The De-Radicalization of the Black Liberation Movement

Christian Ralph
4 min readJan 3, 2021

In response to the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, demonstrators took to the streets to protest against police brutality and inequalities within the judicial system. Malcontents bring with them a variety of beliefs and worldviews, with some demanding that the current society must value all citizens and treat them equally. For some, integration and equal protection under the law is the major goal. Others believe the system cannot be transformed and tend to hold more anarchistic tendencies. This divergence in political opinion is nothing new: Throughout all historical struggles for Black liberation, there have been a variety of stances. Today’s movement is no different; however, the collective understanding of racism does not encapsulate the reality that shapes society.

In the modern era, discussions of activism are punctuated by phrases such as anti-racism and individual biases. Oftentimes, the implicit assumption of the purpose of the movement is integration into a fairer version of the status quo. The struggle against racism has most recently been fought under the banner of “Black Lives Matter”, a concept that tries to uplift the validity and sanctity of black lives lost to police and state violence. On the surface, none of these positions are incorrect. It is true that we live in a system that protects a status quo, one in which black lives are not valued. However, arguing that black people are marginalized Americans and that integration is the end goal is a fundamental misunderstanding of American society. The true reality was understood and refined by the Black Power movement during the 1960s-1970s and clearly states the obstacles obstructing Black liberation. It touches on the fundamental structures of society and changes the ways in which Black folks and other communities must relate to the United States.

The reality is bleak. Black people are not just disenfranchised citizens seeking equality, we are colonial subjects within a colonial system in the United States. This system of colonialism (or internal colonialism) cannot be divorced from the systems of colonialism abroad. The same policies of violence enacted by the state in urban neighborhoods mirrors the same imperialist policies enacted abroad across the Global South in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities worldwide. We can see these parallels from the violent responses to non-violent and “not non-violent” protests domestically to the role of debt in hindering communal self-independence to a lack of investment in occupied neighborhoods, if only to extract value from its oppressed members. The entire structure of these occupied neighborhoods and ghettos within the United States are built and maintained like fiefdoms functioning as mirrors of neocolonialism abroad. Western leftists erroneously describe this struggle as one against capitalism & inequalities across racial lines, thus glossing over the relationship between the white working class and the oppressed. The truth is the relationship between disadvantaged whites and those struggling under internal colonialism is more akin to the relationship between the white citizens of France and the revolutionary freedom fighters of colonized Algeria during the 50s and 60s. There is and should be collaboration between both, but the struggle against White Supremacy is fundamentally an anti-colonial struggle rooted in capitalism (among other systems).

There are many implications of this, but the most important ones are that liberation can only be achieved by the complete destruction and transformation of the old system into something fundamentally different and revolutionary. This new system is one that dismantles systemic roadblocks towards equality while eradicating individual attitudes of prejudice and racism. The second implication is that our struggle for black liberation is directly tied to the struggles abroad, whether they are Palestinian liberation, complete autonomy for existing socialist states such as Venezuela, Cuba, China etc., and an end to a US-controlled global economic system.

As a result, we cannot rely on politicians who are merely individuals who vie for power within this colonial system. If we accept this truth that we are colonial subjects, how can elected officials charged with managing this system provide liberation? This conclusion is a tough pill to swallow: In the face of Fascism and the true brutality of the state unveiled, we cannot rely on any elected individuals to provide relief from the onslaught. This truth can be hard to bear, but by accepting this, it leads to another truth that provides hope: The future is in the hands of us, collectively. If we organize and stand together, we have the ability to fundamentally change the landscape and the reality in which we currently exist. Even during the onslaught of the current system, we have the tools to overturn it and create a new society that guarantees equality for all.

This means that we must challenge white supremacy wherever it exists, both domestically and internationally. This means we must transcend the idea that we are fighting to be merely anti-racist or to force institutions to respect black life without fundamentally changing these institutions. This means that the entirety of the Global South: Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous etc. are in a constant struggle to overcome White Supremacy. Other forms of oppression such as anti-Semitism are also perpetuated by White Supremacy, and we must act to end these oppressive systems in whatever forms they take. We must go from forcing society to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter to the creation of a new movement, a Black Liberation Movement that aims to eradicate white supremacy and its interlocking systems on a global scale.

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Christian Ralph

Data Science, Focused primarily on politics relating to Black Liberation within the US and Anti-Imperialism.