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  • Writer's pictureXRISN-MACOT

There Comes a Time When Silence is Betrayal

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

In the view of Extinction Rebellion Internationalist Solidarity Network (XRISN) the occasion of the killing of George Floyd presents an opportunity for Extinction Rebellion (XR) to examine itself and assess how far it has reached in terms of truly making XR a movement that is relevant to all; rather than just making statements about what others should be doing which could appear like ignoring its own challenges and rather preaching outwards to others. For this to be done well, there must be honesty in striving to practically demonstrate XR’s declarations of being a broad movement open to all, as being a broad church/umbrella canopy as we in XRISN say. This means the co-existence of a diversity of groups and the unrestricted freedom of expression of diverse perspectives in relation to XR’s purpose, visions, values, principles and ethos with due respect for pluriversality.

In this regard, XR must uphold its ‘tell the truth’ mantra by seeking to be very honest in everything it communicates and does about the George Floyd case in the UK and what gets expounded through its groups across the World, particularly those being transplanted into the Global South. We in XRISN believe there must be a striving to make XR a movement of best practice in tackling Global Apartheid Racism, particularly in its manifestation of systemic and institutionalised Afriphobia and anti-Black racism that are raised by the George Floyd case. After all, this case is not an isolated incident, state-sponsored and extra-judicial killings are a phenomena that are experienced across the World. Whilst the light of truth is shone upon these crimes against humanity in the USA, such visibility is not always afforded those who are victims of the Global Apartheid system of racism as it occurs in the Global South.

The racism which suffocates, demeans and dehumanises Afrikan and Black lives in the Global North is the same racism that has been Eurocentrically exported to the Global South; hence why environmental and human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, in his last interview before he was executed in 1995, was able to assert:

I accuse Shell and Chevron of practising racism against the Ogoni people because they do in Ogoni what they do not do in other parts of the world where they prospect for oil. I accuse the oil companies of encouraging genocide against the Ogoni people”.

Earlier still, Frantz Fanon in his ‘Black Skin White Masks’ (1952) was able to explain that the ‘Wretched of the Earth’ revolt simply because it becomes “impossible for them to breathe in more than one sense of the word”78; and that daily survival for such ‘Wretched of the Earth’ entails ‘combat breathing’ [see Frantz Fanon, ‘A Dying Colonialism’ (1970)], which is the mobilisation of their life energies merely in order to continue to live, breathe and survive racialised state violence and racist environments where racialised bodies and the environments they inhabit are deemed to be exploitable and disposable.

Laura Pulido in ‘Flint, Environmental Racism, and Racial Capitalism’(2016) argues:

A spatial analysis of racism allows us to see how it produces differential value not only by differentiating bodies through racial categorisations, but also through the differentiation of the landscapes in which racialised bodies live”.

The above examples should explain why, even among racially marginalised peoples, there are always are White Power attempts to pit communities against each other in order to divide and misrule them with hierarchies of race and also gimmicks of Colorism and Shadeism. It is for this reason that often Afrikans, Black People who choose not to identify with being Afrikan, Asians and other Indigenous community heritages of racially oppressed and marginalised Peoples get manipulated into competition and conflicts amongst themselves. That is why the White Establishment refusal to give recognition to Afriphobia and the fight for respect of Afrikan identity, with shenanigans like the imposition of terms such as BAME, People of Colour etc., are resisted by many in these communities being denied their own self-determined, sovereign self-identification and International Legal Personality.

As a movement concerned with tackling the Climate and Ecological Crisis, XR has a duty to see the links between the differential impacts of anthropogenic climate change due to a group’s social status or geographical location, as well as cease and desist from feeding into the “additive” model, in which racism and the environment are seen as external from one another and only incidentally related.

Furthermore, through grossly mistaken notions like calling out racism as seeking to ‘manipulate’ opinions and decision-making within XR, we are seeing a weaponisation of Whiteness, racism and racial discrimination. This means that ideas, discourse, behaviour, laws and institutions are aligned against those groups and peoples not racialised as White, whose agency has been assaulted as a result of enduring intergenerational group injustice and oppression. All this is occurring despite the United Nations declared 2015-2024 International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) which provides a framework within which the UN, Member States, civil society and other relevant actors can work with ‘People of African Descent’ to identify and address problems of recognition, justice and development, the report from the 2016 country visit of the Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent to the USA and the 2019 European Parliament resolution on the fundamental rights of people of African descent in Europe.

We would like not to dwell so much upon what many see as the Pornography of Suffering in narrating only experiences of enduring racism. Accordingly, we recommend a greater focus upon the experiences of anti-racist freedom fighting, particularly those from the past into the present, to which all Peoples of Conscience from all communities which make up our One Human Race have contributed; with some of its glorious chapters written right here in the UK. See publications like ‘The ‘Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain’ by Peter Fryer (1984), African Genius’ and other works of Basil Davidson (2005),‘Women Against Slavery’ by Clare Midgeley (2004) and ‘New Perspectives in Black British History’ by Hakim Adi (2019).

Tell The Truth!

There should be recognition of the fact that all of us are called upon to be prepared to listen to each other and also speak and act out honestly about those in the various communities that act for the common Good and also those that act or are complicit in doing Evil. Noteworthily in this connection, It appears not to be difficult for Afrikans and Peoples from the Global South to call out corrupt governments and other evil-doing by state and public officials and their accomplices; most often with support from governments and other state and civil society organisations, notably NGOs in the Global North.

Nevertheless, it appears difficult for most Peoples, their governments and other state bodies in the Global North to ‘call out’ similar corrupt, unjust and evil-doing in their own countries. This is very important in knowing why within our Global South Diaspora communities here in the UK and abroad, XR values like ‘no naming and shaming’ are questionable and difficult to comprehend.

It follows that there is a need for honest conversations on the issues of racism in all its manifestations as related to various other factors of intersectionality that truthful discussion of the George Floyd case raises.It is our XRISN view that XR should strive harder to be a model, participatory democratic movement of pluriversality which offers autonomous spaces for dialogue within, and externally promotes dialogue among, and between diverse communities around the issues to foster Principled Unity; doing so on the basis that this is what we need in order to tackle the issues involved in the George Floyd case.

Such dialogue includes issues concerning the Climate and Ecological Crisis such as Genocide and Ecocide. This ought toinclude also defending, strengthening and promoting autonomous spaces such as those XRISN is creating within and outside XR for Consciencist Dialogue [see ‘Consciencism Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonization’ by Kwame Nkrumah (1964)].

We in XRISN rightly make the link between police brutality and killings as an ‘embodied experience of structural insecurity’ and the ‘slow’ killings of racially marginalised communities through acts and omissions of environmental racism and other forms of injustice.

It is also important to recognise that genuine commitment to anti-racism begins at home as much as it should be a concern abroad. The fact of the matter is, there are an estimated 15 million + People of Afrikan Descent living in Europe, making them one of Europe’s largest racially marginalised communities, who also suffer a specific Afriphobic form of Global Apartheid Racism. This includes its manifestations of Colourism and Shadeism that are perpetrated even by other racially marginalised communities against Afrikans in particular; because of the White established hierarchy of racialisation.

There are confirmations of such experiences by Afrikan activists within XR. It is for this reason, greater attention needs to be paid to Afrikan experiences of anti-racist organising and campaigning in the UK and across Europe including in White initiated movements and spaces like XR, Stand Up to Racism, the Stop the War Campaign, the Voluntary & Community Sector, the Charity Movement, NGO Movement, Jubilee 2000,Occupy Movement, the Trade Unions and Labour Movement, the Student & Youth Movements, the LGBTQI Movement, as well as the Women’s Movement and Peace Movement.

Countering Racism involves Anti-imperialism

However, we also recognise that the issues which the killing of George Floyd raises are global and cannot be resolved internally within the borders of the USA.

That is why Geopolitics is relevant, because in all of this the harmful impacts of racialised state-sponsored violence and disproportionate burden of environmental harms equally impacts on Indigenous Peoples and other Communities in the Global South. This is why we think it is an expression of Global North hegemonism, due to the USA being the seat of White Power, that when any injustice happens in the USA, the Whitestream Media and its other mainstream and even so-called Black satellites, choose to highlight, it then gets globalised as the most important issue for people to take notice of Worldwide. In this case, similar atrocities are perpetrated in the Global South, even under the flag of Americanism under which most Americans, of all the so-called races and ethnicities jingoistically rally.

Such Yankee jingoistic national chauvinistic rallying of all in the USA under the banner of Americanism makes such atrocities to get brushed under the carpet with the Global Apartheid Complicity of many zealots and apologists of White Supremacy racism across the World.

By White Supremacy we are referring to the Momemtum Black ConneXions (mbcX) amended version of the Challenging White Supremacy Workshop definition that:

"White Supremacy is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of domination, oppression and exploitation of continents, nations and peoples racialised as non-White by peoples and nations originally from the European continent, racialising themselves as White; who insist upon continuing to exercise the Coloniality of Power for the purpose of retaining conquest of other Peoples’ homelands under a system of Global Apartheid racism; in the process of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege that amounts to genocide and ecocide for the majority of humanity. This projects racialised supremacy in the context of the systematic, structural and institutionalised practice of exclusion, lack of representation and overt marginalisation of entire communities racialised as non-White, which most often means to them, Black or darker ‘races’ of People.”

We also recognise the definition of White Supremacy racism by Dr Frances Cress Welsing in The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors’:

Racism (White Supremacy) is the local and global power system and dynamic, structure, maintained by persons who classify themselves as White, whether consciously or subconsciously determined; which consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbol formation, thought, speech, action, and emotional response, as conducted, simultaneously in all areas of people activity (economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, and war); for the ultimate purpose of White genetic survival and to prevent White genetic annihilation on planet Earth – a planet upon which the vast and overwhelming majority of people are classified as non-White (Black, Brown, Red and Yellow) by White-skinned people, and all of the non-White people are genetically dominant (in terms of skin coloration) compared to the genetic recessive White-skinned people.”

For example, the case of Wars of Conquest and Regime Change as well as invasions and military occupations, including those under the false banners of the rule of law, democracy, humanitarianism and the right to protect allies waged by the USA against Peoples of the Global South with armies conscripted from all sections of American society.

Only a few Afrikan Americans in the public eye like Paul Robeson, WEB Du Bois, Queen Mother Audley Moore, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King, Kwame Ture, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Muhammad Ali, Huey P. Newton and the Black Panthers (including the likes of Mumia Abu Jamal and Assata Shakur), Ron Dellum,Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the MOVE Ajamu Baraka and Cynthia McKinney have dared to challenge at huge costs to themselves and their circles.

Anti-Racism requires Internationalist Solidarity

It is our XRISN Internationalist Solidarity duty to highlight the need to amplify Global South voices and perspectives from their own home-grown Communities of Resistance and Movements of Rebellion. That is what makes us include amongst our highest priority work, resourcing and providing other forms of support to our Global South partner networks: the XR Affinity All-Afrikan Network (XRAAAN), based in Accra, Ghana; the XR Affinity Network of Asia (XRANA), based in Delhi, India; and the XR Affinity Network of South Abya Yala (XRRAAYS), based in Colombia, South Abya Yala (South America); which carefully link us with due regard to security to their grassroots ‘Movement of Movements’ networks of Rebellion in their own regions.

In this connection therefore, we hope this will not be another opportunity to selectively promote only what many in our communities see as the White Establishment funded, and therefore White favourite Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement and colonially globalise its activities into the Global South. Rather, it is necessary to highlight the self-determining groupings of Rebellion that are being organised through independent processes, networking and movement-building by Indigenous and other Communities of Resistance in the Global South.

To give examples of such formations that XRISN and its Global South partner networks are engaging with, we can mention for now a few like: VAZOBA and its allied Ubuntuduniasafo Pan-Afrikan Internationalist League of Movements in Afrika; resistance alliances of Indigenous Communities, as well as the Quilombos, Palenques and Maroon community networks in Abya Yala; Vidya Safari Moksha and its allied networks in Asia.

XRISN is in consultation with its Global South partner networks, as mentioned above, as to which other similar groupings it can add to the above list for public circulation. In doing so, we in XRISN are guided by what we learn from such consultations with our Global South partners; the activists of which are the ones taking very high risks with their own security and very lives, in finding out and involving us in dialogue with those grassroots formations at the most dangerous frontlines of combating racism, as it manifests itself in the various forms being encountered by Indigenous People and other Communities of Resistance in their parts of the World. This includes those tendencies of eco-fascism and their transnational corporate private security gangs and deathsquads which are being used against those exposing and resisting the crimes of Genocide and Ecocide arising from the Climate and Ecological Crisis.

It is of great importance to note: that the solutions being worked upon in the Reparatory Justice implementation of Planet Repairs actions, to address the Maangamizi harms being endured by Afrikan Heritage Communities, provide valuable lessons in anti-racism to learn from. So does the experiment in plurinational state-building that the likes of Evo Morales are leading Indigenous and other Communities of Resistance in Bolivia and other parts of South Abya Yala to pioneer with their bold revolutionary, visionary radical imagination of what a completely decolonised New World of Planet Repairs could be for all of us. That is why the coup d'etat, to overthrow with reactionary violence, the plurinational state-building government of Evo Morales in Bolivia is so much a Global Apartheid act of White Supremacy Racism evidenced by the pronouncements and action of its criminal perpetrators; which it still appears to many that XR was complicit in such violent criminality against the Mother Earth rights promoting forces of that country.

In the Global North it is important to recognise that various Diaspora communities have been battling against the various manifestations of racism, through their own community formations such as, for example, the Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide Campaign (SMWeCGEC) initiated by Afrikan Heritage Communities and ‘New Tribe’ initiated by community activists from the South of Abya Yala which is working on the anti-racist combatting of Genocide and Ecocide utilising artivism.

Countering Racism Requires an Intersectional Mitigation of Power

Indispensable to the genuine redressing of racism and other matters associated with the George Floyd case is the necessity to properly extend the discourse to give practical meaning to the XR principle of ‘mitigating for power’. Power needs to be more critically examined, understood and tackled from the decolonisational perspectives of intersectionality which factors in lineages of oppressions and how they differentiate between issues of race, class, gender etc. as well as geopolitics. When one discourse or analysis of difference fails to acknowledge the significance of the other, the power relations that each attempts to challenge are strengthened.

As sociologist Patricia Hill Collins analyses in her concept of the ‘matrix of domination’ in the book ‘Black Feminist Thought’, the four interrelated domains of structural, disciplinary, hegemonic (including the system of ideas developed by a dominant group which justifies their practices), and interpersonal power shape human action. These are the challenges XR faces in terms of having to demonstrate that it is itself an example of good practice in becoming and catalysing the change.

XRISN would like, whenever it deems it necessary, to release this contribution of ours in deliberations in XR beyond XR to enrich public discourse and action on antiracist freedom fighting.

XRISN Media & Communications Team


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