As Africans in America we must understand that our constant dying is not coincidence but the result of conditions(1) created by White Supremacist Capitalism. Some of these conditions, such as poverty or inaccessible healthcare kill us slowly, over the duration of our whole lives; while others, like qualified immunity(2) and stand your ground laws, give state actors and white vigilantes free license to end black and brown lives instantly. But despite the nature of our dying, the fact remains that the state is actively facilitating that death and we cannot vote away our dying as much as we can’t vote away the very state that is killing us.
The same state that imposed these conditions upon us will not remove them because to do so would be to self-destruct. The conditions are its very essence. There is no US without state sanctioned killing and ritualistic violence towards black people. The same way this violence is hardwired into the cultural psyche of whites(3) it is codified into the DNA of the state because in this country state power has always been informed by white power.
I would ask anyone who disagrees to show me a period of American History where this was not the case. White Supremacy was foundational to the The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Even the 13th amendment marked more of an evolution of White Supremacy from one stage to another, than it did any actual shifting of values. After its ratification vagrancy laws(4) and convict leasing(5) ensued and we saw the first prison boom. Lynchings and White Supremacist terrorism increased(6) as well. To this day we have yet to see an actual changing of conditions or end to our suffering and dying.
For God’s sake we were dying under a Black leader as much we were dying under white ones before him. If this isn’t proof that white supremacy is too deeply ingrained within the fabric of the state to be removed then what is? The truth is obvious but constant oppression has a way of beating down a people’s mental fortitude.
This is why many of us have the mindset of a person trapped in an abusive relationship; unable to imagine a world in which their abuse doesn’t exist because they view their abuser as their only means of living a meaningful life. To any rational, healthy, outside observer the truth is clear: either the abuser must be removed from the equation or the recipient of the abuse must get out from under the abusers control.
Similarly, if the state’s position is that of an oppressor, to expect a sudden change based on the election of a new racist every four years is fantasy. If we continue on the road of choosing which boot is on our neck and which shackles are on our wrists instead of taking action, our children will be condemned to poor butchered half lives(7), oscillating between begging a “liberal” state for welfare and begging a “conservative” state to stop cheering on white vigilante violence. Either way we remain beggars.
As long as we are choosing between two racists in a state sponsored circus every four years the conditions facilitating our deaths will not come to an end. Specific, talented negroes will be allowed to succeed and stand in positions of power on the condition that they contribute to the oppression and exploitation of their own, but as a whole we will never be equal to our oppressor under their system.
For non-Black people of color, working within the state can translate to an eventual easing of suffering but for Blacks our death and suffering is a necessity under white supremacist capitalism. That is why appeals to the Black voter rely on empty rhetoric and posturing. Hilary pulled hot sauce out of her purse, Kamala made reference to hip hop, and Biden warned us of losing our black cards if he didn’t get our vote but none of them committed to changing the conditions that are killing us en-masse. Conditions for which they are all directly responsible. The truth is they won’t commit to changing these conditions because they can’t. It’s like asking a vulture to abandon rotting flesh and adopt a vegetarian diet. You’re asking the vulture to starve itself.
If liberation in our context is finally living as American citizens equally, without being oppressed based on race, religion or gender then know that assimilation into whiteness is implicitly understood as the goal. This is because in the US, whiteness is the prerequisite for those things. No group has ever attained them besides by assimilating into it.
For non Black people of color this success via assimilation is a possibility. Granted it requires losing hold of religion and culture but it is possible. For indigenous and Black people, it is not. If it was it would’ve happened already. Why is it that European Jews, the Irish, and Italians all fully assimilated into whiteness within a generation while blacks are over two centuries deep into the same cycles of oppression? Is it something wrong with black people? Black culture? The black family perhaps? If your answer is yes to any of those you’re a racist and have a bad understanding of history. If your answer is no, only one logical conclusion remains. That our death and suffering are too embedded into American culture, and state power to be voted out or represented away. They are necessities for the state. The lifeblood of the nation. Whiteness is predicated on being the antithesis of an “Other” and that “Other” is blackness.
My intention in writing this isn’t to embrace defeatism, pointing out these realities is neither that, nor pessimism. It is acceptance of the most empowering truth, that God Almighty has placed within us the ability to change the conditions around us. Only we, with the permission of God, can bring about the end of these conditions. Nothing else ever will; especially not the same systems that are carrying out our killing.
Peep how quickly the state made concessions we never thought possible under the onslaught of the George Floyd Rebellion(8). Imagine if all the organizing and energy that went into pushing people to vote went into facilitating direct action to ensure that these concessions go through without the state backing out of them. Don’t stand back and wait until the young people who put their lives on the line for these concessions burn out and then point and say “See it was just a fad.” “Nothing really changed.” “This is why protesting doesn’t work.” Not only do you sound like a coward but you also sound like a fool. If the state’s concessions don’t come to fruition it will be because of YOU. Because YOU sat on the sidelines and condemned; because while others put in work and tried to be free YOU yelled from the rooftops that they were silly for thinking they could free themselves. That is defeatism, that is pessimism. Those in the streets burning American cities are your protectors. They have done more for you than the state ever has and ever will.
Understand that the state is an enemy to you. It is facilitating our physical and spiritual death. Organize your communities, work toward autonomy from the state in education, healthcare, self defense, and all other avenues. Hold tight to the rope of Allah(9) and do not seek shelter(10) or help(11) with those who are killing us. All praise is due to God the most gracious, most merciful. May God bring about an end to the killing, and give all of us guidance. Ameen.
7. George Jackson, Blood in My Eye (Black Classic Press, 1990) Page 18