Advocating For Black Silence On Family Separation Is Not Black Liberation
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If people think it's ok to stay silent as families are separated at the border, herded into internment camps, given drugs against their will, and whatever else comes out from this - you do not represent black liberation. You represent black parallelism to white supremacy. The solution to black suffering in America isn't to become the monster's some of us say we are opposed to. That is the message being spread by some in black spaces online - it is counter-productive and doesn't accomplish anything but further hatred and disdain for victims of white supremacy.
I try my hardest to base my opinions off of information and data and not emotion. Not to say I don't have opinions that are my own, but I think it's way too easy to get online nowadays and make arguments that are not based on data. When I started Black and Intellectual, I started it with the agenda of building a base for radical black progressivism. There have been many bumps in the road and things that have held me back, but I've met some truly honest and hardworking men and women in my journey who have indirectly kept me going to fight another day using my words.
It is very important that black society not only resists Trump but actively works to reject lines of thought that coincide with Trumpism. Back in February, I made a video that didn't get much attention but needed to be made. The video was titled, 'The Misguided Appeal of Black Nativism In The Age of Trump.'
In that video (above), I broke down and debunked some of the erroneous arguments made by black commentators like Yvette Carnell, Boyce Watkins, Tariq Nasheed and others on Youtube and Twitter. Arguments about how undocumented immigrants take black resources (despite the fact that they aren't given access to close to a dozen federal programs that black people have access to). I also broke down the misunderstanding about how they're "taking our jobs."
If you notice, many of these arguments could very easily come from FOX News or any other right-wing website/blog. Matter of fact, Trump makes the very same arguments! Now, I'm not going to say the aforementioned commentators are Trump supporters. I don't think they are. That doesn't mean though that the arguments that they make sometimes can't run parallel to Trumpism.
I'm no expert on dictatorships, but I'd imagine if I studied hard enough I'd find many documented sources about how different groups in society respond to the rise of fascist tyrants. How various ethnic groups jockey for position under tyrannical rule is an interesting study in group position theory. I'd imagine that ethnic groups are pitted against each other when they should actually be working with one another.
The Growing Appeal of Pitting Black People Against Undocumented Immigrants
When Donald Trump gave his State of the Union address this year, he had a black family in the audience who he recognized because he needed to use them as props. Their daughter had been killed by MS-13 and Trump saw an opportunity not only to continue to push his xenophobic agenda but to also devilishly use a grieving black family to drive a wedge between black people and undocumented immigrants - and sadly it's working.
Members of the family later appeared on FOX News and called Trump "very genuine" and "a very nice President" before attacking black Democrats for not standing up and buying into the charade that was on full display.
Look, I feel sorry for any family who has had loved ones be murdered by any gang, group, or individual. At the same time, we have to be aware of when someone is running game on us. To Trump, all immigrants are MS-13 - he's made that very clear. So we can't look at this without seeing the chess pieces that are being moved. Trump does not differentiate between actual MS-13 members and undocumented migrants fleeing oppressive cartels in their native lands.
Black people should know how this feels because the same damn thing has been done to us for generations. If there's anyone who should understand the plight of undocumented migrants, it's us. Yet, there are black voices telling their black listeners to ignore all of that and to adopt a cold and un-empathetic position on this major issue because "they don't speak up for us."
What some of these folks really want to say is, "nobody is paying me to care, so I don't care." Empathy and humanity should not come with strings and dollar signs attached. People act like other groups have to kiss the Ring of Blackness and take a bullet for us before we're supposed to speak up for what is right. That's preposterous and goes against the entire history of real black liberation which historically has spoken up for other groups of disadvantaged people...while at the same time speaking up for black issues. So don't pretend we can't walk and chew gum at the same time the way some would have you think.
The problem is, creating an enemy out of undocumented immigrants works on some black people because it makes them feel better about their position (or lack thereof) in American society. Black people are constantly under attack on a multitude of fronts, so some may think when it comes to other groups being attacked we should back off because we're already dealing with a lot as it is.
While I understand this line of thought, I can't consciously endorse it. Yes, black people have been under constant attack since slavery and it really has been nonstop and relentless. I think non-Blacks take this for granted, and some go so far as to insinuate that we are exaggerating our claims. Understand, however, that they won't stop with undocumented immigrants and there's no such thing as "saving our energy" for when they come for us.
So the smart thing to do is start now if for no other reason than to get a head start.
Co-opting the Language of Black Liberation to Fit a Black Conservative Agenda
Black liberation has never been synonymous with political conservatism. Not to say there haven't been vaguely conservative voices or positions taken by proponents of black liberation in the past, but overall it was never a conservative ideology.
What we have today is something other than black liberation. It tries to sound like black liberation, but when you see that the loudest voices pushing this idea forward also don't want to speak up for African immigrants and Afro immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin America, you begin to see how fake their black liberation actually is. It's a truly new nativist interpretation of black liberation that says that the only people who matter are black Americans.
This is why some people couldn't see the value in a film like 'Black Panther' because they were upset about the number of non-Black Americans in supporting roles and the portrayal of black Americans. Despite the fact that T'Challa, Killmonger, Killmonger's father, Queen Mother, M'Baku, and others were all played by African-Americans. The Director was also an African-American. Yet, some commentators were so pressed to create divisions amongst black people where they really didn't need to be, that they crowbarred this anti-immigrant/anti-African argument into what was an overall uplifting film.
Listen, criticizing Civil Rights leaders for being strongly outspoken on immigrant issues at the seeming slight of black issues is one thing. Selectively using data (or no data at all) to push a conservative agenda that only benefits far-right white supremacists is not ok and damn sure isn't about black liberation.
What Is Black Liberation Really?
Black liberation is one of those terms with many different interpretations. I've laid out, however, what it isn't. So I guess I should also explain a little about what it is before ending this article. I'm not talking so much about the religious nature of black liberation which is known as black liberation theology. I'm speaking more about the socio-political nature of black liberation which I call black liberation philosophy.
Black liberation not only has a radical religious history, it has a radical economic history as well. You could easily include both together, but for the sake of discussion, I want to separate them for now.
Black liberation philosophy is the ideological nature of pro-Black thought. It includes everyone from Frederick Douglass to Angela Davis. It has no one definition, which is why I look at it more as an abstract philosophy than a narrow construct. Black liberation has evolved throughout the years, but there are common themes. Here are some that I have come across.
- Black Liberation is the love of community.
- Black Liberation is generally radical and progressive.
- Black Liberation is respect for the black woman.
- Black Liberation is critical of capitalism and the role it plays in black suffering.
- Black Liberation has always had alliances and comrades outside of the community. But they must have the same purpose and goals that we have.
- Black Liberation is intellectually thought-provoking and not dumbed-down.
- Black Liberation is self-determination. Acknowledgment that while we should seek government restitution, we have more to gain by working together than against one another.
- Black Liberation is global. From Europe to Africa, to the Caribbean - it is the understanding that white supremacy impacts us all.
- Black Liberation is disruptive.
- Black Liberation has existed in some form in every era of American history.
Black liberation philosophy is ours and it's the one thing that can't be taken from us because no one but us wants it. They can co-opt our music, our style, our slang, and swagger, but they can't claim our philosophy.
Sticking true to the spirit of radical black progress is what separates us from white supremacy. While we strive for progress and equality, they strive for the past and supremacy. We are nothing like them, so we shouldn't make arguments that they make because we are better than that.
People are entitled to their opinions, but don't start fights on fronts where there are no wars. Fight the battle in front of you and don't become distracted by what other groups hurting as much as yours or more are or are not doing when they don't have much, to begin with.
There are no counter-arguments to internment camps.