“Enlightenment thought should not simply be considered from the perspective of black ‘exclusion’ or ‘denied humanity’ but rather as the violent imposition and appropriation – inclusion and recognition – of black(ened) humanity in the interest of plasticizingMaking Black humanity and thought absolutely anything that the white/non-Black world wants them to be at any given moment that very humanity”.Zakiyyah Iman Jackson,
Becoming Human, Matter and Meaning in an Anti-Black World
One of the consequences of the revival of interest in the politics, philosophy and life journey of Brother Malcolm X in the late 80s and early 90s, to which we all owe Hip Hop an enormous debt, was that far-left parties and groupings in London and elsewhere went to great lengths to instrumentalise this revival for their own ends and advantage.
Malcolm X’s appropriated image would be ubiquitous on their flyers for their meetings, particularly regarding matters pertaining to race and he was wielded widely as a tool to recruit young Black people into their organisations and party meetings.
This phenomenon of white/non-Black political actors seeking to impose their world-making ideas, agendas, and limited emancipatory horizons in and through the words of Brother Malcolm perhaps peeked around about the time of Spike Lee’s film, but it has never quite gone away.
These organisations never seemed to have trouble finding Black faces to either front these efforts or mouth their Master’s voices….. voices in meetings and in pamphlets and books which were about anything and everything BUT the specificity of Black suffering.
I repeat: about anything and everything BUT the specificity of Black suffering. All of this brings to mind Frantz Fanon when one reflects upon the world-making ideas, agendas, and limited emancipatory horizons – imposed into and through Fanon’s words – of those whose desires have never been Black(ened) yet who claim Fanon as their guiding inspiration. Think of ventriloquism. Plasticization.
Whilst the analogy or the parallels between the instrumentalisation of Malcolm and Frantz are not exact, there is a whole industry of intellectual effort in the academy engaged in ensuring that Black African Caribbean Frantz Fanon is NOT presented as ‘too Black’, just as there was/is a similar intellectual effort on ‘the street’ in relation to ‘humanising’ Malcolm X, the US-born son of a Black African Caribbean woman.
Brothers Frantz and Malcolm get twisted and contorted, pulled apart and reconfigured in whatever ways that might serve the interests and agendas of those for whom anti-Blackness is constitutive of the self. These people often call themselves ‘allies’ as they push forward young (and not so young) Black scholars and thinkers to go out to attack irreconcilably Black-centred Thought. They turn this world upside down when they claim that Black-centred Thought is parochial or limited, when at its most radical it is nothing if not all-encompassing.
If we get our freedom, all are set free.
The next time therefore, that you come across one of the many ‘Decolonial’ scholars of whatever race, with impoverished emancipatory horizons, who the Academy seems to have no problem accommodating, perhaps take a pause and ask yourself why the institution of the Academy is so accommodating.
When you see (some of) them repeatedly placing the importance of the Colony before that of the Coffle and the Hold of the Slave ship; giving foundational primacy to the Colony and the Colonised as the originary antagonism in the making of this anti-Black world:
recognise that they are engaged in what Jared Sexton might describe as a ‘categorical sprawling’, and they are backed in so doing by the dominating libidinal impulses and political structures of civil society.
And when confronted by their endless marginalizing/erasing of modernity’s bedrock, Slavery, and their acute fear of Black/Slave-centred thought, vigorously wielding Brother Frantz Fanon as a tool for their own objectives, as others wield(ed) Brother Malcolm X :
perhaps read some Afropessimism.
|Making Black humanity and thought absolutely anything that the white/non-Black world wants them to be at any given moment