From Lorenzo Komboa Ervin of Black Autonmy Federation
Notes to Solidarity Workshop: Law & Disorder Conference 2014
A Quote from Che Guevara: “What is the value of solidarity when the imperialist guns are not challenged? The solidarity of the progressive forces of the world towards the people of Vietnam today is similar to the bitter irony of the plebeians coaxing on the gladiators in the Roman arena. It is not a matter of wishing success to the victims of aggression, but of sharing his fate; one must accompany him to his death or to victory.”
So whenever we hear of white radicals claiming to be allies of Black and oppressed peoples, we say prove it! Prove that this is not for your benefit, rather than the benefit of the oppressed people of color. Prove that you will put your life at the disposal of the movement, and not retreat into mere play-acting or what is comfortable for you, while Black people/poc are killed fighting for their freedom. Prove that you understand that your freedom is bound up with that of the oppressed people-in-arms, and that you will not be ruled by your white fears and insecurities as mother country radicals. Prove that you are willing to spend years in prison, in place of revolutionaries of color who have escaped the police dragnet. Prove that you will carry out the political program of the oppressed, just as if it is your own. Prove that you will challenge, and even pick up arms, against other white people or government administrators, if that is what it will take to obtain freedom for oppressed peoples of color. Prove that you will obtain and give your financial resources to a Black Autonomous revolutionary movement. Prove that you will not give in to pacifism or fear, and turn your back on a bloody struggle. Prove that you will fight against mass imprisonment of peoples of color. Prove that you will stand up against the mass murder of Black people/POC by the police that goes on every day. Prove that you will protest the mass deaths of Black infants from lack of medical care.Prove that you will stand up against violent white supremacist organizations seeking to kill peoples of color. Prove that you will help to decolonize the internal colonialism that exists in the country to oppress Blacks and other POC.
So many things happen everyday to Black people and other peoples of color in this country, that we alone are expected to fight. It is as if racism is our own burden which the white people and their government are free to dish out, but to not join us in fighting. Very few white people, including so called radicals, are willing to do more than charity work, while giving lip-service to “solidarity”,“anti-racism”, class unity and other empty slogans. The truth is that if you are not willing to deepen your assistance and resistance,to totally merge yourself with our causes, then you are of no use to us. Just another white Left-Liberal who is engaging in charitable giving of time or money to assuage themselves of guilt. We do not need that as much as we need fighters that we can count on, people who can help us use technology to advance our struggle, obtain money to sustain us, stand in the faces of cops, Klansmen, and prison guards, and do the work as the peoples of color see it, not as you see it. Potential white solidarity workers need to understand that they are part of the corrupt racist culture, and have massive privileges as compared to peoples of color, even while they are trying to throw them off. In other words, only when you are prepared to follow the lead of the oppressed, put your egoism and opportunism aside, will you be ready to do real solidarity work.
We have seen decades of treachery,opportunism, and internal racism, we have yet to see real work that we can trust, on a consistent basis. Solidarity means putting yourself on the line everyday, not “maybe” or “if I feel like it.” Not acting as a condescending savior from the white world who has come to save us. Not acting as a “commander” who knows more than people who have not enjoyed the education or station in life that you have. It means struggling to learn from us on the bottom, just like white society encourages us to learn from those on top. Solidarity means that you recognize that you are no better than anyone of us, and that you are not “doing us a favor” with your participation. It also means that you do not get to decide how or if you can help us, but we will tell you how. It also means that you must gracefully accept our decision not to work with you as well. You have no right to impose yourself on us, and we can always say no. How will you handle this? We cannot be concerned with your ego, because we are fighting for our very lives, not for your lifestyle. This is not just a personal cause, it is a political cause.
Some white radicals pretend to be “race traitors” and to no longer be white people as a result. We do not want to hear that you are not white or Euro- American by self-designation, as this changes absolutely nothing. We want to hear that you are not just rejecting personal or racial privileges, but are ready to overthrow and destroy white supremacy, as well as the capitalist system which upholds it. This is not about who you say you are, but who you prove to us you can be, that organizer against all forms of oppression of POC, not just what effects white people. If you can do that, then we welcome you. If you cannot, then you may never be ready.
We want to hear you say and prove by your actions that you have come not to lecture us, but to take leadership from us, and become an activist in our cause. We want you to join our anti-racist liberation support movement, the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality, [which was first founded in Memphis, TN. in 2013), while we fight for our freedom in this white supremacist society.
Finally, you prove it by completely changing your behavior and your thinking. You are from the oppressive white world, the “mother country”, so your first responsibility is show us you can change and work in a principled manner. Show us that you can fight that white supremacist world on behalf of all the oppressed. Thank you, that is all we can say.
delivered by Lorenzo Komboa Ervin
May 9, 2014
Black Autonomy Federation
P.O. Box 16382
Memphis, TN. 38186-0382