What the Anti-War Movement Can Learn from the Black Radical Tradition
Movements need to unite under the banner of anti-imperialism, says Ciara Taylor
SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.
CODEPINK along with 50 other organizations are holding a people’s tribunal on the Iraq War. 14 years after the illegal war that will cost us over 2 trillion dollars, we may have an opportunity to hear from the people involved and effected by as well as the people who have followed and protested one of the greatest tragedies in human history.
Joining us now to speak about the upcoming people’s tribunal on the Iraq War is Ciara Taylor. She cofounder and former director for Political Consciousness of Human Rights Youth Organization the Dream Defenders. Ciara currently is working with CODEPINK to develop the people’s tribunal on the Iraq War and she recently authored an article published with Alternate entitled What the Black Radical Tradition Can Teach Us About Rebuilding the AntiWar Movement. Ciara thank you so much for joining us.
CIARA TAYLOR: Thank you so much for having me.
PERIES: Ciara, you have a very unique role in organizing this tribunal and an angle on the antiwar movement. So what can the black radical tradition teach us about rebuilding the antiwar movement. Yea so I actually just had the pleasure joining organizers and activists all over the country and maybe around the world, yea definitely, around the world and Oakland where the 50th annual celebration of the Black Panther Party for self defense. And for me someone who grew up with stories of the Black Panthers around fighting for liberation, not just people who are struggling through the United States but abroad, it was an incredible experience just to share space with so many of my heroes.
I think that for me, the Black Panther Party is really an example of the history of the black power position as it relates to combating US imperialism and authorization. Whether it’s at home or whether it’s abroad, what we’re really talking about is the need for self-determination from our communities. Communities that have been oppressed under capitalist white supremacist control and be uniquely situated in the United States. Being in the movement for black lives. Being in this interesting crossroads that the current presidential election has put all of us in and having to decide between two war mongers and hopefully a third party with Jill Stein, just really needing to ground ourselves in the reality that if we really want to be free, if we really want liberation then we have to combat the militarism that takes places in our streets.
PERIES: Now of course given that it’s the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party’s formation, now this is a party that actually took up arms to defend themselves and defend the rights of African Americans in this country that also were very international in nature when it came to other struggles going on around the world including the one in South Africa and the fight back against the apartheid in South Africa. Give us a sense of what kinds of international connections you are making by way of the struggles happening here and then broadening it abroad.
TAYLOR: I think that you talked about the Black Panther Party taking up arms but more so talking about the Black Panther Party being in solidarity with movements around the world. I think that this is really key because one of the biggest learning experiences for me in terms of the history of the Black Panther Party is their ability to institution build and to make partnerships with people in struggle.
So, for me personally, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Palestine with the Dream Defenders with the delegation that was put together by Achmed Hussein, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem who grew up in the United States and really connected with the black struggle here because of our parallels with having our communities being occupied. Theirs being way more visible than ours definitely occupied in terms of the policing strategies and practices of our militarized security – militarized state.
I’ve also had an opportunity to travel to South America in Brazil specifically, being able to learn from the Landless Workers Movement, the MST in Brazil and being able to witness and experience their struggle as they seek to recover their dignity in the wake of oppressive forces really linked to US [inaud.] again. And then we see currently in South Africa with the students struggling and inspiring in creative ways and really taking back South Africa for South Africans.
PERIES: Now Ciara there’s been a lot of fragmenting when it comes on the part of Youth in this country and abroad in terms of building a real anti war movement and part of this identity politics and part of it is people just feeling so oppressed by their particular situations that they need to fight and they see that as the most important thing in the world because they’re in that moment. What do you say to people, young people like yourselves out there, who really want to get engaged in rebuilding an antiwar movement that’s broad that’s inclusive that looks up anti-racism and gender oppression and take into consideration imperialism in the sense of what the US, for example, is doing in other parts of the world.
TAYLOR: Right. So, I think that my generation has definitely come about at an interesting time again. For me, I am the daughter of people who were first generation out of segregation and integration. My parents really wanted me to live a life that wasn’t marred by the histories of racism in this country. So, my parents like many other parents in my generation really tried to shield me from racial discrimination but also shield me from the economic realities that we live in in the United States. Where many of us were raised thinking that we were middle class and have found out that there is no such thing as a middle class.
We have working class people. We have more so working poor people who our reality is often times an illusion because you have an iPhone, because you have a car, because you have access to internet. We’re made to believe that we’ve made it and there’s not the level of economic or disproportionate economic mobility and social mobility in the United State. Unfortunately, that’s a lie.
So for people my age, of my generation, it’s very seductive to be lured into struggle by neoliberal identity politics. For me someone who has grown up in this country feeling though I am not seen there’s this parallel. People are both hyper focused on you because of your identities. Whether that’s because of your sexual orientation, your gender identities, your race. But you’re also made to be invisible at the same time which is really frustrating in that contradiction.
So, what identity politics offers for many people is a way to be seen. Now you’re no longer this person that’s you know forced to observe society and politics in this country. Now you’re able to have a spotlight, have a platform based on the fact that you’re black or you’re Latinx, or because you’re a woman, or because you’re transgendered. Although these identities are very very important, the makeup and the history makes us who we are. It can be really divisive and it can really tear us apart from the real oppression that’s happening which is directly linked to poverty and capitalism in a real way.
I think why I believe tribunal is so important is because as a friend of mine from the ITC or the Iraqi Transnational Community which is a collective of Iraqi people in struggle throughout the diaspora or the global diaspora. She said that the Iraq War is a metaphor for US imperialism. So, I think that this tribunal is important because it is a tool for us people who are in struggle to really highlight how our global struggle was against occupation, against capitalism, against racism are really directly linked to these forces that have been able to divide us for so long. I think that’s why our struggles should really start to unite and rebuild under the banner of anti-imperialism and organizing.
PERIES: Alright Ciara, I thank you so much for joining us today and I look forward to the tribunal where we can hear from people like you who’s articulating the antiwar movement in this context. I look forward to having you back sometime very soon.
TAYLOR: Thank you very much I appreciate it.
PERIES: And thank you for joining the Real News Network.
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