From Freedom Press UK
a review of Anarchism and the Black Revolution and The Nation on No Map: Black Anarchism and Abolition
Features, Jan 13th
Anarchism and the Black Revolution
by Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin
The Nation on No Map: Black Anarchism and Abolition
by William C. Anderson
AK Press, publication date 22 April 2022
In Summer 2017, as white nationalists prepared to march on Charlottesville, Virginia, the FBI announced its intention to tackle a new and growing menace to public order: a domestic terror movement with an explicitly racial ideology and avowed antipathy towards police. The threat was not the fascist resurgence that would soon leave anti-racist Heather Heyer bleeding to death under the wheels of a Dodge Challenger; or 11 gunned down at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018; or 23 murdered at the El Paso Walmart shooting in 2019. It was the more amorphous and ill-defined threat of ‘Black Identity Extremists’. It is difficult to say with any real certainty who these extremists were. Certainly not the black political establishment who, since the Civil Rights era, had capitalised on moral outrage to cement positions of power and privilege within white supremacist society; nor the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement that, in the years since the 2014 police killing of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri had been calling rallies, fighting for accountability within the law, and demanding reforms; nor even the mass of people who turned to the streets in outrage, each time another black person had died as a result of police contact. Black Identity Extremism did not name an organisation, real or potential, so much as a fear – perhaps the fear – constitutive of white American society: the fear of black resistance.
In 2020 the spectre of resistance again took centre stage, again in response to the public execution of a black man at the hands of the police. George Floyd had been accused of passing a forged banknote at a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The shopkeepers called the police, one of whom – Derek Chauvin – kneeled on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, while others held Floyd down or prevented members of the public from intervening. The protests that followed, while far from unique in the recent history of black struggle in the United States, were particularly combative. Night after night protesters returned to the streets demanding justice, refusing to submit to the police occupation of their neighbourhoods. For the first time since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, another story led the evening news. Representatives of the Democrat and liberal establishment fell over themselves trying to latch onto the political revitalisation of their black base, using expressions of outrage to hijack a media cycle in thrall to the coming presidential election; for their part, the Republican and conservative right were equally mercenary, denouncing protesters as everything from bleeding-heart liberals to rioters or traitors – again in service of a presidential campaign. The gears of government, at both a Federal and state level, wound up, offering this movement and its leadership a distinctly American confection of superficial patronage and targeted repression: lawmakers took a knee in Kente cloth while law enforcement arrested over 14,000 protesters in a few months.