Note From the Revolutionaries (of Color)

“And in my opinion, the young generation of whites, blacks, browns, whatever else there is, you’re living at a time of extremism, a time of revolution, a time when there’s got to be a change, people in power have misused it, and now there has to be a change. And a better world has to be built and the only way it’s going to be built is with extreme methods. And I, for one, will join in with anyone — I don’t care what color you are — as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth.”

~ El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)

 

“I propose nothing short of the liberation of the man of color from himself.”

~ Frantz Fanon (aka Ibrahim Fanon)

 

We, the revolutionaries (of color), who strategized, organized, mobilized, and directly participated in the action to take over the former cross cultural center at UCD, which was an abandoned building, have decided to send a very clear and straightforward message to respond to the lies, propaganda, and misrepresentation of our movement—a misrepresentation that was systematically perpetrated by a couple of ‘people-of-color’ (p-o-c) groups on campus that have proved to function from within the administrative logic of the university, the very same logic that uses the police force to repress student protest.

 

Three/four days ago when we took over the building, we began with a clear anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, and fundamentally anti-capitalist position. This was made clear when we rejected liberalism (the political supplement to capitalism): 1. We physically blocked media and surveillance into our “autonomous” space, 2. We confronted someone who wanted to sneak in an American flag into the building.

 

Our message was clear: We do not want administrative presence and the symbol of Empire in our space. We realize full well that the flag represents genocide, war, racism, imperialism, torture, surveillance, and the continued colonization of people (of color). We also understand the history of indigenous struggle in the Americas well enough to know that a proper anticolonial movement (decolonization) involves the total dismantling of settler-colonialism. We also know that anti-colonialism without anti-capitalism is not a total critique of the given order. We realize that a proper struggle requires us to understand the ideological history of the Americas, the coordinates of indigenous resistance to State violence, and forms of political action that combat the ideology of colonialism. This was the foundation upon which we wanted to begin to build our movement. We knew that the rejection of the flag was symbolic, but nonetheless, we were excited about the tone the movement began to have within that space (a space that also has its own radical history).

 

When we put up that banner “Revolution is the only Culture” (a paraphrased Fanon quote) we knew very well that it would disturb, challenge, and expose the ideological function of late liberal multicultural capitalism. We were ready for the battle with the multiculturalist logic that helps pacify and commodify marginalized communities of color into fixed non-revolutionary entities. We understand the importance of culture well enough to know that true culture is an impossibility within capitalist social relations. We know clearly that what is presented as culture is fundamentally a non-culture, a kind of non-being, an inauthentic existence, determined by the historical conditions of the exploitative relations of capitalism. Culture is nothing but a horizontal arrangement of meaningless, colonized entities within the marketplace. And, therefore, culture is in need of liberation. Revolution is the only activity that can properly dismantle relations of exploitation that produce reified conceptions of identity. In this sense, we are fundamentally against identity politics. Identity politics, which is supported by the administration, has absolutely nothing to do with the realization of human potential. It has everything to do with coopting communities of color into the logic of capitalism, ghettoizing marginal identities into narrow surveilled places, and using techniques of imprisonment (e.g. prisons, schools, mental institutions, social service institutions) upon bodies of color to finalize the colonial state. Every colonial project fundamentally worked through the methods of physical genocide and cultural genocide. We know that the colonial project in the Americas involved the same exact process of occupying a land through physical means, and then continuing with cultural genocide through institutions of education. Our fight against the administration is a fight against cultural genocide and colonialist capitalism.

 

When EOP (Educational Opportunity Program) came over to argue to get back the space, they were supported by a couple of p-o-c groups that ignorantly spoke of their identities and their cultures as if they are self-evident. They spoke of their individual stories of oppression and trauma. While we respect individuals, we fundamentally reject the line of reasoning that allows for this kind of isolation. We think it is a total misreading of the social, economic crises in communities of color, because no amount of individual counseling or therapy can resolve the larger problem of capitalism. The problem of capitalism can only be solved through revolutionary action which emerges from the tension between historical determinations and struggle. This is precisely why it is important for us to be aware of our own historical condition/moment. The revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East did not come out of a vacuum. A certain kind of historical situation presented itself, a certain set of crises emerged, and a certain kind of revolutionary struggle realized its task at hand. Identity politics is a strategy encouraged by administrative logic that aims to cloud the political truth procedures of marginalized and oppressed communities. And, therefore, identity politics within the logic of multiculturalism works against revolutionary politics. Our confrontation with EOP and the non-revolutionary p-o-c groups prove this point. We offered to share our space with EOP to help them become self-reliant. We also offered to occupy a larger place on campus for them. They declined both offers, and insisted on transitioning into our occupied space because that is what the administration asked them to do.

 

When Malcolm X argues for “extreme methods” he is precisely talking about rejecting the idea of making “peace” with oppression, making “peace” with the system. We, the revolutionaries (of color) know very clearly the role of the ‘truth’ of politics. We know how to identify our friends and enemies. Our truth is based on political action, but also a proper understanding of the “critique of political-economy.” In this sense, we never separate theory from action. We learn through doing, and we do when we learn. We are always ready to begin from the beginning. We know that the true movement of history can open up a different future, a different society without exploitation. When Fanon speaks of liberating “the man of color from himself” he is precisely talking about this possibility of the unfolding of history in the true revolutionary direction, where we destroy constructs created by the system.

 

Revolution is the only Culture.

 

Destroy (reified conceptions of) difference.

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14 Responses to Note From the Revolutionaries (of Color)

  1. Micki says:

    destroy difference?

    you’re fucking sick

    did you not understand the Audre Lorde quote I put up?

    Your shit is bananas, and as radical a paradigm shift I hoped this movement WOULD HAVE been able to create –

    I will not hesitate in shoving my six inch liberal administrative heel in your ass and crush this occupation – understand?

    – micki

  2. dear self-acclaimed revolutionaries of color,

    on many levels, i nod my head as i read your note. yes, anti-colonialism need be always in dialogue with anti-capitalism. yes, these two things are badddd. however, i have to say, that i am disturbed by your assertion of a “proper” revolution – a “proper” struggle. Malcom X calls for “extreme methods,” just as Fanon states that “revolution is the only culture.” however, that is within their particular historical and spatial contexts. i was about to say, times have changed, but with your monolithic assertions of the only legitimate politikal “action” or “subject”, maybe times have not changed so much after all. your narrative of non/revolutionary struggle is soaked in violent historicism – the same Hegelian, self-righteous assertions of one “true movement.” i am offended, saddened and angered.

    as much as you are claiming the capitalist assimilation of identity politics and your own “radical” rejection of it, here you are … categorizing what actions and thoughts are revolutionary, and which are not. here you are, delegitimizing the individual experiences of, as you call, “non revolutionary p-o-c.” yes, discursive and historical constructions of difference are often dangerously manipulated and reinforced in capitalist and colonial terms. however, _these politiks of difference are integrated into our very understandings of being and knowledge_. to assert a complete dissection from capitalism through delegitimatizing experiences of “non-revolutionary” folks, “passive” folks, and, i don’t know what next, of everyone that has ever worked for the University, anyone that has a Bank of America account, or has bought something from Target, or has any history of interaction with the University (oh my gosh, you!), is not 1) acknowledging the privilege that allows one to not use the resources the campus offers (i’m going to stick with University examples, here, as an institution that is perpetuating and reinforcing capitalism and colonialism), specifically, job opportunities and assistances 2) addressing the interplay and construction of various systems of knowing and being – each in their own particular spatial and temporal contexts, and yet, often in the same spatial and temporal contexts. we are not existing in a vacuum, i agree. but to each their own experiences, each must negotiate themselves. some of us don’t have the privileges of out-right rejecting interaction with the University. i know i cannot. some of us have to navigate, on a daily basis. i also know that i am _so_ privileged … so i feel a personal commitment towards reaching other folks that are pushed into the cracks/pits of the this capitalist political-economic system… even if that means immediate integration into the education system that we all know is fucked up. yes, i agree, things are not how i envision them to be. but, nevertheless, it is this education system that opened my mind to the kind of politiks that i live by now. they may change, but that is okay, because i believe in fluidity, just as i believe in plurality of what is considered “politikal.” it’s a messy, complicated, but beautiful.

    i almost admire your assertion to not separate theory from praxis, but when it’s framed as an “enlightened” “revolutionary” consciousness, then it tastes too much like unchecked privileges, unquestioned historicism. i recognize that you continue to occupy spaces, in attempt to “decolonize” them, and that still confuses me, but in the end, i also recognize that what you define as “your movement” is not the completely representation of _the_ movement that i have faith in. i will not let your continual disrepect of so many, and so much, weigh me down. with that said,

    without hesitancy, unanonymously, i sign my name,
    To-Nhu “alex” Dao

    • crank says:

      I didn’t write this statement, I just posted it, so I’m not going to claim absolute interpretive authority here. The author can do so if s/he wants.

      But the above comment makes some claims that should be addressed.

      The first has to do with being “violently historicist” (an indictment for not being post-structuralist, I suppose, and for insisting on the importance of theory) and claiming to be the “one true movement.” This seems like a misreading. The statement says that a “true movement” would be one that succeeds in overcoming capitalism. Even though it identifies movements which are decidedly not revolutionary, it does not claim to be the only legitimate praxis or that “we” are the revolutionary subject. It simply says that we are trying to destroy capitalism’s constructs in order to move in the direction of emancipation. There’s nothing absolute, universal, or inevitable about this. Quite the contrary. Not every Marxism, not even every Hegelian Marxism, posits a particular group (e.g. the proletariat or the working class, whatever those turn out to mean at UCD) as the universal subject of history.

      Second, the claim to an “enlightened revolutionary consciousness” does not appear in the statement. Instead, it describes the relationship between theory and praxis as a process of learning. It does not describe this process as leading to the telos of “Enlightenment.” Even if this is somehow implied, to say that adherence to a particular theory is a result of “unchecked privileges” is to adhere to another kind of theory: a crude, deterministic one in which one’s “standpoint” determines one’s politics. Any model of political agency must reject this determinism, even while recognizing the existence of privilege.

      Finally, this entire debate emerges from a situation in which certain liberal students, not “passive” but passive aggressive or just aggressive, have employed race- and gender-baiting tactics, slurs against P.O.C., and threats of physical violence against the occupiers. So you’ll have to indulge us if we see little difference between these students and the blue-suited dispensers of red pepper spray. And please, don’t assume disrespect for these cops-in-training equals disrespect for the legacies of struggle with which they identify.

      • reading your response, anonymous person, i can feel myself get ready for a debate here … but like i said, i am not going to try and change what your movement has become. my reading of this note may not parallel your interpretation. my reading comes from a place of rage. i want to let you know my perspective, as well as physically post my comments, because i do not want this note, nor the communique (http://ucdecolonized.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/communique/), to be later recorded as representative of the student movement as a whole, because let me say, it is not. you ask for understanding about the thin line between “cops in training” and the “blue-suited dispensers of red pepper spray,” and i want to highlight the fading line between the author’s “revolutionary” tactics and colonialist manifestations.

    • chainring says:

      what “colonialist manifestations” are you talking about?

  3. rossasossa says:

    As someone who was there at the meeting I find a couple things need clarification. The assertion that EOP “insisted on transitioning into our occupied space because that is what the administration asked them to do” is blatantly false. The decision to move into the much needed and bigger space was worked out directly with CCC weeks before Oucd decided to occupy the building. Also, why is not mentioned that one of main arguments for EOP not wanting to share the space was because students seeking EOP services would not feel comfortable entering the space if it was shared with Occupy?
    I think there are much more productive ways to “expose the ideological function of late liberal multicultural capitalism” but, in my naive opinion, this action does not seem like the best way to approach the issue. It’s caused a lot of hurt and resentment.
    This shit is hard.

  4. TQ says:

    Someone needs to tell me who can claim to represent people of color as a whole? Who can appoint themselves to be the spokespeople of the colonized everywhere? Student government hacks? Some other student groups which are basically part of the administration?

    “I will not hesitate in shoving my six inch liberal administrative heel in your ass and crush this occupation – understand?”

    This pretty much sums up the politics of this crew of student government hustlers.

    • Suzanne says:

      But doesn’t your first point about no one being able to represent people of color as a whole, apply to the writers of this post as well?

      • chainring says:

        Not once in this post does the author claim to represent all people of color, or anyone for that matter.

        Rather, it was POCs from the CCC that continually told us to “check our privilege” and called us “coconuts,” as if they somehow have poc-authority.

        We all understand that like many other institutions, the university is one that, through privatization and its continued tuition increases, is racist, sexist, classist; many communities, and primarily communities of color, are denied access to an education.

        Through occupation, and direct action in general, we seek to confront the very logic of this institution; it is this logic of exclusion that many people take as something-we-need-to-deal-with-for-the-time-being. That somehow, until there is some sort of future “larger struggle,” we just need to compromise with how fucked we are. It is this type of wishful thinking that liberals utilize to prevent mass mobilization and radical action, and keep marginalized communities docile.

        Because EOP was supposed to move-in, the occupation was accused of barring students from getting much needed resources. Really? So, according to our critics: “Never mind the structural oppressive dynamics of capitalism which constantly restrict access to resources, it’s actually these occupy protesters that are the problem.”

        Resource centers within the university function only to “seem” to help. Now don’t misunderstand me here. I don’t mean to say that resource centers don’t do any useful work. Of course they do. But they can only exist insofar as they address “individual” problems rather confronting “systemic” problems. In other words, they are fine as long as they don’t threaten the status quo. So while these “cultural” centers are subsumed by administrative logic, the university can claim a false “Commitment to Diversity.”

        The extent to which these resource centers are simply administrative apparatuses, and are not truly safe spaces, is accentuated by the fact that the senior employees of these centers are active members of the “Freedom of Expression Response Team,” which surveils and monitors students.

        As a poc myself, I find it funny to be called a coconut. As I’ve said before, I seek to confront this racist institution, not to compromise or to be “tokenized” by it. So somehow, those POCs who are working alongside the institution (the “white man”) through resource centers are the “true POCs,” while I’m a coconut. I don’t understand the logic here.

        Are we to praise the military because “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was repealed? Should we congratulate police departments that have a high number of POC officers? Should we love the state because it provides food-stamps?

        No, of course not. These institutions destroy lives and communities daily. Nonetheless, they try to appear “just” by forcing the assimilation of marginalized communities, and then saying “See! we’re not racist! We have brown police officers!”

        The university follows this logic exactly.

        Resource centers can offer many things. But as a friend has already pointed out, it doesn’t follow that they must be tied down by the administration to do this work. On the contrary, having autonomous spaces that are truly safe, administrator/cop free, and completely student run will do so much more to empower marginalized communities than they ever will be by working under administrative apparatuses.

        In just the 3 days of the short-lived occupation of the former CCC, we organized teach-ins, started an impressive library with a system of checking out books, had visits from Native-American organizers, Occupy Sac, and Occupy Woodland, provided daily meals, and worked to organize other various actions, such as coordinating with other UC’s, CSU’s and community colleges, and organizing rides to occupy oakland for whoever wanted to go.

        All these Occupied-CCC activities, teach-ins, and discussions were attended by both students and non-students.

        By autonomously occupying space, we were able, at least temporarily, to open up the university to anyone, in a way that was truly public.

  5. Please post on blog – shut down Nazis at Capitol on Feb 27th in Sacramento!

    http://www.modestoanarcho.org/2012/02/feb-27th-shut-down-nazis-in-sacramento.html

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