We have to join hands and run at the beast – Interview with the Black Socialists in America

23. Juli 2021

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For more than two years the Black Socialists in America (BSA) have been doing class-based non-sectarian politics. Our author Paul Sommer talked extensivly with Demetrius, member of BSA and co-host of the podcast „1000 cuts“ about the state of affairs in the United States, why Black organizing is necessary and the perspectives for revolutionaries at the heart of beast that is capitalism.

You founded yourself quite recently in 2018 although there are already many leftist organizations. What were your reasons to found a new and specifically Black organization?

I was not one of the founders but I think it was to fill a void on the Black left. There are a number of left organizations but they often do not have a clear program and do not make their high-level concepts accessible so that it really breaks it down for people. We try to do this, for example with our resource guide or our info graphics about different theoretical and historical topics such as Social Ecology, paternalism, the way worker self-directed enterprises or worker coops actually function. And we get great feedback for this! I also think BSA is so pivotal because we are living in a time where, even though Black issues have always been front and center globally, the spectacle of Black death, like the death of George Floyd, opened up a huge can of worms. After that, we got so much support because there are people who have the same sort of hunger that I have and who are looking for specifically Black organizations like ours.

And I even think some of that mentality can be dangerous. Of course not getting together with other people and organizing but the paternalistic instinct that makes people join vanguard parties with a top down authoritarian mentality that tells people what to do. So people sometimes might want to join such a party rather than joining an organization that emphasizes autonomy and direct democracy and empowers them to go out and push back against these systems of domination and exploitation. But I think most people are just looking for places to get informed, which have different perspectives.

And another big point is that they’re looking for organizations that are giving a program, strategies and tactics to get underneath these systems of domination and exploitation. I think people are hungry for answers right now. They look at the totality of these systems of exploitation and domination, racism, patriarchy, age domination, the way we attempt to dominate non-human nature and they’re asking themselves “What the fuck can we do? We’re getting driven to the brink!” And we as an organization provide real, practical suggestions. We talk about building new structures like cooperatives or community land trusts. And we emphasize the fact that we not only need to build new structures but we have to change social relations on the ground between us as human beings in the here and now.

One aspect of the first question was about the specifically Black nature of the organization. After the racist and terrorist shootings one year ago in Hanau, many so-called Migrantifa groups formed here in Germany. They are radical migrant self organizations that were founded because their voices are too often not heard in the left. Were there similar reasons to found BSA as a specifically Black organization?

Absolutely! There needs to be space for specifically Black or BIPoC organizations because we are still dealing with issues of white supremacy and white power, even in leftist spaces. In the essay Authoritarian Leftists: Kill the Cop in Your Head by Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, who we promote, he talks about those particular racial dynamics within leftist movements, specifically between Black and white leftists. And this is how you get these weird class-reductionist ideologies on the left where they only want to deal with class. They don’t want to deal with issues of identity because you know, identity politics is this and identity politics is that. But many white leftists don’t understand that this kind of thinking is really a Trojan Horse for white supremacy. They just haven’t done the mental work and freed themselves from their whiteness.

So I absolutely think these spaces are necessary. There should be Asian leftist organizations, especially right now where anti-Asian bigotry and violence is on the rise in the US. Our Asian brothers, sisters and elders are attacked. And I think that Latinx people need a left organization. It’s just time! And people are craving that.

When we started our podcast 1000 Cuts, we got a lot of support and praise because it is specifically geared towards Blacks and PoCs and people feel so much more comfortable with that. We specifically talk about our issues while simultaneously introducing larger leftist theory and ideas and trying to distill them down and giving them to BIPoC folks who are either leftist or interested in left ideas. And people are hungry for that. But if you actually pay attention to the leftist podcast space: It’s chock full of white males saying ridiculous stuff. You fucking sneeze and you’ll see the authoritarians fall out. Of course, there are also good leftist podcasts who have white podcasters who have solid principles and practice. But so much of it is just ridiculous bullshit.

However, this goes beyond podcasting and into the larger left media ecosystem as a whole. So much of this media is authoritarian in nature, reinforces left-wing white supremacy and class reductionism through the intentional delegitimisation of frameworks like intersectionality and promotes ahistorical narratives that whitewash the brutal legacies of state capitalist regimes such as China for example. This is dangerous because we must recognize that media is an extremely powerful tool for political education of all kinds.

Therefore, we try to be to be practical and talk about solutions in our podcast rather than just ruminating on the problems. And we also try to bring positivity and actual hope into the podcast. And these are things that many leftist podcasts just do not have. They don’t give answers.

Yes, I regularly had to laugh and that normally doesn’t happen while listening to leftist podcasts. One point that you already mentioned earlier is that you encourage people of other ethnicities to found similar organizations to form a rainbow coalition. Why do you favor this approach instead of, for example, having one big organization for everyone?

I do think that organizations that are specific in that manner can really help address what’s specifically going on in their community’s context: what are the issues of the Asian or Latinx communities? That’s why it is really important to have such organizations. But at the same time, if we want to push back these global systems of exploitation and domination, we ultimately have to join hands and run at the beast at the same time (laughing). That’s the important and necessary spirit that the Black Panther Party had. They would also encourage people from other groups to start organizations. And that happened! There were radical groups modeled like the Black Panther Party: Groups of Arabic descent, White Panther groups, queer organizations and the Young Lords which is a Puerto Rican revolutionary group. It’s coming from this kind of spirit. Because we need our own spaces but at the end of the day, making systems change has to be an international effort amongst human beings.

Currently we’re in a dynamic situation: We’re confronted with a pandemic, an ecological and economical crisis and many other problems. But at the same time, we see many social movements gaining momentum worldwide. I recently read ”If the 1970s were characterized by too much optimism, then the present is characterized by too much pessimism.” What do you think about that?

I think we’re at a time where being a human, if you allow it, can be extraordinarily depressing. When you have that sort of unhappy, depressed, negative state of mind, it causes your mind to emphasize on all the less savory aspects of life and the world. And that’s what’s happening to the left. And I also think the fact that as leftists we do systems analysis promotes that sort of despair as well. Of course, systems analysis is pivotal, it is how we work. But if you don’t look at the global systems and ideologies from a particular perspective, they seem so broad and global and you ask yourself “Damn how could we ever get past this?”

But at the same time, we’re primed to survive. Murray Bookchin writes in The Ecology of Freedom how life develops from live. How life chases after life, how life supports life. That life seeks not only to survive but its own self-actualization. Not only on the individual level but also on the level of the community, the society. And of course these spheres are interdependent.

Also, it takes an incredible amount of energy for these structures of domination to keep people oppressed. A lot of money, time and brain power are spent to figure out different ways to infiltrate and eavesdrop on movements. Because the people on top of our constructed hierarchy know that, if all of these barriers were removed, people would organize and band together. That’s what we have always done. And even in the face of these structures we continue to do so. Wherever there is authority and domination, there is going to be resistance. There’s always going to be those opposing forces. We see that constantly driving history. This is really a sort of scientific and spiritual truth. And that should make us hopeful!

Last year, the #BlackLivesMatter protests against the murder of George Floyd and police brutality in general erupted and had a big impact worldwide. How can we build a lasting political movement from such important but spontaneous eruptions and riots?

Right now, people have the feeling that can’t be silent anymore. And I think us on the left should seize this energy by really promoting organization and cooperation. Because we should really care about getting from the short-term to the long-term. And the long-term is organizing. Therefore, we need to put forward a plan of action to get rid of these injustices and this corrupted system. And this is why organizations like BSA are so important: We are giving such a plan. And it is really essential that this is made understandable for people outside of left spaces and not just for fucking theory heads who read Capital all day. Because the real power and the real change is not going to come from the academics, as necessary as they are! It starts with the working-class people on the ground: a mother of three who works at a gas station or some chef in the kitchen. With working-class people who are fed up, who are looking for answers and who are willing to come together with others to get shit done. And I think we have been seeing that after the murder of Mr. Floyd. We are seeing people who may have been progressive go further left and really join and start organizing.

For example, we recently got off a cold snap where we had snow here in Texas. The power grid shut down, pipes burst from the cold and people were without power and water. There have been unfortunate incidents like that of a grandmother and her three grand children burning to death in their home because they were trying to use the furnace to keep themselves warm. But what happened here, as painful as it was even for me and my own family, is further proof of the failures of not only the capital but also the state. People are done. It’s hard for them to feed themselves and their children because of these systemic failures that were ultimately preventable. And that is enough to radicalize people. For example, we’re currently organizing a apartment complex for folks to do a rent strike. So like the great abolitionist Mariame Kaba said: “Let this moment radicalize you!” We as the left need to be quick on our feet and pay attention to the people on the ground and seize the energy and say: “Okay look. You’re angry and pissed off and we’re doing this in the short term. But that is how we can really change things in the long term!” So we have to find a way to really transition to those long term goals!

Was there any form of repression or surveillance from the state since you founded BSA and started organizing?

Oh, we’re definitely being surveilled. They’re paying attention. The level of eavesdropping and surveillance in this country in general but especially on liberation movements is insane. Specifically if you’re Black. Under the Trump administration, the category of Black Identity Extremists was created by the FBI. So they are watching every Black liberation movement here. Not long ago, one of our comrades and his family were directly contacted by the FBI. That’s evidence of that. They’re watching!

And as someone who is new to this, it is terrifying and it can be scary. But at the end of the day this is what any of us leftists, who want to seriously push back, signed up for. And it’s not to say that you shouldn’t be scared. But push forward in the face of that fear because you’re on the right side of things and you’re doing what’s right! And of course, I’m a human like everybody else, I have relationships and family and friends. And there are times where I worry. I’m not too fearful of myself as of them. But we are going forward. We’re not going to stop what we are saying. We’re not going to stop promoting dual power and pushing back. And our ancestors, not even being viewed as human beings but as human property, still pushed back. So I don’t have any excuses.

About principles, scientific socialism and power from below

You recently released extensive Core Principles that describe your political standpoint and plan of action. What were the reasons for you to do this?

I think it is really, really important for an organization like ours to be clear on their beliefs, their ideology and their practice. And many leftist organizations can be very vague in a dangerous way when it comes to that. Because they have people with ideologies that are ultimately at odds with each other. Someone who’s a serious campist will not mesh very well with someone who has intercommunalist tendencies in the same organization.

Another reason is because we do a lot of political education. And the ideology and belief system of many people is not coherent. It’s just a bunch of mushed up mumbo jumbo that they get from different persons. That’s why it is so important for us to have our core principles detailed out so extensively with nuances and details. So people can really know what our theory and especially our practice is. Because a lot of leftists are vague and opportunistic. They just want to get people in, no matter who comes. But that’s not what we’re on. We’re not a party but rather a catalyst organization. We’re here to support and spur people to go out where they’re at and make systems change in a directly democratic, autonomous fashion. You have to be honest about your shit and don’t switch up your name. And even though that can be scary and make you vulnerable, there will be people who respect you because you stand on your principles and you know who you are. You’re not wishy-washy.

The first thing you state in the principles is, that you are a Scientific Socialist organization. Why are the principles and methods of Scientific Socialism so central to you?

While I was still starting to understand the importance of Scientific Socialism, a comrade told me that it makes the difference between leftists who get shit done and those who don’t. He was very direct but it is the truth. Having your political ideology be informed deeply by scientific methodology and processes is really the only way to go. We must however avoid engaging in scientism which is the view that human knowledge can only be derived from science or scientific methodology. We must be material and empirical in our analysis of systems and structures of domination and exploitation. We can’t retreat into idealist fantasies about how our world came to be and how it looks.

And it is important to have a socialist theory and practice informed by history, anthropology, psychology, physics, biology, whatever it may be. We can’t be like right wing libertarians who project the market onto ancient, preliterate peoples. You know like the market was always around! (laughing) In his book Debt: The First 5,000 Years, the great thinker David Graeber, may he rest in love, is like “That’s bullshit!” So it’s very important to be informed by all these scientific fields of inquiry because we’re trying to be empirical.

As an example, look at the propaganda against human nature that we are under in hierarchical class society: that human beings are inherently competitive and violent and can never be left to their own devices because there would just be chaos. When in reality, if you look at the actual sociological and anthropological evidence, like Kropotkin long ago or Rutger Bregman in his recent book Humankind, humans are a lot more kind than what people think they are. You have Rebecca Solnit in her book A Paradise Built In Hell talk about how humans come together and cooperate in disaster scenarios. And I’ve seen that here in Houston, Texas when we had the hurricane or the recent cold snap: so much mutual aid! You also have the book Tribe by anthropologist Sebastian Junger where he talks about how humans are evolutionary primed to being grouped, to be in community. So this propaganda about human nature that comes from social Darwinist influenced science that humans are monsters and bla bla bla is essentially only justifying hierarchy and paternalism. Because you motherfuckers can’t govern yourselves you gotta have a daddy figure telling you what to do!

And lastly, a scientific socialist perspective also helps us to look at our conditions right now and to see that these structures and mechanisms did not always exist. And because they didn’t always exist in the past, we can make those motherfuckers unexist again.

Later, you add that you do not want to give yourself an, as you say “brand name” such as anarchist, trotskyist or marxist-leninist. What were your thoughts behind this?

I think it is important for us as an organization to not be sectarian. When you look at the whole Marxism vs. anarchism debate that still goes on today, there are times when you have to avoid labels like that because there is so much history and baggage tied up in them. You’ll just replay the same old fight and go back the the First International and the beef between Bakunin and Marx. While in reality, if you really pay attention to their ideology, they have a lot more in common than some realize. It is just fruitless beef and drama that does not get us anywhere. So there are times where it is important for us to skew labels and identities. Even though as an organization we staunchly believe in identity, specifically as Black people. And of course labels have their uses. Things need names to understand and categorize them. But at the same time it is so easy to get caught up in labels and categories and not to be empirical and look at how things function concretely. But we have to be empirical and that is why it is important to be non-sectarian. Our tendencies will come out anyway.

And some people are surprised when we post anarchists from Japan (laughing). Or when we not only post Marx but also Bakunin and Kropotkin. But we are informed by Bookchin who is informed by Marx and Kropotkin. So it is important to be fluid and flexible. Because regardless of the tendencies of so many thinkers, there’s always some bits of knowledge and truth that you can pull from their analysis, history and practice. So read Marx! But also read Kropotkin and Kuwasi Balagoon or Ashanti Alston. Read everyone. Even be willing to read authoritarians! Read Lenin! Read Mao! But with a critical eye.

You also state the importance of decentralized and directly democratic structures to build what you call true democracy”. Your strategy to do this has three pillars: participation in the political process, direct action and building dual power. Can you explain why you picked these pillars and why they are important?

I think it seems like common sense that it is important to get up and be involved in the political process to actually change the environment in which you live. And I don’t mean getting involved at the national level but on the local level, where you’re at. Of course we do not at all emphasize electoral politics and have very serious issues with representative democracy because it is not real democracy. Real democracy is direct, actual communal consensus making.

The next thing is direct action. It involves protests, demonstrations and strikes. But strikes also blend into dual power. Because when pulling off certain strikes or even a general strike, it is good to have an alternative infrastructure already in place for people to rely on while they’re striking. And even though there is a serious critique to be made of unions by the left, people need to get involved in these organizations that are about direct action.

And then dual power. It is the intentional creation of new infrastructure and new systems that are governed by different logics than those of the capital or the state, that are not hierarchical and can really create a counter power to the state and capital. I’m talking about worker self-directed enterprises and cooperatives, community land trusts and things of that nature. Having different, non hierarchical social relations that and not based in racist bigotry, gender hate, hatred of different religions or whatever it may be is also really important. Cooperation Jackson that we are connected to is a good example for building dual power. That is how you get up from where you’re at and really push into actual systems change.

I think, one important aspect here is also self-defense. For example, Öcalan talks about this defense being important not only militarily but also ideologically.

Yes, while the project of Rojava is not perfect, no project can be perfect under these conditions, they are a beacon to the world. It is a multi-ethnic, multi-national and internationalist project. And they are welcoming and people can go into that community. But they also prioritize having the means to defend themselves and their beautiful project. So I think Rojava is a great example of that. Long live Rojava!

You repeatedly mention the importance of reflecting your directly-democratic and non-hierarchical principles in your organization and you therefore reject charismatic leader-figures and vanguardism. But there are always people more committed to the struggle than others. And anarchists historically tend to be too naive when it comes to grabbing actual power. A good example here is the Spanish revolution. What’s your approach with regard to these points?

I think that is why it is so important to have anarchists who look at the history and learn from it. Figures like Bookchin have that critique and try to learn from the failures of our anarchist predecessors.

Us anarchists and anti-state leftists, I’m speaking for myself and not the organization as a whole here, need to have a better discourse on the concept of power. What do we mean when we say power? What does it look like? How is it utilized? Anarchists aren’t interested in seizing power where it currently resides but rather we challenge it. We seek to cultivate a new form of power which is bottom up. A power that is directly derived from the working class, poor, oppressed and historically marginalized peoples of this world. The authoritarian seeks to hijack the pre-existing hierarchical structures and domination systems in order to wield them for what they believe to be “liberatory” ends. Those who have tried to control or rein in power at the top have historically been absorbed by the logic of this power and ultimately transformed or destroyed by it. Thus, the key for us is to build a new power at the bottom that can destroy the underlying structures that prop up the logic of power at the top where capital and the state are concentrated, and render these structures obsolete through the development of a people’s power that is grounded in direct democracy instead of hierarchy, bureaucracy and authoritarianism.

And when it comes to breaking that paternalistic spirit, it is about us prefiguring the world we want to see. We want a non-hierarchical world. So that seed has to be planted and has to start germinating in our movements and organizations. Which is why it is important that they are not a party but a collective that is directly democratic and autonomous and seeks to empower rather than disempower people.

A big part of the reason why we want to break this paternalistic spirit is because we look at the history of the Black Panther Party: And figures like Huey, David Hilliard, Fred Hampton, as brilliant as they were, had just too much power and authority in the organization. If you read the analysis of the Black Panther Party of figures like Lorenzo Ervin or Russel Maroon Shoatz, who is unfortunately struggling in prison right now, they make the argument that the hierarchical structure of the Black Panther Party is what opened them up to being infiltrated and destroyed by the state. Donald Cox also has a great socialist-scientific analysis on the issue of hero worship, paternalism and waiting for a savior. We have to see that that’s just not it. We should not replicate within our movements the same systems of domination that we are pushing against.

And I’m speaking in a specifically Black and New Afrikan context. Look at revolutionary nationalism or Pan-African revolutionaries like Thomas Sankara or Kwame Nkrumah. A lot of them were brilliant figures but they also were authoritarians and they were repressive in a number of ways. And they are venerated and idolized on the Black revolutionary left without looking at the state repression that these figures supported. The same goes for Cuba and Che and Fidel, as great as they were. So I think it is very important to break that paternalistic spirit and to show that the heroes are not these revolutionary figures but the people on the ground doing the everyday organizing work. Those, who you don’t see and who’s names you will not hear. And they don’t even want to be seen or heard. Because what’s more important is the work that will help us win freedom and liberation.

Don’t allow yourself to sink into despair

Regarding the ecological problems on our planet, you emphasize the crucial importance of Murray Bookchin’s concept of Social Ecology. Why do you see it as a key to solving our problems?

I think Social Ecology is so important because it gets to the heart of what our ecological crisis and climate change are about. Of course, we know that it is a handful of oil and gas companies that are fueling climate change and that the issue is private property, privatization and capital in general. But I think Social Ecology really gets to the root: because human beings have a hierarchical outlook on phenomena in the world, their social relations with one another are going to be hierarchical. And they project this on non-human nature. And that is a very important term because human beings, as animals and organisms, we are also nature. As Bookchin says: humans are the very knowingness of nature.

So we need to find out what is causing us to treat our environment this way. It is not just the existence of capital. People have been exploiting the land and non-human species since before capitalism. And Social Ecology helps to get to the root cause. You don’t want a doctor to treat only your symptoms but to treat the disease that is causing the symptoms. And that underlying disease is domination and top-down rankings of all phenomena that exist. And the symptoms are capitalism, private property, racism, gender hatred, war and all these things.

And on top of that, Social Ecology has a very powerful critique of environmentalism. Because Social Ecology is not environmentalism. Environmentalism compartmentalizes and does not have a systems analysis. They look at all the phenomena and of course they want to do something about it but they don’t connect it to corporations, the nation state and the hierarchical mentality and epistemology. They don’t get to the root causes and what you get is “eco-friendly corporations”.

Yes, we recently had Luisa Neubauer, a Fridays for Future activist joining a NATO video conference telling them how to get CO2 neutral.

Yes, and then we have a green military (laughing). Let’s dominate and exploit but let’s make it green and eco-friendly. It’s exactly that sort of insanity! The director of the CIA under the Biden administration is a Black man. As if that makes it better. It really gets to a level of absurdity! And things like that can even be kind of an eco-facist pipeline that can lead to reinforcements of social Darwinism which can lead to reinforcements of Malthusianism or even eugenics. Like “Hey, let’s do population control!” We have to be wary of that and we have to be wary of nation-states and governments promoting ecologically friendly stuff. That’s why Social Ecology is so pivotal. It connects the ecological with the political, the social and the economic.

In the first episode of your podcast 1000 Cuts you talked about the hyper-individualistic ideology in our society and everywhere around us. Where do you see possibilities to get people out of their atomization?

I think that sort of hyper-individualism and unhappiness is really a logical byproduct of living in a hierarchical class and consumer society. But there’s a real emptiness in only focusing on the self. In reality, so much of our happiness comes from things external to us.

And sometimes it takes real tragedies like George Floyd’s death, may he rest in love, to catalyze and to radicalize people. There were protests all over the world, like in Korea or Germany. So many people of so many backgrounds supporting Black lives! And that shows the ingrained solidarity in people which is buried under all these layers of despair that come from the sort of society we live in. But we have the capabilities to be free. And this is not only a matter of casting off social domination or oppression in the abstract. But to be free from wanting for material necessities. A big part of our lives under capitalism is spent toiling under corporations where your labor does not feel connected to anything meaningful or life-affirming. It is what Marx calls alienation or alienated labor. All of it to get the made up thing called money in order to use it to get the bare necessities to live, like food or shelter. Rather than having a society that gives people the irreducible minimum: food, clothing, shelter and such. Giving people this would mean that the community has a real responsibility to the individual. And I think we lost this responsibility and understanding.

So I think tragedies like for example the corona virus pandemic have shown people the blatant failures of the nation-state, especially here in the States. We’re always leading the charge (laughing). And I think that’s where anarchism has been vindicated. It shows you these failures of the nation-state and of having a bureaucratic system with all these channels, chains of commands and offices and bodies. And anarchists are not opposed to structure and order. But bureaucracy can make things slow, complicate them and alienate people from decision-making.

Even though there are good reasons to ignore this in certain cases, the current pandemic limits the left in what it can do in the public space. But what everyone can do right is now radicalizing their personal environment. What do you think about this as an instrument of political action?

I think it is pivotal but can be tough. Most people, even the beloved people closest to you, are not Marxists, socialists or anarchists or have a mindset of systemic analysis. That’s again a byproduct of being part of a hierarchical class society. If people would have this analysis and see that their environment is not the way things have always been but a construction that is relatively new in human history, they would not obey and follow the rules. They would know that it’s all bullshit and that we can tear it down and construct new systems that are more efficient, functional, ethical and humane. Therefore, the capitalist system will always promote highly individualized thinking focused on personalities rather than systemic thinking focused on institutions and structures. You see this when we look at the murders of Mr. Floyd and people before him such as Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor and at the global institution of policing. It shows you that the problem is policing itself and not individuals who make up the institution. But if you have these conversations with people around you, you get responses like “Well, I know this person and he’s a cop and he’s a good person.” But I don’t give a fuck if your uncle is a nice guy who wears a badge. It does not change the fact that, if you look at the data, you will see that cop families have a high rate of domestic violence or drug addiction and that police officers regularly rape people. And the institution is not even efficient. Over here, there is a 40 percent chance that a murder will not be solved. The institution just does not work.

But you still have to have these conversations because you never know what can rub off on people. I’ve seen friends who were fine with capitalism or who were regular liberals or even conservative on some matters really start to shift and start questioning things. For example why it is that celebrities or wealthy people have access to the vaccine against the corona virus whereas regular, hard working, good-intentioned working class people are dying in droves? So they are beginning to question the hierarchy and class stratifications. And some other people are going to be hard headed. But there are people that, once they really see the injustices and disparities, realize that what we are talking about is real.

I’m seeing people radicalize right now and I’m trying to radicalize a few of my friends. For example, I’m trying to get a good friend who’s Mexican to read the folks from Chiapas, the Zapatistas! They are, like the people in Rojava, a beacon of light to the world. And so I think you have to make the personal political, especially as a Black or BIPoC person. Because the people at the bottom of the racial hierarchy globally are going to be the first who feel the pain and who suffer when it comes to racism, sexism, climate change and the way in which capital and neoliberalism just brutalizes our lives. So we definitely need to be having these conversations in our communities.

But the same goes for white people! They need to be having these conversations as the dominant brute around the world, as those who benefit from the global project of white supremacy. Really choosing to have these difficult conversations at the dinner table like “Grandpa, it’s not good to be racist. That’s just not it!” Same thing with me being a Black male. I have to show a different way and have to have conversations with other men about stopping misogyny, homophobia and transphobia. So yes, we really need to start to make the personal the political!

Is there anything you would like to add or emphasize?

We really covered a lot. But to leave on a positive note, I would like to add: don’t allow yourself to sink into despair, depression or anxiety. Do anything and everything that you know will bring you hope and joy and positivity in that moment. And use that as fuel to get up off your ass, to go out and organize and strategize with the people in your community! Because, to quote the great Mr. Rogers, “always look for the helpers!” Things can seem bleak and dark but always look for the helpers and try to become one yourself!

And another thing I would like to tell people is: don’t be afraid to give or receive mutual aid! Recently, me and my family really benefited from mutual aid. We were struggling from the cold snap and one of my comrades really helped us out with water that we needed to drink and to flush toilets. And there’s a mutual aid group here in Houston that got us a piece of piping that was difficult to get and that we needed because one of our pipes burst. So stuff like that! Don’t be afraid to go out in the community, to give and receive help, to strategize and organize with people that are different from you to get fucking free! Do whatever you can to arm yourself with joy. And from that place, stand in your own strength and autonomy and make a change in your own life and in the lives of the people around you.

I’m really happy I asked this question because I think that is a beautiful answer. My last question is: What can we do from over here to support your struggle?

Stuff like this interview is really supportive. Talk about us, spread our educational resources. It’s always good to invite some of our folks to chat about politics and what we need to do. Also, you can donate time or resources to the stuff we have going on here! And we have a Twitter page and a podcast which is really accessible.

But one of the main things the German left can do is to really take these ideas, strategies and resources and adapt them to your own context. Start working out the shit where you’re at, in Berlin or freaking Cologne or wherever it may be. Build dual power where you’re at! To me, that would really be supportive to the organization. Because it’s not about BSA being the shit. It’s about the left being the shit so we can all get free and liberated. That’s what it is all about.

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