The Devil Wears Dashikis, Pt. 4: Theoretical and Practical Lessons for the Struggle (Conclusion)
"What does it say about the anti-colonial Left in an age of celebrity "activism" that a YouTuber like Gazi was catapulted to prominence, in part with the help of organizations in our movement?"
Conclusion to the Series (by Nsambu Za Suekama)
If you have made it to this installment in the series, you are probably reeling from all the details. And you are probably wondering what must be done next.
Even before the publication of this article series, there was a wave of denunciations and even disaffiliations over the last few weeks regarding Black Hammer Organization in general, and Gazi Kodzo in particular (and/or the cult of personality that has been allowed to form around Gazi through social media and the other horrid means detailed here). Those developments simultaneously led to but also were made possible by the work that went into this document; but, more importantly, they need to be understood as part of a broader reckoning in the Black and Third World revolutionary struggle. That reckoning has to do with past and ongoing histories of abuse, cult-like dynamics, individualism, clout, de jure and de facto hierarchies, and the gendered labor divisions, assumptions, and violence these all tend to rely on and reinforce.
This reckoning has had reverberations throughout the Left, across radical tendencies, and most significantly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as heightening climate catastrophes, and the anti-police rebellions that ensued after the murder of George Floyd. From well known political formations such as the PSL, to IWOC/IWW contradictions, to Black Rose/Rosa Negra, and even the MOVE organization, to lesser known movement spaces, radical projects, affinity groups, collectives, alliances, parties, and more. All are being shaken up by a sharpened resistance to and refusal among colonized folk especially Black ones to accept the dynamics of clout, hierarchy (both formal and informal), abuse, individualism, and gender exploitation, which often imbricate upon one another. And this reckoning has had theoretical, practical, methodological, procedural, intracommunal, interpersonal, and individual implications.
That this upheaval within our movements/organizations is happening whilst the bourgeoisie continues to use cultural representation of gender/sexual issues to either push liberal or conservative agendas, is a sure sign that if we are to speak of colonialism as a primary contradiction in the class struggle, which the revolutionary Black/Third World Left is known for: then we must amend Du Bois’ poignant observation. Where the problem of the 20th century is the color line, a relation of domination between the Man and the darker peoples of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific; the problem of the 21st century is that said “color line'' is threaded at the nexus of gendered labor divisions/institutions/contradictions (and the values and practices traced back to them). Thus, all anti-capitalist liberation struggles among the colonized and oppressed, which are indeed the only true way to address the mounting economic and health and ecological issues we see building around us today, must confront them if we are to truly achieve full communism and autonomy for all peoples and sustainability for our ecosystem. Black Hammer Organization, however, and a great number of organizations claiming to be anti-colonial, have failed to meet this need. Instead there is a sort of ideological "pick me"/"tap dancing" energy very prominent, where folks like Gazi will declare that before they were "woke" they would make sexuality important to their sense of self, as if to be revolutionary then requires a type of asceticism for queer/trans people (akin to the race-first logics of cultural nationalists). Pronouncements like that are not simply about personal lifestyle choices, but a political commitment that is shaped in bourgeois/colonial logic.
Yes, the cult was queer-led, and claimed to be queer affirming/inclusive. It’s not enough, though, to have queer representation in the anti-colonial Left. Gender/sexuality is not as simple as the conversations on identity we are so used to, nor the conversations on styles of dress, on pronouns and labels and names, on presentation and performance and affect, on attraction and intimacy and the like, or even on genetics/biology; although all of these phenomena are to some degree involved in the equation. Scientifically speaking, all supposedly “fixed” biological distinctions, the real phenotypical and genetic variations and diversity within our species that has been marked as “race” and “sex”: like our various skin colors, curl patterns and hair textures, nose shapes, gonad formations and other reproductive organs, hormonal levels, neurotypes, eye colors, body shapes, and more have to do with how social positions deriving from political histories and culture specific modes of organization relate to and exploit and limit our “nature.” Our brains/bodies have a certain natural potentiality for a range of expressions and experiences, though predisposed toward none; we cannot be reduced to them, because societal structures are the most significant factor in how these become shaped into identities and behavioral norms. Hence, Frantz Fanon once wrote that “beside phylogeny and ontogeny stand sociogeny,” and as we learn from Sylvia Wynter, the latter is always a question of class, so much so that we have to acknowledge two things. One, that we are a nature-culture species, not just nature, and two, that we evolve as such dialectically, which requires a materialist standpoint. The way we socially understand and live out and culturally embody and even transform our natural diversities has an economic base to it. Class struggle is key, and a failure to correctly apply it to marginalized genders in the anti-colonial context is what allowed for everything described here to unfold.
As Black revolutionaries and Third Worldists, our materialism must emphasize that national liberation is the horizon within which our class consciousness develops. So, if we are to discuss the economic basis of gender ontology, that has to involve theorizing gender/sexual developments as part of a process that is endogenous to our uniquely African histories on this planet, including our histories of revolutionary participation. The term "endogenous" refers to any phenomenon, resource, any data, any object that is emerging or is discernible within the context of a given biological, social, or other kind of system, based on its dynamics and interactions and development. The Marxists historically looked past the endogenous processes within African life that influenced how Black people would eventually arrive at anti-capitalist struggle. Comrade Marcus Brown once spoke of these phenomena as an “internal dynamism” in Black Against Profit, pt. III: The African Mode of Production, speaking of them as an “innate capacity to develop progressively into freer, more democratic, and more technically advanced social configurations.” The comrade examines, using the scholarship of Cheikh Anta Diop, the development of these organizational patterns in African life, and points out the racist mischaracterization on part of Marxists which deemed our consciousness as tied to a supposed “Asiatic mode of production,” and so located the seat of revolutionary class consciousness in the European proletariat because of a Eurocentric teleology regarding certain relations within African nations (such as so-called “caste” or the development of the Egyptian state).
Cedric Robinson wrote Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, to offer a corrective about our history of struggle as well, displacing the dehumanizing view of African radical activity as merely “superstructural” and unable to grasp class struggle, and thereby challenged Western Marxist chauvinism. And so have other Afrikan thinkers, from Samir Amin to Kwame Nkrumah, to W.E.B Du Bois, and many others, each offering explanations of Black struggle that prioritize our role in our own unique histories and the objective challenge to the bourgeois order we continue to pose because of these endogenous social realities.
But the chauvinism characteristic of the white Marxist view of endogenous African development re: the class struggle has yet to be challenged to the fullest degree. Instead, it's been carried into our movements, leaving the gender/sexual lifeways endogenous to African contexts throughout our history underexplored. Black women scholars, like Oyeronke Oyewumi (who theorized the unique "worldsense" that outlined African, especially Yoruba gender ontology) in The Invention of Women, and Ifi Amadiume (who looks at the practice of female husbandry in West African societies) in Male Daughters, Female Husbands, as well as other marginalized gender Black radicals, such as Yannenga Toure, a Black Two-Head radical and author of the "Two Head Manifesto" have taken time to analyze these legacies. Following this, we would see, as Sage Hunt, Afro-Native nonbinary transfeminine revolutionary theorist has written, that gender is clearly a “modality through which class is lived.” With that in mind, relations to the mode of production, whether that be the village and communal modes which were predominant in Africa, and even the other modes, less sedentary ones, as well as the less fluid, more somewhat feudalistic modes, all involve gender ontology as a material question. But overall, the Anti-colonial Left has neglected to transect these phenomena, and they have painted all concerns about this as "metaphysical" just like the white Left does to Black radicalisms. And so gender often remains and continues to remain somewhat undertheorized within the historical anti-colonial Left despite surface level appeals to the need for self-determination over our collective societal development. This is an undialectical bypassing of the full weight of our history as African people, and is a residue of white supremacy, and thus extremely vulnerable to opportunism and a culture of abuse and apologism
History would show us that cisheteronormativity is a set of values, institutions, labor divisions, and social practices that is both European in origin, and part of the capitalist order. The prevalence of a biological reduced, binary, hierarchical kinship system and mode of self-understanding that upholds heteronormative gender/sexual codes is only a universal, global assumption now because of how racial capitalism transformed and subordinated pre-existing approaches in indigenous contexts. This fact is seldom discussed or organized against, at least not adequately, in the established anti-colonial Left. On the occasions that this is acknowledged, it is simply said that “Homophobia is unAfrican” (to challenge the neocolonial falsehood that “homosexuality is unAfrican”), which is thus a nature-culture appeal. For example, at a rally following the Queer Liberation March of 2020, Black Hammer Organization showed up and announced something along the lines of “before colonialism, all of our people loved and lived as they wanted.” While it was an acknowledgment of our more inclusive African social relations to the diversity of sexual experience in our species, it did not address the problem materially. As in, this theory of gender ontology was not attuned to the question of economic modes of production and all the structures and hierarchical organizational patterns and labor relegations that that implies, and the implications of this all for modern class struggle. It was functionally useless, because idealist (alongside being a homogenized account). And of course it was, otherwise Black Hammer Organization would have had to examine their own gender contradictions, and especially that of Gazi. The cult’s gender commentary was therefore opportunistic and self-serving, and as comrade Shupavu made clear this was a holdover from a similar opportunistic and self-serving relationship to queerness that went into why Gazi was recruited to the movement in the first place by Omali Yeshitela. In order to call these things as they are, we need a full picture of the Black radical relation to the gender/sexual struggle, and it needs to be more than just a question of cultural acceptance: it has to be materially grounded, thinking about ideology and labor and praxis.
Other anti-colonial Left organizations make immaterial accounts of gender as well, and this can be identified as resulting from a similar investment as to what led white Marxists to insist on anti-black interpretations of African history. White people have identifiable reasons for maintaining a superiority complex across political affiliations. Even if they purport to be anti-racist, their class interest is generally informed by the fact of a primitive and ongoing accumulation at the root of capital, that is visited upon the Third World. The basis of capitalism is this racialized, "organized, protected robbery" of resources and labor in the colonies, plantations, the prisons, the occupied territories and favelas and rez and barrios and Hoods etc; this gives white people an economic reason, even if rarely acknowledged, to prioritize their civilizational dominance and hierarchies and chauvinism. Whether liberal, conservative, or leftist, this problem shows up. Thus, even as Marx could acknowledge that white labor struggles could find no true emancipation where Black oppression persisted, a failure to extend that conclusion to a truly anti-colonial politic was ingrained in the Marxist tradition. When we look at the anti-colonial Left, then, we must understand that there is a correlated material context for the chauvinism and ideological neglect around gender/sexual contradictions too. As Comrade Sage once put it, in the process of primary accumulation, and the forced transformation of communal land relations, labor relations also needed to be transformed; and comrade g, another TMA Black revolutionary, emphasizes that to "make way for a singular, overdetermined labor relation," required the "paving over" of "already existing gendered relations in Africa... themselves bound in labor." Built into the violence of imperialism and slavery was the imposition of cisheteropatriarchal patterns of organization and labor assignation. The Anarkata Statement reminds us that these were mystified through religious myth, ethnocentric notions of "human," and later pseudoscientific naturalisms. Again, this makes the "color line" something threaded by bourgeois gender/sexual institutions. Unsurprisingly, anti-colonial Lefitsts will, then quote Mao Zedong who once said that “women hold up half the sky,” and make gestures toward women’s liberation, but never question the cissexist/binary view of the general composition of humanity underlying this sentiment. As such they will then relegate cis women revolutionaries to a position of super-exploitation that is a holdover from bourgeois norms in the nuclear family, limiting cis women to "queendom and pedestals," to the role of a gun-carrying baby-maker.
Similarly, in an organization like BHO, despite queer leadership/membership, there will be exploitation of the labor of marginalized gender folks, and outright violence, and a culture of constant disrespect toward QTGNC peoples and histories and issues. For example, while Gazi’s most well known sensationalistic and xenophobic take was “fuck Anne Frank,” an antisemitic notion disguised as a valid anti-colonial critique, it must be discussed that months prior, Gazi had declared “fuck Zaya Wade,” in a manner equally sensationalistic and xenophobic. Gazi tried to disguise this transmisogynoir toward a teenage girl behind the idea that Zaya Wade is a “class traitor.” Just like their disrespect of Anne Frank was wrapped up in the idea that the young preteen was "a colonizer." In both cases, it was difficult to distinguish between Gazi's supposed anti-colonial Left ideology, and that of a right-winger in the cisheteropatriarchal and Abrahamic religious cultural nationalist mold. Reactionaries will always make a scapegoat out of vulnerable individuals upon which to project working class/colonized frustrations. Gender is the linking thread here, and many of the non-Black Third World peoples as well as the white folks in the organization and beyond were happy to participate in or fail to condemn these antisemitic and anti-Black maGe discourses.
The kinds of biases described above are because matter precedes mind, as any truly “scientific” revolutionary should know. Many of our most well known African/Third World revolutionaries were and are shaped in patterns of organization, in relations, in labor divisions, and in overall frames of reference that are cisheteropatriarchal in their very orientation and origin. That comes with the advent of colonialism: for with the imposition of bourgeois relations came the erasure of gender/sexual lifeways that deviated from cisheteronormative propriety. This aided in the atomization and dispossession and overall divide-and-rule actions the Man needed to subjugate us, and even dislocated us from cultural traditions that were a source of unity and self-understanding and which had on some occassions been held by gender/sexually variant people under certain endogenously allocated labor roles. The “internal dynamism” of African societies that was arrested by Western capitalism, therefore, included endogenous gender/sexual realities. One has to consciously be struggling around these questions, both practically and theoretically; but many do not, because the mainstream order of things is that toward which they are predisposed and from which they are a beneficiary, or that they wish to exploit (indeed, Gazi took advantage of gender domination for their own ends, whether it was using armed cis men to control members, or manipulating the economic instability alot of young colonized queer and trans folk face). This will always lead to limitations in the espoused radicalism of anti-colonial Left organizations. And this issue manifests in different ways, some more egregious than others, but it shares a material basis in all cases nonetheless. We can look to Black cishet male revolutionaries like Huey Newton, who were able to acknowledge that he had a gender/sexual bias against marginalized gender peoples that was analogous to the reactionary ways that white working class people took out their economic frustrations on him as a Black person. It is not simply that homophobia is unAfrican, then: homophobia and transantagonism, especially transmisogynoir, is a reactionary insistence on a certain both material and civilizational interest, one structured under racial capitalism. And failing to conscientiously struggle against these tendencies as such is how, even as Huey Newton acknowledged the fascistic basis for his own and his comrades’ biases, and warned folks in the movement not to hastily view gender/sexual liberation struggle as a white/bourgeois strategy against Black people (which, ironically, is the exact opposite of what Gazi/BHO and their supporters have been arguing), Newton was still himself rabidly patriarchal in how he conducted himself as a revolutionary, and abusively so. Furthermore, Kwame Ture, beloved pioneer in the struggle, most commonly associated with both the phrase “homophobia is un-African” and with “Black Power,” still managed to once use trans pursuits of gender affirming care as an example of how much the ruling class would rather support presumably frivolous activities than Black struggle, which is a transphobic, reactionary analysis.
None of the before stated is just abstraction. As argued in an older piece titled "Femme Queen, Warior Queen: Beyond Representation, Toward Self-Determination," bad theory and bad practice are always linked. Ideological chauvinism around gender liberation is tied to why the anti-colonial Left will platform, enable, protect, and form united fronts with entire cults, or at least fail to denounce the same: even regarding destructive ones such as the NOI or the APSP, or, as we are discussing here, Black Hammer Organization. Because at least these appear to them as “organized” against white power, at least they “do good work,” or at least they “get things done,” and give out masks and food and hold events, etc. etc. etc. and at least they occasionally mention Black marginalized gender issues, at least they echo Malcolm about who the most disrespected is at times. All the while, never challenging the gendered assumptions and praxis (a central component to the very racial capitalist system we claim to be fighting against!) that is most often the thread undergirding the labor divisions, procedures, values, and infrastructures, as well as ideological persuasions, involved in the entire project. Abuse and all manner of manipulation and literal exploitation can be and often is bypassed and overlooked because of this failure to consciously struggle against cisheteropatriarchal norms.
The ideological neglect, based in chauvinism, allows movements to not question the hierarchy and rigidity and cults of personality formed around great and strong individuals or units and deference to single sites of authority in these organizations who get credit and attention and even bread from the blood, sweat, and tears of members under them. The ideological neglect and chauvinism leaves unexamined the voracious almost evangelical/fundamentalist ways each of them wants to be the agent of revolutionary change, the vanguard who has the correct line and "out-organizes" everyone else, and the grift and manipulation that often hides behind these zealous declarations. Ideological neglect and chauvinism will also not question the fact that such values and procedural or methodological infrastructures are inculcated in bourgeois institutions like the church and nuclear family. To say nothing of the fact that it puts a spotlight on figures or formations that, when wiped out by the enemy or by their own internal contradictions, means the diffusion of revolutionary consciousness and necessary movement infrastructures and comradely bonds is slowed down or brought to a halt (let’s think about the revolving door in Black Hammer membership). And, further, it allows for the elevation of individual personality flaws and horrors to the level of antagonistic contradiction (as was so commonly taken advantage of by COINTELPRO to disrupt movement last century).
What does it say about the anti-colonial Left in an age of celebrity "activism" (AOC at the Met; CBS producing a show like "The Activist"; and all the Derays and Shaun Kings), a wholly bourgeois and counterinsurgent phenomenon, that a YouTuber like Gazi was catapulted to prominence, with catastrophic consequences, in part with the help of organizations in our movement? It's the residue of ruling class ideology and gendered political values that allowed people to get wrapped up in Black Hammer's antics.
And that is why these formations and milieus are so vulnerable to even non-fed wreckers who come and undermine revolutionary organizations, like the one under consideration in this document. The established anti-colonial Left’s chauvinism and ideological neglect prevents them from fully grasping the value in what INCITE! meant by “misogynists make great informants.” They cannot appreciate that it is as much a question of principles and care for all our people as it is a question of operational security and militant praxis to observe how gender violence and the techniques used to shield it destroy movements and dovetail with pig work. Only an acknowledgement that the emancipation of gender/sexuality is essential to the endogenous Third World national dynamics by which we fight for class liberation could have led the organizers in INCITE! to name how the same deceitful behaviors that allow an abuser to hide their deeds or manipulate sympathy and excuses from folk proximal to them are the exact strategies used by agents of the State infiltrating our movements. And this same acknowledgement, that the problem of the color line is threaded at the nexus of gender/sexuality as a material question, is why more broadly, QTGNC and marginalized gender Africans have identified that when the negrosie needs to distract the people they are exploiting from identifying the pressures of class oppression and amelioration, they will simply whip up fervor around homosexuality through appeals to defending “sovereignty.” Here, the source of deprivation is identified as a Queer/trans problem, juxtaposed against a reactionary nationalism, which is a mystificatory narrative.
Few of the most major anti-colonial Left voices, however, have admitted this when speaking on the composition and strategies of the puppet/misleadership class in this neocolonial age. Just like a good number of them could not predict the monstrosities that would come out of BHO, and did not make attempts to adequately struggle against them. And why would they, when majority of them are used to and/or benefit from the relative degrees of safety, access, ideological commitments and behavioral sanction of cisheteronormative institutions such as the nuclear family, certain religions, education systems, medical industries, the State, etc. thereby sharing adjacent subjective contradictions and even interests as the outright reactionaries? Matter precedes mind, once again, and the weight of a cisheteronormative history, a material question, has imbricated upon our movements to create a certain ideological inertia that can only be addressed through consciously synthesizing from within.
Everyone, including queer, trans, gender nonconforming folk in Third World/colonized contexts need to understand these lessons. No population is inherently radical or inherently reactionary: what’s decisive is how we choose to synthesize the material conditions with the endogenous dynamics unfolding in our histories of societal development. There was a time when the national liberation struggle was not class conscious; it took conscious struggle against internal contradictions in order for anti-capitalism to more visibly become a staple of Black nationalist politics. The African Blood Brotherhood made a similar observation, back in 1922, when they announced their program:
“A race without a program is like a ship at sea without a rudder. It is absolutely at the mercy of the elements. It is buffeted hither and thither and in a storm is bound to flounder. It is in such a plight as this that the Negro race has drifted for the past fifty years and more. Rarely ever did it know exactly what it was seeking and never once did it formulate any intelligent and workable plan of getting what it was seeking, even in the rare instances when it did know what it wanted.”
The Black struggle had at a time demonstrated one qualitative phase of development (a non-class conscious one) that began to give way to a markedly distinct qualitative phase (a class conscious one) only because of the efforts of organizations like the ABB and many others, especially going into the civil rights movements and the mid-to-late 20th century militant decolonization movements. The white Left, however, being chauvinistic, would often dismiss Black and Third World concerns on the mere account of our self-determined interaction with the anti-capitalist movement, which did not pattern their frame of reference. So, they refused to operate in solidarity with many of our organizations, both theoretically and practically. They essentially spat on the ship and wagged their fingers at the tired seasick sailors trying to find a way to guide it home to port, causing a number of our ancestors to break away from alliance with them.
When it comes to the roadblocks in class consciousness along gender/sexual lines, where the ship is still finding its way, both for cisgender/heterosexual people and for QTGNC people, a similar thing is happening. A conscious struggle is needed in order to achieve a higher unity and the next phase in ideological evolution (ie, the ship needs revolutionaries who understand what it takes to build its rudder). But, just as the chauvinists in the white Marxist (and anarchist) settings isolate and even work against Black and Third World radicals that try/tried to do so, Black/Third World women and other marginalized gender radicals have had to either wrestle with or break away from the historical left because of the chauvinistic refusal of solidarity from supposed comrades and allies who also worked against us. Claudia Jones, Frances Beal, the Combahee River Collective are examples of this from the last century; but it is still prominent now. The ship needs a coxswain or a few, yet cishet radicals and even marginalized gender radicals who unite with their chauvinism wag their fingers at those of us who are training ourselves for the task.
These refusals to extend self-determination in this way are wholly connected to many of the conservative, radlib, and neoliberal tendencies the Left likes to critique. Gazi was an entire QTGNC revolutionary anti-colonialist who kept pushing Hotep-like analyses of Black cis male oppression and calling for violence against trans Black women just like these reactionary forces do, and who visited violence and abuse and labor exploitation onto several Black women and other marginalized genders with the help of white/non-Black cis comrades. Then, there are QTGNC Black Lives Matter organizers speaking of “abundance” in the way prosperity ministers do and even going on right-wing platforms like the Breakfast Club to justify their grift, and echoing support of white imperialist politicians. And there are whole Queer- run Black Leftist publications and radio shows pushing the same lines about feminist/queer movements that go into why misleadership in places like Ghana and Nigeria are legislating against QTGNC rights (the latter of which is being facilitated by white religious movements partnering with local governments). Here, then, the white left’s anti-blackness converging with white liberal/conservative reaction, is translated into a bias in our movements along gender/sexual lines that dovetails with parallel biases in bourgeois society across nations, all with the same impact.
And that's why, after the 2020 rebellions, when the right-wing insists on protecting the nuclear family alongside defending the nation, ratcheting up both the police state and anti-trans/anti-abortion legislation; we have anti-colonial Left voices piling on “identity politics” and related topics more vociferously than they are actually denouncing cisheteropatriarchy and organizing against it! Self-described revolutionaries tailing the ruling class? This, by the way, is the same thing the white Left did after the election of Trump in 2016, with dismissal of “wokeness." The latter should not be surprising for us, as the divide in the working class is maintained at the color line. But, reductive anti-colonialists, whether cisgender/heterosexual or not, who dismiss or fail to fully apprehend the gender/sexual horizons of the struggle for both self-determination and class liberation, are no different theoretically or practically, from the white reductionists who have been so historically chauvinistic and antagonistic toward Black and Third World movement. Perhaps that's why the two camps worked together so closely in BHO (and in cults like APSP who BHO patterned themselves on); and why in other organizations both camps have a discursive unity with the conservatives' insistence on cisheteropatriarchy and anti-feminism in particular.
Is any of this advancing our struggle? Not when certain Black people have chosen to avoid Left politics because of an overrepresentation of whiteness within the anti-capitalist movement. They feel alienated. In this way we lose potential comrades. And, similarly, some QTGNC folk in particular have avoided the Left because of an overrepresentation of cisheteropatriarchy and abuse within the same. Because of alienation. More potential comrades lost. Then the liberals exploit this, encouraging folk to stick with and try to reform the system they know intimately (capitalism and the State); hence the popularity of representation politics, rather than be “fooled” into trying to join liberatory movements that promise something better but that end up an “authoritarian” nightmare behind the scenes. We lose comrades because of these myths.
Is any of this advancing a united front? It is difficult to disprove propaganda from the enemy, if we insist on chauvinism, invalidating legitimate concerns about exclusion and violence and abuse and manipulation that lend certain stories credence. Gazi is just a very extreme example of what’s being described here, and so it was with a few of those who have helped them rise to and remain in prominence. Again, that is what will happen when you refuse to ideologically deal with developments endogenous to our national and gender experiences, to see their implications for class struggle. Like the white left marginalizing Black interests, Gazi/BHO, and their acolytes and supporters across races and tendencies held to a resounding refusal to synthesize specific histories and concerns of the QTGNC struggle with anti-colonial Left ideology. They insisted on calling “intersectionality” a white supremacist project. In an atmosphere like that, of course the dynamics that enable abuse to persist can go hidden.
The ideological chauvinism had practical implications. There was complete erasure and lack of political education around the origins of the modern QTGNC movement as it relates to uprisings and lumpenized labor organizations led by Third World women of trans experience such as the gorls of STAR during the 70s era anti-colonial upheavals. Certain values, praxis, theoretical concerns cannot be synthesized in a movement when you bypass endogenous developments like this in our history. And that's why a failure to name, anticipate or respond to abuse in a principled way is so common. The need to build a rudder for the ship, borrowing once more from the words of the ABB, was neither acknowledged nor consciously struggled for. Instead, the ship was allowed to verse the high seas without direction, while some claiming to be vanguards either scoffed from the shore or they climbed aboard pretending to steer it, though they lacked the tools to do so, as they knew nothing of the waves or the winds or the stars and navigation, and simply let the most vulnerable rot at the bottom of the hold, and led folk, particularly youth, including underage ones, into destruction. And what came of that? All of the horrors we went over in this document, and then some.
True political education and a culture of genuine revolutionary learning and practice is the only thing that would have allowed folk to identify this stuff from jump and act against it. It is not enough for folk to call themselves “scientific” revolutionaries, Nkrumahists, Marxists/Leninists, Maoists, or whatever other persuasion, too, all while maintaining a movement atmosphere and ideological milieu built on reaction to reaction and vice versa; not dialectics. Gazi’s antics could hardly be critiqued effectively when the self-described materialists around them had only learned to theorize gender by way of cissexist idealists like Tommy Curry (who believes sexualized racism against Black cishet men absolves them of patriarchal violence), Frances Cress Welsing (who believes white supremacy is primarily motivated by fear of Black cishet male virility), Clenora Hudson Weems (who sees Black feminism as divisive and prefers a “holistic” gender politics that is cissexist/heterosexist instead) when discussing gender contradiction. Gazi’s antics could hardly be critiqued effectively when the self-described queer radicals of the Left had only learned to theorize gender struggles by misusing Sylvia Wynter and Hortense Spillers’ critiques about the colonial basis of modern cisheteropatriarchy to idealize precolonial Africa as genderless and all Black people as essentially nonbinary. Gazi’s antics could hardly be critiqued effectively while the ship still lacks a rudder, while no synthesis toward higher unity is being advanced, while bad theoretical moves steeped in chauvinism and class interests mask horrible practices like gender violence and abuse. Even sadder is that due to all this, attempts to establish a better precedent on part of some Black/Third World radicals, particularly trans and nonbinary, especially trans woman, transfeminine, and transmisogyny-affected (TMA) ones, were being and are still being dismissed. There is still reactionary criticism upon reactionary criticism compounding, and all this shitslinging, and divisiveness, and hot takes, sensationalistic media titles (“fuck black history month” and “feminism is inherently bourgeois”), incendiary commentary (like those which denied the literal existence of a Black elder and political prisoner), intentional internet controversy campaigns (“operation storm of white tears”), and endless podcasts and breadtubes with surface level analysis akin to the revolving door of mainstream media reporting, rants that sound more like Shade Room comment sections, and exclusionary academic panel-style events led by wanna-be public intellectual types, the courting of celebrities, and overall reliance on the marketing apparatus that is social media (even to the point of mistaking mere popular education and even populism for political education and conscientization). Does any of this advance the struggle?
Black Hammer Organization’s inconsistency at the theoretical level, their lack of cohesive understanding on colonialism and gender struggles, and the way that provided a smokescreen to cover the abusive and cult-like dynamics: it is made possible by a general problem on the anti-colonial Left where gender and hierarchy are seldom confronted materially. And this milieu is still driving more wedges, still keeps alienating potential comrades from the anti-colonial Left, and it shields chauvinists, and though you can scratch a chauvinist, and almost always either find an apologist for abuse or an actual abuser, like what happened with Gazi, these radicals are mystified as our movements are so rife with the people like the latter, and so they can't even effectively protect themselves or anyone else from these wreckers, just dusting their hands or looking the other way when the damage is done, or claiming that discussion of these things is a tool of the white Man. Sounds just like how abuse culture happens in the bourgeois world, right? The same stuff that led to a #MeToo movement? Interesting... . The anti-colonial Left must take this moment as indication about how necessary it is to parse embourgeoisement in our spaces. And we can only walk through the manifestations thereof by paying attention to the gendered/sexual contradictions that provide a throughline.
Counterinsurgency is heavily reliant on celebrity activism and social media to water down and misrepresent radical ideas, and the problem of cults and hierarchy, which are gendered problems, is a perfect doorway to these bourgeois tendencies infecting our spaces. All Gazi did was foster a significantly horrible version of an alignment between an old problem and new realities that the rest of our movement hasn't fully grappled with yet. An organization like Black Hammer could rise to prominence without much opposition as a result of not dealing with this. To the point of being defended despite its egregious doings, and its astounding liberalism, its lack of cohesive scientific analysis or ideology or operational security, and its outright campaigns against other revolutionaries (in which BHO deemed us “opposition” or “enemies”). There is no valid reason that criticism of these issues was dismissed so readily and enthusiastically, or at least not taken seriously, save that there is unpreparedness on the anti-colonial Left to confront gender contradictions as a material/labor/praxis question. If something is not done about this immediately, at theoretical and procedural, and interpersonal and individual levels, at organizational and intracommunal levels, we will see the increased magnification of individualism, of cults of personality and of abuse and the apologism and shielding around the same, as well as grift and opportunism, to the point that there would cease to be a meaningful distinction between a “radical” space and a “radlib” or even “alt-right” space. With the gamut of tactics used by BHO to supposedly propagandize and politically educate that we have seen, the lines here are already blurred. And gender violence, especially (trans)misogynoir, will always be the tell.
There is a web that must be detangled, ultimately, and it is threaded in gendered contradictions that stem from or are reaction to cisheteropatriarchy. It's this that enabled the rise of BHO/Gazi, which that formation unfortunately took to absolutely depraved extremes, but which much of the anti-colonial Left is guilty of either participating in or failing to meaningfully struggle against. One may say that correlation ain't causation, but correlation requires a look at the context that shapes a certain connection: and as regards cults, gender violence, etc, a context entrenched in organizational methodologies which value individualism and visibility and one-dimensional expressions of radical thought, that see other ideologies as competition (reminds us, competition on the Left is a residue of capitalist market logic), that regard "the masses'' as tabulae rasae who must be proselytized with the gospel of Marx or Lenin or Mao or Nkrumah or whomever, often cannot address the issue, see it coming, and they will even stand by it and make excuses or sweep narratives under the rug. And it is because their values come from the same gendered histories and institutions that already rely on abuse and manipulation. Every true revolutionary must have a commitment to extricating themselves from gendered oppression and exploitation and domination and division, and striving not to replicate them, if we want to see all power to the people.
The ruling class is clear on this, that is why they are waging war on bodily autonomy through gender oppression, and on our consciousness through mystification around gender, as part of broader attempts to undermine revolutionary struggle. We want true transformation of ourselves and our movements, we need to be ready for this. We need the tools to anticipate and stamp out future abuse and cults, or at least adequately support victims and repair the damage that has already been done, and that could come in the future. This can only come when we put our faith in the magic of the hands, as Assata called it. Discovering how to practice this is the mission of this generation, and it's the gender/sexual struggle, it is a confrontation with cisheteropatriarchy as a material question, it is the courage to develop new institutions and new genres of being, it is the willingness to free the available "cultural and political maneuvers" that gender has enclosed, to liberate them from the inherited models so reliant on bourgeois hierarchies and values and labor ascriptions: this phase of struggle is what will help us both discover and fulfill that charge. We owe it to our ancestors and to all survivors and to our descendants, to see it thusly, and to move accordingly. And we owe it to our planet too, because the earth is being killed, and only a real united front of Black/Third World radical movements and networks can heal it. Shall we stagnate because we waited on “demiurges” who only want fame and to enact violence on the most vulnerable? or will we teach ourselves and our people that it's our collective strength that's gonna get us free? The choice is ours. Queer or not, we gotta do better.