State of the Rebellion: We Want an End to Symbolic Gestures

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State of the Rebellion: We Want an End to Symbolic Gestures

By Comrade Rashad

White people will remove symbols of their oppressive history all the while maintaining their class as colonizers. It’s wise for colonizers to take down statues of white supremacists in order to pour cold water on colonized people working to dismantle the entire white power structure. They will paint the land with Black Lives Matter slogans but won’t give the land back.

We’re witnessing this performance in response to the revolts following the murder of George Floyd. They are acting out the aftermath of the back to back Walter Scott murder and Emanuel nine massacre. Within a two-month period in the spring of 2015 ten Africans had been killed in Charleston, SC by white terrorists.

We’ve been here before

North Charleston police officer Michael Slager killed Scott on April 4, 2015, and Dylan Roof killed nine Africans who were attending bible study at Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015. The nine victims were Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel L. Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson. The local Gullah Geechee people took to the streets in protest of these and all attacks against African people.

The colonizers rushed to their playbook of pacifying the people. A few days following the Emanuel nine massacre white Republicans representative Norman “Doug” Brannon announced that he’d be introducing a bill to remove the confederate flag from the statehouse building. The governor of South Carolina at the time, Nicki Haley, called for the removal of the confederate flag from the state capital three weeks after the Emanuel tragedy.

With the help of the media, local politicians made sure the flag became the focal point in the eyes of working-class colonized people, rather than the struggle for our liberation.

Once the media sounded the alarm alerting the masses that flags and statues are the focal points of our struggle, activists responded to their call helping solidify the manufactured struggle.

On June 27, 2015, Bree Newsome climbed the 30-foot flagpole to remove the confederate flag with the help of her white comrade James Tyson. The two were arrested immediately and Newsome instantly gained national fame through her activism. The flag was restored 45 minutes later. The confederate flag wasn’t permanently removed until former Governor Nikki Haley signed the bill for it to be removed.

More conflicts came as a result of the confederate flag distraction. Numerous battles between activists and the confederate flag ensued throughout South Carolina. A few activists got famous but no changes to the material conditions of the African masses were made in the state.

But the politicians and the media made it seem to be a major victory for the people. President Barack Obama said, “South Carolina taking down the confederate flag – a signal of goodwill and healing, and a meaningful step towards a better future,”.  Five years later in 2020, we’re still waiting for signs of a better future.

Another move was made to pacify the masses during this time. “Charleston Strong” was created in the aftermath of the tragedies of 2015. The phrase pushed a narrative that the Charleston community stuck together in racial unity following one of the deadliest racial terrorist attacks of our era.

Thousands gathered on the Arthur Ravenel bridge in a false act of unity. The gathering was only a segment of society, a crowd consisting mostly of phony colonizers and confused house negroes.

Former President Barack Obama endorsed this narrative during his eulogy at Emanuel AME Church for the slain victims when he said: “ The alleged killer could have never anticipated the way the families of the fallen would respond when they saw him in court – in the midst of unspeakable grief, with words of forgiveness.”

Obama praised the thought of African people who responded to abuse with peace and forgiveness. When our people fought back in Baltimore a year earlier, Obama called us “thugs and criminals”. African people forgiving those who killed their loved ones will only keep African people in a vulnerable position to be slaughtered in the future.

100 years of rebellion

On June 17, 2020, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg called for the John C. Calhoun statue in Marion Square to be relocated after receiving requests from local businesses and organizers who released a statement threatening to pull its events from Marion Square until the statue was removed.

Tecklenburg called our people “thugs” because they rose up against constant oppression.  It’s obvious he doesn’t really respect us; he just wants to keep us in order. Calhoun Strongly supported the Fugitive Slave act. Calhoun is an 1837 speech he gave in the Senate called “The ‘Positive Good’ of Slavery” differing from those who considered slavery a necessary evil.  John C. Calhoun’s legacy was built from his persistent fight to preserve the Institution of Slavery in the south. John C. Calhoun was a South Carolina Senator and Vice President of the United States from 1825- 1832. Calhoun said in a speech,

“Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually. It came among us in a low, degraded, and savage condition, and in the course of a few generations it has grown up under the fostering care of our institutions, reviled as they have been, to its present comparatively civilized condition.”

The statue was first erected in 1887.

The local African population vandalized the statue for years after it was built so much so that the original statue was removed in 1895 then replaced in 1896 by the one that was just removed!  It was raised atop a pedestal 115 feet off the ground, to prevent any further attacks from the African populace.

As recent as May of 2019 the Make it Right Project worked with local activists to seek the removal of the statue to no avail. Now all of a sudden when the African masses rise up in violent rebellion the mayor and city council of Charleston swiftly decide to finally remove the statue in order to quell the rebellion.

Hush Gestures

These state actions are just like giving a pacifier to a baby. The removal of these objects has no direct effect on the material conditions of African people without the entire white power structure coming down with them. These figures aren’t the custodians of the white power structure today. The settlers amongst us today are the current custodians of the colonialism we live under today.

The removal of the Confederate Flag from the state capitol in 2015 clearly hasn’t led to an end to our oppression nor will the recent removal of Calhoun’s statue.

Two years after the confederate flag was removed in response to the attacks in Charleston the city was listed as the ‘fastest-gentrifying’ city in the U.S. by a report done by realtor.com. Year after year, Gullah Geechee people around the Charleston area are being pushed out of historically Black communities due to the rapid rate of gentrification.

In 2018, a Princeton University study discovered that North Charleston had the highest eviction rates in the country at 16.5%. And we know African people who make up the poorest segment society are the bulk of those evicted.

The College of Charleston’s State of Racial Disparities report from 2000 through 2015 showed black families in the Charleston area had a median income of just under $30,000 — less than half the median income of white families in the region.  An analysis by the Economic Policy Institute showed the unemployment rate of black South Carolinians to be double the rate of whites during the first quarter of 2019.

Pig brutality has still been a rampant issue around the Charleston metropolitan area. In May 2020, North Charleston pigs harassed and assaulted 21-year-old Joshua Lewis. The three pigs involved in this attack were only ordered to complete a mandatory critical incident training program.

Just last August in Columbia, SC where the confederate flag was brought down 5 years ago CPD pig Sean Rollins shot a Black man. Sir Brandon Legette was shot in the head and the pig hasn’t faced any consequences for this attempted murder.

Conclusion

African and colonized people need power over our lives, labor, land, and resources in order to end the disparities and injustices our people continuously face. That power looks like a dictatorship of the colonized masses over their stolen lands, lives, and resources. Black Hammer is building Hammer City to make that dictatorship a reality.


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