[lbo-talk] Boots Riley on Occupy vs Decolonize

shag carpet bomb shag at cleandraws.com
Tue Dec 6 12:47:40 PST 2011

saw this on FB. Boots kicks ass!

<> Boots Riley <> For some reason, this letter that I thought was just sent to my <> message box has been posted publicly by folks, so I thought that I <> should post it, and my response, publicly. It is from Darshan Elena <> Campos re: name change of Decolonize Oakland. My response will follow <> below it. <> <> .............................. <> Dear Boots, <> <> When I first heard your music, almost two decades ago, I swooned at <> the political insight, at the beats, at beauty of seeing Black people <> using the mic to check white power, corporate capitalism, and <> misogynist shenanigans. You and Pam the Funkstress created a space for <> me in hip hop at time when I felt sidelined in that movement. <> <> When I first started coming to the encampment at Ogawa/Grant Plaza, I <> felt a similar sense of excitement. Here was a brother who was making <> sure that the table was long and wide, welcoming of everyone and <> especially those of us at the margins of the 99% in Oakland. You made <> me hopeful that together we were capable of turning that table into <> barricade against police violence and a platform for liberation, pure <> and sweet and real. Hearing your comments at the General Assembly last <> night as we were debating the name change - Occupy Oakland to <> Decolonize/Liberate Oakland - made me sad and angry; I felt like you <> stole the table, rearranged the seating charts, and left me at the <> door. <> <> This is my mic check of a different kind, an open email letter. <> <> When you spoke last night, you mentioned that the name of The Coup <> doesn’t alienate people from your message. Even though coups are <> associated with right-wing paramilitary movements, you noted, The Coup <> is not. There is no confusion over your name, no ambiguity about your <> message. You then chided supporters of the proposal for the name <> change for confusing words with deeds and emphasized your support for <> the name Occupy Oakland. <> <> Boots, your comparison stinks. It overlooks people like me who want a <> name that better reflects the movement of the 99% as it exists in <> Oakland. It ignores the voices of the Chochenyo Ohlone and native <> sisters like Krea Gomez and Morning Star Gali who assert that the name <> Occupy Oakland replicates the violence of colonialism. It turns the <> phrase the 99% into an empty sales pitch, and I’m not buying it. Your <> comparison cuts the movement down to size, recentering white <> entitlement to the “seats of power.” As if that’s the goal. I didn’t <> come to this movement to sit down. I came to rise up and decolonize <> Oakland. <> <> “Life is a challenge, and you gotta team up. <> If you play house pretend the man clean up. <> You too busy with the other things you gotta do. <> When you start something, now remember, follow through.” <> - The Coup, 2001 <> <> Clean your draws, Boots. <> <> Love, Darshan <> <> <> My response: <> <> To start, I'm gonna try to ignore the offensive sign off remark. <> <> When AIM took over Alcatraz in the 70s, they said- "We are Occupying <> Alcatraz". The same word was used at Wounded Knee, I believe. <> Throughout Mexico, Central America, and South America- when movements <> take over a space- they "occupy" it. The word is used in very <> revolutionary ways. It's obviously not just about the word. <> <> I honestly believe that even POC movements of the last 30 years in the <> bay area especially- of which I feel like I've been a part of- has <> been very isolated from communities of color and don't have their <> finger on the pulse of what will involve them. The reasons have to do <> with the campaigns we've embarked on and the style that we've <> approached them. The focus on this word is indicative of that. <> <> I'm all about decolonizing. <> I'm all about fighting capitalism. <> <> I have only no songs, since 1994 that use the word "capitalism". I <> have only 1 song since then that uses the word "communist". However, <> everyone knows that I'm a communist and that I want to destroy <> capitalism. This is because I talk about what we need to do and what's <> wrong with this system without using the same terminology. <> <> Most folks of color have no idea what the term decolonize means. It is <> not a liberating term to most, it is simply another term that <> academics use. Similarly, most don't even have the political <> connotation with the word Occupy as it relates to colonialism. <> <> Also, the debate over the name change hasn't been POC on one side and <> white folks on the other. There were both POC and White folks voting <> for the name change, and POC and White folks voting against. Your view <> about the name change doesn't make you somehow more on the side of <> people of color than I am. <> <> Like I said, Saturday, I canvassed door-to-door in West Oakland. ACCE <> has been canvassing door-to-door in East Oakland since just after Nov <> 2. What I hear from the response from folks at ACCE and from my own <> interactions with folks of color that I know in Oakland, is that <> people are excited by OO, if a little confused on the ultimate goal, <> the name is the identifier, and they feel that it is connected to the <> larger movement and that it actually has the ability to change things <> through direct action. One of the reasons people feel its connected to <> the larger movement is the name. <> <> Of course, the MAIN thing against it that people of color voice- <> particularly the Black folks I talk to- is "Oh, you mean all the White <> folks downtown?" <> <> That doesn't change with the name. <> It will only change through involving ourselves in campaigns that <> people feel have the power to affect their material condition in their <> daily life. This is something that even POC movements in my lifetime <> have failed to do. <> <> The real problems of race and racism in this and any movement don't <> begin to get solved with a name change. They begin with a movement <> that actually addresses the material needs of people of color and one <> which makes space for people of color. Let's talk about the remedies <> to those problems. <> <> Although you say my comparison stinks, you did not negate it's <> analogical validity. <> <> My opinion doesn't overlook your, or anyone's opinion. It disagrees <> with yours. <> <> Please don't come at me disrespectfully with comments like "Clean your <> draws, Boots". <> <> Thank you. <> <> <> ___________________________________ <> http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/mailman/listinfo/lbo-talk <>

-- http://cleandraws.com Wear Clean Draws ('coz there's 5 million ways to kill a CEO)

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