An Attempt to Leap Over the Color Line

If a person darker than me makes a valid claim regarding the intersection of identity and politics (e.g., oppression of white workers is nothing compared to the half-millenium long holocaust “still going on”# , namely black genocide), and then a person who is my shade or lighter makes the identical claim, (e.g., oppression of white workers is nothing compared to the half-millenium long holocaust “still going on”#, namely black genocide), although this time it’s judged to be invalid, then what has occurred is a violation of Kant’s categorical imperative, namely , “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.” Further, it positions truth claims within the body of the person making the claim, thereby denying materialism in favor of subjective metaphysics as a means of assessing truth claims. Not just a slippery slope here. It’s literally, “believe whatever you feel” at a formal level, and it is what white Americans think of when they hear “left wing extremists.” White America thinks the left wing are uppity black students. That’s not just ignorance, that’s a consequence of being systematically lied to in the interests of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

As Fela Kuti teaches us, the colonizer “do themselves” the same as it “does” the colonized. White America is chewing on its own tail around a treadmill dog track, just to make sure the lights are still bright in the gray corridors in the apparatuses of power.

Since “whiteness” is a construction of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, and the catch-all category “non-white” is a function of the system of white supremacy, and since white people’s practice of “identity politics” can only be done in good faith by white nationalists, then the risk is always present that an idea will be ignored because it’s not “theirs,” whosoever “they” might be. Even Ms. Carter was attacked for her fricking amazing video (the one where she poses on top of a police cruiser stuck in a flood) because she was disallowed by the most persnickety of the word police to “speak” for the people of New Orleans, being only half Bama Creole and basically all Houston.

I got news for you folks, if I did that with my white buddies, if I said, “no one can speak for white men except for white men?” If I said, “the white race is a vibrant and dynamic community?” Not pretty. It is black folks and only black folks who can say most forcefully to a willfully ignorant and congenitally forgetful white America, that, hey, remember COINTELPRO? Remember Chairman Fred Hampton’s state sanctioned execution and disinformation campaign that happened basically yesterday? Do you really think that the powers that be just gave up and said, “Oh well, I guess we can’t actually destroy the blacks with mind control after all, let’s just go back to protecting our freedoms?” If I were the King of the Panopticonopolis, I would do the following. Make as many fine-grained “identities” as I can. Isolate these identities so that the only thing that connects them is capital, and the fact that none of them can say anything about any of the other nano-identities. That way, the people are always spinning away from each other into their own cozy private feedback loop. The evidence is all around us that this has already happened.

In effect, what this does is reify the artificial constructs of “race.” The danger in this is that the vital interests of oppressed communities can be obscured in the language of feelings. Material conditions are ignored, and the focus on material conditions is the sine qua non of any type of socialism. What really spooks me is when I see that the passions and end-goals of oppressed groups can weirdly coincide with some of the goals of white nationalists, primarily the splitting of the working class into horse-breeding type categories along the lines of the good old-fashioned quadroon, octoroon, creole, mestizo,* etc., categories which are not just remnants of the slave trade, but an invention of the slave trade, a lie that flies in the face of the entire history of civilization.

There are two classes: workers and bosses. All identities are bisected by the class divide. Willful knowledge will always conquer willful ignorance. The people on the working side of the conference table will always trump the powers that be.

 

# cf. Chuck D, Public Enemy.

*Mestizo is totally different from the others insofar as “mestizo” for the left should now signify primarily the fact that the people of Latin America are one people, a people who have always been on the front lines of resisting U.S. hegemony because they were the first to encounter it.

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SR.

I remember Sr. showing us this at the Maatterhrneeii earlier this year when I was corresponding with a Joyce cugino. It made an impression on me, because the story it tells is how the contentious history of Ireland can be resolved in a family tree. The Connaorois, ancient chieftains. Brijenm Boruumlout, the unifier who put those chieftains out of business. The Joyces, the western branch of the Germanic tribes who drove the Britons out of Britain, those colonizers of colonizers whom we O’Gonnigalls absorbed into our family tree, thereby negating their status as evildoers.

HOW IS SOLIDARITY POSSIBLE?

How is solidarity possible in a world where strangers can never talk to one another? That is the world I live in.
I know that solidarity requires that there be communication between groups of people who seem to have nothing in common. According to the standard version of American “liberalism,” individuals are defined by their age, religious affiliation, sexual preferences, “race,” gender, “socioeconomic status,” regional identity, country of origin, political “party,” etc.
I have learned what solidarity means as a descendant of unwelcome immigrants and poor southerners; as a service industry worker; as a student; as a friend of lesbians; as a sexual partner with bisexual women; as a neighbor; as an anarchist; as a lover of punk rock; as a lover of hip-hop; as a resident in Black neighborhoods; as a worker in majority-Black workplaces; as a resident in recent immigrant neighborhoods; as a patient in locked psychiatric wards; as a cyclist in cities with no bike lanes; as a minimum-wage-earner in psychiatric facilities where my job was to use my lived experience as a “mental health consumer” to help other “mental health consumers” manage their symptoms, learn about recovery, and navigate the social service system in Chicago so that they can achieve stable housing, a stable source of medications, etc., etc.
I have never felt solidarity with “White people,” even though according to the genetics website 23 and Me I am 100% European. I have never felt solidarity with “heterosexual men,” even though I am certainly a heterosexual man. I have never felt solidarity with “real Americans,” even though I have ancestors who have been here since 1640. I have never felt solidarity with the Stars and Bars, even though my ancestors owned slaves and colonized Mississippi.
Every time a giant automobile nearly runs me over, I curse at that automobile. I would rather not curse at it. What I would like to say instead of “FUCK YOU” is, “Pardon me, but have you ever had your brain hit the front of your skull so hard that it completely and permanently severed all of your olfactory nerves? No? Well, I have, and it was a giant automobile that did it. If I still had a sense of smell, maybe I would have realized that you were headed in my direction earlier. Isn’t that something?”
It’s impossible to have a conversation with a moving vehicle. A moving vehicle objectively has more killing power than an unarmed human being.
Every time I am walking down a sidewalk in the dark and I encounter a small woman walking a giant dog and talking on a cell phone, I want to say, “Pardon me, I know that I am six feet seven inches, 225 pounds, and dressed all in black. I am not an aggressive person, and I accept most of the conclusions of radical feminism, despite being a heterosexual man. I have been bitten by dogs twice while walking down sidewalks in Chicago. If I stepped in your dog’s poop, I might never even realize that everyone smells shit on my shoe when I walk by. The thing is, you are walking slower than I would like to walk, and I hesitate to pass you, because that would be frightening.”
It’s impossible to have a conversation with a person talking on a cell phone. And so I walk slowly, and cross to the other side of the street at the next intersection.
A giant dog under the control of a distracted person is objectively more dangerous than I am.

Depression

“Depressive realism” inherent in point of view, which mostly has benefits we want to keep. In short, it is a side effect of the type of intelligence that makes us most valuable when we are at our best. It is the root of our “bullshit detector,” which makes it the Radix of our ability to Rise Above the bullshit – to be authentic, real, genuine, take your pick.

But it also means that, without tampering with chemicals that can pass the blood-brain barrier, life will be a bit of a chore. Hence, the urge to “feel different.” So then there is our depressive-realist persona sharing time with our “get weird” persona. Make a living with depressive realism and make meaning and joyfulness after work and on the weekends.

This can be taxing on our ability to maintain a stable ego. What do we “really” think about our jobs, or our relationships with others? Is it the sacred or the profane ego which gets the last word?

However,

There can be a silent process going on in any given med line, behind a new consumers’ groggy face where they are calculating the costs and benefits of taking these new powerful drugs for the rest of their lives or saying fuck it and running out the front door, when they see someone getting a mouth check this silent event can become a confirmation of the wrong idea.

And Yet

And yet they will no doubt witness “mouth checks” which other consumers must submit to so that nursing knows they have swallowed their pills. The new arrival will also hear staff say things like “Betty, come get your meds.” “Harold, you gotta take your meds before you leave this building,” “Chester, get your meds before you go smoke,” etc., etc.