The Subterfuge of Equal Rights: Deconstructing The Liberal Assimilationist Tool of (neo) Colonialism Part 2 of 3

Published by: James Stone

George Jackson

You know our people react in different ways to this neoslavery, some just give in completely and join the other side. They join some Christian cult and cry out for integration. These are the ones who doubt themselves most. They are the weakest and hardest to reach with the new doctrine.
—George Jackson
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Deconstructing & Understanding the Standard

The aforementioned quote from George Jackson is fundamental to understanding why people do not deconstruct the standards—AXIOMS—of society. To put it plainly, people have no confidence. Let’s look within the context of the settler colonial polity of the U.S. and its relationship to African people within its borders. When one properly analyzes the forms of oppression experienced by Black (African) people, it is easy to see this oppression is not the oppression of degraded subjects within civil society-but the oppression of colonial subjects located internally within the U.S. Thus when you hear progressive forces describe “burning issues of the day”, the question is always articulated within a colonial framework but never explicitly called a colonial framework. It will probably go a little something like this, “Why isn’t the government more receptive to inclusion policies for women, poor people, blacks, and other minority groups?” On the surface this sounds like a very progressive question being posed. It has seemingly included all the supposedly “underprivileged” groups in U.S. society, but with further examination of this statement one can conclude that, even if it is well intentioned, a political project tied to this ideological understanding is doomed to futility. When one generically describes the condition of “women” without making the distinction between settler (white) women and other women, a profound political error has been made because it ensconces the settler as normative. Are there not Black women who suffer a double oppression; an oppression that consists of being both a woman and Black? Is it not possible to be poor and Black (or a member of another “minority group”)? Conceptualizing the problem precisely in a settler colonial framework, you see Black women’s oppression stemming from gender as well as being a part of an internally colonized people. She is subject to being mistreated for being a woman from all men, but she is also subject to being mistreated from all non-Black people; this means white women can oppress her with impunity. A white woman has more social capital than a Black woman because she is a member of the settler (civil) society. When was the last time you read about massive lynchings of white men by Black, Indigenous of the Americas, or other “minority groups” because a white man was accused of “wreckless eyeballing” a nonwhite woman. The point is when properly contextualized, the “progressive question” is in actuality reactionary.

The unadulterated colonial oppression of Black people in the U.S., and the rest of the Americas, is purposely made surreptitious. This is done by parochially defining Black folk’s colonial oppression as a “color problem” which—if internalized—transforms us into beasts of burden all clamoring—from the cradle to the grave—to aspire towards “whiteness”, in other words normality. This is why it is problematic to explain colonial oppression using “equal rights” rhetoric; it assumes that all oppressed people have a latent, Anglo-Saxon, white-male potential (i.e. the standard). The irony is that African people’s (and other colonized populations) oppression proliferates exponentially because the right of the colonial system to exist is no longer questioned. “Equal rights” maintains the omnipotence of the political ideology of “whiteness”, and the utter impotency of anything Black.

And this is where you will see the bleeding-heart liberals falling all over themselves to “civilize an African”—or as they like to say—uplift an “underprivileged” or “inner city youth.” They never question why the “inner city youth” are “underprivileged” in the first place. They will form organizations that are welcoming of people from “all backgrounds” because they realize that within everyone from an “underprivileged background” lies “hidden potential”, but they never really come out and say “you niggers ain’t shit…bitch you need to get like me.” They use obfuscating phrases such as “Cedric you are just as good as me!” which is absolutely the same as “you niggers ain’t shit…bitch you need to get like me.” As Steve Biko correctly discerned about these “well intentioned” liberal formations, these “black-white mixed circles are static circles with neither direction nor programme,”2 which makes them utterly useless in aiding the destruction of oppression. Biko essentially exposes these formations as proliferators, not obliterators, of oppression when he elaborates on how these type of organizations function on a day to day basis:

The same questions are asked and the same naiveté exhibited in answering them. The real concern of the group is to keep the group going rather than being useful. In this sort of set-up one sees a perfect example of what oppression has done to the blacks. They have been made to feel inferior for so long that for them it is comforting to drink tea, wine or beer with whites who seem to treat them as equals. This serves to boost up their own ego to the extent of making them feel slightly superior to those blacks who do not get similar treatment from whites. These are the sort of blacks who are a danger to the community [emphasis added].3

biko

Steve Biko

As stated earlier, what we have here is a proliferation of oppression. Those Black folks that Biko points out as being giddy because they can be in proximity to what they perceive to be power–or “normal”– are dangerous to the community indeed. The dialectic of the colonial framework establishes as fact that “white is right” and anything “Black, get the fuck back!” These dangerous, treacherous, butt-licking, craven Negros push for integration, “Let me be the president of the U.S., I can hate niggers too! Let me integrate into this system boss. I can neutralize the nigger’s righteous anger; kill them here and in Africa under the guise of Right To Protect (R2P)—that sounds like some shit niggers say in the hood…‘R2P My Nigga! Erday All Day!’ This will destroy all communities, no matter their color. Please sir, eyes begging you…” Again, Biko is very instructive when he articulates why “the myth of integration as propounded under the banner of liberal ideology must be cracked and killed because it makes people believe that something is being done when in actual fact the artificial integrated circles are soporific on the blacks and provide a vague satisfaction for the guilt-stricken whites [emphasis added].”4

So was Biko “anti-white?” Was Biko “alienating allies?” HELL NAW! Biko was anti-colonial! Biko knew that a constituent element of colonialism is the superior/inferior (colonizer/colonized) dynamic. He makes this truth resonate even more when he goes on to say:

Does this mean that I am against integration? If by integration you understand a breakthrough into white society by blacks, an assimilation and acceptance of blacks into an already established set of norms and code of behavior set up by and maintained by whites, then YES I am against it. I am against the superior-inferior white-black stratification that makes the white a perpetual teacher and the black a perpetual pupil (and a poor one at that). I am against the intellectual arrogance of white people that makes them believe that white leadership is a sine qua non in this country and that whites are the divinely appointed pace-setters in progress. I am against the fact that a settler minority should impose an entire system of values on an indigenous people.5

Thank you Bantu Steve Biko! Biko said the hell with integration not the hell with Europeans; the two are not one in the same. Integration holds that white people are superior and us “lowly colored folks just want to get next to you and bask in your divinity.” Biko understood that all people deserve to be treated like human beings, nobody superior and nobody inferior. By accepting the veracity of integration as a righteous political goal, then one has to accept the immutable reality that white people will always be the haves and the Africans the have-nots. The system has not turned in on itself, it has in actuality—as Biko points out—been fortified. Black oppression is not the empiricist logic of cause and effect, meaning it is not a simple case of “Blacks are unemployed, therefore they are poor. If they didn’t want to be poor they would work.” No, colonialism has to make the cause and effect true, let’s not forget African people in the Americas had full employment when colonialism needed us to be chattel property. It is an utter lack of self worth the colonial system instills into its subjects that has us believing we are worthless. And then here comes the liberal, who you think is treating you with some respect say, “I know you aren’t really Black, because you don’t act like the rest of them, you are like me.” Well goddamn! Colonialism must make the colonized subject a “wretched thing”. Colonialism dislocates the colonized from whom and what they really are so they can only exist as colonialism dictates. Worse still, colonialism fucks up the colonized so badly that they only want to exist through it. But when the colonized begin to analyze the constructs of the colonial system and begin to recognize that it requires them—the colonized—to believe in these constructs for it to function, they have taken the first step necessary to free themselves from domination. The African revolutionary Amilcar Cabral elucidates this point when he talks about how the Portuguese needed the Africans in their colonies to NOT be African, but Portuguese:

It was after the Second World War that a need to struggle to put an end to colonial domination was born and grew in people’s thoughts. At that period, a group of students from the Portuguese colonies began to seek how to re-become Africans, for the cunning of the Portuguese had always lain in not allowing us to be Africans in order to turn us into second-class Portuguese.6

Only by understanding and deconstructing this standard can everyone on this planet begin to live with one another based on the mutual respect one human should have for another, not based on some arbitrary colonial standard of “whiteness” that purports Europeans as the apex of humanity.

  1. George Jackson, Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1994), 55.
  2. Steve Biko, I Write What I Like: Selected Writings, ed. Aelred Stubbs C.R. (Chicago: The University Chicago Press, 2002), 23.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid., p. 22.
  5. Ibid., p. 24.
  6. Amilcar Cabral, Unity and Struggle: Speeches and Writings of Amilcar Cabral, trans. Michael Wolfers (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1979), p. xxv.