Smearing Black Activism
Civil Rights and Reparations
It’s important at this point to clarify what American Descendants of Slavery (#ADOS) activism is before we get into what it is not. #ADOS is a history and data-driven movement that is seeking the specific economic uplift of Black people that descend from persons that survived chattel slavery, Jim Crowe, etc.
ADOS are a very distinct people that is also the largest non-White demographic in the United States, by race and national origin. The group has been specifically targeted and harmed by US domestic policy since 1776. This oppressed people has never been made whole and continues to be set upon no matter what political party is in power. ADOS remains at the bottom rungs of American society by design.
The #ADOS Movement has garnered unwavering support from some very influential people and organizations. This is by no means a comprehensive list. Just people/orgs Actify Press readers may know.
Before we go further, we should address how things work in the United States. One of the most powerful ways the nation maintains the White Supremacist system is one unwritten, unspoken, and immutable law:
Leave Them Negroes Outside
In this case, “Them Negroes” are ADOS only. LTNO dictates that any group or individual that wants access to US resources, opportunities, and power; that group MUST NEVER elevate the needs of US Slave Descendents to that of White people. The rule applies to all facets of life. But, it is particularly true for the economic uplift of ADOS. Because money is power.
This simple, steadfast rule dominates our political system without ever being uttered. It pits every other group in the country against ADOS and their activism. It also offers people in society plausible deniability for leaving us out in the cold. “No one else cares about their repair. They’re obviously doing something wrong.” is the refrain.
The Democratic Party is strongly signaling that it is abandoning Black Americans. You can see it play out in the 2020 presidential race. All of the Top Tier candidates absolutely refuse to put forward economic policy specifically for ADOS. While there are no limits for all other groups.
Let’s review who ADOS are to the Democratic Party and the nation:
- The 2nd largest demographic in the country by race & national origin
- The largest oppressed group in the country
- The most loyal Democratic voters, by far
- The strongest fighters for equality and equity
If not for LTNO, Slave Descendants would logically be the best-served constituency in the country. LTNO minimizes the upside of being in coalition with Slave Descendants. It also maximizes any downsides.
It is impossible to break White Supremacy or capitalism without destroying Leave Them Negroes Outside. This is how the system self-perpetuates along race lines.
Martin, Malcolm, and Fred
As a writer on the Left, I understand better than most how our cherished, visionary leaders and their activism can be weaponized against the specific uplift of Black people here in the United States.
In fact, I have participated in it to a degree. I’ve written in glowing terms of Dr. Martin Luther King for his broad-based Poor People’s Campaign. I lauded Malcolm X for his post-Hajj shift toward working with all groups to further the improvement of Black America and Fred Hampton’s heroic and forward-thinking plan to link up with poor White and Brown people to get us all free.
The subtext here is that we save our most fervent national hero worship only for Black American leaders that stop fighting only for the specific redress of their own people. All talk of Slave Descendant economic redress is buried in favor of the Santa Claus-ified version of these hallowed activists. By extension, all of our artists and writers become totems that all downtrodden people can use to help their own group while watching Black Americans languish in slums and prisons across the country.
More importantly, no one tells you is that all three of these men were aggressively smeared from all quarters during their lifetimes. Yet, we are often inundated with posthumous accolades that actually undermine the plight of the group these men held most dear. Their real activism and goals remain buried under double talk and symbolic gestures.
Fred, Malcolm, and Martin were assassinated and Black People are still at the bottom. Too few organizations from other constituencies are willing to stand with us. There is not a single coalition, outside of the one that ADOS is building, fighting to change our condition as the nation’s bottom caste. Only “disproportionate” pieces of broader policies are on offer. These crumbs only make the bottom more comfortable, not disrupt the racial economic hierarchy. The clear message is that Black people are supposed to be on the bottom and everyone else is quite comfortable with that. Thank you very much.
Supposed allies vanish, even become enemies, unless they get something out of our activism. Our particular economic redress is seen as kryptonite to groups, coalitions, and organizations across the political spectrum. They readily submit to the unspoken law of access to American power and resources- Leave Them Negroes Outside
This brings us back to the present day American Descendents of Slavery (#ADOS) Movement. The data-driven group’s activism seeks to close the Racial/Lineage Wealth Gap. The gap is rooted in the legacy of chattel slavery in the US and the myriad systems that followed the Civil War and the dissolution of Reconstruction because of greed and White Terrorism. They are demanding a Black Agenda and a comprehensive Reparations Program to right this intolerable wrong.
This movement has only been around for a few years. However, it has been insanely successful in injecting reparations into US politics through relentless activism and focused advocacy. If anyone mentioned this subject seriously in politics just a decade ago, they would have been summarily drummed out of whatever race they were involved in, never to be seen again.
#ADOS is reaching a breathtaking levels as a grassroots group with no funding. The movement’s activism is focused, bold, and active. Their use of social media to challenge leaders, candidates, and media figures is relentless and effective. Their Pop-Up Cell Phone Video form of guerilla activism/journalism is legendary, at this point. They are keeping everyone on their toes.
The key to activism, as a poor, oppressed group is unapologetic disruption. ADOS has taken that very seriously. However, they are very careful to keep their activism within the boundaries of legality.
In our post-BLM political landscape, it is exceedingly difficult to demonize Black activism outside of the usual law enforcement and right-wing pablum. It would take a Herculean, logic-free, and data-free effort to smear a Black-led movement outside of those circles. Right?
The Left and Center: Hold My Beer!
Despite health concerns and the Democratic Party’s best efforts, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is within striking distance of becoming the party’s nominee in 2020. He is polling well and former Vice President Joe Biden is showing wear from being on the trail.
The campaign has a few vulnerabilities. There are murmurs of anti-Semitism. The charges of anti-Black racism continue to be a nagging theme. Despite the popularity of the universal policies on his platform, there are still serious concerns about impacts and efficacy on and for Black communities.
The nation’s premier stratification economist, Dr. William “Sandy” Darity of Duke University, has studied the economic plans of all the Democratic presidential candidates. Dr. Darity’s team discovered that many of these broad-based policies actually exacerbate the Lineage Wealth Gap. Basically, by giving everyone something based only on current need ignores the historical, intentional, and focused economic deprivation inflicted by US domestic policy on ADOS. Therefore, the gap can only remain unchanged or grow, not close.
As mentioned above, the Democratic nomination requires the Black vote, many of Bernie’s supporters are absolutely petrified about the inevitable face-off between Team Bernie and #ADOS. The persistent charges of racism and lack of a plan to seriously address the Lineage Wealth Gap are Goliath-sized vulnerabilities to the laser-focused David that is the ADOS Movement.
The obvious answer is to honor this justice claim in this new era of Progressive politics that is full of possibilities. Demand that Bernie’s policy team draft a plan to drastically close Racial/Lineage Wealth Gap and provide a Black Agenda to end the ceaseless social and economic oppression of American slave descendants who are facing genocide in the nation that they built.
In electoral terms, it’s a no-brainer because it only makes sense to motivate these folks to vote for your candidate en masse in 2020 and kill the racism talk. This would turn the national electoral map Blue in the process. Not to mention the impending 2020 Census and its potential impacts.
On the other hand, if the campaign believes that this issue will divide their coalition without even attempting to raise awareness and understanding, that is a sign of a much deeper rot. A rot they have shown no intention of tackling.
Senator Kamala Harris is currently on a one-person shortlist for the Biden campaign’s VP slot after ending her own presidential bid.
She chose destroying Black families as the vehicle for her personal ambitions as a San Francisco DA and California AG. Her now-defunct campaign clashed with #ADOS on several occasions based on this history. The group played a role in the demise of her campaign. That axe continues to be ground.
Pro-Reparations Black Nazis (TM)
In an odd display of Left-Center solidarity, some Harris and Sanders supporters are employing a unique strategy to silence these pesky Black activists.
During a Twitter altercation between some #ADOS tweeters, myself, anti-ADOS and not-so-covert Kamala Harris supporter rapper Talib Kweli along with some of his acolytes; a trio of prominent podcasters that support Bernie Sanders joined the fray. I know and have worked with all three of these Berners in the past. That was before I shifted my efforts to support the call for reparations and #ADOS Movement.
The group accused an all-Black movement of 1) not being inclusive, 2) having bad manners online, and 3) being Nazis waging a global jihad to harm all People of Color.
Yes. You read that correctly. Of all the potential strategies- sit down with this group of activists to discuss their concerns, craft a different plan, or proffer another existing plan; these folks went with Negro Nazis of the Apocalypse. This tactic is an unprecedented invocation of Godwin’s Law.
Let’s address each of these points, shall we:
- Not Inclusive: As the name implies, American Descendents of Slavery is a very particular group that descends from the survivors of American chattel slavery, Jim Crow, etc. The group makes up about 90% of the Black people in the United States. Their history makes ADOS a distinct group with an obvious, unique justice claim. This truth does not harm anyone.
- Bad Manners: All movements and groups have assholes. It is simply the nature of people. Assholes say asshole stuff. As an ADOS, I implore all people not to use offensive terms and phrases. Even if people use offensive terms when referring to you and other ADOS.
- Negro Nazis: I’m going to tackle the “logic” of this in two ways. First, Nazis were among the evilest entities ever to come to power in human history. Comparing them to any oppressed group borders on lunacy. Nevermind, a group that is a bottom caste in the richest country in history. Second, reparations can only be divisive if you don’t believe in the immediate economic uplift of slave descendants on their terms.
Here are some of the tweets:
In a staggering display of hubris, two non-Black members of this group provided their own writing on Reparations. Both are writers and podcasters. It’s sad that this was all they had to offer. In fact, I authored about 80% of one of the documents. That work was largely a brief on how to increase awareness and understanding of the ADOS Reparations Justice claim. The other was from a thesis written more than a decade ago.
Dead Bad Guy
The root of these smears is that one of the #ADOS founders, Yvette Carnell, is a former unpaid board member of Progressives for Immigration Reform. She joined to study the impacts of human trafficking on Black communities. As an example, this 2013 study that found the poultry industry was trafficking unprotected workers into Black communities in the South. This was a decades-long capitalist project to suppress efforts to unionize poultry plants and displace Black workers as a form of collective punishment.
It was later discovered the organization was a front-group covertly funded by now-dead White Supremacist millionaire John Tanton. There is no evidence that Ms. Carnell knew of this connection, knew of ulterior motives of the organization, or even met/knew Mr. Tanton prior to his death.
Carnell is the founder of BreakingBrown, a lifelong Democratic Party voter, former Congressional aide to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Marion Barry (D-AR). Her writing has been featured on the Huffington Post and Counterpunch. She has been a prominent Black leftist voice for several years. Not exactly the resume of an arch-villain.
As an outspoken, independent Black woman working as a political commentator, she is regularly assailed by a wide array of antagonists. The bulk of her work has been in anti-racism. She is best known as a relentless voice calling out the failings of the Democratic Party in regard to Black people, the party’s largest voting bloc and most loyal voters.
More importantly, the #ADOS Movement is entirely unconnected to the ghost of Tanton, his network, influence, or money. The spurious attacks on Ms. Carnell have the obvious and nefarious goal of silencing and defaming this group of Black activists.
As a veteran of the First Bernie Wars (2015-2016), I am loath to blame candidates or campaigns for the actions of their followers. However, in this case, people that found being called “Bro” or “bot” offensive, somehow have no issue calling Black people “Nazis” or Nazi collaborators for demanding justice. Prominent supporters calling any group of potential voters “trash” and “Nazis” should not be tolerated. Together, this group of media figures reaches millions each week. Language like this could inadvertently incite people to harm members of this long-suffering minority group.
Hopefully, leaders from the Sanders and Harris camps will put a stop to this cruel, toxic behavior. Contact the Senate Offices of Sen. Sanders (202) 224-5141 and Sen. Harris (202) 224-3553 if you want to see them take the lead on this issue.
Politics of Justice
In politics, as in life, some concepts are harder to grasp than others. This nation and other entities have spent billions, if not trillions since 1776 to dehumanize Black people. They have weaponized policy, media, religion, and the education system to teach Americans that slaves, the formerly enslaved, and their further increase are unworthy of the benefits of full citizenship. Over the years, this social/racial hierarchy has hardened into a caste system.
This fight is the nexus of Economic and Racial Justice in the United States. The distillation of these policy outcomes can be seen in a single chart.
The graphic shows the results of economic policy intended to consign Black Americans to lives of poverty and powerlessness. Wealth is a group’s source of stability, self-determination, and influence. Lawmakers have intentionally undermined ADOS access to wealth and wealth-building opportunities.
When the issue of Reparations rose into public consciousness last year, each campaign could have and should have gotten their policy team together with experts and crafted policy around uplifting the most important demographic in Democratic Party politics from their imposed position at the bottom of this society. Instead, they all doubled down on supporting the demise of Black Americans. No amount of activism, data, or history has been able to move any of them. They have completely capitulated to White Supremacy’s designs for ADOS.
This all sounds cynical, I know. Standing up and fighting to change the nation’s White Supremacist hierarchical status quo is verboten. To the new or uninitiated activist, this may all seem far-fetched. Here’s a simple way to find out:
Coalition Test: Demand a specific Economic Black American Agenda (or Reparations) created only by Black People for Black People to be added to your organization’s platform.
Note: If the thought of attempting this experiment triggers your anxiety, you know it’s necessary. You should go through with it.
Within moments of making this request, Lefties and centrists will quickly become believers in zero-sum. They will mask it with projection by talking about fake scarcity. As if Black poverty isn’t real and pervasive. They may even deflect by issuing some proclamation about hungry kids or conflict elsewhere in the world. The unforced admission in this tactic is that every other group or cause around the globe is more important than the plight of Slave Descendents right here in the US. The limits of No Middle Ground seems to be right on the border of specific Black uplift.
If you’re a Black person making demands for a Black Agenda, the whisper campaign will start almost immediately. They will say you are a puppet of [insert bad guy], at risk of losing “allies,” or an infiltrator sent to tear down the movement. Your demands can never be a simple as “my people are in trouble, let’s do something for them.” They’ll find or create some personal flaw or an error you made to smear you. It won’t stop until you leave or relent in your demands.
If you’re a non-Black American ally demanding the very same agenda, the responses will vary between the political reality speech, questioning your dedication of coalition goals, and concern trolling about your mental health. That will continue until you relent or leave.
Should you persist to the point of actually presenting a proposal, they will demand the right to review and edit the plan. As a political group, that request is actually not unreasonable. However, the goal here is maximum dilution, if not completely dismantling the entire project.
We’ve all heard about big coalitions fighting for the greater good. However, this greater good and our uplift are always mutually exclusive. If we demand redress, we are jettisoned from these spaces as unworthy or destructive to their greater good. In the end, they will always adhere to LTNO.
NOTE: Don’t let outsider groups like DSA and the Green Party fool you, the closer their political trajectory gets to power in DC, the more unreasonable and destructive Reparation and a Black Agenda will become (to their aspirations).
Ultimately, this issue puts on display how much White Supremacy dominates US politics. There is no logical connection that one can make between virulent racists and Black activism for economic uplift. White Supremacy dictates that access to American resources and opportunity is not possible if you involve the progeny of slaves from the United States.
Therefore, when Black activism or politics demands it’s rightful share of US resources they must be silenced. In the run-up to 2020, the Left and Center are dutifully bending the knee to White Supremacy by pathologizing Black activism to otherize their call for justice.
Politics are about serving group and constituency self-interest. That’s what makes the world go around. Justice for ADOS people and their interests have been singled out as the only bridge too far in our politics. That won’t change until strong leaders come to the fore and people stand up for justice for all.
Thank you for reading! Please share this article and follow me on Twitter!
The Truth About ADOS