Black racism and identityism

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By WAGNER MIQUEIAS F. DAMASCENE, ROSENVERCK ESTRELA SANTOS & HERTZ DIAS*

Positions such as Antônio Risério serve to produce historical and political falsifications in order to maintain the privileges of the ruling class

At the end of one of his shows stand-up comedy, the Arab Aamer Ramahn reveals to the public that many white people do not like his humor. They complain that he talks a lot about white people and that they usually ask him: “What if I do something like that? If I go onstage and say, “Blacks this, Muslims that…”. You would call me a racist, wouldn't you?" And Ramahn calmly replies that “yes”, that he would call them racists.

But her white critics insist: "But when you do that, you get on stage, you make fun of white people... don't you think that's reverse racism?"

Then Ramahn replies “no”, that this is not reverse racism. However, unlike most black people, the comedian said that he believes it would be possible to commit reverse racism against whites and that he himself could commit reverse racism against whites. But for that he would need… a time machine.

Through it, he would go back to the beginnings of capitalism and its colonial expansion to convince leaders of Africa, Asia and the Americas to invade Europe, colonize it, pillage it and enslave its population in huge rice plantations in China. Blacks would create systems that would favor their race at every possible political, social, and economic opportunity; they would also, from time to time, invent wars on arguments fake to further destroy and rob the Europeans. And, just for fun, Rahman says that blacks would subject whites to their standards of beauty, so that they hated the color of their skin, their eyes and the texture of their hair from a young age.

So he says that if, after centuries of all this hell about Europeans, he – a black Arab – got on stage and made fun of white people, then he would be committing reverse racism.

To loud applause, Rahman had explained in a humorous and historically correct way why reverse racism does not exist.

But the humor stops here, as the text written by Antonio Risério, published last Sunday, January 16th, in the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, fits like a glove in the hands of those who want to deconstruct affirmative action policies in the country. 2022, it is good to remember, is the year of revision of the Quota Policy in the country, under the government of racist Jair Bolsonaro. Therefore, do not expect us to be tolerant of this type of provocation, as there is a lot at stake.

 

Pinching things here and there: a deprecated method

In an attempt to prove the existence of a terrible reverse racism of blacks against whites, the anthropologist lists a series of cases – without bothering to substantiate and contextualize them – ranging from “racist” attacks by blacks against whites in the subway in Washington , from black teens preying on white teens to the black boycott of the Korean trade in the US.

By the way, Risério makes a point of highlighting racist actions by blacks against Asians in the US – all of which are reprehensible – but omits a long history of political solidarity between Asian and black activists in the fight against racism and against capitalism in the US.

At the Sérgio Camargo, Risério denounces an “anti-Jewish racism of poor blacks from the ghettos” who call for the end of the genocidal State of Israel, making it seem as if they are demanding the end of Zionism and the State of Israel – a US military enclave in the Middle East – in the name of of a secular Palestinian State would be the same as demanding the extermination of the Jews!

Risério also says that anyone who reaffirms their identity is divisive and fundamentalist, and that this “black racism” is the result of identityism that the left has been embracing. Indeed, identityism has served as a label for any criticism of oppression. An expression that fell in favor of Bolsonarism, but also of the PT, the party to which Risério provided long services: whenever black movement activists criticize the PT governments’ attacks on black men and women – such as the 2006 Anti-Drug Law, such as the fourteen occupations military forces in Rio de Janeiro under the PT governments, or even the shameful military occupation in Haiti - hear in response that they are being identitarists.

O identityism is also in the mouth of Stalinism, a kind of denialism inside left. For Stalin's disciples – responsible for, among many vile things, rehabilitating the criminalization of abortion in Russia and for turning his back on black Americans so as not to compromise his policy of alliances with the bourgeoisie, in particular with Roosevelt – the permanent and consequent struggle against oppression is identityism and split the class. As if workers were not already divided by sexism, racism, xenophobia and LGBTIphobia.

 

Racial Essentialism Does Not Represent Black Struggle

Because it is an attack on blacks, Risério's article may provoke in some of us the impetus to embrace all the black figures and organizations mentioned there, such as, for example, Marcus Garvey. But that would be a mistake.

It was the European imperialist nations that first sponsored the formulation and spread of racial essentialism, preaching white superiority and genetic unity. They did this, on the one hand, to justify their domination in Africa, Asia and the Americas and, on the other hand, to contain the advance of the workers' struggle within Europe itself. Poisoned by racism, white workers believed they were superior to their African, Indian, Chinese, etc. class brothers, and ended up divided into hostile camps.

But Jamaican leader Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Association for the Advancement of the Negro and the League of African Communities (Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League – UNIA) was also a supporter of racial essentialisma conception that absolutizes the physical characteristics of races – returning to face it as a biological category, and not just a sociological one – and that tries to elaborate responses to white essentialism, seeking an essence in the black race.

Some of the UNIA's objectives were to establish a Universal Brotherhood of the black race and to help "civilize the backward tribes of Africa", and to accomplish these Garvey sought support from European countries. This is attested by his letter to the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated September 16, 1914, in which he prayed for the victory of the British army in Africa and Europe “against the enemies of peace and future civilization”, and ended by wishing Long live the king and the empire.

In the book Black Liberation and Socialism, Ahmed Shawki tells that Garvey saw in white supremacists “the only true friends of Blacks, because they understood the need for racial purity”. In 1937, Garvey gave an interview saying that Mussolini and Hitler had copied the UNIA's political program of aggressive nationalism for the black man in Africa.

For Garvey, “Capitalism [was] necessary for the progress of the world, and those who unreasonably or wantonly oppose or fight against it are the enemies of human advancement.” Thus, the Jamaican became the first great defender, in the black movement, of capitalism, the same system that kidnapped, trafficked and enslaved our ancestors coming from Africa for the primitive accumulation of capital.

When sectors of the black movement fall into the trap of racial essentialism, they come to see all whites as necessarily racist and hopeless; come to see racism no longer as a historical and ideological phenomenon, but as a genetic and ahistorical force that necessarily places whites and blacks in separate trenches, regardless of the social class to which they belong. Capitalism thanks you.

The political solution ends up slipping into separatism Sui generis, within the capitalist structure: forge a black bourgeoisie or strengthen the existing one. One of the mottos of this type of policy is “blacks at the top”. But as geometry explains, as long as there is a top there will be a base which, by the way, will be mostly occupied by black men and women. Incidentally, it is worth remembering the words of Piauí sociologist Clóvis Moura: “a black director of a multinational is sociologically a herd".

 

Yes, we want power!

Risério accuses blacks of wanting power. Yes, we want power! But not to keep this economic system built on the blood and sweat of our ancestors. We want the power that comes from a violent revolution that will once and for all sweep away racism and all forms of oppression and exploitation from the face of the Earth. And in this task, probably the most important of humanity, it will be necessary to wage a permanent and combined struggle against racism and against capitalism.

And we believe that all conscious black men and women know that something of this magnitude can only be achieved in alliance with white, indigenous, yellow, women and LGBTIs of the working class in the construction of a Socialist society. This is the greatest fear of the lords of capital and of people like Antonio Risério, who has been working hard to produce historical and political falsifications.[I]

*Wagner Miquéias F. Damasceno is a member of the National Secretariat for Blacks and Blacks of the PSTU.

*Rosenverck Estrela Santos is a member of the board of directors of Quilombo Race and Class.

*Hertz Days is a rapper of Gíria Vermelha and member of the national board of the PSTU.

Originally published on website PSTU.

 

Note


[I] It should be noted that the aforementioned text was sent to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo in opposition to the vile article published by Antonio Risério, last Sunday. However, its publication was refused, once again demonstrating the anti-democratic nature of the mainstream press.

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