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Requiring activists to “make space” for black or brown voices, if apolitical or reformist, is a counterinsurgency trap.

 
 

 
OFF-STREET ACTIVISM floweth over with do-gooders begging for a seat at the table, literally, tables, where the powers-that-be want them. Street protest organizers are berated about providing forums for disenfranchised voices, as if indoor choir-singing yields redress of grievances. Leaders of disadvantaged communities mistake cis-gendered, white activists for their actual oppressors, because that’s easier than facing down the police. But the dynamic is disingenuous subterfuge and it’s not coming from the allies who matter. The people of Ferguson did not wait for white social justice groups to “make space” for their protest. You’d think the lesson of Ferguson is obvious.

Across non-Ferguson, religious community leaders and token spokespeople of color insist that they should monopolize local manifestations of anti-racism movements. Never mind that their call is for people to sit in church pews, meet with cops, vote, GOTV, petition, or join intra-city marches to nowhere, nowhere more than away from urban uprisings. In Denver I have never seen black resistance voices or leadership unwelcome at any rally no matter the subject. But I have seen tokenism at #BlackLivesMatter events used to discredit radicals and diffuse public outcry.

The making space argument certainly applies to entrenched nonprofit leadership but among militant voices it’s a laugh. If anyone is oppressing upstart minority voices it’s the seniority membership who don’t want unscheduled rocking of the boat. Reformist claptrap is the police state’s first line of defense.

“Black Lives Matter” must be shouted loudly even if your token black appointees won’t. Don’t mind the usual detractors peddling apolitical identity politics, let’s call them IDENTITY A-POLITICS, they’re a counter-revolutionary tactic to divide natural allies. This has been used against insurgents across the country, from Deep Green Resistance to Occupy, as fly-paper to waylay alliances or force effective organizations to go down the old rabbit holes occasioned by the usual novice errors.

Ferguson has shown the way. The anniversary of Mike Brown’s killing on August 9, 2014, correctly commemorates the public uprising not the policeman’s bullet. Unsurprisingly the early emphasis is being placed on ensuring crowd anger doesn’t get out of control. The eyes on the ball, whether blue or brown, focus on the racist police state.

The Black Lives Matter activists who interrupted Netroots Nation shared knowing themes through a people’s mic. Here’s a transcript of what they chanted until shut down by the speakers on stage.

If I die in police custody.
#BlackLivesMatter at #netrootsnation

If I die in police custody,
Do not let my parents talk to
Don Lemon, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson,
Or any of the motherfuckers
Who would destroy my name.
Let my parents know
That my sisters got this.
If I die in police custody,
Say my name, say my name.
Say the name that I chose,
Not the one that I was given.
If I die in police custody,
Make sure that I am remembered.
Make sure my sisters are remembered.
Say their names. Say their names.
If I die in ICE custody,
Say that I am not a criminal.
Stop funding prisons and detention centers!
Shut ICE down and our county jails and our prisons,
Not one more deportation!
If I die in police custody,
Know your silence helped kill me.
White Supremacy helped kill me.
And my child is parentless now.
If I die in police custody,
Know that I want to live!
We want to live!
We fight to live!
Black Lives Matter!
All Black Lives Matter!
If I die in police custody,
Don’t believe the hype, I was murdered!
Protect my family!
Indict the system!
Shut that shit down!
If I die in police custody,
Avenge my death!
By any means necessary!
If I die in police custody,
Burn everything down!
Because no building is worth more than my life.
And that’s the only way motherfuckers like you listen!
If I die in police custody,
Make sure I’m the last person to die in police custody.
By any means necessary!
If I die in police custody,
Do not hold a moment of silence for me!
Rise the fuck up!
Because your silence is killing us!

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