll.

Deray For Mayor

Prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson announced that he will be running for mayor of Baltimore early this month. In just nine days he raised over $77,000 and has even put forth portions of his mayoral platform. He is the second candidate in the race to do so. Mckesson's plan focuses heavy on public school reform including radically altering Baltimore City Community College to improve graduation rates. Mckesson wants to expand public pre-K to enroll low-income children, release internal audits from city schools, and create literacy-rich educational environments. For policing, Mckesson wants to eliminate lethal policing methods such as illegal chokeholds and band the excuse that the suspect "was reaching for their weapon."

He is calling for standard firearms to be replaced by "smart guns," the redistribution of Baltimore police budgets towards communities most affected by crime, and the creation of a city commission to send drug addicts to treatment centers instead of jail. Mckesson also wants to increase the minimum wage in Baltimore to $15 and hour, expand youth employment opportunities in neighborhoods affected by unemployment, and establish employment programs for ex-convicts. Mckesson made his debate debut February 16th among 23 other candidates.

Peter Liang Convicted for the Murder of Akai Gurley

This February, Officer Peter Liang was convicted in the 2014 killing of Akai Gurley. Officer Liang and his partner were conducting a "vertical patrol" in a Brooklyn housing project. In the stairwell, Liang was suddenly startled and opened fire. The bullet reportedly ricocheted and hit Akai Gurley, who was walking down the stairs with his partner. Officer Liang did not call for help for Gurley nor did he offer medical attention. Liang, who is Chinese-American, was indicted by the grand jury on charges of manslaughter. The decision is a rarity and a relief for the Gurley family in a country where police officers are almost never indicted by grand juries. Still, Liang's status as Asian-American certainly plays a roll in the jury decision. The white police officer who killed Eric Gardner had been dropped of all charges, while the only black police officer on the scene was the only officer charged in the case. Grand Juries seem to readily indict people of color but are unable to indict white police officers. Liang is due back in court this April.

Flint Water Crisis Continues

An out-pouring of bottled water from all over the country has temporarily provided the citizens of Flint with clean water. But the Flint water crisis is about more than just poisonous water. Governor Rick Snyder claimed that the reason for switching Flint's water supply from Detroit sources to the Flint River was to save city money. Yet a report from the Motor City Muckraker confirms that Detroit Water and Sewerage Department offered the City a 50% reduction in prices if Flint remained with Detroit water sources. Snyder refused the plan which could have saved Flint $800 million. Snyder's motives for switching to the Flint River are unknown though many have suggested it was to further his own political and economic interests. Flint residents have described Snyder as a fascist dictator and have demanded that Snyder be removed from office and arrested immediately. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has stepped in with a $55 million dollar plan to swiftly remove all of the lead pipes from the water system and replace them with new pipes. Weaver's plan has received insufficient funds from state and she is even considering opening a crowd funding campaign to bridge budget gaps. Snyder still remains in office.

Black Lives Matter Meeting with Obama: A Photo Opt and A Sham

On February 18, 2016 Black Lives Matter activists met with Obama and a number of long-time activist including Rev. Al Sharpton to discuss a range off issues including the administration's plans for criminal justice reform. Black Lives Matter activists DeRay Mckesson and Brittany Packnett were there as well as Missou students from #ConcernedStudents1950. Widely publicized as the "first-of-its-kind" and a positive step towards Black liberation, the meeting has also come under considerable critique from BLM activist and co-founder of BLM Chaicago Aislinn Pulley. Pulley respectfully declined the invitation, saying that "I could not, with any integrity, participate in such a sham that would only serve to legitimize the false narrative that the government is working to end police brutality and the institutional racism that fuels it. " She said that: "For the increasing number of families fighting for justice and dignity for their kin slain by police, I refuse to give its perpetrators and enablers political cover by making an appearance among them."

The Newsfeed

February 2016

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President Barack Obama. The first Black president. Leader of the so-called free world. You could still see him triumphantly approaching the podium in Washington that day in 2008 before a sea of arms and waving flags. As he now leaves office the country has fallen into endless lamentation.

The Decolonizer says: stop D*** riding Obama.

We had ourselves a Black president. And it was great, unprecedented, a moment in United States history. It was a blue and red 2008 election button with the word "change” in bold white letters.

The conservatives cringed. The liberals clamored, their hearts raised joyfully to the new sovereign as if to say: "Obama is in office for our sins.” Couldn’t wait to tell the good news to their Black friends: "racism is a thing of the past, we have a Black president!” They could barely keep themselves from salivating.

Meanwhile, a black woman digs in between the sofa cushions of a run-down home in Chicago trying to come up with the money to bury her son. Said she was looking for change.

The Obama years saw the extra judicial killings of so many Black people that the #BlackLivesMatter movement was created in response. The largest Black outcry in recent memory was made a national movement because a Black president sat in the White House unable to challenging anti-Black state violence.

Who could forget that fateful night in November when Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for murdering Mike Brown? When the riots begin Obama’s face appears on a TV screen. Live on public television he says: "no one needs to be policed more than poor communities with high crime rates.”

During the Baltimore riots, Obama proceeded to wag his finger at angry protesters saying "there is no excuse for violence in Baltimore.” Never once has he taken administrative action to bring extra judicial killings to justice. He has said “Trayvon Martin could have been me” but never once has he openly acknowledged India Clarke, Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd or any of the Black cis and trans women who have been killed by state violence.

Then there is Obama’s immigration policy. He is responsible for the aggressive forced removal of thousands undocumented immigrants. Through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids he is responsible for the state terror and virtual assault on migrant families. The Obama administration escalated the ICE raids at the beginning of this year, targeting Central American immigrants mostly from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

The United States is willing to exploit these countries for produce, labor, drug trafficking, and is willing to install puppet governments, but is unwilling to accept migrants who cross its boarders to escape the conditions the United States has helped to create. Lives are placed in jeopardy when immigrants are sent back to these countries because of the ongoing violence that occurs there.

ICE raids have been conducted inhumanely, often in the early hours of the morning, where people are taken into custody and thrown into the deplorable immigration detention centers.

How many people of color has Obama killed?

Then there is Obama’s foreign policy. The Obama years saw the rise of drone warfare; the buzzing death machines that hover over arbitrary "hot spots” in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Waziristan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen, killing supposed terrorist leaders on Washington’s secret "kill list.” The Obama Administration was directly responsible for the tenfold increase in drone activity during Obama’s presidency. Obama himself was directly responsible for overseeing the drone program.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism over 400 reported drone strikes have occurred as of 2014. It is estimated that U.S drones have killed at least two thousand people; most of them were people of color. Most of them were innocent civilians. In 2013, Obama defended the program by saying that strikes were as a last resort and as "precise” as possible. Leaked documents on the program proved that this was a lie. 90% of the people killed by drone strikes are innocent civilians. Apparently the lives of brown people are extinguishable.

The Obama administration constantly preferred extermination over capture during covert counter-terrorist operations. Obama has developed "kill teams,” special military units formed for the purpose of assassinating CIA terrorist targets. Obama has taken liberties to target and execute anyone who poses a national security threat in the Middle East. The most famous kill team mission of course was the assassination of Osama bin Laden, who Obama never fails to gloat shamelessly about during public discussions of his foreign policy.

Obama: keeping the world safe for United States colonial domination.

This past January Obama made his final State of the Union Address.

It was an address oozing with United States exceptionalism. It played up bipartisan conflict instead speaking frankly about the racial situation. Obama affirmed U.S leadership of the world aggressively and with the up most barbarism. It was an address that utterly ignored the horrors of his administration, all the bloody mangled bodies floating in the background of his presidency.

F*** Obama!

They say that he was a litmus test. That he was the president that America had been waiting for. He was the symbol that people of color had made it to the mountain top. Conditions for people of color in America have scarcely improved since Obama took office. The expression "I have a Black president" has lost its meaning.

Obama's change could not save us. It could not save Sandra Bland or Michael Brown. It could not save the families from the added grief of knowing that no justice will be served.

Obama teaches us that, so long as the United States is an illegitimate country founded on the genocide of Indigenous people, the forced slave labor of Africans, the cheap labor of migrant workers, the domestic labor of women, the exploitation of the poor, the neo-colonial imperialism in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, it's leader is by default an accessory of global white supremacy, capitalism, settler colonialism, and white supremacist patriarchy. The operation of this country requires the global destruction of people of color. It does not matter what complexion you are or how far left on the liberal spectrum you fall. If you are president you will carry out this requirement.

This is Obama's Legacy.

February 2016

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1 February 2016


Betty Jones

Betty Jones was a 55 year-old cis Black woman who was mistakenly shot and killed by Chicago police as she answered the door of her home in the early morning of December 26, 2015. Police responded to a call of domestic disturbance. Quintonio LeGrier, her upstairs neighbor, had been swinging a bat. LeGrier's father had asked Jones to look out for the police and let them in when they arrived.

Quintonio LeGrier

Quintonio LeGrier was a 19 year-old cis Black male who was shot and killed by Chicago police on December 26, 2015. Police responded to a call that a male was wielding a baseball bat and threatening his father at his family's West Side home. LeGrier had been going through a mental health crisis. Upon arrival, police officer Robert Rialmo fatally shot and killed LeGrier's neghbor, 55 year-old Betty Jones. LeGrier was then shot six times by police as he motioned towards Jones.

Cedrick Chatman

Cedrick Chatman was a 17 year-old cis Black male who was gunned down by Chicago police on January 7, 2013. Video of the killing was kept from the public by the City of Chicago for three years. After the Chatman family sued the city and officers Kevin Fry and Lou Toth, a federal judge ordered the release of the video footage and the City dropped its case against releasing the footage on January 13, 2016. The footage shows Chatman running out of an allegedly stolen car and being chased by Fry and Toth. Kevin Fry then stops in the middle of the street and opens fire as Chatman disappears from camera view. Moments later, Chatman is seen face down and unresponsive as officer Fry places his foot on top of Chatman's body.

Rest in Power

Who Will Survive America?

January 2016

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No Indictment: Sandra Bland

BLM activists endured a series of let-downs at the end of 2015. On December 23rd the Waller County grand jury decided against indicting any of the jailers present when 28-year old Sandra Bland was found dead in police custody. Bland was found unresponsive in her cell days after her arrest by a state trooper during a traffic stop in July. Dash cam and amateur video shows Texas state trooper Brian Encinia demanding Bland get out of her vehicle or "I will light you up." Out of camera view, she is heard being slammed to the ground. An investigation by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards found that the Waller County Jail violated minimum standards, including failure to check on prisoners frequently enough.

A team of five special prosecutors appointed by the county district attorney had presented to the grand jury. Yet no attempt has been made to include the Bland family in the investigation process. The prosecutors have conducted the proceedings in secret and have declined to share evidence with the family. They have refused to pursue the case as a homicide and had instead tried to determine if there was any negligence. The prostitution, the authorities, and the grand jury assumed that Sandra Bland killed herself, a conclusion that the family refuses to accept. The plastic bag Bland had supposedly killed herself with was never fingerprinted. Many of the family members believe that a thorough investigation was never conducted. On January 7th state trooper Brian Encinia, the man responsible for wrongfully arresting her, was charged not with homicide, but a perjury misdemeanor.

Nationwide ICE Raids Destroy Lives and Families

Forcible deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has escalated at the beginning of this year. Surprise ICE raids have been launched in the wee hours of the morning by the Obama administration, who had made plans to forcibly deport undocumented immigrants who crossed the boarder after May 2014. Large-scale immigration raids were launched in early January, where some 120 persons at a time were taken into custody across the country. Raids have been occurring in several locations across the country including Atlanta, New York City , Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina and Central American immigrants have been targeted in particular. These raids pull apart immigrant families, who often have children born in the U.S as citizens but whose parents are forcibly deported. As Latinx immigrants begin to disappear in their own communities, people are forced to live in a constant state of fear.

  • If ICE comes to your house: Do not open your door to let them in. They most likely do not have a warrant to enter and do not believe them if they say that they do. Ask to see the warrant.
  • Do not provide them with your immigration information or your ID.
  • If they forcibly enter, request the names and badge numbers of the officers for entering without consent

No Indictment: Tamir Rice

On December 28, 2015, a grand jury decision failed to indict officer Timothy Loehmann for the murder of 12 year-old Tamir Rice. During a press conference, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty admitted that he recommended to the grand jury that they not indict the officer. He proceeded to justify Loehmann's actions as reasonable and constitutional: “To charge police, even in a situation as undeniably tragic as the death of her son, the state must be able to show that the officers acted outside the constitutional boundaries set forth by the Supreme Court of the United States. Simply put, given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunication by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police.” McGinty did not pursue an indictment from the very beginning of the case, and consistently worked against wishes of the Rice family to pursue a murder charge directly without a grand jury proceeding. If he was not going to pursue an indictment, the Rice family asked for him to step down. Tamir's mother issued a statement in response to the decision stating "as the video shows, Officer Loehmann shot my son in less than a second. All I wanted was someone to be held accountable. But this entire process was a charade."

Video of Cedrick Chatman Released

On January 13, 2016, after three years of withholding the video to the public, the City of Chicago finally released the footage in the killing of Cedrick Chatman by Chicago police. With the mounting outrage over corruption in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration, the City of Chicago was forced to release the video in an effort to be "more transparent." The video clearly shows Chatman being gunned down as he runs away from police. The police report from claimed that Chatman turned towards officers with a black object in his right hand that was believed to be a gun. The object turned out to be a iPhone box. Furthermore, the video clearly shows Chatman running away from officers, never is he shown turning towards them. After the Laquan Mcdonald video release in November of 2015, many believe that the decision to release the Chatman tape is apart of a public relations campaign to salvage the Emanuel administration.

Fascist Donald Trump throws Muslim Woman Out Of Rally

On January 8, 2016, Muslim woman Rose Hamid was thrown out of a Donald Trump rally in South Carolina for silently protesting against Islamophobia. As Trump spewed Islamophobic epithets about Syrian refugees, saying that they "are probably ISIS," Hamid silently rose from her seat. She was wearing white hijab and a T-shirt reading "Salam, I come in peace." As Trump continued speaking the crowd erupted demanding that Hamid be removed. Hamid was joined by a handful of protesters, each wearing a yellow Star of David to symbolize the Nazi oppression of Jews during the Holocaust. The crowd threw anti-Muslim epithets until Hamid was escorted out by security officers as the crowd of conservative Republicans cheered.

Kizzy Adonis Charged In Eric Garner Case

On January 8, 2016, Sargent Kizzy Adonis was charged with internal departmental charges in connection with the Eric Gardner case. She is the first person officially charged for wrong doing in the Eric Gardner case. Adonis, who is a Black woman, was one of two supervising officers present during the confrontation with Daniel Pantaleo that led to Eric Gardners death. Though she has not been charged with Gardner's death, she has been stripped of her badge and gun. The decision does nothing to hold Daniel Pantaleo, the man who actually killed Gardner, accountable. Eric Gardner'd daughter, Erica Gardner, has condemned the decision and questioned the reason for the charges when Adonis was the only officer on the scene who tried to save her father's life.

The Newsfeed

January 2016

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31 January 2016


by Sophia Terazawa

“Decolonizing Touch” is a monthly column about love and intimacy. If the revolution will not be televised, then the erotic, the heartbreaks, and interpersonal relationships most certainly will go unseen. But I believe that what happens in private is the most radical space of all. What does it mean to desire the Other? How does it feel to need the oppressor? I hope to answer these questions (and more) in my column.

What's Love Got to Do with It?

What's Love, Sophia Terazawa
What's Love Got to Do with It?, Illustration by Sophia Terazawa

He was nothing more than a street cleaner, but he sang beautifully―with such gusto and dignity, in fact, that no revolutionary could help but fall in love with this man, who swept Saigon’s dusty avenues by day and led Party rallies by night. If Uncle Ho had a canary, this man could lead an entire choir to liberation. He sang for the hearts of many. He sang for dear Vietnam. But why did he have to go and marry my sister, too?

Thus began my mother’s dreadful story of how romance should claim no space in war.


My aunt, the stubborn second daughter of a wealthy businessman, was much like me, or so I have heard. Her tongue was quiet but stung when needed, and she never cried during a beating.

She also believed in equality. Not the normal kind, my mother shook her head. She wanted to fight for decolonization. This brought her to the streets. This brought danger to our family. My mother paused and stared into my eyes as though to emphasize this point. Our family.


True, there was danger all around. My mother already knew how to load an AK-47 by the time she was 16, and she already knew how to fire it, if necessary (with mami eyes, closed, she added with a giggle), but my aunt carried a bullet in each eye and a pin in her chest. My aunt was deliberate, her convictions for the Party, righteous. This was a dangerous time, indeed, to have a revolutionary as a sister, and when she married, we knew it was over.

At this point in the story, my mother sighed and looked into her open palms on the table between us.

Sophia, understand what mami try to say, she asked. And I said, yes, mami. I understand.


I understand that history works in more intimate ways than we realize. I understand human touch as much as I understand grief. I understand the painful act of self-healing because I have spent my childhood watching my mother fall apart. This country fall apart. And I understand change.

It works in the heart. It can only work through melody or a serpent’s bite, the ambiguity of metaphor, madness, and matrimony. The whiplash of protest. Demands. A barricade. And I am not speaking of what happens in the open. For the people. The People.


He was nothing more than a man, but really, this was the story of heartbreak between two sisters. My mother started to cry as though to say, and that is when I lost her. As though to say, and now I will lose you, too.

Sophia Terazawa

January 2016

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30 January 2016


Source: occupywallstreet.net

This month's word is settler colonialism.

Settler colonialism (noun): The systematic invasion and forced occupation of a territory by a foreign power. Where other forms of colonialism seek to exploit the labor and natural resources of the native, settler colonialism seeks to eliminate the native completely and ultimately replace the native. Settler colonialism will apply methods of mass genocide and massive relocation in order to displace and erase the native from the land that is being colonized.

Settler colonialism in a sentence:

For centuries, United States settler colonialism has and continues to displace the indigenous peoples of North America.


January 2016

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29 January 2016


by Ariel Lawrence

Source: Wikimedia.org

It is imperative that we first acknowledge we are in fact children of the Post-Colonial. Our proximity with colonization can not be compared to that of a century ago. The beast has reformed and reshaped itself, not to the point where it is unrecognizable, but distorted and normalized. The influence of colonial discourse shapes the very way we begin to think about oppression, whether it be of others or ourselves. Its discursive language mandates how we name ourselves, its mythological imagery paints our bodies and manipulates our self fashioning; its past, successes and failures, frames the view of our futures.

Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a view of colonialism in antiquity when "vegetation rioted the earth and the big trees were kings." Society no longer permits its members to speak of the landscape and cultures of colonized peoples with the same brutal honesty as Marlowe narrates. Since the emergence of colonialist critique, Africans are no longer just "savage," no longer described as "black shadows of disease" with "faces like grotesque masks". However, the sentiments which shaped the structures that permitted such language have not died, nor have they been subdued by the might of academia. It continues to thrive, and it thrives on its children. David Spurr concludes his text on colonial discourse in journalism and travel writing by citing that the ultimate resistance to colonialism requires the "intervention of forces outside of the West" meaning "new structures that combine and transcend what already exists."

The reason why we cannot imagine a world beyond those structures is because as a collective, the Post-Colonial has been robbed of its histories. Colonialism feeds off the idea that Empire is eternal, that it has, in our History, always been there and always will be. This broken historical imagination entraps both the colonizer and the colonized in dehumanization.

Although we are aware of a time when colonialism did not exist, that time, for both the colonizer and the colonized, is placed on the pedestal of antiquity, unable to be touched or approached. Despite the celebration of the colonizer's past or the exoticization of the colonized's "premodernization", neither period is functional for either group today. "The liquidation of colonization," Albert Memmi writes, "is but a prelude to complete liberation, to self- recovery" (Memmi, 151) and while colonial discourse moves the process forward another step, it brings the Post-Colonial society no closer to its ultimate goal. The need is to imagine beyond colonialism in order to remember past the West.


In Ithaca, we wade through a field of leftist colonizers. Color blind Ideology and the myth of the "post-racial" society has created a wave of disavowal for this country's racial history and its imperialist present. The word is synonymous with "racist" and, in looking at the reaction of someone after they have been accused, it is almost the worst thing that you can call someone.

"In Ithaca, we wade
through a field of leftist

The image of the colonizer has been strategically distanced from society's self perception, it is pulled backwards to the proud steel-breasted conquistador or the leather whip wielding plantation overseer. These Historical images acknowledge the existence of the colonizer but present it as an abstraction. It is the same blurry image of "The Man", the white patriarchal ghost in the night that takes responsibility for the genocide, rape and terror that so many people want to forget.

As Memmi states, the colonizer retains a certain power, divorced from mere politics or economy, that is inherent to the colonial situation; the colonizer maintains the power to attempt refusal. Memmi writes "the colonized is not free to choose between being colonized or not" (Memmi, 86), the only choice provided to the colonized it to accept or die. To be white in this country, and to be "the one who knows" about colonialist discourse, it is a given that they will identify with the colonizer so as to not be seen as ignorant of their privilege. Many students on campus project the persona of the leftist colonizer, they just call themselves liberal. 

It is this student, educated in a school system that celebrates Black History Month despite never having to confront the (usually brown skinned) working poor in their neighborhoods; who were raised by parents that taught them to be "hardworking" and "open-minded" individuals like their ancestors; the student whose understanding of colonization is that it was simply an occurrence of the past which can never be repeated. It is these students who, while in the comfort of the collegiate atmosphere, protest for the first time in their lives, mimicking the photographs of the 1950's and 60's despite believing that the work of those decades in fact solve most of society's flaws.

These students, take on the role of the colonizer because they can, because it is their burden and discomfort to "refuse [colonial] ideology while continuing to live its actual relationships." (Memmi, 20). The urgency to help oppressed people is an attempt to rationalize their existence, the "destiny" of the colonized matters to the colonizer because "[they] hope to go on living in the colony" (Memmi, 36). While it is acceptable to permit the freedom of the colonized, it is not acceptable for this to exist outside of the narrative of home that is so familiar to the colonizer.

One of the most extreme images of the colonizer is that of the paternalist, whose rhetoric, while seemingly toxic, has been completely normalized in the Post-Colonial. Memmi describes the actions of the paternalist as "charitable
 racism" (Memmi, 76). An offset of "white man's burden," the paternalist sees any contribution to liberation as "gifts and never duties" therefore acknowledging that in the colony "[they] have no duties and the colonized have no rights" (Memmi, 76). In his chapter on appropriation, Spurr cites a description of one colonial officer witnessing the native peoples of the Congo shopping in a European established market place, a sight which moved the officer to become "endowed with the honor of paternity" (Spurr, 33). This perpetuates the idea that colonized people, "acquiescence to the colonial system as approval of Western ideals" and that "a colonized people is morally improved and edified by virtue of its participation in the colonial system" (Spurr, 33).

How often does this idea still rear its head in current political rhetoric? In the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, President Barrack Obama stated in a Newsweek article "above all, we act for a very simple reason: in times of tragedy, the United States of America steps forward and helps. That is who we are. That is what we do." He soon after contends that the U.S does not "use our power to subjugate others, we use it to lift them up." In this statement, which on the surface is a moving comment on the distribution of international aid, becomes inherent to the rhetoric of this country but only segregated from its history of oppression. Attitudes around Haiti, which stem from the language of paternalism, perpetuate the heroics of the colonized and deny the villainy. Instead of acknowledging that the fact that the "more freely he breathes, the more the colonized choke" (Memmi, 8), the paternalist colonizer sees only the lack of the colonized and fancy's themselves vital to the colonized betterment.

What is least apparent to the colonizer of the Post-Colonial is their own imprisonment within colonialism. Whether or not the colonizer chooses to refuse or accept it makes no real difference as the "distinction between deed and intent has no great significance in the colonial situation" (Memmi, 130). Spurr begins his book by exemplifying the "unevenness of exchange" in colonialism which becomes endemic to the vantage of the colonizer. While Western ideology promotes that the gaze is “an active instrument of construction" (Spurr, 15), colonialism demands that the gaze must first destroy what is already there in order to recreate it in the colonizer's mind.

The colonizer is then, always blind to the humanity of the colonizer and crippled to see his own humanity outside of the identity as colonizer. Spurr quotes George Orwell to say that "when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys" (Spurr, 191), that is the freedom to see the world outside of the colony which he is the supposed ruler of. Despite the allure of social, political and economic advantages of colonialism, "colonization can only disfigure the colonizer" (Memmi, 147). To use the example of Marlowe, he describes his loyalty to Kurtz as the "nightmare of [his] choice" (Conrad, 64). After witnessing the "brutal instincts" and "monstrous passions" of Kurtz, Marlowe does not betray his name after death and lies to Kurtz's fiancé because confronting the truth would be "too dark altogether" (Conrad, 65). The colonizer who refuses is forced to leave, and the colonizer who accepts must constantly debase the colonized to justify their actions; neither one is at peace.


I pondered for a very long time whether any "colonized" people actually existed in the Post-Colonial. It seems, especially as a middle class Black woman, almost insulting to call myself colonized when I take into account all of the privileges which I have from being a US citizen. There are many living in countries the US deems "Third World," who at first glance would incur images of sugar cane and tobacco fields, whose brown limbs toil in unbearable conditions so that I can purchase bananas at 32 cents per pound, whose lack of access to basic health care and running water would harken back to the experiences of the colonial period.

It would be arrogant to think that i maintain the power to remove myself from them. Although I represent the pacified version, I too remain the distorted image of Kurtz's African lover drenched in "barbarous ornaments", "savage and superb. wild-eyed and magnificent" (Conrad, 60). I remain stuck in that image because, like many others, I lack the ability to assimilate.

Memmi brings to reality that assimilation is not based on the colonized's desire but in fact the "colonizer's rejection" (Memmi, 124). Spurr cites the paradox which assimilation creates within colonialism: "the desire to emphasize racial and cultural difference as a means of establishing superiority [conflicts with] the desire to efface difference and gather the colonized into the fold of an all-embracing civilization" (Spurr, 32). Assimilation is detrimental to the colonizer because to change the colonial relationship in any way would undo the colonial situation.

So, without the ability to assimilate without the colonizer's acceptance, and without the economic means with which to live outside the colony, the colonized is only left to revolt; however even that action has been co-opted. Despite Marlowe's fear that the cannibals on his ship have the capacity to devour him, he is still served by their "savagery." Memmi writes "the colonized fights in the very name of the colonizer" (Memmi, 128). After attempting to refute all connections with their own culture and traditions, after embracing the tenants of the West better than the colonizer, the colonized is met with rejection and revolts, but unsuccessfully as colonialism "is the only act he understands" (Memmi, 128).

Therefore the colonized, even in the act of revolution, is always speaking back to the colony. Without any customs of their own legitimized in the eye of the colonizer, and having only been exposed to the legitimate rule of the colonizer, the colonized has no culture it can recognize itself. Without the space to exist outside of the colonizer, the colonized still exist today. Their suffering is measured on scales of politic and sentiment which are never coherent, they are constantly told that they no longer exist. Yet, the colonizer would have the colonized believe that because there are no iron shackles around their [the colonized] neck that there is no pressure there as well.

As a child of the Post-Colonial, I am simultaneously a child of Post-Civil Rights. Since the colonized "continue to think, feel and live...in relation to the colonizer and colonization" (Memmi, 139), a fully matured revolution has never taken place. However, with the weight of the civil rights era's "successes" on their head, the “American Negro” is not able to openly blame the colonizer for its oppression, and so the hatred turns inward. A generation of colonized people exists today who "give into the intoxication of fury and violence" (Memmi, 139) that results from impotence. A lifetime of bellowing, not having the language with which to articulate the pain, leads the colonized of the Post-Colonial to submit to ambiguity and hopelessness.

Ariel Lawrence

January 2016

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28 January 2016


Photo via rollingstone.com

Gil Scott-Heron was one of the most important spoken word poets of the 20th Century. Born in Chicago, Illinois and later relocating to the Bronx, NY, Scott-Heron was deeply influenced by the jazz and blues traditions. His writing opened a window into the conditions of Blackness and poverty in America. One of his biggest influences was Langston Hughes. He is best known for his piece "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," which became an anthem in Seventies Black America. He is also known for the blues "Pieces of a Man."

Decolonizing Culture

January 2016

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