[News] Baltimore and the Human Right to Resistance

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 29 12:58:08 EDT 2015

April 29, 2015

*Rejecting the Framework of the Oppressor *

  Baltimore and the Human Right to Resistance


Anti-Black racism, always just beneath the surface of polite racial 
discourse in the U.S., has exploded in reaction to the resistance of 
black youth to another brutal murder by the agents of this racist, 
settler-colonialist state. With the resistance, the focus shifted from 
the brutal murder of Freddie Gray and the systematic state violence that 
historically has been deployed to control and contain the black 
population in the colonized urban zones of North America, to the forms 
of resistance by African Americans to the trauma of ongoing state violence.

The narrative being advanced by corporate media spokespeople gives the 
impression that the resistance has no rational basis. The impression 
being established is that this is just another manifestation of the 
irrationality of non-European people – in particular, Black people – and 
how they are prone to violence. This is the classic colonial projection 
employed by all white supremacist settler states, from the U.S., to 
South Africa and Israel.

The accompanying narrative is that any kind of resistance that does not 
fit the narrow definition of “non-violent” resistance is illegitimate 
violence and, therefore, counter-productive because – “violence doesn’t 
accomplish anything.” Not only does this position falsely equates 
resistance to oppression as being morally equivalent to the violence of 
the oppressor, it also attempts to erase the role of violence as being 
fundamental to the U.S. colonial project.

The history of colonial conquest saw the U.S. settler state shoot and 
murdered its’ way across the land mass of what became the U.S. in the 
process of stealing indigenous land to expand the racist White republic 
from “sea to shining sea.” And the marginalization of the role of 
violence certainly does not reflect the values of the Obama 
administration that dutifully implements the bi-partisan dictates of the 
U.S. strategy of full spectrum dominance that privileges military power 
and oppressive violence to protect and advance U.S. global supremacy. 
The destruction of Libya; the reinvasion of Iraq; the civil war in 
Syria; Obama’s continued war in Afghanistan; the pathological assault by 
Israel on Palestinians in Gaza and the U.S. supported attack on Yemen by 
the Saudi dictatorship, are just a few of the horrific consequences of 
this criminal doctrine.

Race and oppressive violence has always been at the center of the racist 
colonial project that is the U.S. It is only when the oppressed resist — 
when we decide, like Malcolm X said, that we must fight for our human 
rights — that we are counseled to be like Dr. King, including by war 
mongers like Barack Obama. However, resistance to oppression is a right 
that the oppressed claim for themselves. It does not matter if it is 
sanctioned by the oppressor state, because that state has no legitimacy.

No rational person exalts violence and the loss of life. But violence is 
structured into the everyday institutional practices of all oppressive 
societies. It is the deliberate de-humanization of the person in order 
to turn them into a ‘thing’ — a process Dr. King called 
“thing-afication.” It is a necessary process for the oppressor in order 
to more effectively control and exploit. Resistance, informed by the 
understanding of the equal humanity of all people, reverses this process 
of de-humanization. Struggle and resistance are the highest expressions 
of the collective demand for people-centered human rights – human rights 
defined and in the service of the people and not governments and 
middle-class lawyers.

That resistance may look chaotic at this point – spontaneous resistance 
almost always looks like that. But since the internal logic of 
neoliberal capital is incapable of resolving the contradiction that it 
created, expect more repression and more resistance that will eventually 
take a higher form of organization and permanence. In the meantime, we 
are watching to see who aligns with us or the racist state.

The contradictions of the colonial/capitalist system in its current 
expression of neoliberalism have obstructed the creation of decent, 
humane societies in which all people are valued and have democratic and 
human rights. What we are witnessing in the U.S. is a confirmation that 
neoliberal capitalism has created what Chris Hedges called “sacrificial 
zones” in which large numbers of black and Latino people have been 
confined and written off as disposable by the system. It is in those 
zones that we find the escalation of repressive violence by the 
militarized police forces. And it is in those zones where the people are 
deciding to fight back and take control of their communities and lives.

These are defining times for all those who give verbal support to 
anti-racist struggles and transformative politics. For many of our young 
white comrades, people of color and even some black ones who were too 
young to have lived through the last period of intensified struggle in 
the 1960s and ‘70s and have not understood the centrality of African 
American resistance to the historical social struggles in the U.S., it 
may be a little disconcerting to see the emergence of resistance that is 
not dependent on and validated by white folks or anyone else.”

The repression will continue, and so will the resistance. The fact that 
the resistance emerged in a so-called black city provides some 
complications, but those are rich and welcoming because they provide an 
opportunity to highlight one of the defining elements that will serve as 
a line of demarcation in the African American community – the issue of 
class.  We are going to see a vicious ideological assault by the black 
middle class, probably led by their champion – Barack Obama – over the 
next few days. Yet the events over the last year are making it more 
difficult for these middle-class forces to distort and confuse the issue 
of their class collaboration with the white supremacist 
capitalist/colonialist patriarchy. The battle lines are being drawn; the 
only question that people must ask themselves is which side they’ll be on.

/*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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