Advancing The Struggle

Image of the New “New Black”

Centering Discussion from Erica Caines’s Black Girl Marxists Webinar for Black Women and Femmes. 

Black feminism has been minimized to a merely progressive political ideology, not the radical movement that Black feminist theorists had argued for; thus, a specific class of Black women (the petty bourgeoisie) has risen as “Black leaders.”

In the almost nine months of COVID-19, these groups of the new ‘new Black’ has redefined racial justice within the boundaries allocated by the Democratic Party, discounting the real movements happening (and continuing to happen) in the streets. These same groups of Black women have served as buffers or middle managers of the Democratic party, most evident in the aggressive attacks on valid criticism of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and the Black-misleadership class (primarily the Congressional Black Caucus), in general. Three months of uprisings and the demands that followed all became PR to get out and vote. The messaging (and money) was stripped from the people and funneled into a broad “vote Blue no matter who” campaign using the faces of dead Black people as a carrot and stick approach for doing so. For example, Breonna Taylor’s death and the exploitation of it has been the result of Black women attempting, in the most reactionary ways, to center Black women — co-opted by the Black celebrity class and professional Black women activists. Recall the Breonna-Que, organized by Tamika Mallory and Porsha Williams (of RHOA) and Yandy Smith (LHHNY) broadcasting mugshots as the second-coming of Rosa Parks. Nonetheless, the RESULT of the months of misuse and exploitation of Breonna’s image and death has not been justice, but instead, a Democratic voting campaign. 

In these months of COVID-19, this class of Black women ( which includes pundits, celebrities and politicians, alike) centered voting as Black people were losing jobs, and were and are still being evicted. As the education system became a shit show, as our people are the majority of the over 200,000 deaths attributed to covid, as Black workers are being pushed back into work with nothing, this class of Black women continued to center voting. Despite working-class Black women being the majority affected as low-waged single-mother head of households, the prominent calls were not for the Democratic Party to be effective in any way, but instead for the party to chose a Black woman as Biden’s running mate. There were ZERO open letters regarding the social and economic reality of Black communities during this pandemic. There was no interrogation of the politics and policies of the Black women in the running (Kamala Harris, Keisha Lance- Bottoms, Susan Rice, Stacey Abrams, and Karen Bass). Instead, the focus was on a representative figurehead that would outrage the fascists but provide nothing material. They required nothing more than a symbolic seat at the table showcasing that Black and America aren’t opposing concepts. That is just what we got in Kamala Harris.

It is also necessary to interrogate the use of Black pundit class (Jemele Hill, Joy Reid, Amanda Seale, and other platformed Black women) questioning or attempting to single out Black men as a rising percentage in Trump voters. Self-proclaimed radicals should view the discourse as an intentional propaganda tool that relies on a particular view of Black men supported by the “all Black men are trash— that’s it that’s the analysis” crowd. However, if we are arguing that Black men vote for Trump under that fallacious and hyperbolic notion that“Black men are the white men of the Black community” then how do we explain Candace Owens, Kim Klacik, Silk and Diamond and the rising number of Black women who voted for Trump (although both Black Men and Black Women still significantly small in percentage)?

How do radical Black women advance the class struggle? The corporate co-option of “Black Girl Magic,” a term coined by a working-class Black woman popularized (and monetized) by Black media, erasing said Black women, has become a banner of diversity, inclusion, and ultimately assimilation (because Black people make everything better, right?) The liberal weaponization of “listen to Black women”/”let Black women lead” should be understood as something devious occurring through the ways liberalism and Black feminism have collided to exhaust the idea of Americanism.

No matter what progress radicals may make, we are out-organized by an imperialist party that has swallowed up our best organizers (who are Black women) under the belief that power-less people can demand change through a vote despite the reality of voter disenfranchisement. This is a convenient political tool for the democratic party that feels no need to fix but highlights it as a problem. Furthermore, we are perpetually stuck in the neverending cycle of electoral voting— general elections, primary elections, off-year elections. The masses of our people vote democrat and loyally do so under the false binary that democrat is good and republican is bad. Not genuinely understanding how both function for the ruling class of this nation. There is no lesser-evil.

The Georgia run-off elections, for instance, which is being led by primarily working-class Black women organizers, emphasizes making sure the  GOP won’t hold a majority in the senate. Notwithstanding, the over-emphasis on the importance of Georgia elections have, in large part,  been panic-driven due to the number of seats in the house and senate the democratic party lost. Instead of figuring out how the party has messed up by offering nothing substantial, there are now many prominent BLACK democrats denouncing anything that even feels progressive, including “defund the police,” citing that it’s a far-reaching socialist demand. or as Barack Obama recently called it, a “snappy slogan.”

This past Sunday was the international day of solidarity with Palestine. The concessions being made by Dems involved in the Georgia race, Reverend Raphael Warnock, specifically, include allegiance to Israel, citing BDS as anti-Semitic, and intentionally conflating the issues. None of this confronts the genuine problems with how influential Israel/ US alliance is, not just to the Democratic party, but to policies created which malign progressives. It’s an open secret that one must pledge allegiance to AIPAC and others like organizations and never openly speak against Zionism even to be considered a contender. It is a well-kept secret that oppressive Israeli tactics (funded with US tax dollars) are not only relegated to Palestinians, but to Black people in the US through programs like the deadly exchange, which provides the US policing with training tactics that result in deaths like George Floyd

There MUST be more encouraged discourse around the inherent issues with frameworks and analysis that falls short in helping us comprehend Black womanhood developed to be weaponized against the Black-working class, which is majority women and normalize imperialism. If not, it will be detrimental to the global Black proletarian.

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Erica Caines is a poet, writer and organizer in Baltimore and the DMV. She is an organizing committee member of the anti war coalition, the Black Alliance For Peace as well as an outreach member of the Black centered Ujima People’s Progress Party. Caines founded Liberation Through Reading in 2017 as a way to provide Black children with books that represent them and created the extension, a book club entitled Liberation Through Reading BC, to strengthen political education online and in our communities.