It’s Not Post-Truth, It’s the Zenith of the Post-Modern Condition

You’ve heard it before. The phrase is so commonplace that you don’t really even need to be an expert to have a sense as to what people are talking about when they utter it. It’s been talked about in books, news articles, the media, and even films. Occasionally, it’s a conversation discussed around the dinner table that can leads to major controversies in the family. And no, I’m not talking about “fake news” yet, or what constitutes “fake news” or the phrase “post-truth,” though they have become a frequent phrase in contemporary discourse. What I’m talking about is Nietzsche’s notorious injunction that, “God is Dead.”

Most people familiar or unfamiliar with the work of Nietzsche have heard this phrase before, and it usually is articulated as means to invite shock. If God is dead, then what does that mean for those of us who believe in God, who rely on God, who need God to navigate through time and space? Usually, this injunction is made into a metaphor for what Nietzsche’s entire philosophical project tends to lean towards, namely the rejection of Truth. For God to be dead is for our metanarratives of Truth to be dead. Truth is no longer thought to be transcendental and eternal, the objective subject position is met with harsh skepticism, and the entire Truth-telling apparatus is met with incredulity. Nietzsche is then thought of as the “Father of Postmodernism” and in his philosophical novel Thus Spake Zarathustra, he often makes references, that he “has come to early.” And perhaps, he had. However, the apostles of his work, the Postmodern philosophers like Jean Francois Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard, who revisited his work as a framework through which to describe the condition of postmodernity reveal that if he had come to early, it was still important for him to come. And, if their postmodern enunciations are seen as a sociological descriptions of the (White) World post-WW2, then what is frequently being called the epoch of Fake News, or the Post-Truth era should be better known as the zenith of the Post-Modern condition.

Critics of Post-Modernism often attack it for what is thought to be its aversion to Truth. The idea is that Post-Modern philosophers are philosophers who are against Truth. However, I want to read against this reading even as I seem to equate their philosophical framework with the “Post-Truth era.” I want to suggest that reading Post-Modern philosophers as against Truth obfuscates the sociological trend in their major exponent’s work; it also disavows the white dread that situates the invocation that “God is Dead.” Baudrillard, whose doctorate is in sociology not philosophy, should be read this way. The important distinction between a sociological reading of the World versus a philosophical reading is that the former is attempting describe the World as it is, the latter is attempting to both describe the World as it is and also how it should be. In other words, philosophy itself tends to imply an advocacy for a World, a Truth; whereas social theory tends to advocate only that that which they see in the World is how the World is. The (White) World is Post-Modern, not because Baudrillard and Lyotard want it to be, or because they advocate for this World, as it would seem to imply if one was to say that they (Baudrillard and Lyotard) are against Truth, but because that’s how the World is now. They are not against anything; they are just describing a World that is against metanarratives of Truth. So in a sense, I would say that they believe that “The Truth is that the World is Against Truth.” This matters, and an analysis as to how we got here matters if we are going to really understand what it means to be in the “Epoch of Fake News.”

Jean Francois Lyotard writes in The Postmodern Condition that, “Simplying to the extreme, I define postmodem as incredulity toward metanarratives. This incredulity is undoubtedly a product of progress in the sciences…” Metanarratives used to proliferate everywhere, and they especially proliferated everywhere prior to what Lyotard and Baudrillard saw as WW2. And whereas the breakdown of these metanarratives to Lyotard and Baudrillard is because of WW2, and scientific and technological progress, Sylvia Wynter reminds us, referencing Wlad Godzich, that “the great sociopolitical upheavals of the late 1950s and ’60s, especially those grouped under the names of decolonization and liberation movements, would have had a major impact on our ways of knowledge.” It is undeniable that something happened in the 1950s and 1960s that challenged Truth, and challenged metanarratives. The (White) World’s disorientation towards this challenge is what fosters the condition of postmodernity. However, injecting the importance of decolonization and liberation movements into how Post-modern philosophers have describe the (White) World allows us to return the notion of the Post-modern, of the “epoch of fake news” with a different view. Baudrillard wrote in Simulation and Simulacra that, “We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.” This can hardly be seen as an emphatic celebration of the death of Truth. Nevertheless, this proliferation of information does in fact exist, and this proliferation of information does in fact challenge metanarratives.

For example, there used to be a time where there was a historical metanarrative that concluded that there was one reading of the historical encounter of Christopher Columbus on the Coast of the Americas. Christopher Columbus “founded” America. However, incredulity to this metanarrative is what fostered the delegitimation of this metanarrative. It’s almost commonplace, even among white conservatives, to at least acknowledge that Christopher Columbus didn’t actually “find” America. Another example, the news and the newspaper used to be the only site at which one learned about what was going on around the (White) World. Any and every media source with the money and funds to dictate to the public how events transpired had control of the metanarratives of contemporary events. However, the internet now provides space for everyone to challenge the media. From think-pieces (thoughtful and unthoughtful) to tweets to Facebook post to the creation and construction of alternative online news tablets to satirical news stations to the creation of Fake News tabloids, the internet is the site of an information explosion that is so crucial to the Post-modern description of the World. Lyotard writes, “The “crisis” of scientific knowledge, signs of which have been accumulating since the end of the nineteenth century, is not born of a chance proliferation of sciences, itself an effect of progress in technology and the expansion of capitalism. It represents, rather, an internal erosion of the legitimacy principle of knowledge. There is an internal erosion at work inside the speculative game, and by loosening the weave of the encyclopedic net in which each science was to find its place, it eventually sets them free.”

But what these juxtaposed examples reminds us of, is the fact that post-modern and post-truth, are not exactly synonymous and that post-truth might not exactly be the best way to describe the current state of the (White) World. Post-Truth implies that there was a moment that the Truth was known, and that we now live in a moment after that. However, a metanarrative is not the Truth; it’s just a narrative that sets itself up as Truth. The Christopher Columbus example proves. It’s not true that Christopher Columbus “founded” America; it’s just the metanarrative we were forced to accept. Post-modernism is about the information bomb of our current moment, and the ways that this information bomb leads not to the lack of Truth per se, but the lack of belief in the metanarratives given to us. Fake News is just a minor part of that information bomb. So when CNN says that “Trump relies on Fake News” and Trump responds that CNN is Fake News, we are presented not with the problem of Truth, but the problem of information. Both Trump and CNN present the World with information as a means to challenge a metanarrative, the metanarrative that both at one point would have been able to represent. For Trump supporters, they see Trump as exhibiting an incredulity towards CNN’s metanarrative; whereas CNN supporters see CNN as exhibiting incredulity towards Trump’s attempt to construct a metanarrative. All this just becomes information for people to choose from. And if it feels like the end of the World, then this is why Baudrillard writes, “INFORMATION = ENTROPY.”

We are at the zenith of Post-modernism. The (White) World is falling apart under the proliferation of information. Look at the Russian Conflict, people are incredulous to the FBI’s own reports, people are trusting unverified reports from Buzzfeed, people are skeptical to their own government’s counterintelligence. This is not Post-Truth. This is Post-Modern. This is Post-Modern at its highest point. William Lane Craig critiqued Post-Modernism and said, “The idea that we live in a postmodern culture is a myth. In fact, a postmodern culture is an impossibility; it would be utterly unliveable.” The question is: Does the World feel unlivable yet?

I end by speaking to the dread that subtends the Post-Modern description of the (White) World. This unliveable World, where information exudes everywhere, where there is, as Lyotard put it, a “crisis in metaphysical philosophy” is a blackening of the World. Frantz Fanon writes, “The black man has no ontological resistance in the eyes of the white man. Overnight the Negro has been given two frames of reference within which he has had to place himself. His metaphysics, or, less pretentiously, his customs and the sources on which they were based, were wiped out because they were in conflict with a civilization that he did not know and that imposed itself on him.” The metaphysics of the White World is brought to the point of entropy via this information boom, this forced contact with the rest of the World, with the thoughts, opinions, and theories of the rest of the World. This is an entropy that Black bodies had experience long ago under the excess of gratuitous anti-Black violence and white Enlightenment discourse. Whereas Black Study takes up the discursive field as a means to challenge the white metanarrative, or what Sylvia Wynter calls, “Man’s over-representation of himself;” it also works towards making the White World unliveable. Baurdrillard speaks to the dread of this prospect himself when he writes:

It is thus very naive to look for ethnology in the Savages or in some Third World – it is here, everywhere, in the metropolises, in the White community, in a world completely cataloged and analyzed, then artificially resurrected under the auspices of the real, in a world of simulation, of the  hallucination of truth, of the blackmail of the real, of the murder of every symbolic form  and of its hysterical, historical retrospection – a murder of which the Savages, noblesse oblige, were the first victims, but that for a long time has extended to all Western societies.

It’s for this reason, we should understand the moment as Post-Modern and not Post-Truth, and understand Black Study as a study that to the White World is always already Post-Modern in its always already incredulity to the metanarrative of Whiteness. Lewis Gordon says of Black Study:

Theory in black…is…a phobogenic designation. It occasions anxiety of thought; it is theory in jeopardy. […] There is a form of illicit seeing…at the very beginnings of seeing black, which makes a designation of seeing in black, theorizing, that is, in black, more than oxymoronic. It has the mythopoetics of sin. […] Blackness, in all its metaphors and historical submergence, reaches out to theory, then, as theory split from itself. It is the dark side of theory, which, in the end, is none other than theory itself, understood as self-reflective, outside itself

Blackness as a phobogenic designation. Blackness as an anxiety to thought. Blackness as theory in jeopardy. Blackness as a mythopoetics of sin. Blackness as that which reaches out to theory as theory split from itself. Blackness as the dark side of theory, which becomes theory itself. This reading of the moment allows for the negative of Post-Truth to be transformed into the nadir of the Post-Modern condition. Black Twitter, for example, is a major part of this information boom that has challenged the hegemony of white metanarratives from Trump to CNN to FOX to Hillary and more. This challenge presents Whiteness with the fear of disappearance, or in Frank Wilderson words, “the end of Humanity.” Baudrillard, once again speaks to this fear of disappearance when he states:

Transpolitics is the elective sphere of the mode of disappearance (of the real, of meaning, of the stage, of history, of the social, of the individual). To tell the truth, it is no longer so much a question of nihilism: in disappearance, in the desertlike, aleatory, and indifferent form, there is no longer even pathos, the pathetic of nihilism – that mythical energy that is still the force of nihilism, of radicality, mythic denial, dramatic anticipation. It is no longer even disenchantment, with the seductive and nostalgic, itself enchanted, tonality of disenchantment. It is simply disappearance.

Blackness is the transpolitical par excellence (due to its transatlantic positional formation) that provides the lens through the White Real, the White Meaning, the White Stage, the White History, the White Social, and the White Individual, will disappear. It is the fear of disappearance that elected Trump in the first place. To “Make America Great Again” is simply white bodies wishing for the metanarratives of Whiteness to return to hegemony. For this reason, militant Black studies and Black struggle is more important now than ever. This moment, this unliveable moment, is the moment we’ve been waiting for.

Advertisements

After #Afromation: Notes on Black Courage

It must take more than courage. For if courage was all that it took to be free, then freedom would have been reached decades, perhaps centuries ago. This must be said, and it must be said a million more times. There is a way in which courage is mythologized as the necessary and sufficient condition for black liberation as if courage has not been embedded in our blood, as if courage had not been a requirement for the sake of maintaining any fragment of black life since being brutalized into the transatlantic slave ship and onto stolen land.

Courage is the way black people survive in the status quo. There is no way for black people to march to/for courage. Courage is our entire existence. It is the way we learn to smile and encourage ourselves, against all evidence to the contrary, that “we gon’ be alright.” It is the way we learn to utilize our rage in both cathartic and political ways when all the evidence proves that the voice of reason in our rage is not wanted here, and the release of pain that our rage attempts to alleviate is incomprehensible to a world founded on black death. Courage is the way we learn to love when love for another seems to be love with a body eternally stalked and shadowed by the possibility of death.

The question of liberation must transcend courage. We have always – by necessity – have had to have courage, and re-positioning this question doesn’t necessarily mean that we must look for a void. We are not searching for something that black people have dropped along the long road of “history.” Black people came into “history” with courage, love, hope, desire and chains; black people came into “history” with courage, love, hope, desire and brands on our arms and backs; black people came into “history” with courage, love, hope, desire and a will to live and grow against the weight of a (White) world. The only lack in blackness is that which has been negated by whiteness, but whiteness has always required of black bodies to have courage in order to make it through the day.

There is often this  false causation that we are given. We are told that liberation has not been reached due to a “lack” of something we possess. We are told that it is because black people have not done something correct that black people have not become free.  We are told that our continual struggle against the course of “history” is due to something we are “lacking.” But black people have never lacked any of the spiritual requirements for liberation, and the material/metaphysical requirements (political, economic, ontological) are the very reasons why the battle we fight continues to be fought in the first place.

What we need is already set in place and has always been set in place from the birth of blackness. What we need is the same courage, remythologized, not in the form of absence-returned, but in the form of presence-surpassed. It is not that we are looking for something we lost in order to overturn a system that has required our death to fuel itself. We are creating surpluses of something that has always been there. The same courage, love, hope, desire that has allowed us to continue to exist at all. This does not mean that we must situate ourselves in optimism, or that optimist is the “myth-leading-to-liberation” (the myth that constitutes what emancipation is). It is very possible that it is the courage, the love, the hope, the desire of the pessimist that leads to liberation. It is very possible that our best hope is hopelessness. But having this be the case it does not mean that we must lose nor gain something.

We – black people – are always everything and nothing at all. In the maroon society of black bodies, where we learn to thrive, resist, and exist, we become all that we ever were, and all that we ever could be, and this is the force of uncontainable possibility. In the world, created by us, yet never for us; in the world, a world that hopes to cyclically destroy our bodies in hopes to destroy our will to destroy it, we find ourselves existing as a standing negation: to the white world, we are nothing-at-all. But we must remember how true this is, and yet still how untrue it is. It is here where Du Bois consciousness returns. We must be conscious that to whiteness (the system of whiteness as the system that constitutes the ideological backdrop for every institution of power and knowledge) we may be nothing, and it is this self that we wage war against, and we must also be conscious that to blackness – that modern positionality of negation – we are everything. We are the hands that laid the foundation for a world. We are the backs that carried it into civilization. We are the legs that globalize its notion of linear progression.

The fight for liberation is a fight towards the fantasy of a world unthinkable to the world we currently live in. Our current world is a product of a combination of white colonial violence and white supremacist mythologies. A new world – a world of black liberation – is a fight towards a world free of white supremacy, heteronormativity, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia and capitalist exploitation. The fight for liberation requires a courage that has always been there, and it requires a will that has never vanished, but has always been here.

#WeAreMizzou: Reimagining Radical Black Politics at the Public PWI University

The radical, committed to human liberation, does not become the prisoner of a “circle of certainty” within which reality is also imprisoned. On the contrary, the more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can better transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them.

  • Paolo Freire

This is the only possible relationship to the American university today. This may be true of universities everywhere. It may have to be true of the university in general. But certainly, this much is true in the United States: it cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment. In the face of these conditions one can only sneak into the university and steal what one can. To abuse its hospitality, to spite its mission, to join its refugee colony, its gypsy encampment, to be in but not of – this is the path of the subversive intellectual in the modern university.

  • Fred Moten

#WeAreMizzou created a ripple effect in Universities across the nation. A sleeping giant rose, a spark was lit, a new age of student activist was born, and predominately white institutions shuttered in the aftermath. However, what became noticeably clear after the direct action protest was that every predominately white institution didn’t function the same, and this became evermore clear in regards to whether or not the institution was private or public. For example, Johns Hopkins University black student activist were able to rapidly receive the Diverse Faculty Initiative which promised to invest $25 million dollars over the next five years in order to better recruit and retain minority faculty. Additionally, Yale University student activist were able to receive $50 million dollars for practically the same thing. These big dollar initiatives are rarely capable of being granted to public universities, even if they are flagship Universities. For example, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill received a sum total of $1 million dollars in order to “diversify students pursuing doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences and fine arts,” a total that can easily be seen as a “small grant” in relation to the two former mentioned Universities.

The purpose of bringing this up is to illustrate that the beast of white supremacy and institutional racism manifest itself in a multiplicity of ways, maintains itself in a multiplicity of ways, and reforms, rectifies, and adjust itself in a multiplicity of ways. With that being said, it’s not necessarily true that Johns Hopkins and Yale students have been able to achieve more than the students at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, but that the reforms and adjustments created by white supremacist private institutions, the amount of capital these institutions are willing to give up while still maintaining their place as institutions of white supremacy differ depending upon the socioeconomic and political power of the individual institutions. I will not speak much more about private institutions and the future of black student activism at these institutions, but I will urge these students to think of these initiatives like small reparations, and take seriously Frank Wilderson’s critique of the American reparations movement when he says:

The reparations people present the issue to blacks as though slavery is an essentially historical phenomenon that ended, but the effects of which put blacks at what they call an “unfair disadvantage” to those in other positions who are also chasing the American dream. Through such a move the reparations folks waste a political weapon, they dull the knife, they keep the tiger in the cage, because here is a weapon which could spew forth in untold directions: I’m thinking here of Nat Turner’s greatest night.

In other words, do not waste that political weapon, do not dull the knife – release the tiger, and capture your entire institution sparring no hall, cafeteria, and/or department.

As for black student activist at most public universities the economic realities of low funds from racist donors, or funds primarily from the state and/or federal governments, and the political reality of dense anti-black bureaucratic processes makes achieving even a feat like that of University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill extremely difficult. This fact requires an alternative politic. One that rearranges the notion of the radical, one that understands that radicalism is not speaking truth to white institutions of power, but that radicalism is gaining, building, and sustaining black power and not allowing the institution to assuage the student activist with “fine-dining and meetings” that create the façade of progress at the expense of what is needed, namely, a cultural-social-political-educational revolution. What does this look like? I do not intend to provide the dogma of black activism for I am as new to this as any other, but I only intend to provide an option, a possibility of a future – a future of a radical black politics at the public PWI University.

First, in the words of Sey Elemo, Bilphena Yahwon, and Korey Johnson, three remarkable black feminist/womanist undergraduates at Towson University, “The revolution must always be ratchet.” This remark reflects the alterity of the black student/black student activist at the PWI. To be ratchet is to be Other. The black student is de facto Other at any University, and even more so at the PWI because through the gaze of white supremacy and in the words of Kanye West, “Y’all know that niggas can’t read.” This idea is reflected both by the #StayMadAbby phenomena and Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s remarks on affirmative action, and black student admission into prestigious universities. For the revolution to always be ratchet is for the revolution to always maintain its otherness, to always maintain its unwillingness to be coopted, to always be principally pro-black, unabashedly attached to black culture, black thought, black students, and black people. This concretely means three things: first, that culture is to be taken seriously – hip hop (conscious or trap) is not a black student’s plaything, it is a part of the black student’s social and psychological livelihood. Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole are as instrumental to that psychical survival as Migos and Young Thug. Second, that black parties are not spaces where blacks simply go to have fun, black parties are revolutionary spaces of the subaltern where black people go to, in the words of Alice Walker, “possess the secrets of joy.” When those spaces are heavily policed and militarized they mirror the policing practices of the rest of black America and remind black students that their University is nothing more than a microcosm of the macro-manifestation of anti-black structures that plague the rest of America. Third, black sexuality and conversations on black sexuality regardless if the conversation is being had with smiles and giggles, or sincerity and seriousness is a sexuality and a conversation not to be disavowed. Embracing and radicalizing intersectional sexual orientations, practices, and methods of discussions are a part of the ratchet revolution that must take place at the PWI University.

Second, in the words of Baby Joker in a screenplay written by record producer, actor, filmmaker, and rapper, Ice Cube, No more locked doors!” What this mean is that there needs to be a deconstruction of white bureaucratic ideals of privacy, logistics, and fictitious appearances of progressivism for the sake of public relations. In a world of what Bonilla-Silva calls, “Racism without racist” the task of black student activist is to publicize and criticize every event, every act of racism, every meeting with institutional power-holders, and to open the space up to accountability. Accountability both politically and psycho-politically, a remark I will come back to later. Nevertheless, the purpose of this principle is to radicalize the process of change. Change does not occur over coffee, tea, and shirts and ties; change comes through revolutionizing even the process of bringing about that change. It comes from creating alternatives to the current, and breaking down contemporary conceptions of the possible. This means taking seriously the idea that “the master’s tools will not dismantle the master’s house.” The master’s process of change is not ours. Thus we must open the doors.

Third, the radical politic must be driven by radical love. Black radical love is the relationship between two persons, one of whom is black, who embark on the ontological quest to be radically political, radically anti-racist, and radically anti-oppressive to one another; all the while additionally, being radically subversive to any one or any institution that dehumanizes. The position of radical love is pluralistic in that it denies the unified whole in favor of loving the multiple layers of personhood that make up the black identity. These layers include race (in this specific case, black) class, gender, and sexual orientation, etc. Emphasizing this love makes this love more than a social love or a kind of simple social bonding. Black radical love is a black radical political theory. For a black person to love themselves is a radical step forward, not only individually, but socially and politically. The same logic must be applied to black radical love for each other. Therefore, we have to assess blackness through the lens of black particularity, black feminism, black anti-capitalist exploitation, black sexual politics, black anti-elitism, and black anti-hierarchicalism. This provides a complete denunciation and critical analyzes of white supremacy: how it functions, what caused it, and how we cannot only destroy it, but more importantly transcend it. Solidarity, for black persons, must be a pluralist solidarity.

Fourth, transforming what is typically known as radical activism to what we call, “Radical Therapy.” This means shedding the idea of an activist since the activist is primarily focused on transformation of the political. The radical therapist is primarily focused on the psycho-political. Second-wave feminist constructed the feminist mantra that, “the personal is political.” The radical therapist’s mantra is that, “the political is psychological.” In Robin Kelly’s excellent article “Black Study, Black Struggle” he quotes Naomi Wallace in order to critique this idea. She says:

Mainstream America is less threatened by the ‘trauma’ theory because it doesn’t place economic justice at its core and takes the focus out of the realm of justice and into psychology; out of the streets, communities, into the singular experience (even if experienced in common) of the individual.

However, I tend to disagree with the supposed separation of the psychological and its potential for an economic-political-racial critique of institutions. Psychological trauma invoked by oppression, repression, and subjugation can result in a psycho-political analysis, like that of the work of Frantz Fanon, where structures of domination are psycho-politically analyzed and deconstructed for the sake of structural political, economic, and racial transformation. This means the black radical therapist is dedicated to black mental health and devoted to transforming the psychological effects of the structural political situation that is damaging to the totality of black personhood, which includes psychological health. The radicalism is sparked by the openness of the process, the virtue of community building of the process, and the trust and faith in the rest of the persons who become radical therapist in the process. In Robin Kelly’s own words:

[R]esistance is our healing. Through collective struggle, we alter our circumstances; contain, escape, or possibly eviscerate the source of trauma; recover our bodies; reclaim and redeem our dead; and make ourselves whole.

Radical therapy is group therapy, radical therapy is community-creating therapy; radical therapy is family-making process; radical therapy is subversive, political, and transformative.

Five, we must be practitioners of a world that doesn’t exist. This means creating the world we want now. Being the black professors we want now, being the black administrators we want now, being the black counselors we want now, being the black occupiers we want now. We have to teach each other by creating our own Black Studies syllabus; we have to create policies with each other that continue to create and recreate the demands of black students across all intersections of gender, sexualities, and religions; we have to be dedicated to creating self-care and counseling spaces with each other that are radical destroyers of depression and radical annihilators of suicidal thoughts that emerge from white supremacy; we have to begin to occupy and create the University we want now or the destroy the University we are in now by being living, breathing examples of what is means to be unapologetically black at all times. This means in the words of Fred Moten, we have to “steal the University,” now, and bring it back to our people. We have to “steal the University” and bring it back to the people who attend this University, people who attend other-local, regional, national Universities, people in high-school, people in middle-school, people in the suburbs, people in rural localities, and people in the hood. We have to create the world of the demands within ourselves and build the power within ourselves until the University does not only concede to those demands, but concretely devotes itself to creating and being a radical space against economic, political, and racial exploitation.

So in conclusion, I suggest we operate on five principles.

  • Sustain a ratchet revolution.
  • Deconstruct bureaucratic ideals
  • Operate on the principle of radical love
  • Become radical therapist before radical activist
  • Imagine and Build the World We Want Now

College is not about becoming what you want to be in the aftermath of graduation, it’s about being what you will be today and destroying every oppressive structure that stands in our way.

To Choose Love is To Choose Love Activism

A “wise philosopher” once said, “We live in a generation of not being in love and not being together,” and regardless of how true this phrase is statistically, the overall sentiment and its pervasive approval is at the very minimum a collective agreement on the point that something about this generation, and the will to love in an exclusive fashion is thought to be, or may actually be, rare. Although it is possible that past generations weren’t much better, and/or that the negative orientation towards love in the millennial generation could be a direct reflection of a positive sexual politic wherein women, who were formerly trapped and chained down to unsuccessful and potentially harmful relationships with patriarchal men, now found themselves liberated from the pains of those love relationships, the question, is love still possible in this generation, still remains a question of considerable concern.

Perhaps the odds are stacked disproportionately against those who wish to love in this generation. Perhaps our generation is a generation overworked and overwhelmed to the point of seeing love relationships as fruitless pursuits; perhaps our generation is freedom-starved, and happily so, to the point of seeing love relationships as a form of enslavement; perhaps our generation is disenfranchised to the failures of our parents, and well aware of the pain and hurt that can result from an unsuccessful relationship; perhaps our generation has developed a rather revolutionary love wherein love cannot be broken down into a simple one-on-one relationship, and in the wake of an ever-connected planet, love has evolved into a communal polymorphous interaction; perhaps the information age has allowed for too much information to disconnect and disenchant the romantic sentimentality of the past generations, and our love for endless information has grown alongside our love for endless sexual-romantic relations, and because of this, perhaps, love has died. While we may never know which of these, or, if all of these are too blame, those of us who wish to believe that a monogamous love can still exist without the stains of the traditional oppressive structures must weed through the disenfranchised, the disengaged, and the unwilling to find a solid ground somewhere with someone.

This act, this desire to love among the disenchanted, is a revolutionary act for love. For in the moment you choose love, the world begins to watch and wait. All of those atheist of love begin to whisper and gamble. The question among the crowd is not so much how did you start to date, but how long will you last. And soon as the world knows that you have begun to embark on this journey with your partner, the world begins to turn against you. Your ex will send you a text message confessing an untapped will to be with you again. That person who you had been waiting to hear say that they are interested for years will start pursuing you in a relentless fashion. You’ll find out that you have to leave soon and the relationship may be heading towards long distance. Your parents will divorce and the model you had to follow for future success will begin to decimate before your eyes. And everything, everywhere will seem to be working against you.

A few months will go by and some of those early concerns will wither away. The ex and that relentless person of former infatuation will start to get the hint, you’ll work out the mechanics of the long-distance conundrum, your parents will tell you stories of how they failed and you will work to not fall into the same traps, and the world will begin to see that they placed their bets far too short. This is going to last. But this comforting sensation will begin to pry at the stability of love. And Love’s Paradox will begin to show: stability in love is unstable. Monotony will begin to desecrate the stable foundation on which your love was built upon; the will to more and the desire of spontaneity will begin to make you question why you started this in the first place. You were born to be free. You were born to explore. And somehow this love has stifled your growth. Your arguments are no longer about the world. Your arguments are about your partner. Everything you’ve built will become a question mark: Why am I doing this? Do I really love them? Do they really love me? Do I really want this right now? What could I be doing differently? When the questions emerge, the world will return. And you will begin the darkest part of your relationship. Whereas the first dilemma was solved by focusing your sights on the love of your life, this second dilemma is caused by them. And you don’t want to leave, but it’s harder to stay. You don’t want them to be with someone else, but you feel like you can’t be with them. It’s circle of love and a circle of hurt. And you begin to ask yourself: Are the tears worth it? Is the fighting worth it? Is the hurt worth it? Is the struggle worth it?

This is love. To love someone is to give someone permission to destroy you and believing that they won’t. And anyone who chooses love becomes an activist for it. For in every act of activism there will be tears, there will be fighting, there will be hurt, there will be pain, there will be a struggle against the world, with the people, persons, or in this case, the person you love the most. The task is to not fall too deep into despair, to understand that love is nothing but a power struggle where lovers must remain vulnerable and passionate to find the little ways to amend big issues. The task is to make love personal while understanding that it is universal in its concept and particular in its application. The task of love may be bigger than you, but like all activism it is possible for an “us.” Perhaps the odds are stacked against this “us.” Perhaps we do live in a generation of not being in love, but it is that very statement that makes those of us who choose love so important. We are possibility. We are opportunity. We are hope. To choose love is to choose love activism.

Q & A on Race and Police Brutality: Responses to White Friends

  1. How Do You Think This Started (Police Brutality on Black People)?

Well if you must know, everything starts from slavery. Now, you’ll probably say that, “Slavery is over and it’s no longer a problem anymore,” and before you do I want to say, “So is the Civil War, and the Confederate flags still wave; So is the Holocaust and Germany still has American military bases there; So is WW2 in general, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki is still infected.” All this to say, simply, the past affects the present.  In fact, not only does the past affect the present, but this specific historical occurrence is the birth of blackness. This doesn’t even go on to mention America’s Jim Crow Era that came directly after slavery, and then, the fight for civil rights that came during and after that, then, the unfair discrimination that emerged in various sectors of America via de-facto discrimination, i.e. housing markets, war on drugs and mass incarceration, police brutality, etc. Nonetheless, police brutality, in a certain sense, started with slavery through the physicalization of brutality on the black body and the creation of various black myths. I will talk specifically about the perpetuated stereotype and outright brutal discrimination of the “black male brute” and “the black matriarch” which still permeates through most of society today. The logic that all black men are athletic, hypermasculine, and brutish is not only false, but it is also detrimental to the outlook and view of black men. The logic that all black women are negative, attitudish, and angry is not only false, but detrimental to the societal outlook and view of black women. Since the ideology is so fixed in the culture of America, it becomes so difficult to break that even if I present statistics showing the contrary to your views, it doesn’t stack up with any strength against the ideological bloc of “black hypermasculinity” or, “black female negativity.” This is because the idea of the black male and female being this brutish slave and thus as Fanon calls it, “in the zone of nonbeing” (not-truly-human insofar as what is human is what is white) are so entrenched in our society that they hold more significant weight in your thoughts than anything that proves the contrary; and this ideology started during slavery and continues to this day through media perceptions and household dialogues.

  1. How does this relate to police brutality?

White police have a set of fears, misunderstandings, and an embedded (due to the position and due to their whiteness) sense of superiority of, and over, black men and women, especially potentially criminal black men and women because of the idea that they are more brutish, more deadly, more masculine, more angry, more dangerous, and less human. So it is easier to deal with them with weaponry and force than with proper, humane police procedures. For not only are you a “potential criminal,” you are a potential black criminal, which truly is a double criminalization. Now, before we go on: This is only about police brutality on behalf of blacks. And if there must be a shout out to my white brothas and sistas who are also, as you insist upon making known, persecuted, here it is: The police brutality, I believe, generally occurs under the similar feelings on behalf of the officer, i.e. fear, superiority, and misunderstanding. But, the fact of the matter is these three factors in police brutality are increased for blacks because police often are white persons, who live outside these predominantly black neighborhoods, but have superiority over these black neighborhoods, and henceforth, they struggle greater from their feelings of fear, superiority, and misunderstanding. The police are therefore overseers on a plantation that isn’t their own.

  1. Do I think that the black community has any responsibility for why they are being targeted?

First and foremost, we have to understand white supremacy capitalist patriarchy and the effects it has on the social structures that provide limited options for black persons and the effects it has on the unconscious internalization of the white ideals for black people. White supremacy capitalist patriarchy formulates and maintains institutional racism that binds and confines black people into certain neighborhoods, certain opportunities, and certain disadvantages. By this institutional racism, blacks are given very limited options to succeed and break through the white supremacy capitalist patriarchal glass ceiling. However, this is why feminism, specifically black feminism, is so important for black men and women because it attempts to break free the psychological chains of the binding structures of that patriarchal thinking that originates in white structures and assist in the persecution of black lives. Henceforth, what occurs because of these structures is an internalization of these white supremacy capitalist patriarchy ideals. This internalization, then, facilitates participation in certain acts, competitions, and actions of “surreal manhood” by men. And, considering that much of what truly personifies this hypermasculinity is not obtainable or feasible by a poor, urban youth, much of the criminalization of black men is an exertion or an attempt to measure up to this ideal. For what defines masculinity more than provider, guardian, and/or strongman? And “what will drive a man more insane,” than not being able to provide for his family, protect himself, or his family? And “what will drive a man more insane” than not being able to live up to the idea that a man must be athletic and with that must be strong? For example, the goal of being an athlete is the goal of being a beacon of American masculinity, which many black kids wish to become, but when this reality falters, then what are they left with to express their masculinity? School and its cycle of obedience has often been considered “feminine”, but however, I digress.

These structures oppress black women far more, especially since they can often become an objectified tool to which black men attempt to exemplify the ideal masculinity. The condition of black women in America, however, would be much greater explained by a black women; therefore, I shall leave it in their hands to explain themselves to you. And leave it to you to find ways of doing so.In conclusion, once again, do blacks have any responsibility in them being targeted? In a way, yes, but that responsibility exist only because structural determinism doesn’t. However, structural influence plays the most influential role on the racialization of criminal activities. This participation in the illegal becomes an attempt to produce the white supremacy capitalist patriarchal ideals of masculinity and to provide for a family or oneself. So this participation after internalization is a case in which blacks are responsible, because they could do something different, but you can’t even begin to offer that as an option without considering the minuscule extraneous options offered or, the potential consequences of them potentially choosing against the illegal. And if you make such an accusation, you are then, “attacking a deeply rooted issue by just poking at the surface,” as you’ve probably heard before.


***Two black revolutionary women bloggers that I know personally who never shy away from the political:

Korey Johnson

Bilphena Yaewhon

Slaves of Thoughts and Political Peace

We must learn to be more rational and discerning in every situation, thinking beyond what we are supposed to believe, thinking freely, opening ourselves to the possibility of being wrong and perhaps, (even more frighteningly) the possibility of standing alone. For many must stand alone for political polarization to cease and for true critical free thinking to begin. The ability to think freely without the cage of authoritarian titles, the chains of dictating labels, and the tyranny of polarization is a necessary condition of finding free thought. Critical free thought and the transference of differing ideas with the means of understanding is important and significant as we search for peace in a world filled with new war, militancy and cyber danger.  It is fine to be influenced; it is fine to be inspired; but we must not let any one ideology become the law by which we cannot break nor critique under any circumstances. For when this happens, when unbreakable, non-critique-able laws of the mind emerge, the mind becomes a slave of thought. If what I believe in cannot and is not challenge-able, or malleable, then I must ask: Why is this belief so difficult to change? Is it difficult to change because of the stoutness of the belief or the stubbornness of my character? Is it difficult to change because of the strength of the idea or the strength by which I am willing to hold onto it? Disputes, confrontation, and war are the result of stubborn characters battling for the assertion of their strongly held ideologies. Discussion, conversation, and treaties are the result of critical thinking and the transference of ideas with an ardent desire of sending knowledge, understanding, and/or making peace.

Many slaves of thought are advocating throughout the political scene. These chained brains are from the left and from the right. There are some using their religion to assert the truth of their statements. There are some using their oppression to assert the invalidity of other’s opinions, experience, and knowledge. There are some using their privilege to devalue the experience of others, and there are some using their lack of privilege for their own ideological purposes. All of which may, can, and should be taken into consideration when one is analyzing what is the most truthful and what will bring the most happiness to the governed people – rich and poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, European, national and foreign, immigrant and native, etc. But, none of these alone should dominate in all aspects and facets of your thoughts and your politics. The world is a stream of colored thoughts, full of opinion and creative information. These thoughts are only waiting for your arrival in order to add to the dullness of an experience you might have disregarded. It is when your thoughts become dominated that you remain dull.

We must politicize the people. But we must not polarize the people. We must politicize them to be critical consumers of knowledge. This means introducing our children to all of the opinions of the world and allowing them to discern for themselves what they believe and why it is that they believe that. Doing so erases the victor as the only writer of history, and teaches that history is a tale of two cities (or more). When the politicized people fall blindly into a label and follow blindly into the ways of a sole political, religious, or social position then, humanity releases. We become laws and not limbs – inflexible versus flexible. We become a category and categorization takes away the complexity of the human who in various situations will act differently, think differently, and believe differently. This is not true for all things and all situations, but openness is significant for when the time arises, and peace will only come from opposing what is believed to be what you are supposed to believe. It is crucial that when we begin to think critically we understand that all true critical thinking takes into account the opinions of all sides and understands the purpose or logic of the opponent.

It all comes back to being. Being has no boundaries except for those which we makes for ourselves. Your identity is a journey, and there is no journey more vital than the journey we must take with the people who are most different than ourselves. Who you are is just as much who you’ll become as it is what you are today. Therefore, we must think freely and we will never become a slave of thought.