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Baltimore and the Human Right to Resistance: Rejecting the Framework of the Oppressor


Baltimore and the Human Right to Resistance: Rejecting the Framework of the Oppressor

Ajamu Baraka

Anti-Black racism, always just beneath the surface of polite racial discourse in the U.S., has exploded in reaction to the resistance of black youth to another brutal murder by the agents of this racist, settler-colonialist state. With the resistance, the focus shifted from the brutal murder of Freddie Gray and the systematic state violence that historically has been deployed to control and contain the black population in the colonized urban zones of North America, to the forms of resistance by African Americans to the trauma of ongoing state violence.


From Mr. Baraka’s incisive article:

“The contradictions of the colonial/capitalist system in its current expression of neoliberalism have obstructed the creation of decent, humane societies in which all people are valued and have democratic and human rights. What we are witnessing in the U.S. is a confirmation that neoliberal capitalism has created what Chris Hedges called “sacrificial zones” in which large numbers of black and Latino people have been confined and written off as disposable by the system. It is in those zones that we find the escalation of repressive violence by the militarized police forces. And it is in those zones where the people are deciding to fight back and take control of their communities and lives.”

There’s nothing to argue. Mr. Baraka lays out the entire dynamic apart from one thing: I find it odd that our current President is described as “Middle Class,” and that Mr. Baraka makes it a point to hold this same “Middle Class” accountable for its arguable collaboration with Power, i.e. the 1%.

I think the definition for Middle Class is murky. So often it’s the declining Middle Class and its members that would align with the poor to make for a cohesive collective opposed to the oligarchic interests.

I don’t see the utility or accuracy of lumping powerful individuals who make a LOT of $ into some nebulous “Middle Class” reference.


Yesterday I had a frustrating conversation with a white male who struggled with the violence in Baltimore , including wondering why the rioters "trash their own neighborhoods’ : Logistically, they cannot go en masse (car-pool , take the transit, walk) to the wealthy areas and riot there, and in this case, they were hemmed in by a police force determined to contain the potential violence (it seems they took preemptive actions that actually precipitated the crisis) within the area. Of course the police will keep any dissent localized and the ensuing damage confined to the already neglected neighborhoods! It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. Second, to his argument that violence never solves anything, and attacking the system is counter-productive, the endemic implicit and explicit violence being waged every second of every day on the spirits of these groups is so evil, so pervasive, and so long lived that it by far outweighs any rock throwing or car burning. Freire, in his outstanding work Pedagogy of the Oppressed argued that those who are seeking to throw off the shackles imposed by colonialism have the right to select their own methods. I expect a broader, more coordinated movement to emerge, just as the women’s movement is developing strategies designed to liberate them from millenia of oppression. These are instructive times.


Superb, eloquent analysis, as usual, from Baraka.


Great, powerful article!
Thanks for posting.


Light the fire

And damn the flame


One letter writer in my local paper actually called them terrorists and stated that we should have more police to control the problem.