Epistemic Violence, Erasure and and The Value Of Black Life
Above I tweeted about the continued epistemic violence and erasure that happens when Black deaths are used as memes, tropes and metaphors to center non-Black lives while living breathing Black people are harmed, gaslighted, degraded, abused and executed, and told that we do not experience the very same oppression that people use to center anyone else. This comes from both Whites and non-Black people of colour, regularly. Just as settler colonialism is inherent in the foundation of this country, so is anti-Blackness. So State violence occurring here does not have to mirror any other place to be real when this violence has centuries of history in the U.S. and when Black people are dying right now. Not metaphorically. Really dying right now.
In my first tweet I mentioned “Black criminals” because one, criminality is inferred on Black bodies regardless of validity—it was inferred on Michael Brown regardless of it being false and was instead motived by anti-Blackness and racism,—and two, thinking along the lines of Angela Davis’ Are Prisons Obsolete?, I am not supportive of dehumanization even within incarceration and I question the existing structure of the Prison Industrial Complex.
If Black life is only valuable insofar as the oppression can be separated from the people to highlight someone else’s experience while the same Black people are degraded, then this “value” is actually violence. There are ways to easily contextualize and even examine similarities and differences in the experiences of non-Black people and Black people without anti-Blackness. It is because of anti-Blackness that so few non-Black people ever try to.
This is not about Black people “owning” oppression. It’s about specific anti-Blackness as oppression literally not mattering whatsoever to so many people unless it makes for good click bait to center something/someone else in a non-intersectional and straight up anti-Black way or to use as “symbolic” oppression and death to center non-Black lives deemed “more valuable” than Black ones. This is not okay. (And it is still not okay to derail protest against extrajudicial execution, State violence and Constitutional infringement with intraracial crime among civilians, what every race experiences [even as only Black people are pathologized with having intraracial civilian crime and then dehumanized by the suggestion that we don’t care], or with the politics of respectability.)
"They are comparing Ferguson to war zones outside the US because this doesn’t seem like home. Certainly not the home they know. They can’t fathom it happening in their country. No my friends, this is America. This is your country. This is what it has always been. Violence committed against Black people is as American as apple pie." - atane
When people say Ferguson, MO in America “looks like a war zone” without acknowledging America IS a war against Black people because of anti-Blackness, they engage in erasure. Erasure is violence. Erasure is antithetical to solidarity.
(R.I.P. Michael Brown. Love to his mother Lesley McSpadden, his family and his community under attack by State violence. Love to all of the Black people/families who faced and will face this violence and to Black people who know the oppression we face and our lives themselves aren’t just ideas for comparison and consumption and deserve better than epistemic violence and erasure.)
my new life motto is something like ‘at any moment a white person could murder you and not get in trouble for it so please do/say/wear whatever you want’
Michael Brown was an 18 year old that was killed by a Ferguson Police Officer on Saturday, August 9th. His family is now seeking justice for Michael’s death. Their pursuit for justice will be lengthy and hard but with the support of the community they will get justice. If you are willing to support Michael’s family please donate to Michael Brown’s Memorial Fund. These funds will assist his family with costs that they will acquire as they seek justice on Michael’s behalf. All funds will be given to the Michael Brown family. We appreciate your support.
This is a legitimate fundraiser confirmed by the family’s lawyer’s official twitter account and multiple news sources. This family has suffered so much, please help relieve one small worry from their life.