The Fire This Time (Statement of Purpose)

In my constant search for heroes or examples of how to live I often find myself let down or disappointed by the limitations of idols of seasons past. Their theoretical, and practical shortcomings stemming from the moments they occupied in history, for we are not islands unto ourselves, we are shaped by the times we live in as much as we help to shape them.  A friend of mine spoke to me the other day and said it to me so simply: “we are the ones we have been waiting for”. These words, borrowed from elders of the hopi peoples, speak volumes to me. As a developing Marxist, who happens to be Queer and Black, I have often found myself rendered invisible, or tokenized  in the analysis of what is to be done to create a better society and I have spent hours searching for theorist and revolutionaries like me.  Delving deeper I find figures, all promising, all limited to the extent of the material conditions of their time and to life experience and this is true of all of us, to an extent. However, when my friend uttered that popular phrase to me, I heard it for the first time. In my search to find the correct line on things and to find the correct person to imitate I lost myself and my voice. I glossed over the fact that these icons of the past took from what they knew and understood and developed a new theory that was applicable to them, instead of copying and pasting something irrelevant to the current situation. That is what must be done for me now and that is what this space is for, in part.

The peculiar experience of being Black and Queer is one that has not only been silenced but one that has not been as fully discussed and considered. Partially because of the ignorance and intolerance our society has for both categories and because of the lack of vial of prejudice that covers our history. In this space, I seek to challenge the notions of what it means to be a man, Gay, and Black, all of which have been socially constructed by the White Supremacist, Capitalist power structure. All of which are used to deploy working people, like missiles, against one another when convenient. I reject this and seek solidarity through understanding, first of self and second of others.

To be Black in Amerikkka today means isolation. Despite what the media may project and what your Black president says, it is still a life marked by discrimination and fear. This decadent society is slowly but surely find Blacks less and less profitable outside of the prison industrial complex and the military. In a society fueled by racism and reactionary politics that scream to other “these Negroes have had all this time to get their shit together and they are still in the muck. It’s their fault.”, there can be no other line of thought for those unfamiliar with the historical development of Black people in this country and the material conditions that dictate Black life. This is not meant to be a sympathy plea but rather a thought within a statement of purpose.

The word “gay” is still an affront to Black America, still a thorn in the side of the nation as a whole. For being gay represents an attack on the bourgeoisie family, the nuclear nightmare of social relations. It is an affront to false conceptions of masculinity & femininity and what both mean.  Because of this gays, in particular Black gays, cannot be fully human in the eyes of the oppressor and those who believe the rhetoric. Because of the pressures and traumas of living in Amerikkka, Blacks have become extremely susceptible to reactionary politics, especially in relation to sex and sexuality. It is true, after all, that our sexuality that has been trifled over, commodified, and the subject of non stop probing by White society in general, and the White Capitalist ruling class in particular. The Black Gay male is a pariah amongst his own people because his attraction to men is seen by some as a step towards ethnic genocide, influenced by Whites, and an affront on the very character of the Black male. The Black lesbian finds herself in a hailstorm of oppression. Her sexual preference is seen as not only as wicked and exotic but it is treated like an infantile act. It is looked upon as a phase gone through by children. We know that neither is true. That both don’t come from thought originating independently in the minds of Black folk, but rather thought that has been influenced by the horrors of living in this  society.  Thus, it is not straight Blacks who are the enemy but the very system that perpetuates and thrives off of such thought: Capitalism. I seek to open dialogue that engages in making a strategy that can win, that can destroy the walls erected by the racists and the ruling class.

In the past many have addressed, both successfully and unsuccessfully the thoughts above. It is my intention to take what has been done in the past to use the useful and discard the rest. To build for myself, and others thoughts that can be incorporated in action. To contribute to the building of this new society that we seek.

9 thoughts on “The Fire This Time (Statement of Purpose)

  1. Initially, it was exciting to learn about figures such as Malcolm X and Che Guevara. Along with that excitement, however, came a tinge of anger and disappointment. Being a woman I was not too happy with some of their views about women and, before he got into radical politics, Che said some racist stuff about black people (you don’t see that in motorcycle diaries!). They became more human to me though. They are larger than life figures but they are still human beings who lived in a racist, patriarchal, homophobic society. I have given into racist feelings about other ethnic groups myself, I have fought and hated other women, thinking them inferior, internalizing my own inferiority as a woman, as a person of color. I am human as well.

    It does come down to capitalism though. Pin people against each other by nationality, sex, race, sexual orientation- whatever you can find. Pin the American slaves against each other by skin color, the Brazilian slaves by tribe, the white worker against the black worker. The homophobia in the black community is because of this oppression- the violence, the patriarchy, the self destruction cannot be disconnected from this oppressive order of things. I have struggled with many men of color in my past- including close family members- because of their patriarchal ways. I am angered by the blatant homophobia within my communities.

    But…I try not to completely blame them, they are shaped by their environments, rarely taught to think critically, rarely presented with revolutionary literature. In many ways they inspire me to fight for a society that is not oppressive, that is not dehumanizing and to fight for myself as a human being.

    Drawing on Freire, they are just as dehumanized by this oppressive order but they are not the ones who are to liberate both oppressor and oppressed. It is the oppressed who must do so.

    Thank you for you insight, your openness and your courage. It is inspirational.

    1. I feel I should be thanking you for that comment. That was beautiful and very profound. I agree, that growing up in a community that isn’t as supportive as needed can be problematic (ie gays and womyn of color) and it does become hard to move forward without becoming resentful and seeing how oppression has worked on everyone. How the system has shaped people to be in opposition to one another. I don’t know what exactly i’m saying with this tangent, but thank you for your comment.

  2. It’s also interesting for me to observe when oppression becomes so much a part of someone’s identity. They are attached to it, because that is what they perceive is part of their makeup, their natural state of being. They have an emotional attachment to their identity as oppressors because they feel psychologically elevated by that role.

    Outside of political movements how do you think this can be addressed? Or do you think it can only be addressed through political movement? Specifically, using marxism as a tool, how to go about addressing patriarchy and homophobia within the black community? Can marxism help with this and how so?

  3. I think that often when people conceptualize political movements it is very limited in a way so sometimes it seems like the movement cannot address a wealth of things. I think that when we talk about political movements, it has to include issues of spirituality, patriachy, homophobia and the like because everything is political and our interactions are defined by political social relations to a large extent, in my opinion. I think the political “left” has pushed alot of things to the side so that people, including the Left, see things politics as merely labor struggles. We know that this is false. I am fairly new to studying Marxism and don’t believe that it lends itself to analyzing all things but it has major contributions to give in the struggle for human liberation, mainly seeing how our social relations (male/female, gay/straight) are connected to the social relations and alienation we experience under capital and capitalism and how these negative relations play out in the maintaning of capital as world structure. I don’t know if that answered your questions but those are definately some of the things I think about all the time while I study Marx and those who have come after him.

  4. Wow sorry to reply to late! I do understand what you are saying here. I agree with you when you said this when referring to marxism…

    “[I] don’t believe that it lends itself to analyzing all things but it has major contributions to give in the struggle for human liberation”

    A lot of times I feel conflicted when I read Marx. On the one hand I am learning a lot about capitalism, on the other I feel like there is more to my reality than this. I feel like there are more tactics to use besides striking/ general strikes and I feel like there’s something about many of these works that seems dry, rigid and stale. There is no spirituality, no talk of love, no talk of values. I mean its dialectical materialism so it is what it is and I appreciate it for what it is but I crave more as well. Ever since I was first introduced to marxism I was always hesitant to call myself a marxist. Yes it is a way of analyzing history through the study of contradictions and possession of means of production but there are other ways that I look at the world and history than through dialectical materialism. I feel that it most def is important but I do not want marxist works to be my only, my defining lens, for when I look out at the world. Increasingly I have been becoming more and more critical of marxist groups that feel like their analysis is the only right one and that everyone else is delusional or something of the like…It feels so rigid and pretentious sometimes, I feel like the left can turn people into that many times, once you start debating people its like your opinions become attached to your identity and your ego and there is a tendency to lash out at everyone else that doesn’t think along the same lines as you do. Idk, I still got a lot to figure out.

    But yeah I also agree with your statement saying that a political mvmt can/should address a wealth of things. Lemme quit rambling, I just wrote a fucking essay here! Been needin to get some thoughts out there if you know what I mean!!!

    Haha by the way this is kristina. I feel weird going under an alias, I’m like: “does he know who this is?” By the way, could you tell it was me?? Haha but anyways see you this weekend,
    Ciao

    1. OH MY GOODNESS! Are you serious, i’m usually good at guessing who people are based on their writing styles. I guessed it was you who wrote the Angela Davis auto bio review even before I knew you like that. I dig your responses though, and I don’t mind your “essays” in my comment section. You should write more, I really respect what you have to say. In anycase, imma see you this weekend. I’m stoked for this weekend, see you there.

  5. I think any group of people you care to label can name discriminatory practices used against them. For example, I am medically termed “obese” and many people consider me lazy and stupid based solely on my appearance. Does that affect my life? Absolutely! Even with a college degree, someone of “normal” size with less education would be hired before they would even consider me. Almost nothing is manufactured for people my size and when it is, it’s outrageoulsly expensive. Those are just two examples of size discrimination. So prejudices exists for all people.

    Capitalism does play a role in discrimination and keeping people down, because if you don’t benefit the powers that be, then you are expendable. A non-entity to please die as quick as possible because you are using up resources.

    About being gay, well, you are too right. It’s a tough row and being black doesn’t help it any either. I sympathize with you. I applaud your fighting spirit. And I wish you all the best.
    Capitalism does play a big role in oppression.

  6. I don’t know why the post ended up messed up that way.

    Corrections

    …can name HAVE discriminatory…

    …it’s OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive.

    (Last line should be deleted.)

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