non-black poc: stop asking “where is black lives matter?” every time your community is under attack

May 26, 2017

Stop asking black folks for anything. At all. But particularly, don’t ask black people to re-focus their liberation “powers” and history of organizing on your community when it’s under attack.

After the 2016 election, loads of white people called for Michelle Obama to run for President in 2020. Run to save them from the disaster that they had created. And while Michelle is undoubtedly brilliant and wildly capable, the projection of the responsibility of saving the republic seems so bizarre when it’s not her problem, as a black woman, to fix. Why? Because black people do not and have never possessed authority over any type of power structure in this country, and thusly have had little control over what led up to the election results.

Despite the fact that Trump’s win symbolized a victory of the white supremacist patriarchal ideologies that fueled the foundation of America and continues to guide the structures of our society and the experiences of all of us under those standards, white people refused to look inwardly at the roles they and their loved ones played in enabling (and/or benefiting from) a white-centric society to elect an open racist in 2017.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor

When you ask black people to do your work for you, you’re demonstrating perceived entitlement to black labor and a belief that black people can be called in (at your convenience) to fix the messes other people.

Expecting black folks to stop centering blackness signifies a belief that black oppression can take a back seat or is less important than other issues. Which, you know, is racist and also completely counter-productive to the liberation of other groups.

Many issues experienced by non-black POC all around the world are connected to anti-black oppression. Black liberators like Angela Davis don’t emphasize the mention of Ferguson in connection with Palestine for no reason. Black Lives Matter didn’t have delegates standing in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux because it’s a trendy issue of the day. And black and brown activists aren’t working to do whatever they have to in order to protect latinx immigrants from the deportation and imprisonment because they’re bored. Genocide, human rights, access to clean water are all black issues because black people are part of these cultures and because their oppression only further justifies violence towards blacks. Like the violence against blacks justifies violence against others.

It’s not that black folks don’t want to help other people. The problem is that most, if not all, non-black POC communities play their own role in re-enforcing anti-blackness. This ends up creating exceptions in the treatments of certain types of people, even their own communities. Colorism plays a large role in certain Latinx, Southeast Asia, Middle Eastern cultures that value lighter, whiter appearances that end up further marginalizing the black and brown skinned people. Nevermind the historical links these cultures have with the African diaspora. And by creating a superficial class of people for whom the mistreat of is acceptable, communities invalidate themselves as a whole.

When we look at Korea’s K-pop culture, for example, we see a POC community that regularly exploits and degrades black people while wearing our identities like an accessory. When we look at Mexican culture, comedians like Geroge Lopez make and defend anti-black ideology and biases against black people and dark skin as a valid cultural perspective.

We, too, see this in the black community when people (inside and outside of it) say that an unarmed black person deserved to be killed because he had a criminal history. Or that it’s understandable to kill a trans person for any reasons whatsoever. If certain blacks don’t have value, how can any of us?

All of this to say that fighting white supremacy, in all of its forms, is inherently and demonstrably a concern of black activism. And the ability to fundamentally consider our interconnectedness with other people in the struggle is precisely why the black liberation movement has achieved so much in the way of rights, access, and representation in less than 200 years after abolition. And this continued fight has cost us countless lives, sweat, and blood in this time, and what has been accomplished should be respected and used in a way that builds our solidarity, not exploit black labor for convenience.

Photo via BBC.com/Getty

*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at erin@afropunk.com.