Black History Month 2014 || Freeing Ourselves from Language to Talk About Racism


I have entertained many radical ideas in my day. One radical idea I continue to support goes as follows:

9781584350804Organizations are obstacles to organizing ourselves.

In truth, there is no gap between what we are, what we do,
and what we are becoming. Organizations – political or labor,
fascist or anarchist — always begin by separating, practically, these aspects of existence. It’s then easy for them to present their idiotic formalism as the sole remedy to this separation.

Religious, political, and other social organizations offer, in exchange for strict adherence, solutions to the multifarious ills which plague us. I have never had faith in any of these organizations, in part because implicit to adherence comes the hatred or demonization of another group. For example being a Christian often comes prepackaged with decent amounts of homophobia, xenophobia directed towards those of the Muslim faith. Of course this doesn’t define all Christian, but it defines enough to many looking towards any religious institution to entrust the seeds of  change to, unfathomable.

I do have faith in people, and the power of mutual benefit. I do not expect anyone to sympathize with my plight. I hope thought, that enough people see that:

  1. the institutionalize abuse of the minorities (whether religious or racial) is a threat to everyone in the long run
  2. Democracy cannot exist wherever the populace is grossly uneducated and the elected body of representative officials is in the pockets of corporations
  3. Class warfare is a reality; as is , Global Warming  is a reality as well as is

Why I bring this Up

When enough people see something as a threat they take matters into their own hands as is seen by the many  community based organizations and initiatives throughout the country. I bring this up for a special reason that is very pertinent to Black History Month.

There are many of people in this country of all races and ethnic groups that want to talk about racism, but it is a very difficult terrain to navigate. To quote from one of my favorite bloggers trophos“I’m always a little uncomfortable talking about race and racism because I’m aware that I can’t speak for people of color. I don’t know their lived experiences. I can only work from empathy and imagination.”

The government or at least one which finally succeeded in gutting the voting rights after years of attacking, will not address many of the institutionalized discriminatory practices because they generate revenue. But we can start by freeing ourselves from the jingoistic vocabulary assaulting with 24/7. I think freeing ourselves from the constraints of language is the first step in preparing to have a dialogue.

Let me show you what I mean. 

1798493_777125065649070_569426180_nWar On Drugs – This term immediately  depicts the drug user as an enemy,  a threat so nefarious that only large-scale militaristic action can combat it.  There hasn’t been a war on drugs as much as there has been using of the criminalization of certain compounds  as a means of incarceration large segments of specific minority populations into a prison system that uses their free labor to produce a product.

Of course you only have to ask yourself what do drug dealers look like in movies. Then follow that up with: ” Is the entertainment institution an obstacle to people organizing themselves across racial and socio-economic lines through constant perpetuation of specific stereotypes that correspond with the Godless-enemy the anti-drug warriors are fighting deep in the trenches?

I mean we could call the war on drug by its other name: slavery. The word slavery is a very potent words: immediate rage and visceral responses are often found after it’s uttered. Look at these words from Mr. Cole – Mr. Cole, a retired New Jersey State Police narcotics detective and a co-founder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:

“Once we start treating drug abuse as a health problem instead of a crime problem, we won’t have to arrest and sacrifice on the altar of the drug war 1.7 million people a year who we arrest for nonviolent drug offenses, which is what we do today,” said Mr. Cole, whose international nonprofit, composed partly of former police officers, prosecutors and judges, supports drug legalization.He added that the nation’s drug policy has also helped to make the United States the world’s leader in per capita incarceration, a phenomenon disproportionately affecting blacks.”The war on drugs has also been the most devastating single destructive social policy since slavery,” Mr. Cole said.

Of course I am not advocating the use of drugs. I am asking that we use a language that allows us to call a spade a spade. It is one thing to acknowledge the dangers of drug and how subsequent drug use should be regulated . Its another thing to use continue to use a language created for domestic warmongering against a targetted group of people. We cannot come together to talk in any positive way about racism unless we recognize that the language we use is problematic and a tool for maintaining the social constructs that allow for exploitation.

In this case of course we are looking at racism but I am sure the same can be said for other groups of people. I mean look at the word “gay marriage”: marriages cannot have a sexual orientation. I think that the term gay marriage carries with it a subversive  statement. Tell me what you think, am I being too captious ?

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