[News] The Fight for Dignity - Ferguson and the Right of Resistance

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Nov 26 13:09:41 EST 2014

November 26, 2014

*The Fight for Dignity*

  Ferguson and the Right of Resistance


Barack Obama, the obsequious errand boy for the financial and corporate 
plutocrats who own the U.S. government, made a pathetic appearance on 
national television to try to persuade the "natives" to remain peaceful 
in response to the non-indictment of the Ferguson killer-cop. His inane 
comments extolling the value of non-violence and the rule of law seemed 
strangely incongruent with the militaristic rhetoric and policies of his 
administration over the last few years.

Yet, Obama's positions on law and violence are not as contradictory as 
they might appear when these positions are resituated within the context 
of imperial logic and the framework of power. Legitimate violence is 
always determined by history's dominant powers and employed as a weapon 
to maintain and extend that dominance. Over the last five hundred years 
Europe emerged from the backwaters of history and cultural backwardness 
to predominance as a result of genocide and land theft in the Americas, 
the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and colonial/capitalist development. The 
violent establishment of capitalism, racism, and heteropatriarchy 
enabled the West to impose its definitions of legitimacy, including 
"legitimate" violence.

Thus when Palestinians resist the theft of the their land and the 
killing of their people by Israeli colonists, their response is defined 
as illegitimate violence that sparks support for Israel's "right to 
defend itself." When Africans waged national liberation struggles to 
free themselves from European colonial domination in places like Kenya, 
Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa, the West condemned their 
efforts as illegitimate. Furthermore, because those struggles were 
determined to be illegitimate colonial powers felt justified to 
viciously attack those efforts with the support of the U.S. government. 
And when African Americans organized against police violence and for 
self-determination and our own definitions of liberation in the 60s, our 
efforts were deemed illegitimate. We were brutally suppressed with the 
full range of state terror tactics including beatings,
deaths, infiltration, surveillance, and the jailing of activists for 

Therefore, we should understand the State's response to our discontent 
in the aftermath of the murder of Michael Brown in this context. The 
heavy-handed use of violence to deny the people the human rights to 
peacefully assemble and freedom of association is consistent with the 
historical uses of violence to control and suppress opposition. And the 
state's determination that more militant forms of popular resistance are 
illegitimate helped to shift the attention of the capitalist media to 
black resistance and away from the issue of impunity for yet another law 
enforcement official who literally gets away with murder.

The focus on the forms of resistance taking place in Ferguson is 
reflective of a shared, cross-class and racialized world-view that 
accepts the carefully constructed elite view concerning what constitutes 
illegitimate resistance. This hegemonic view creates a moral myopia that 
makes it impossible for many in white America to understand the point of 
view of the resisters to this non-indictment. This ideological and even 
cognitive disconnect makes the call for more national conversations on 
race such a dangerous diversion from the more immediate historic task at 

The task of the African American resistance movement is not to worry 
about sitting down with white people infected with the disease of white 
supremacy, but to build the capacity of black poor and working class 
folks to resist the intensifying expressions of repressive state power 
directed at our people. From that base, we can and should talk about 
building coalitions with other oppressed communities and people who are 
ready to take on the task of opposing the settler capitalist state at 
every level.

So while the corporate media has been somewhat successful in shifting 
the focus from the injustice of the non-indictment to the reaction of 
protestors, the insights provided by brother Malcolm X offer a framework 
for understanding what must be done.

For Malcolm, resistance is not a crime. In fact, the fight for human 
dignity and human rights is what makes us human. But he argued that 
there is a price that people must be prepared to pay. According to Malcolm:

    "...you shouldn't even be allowed around us other humans if you
    don't want to pay the price. You should be kept in the cotton patch
    where you're not a human being. You're an animal that belongs in the
    cotton patch like a horse or a cow, or a chicken or a possum, if
    you're not ready to pay the price necessary to be paid for
    recognition and respect as a human being."

And what was the price? "The price is death really. The price to make 
others respect your human rights is death. You have to be ready to 
die..." "This is all we want---to be a human being."

In our quest for authentic freedom for ourselves and our children who 
are being spiritually and literally murdered, Malcolm is reminding us 
that we have to be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. This 
willingness to sacrifice, as inchoate and thinly grounded as the mass 
resistance was in Ferguson, demonstrated, nevertheless, that many of our 
young people are still prepared to pay the price for freedom. We should 
be proud that the spirit of struggle, resistance, and sacrifice is still 
alive. The experience of Ferguson demonstrated to people around the 
world that despite the opiate of credit-based false prosperity, 
illusions of system inclusion and Barack Obama -- African Americans are 
finally awakening from an almost two decade long sleep and in the 
process reawakening the spirit of resistance for everyone.

/*Ajamu Baraka* is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political 
analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy 
Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist 
for the Black Agenda Report. He is a contributor to "Killing Trayvons: 
An Anthology of American Violence 
<http://store.counterpunch.org/product/killing-trayvons/>" (Counterpunch 
Books, 2014). He can be reached at info.abaraka at gmail.com 
<mailto:info.abaraka at gmail.com> and www.AjamuBaraka.com 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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