Saturday, March 24, 2007

Why are we always so surprised? Be more than a consumer of information.

Every day there is a new exposé of another atrocity perpetrated by the U.S. or European governments or corporate powers somewhere in the world.

We find that Chiquita Banana has hired death squads in Latin America. The U.S. government-backed Blackwater mercenary army is stationed around the globe, including in New Orleans against the African community after Hurricane Katrina.

We read about the latest CIA actions, the intensification of the Patriot Act and the torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. We read about the latest victim of police brutality in Brooklyn, scandals in the U.S. prisons that warehouse millions of young African people and the sexual abuse of child prisoners in Texas.

Day after day our eyebrows are arched as we look on in horror. Some have built careers around this commodification of information about imperialist violence and terror, allowing millions of us to feel absolved of any responsibility by just ingesting the latest news.

Not that we shouldn’t be educating ourselves about these brutal realities. All of it must come to light. But we shouldn’t be surprised, as if America—and capitalism itself—is not built on this kind of terror. This IS America: the enslavement of African people, the genocide of the indigenous people and the colonization of peoples around the world. Rape, slaughter, war, violence and theft of peoples’ land and resources for our benefit—this is the American way from the very beginning.

There’s nothing new about what imperialism does to peoples whose resources, labor or land are determined to be necessary for the fueling of America. America is a parasite and parasites wreak destruction. These atrocities feed our lifestyle, past and present.

Our foreparents came over from Europe clear about the possibilities here that were not available in the Old World. Here they could hop up the ladder of success. They could pursue their right to the pursuit of happiness—at the expense of other peoples. That’s why the majority of white working people fought to maintain slavery, to condone or carry out terrorism against African people in the form of lynchings, to support the apartheid system of Jim Crow and the genocidal system of convict leasing.

Americans craved land out west and thus joined the voluntary army against the Indigenous people. Our actions were propelled by the popular white slogan towards the native people of this land: “Exterminate them!”

Today we could not live the American dream without devastation in Iraq, suffering in Palestine and proxy wars in Africa. We could not send our kids to college without there being more African youth inside this country locked up in prisons than there are in universities. Everything we have comes at the expense of African, Indigenous, Arab and Asian people, and the peoples of the world have had enough! The white parasite is hated across the planet.

I am tired of the belief that being progressive means just consuming information.

We have to DO something. We have to recognize that we—the white population benefit economically from the daily violence of the capitalist system. We sit on the pedestal of the exploitation of others. That’s why it is so easy for us to listen, be shocked and have forgotten it by the time we down our morning latte.

I believe we have to take a stand. We are talking about imperialism here and this is the nature of the beast. There are colonies right here: the militarized African communities, the barrios, the concentration camps called Indian Reservations where the policies of the U.S. government are the same as those in Iraq. But we walk right past them.

I believe it's time to take responsibility for what this government does and has done in our name and for our benefit for hundreds of years. We can stand in solidarity with the struggle of African people around the world for national liberation, for one united and liberated Africa as the birthright of African people. This puts us on the side of the struggling people of the world, not white power and imperialism. African people—and all oppressed peoples—must be free and in control of their own destiny with their own resources.

All peoples have the right to their own land, resources and sovereignty and they are struggling for it. Why should African people in Africa be forced to live on a dollar a day when the vast wealth of their diamonds, gold, oil, coltan, aluminum benefits the white world?

I am part of the African People’s Solidarity Committee and the Uhuru Solidarity Movement under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party which leads the worldwide struggle for African liberation. This gives us a chance to be part of a future on the side of the majority of humanity rather than as foot soldiers of white power.

Solidarity with the struggle for African liberation means unity with all peoples fighting for liberation. This lets us participate in a future determined by the struggle for freedom, peace and justice, not profit, parasitism, violence and alienation from the human family. When Africa is liberated and united we will see the emergence of a world characterized by prosperity, health and the possibilities for unity of all peoples on the planet. That’s the future that I think a lot of us want to be part of. Check out the African People’s Solidarity Committee at


heidi said...

"We have to DO something. We have to recognize that we—the white population benefit economically from the daily violence of the capitalist system. We sit on the pedestal of the exploitation of others. That’s why it is so easy for us to listen, be shocked and have forgotten it by the time we down our morning latte."

I am in complete amazement at my own inactivity for the 36 years of my life. I was guided to the Uhuru Movement through a very important person in my life, and... ignorantly thought to myself... "I'm white... why would he want me to read this?"

He knew the type of person I am, and guided me here...and I am really glad he did. I have experienced so much within my life... I by far was not raised in the Suburbs... and have always been outraged by any type of oppression... but never really knew what I could do and got caught up in the "I'm only one person" excuse. I am living in one of the most oppressed cities in the state of Indiana....possibly in the United States...and I find this...

I want to say thank you for being speaking out... Heidi West... Muncie, Indiana

One Small Voice said...

While European/American governments and companies have done terrible things, I think it is always worth keeping in mind that this is not, by any means, an exclusive phenomenon. There is not a government or people on this earth who can be shown to be blameless. The only thing unusual about Euramerican powers is that they have achieved an almost unprecedented technological superiority, and this power has allowed them to do both great evil and great good.
It seems to me that you constantly regress to a model of "Whites=oppressors, everybody-else=oppressed." This is a gross oversimplification of the situation. Firstly, the 1st world (the countries that are the primary beneficiaries of the global economic system) is not exclusively Euramerican, but includes Japan; recent economic trends also indicate that China and India may each be adopting a place in the 1st world as well.
Furthermore, not all whites benefited from imperialism: Eastern Europeans received almost no benefits, and in fact were hurt by imperialism, as it shifted the power away from them; and not all non-whites were hurt by imperialism: Japan became a world power on technology taken through western contact and the Dahomey Kingdom in West Africa was supported primarily by the slave trade.

Euramerican expansion is not "parasitism." Historically speaking, whenever power shifts to certain groups, they will tend to use (and abuse) their power. The Zulu, Incas and Aztecs all carved out empires in their respective areas; in fact, all three of these empires were brutal and unpopular, and all three were brought down by Europeans operating in cooperation with huge groups of native collaborators who wanted to see these empires fall.
Furthermore, Euramerican civilization has produced too much to be simply disregarded as mere parasitism: regardless of Ms. Sontag's famous pronouncement to the contrary, Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx and Balanchine ballets do, to a large extent, redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world.
Western hegemony has toppled old regimes and ushered in untold technological progress.

Finally, I think it worth noting that the "white parasite" is not an especially useful term. First, it is blatantly racist: it assumes (incorrectly) that all white people have helped and been aided by a system of oppression and ignores the responsibility of collaborators. Furthermore, I would like to point out that there is not even a clear definition of the term "white." Is it exclusive to Nordics? What about southern and eastern Europeans? Jews? Arabs and other non-Jewish Semites?

I'd also like to address a few more specific claims you make.

1. Chiquita Brands hired the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army in order to protect Chiquita employees. They were not hiring death squads; they were, in effect, paying protection money. Furthermore, it's worth noting that all three of those groups are anti-American, and the last two are anti-capitalist.

2. Blackwater is not stationed in New Orleans for use against the black population; New Orleans was descending into anarchy post-Katrina, and Blackwater had personnel who could provide much needed security. Furthermore, Blackwater is not a racist group, but hires anyone who meets certain psychological and physical standards (including blacks and other non-whites).

3. Even if the majority of whites in the United States fought to preserve slavery (a statistic I do not believe you have any method of proving), slavery was still brought down primarily by whites. The Union army was mostly white and the Union government was almost entirely white; furthermore, more blacks fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War than fought for the Union (93,796 to 79,283). Finally, please remember that slavery is a very old institution that has never been exclusive to Europe; furthermore, remember that the European slave trade would have been almost impossible with collaboration by groups such as the Dahomey and the Arabs (since, for disease-related reasons, European slavers could not safely penetrate central Africa).

4. Suffering in Iraq and Palestine hardly benefits us; our keeping troops in Iraq is a huge resource drain and contains no immediate benefits.

5. The barrios and black communities are established by choice. There has always been a tendency for people to associate with others of their culture. While many of these neighborhoods are poor, this trend in not set in stone. The Hispanic population, overall, is climbing the economic ladder at a tremendous pace. Finally, I suspect many of these people do not want to be removed. How many blacks do you think want to go “back to Africa”? Why do thousands of Mexicans struggle across the border to reach the same barrios you scorn? The US is a 1st world country, and all of our inhabitants benefit from this to greater or lesser degrees.

6. Indian Reservations are not concentration camps: the inhabitants may come or go as they please. They are our concession to the territorial rights of the remaining tribes. Again, I don't think you could find a single tribe that wants to have its reservation removed, and I doubt you could find any with useful proposals for additional land. Furthermore, it's worth noting that the unique legal situation of these reservations has allowed many tribes to become very wealthy.

7. Finally, I would like to object to this idea that Africa is the birthright of all people of African descent, and that it should be united. First, many scientists now think humanity evolved in Africa. Since everyone in the world, then, can trace their ancestry back to Africa, everyone (by you logic) has a birthright to Africa. Again, I think most people you would offer this birthright to would not want to accept it: who wants to face war, famine and disease in Africa, when they can live in the 1st world?

8. Finally, the fact that people in Africa may work for a dollar a day is not a sign of oppression. A fair wage in Africa would be substantially less than a fair wage in the 1st world, because African countries have smaller economies and control less capital. It is not a question of oppression, just economics.