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Tuesday, September 13, 2005



I guess my only problem with Sherman's CounterPunch article (a great publication by the way) is the identification of the peace movement as "predominately white" and the manner in which the author's very writing narrows the pitch of his message to apparently privileged white peace movers who must now bring their attention to downtrodden blacks.

What peace movement is predominately white and where? Just because Steven Sherman hasn't interacted with a lot of blacks for peace (or other non-whites, for that matter) does not mean that blacks and indeed many nonwhites are not actively thinking, writing, and working for peace. And, in consideration of the fact that whites in many major cities are becoming voting minorities as latino/a and hispanic populations rise, it is incredibly important that we interrogate the problems inherent in dichotomous discourses of "majority/minority."

Nor are the black poor of New Orleans without agency (meaning, the power to act). While they may not be economically powerfull, it is imperative that we consider their power to vote, and their power on a number of spiritual and intellectual levels.

Ben, that's why your own posts on the FRAUD of the black Republican-turned mayor were so apt. There may be people who are actually afraid of those poor New Orleans blacks' power--the same power that put that fraud of a black mayor into office in the hope that he would do something, anything, for them--the hope that as a black person he would somehow empathize with the blistering, entangled racism and classicism that informs so much of everything Southern-style. Exposing the complexity of simultaneous power and powerlessness...that's what I got from those recent posts on the New Orleans mayor, the walking "race-card."

There is a quiet undercurrent of "saviorism" (to coin a term) in Sherman's otherwise strong and well-meaning rhetoric. In truth, blacks' commitment to peace in the face of racism and violence has defined peace movements in so many ways in 20th century America:

Baynard Rustin developed concepts of peaceful activism from satyagraha and applied them to his early socialist and anti-racist activities. Ella Baker and Martin Luther King, Jr. then further refined satyagraha for the civil rights movement and, of course, King was killed at the height of his agitation against the Vietnam war. Many of the agitation protest strategies employed by peace movers everywhere are constructed in the spirit of the kinds of protests that these black women and men designed. We must not forget how black workers essential contributions inform peace movements.

So, even if in your town, you only see white peace workers at your meetings, their activities contain the presence of black cultural workers as well as many different people all over the world who have sacrificed so much for peace.

The first step for any progressive movement is not to ever think that it is "predominately anything" but to reconceive of their movement as stretching beyond the bounds of people who individual workers within specific locales see in their day-to-day activities. Fundamentally, there is a level of consciousness-raising that is necessary within us as well as outside of us so that we interrogate the silent colorlines that inform our quotidian social realities and make us think that our movements can be defined within majority/minority polarities.

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