Do White People Read The Liberator?



The thought was on my mind this morning after reading a good piece by Lydia Howell (shout out to KFAI, prison radio.)

It all revolves around two closely related concepts: solidarity and unity.

It's not a revelatory thought, necessarily. When I was in New Orleans after Katrina I felt up close, for the first time in my life, the lack of understanding, agreement, and true solidarity between white and black folk -- specifically, white: leftists, liberals, communists, socialists... pick one.

I distinctly recall one short white lady politely asking me some questions about the Bush regime and why I was down in New Orleans. My response centered around the desire to support my people, see their pain, and place Katrina into the larger context of a continual struggle for space to be human.

"This is nothing new," I kept telling her.

My sign read: "New Orleans is happening everyday."

"Of course it is," she replied. She was bent on selling me on the idea that Bush has brought the apocalypse with him and that getting rid of him will fix many, if not most, of "our" problems. Oh, not to mention the rhetoric about bringing down capitalism and replacing it with socialism/communism. She was a self-declared "democratic revolutionary socialist," or something like that.

Don't even get me started on "self-declared" folks.

Anywho, here lies the heart of my thought.

I often wake up with the perspective that there is much more that is wrong with this reality than Bush and capitalism. I worry about that white lady because I am not sure that she would be willing to go as far in her criticism as I would. In my opinion, Cedric Robinson, in his book "Black Marxism" (the title is actually an intentional oxymoron) suggests that both capitalism and marxism (and their respective heirs) are incompatible with black radical thought.

His reasoning?

Because they both came from the same place -- Europe. Therefore, in short, they are foreign concepts to people of African decent (who's culture, spirituality, and skin tone still reflects it) that if (and when) applied to their reality, will always fail. To me Robinson's critique of marxism and capitalism is in the same vein as Harold Cruse's critique of the black American intellectual and artist ("The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual") who has seemingly bought into the idea of a white aesthetic and paradigm. Clyde Taylor's "The Mask of Art" serves as great supporting evidence, whether intended or not.

So to reiterate, at the heart of my question, is how do we achieve solidarity if the problem is so attached to some of us? The crisis is similar to the mulatto child on the plantation whose father is the master and mother the slave. This child must decide whether to stand with his oppressed mother or with his father the oppressor, who he knows is wrong -- both of who he loves, of course, and both of who are him.

Then a few weeks ago I sent an article by Ewuare Osayande ("Michael Moore and the Racism of the White Left") to my email list and Lydia responded(who is white by the way). Her response was filled with overwhelming support and praise for the article, to my surprise! She remarked on her struggles to get her white friends and colleagues to "see the light" (my words).

I'm interested in exploring how such seemingly exceptional people exist. What does it take for the "mulatto" -- so to speak -- to abandon his destructive father and stand side-by-side with his oppressed mother?

With that, I think I'm done. I'd like to hear some answers + thoughts though, from everyone.


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