Monday, July 6, 2009

Six Reasons Why People of Color Need Anarchism


Anarchy isn’t just for skater kids and grad students any more.

All over the world, oppressed people are talking about grassroots solutions. They are talking about depending on the community instead of governments, corporations and cops. They are in rebellion against the powers that be, their version of history, and their institutions. Sometimes that rebellion is active and outspoken. Other times, resistance to the system’s order is done subtly. But one thing is clear: people of color — those of African, Indigenous, Asian and Third World descent — have had it with the white supremacist system and its global and domestic power plays.

For hundreds of years, colonized people have gone to war and waged insurgencies against those who try to steal land and resources for their own wealth. We have marched under dozens upon dozens of banners. But whether you are a Che-shirt-wearing conscious sister or brother or just someone fed up with poverty, cop racism and a government more dedicated to war than the people, one thing has to be clear: only a world of equals, one where everyone has a say, is going to get us the justice we are owed.

Anarchism is a political strategy in which there are no bosses or government to maintain the racist power relationships as they exist. Anarchism is a concept rooted in the idea that our communities can and should have the power to determine their own directions.

Why is do people of color need an anarchist revolution?

1. Declarations People of Color Today Have “Made It” are False

Do politicians of color make you feel freer? Do police officers, lawyers and judges of color make you believe the criminal justice system acts in fairness? Of course not!

Though people of color fought many important struggles to gain access to basic services and consideration, the white supremacist system flipped the game. Today, racism is not so much white hoods and Jim Crow as it is about command and control. The government got around “separate but equal” schooling years back by defunding schools in communities of color. The system’s response? “You have schools and plenty of opportunities.” People of color can become cops, attorneys and judges, yet the nature of this white supremacist system remains the same. The regime’s supporters say people of color now have mayors, senators and “leaders” to look up to, yet the way this power dynamic works has changed little in 100 years.

No amount of access, politicians, class ascension or celebrities will ever mean this government will work in the interests of people of color or contrary to the system’s largest constituency. Nevertheless, this white supremacist system demands our loyalty, and questions our “patriotism” and heritage for bucking the company line. An anarchist world will ensure such racist machinations will end.

2. Under this System, We Have to Fight for Rights and Respect

At every turn, people of color’s demands for basic dignity are met with hate and defensiveness, like we have no right to want justice. To this government, we are owed nothing. Racist political pundits think people of color should be grateful this white supremacist system didn’t just keep us in chains.

For people of color, the elite would just prefer you get in line, keep your mouth shut and be a good German until it’s time to send you overseas to take a bullet in one of their wars against other Third World people. Meanwhile, when people of color talk about inequality here at home, you’re told “get over it,” “that was years ago,” or “my parents didn’t own slaves.”

Under this regime, justice has been denied since its founding. People of color need an anarchist solution to break the grip on power the rich few have over our communities.

3. Under this System, the Media is for Government Propaganda Against People of Color

Black people are being portrayed as animals. Brown-skinned people are looked at as “illegal Mexicans,” terrorists, gang members and criminals. Asian people are shown as subservient drones to their white masters. The mainstream media is filled with garbage that is intended to tell people of color that they are worthless. How did it get this way? The media works this way by design.

Mainstream media has always been propaganda for the white supremacist system. From back in the day all the way to now, the media has never taken an interest in talking root causes or justice. They say we’re uneducated, but don’t talk about colonialism, racism and the whitewashed versions of history. They call us violent for questioning a cop, but never investigate the fascist history of policing. And whenever people of color fight back, the media treats our indignation as something we deserve to get a beatdown and jail cell for.

Under any power system, media becomes a tool of the people in power to spread their world view to the slaves. In an anarchist world, media is decentralized and centered on affected people and communities. The fashion-model anchors and other lackeys for the ruling class won’t crank out trash intended to mislead people of color and glorify the white supremacist system. In an anarchist world, we are the media, and can tell our own stories, free of the racism that dominates mainstream media now.

4. Capitalism Has Failed People of Color

Don’t be fooled by the musical artists on television shucking and jiving for 30 pieces of silver into believing the shell game of capitalism benefits the barrio or ‘hood. Plenty of studies demonstrate people of color are not paid what whites are paid. The government wants us to salute their flag and pledge allegiance, while community centers in the ghetto and other poor communities of color don’t adequately prepare youth for career advancement, beyond a trade, to get work that pays living wages. Under capitalism, we are set up to fail, and then we are incarcerated for daring to struggle for something to care for our families. We can do better than this.

Some people of color, misled by this white supremacist system, decide it’s better to get theirs and play the capitalist shell game. Most don’t understand how few of us have a legitimate chance at success, and the biases we face getting there. Under an anarchist set of politics, this dog-eat-dog economic system will be no more.

5. Socialism and Communism Have Failed People of Color

Among many in the Third World left, there is a love affair with socialism and Communism. Though anarchy shares some ideals with both, such as community control and justice for the oppressed, it rejects notions such as “dictatorship of the proletariat” and party vanguards as power grabs meant to control our communities from the outside in.

Supporters and opponents of many socialist and Communist regimes, for years, have boiled one of the central problems of such politics leading our struggles. They say: when a faction in power maintains its political line is the “correct” one, political discussion, dissent and community dialog is extinguished. Politics, economics and social needs become about who is following the faction in power, not the best solutions. Intimidation rules the day, and every socialist and Communist regime has inevitably fallen into such traps because of its political orientation.

Some say, “that’s fine with me, so long as we have the power.” Yet, the tricky part is maintaining power, what lengths you go to keep it (many Third World socialist countries have oppressed their own people, for example) and the internal corruption that results from those staying in or getting in the good graces of the powerful. In all but a few cases, it’s not much different than this white supremacist system, and people of color globally have rejected such dictatorships for good reasons.

6. Anarchism is Focused on People, Communities and Compassion, Not Corporations, Profit and Police

Anarchist models have been successfully implemented around the world. With anarchism, resources are placed in the hands of the people, not the politicians and lobbyists who profess to act in “our” interests. In an anarchist world, the victims of this white supremacist system are not treated like criminals. Anarchist communities put their faith in the people themselves, not the people who deem their leadership to be more important than what the community needs. This government only cares about corporations, good old boys and money. It has only made concessions to people of color when it felt the hot flames of revolution scalding its back. Its time is over.

Not everyone may be ready to be fully invested in an anarchist world, in which we all share responsibility for each other and ourselves. The white supremacist system has had many hundred years to miseducate, terrorize and abuse people of color — some of us to the point where we act against our own interests and reject hope for anything more. But a better world for us, our children and their children is possible, and it’s time to agitate among people of color for a better solution than this parasitic society. Educate yourself, your friends and loved ones. Share this text. Know that the road to liberation is a long one. Unite oppressed people. Fight for a better world today.


  1. Tēnā koe Bamboo,

    in your kōrero you said "Anarchists models been successfully implemented around the world". Can you elaborate on this? I agree that Marx(ism) has had his time and failed us coloured folks and so I'm curious about times and places an anarchist altternate reality has been realised.

    Also, I have this idea that Anarchism (as a disourse and practice) is just as ambivalent about coloured folks as Marxism because they seem to have the same whakapapa - a mostly male European one. My experiences with white Anarchists especially tends to confirm this...

    so the feeling I get is that for coloured and/or colonised folks Anarchism is another one of the masters tools, not really suited to dismantling the master's house... what are your thoughts on this?

    mihi atu

  2. Kia ora Mkura,

    Cheers for your comment. I didn't actually write this article. It was cross-posted from which is a resource site for anarchist people of colour.

    I think you're absolutely right in saying that the traditions of Marxism and anarchism (as labeled ideologies/theories) has originated from European men. But I think the difference between anarchism and Marxism is that anarchism isn't attached to a particular political theorist, so it's more flexible and changeable.

    But the dominant history of anarchism has been histories of Europe and white people, so that has marginalised a lot of the histories of people who have practiced anarchism, outside of Europe, either consciously or because that's the way their society have been arranged for generations, with an egalitarian and no state structure. So there are non-western anarchist movements of largely ignored by the dominant group of anarchists, but here is a pamphlet about anarchist models that have been implemented in non-western parts of the world:

    And there's some recent work on postcolonial anarchist theory:

    I'm in the same boat in terms of experiencing white anarchist arrogance, but I think the anarchist critique of capitalist and state society and social hierarchy in general, along with the idea of self-government and autonomous egalitarian forms of organisation, it is more open to diversity than Marxism which has a tendency to be authoritarian and imperialist in some places. If you look at the form in which anarchism is embodied, then yeah it's a bit of put off. But if you look at the content of anarchist theory, I think it has a lot of potential as a tool of liberation for all life, people, animals and earth.

    I see it as the only political tendency that has the capacity to bring together all forms of oppression and see it all as interconnected rather than focusing on single issues in isolation. And it would be inherently contradictory to anarchist philosophy for white/male/heterosexual/middle class etc. anarchists to dominate, anarchism delegitimises their power. So I think it can be a tool to dismantle the master's house. But I think there are also more than one master, and anarchism can be used to destroy all of them because it doesn't discriminate based on identity, but on power. At this time, identity is an important factor in determining power and privilege, but I think it's important to be weary of the dominant culture using individual indigenous or ethnic minorities to keep their own people oppressed. 'Cause when people we see as reflecting our identity in positions of power, it gives an illusion that we can all "make it" and it gives them a basis for denying that discrimination exists. I see it as a form of co-option and spreading of false consciousness (for lack of a better word).

    What do you think? Do you see another strategy for radical social change?


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