Brujo De La Mancha is the founder of OLLIN YOLIZTLI CALMECAC, a Philadelphia based organization dedicated to promoting traditional MEXICAYOTL indigenous cultures. Part of their mission includes preserving as much as possible some aspects of Aztec culture, a culture that continues against the odds to endure to this day.
Click here to visit the OLLIN YOLIZTLI CALMECAC home page.
Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people that were oppressing them.
– Assata Shakur
Tim Wise’s recent meltdown in response to allegations of plagiarism should remind us of a central tenant of radical wisdom: sacred cows and self styled gurus must always be looked upon with extreme skepticism. If you are unaware of the recent kerfuffle surrounding Tim’s less than anti-racist comments, check out this blog for a great article covering it in detail. If an oft-quoted and celebrated “anti-racist” crusader like Tim Wise is harboring such venom and capacity for shadiness, what hope is there for the general population?
While many of us must deal with the fact that we have been racialized against our will, often to our detriment, dudes like Tim Wise get paid a pretty penny to travel around wringing their hands and bemoaning the spoils of war they’ve inherited. They hold seminars, appear on TV and write books to ostensibly enlighten the uninformed masses, though some have a sneaking suspicion however that it’s all about filling their pockets while assuaging their guilty consciences. Whatever. I realize that everyone needs a hustle. But if you’re a privileged person ironically deriving material benefits from the existence of privilege, there are certain things you should simply never say. The backlash he’s receiving for comments like the following are of course well deserved:
every second that fools troll my site, complaining about how I take up all the antiracist space so they can’t be heard, is a moment they aren’t setting up their own website, blog, or writing their own book…but they wanna blame me for why no one knows who they are…it’s not on me sweetheart..plenty of people of color get book deals and speaking gigs each year…if u didn’t its not on me…it’s cuz u havent said anything that anyone finds valuable
These comments should not be too surprising considering the fact that, as the premier white anti-racist, Tim Wise has occupied an exclusive niche and therefore has seen his ego inflated to the size of a blimp. Panties are practically thrown at him while he gives his impassioned speeches. If he was just some random celebrity it wouldn’t be a big deal; the problem though is that privilege pimps like Tim Wise basically make a living “revealing” painfully obvious truths that are actually well known but generally ignored. Nothing he is saying is brand new information. White people for the most part have it easier in this society than non-whites? No shit. White people often hold deep-seated racist attitudes despite possessing a liberal veneer of acceptance of multiculturalism? …
While being interviewed on CNN by the mainstream media’s current favorite house Negro, Don Lemon, this is what Tim Wise had to say:
When we talk about racism, we’re automatically talking about the period of enslavement, but when black and brown folks are talking about racism, they’re talking about now, stop and frisk, racial profiling, 2 million cases of housing discrimination a year.
The “we” here is meant of course to be white people, as if Tim speaks on behalf of all of them. But putting that aside, one of several problems here is the cringe worthy “no shit” factor. If white people really are stupid or oblivious enough to need someone to tell them these blatantly obvious truths then there’s no hope for them whatsoever and they should all collectively put their heads in their ovens. Myopia and an unwillingness to perceive reality is par for the course with any privileged group, so what’s the point of Tim’s exercise in showing flashcards to those who, for the most part, have their hands firmly planted over their eyes? Really, whats the point? Tragic optimism? Willful ignorance of how the world really works? Playing to a narrow but affluent sector of society with the money to buy his books?
Though he occasionally has interesting things to say, overall Tim Wise has always struck me as being rather clueless, not only because of his painfully obvious and sort of redundant points, but also because he seems oblivious to the fact that the vast majority of white people will never willingly relinquish their privileges regardless of whether or not they are aware of them. Never ever will that happen, never ever, ever, ever. Never! What is never made entirely clear is how getting people to “own up” to (but not relinquish) their privilege is actually supposed to lead to an end to white supremacy.
This idea that we must make white people aware of their privileges before a transformation of this racist society can begin sounds a lot to me like the trickle down theory of economics. Apparently, people of color must wait patiently for the intellectual and moral transfiguration of our oppressors in the hope that they’ll one day emerge from their privileged bubbles and…and do what exactly? Empty the prisons? Renounce capitalism and stop killing the planet with over consumption? Give back the land their ancestors stole from indigenous people? I’m sorry, but LOL! It’s utterly ridiculous! We might have to wait five hundred years for such a miracle, though of course the disasters set in motion by systems of entitlement and privilege will have done us in long before said miracle has a chance to manifest.
The Assatur Shakur quote at the beginning of this article is there as a repudiation of everything people like Tim Wise stand for. Hinging our liberation on the beneficence and enlightenment of those with a stranglehold on power and privilege would be like waiting for Godot. We might have some interesting conversations during the wait but essentially there will never be any joy. Let’s also not forget this Frederick Douglass quote: “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” Begging people to “check their privilege” will ultimately get us nowhere if we are not also actively working to dismantle and exploit the weaknesses of the white supremacist system. Part of this dismantling is questioning the very nature and even the current usage of the term “privilege”, something Tim Wise has, to my knowledge, never done in any meaningful way.
If we look a little deeper we can see that the liberal identity and privilege politics represented by people like Tim Wise actually fall far short of what is needed to bring about true systemic change. It’s puzzling how, despite all the seemingly constant chatter about privilege, that it has not quite yet been explicitly linked to a myriad of problems currently facing our word – the death spiral of our ecosystems being the most pressing one. Privilege has been critiqued and examined ad nauseum on a superficial level but it has not yet been explicitly labeled as the pernicious force it in fact really is; it has not yet been explicitly repudiated – at least not on a large enough scale to really matter. Instead of being eschewed as part of the problem, privilege is seen as an exclusive club where the only problem is in the club’s exclusivity, not the existence of the club itself.
Superficially, privilege is a set of social and material advantages; yet ultimately, privilege is theft, the result of imbalance, greed, and an exclusivity born of a specific type of egomania. The foundations of privilege are slavery, murder, rape and ecocide. There can be no suitable fruit from this poisonous vine. The system of privilege cannot be reformed. Privilege doesn’t need to be checked, it needs to be demolished. People like Tim Wise scratch at the surface of the problem but are unable or unwilling to take the logical next step, probably because doing so would hurt sales or endorsements or however the hell they get paid. While I admit that ripping into Tim Wise has been cathartic, at the end of the day he’s not that important, just another bump in the road to our destination. In the coming revolution even disingenuous people like him can serve a purpose, though please don’t ask me what it is because I haven’t the slightest clue.
The Philly Naked Bike Ride has grown to be the 2nd largest ride of its kind in the country (beaten by Portland, go figure). Karenina Wolff, one of the organizers of this amazing event, dishes all the info you’ll need to have a safe and fun ride. Our topics of discussion include the reasons why people ride, the history of the ride, and helpful tips for those thinking of joining in for the first time this year.
Check out the Philly Naked Bike Ride website to find out the location and route of this year’s ride
The official history of the United States is inextricably linked to notions of progress, Manifest Destiny, and the triumph of technology over natural boundaries. The forward push of modernity has been packaged and sold as a foregone conclusion, an inevitable force; but modernity, like technology, is in no way neutral. Those of us with a critique of “modernity” who live in technologically advanced societies have to of course grapple with a good deal of cognitive dissonance as we approach this subject. Like all people who have internalized European “Enlightenment” based notions of progress, we’re in the position of captive vis-à-vis captor, dependent on our abusers for our very survival, mentally and physically dependent on those who exploit us. Yet some pockets of resistance to the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of modernity remain.
People who live on Black Mesa and the surrounding areas on the Diné (aka Navajo) reservation are still working to maintain and preserve their traditional ways of being. If you would like to fight against cultural genocide and support families struggling against imperialism, relocation and resource extraction, check out the Black Mesa Indigenous Support website to learn how you can get involved.
While in Flagstaff I caught up with the very busy Klee Benally who was gracious enough to sit down and discuss, among other interesting things, the subtle and not so subtle differences between decolonization and anti-colonialism.
Klee Benally is a long time activist and is engaged in the ongoing struggle for indigenous liberation. He is also the former lead singer of the punk rock band, Blackfire, which he co-founded with his siblings in 1989.
Portland radicals and anarchists involved in a recent confrontation with Deep Green Resistance at the 4th annual Law and Disorder conference speak out.
Click here to learn how Deep Green Resistance promotes transphobic attitudes
Click here to read Earth First’s statement regarding this situation
Click here to read what Derrick Jensen thinks about trans* people and anarchists