Black Lives Matter

I started by thinking it’s inappropriate for me to speak, like the incomparability of black suffering at the hands of a violent racist state and society means that listening and learning and sharing the words and voices of Black people who know how it feels firsthand is the only thing of paramount importance rn.  And reposting is great, maybe, but I’m also realizing that this inherent lack of understanding of something we’ve never been through doesn’t necessarily exclude us from also using our voices and words, speaking up and sharing our support. And most importantly perhaps, having conversations with other non-black people who maybe don’t see racism as systemic and who thus, in their willful blindness, are powerless to help any change, and are further thus implicitly or even explicitly acting against systemic change.  I wrote a long ass essay, but for brevity’s sake here’s the short version: 

1.) Erasing the cultural contributions of black people is but one way in which this society makes it acceptable to erase them physically, and acknowledging our complicity in this daily seemingly relatively insignificant erasure is one way to start acknowledging black people’s very obviously significant and inalienable right to life first and foremost, as well as their presence in, contributions to and importance for this nation that has used and abused them for far too long.  Appropriation is the daily acceptance of stealing culture and not acknowledging its origin in people, and I think accepting that seemingly minor act of theft very well might support other forms of theft, up to and including the theft of life. I know that my spiritual, artistic and even physical life has been enriched, directed, protected and even generated by black people and their culture, a fact that I have in large not made explicit or public.  But again, regardless of a people’s contribution to our culture or to ourselves, they have a right to life, so I don’t  think any of this is necessary to say, but hopefully it is a step in the direction of correcting a collective erasure that has continuously taken place and which does underly more violent tendencies towards erasure.  And insofar as the media and our society has tended towards dehumanization, hopefully it is a gesture towards humanization, directed in part at the non-black people who might not even realize how much their spiritual, artistic, emotional and even physical being depends on and benefits from the presence, gifts and lives of black people in our country.  If we no longer want to accept state- or socially-sanctioned violence, part of what we can do is speak up about even the seemingly small acts of erasure we participate in subjecting black people to on a daily basis. 

2.) While changing the violent racist state and society from within is also of paramount importance, and while attacking it violently is also completely understandable, as it has forfeited its right to legitimacy and its contract with the people when it does or permits violence to be unlawfully done to its citizens, modes of opting-out of and of becoming independent from the state are also crucial to focus on rn.  So protesting it while also depending on its continued operation for water, food, energy, economy and telecommunications is maybe something we need to think through a little more fully, and thus putting a huge collective effort into creating alternative means of storing and distributing water, growing food, collecting and storing energy, generating and maintaining alternative economies and currencies, and finding alternative means of communicating with one another, as well as transporting goods, are all crucial things for us to be thinking about, if we want to have a conversation on equal grounds with the a state that has proven itself violent racist.  Otherwise they hold the cards.  I’m currently focused on learning how to grow food and on teaching anyone and everyone I know what I’m learning and on sharing the baby plants I grow with people who have space and want to start their own gardens.  And for all my white or even non-black males out there, maybe join me in communicating the message to white males in particular that the only legitimate violence they should be exerting right now is violence to defend their fellow citizens, particularly black ones, from the police or military or ANTIFA, and to defend buildings and property from white ANTIFA or undercover agent provocateurs so that they can’t stoke unnecessary and unhelpful violence.  Help communicate that any further looting or rioting committed by non-black people is counterproductive, only giving a violent state more legitimacy and reason to use its weapons, to bolster its “security” budgets.  And maybe we can also use our voice to communicate to anyone judging those black protestors who might express themselves with violence towards property, particularly those labelling them as thugs and condemning their actions, that they should spend more time speaking out against the state that has made the looters actions utterly understandable, and that they can check their prioritization of property over life to see if they would trade one of their family members for a Target, and that as citizens they do have a say in what their government does, and that that government has proven itself deeply racist, from the president down to the beat cop, through all the courts, prosecutors, prisons, corporations that employ prison labor, etc, everyone still living off of the sick system this country was hypocritically founded on.  As far as changing the state from the inside, what I see needs to be focused on is how to assess the decisions, words, budgetary priorities, lobbying relationships of every politician and business, so we can hit them at the voting booth and in their pockets with the message that we will not tolerate the status quo, and if you’re not part of the solution you need to go.  Black Lives Matter 

2 comments

  • John H
    John H In Thought
    Hey Colin, You probably don't remember me but I took a couple of your courses at UC Irvine maybe 5-6 years ago to fulfill my writing pre-requisites for graduation. With the recent state of affairs in the US, I couldn't help but think about the lessons that I learned in your class. You had us read Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's Wizard of the Crow and The New Jim Crow, and I truly think that was the turning point for me in terms of wrapping my head around the struggles of Black Americans, both historically and to this day. It's a little "out of left field" for you I'm sure, but I really just wanted to thank you for helping me (and I'm sure many others along the way) understand the gravity of mass incarceration, police brutality, and all the other forms of systemic racism that fly under the radar for a lot of privileged folks. Happened to find your blog and music just now, happy to see you're still trucking along and fighting the good fight. Wish you and your family the best! Black Lives Matter

    Hey Colin,
    You probably don't remember me but I took a couple of your courses at UC Irvine maybe 5-6 years ago to fulfill my writing pre-requisites for graduation. With the recent state of affairs in the US, I couldn't help but think about the lessons that I learned in your class. You had us read Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's Wizard of the Crow and The New Jim Crow, and I truly think that was the turning point for me in terms of wrapping my head around the struggles of Black Americans, both historically and to this day. It's a little "out of left field" for you I'm sure, but I really just wanted to thank you for helping me (and I'm sure many others along the way) understand the gravity of mass incarceration, police brutality, and all the other forms of systemic racism that fly under the radar for a lot of privileged folks. Happened to find your blog and music just now, happy to see you're still trucking along and fighting the good fight. Wish you and your family the best! Black Lives Matter

  • Colin Devane
    Colin Devane
    John, wow great to hear from you man! Send me an email at cdevane3@gmail.com so we can catch up if you'd like man, would love to hear more about what you're up to nowdays, thanks for reaching out!

    John, wow great to hear from you man! Send me an email at cdevane3@gmail.com so we can catch up if you'd like man, would love to hear more about what you're up to nowdays, thanks for reaching out!

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