What's in a name? Beyond Political Black

In the UK situation, Politically Black (PB) has come to be known as a term to cover the struggle of non-white racial groups to racial inequality. I used to think it was harmless enough, so long as folks delivered, but Afro Pessimism knows better. Politically Black is a sediment of an earlier consensus. I wish that I had been a closer witness the inception of this error which is propagating through life, art and politics and confusing matters.

Politically Black deletes the blackness of those who actually suffer anti-blackness. It complicates specific articulation and mobilisation against anti-blackness, an elemental form of oppression and grants weird licences to non black people to empower white supremacy's politics of containment.

Like the meeting of West India Dock Road and East India Dock Road, to become Commercial Road and the artery into the City of London, our histories are materially contributory to the white supremacy project. Yet there is a diversity to the nature and location of our colonial wounds,  decolonial brotherhood means assisting with each other's healing, sharpening and blossoming processes, not obstructing.  [The Three Pillars of White Supremacy is a useful way of beginning to thinking about this: Slavery/Capitalism, Genocide/Colonialism and Orientalism/War.]

So, at a moral level, it should be easy to divest political commitment from a term such as political black.

Following the good news of the election of the new president of the NUS (which has got supporters of Israel and white supremacists foaming at the mouth) there is the opportunity to reflect on and recraft our mental and political structure for the future. Just like after the West Indies cricket team of the 70s and 80s, there was actually no need to invest so much effort in cricket.

Political Black was one of those messy tactical compromises for a slightly earlier white supremacy. We are stronger together, but Politically Black is not The End of History, and the wrong binding agent is not durable under both external pressure and internal growth. It is no disrespect to the love and work of the more middle aged, nor the fiery younglings, to replace the term.

Colonially Wounded Communities (CWCs) must resist being white-mailed by acceptability politics and prevented from speaking the name of white supremacy to its prime beneficiaries, nor reminding them of the colonial realities of why we are here.

At the very least, people of decolonial commitment must never be traitor-shamed by Politically Black Enforcers, nor muffled by a Closed Eared Leaderships.

No comments: