Civilizing the American Wasteland

This text was originally published by Endnotes.

What happened?

Well, what had happened was…

Boom! 574 riots; 2,382 cases of looting.

On top of all of that… 97 cops cars set ablaze; 13 cops, themselves, were shot; and 9 of them Isised with hit and runs.

So, I can tell you what did not happen…

What transpired from May to June of 2020 was not a series of mostly “peaceful protests.”

Nor was it initiated by some stupid white boy in a Hawaiian t-shirt.

Indeed, the fear of black revolutionary initiative runs so deep in this country that, both liberals and conservatives, MSNBC and FOX News, are now competing to see who can devise the craziest of conspiracy theories.

All of this to simply obscure the facts about who triggered one of the largest and most widespread uprisings in American history.

James Baldwin once said, “One of the dangers of being a Black American is being schizophrenic, and I mean ‘schizophrenic’ in the most literal sense.”

Yet, for a brief moment, a moment long enough to both literally and figuratively catch a breath, the roles were completely reversed: their confusion became our sanity, their chaos became our peace.

But most of all, amongst the mass of lonely, isolated, autonomous citizen-deputies, the undead of the American wasteland, with their incurable neuroses and deranged habits, we saw, for the first time, a slight glimpse of humanity.

It was the initiation of the Fanonian humanist project, laid out at the end of the Wretched of the Earth: a real civilizing mission.

But only for those who participated, on an almost spiritual level, with body and soul, in the non-movement, rather than the social movement.

Running with the field negroes who got loose; got loose on banks and got loose on parole offices.

But even I can feel the chains getting tighter; and I wonder how much longer they’re gonna let me stand up here and talk this kind of shit.

That is to say, after a year of plague, unrest, and natural disaster, so much has happened, but still, so much remains the same….

For instance, besides black people, 99.9 percent of Americans continue to fall into two categories, which reflects the two-party system: either they are overtly racist or just narcissistic and annoying.

Far too often, it is some awful admixture of both.

When the crisis erupts, and the repressed make their return, the defense mechanisms go into full swing.

This is why the jargon of academics now sounds all the more hollow and empty.

Indeed, it seems like only Yannick Giovanni Marshall and Dr. Joy James had the courage to say what needed to be said.

Meanwhile, the rest of the black intelligentsia went on trying to articulate their own unique mode of bourgeoise suffering.

Self-obsession seems to be the best way to ignore black agency, as they’ve been utterly incapable of addressing their brothers and sisters in the streets, burning and looting.

Be sure, our society still mobilizes all of its efforts to elaborately avoid the fundamental problem.

It is not about diversity and inclusion.

Nor is it about the treatment of people of color, whoever or whatever they are…

It’s the fact that black niggas, and not bipocs, are locked down in prison, and mostly everyone, and likely even you yourself, at least on a subconscious level, believes that they actually belong there.

It’s the fact that every other day some white boy shoots up a school or a supermarket, but nothing invokes more fear in an American’s heart than a young black man with air freshener dangling from his rearview mirror.