Wednesday, June 07, 2017

OY VEY, Diz Schvartze Sees Us Gatekeeping and Controlling Black Politics!!!


alternet |  As the Obama era sputters to an end, new social movements are erupting in rebellion against a bankrupted bipartisan order that has doomed Americans to record levels of economic inequality, warehoused black bodies in a rapidly privatizing prison system, torn thousands of migrant families apart, outsourced unionized jobs to China and spread a dystopian assassination program across the far reaches of the globe. Activists confronting militarization on the US-Mexico border and organizers protesting lethal police violence under the banner of Black Lives Matter are sharing tactics with their counterparts from the Palestinian-led BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) movement challenging Israeli apartheid on university campuses. The personal and intellectual cross-pollination between these variegated struggles is producing the most exciting surge of grassroots mobilization I have witnessed in my adult life. Not everyone is happy about it, however, and it’s not hard to understand why.

The structure under-girding movements like Black Lives Matter is intentionally non-hierarchical, making them difficult for institutional liberal political entities to co-opt or control. Organizers eschew a programmatic agenda that demands alliances of convenience with entrenched power, resorting instead to divestment drives, civil disobedience and Situationist-style urban disruptions. With their populist sensibility, they are capturing the sense of betrayal that is mounting among millenials, and they show little appetite for electoral contests that fail to answer the crisis. “I decided it is possible I’ll never vote for another American president for as long as I live,” the Ferguson-based rapper and activist Tef Poe has said about his past support for Obama.

Organized with little regard for the imperatives of the Democratic Party, and often aligned against them, the wave of grassroots mobilization is increasingly viewed as a wild beast that must be tamed. The condescending rants delivered against Black Lives Matter activists by Oprah Winfrey and Al Sharpton are salutary examples of the irritation spreading within established Democratic circles.

Few public intellectuals have positioned themselves at the nexus of these emerging movements as firmly Cornel West has. Earlier this month, I joined him on a panel at Princeton University to support a group of students and faculty seeking to pressure the school into divesting from companies involved in human rights abuses in occupied Palestinian territory. His presence boosted the morale of the young student activists who had suddenly fallen under attack by powerful pro-Israel forces. Days later, West joined veteran human rights activist Larry Hamm at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark for a discussion on local efforts against police brutality. It was in places like this, away from the national limelight, where West gathered his vital energy and his righteous anger.