“It is the obligation of every person who claims to oppose oppression to resist the oppressor by every means at [their] disposal. Not to engage in physical resistance, armed resistance to oppression, is to serve the interests of the oppressor; no more, no less. There are no exceptions to the rule, no easy out.” ― Assata Shakur
Non-Black people can no longer claim ignorance. While it is true that most of us have been educated and socialized in white supremacist colonial structures, the time to breakthrough is now. If we are to move toward “a World where many Worlds fit,” a world where liberation and justice can finally breathe, we must move away from the logic and pedagogies that put whiteness at the center of the universe and which allow whiteness to determine who gets to live.
For too long non-Black people’s hands have been held throughout this justice work, but how long must Black people wait? Patience is running thin. For too long we’ve allowed white people to skate by on thin excuses: “They just need better information.” “They just don’t know what’s going on.” “They just need to see the devastation for themselves.” But if the constant stream of Black people’s deaths at the hands of state violence has not shaken you to your core, you may lack a conscience.
Non-Black people can no longer claim to love Black people while hoarding power, wealth, and property. Love cannot exist in the absence of justice and justice must require liberation for all. Those who are not willing to relinquish power, wealth, and property are not genuinely concerned with transforming the conditions that caused the rebellions we are experiencing now. They have no interest in abolishing the legacies of genocide and slavery that sit as the foundation of this country. If you are on the fence, now is the time to remove the flesh of empire from your mouth and declare yourself on the side of liberation and justice.
Non-Black people can no longer claim that reformism is our best path forward. It is not possible to reform a death machine: Death machines eat life. And the death machine of white settler colonialism and racial capitalism has sustained itself on the lives of Black and Indigenous peoples. All oppressive systems must be abolished, along with the logic that led to them. Reforms have failed over and over again to abolish the logic that produced slavery and colonialism; and, as a result, we have inherited new and evolved forms of both. This inheritance cannot be passed to another generation. Reformists will need to be bold and become abolitionists.
Non-Black people can no longer claim “allyship.” Allyship too often is performative and benefits white people most. Black, Indigenous, and oppressed peoples everywhere need accomplices in the pursuit of justice and liberation. We need accomplices who will step up and offer Black people material support; who will offer their labor; who will stand up for Black people in the workplace and cover for Black people who need time off; who will take risks and put themselves between the state and Black people’s bodies; who will help reclaim, by any means necessary, the wealth, land, and power that was stolen from Black and Indigenous peoples.
Non-Black people can no longer demand for Black people to be peaceful. Black people have tried to be peaceful for hundreds of years and what did white people and their settler state do? They murdered Martin Luther King Jr. They murdered Fred Hampton. They murdered Bobby Hutton. They launched a war on liberation movements with the FBI called COINTELPRO and imprisoned or murdered Black and Indigenous revolutionaries. There has never been peace. To the oppressor “peace” is a synonym for order ― but order without justice is simply the methodology of oppression.
So What Next?
The beautiful thing about the Black Radical Tradition is even when it did not start a liberation movement, Black people always showed up to fight alongside everyone else: For police and prison abolition. For disability justice. For LGBTQIA liberation. For indigenous liberation. For Palestinian liberation. For undocumented communities. For feminism. For sex workers. For housing. Against fatphobia. Against Islamophobia. Against climate crisis. Against fascism. To abolish empire and all of its systems of oppression. Black people have been there supporting the fight for liberation every step of the way. So the answer to what is next is pretty simple: Non-Black people must show up for Black liberation too in every way possible. Not to do so is, as Assata said, to serve the interests of the oppressor ― no exceptions.
When Black People Ask:
For financial support.
For protest support.
For emotional support.
For land and housing support.
For childcare support.
For eldercare support.
For education support.
For workplace advocacy support.
For healthcare support.
For mutual aid.
For direct action.
Non-Black people must SHOW UP!
Eric Morrison-Smith is an Afro-Latino activist committed to racial and economic equity. He currently enjoys studying abolition democracy and is always pushing himself to learn more about the Black Radical Tradition. Read more from Eric on his Instagram and Twitter.
Millie Viajerx is a Latinx anarchist, writer, and educator. They are co-founder of Class Trouble and Subversive Thread ― two platforms for signal boosting anarchist perspectives on anti-oppression work and anarchist pedagogies. They’re also really into sci-fi! Read more from Millie on Instagram and Twitter.