Greetings, they varmints.  In case you were beginning to think that NYC women couldn’t throw down like our comrades in Cali, here are some friends’ response to the recent shit-storm that’s erupted around the events of March 4th.  They call out the way that the language of race and gender has been used to mask reactionary politics and erase active participants from militant struggle, while making clear that there is no excuse for the use of misogynistic language by friend or by foe.

Check it!

Pushed by the Violence of Our Desires: A Statement Regarding March 4

Over the past few days, dozens of communiqués, letters, and statements have been circulating regarding issues of race, gender, and disrespect on M4. We have no intentions of addressing or disputing particular accusations or narratives regarding M4 in this statement; these things will inevitably be argued about elsewhere. Here, we attempt to discuss the language and politics that have been used in framing these issues.

As queer women of color, we feel as if we are trapped in the middle of all of this talk about identities. We have had, for some time, our own frustrations with and critiques of a number of white men with whom we have worked. At the same time, we are uncomfortable with the way in which the identities of “people of color” and “women” are being used to critique and condemn the events of M4, because we – as queer women of color – don’t agree with how these critiques and condemnations are being framed. In fact, we’re not just uncomfortable; we’re actually really angry about the way a small group of people, purporting to speak for the entire population of CUNY, has hijacked this rhetoric of talking about privilege and identity and deployed it in a fashion entirely too simplistic, generalized, and essentialist. Issues of privilege and identity are incredibly important to us and we wholeheartedly agree that they should be talked about. But as it stands now, identities like “person of color” and “woman” are being invoked in order to mask reactionary politics, and furthermore, are being employed in ways that contribute to the erasure of our identities as active participants in militant struggle.

Our political position is not one that comes from a platform. It is not even really a position so much as complete contempt for the system that forces us into the positions of “queer” “women” “of color” and everything that these socio-structural locations imply. White supremacy and patriarchy do not simply function by awarding some (white males) with privilege while denying it to others (women of color). Rather, the same mechanisms that create and maintain the identities of “women,” “queer,” and “people of color” also inflict their damage upon straight white men. And furthermore, we are all fucked over by capital and the commodity form indiscriminately. Liberal feminisms and anti-racisms taught us that we just want what rich white men have – but we have since come to realize that we do not want that either. Our socio-structural positions mean we are even more fucked over under capitalism than any rich straight white dude, and because of this, our need to destroy this world is infinitely more urgent.

One of the major lines of discourse over the past few days has been about how a group of “outside agitators” attempted to get wild without the consent of the Hunter student body. We do not need the “consent of the people” – and when you sound like the fucking Constitution, it’s difficult to believe you really understand the material conditions of being a queer woman of color under capitalism. We cannot sit on our hands until “the masses” decide to act.

Of course, increasing capacity is crucial to building a critical mass of individuals who have the ability to shut down the system: a clandestine vanguard is not the answer. In a situation like M4, people are becoming aware of their collective anger and their collective desire to do something more than stand around and chant. This anger can be facilitated by working to stoke the fire or, alternatively, can be slowed when radicals prematurely throw logs onto the flames before people are in the moment. This is not to suggest that folks are not already angry or that they need to talk about their feelings to come to the realization that they’re against the system; rather, it’s to point out that there are better and worse ways to increase our revolutionary capacity. This is a conversation about tactics, one with important ramifications for “oppressed identities” most affected by capitalism and ineffective action against it – but it has been framed as though the privileged want action, while the oppressed want peace. We oppose this dichotomy wholesale: we assert that it is in fact the most privileged who have the luxury not to contemplate these issues in terms of effectiveness and totality.

The Hunter walk-out was called in response to a national statement from California demanding a general strike. The group who organized at Hunter in the weeks leading up to M4 included many of those denounced as “outside agitators” – individuals who were from the beginning interested in a day of direct action. A vote for having an indoor demo was passed by a coalition of (mostly) Hunter students. There was a framework in place for militant action to occur – if anyone hijacked anything, it was the people who colluded with campus security, the Hunter administration, and the police (these are all synonymous) by herding folks outside. This effectively crushed the radical potential of the indoor demo, and reduced the action to a PR event for the Left.

Some have claimed that the speakers at the rally were composed of women and people of color, and that interrupting them was misogynist and racist. We disagree with this employment of critiques of privilege. We are not against “straight white boys”; rather, we are against the processes that create and maintain these identities of “women of color” and “straight white boys.” Whether or not the speaker at a rally is a woman or a person of color or queer is irrelevant in this moment: when she is speaking AT the crowd, when she is colluding with the State to crush militant potential, when she is maintaining the systems that oppress us, she is a politician. She is our enemy. To assume that a woman of color has our interests at heart, simply because she is a woman of color, is essentialist: fuck Condoleezza Rice.

We realize that some are put at risk by introducing arrestability to situations. We cannot dispute this. Some of us have been relegated to solitary confinement when arrested with a group of white people for no other reason than being brown, we have been sexually harassed in jail, we get slapped with more charges than our white friends. We are fully cognizant of the fact that some people are exponentially more susceptible to arrest, brutality, and sexual assault for no reason other than their skin color and/or gender. That said, these are also vulnerabilities we face walking down the street. Being arrested in a political situation means we are more likely to be protected to a certain extent from these possibilities. Our politics demand solidarity: we do jail support to keep tabs on those in custody, we know how to sweet-talk the bailiff to speed up the process, and we know how to get hooked up with lawyers – all of which mitigate the dangers that follow being arrested. Blaming the escalation of tactics for our vulnerability completely denies the fact that it is the cops who are doing the arresting, the state that presses charges, and white supremacy that puts us more at risk for arrest.

Finally, it bears mention that the reactionary use of politics based on race and gender obscures much more important conversations about racism and misogyny. It is crucial that we address the sexism of a dude using the word “cunt” as an insult, and more importantly, of furthering shame and stigma around STIs – which is problematic in and of itself, but also hampers the disclosure of STI status that is necessary for informed consent. More generally, “playing the race/gender card” to talk about strategic and political disagreements – for example, using the term “anarcho-imperialist” to create a narrative about “white downtown anarchists” rolling into the “POC” CUNY campus uninvited with intentions to colonize – makes it even more difficult to call out legitimate instances of racism and misogyny.

Perhaps some tactical missteps were made in the course of the events on M4. This is another conversation, one that should – and will – be had. Nevertheless, we are of the opinion that something is always better than nothing: everyone is already complacent, already alienated. California said March Fo(u)rth – not stand around.

Love,
Some Queer Women of Color
Brooklyn, New York
bitches@riseup.net

FREE CUNY WALK OUT

March 3, 2010

occupy uci

UCI is NOT a state of anarchy!” – UCI Political Science Department Chair Mark Petracca, to Muslim students disrupting Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s talk 2 weeks ago.

Well, Mr. Petracca, we’ve tried it your way, it’s time for ours!

A curious thing happened yesterday at the University of California Irvine: for several hours, the campus descended into a state of anarchy.

At 9:30am, 14 students and 3 AFSCME 3299 representatives began a sit-in outside Chancellor Michael Drake’s office.  The police were caught completely flat-footed, and it was only because a police officer saw the crowd and rushed to the 5th floor to lock Drake’s door that the students didn’t get inside.  A list of demands was issued, and while there has already been much debate and discussion about the demands, we have no interest in dissecting the demands–the fact that these issues are even being talked about is sufficient.  Police seemed unprepared to deal with the sit-in; really, nothing like this has happened in years on our quiet Stepford-esque campus.  After nearly an hour, police finally made the move to arrest the protesters. Read the rest of this entry »

March 4th Day of Action

January 20, 2010

take the city

In solidarity with the call for actions on March 4th across California for occupations and escalation in response to fee hikes and California’s war on youth (from police attacks on students in November to the police murder of Oscar Grant), there is a nationwide call for actions in Solidarity:

“As people throughout the country struggle under the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, public education from pre-K to higher and adult education is threatened by budget cuts, layoffs, privatization, tuition and fee increases, and other attacks. Budget cuts degrade the quality of public education by decreasing student services and increasing class size, while tuition hikes and layoffs force the cost of the recession onto students and teachers and off of the financial institutions that caused the recession in the first place. Non-unionized charter schools threaten to divide, weaken and privatize the public school system and damage teachers’ unions, which are needed now more than ever. More and more students are going deep into debt to finance their education, while high unemployment forces many students and youth to join the military to receive a higher education. And all of the attacks described above have hit working people and people of color the hardest.

Read the rest of this entry »

SAN FRANCISCO – a business building at SFSU has been occupied ~6am Wednesday morning

Mainstream report:

SFSU Students Take Over Building in Protest

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — An early morning protest on the San Francisco State campus over budget cuts and fee increases has university officials scrambling this morning, as student organizers say they have taken over the school’s business building.
Listen KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports

It’s the week before finals at SFSU, and protestors say they didn’t want to let the semester go by without making some kind of statement on the recent fee increases brought on by California’s budget problems.

The 20 or so protestors inside the building donned masks and blocked the entrances to the building with desks and chairs, while another 30 protestors gathered outside.

Students tell KCBS that paying $2,300 to $2,400 in tuition next semester prices many working-class students out of a college education.

From the imaginary committee

Here is a shout out to fellow west coast conspirators
for some good ol’ fashion insurrection!
Its a time of crisis,
but it sure don’t look like one yet!

So get going and bring it on,
because we are the crisis!
This is a call for a competitive occupation
to get things started:
this will be called the Game.
And this game never fucking ends!

Some passing thoughts on the Berkeley and Santa Cruz occupations, from someone who was there briefly

It is no great secret that the terminal crisis of capitalism is before our eyes: the welfare state, the bitter product of two world wars, the child of Hitler and Noske, wherein a certain social safety net was provided for a measure of social peace, is in the process of being forcibly liquidated by the exigencies of an incresingly bankrupt social system. This much is evident to all those who have a basic thinking capacity. And thus, those who are protesting for a defense of this transient historical form will find nothing here of value, nor even anything here addressed to them. Such people can protest all day for a return to the glory days they imagine, but since these halcyon times never existed anyways, one can see they will certainly have no success now. Rather we address ourselves to those who believe in any fashion in the “terminus of student life”; but not of course to open something so worthless as a literary polemic or discussion, nor to presume to give prescriptions or orders — all we do here is attempt a “generalization of insinuation.” For, to be right means nothing, what is important is acting in consequence.

Read the rest of this entry »