A reader messaged me recently and was wondering why whenever I post article links they are always slanted toward traditional policy debate, a fair criticism. The main reason is because that’s the area I know most about, and when people think “hey, I need help reading a race aff” my name is probably not at the top of their list on people to consult(that list I assume is 1. Nato, 2. Japan…). In light of some recent podcast discussions though this student rightly pre-empted this argument and pointed out it was pretty lazy of me to not root around a little more. With that in mind I spent a little time today looking around to see if I could find something spicy that could be read vs FW and wasn’t the same thing being read by other teams. So in the spirit of switching sides, Here is what I found
Now, the aim of this piece is to target the idea of leadership, individually and within organizations. Who gets to decide who that said leadership is? Do retweets and hashtags count as votes these days? And who really benefits from a black leadership?
It’s quite interesting when you think about it, even the simple fact that black people have a leadership but white people don’t? You’ll never hear some news anchor say “well now we’re going to listen to the white leadership give a press conference on why Timmy shot up that school today” or, “lets discuss with the white leadership as to why there is anepidemic of heroin use in their community.” No, racial leadership is something that is reserved for the black community since we’re all homogeneous and think the same, we’re simple folks like that.
For one to be given the title leader it’s important that 1. The person is a cis-male, 2. The person isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty, and by dirty I mean work with politicians, media heads, and the police. On the local level it’s with community leaders you never even knew you had until a riot happens and they speak in front of a press conference telling black youth to calm down and to protest peacefully, or on the national level where they are doing the same thing but on some cable news network.
The media plays the most important role when it pertains to black leadership, they are the ones who solidify and reinforce the narrative. Either by continuously asking those said individuals to speak on available platforms, or simply by labeling them as leaders when referring to them on broadcast, validating them. The same is true with organizations, as I wrote in “How to Kill A Movement” the Ferguson uprisings became the Black Lives Matter movement after one caravan ride. And although many of us thought #BlackLivesMatter was just a hashtag we soon found out that it was in fact an org. The media, academia, and the state love to label movements because it allows for both lazy journalism and the control of the national narrative, such as the Ferguson uprisings being rebranded as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, offering no complexity. But, let’s not forget the real reason why the conversation of race and police brutality has changed in this country. It’s not because of any self-proclaimed leadership, or because of any of the civil disobedience media stunts and planned arrests that have taken place. It is because black people burned some shit down, broke some windows, and when tear gas canisters were thrown at them, they threw that shit back. It’s those freedom fighters, who you won’t see on a cover of a magazine, interviewed on cable news, or give a lecture at some white Ivy League school, who made it happen.
Now, many will wonder, “so what, what’s wrong with a little leadership, what good do riots bring to our communities anyway? We need organization!” For those individuals I would suggest you read my earlier pieces, “Looting is A Political Tactic”, “Embrace The Riot: Why Liberalism Fails”, and “It’s Time For Black Liberation, Not Liberalism” where I’ve discussed more in depth why rioting is a necessary tactic. Now, in the matters of the necessity of leadership, I will discuss further.
In my piece “It’s Time For Black Liberation Not Liberalism”, I wrote:
All of the forms that we’ve been examining above are various forms of hierarchy. Hierarchy is in opposition to liberation. This is why we need to re-examine the way we understand movement building and how resistance will be envisioned. A liberated person has no leaders, and a movement aiming towards liberation must be leaderless. We should be empowering each other and ourselves, while working together horizontally in our revolt.
The idea that what this movement needs is more leadership is false. Leaders can be compromised, and can be bought. The movement needs to be like wildfire, breathing life into each flame that springs up.
We have been dictated to our whole lives, controlled, and told what to do, the idea that this same violence needs to be replicated in our practice of resistance is ridiculous.
The state, like the media, seek out their go-to person(s), this person will be called whenever black unrest happens and will be invited to private meetings. In Los Angeles before the Darren Wilson verdict was released it was assumed that there would be a response by both the black and non-black political community. The police met with their go-to community leaders and org heads to discuss both what the allowed response would be and to snitch out what troublemakers or radical elements the police should look out for. Recently BLM has been in the news because of their closed meetings with Democratic Presidential candidates, because these candidates can’t be bothered to pander to black votes, they need black faces to do that for them. In either case it’s good to be careful of those whom the state feels comfortable meeting with. The interest of the state is to maintain order, whether it’s through the promise of reform or the inflation of individuals’ egos – suppression of resistance will be attempted.
There is an inherent lack of accountability when leadership is concerned. Whether it’s addressing concerns about private meetings with the State or allegations of abuse, the social capital and unchecked authority creates an environment for abusive and treacherous behavior. It is for this reason and many others that tactically hierarchical organizing not only does not work but is dangerous to the resistance. Individual and collective autonomy with both individual and collective accountability is crucial towards our working together towards liberation. As we reject the hierarchical concepts of race, economical structures, gender, abilities, body types, and species we must also look inward in how we reflect those hierarchies amongst each other, our organizing, and in our resistance as we strive to change and build a better world.
The links that are included in that quote are also amazing, especially the last one. So why do I think this is a good card/argument to read? Basically the way framework debates have evolved the neg arg sort of boils down to ” you don’t have to role play, but you should at least have an OPINION about the state/what it should do” or “the topic is negative state action so no link to your offense”. I think this card does a good job of critiquing that framing more so than just being a “state bad” sort of card.