The Myth of “People of Color” & “Allies” V.S. Principled Solidarity

First off, there is no such thing as “people of color.”  The subtle inference in that term is that colonized communities have color and Europeans (white people) do not which is false.  Obviously, all people have color so there is no reason to provide Europeans with that type of status.  Secondly, colonized communities are each their own distinct cultures and histories and therefore needn’t be lumped together as some sort of monolithic entity.  Third, its critical that those of us from these colonized communities began to discuss openly and honestly the dysfunction that white supremacy has marinaded onto our day to day existence, how we see ourselves, and certainly, how we see each other.  Finally, although many people from colonized communities prefer to operate under a fantasy notion that we can simply ignore Europeans because of our lack of desire to interact with the types of dysfunction that occurs between us, our experience has taught us that you have to establish healthy boundaries on how you desire people to interact with you.  This is no less true on a collective basis.

We start by acknowledging, from an African perspective, that there is ill-refutably a foundation of anti-Africa sentiment that drives white supremacy and its practices in this society.  What we mean is this anti-Africa sentiment is institutional and systemic which means its practiced collectively by Europeans, but also many Asian, Indigenous, and even African people – against the African masses.  For examples of this, we point to the systemic criminalization of African people which takes place no matter who African people interact with, including other Africans.  This is primarily the result (as compared to Africans collectively treating other communities this way) because of our often articulated analysis of how capitalism as the world’s dominant economic system came to be.  Capitalism, being born out of financing provided from the trans-Atlantic slave trade – which is responsible for the millions of Africans who exist in the Western Hemisphere today – has had to create the myth of African inhumanity (over and above the shortcomings of all other groups) as a justification for how this corrupt system was established and as cover for how it continues to operate, standing on Africa’s shoulders.  Comedian Richard Pryor had one of many classic stand up routines on white supremacy when he played out a monologue in 1973 about Vietnamese people coming over to the U.S. after the Viet Minh Front in Vietnam effectively defeated U.S. imperialism.  In Pryor’s routine he talks about how U.S. government officials lined up dozens of incoming Vietnamese as they deplaned into this country to teach them how to say the n word “in order to become good citizens!”  Pryor closes out his session by imitating a European official who tells the Vietnamese “that’s good.  If you get your asses kicked, you know you made it!”  Although a comedy routine, Pryor’s commentary captures the very essence of anti-Africa sentiment that infects all communities – against African people.

Why anti-Africa though, instead of anti-Indigenous, etc.?  Its important to realize that the capitalist system in the Western Hemisphere is built on the theft of Indigenous lands and the enslavement of African people.  By default, this means that anti-Indigenous sentiment is a foundational piece of this backward system like anti-Africa sentiment.  The difference is capitalists understood that they needed to base the justification of their conquest on some specific features and practices and the core of that analysis was on keeping oppressed communities focused on each other as threats (instead of all of these communities being focused on the capitalist system as the only real threat).  For a number of reasons, Africa and African people were their scapegoats for this great myth and process.  So, the socialization in capitalism, as the old saying goes, is “if your white, your right.  If your yellow your mellow.  If your brown, hang around, but if your black, step back, and that’s where its at!”  This has been the mantra within the capitalist system for 528 years and results have been a dominant socialization against Africa and the people of Africa.  The error many Africans make is in labeling this phenomenon as “anti-blackness.”  This happens because most Africans within the Western Hemisphere have little to no understanding about Africa and its actual, whether acknowledged or not, role in our everyday lives and our collective future.  Consequently, since we are mostly disconnected from our mother, we see our existence as independent of our homeland and instead, based solely on some arbitrarily “blackness” which is exactly how this system has socialized us (as their strategy to disconnect us from Africa because if we are disconnected we will never come to the realization that land is power and our power is Africa).  In other words, there is no mystery as this strange “anti-blackness” suggests.  We are exploited and oppressed because of the mineral resources and cheap labor we provide as Africans and children of Africa, period.  Everything else about white supremacy is simply a ruse to cover up this ill-refutable reality.

The systemic alienation of African people has created a dysfunctional response from African people where we react by convincing ourselves that we have nothing in common with other oppressed people.  One need not go far to hear commonplace stories within African communities about the disrespect reaped upon our people by other colonized communities.  And, as explained, these claims are real, but its also true that African people who have education, businesses, political positions, etc., have no great collective track record of respect and support for the African masses.  This is true because to advance within the capitalist system its required to, as Pryor illustrated to us, step on the African.  This is a primarily class contradiction more than a racial and/or geographic contradiction because the basis of this behavior is rooted in acting in a way that puts you in with this backward system.  For example, most Africans know that getting pulled over by African police is no relief since most of them are forced to demonstrate their loyalty to the system and the definition of that, since the system is based on exploiting us, is proving that they are willing to contribute to our exploitation and oppression. 

That belief among Africans that we have nothing in common with other oppressed communities (because many of us see them as falling in line with our oppression), along with our lack of understanding of who we are as African people, creates many challenges that stand in way of our collective progress.  The first hurdle we must overcome is our lack of understanding about our identity.  This system was built and is maintained on our backs.  This separates us from all other people because most other colonized communities (except the Indigenous people who were obviously already here), came here to find something better (based on continuing Africa’s exploitation) so for them, leaving their identities and “blending in” as imitation Europeans appears to be a good plan to accomplish their objectives (this is true even for many Africans from other countries, including all of Africa).  For the African masses, since blending in for the majority of us will never be possible here, and the fact that we haven’t been able to collectively blend is constantly thrown in our faces as if the reasons for this failure are our fault, many Africans choose to withdraw from any concept of solidarity.  We sadly believe that we are completely on our own while we ourselves hang onto some of the same backward behaviors that we complain about these other communities having against us (Africans being homophobic and intolerant is an example.  The same type of pile on them to protect ourselves – scarcity model that capitalism depends upon).

Regarding Europeans, since colonized communities are disorganized, there is no true accountability for Europeans to stand up with us in principled ways that require them to deal head on with realities that should be required in order for them to even believe they are just.  For example, this dysfunctional environment makes it possible for Europeans to claim to support Indigenous independence while they refuse to see themselves as anything other than “Americans” which automatically means that they see this land as theirs, a primary contradiction to them being able to claim true respect and solidarity for Indigenous people since the core of their struggle is getting their lands back.  And, Europeans can shout “Black lives matter” while having absolutely no understanding that this system that these Europeans consider their own is the reason our lives don’t matter.  What a comfortable position it must be to believe that relying on slow gradual “changes” while capitalism, the reason we are oppressed, continues to maintain itself, is a position that reflects any real principled behavior.

All of these contradictions stand firmly in the way of us being able to build any true progress in any of our movements for justice, but there are answers.  We must decide that our position in this society must become one based on principled analysis and behavior and that has to start with accepting that this is stolen land.  That the Indigenous people must get their lands back.  And, that this capitalist system is maintained on exploiting Africa and African people.  And, that Africa must be free, unified, and socialist.  None of these principles can be compromised.  None of this can be explained away with liberalism that suggests its somehow possible to have your cake and eat it too by believing that we can have justice under the very system that causes our oppression (just because you don’t have the courage and character to take a principled stand that takes away your individual comfort).

As we have historically and consistently done, the All African People’s Revolutionary Party takes a leadership position on principled struggle.  We do that, as we always have, by shouting that this is stolen land and providing a blueprint on how we can have principled and honest solidarity with the Indigenous people while requiring the same from them.  How we can overcome the insecurities and dysfunctions that capitalist oppression has imposed on us so that we can build the type of internal organization and power, coupled with strong and necessary support for each other, that will provide the necessary foundations for us to start having the type of real victories that we really need and our future generations actually deserve.  With that, we invite everyone to join us on Sunday, November 29, 2020, from 4pm to 5pm PST when we provide the next installment of our weekly seminar series (every Sunday at 4pm PST).  Myself and daughter Shukura will discuss “True and Just Solidarity with Indigenous People” as an alternative to this disgusting thankstaking sham of a propaganda day (designed to justify this theft of lands).  You can join us at (this week and every week) or contact us through this site for a ZOOM link.  Forward to justice for Africa, African people, Indigenous people, and all of humanity!

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Ahjamu Umi is revolutionary organizer with the All African People's Revolutionary Party, adviser, and liberation literature author.