Black Liberation and Black Joy, a statement of solidarity by Wretched of the Earth

The last few weeks have seen millions of people from multiple and diverse identities and backgrounds taking action to reimagine a world in which the needs, interests, rights and aspirations of black communities are honoured and given priority. Movements and communities are defiantly standing up against the ongoing state-sanctioned murder and exploitation of black people around the world.

As a collective made up of multiple diaspora identities, ancestors and histories — indigenous, black and brown people demanding climate justice and acting in solidarity with our communities — we extend all our solidarity, our unwavering support, and deep love for the growing movement demanding dignity for black lives. We are a group guided by many rich political traditions, including the black radical tradition. We are indebted to the beliefs, visions and actions of people like Claudia Jones, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Berta Cáceres, Franz Fanon and many others.

In the US, people have risen up against a prison industrial complex which is solidly part of an unbroken line to the times of slavery, and which must be completely abolished. In Europe, #BlackLivesMatter activists have drawn attention to a legacy of genocide in the Congo that continues to define a practice of ongoing human rights violations and ecological devastation. These neo-colonial pursuits are fuelled by the relentless pursuit of economic growth by the world’s financial powers, across the global south.

Many of us are in the United Kingdom as we write this; the UK has yet to come to reckon with its role in the colonisation of most of the world, the transatlantic slave trade and the continuing incarceration, exploitation and killing of black, brown and indigenous communities around the world. This month is the third anniversary of Grenfell and we remember it whilst in the midst of a pandemic that kills black people in the UK at four times the rate of their white counterparts. The United Kingdom is not innocent. The British ruling class remains a principal purveyor of neo-colonialism in the Global South, whether through foreign wars and acts of aggression, debt regimes or the extraction of cheap labour and resources.

Today’s climate crisis is also a result of oppression and exploitation. The same European colonialism that colonised and plundered entire nations through the logic of white supremacy, was the same project that sought to control and exploit nature. This is the origin of the ecological collapse we are witnessing today. It is the same logic of imposition, extraction, exploitation and silencing that continues today. As a result of these systems, black, brown and indigenous communities have endured hundreds of years of oppression and continue to be looted of even the most essential conditions to human life — the freedom to breathe — we say no more and make the following demands!

  • Black communities can’t breathe when dealing with police and immigration enforcement = Defund the police, and the criminal immigration system and invest in community led solutions instead.
  • Black communities can’t breathe when COVID-19 disproportionally affects them and their ability to survive = Acknowledge the many ways in which the aforementioned systems of oppression disadvantage black people and prioritise community-led systems for our health and well-being. Fight for improved access to healthcare provisions and adequate protective work equipment in these communities.
  • Black communities can’t breathe when environmental racism pushes them to live in areas with higher levels of air and water pollution, or to work in industries that expose them to chemicals and other harmful environments = Ban all polluting industries for good and invest in black communities’ access to land, restore traditional knowledge, regenerate damaged territories and transition to forms of abundant and well-paid work in harmony with the natural world.
  • Black communities in the global South can’t breathe after 400 years of imperialist conflict to serve corporate power and fossil fuel profits, crippling underdevelopment and debt enabled by the veil of aid, unfair trade deals and the export of deathly extractivism = Countries in the Global North must pay its fair share of ecological and climate debt to keep below the 1.5 degree guardrail, including a massive transfer in technology for climate adaptation. There must be an external debt jubilee, and a complete dismantling of the current system of global finance and trade.
  • Black communities can’t breathe when they are exploited for the benefit of corporations and elites = Invest in the leadership of black communities and other racialised communities, fight racism and capitalism, join a union.
  • Black women, non-binary, queer and trans people can’t breathe when they are denied their voices and their humanity. There is an epidemic of violence against black trans people across the world, one which decreases access to adequate medical support, which attacks their legal rights and opens them up to police and street violence = Listen for what you haven’t heard, believe in what’s revealed from a world that lies beyond your frame, recognise that justice begins when the voices of those who have been denied power are brought to the centre of the conversation. Fight for reforms to the gender recognition act, fight for access to adequate medical support, support local services for trans people.
  • Black Disabled people can’t breathe when their experiences and lives are invisibilised = Create a world that recognises black abundance across all ways of being and beyond notions of “productivity”. Fight ableism within our communities and against cuts to vital services and welfare for disabled people, removing barriers to access community, transport, health services, public spaces and the world.
  • Black communities can’t breathe when they have to endure everyday racism, including microaggressions = Check your privilege, become anti-racist, organise to eradicate all systems of oppression whether that’s by joining a local anti deportations group or setting up a local police monitoring group. Organise in solidarity to become a direct obstacle to state/fascist anti-black violence. Communities of colour must also come to terms with their own anti-blackness and liberate themselves from it.
  • Black people can’t breathe because present and generational trauma has been created by centuries of systemic oppression = Learn about abolitionist politics and healing justice, be responsible for your healing and commit to doing this work in community.

Today as in the past — our politics need to be rooted in a framework of race, class, gender and internationalism — a black radicalism that reaches beyond borders and reconnects diverse peoples of colour and our struggles against racialised capitalism and oppression. As we do this work to create a more just world, let us not shy away from envisioning what this world will look like. It is a radical and necessary act to envision a world where all black people are liberated from the violence of white supremacy and capitalist exploitation. A world where black joy is uninhibited, and healing is abundant.

Art by BLKMOODYBOI a Non-binary trans-self-taught illustrator that centers Black and Brown trans people in their art. Inspired by comics, anime, friends, and community BLKMOODYBOI crafts their own unique style. Through their work, they aim to showcase love, tenderness, and softness as a form of radical resistance against white cis-het patriarchal capitalism.

Their art aims to bring joy to QTIBIPOC, to celebrate them and archive them.

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