Posts tagged blackness
okay this is going to come off as random, and jangled and not fully coherent, but…
okay you know in that jared sexton video (its long but its good) where he says that all theory aims to be black studies. and i had to take that sentence with a grain of salt because i dont really engage in theory in such a comprehensive way to be able to judge the accuracy of that statement…but, i can say, because i do engage in this field, that all politics, at least in the sense of radical, revolutionary, insurgent politcs, aims to be black politics.
(most, not all, most…although i have not engaged a politics that does not aim to be black politics)
and this is becoming clear to me in egypt. because when i say, black, i mean specifically, negro, black slave, specifically in the ‘new world’.
the reason this has become so stark to me, is because, watching egypts politics evolve, i see more and more references to the black civil rights movement. and while maybe at first i could claim this as some internalized us centrism on the part of egyptian artists, i see so many references to the us black civil rights movement, malcolm x, black panthers, etc, but without the (obvious) link to ‘this is why obama should be supporting our revolution, because we are doing what blacks in his country did…’ in other words i see little to no connection between referencing black suffering and struggle, and a political move to convince us americans to support the revolution because they support black struggle.
the other reason this is becoming clear to me, in that it is a reference to black slaves, and not simply a reference to black skin, is because i live in egypt, in africa. and as i have pointed out numerous times before, arab egyptians (in general, that i have met) have a troubled time acknowledging that they live in africa. north africa, maybe, yes. but not AFRICA. and while to be black in this country, is to be abd, to be a slave, there seem to be some interesting assumptions about black slavery in the new world:
one, even though we have a black president, the idea of black americans seems to be novel. this is one of those cognitive dissonance moments, in which people know oprah, and michael jordan, and obama, and condoleeza rice, and colin powell, and martin luther king, and malcolm x, and and and…but are surprised that my black skin belongs to a us citizen.
two, in the social imaginary globally, black americans have disappeared, vanished, and only a few worthy remain. what i mean is that, in movies and television and commercials and commercial media (which is how the world comes to know of us america and black americans, specifically) the blacks that they see are not human. they are drug ridden, ghettoized, encaged, violent, unintelligent, libidinal animals. africans are like the lion king hyenas (which by the way is a movie i detest and always have. who the fuck thought it was a good idea, after doing a orientalist movie about the middle east, aladdin, then decided that when they did a movie about ‘africa’ suddenly all the characters become animals? why are we surprised nearly 20 years later that the same company finally did a movie about black folks, princess and the frog, that the princess spends most of her time as fucking animal? and then gets the ‘prize’ having a good job? my daughter loves this movie. and loves to cook. but somebody shoot me, for all the bullshit black mamas have to go through just to give their daughters a semblance of self esteen in this world) that is to say, that ‘africans’, and by this i mean sub saharan black africans, are seen and portrayed as animals, but they are most animalian when they ‘imitate’ or ‘acknowledge’ their connections to black americans, they are at least acknowledged to exist as a separate peoples in a forever foreigner, orientalist (three pillars) sense.
the descendents of black slaves, on the other hand, are not seen to exist.
(at this point i feel the need to interject and state that this not some knee jerk reaction to some horrific incident or incidents of racism in egypt. one, i have lived and visited many places in the middle east and globally. two, my knee jerk response, is normally to excuse such behaviour - when i encounter it, and i do on the regular, to bad education as a child, ignorance, in other words, and it takes my brain a minute to say, no, maia, wait, this is just the way it is, this is not the exception, this is the rule of an anti black world.)
and i get it, as karnythia and audre point out, we were never meant to survive.
and so, you can see my conundrum, that our survival is one hand, miraculous and inspiring and co opted, and on the other hand, impossible, and denied.
this is our continual genocide. the genocide of negroes.
this is not to say, that other peoples have not endured the same tactics. being indigenous, i know that genocide is not limited to us blacks. this is to say, that black suffering and struggle is co opted and referenced so often because it is seen as miraculous because we are the people of genocide, and slavery, and forever not-real-citizens, and yet still we dream the impossible dream of being human. and if we are willing to do that, other folks who dream, are inspired by our soul music.
like the way, that people will look at a picture of a girl with one arm playing a violin, and then say something horrible, like, oh if she can do that, then i have no excuse to not do what i want! which i hate, because fuck you, and your ‘there for the grace of god…’ bullshit. fuck you.
this is the way that so many movements look at black struggle. (including the anti able-ism movements)
and i can imagine the hands raised. ‘but did you consider that maybe movements do this because the black struggle was so effective??!’
yeah, i considered that, i considered how great blacks have it us america now. (is my sarcasm obvious?)
so that is what i am working through, the question of why do so many movements aim to be black politics, when black politics primary success seems to be the very survival of black peoples? we havent achieved liberation or equality or even to be seen as human, but yet our struggle stands in for nearly every struggle…