A few months ago, a woman that I work with (light-skinned Latina) took a photograph of another female employee (who is Haitian, Black) without her knowledge or awareness of it.
Eventually she was told, but not before her photograph was posted on Facebook and made into a meme which was shared amongst some of the (white, light-skinned, Latin@, and Black) employees at my workplace. The meme was designed to mock the what a few employees perceived to be “lies” the Black female employee was telling about her background and her current life situation.
From the moment I saw it I wasn’t going to let that shit fly, so I called it out - it’s not right. This shit just isn’t right. Not only because I work in a “multicultural center”, with the clearly-stated goal of providing a “safe space” for students of all background, but because this was being done completely behind her back, in a cruel and violent fashion. From the moment I expressed any indignation or dissent, I was attacked personally. Which tells us certain things about the mechanics of power at work within this seemingly trivial, “everyday” occurrence.
When I stepped up to argue against the illicit surveillance, photography, and publication of the photographic evidence of activity, I was immediately met with the so-called “legitimacy” of this practice. This was articulated to me in the form of pleas against my sanity, perception, and ideology. I was told that I was seeing “racism” in a place it couldn’t exist - coming from “brown people.” Not only is this absurd, it contradicts the longue duree of antiblack racism and social death in the Caribbean and Latin/South America by colonized brown peoples, and assumes that this history or past no longer plays out in the spaces of the state and civil society in the apartheid civilization of Euro-amerika. To assume that any society enfolded in antiblack ideology/structure is redeemable from its established place in the making of race at any given moment in time is absurd. Especially in a situation of extreme invasion of privacy, where the body is an object of surveillance by civil society’s junior partners.
I got abusive messages from two of the people who had nothing to do with the employment of the surveillance, and messages from the woman responsible arguing that the employment of hidden surveillance on bodies is harmless, unproblematic, playful, and enjoyable. The messages from the two people complained about me being “preachy,” “paranoid,” “dogmatic,” for arguing that this type of surveillance and secretive humiliation was antiblack in character.
When you make bigger decisions than what shirt to wear or if you should take a shower or not, then you can lecture me on ethics. Till then, keep your preaching to yourself. Don’t worry, I will repeat this to your face when I see you, so don’t think I’m hiding behind a computer…
Not everything is a fucking civil liberties issue! Nothing in the meme mentioned her being black! You just seek any opportunity to make your tiered moral judgments and that got old about three seconds after I met you.
This is a sample of the message sent by one of the people who was complicit in alienating my interpretation of the situation. Notice that he automatically defaults into colorblindness and indifference (also as a side note, this person resorted to ad hominem attacks yet went on to describe us both as “philosophers” when he wanted to make it appear as though we would just have to “agreeing to disagree”, which I never do - I never back down from an intellectual war of manoevre).
When the situation involving non-black “people-of-color” utilizing internalized antiblack racism is pointed out for its political problematic, it also becomes a non-issue for “people-of-color” because the singularity of blackness as slave or being-for-the-captor is rendered invisible in the colorblind ideological paradigm. The label “people-of-color” provides for, in this situation, the hiding of whiteness beneath a cloud of racial ambiguity that makes blackness indiscernible from the various systems of oppression at work in an apartheid regime with multiples historical trajectories of colonialism and genocide upon Black and Brown people. Although, the gratuitous aspect of antiblack violence seems to be the key feature of global white supremacy that doesn’t register in other forms of racist state violence.
The highly developed system of surveillance and policing of Black bodies plays out in the everyday here, where we are least likely to see and identify it. The highly developed self-reproducing structures of antiblack violence inherent in this system of policing and surveillance are cloaked in the air of post-raciality, which is conveniently deployed like a fog by “people-of-color” to disavow blackness and Black bodies without making it appear racist. While they do the work of a white supremacist political context, they complicate their own position(s) as oppressed people by continuing to participate knowingly in the quotidian forms of racial violence and humiliation fundamental to the preservation of white civil society and its apparatus of roundup.
“People-of-Color Blindness” by Jared Sexton
“Prison Slave as Hegemony’s (Silent) Scandal” by Frank B Wilderson, III
“Black, White, and In Color” by Hortense Spillers
Over 1,000 people attended a wake for 16-year-old Kimani Gray over a period of six hours on Friday evening in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatlands, just shy of two weeks after the teenager was fatally shot by two NYPD officers. Attendees included City Council members Jumaane Williams, who represents Kimani’s district, and Charles Barron as well as City Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu. They joined family members, friends, classmates, and those who didn’t know “Kiki,” but wanted to show their support.
Kimani was hit by seven bullets, three of them in the back, by two plainclothes NYPD officers on March 9th in East Flatbush. The circumstances of his death remain unclear, as the police department’s version of events differs greatly from an eyewitness’s account. Community members and activists from throughout New York City have held several vigils since the shooting, some of which have turned chaotic, including the trashing of a Rite Aid on one night, and another night that resulted in 46 arrests.
The NYPD claims the two officers repeatedly told Kimani to freeze, after which he pointed a gun at them. They then fired 11 shots, seven of which hit the teenager. An eyewitness told the New York Daily News, however, that Kimani hadn’t pointed a gun at the officers, and later told the Village Voice that one of the police officers stood over Kimani and shot him when he was on the ground.
The media was not allowed inside Caribe Funeral Parlor, where the wake was held, and photographs were prohibited inside the building. But several mourners described Kimani, whose family decided to have an open casket, as looking “peaceful.”
“He looked peaceful, but not ready to go,” said Will, a fitness trainer who had been inside for the wake. He described the scene as thick with emotion as a montage of home movies of Kimani growing up played on a screen. He also said that he and other members of the community were going to continue to plan events to honor Kimani’s memory. “We’re not gonna stop until justice prevails.”
According to the state, no suffering warrants rebellion; although ‘freedom from tyranny’ is one of its hallmark phrases. Perhaps what is explicitly meant, but only implied, is that no black suffering warrants rebellion.
Police brutality is redundant. Business ethics is an oxymoron. Conscious consumerism is a farce, and a very profitable joke. Conscientious capitalism is a marketing ploy. Ethical food is a an oxymoron. The rest of the world is starving to fucking death and you can’t think of anything to do but reframe your shitty culture, which will always rely on the death and maiming of “Othered” (human) beings. You kill your soul and mine in the everyday process of being a being for a captor. I kill my soul a little every day to make life work for you and everyone else. Too bad because life would be nice if we weren’t dead beings. I am dead. We are dead. Fuck the world. I want to live!
I am available for children’s parties.
The food you eat or brush you’re using may have been made by a worker earning less than a dollar an hour — not in the developing world, but in the invisible workforce inside America’s prisons. Share this if you oppose prison labor for profit.
When I was in prison I worked 3 shifts a day, 5 days a week, starting at 5 AM and ending at 8 PM. I was paid $5.25 a month. Pay for the inmates who facilitate UNICOR workers (by making their food, washing their laundry, etc,) is even lower than the wages cited in the above graphics. The prison industry is also a slave industry, and it isn’t just corporations who benefit. All the furniture you see in federal buildings, post offices, DMVs, etc, where do you think it comes from? Prison labor. I think a lot of people know about states that use prison labor for license plates, but fewer people know that the plaques on doors at city halls, and sometimes the doors themselves, come from prison labor. The incarcerated are a hyper-exploited class unto themselves, and almost no one seems to be helping them to organize.
The election of Barack Obama does not mitigate the claim that this is a taciturn historical moment. Neoliberalism with a Black face is neither the index of a revolutionary advance nor the end of anti-Blackness as a constituent element of U.S. antagonisms” (Wilderson 2010, 4)