Remembering Kuwasi Balagoon and the Forgotten Legacy of Black Anarchism

By Nicky Reid aka  Comrade Hermit

Exile in Happy Valley

I know this has kind of become a virtue signaling cliche in this day and age, but Black History Month really does end way too goddamn soon. I thoroughly recognize that the entire month is largely a contrived ritual devoted to historical revisionism much like what the vanilla conquistadors of mainstream wokeness have reduced Pride Month too. But the obnoxious history geek in me just can’t seem to help but jump at any opportunity to set the record straight when it comes to America’s criminally whitewashed outlaw history.

I’ve been accused by people on both ends of this nation’s hopelessly antiquated left-right paradigm of taking Black history way too personally, with some people on the left even going so far as to accuse me of appropriation. It’s bullshit but I can see it. After all, what the fuck does some transgender Irish Catholic hillbilly know about the Black experience? Maybe not much but my lifelong fascination with the revolutionary end of Black history taught me everything that I desperately needed to know about being an outnumbered freak and living to tell about it. The rise and fall and rise of Black Power inspired my own vision of Queer Panarchy and no chapter of that history has taught me more than the lost one on the modern school of Black Anarchism that came out of that movement’s collapse.

We have probably never come closer to a second American revolution, a real American revolution, than we did during the fiery maelstrom of the sixties and seventies. The American Empire pushed its luck just one inch too far both at home and abroad during this era and the new mandarins of Manifest Destiny finally appeared to be paying a steep price for their sins. What should have been a routine conquest in Indochina had spiraled out of control into a bottomless quagmire as a bunch of poorly armed and half-starved peasant rice farmers took the military industrial complex to the fucking woodshed and exposed it as little more than a trillion-dollar Gundam suit stuffed with squealing pigs and the tiny men who fuck them.

Meanwhile, pissed-off Black kids in the ghettos of Babylon seemed to be winning the same fight parallel to their comrades in the Cong. As the Tet Offensive raged like a rabid tiger with a chainsaw so did massive riots in Detroit, Newark, St. Louis, Baltimore, Atlanta and New Orleans. J Edgar Hoover’s ritual sacrifices of Black Messiahs like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had only reaped the whirlwind and cities across the home front burned brighter than napalm while teenage snipers with zipguns held their own against entire platoons of the National Guard.

The Black Panther Party seized the moment and took the lead in a revolutionary vanguard that quickly metastasized into a growing coalition of disenchanted American outlaws of every conceivable stripe, the Young Lords, the American Indian Movement, the Youth International Party, the Gay Liberation Front, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the Weather Underground, the Brown Berets, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the White Panther Party, the Symbionese Liberation Army, all declaring allegiance to their nation’s enemies in the Third World and all devoted to smashing the empire that failed to contain them at any cost. It wasn’t always pretty but this how you blow up a Deathstar with a stick of dynamite.

At its glorious zenith, this freak rebellion stretched across the ocean and infiltrated the ranks of America’s own military machine with conscripted Black nationalists and disenchanted dope smoking longhairs taking over entire barracks and fragging their commanding officers like it was going out of style. The Pentagon and the State Department were convinced that they stood at the brink of an unprecedented imperial mutiny that threatened to collapse everything that their ancestors had built a continental Indian burial ground to achieve. The weird people were winning and ghetto warlords like Huey P. Newton and Eldridge Cleaver were leading the charge. Then somehow, seemingly overnight, it all just blew away like the exhaust fumes of an arsonist’s fever dream in a stiff winter breeze.


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