Below is an excerpt by Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African Socialist International and leader of the Uhuru Movement, from his groundbreaking Political Report to the 6th Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party, a profound exposition of the theory of African Internationalism slated for publication in book form later this year. The excerpt below is from a chapter of the Political Report that deals with the question of white people and how the Party’s struggles to consolidate the African People’s Solidarity Committee, the organization of white people organizing under the Party’s leadership for reparations to African people, resulted in many theoretical breakthroughs in the development of African Internationalism.
As the mass organization of the APSC, Uhuru Solidarity Movement shares this piece in hopes of sparking discussion about the popular “anti-racist” concept of “white privilege” and to challenge any sincere white person who wants to take a genuine, principled stance of solidarity with African people to embrace the worldview of African Internationalism as your own and heed the call of the African Liberation Movement for us, as white people, to build the movement for white people’s reparations to African people. Join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to attend a mass meeting on the 2014 “Reparations Now” campaign to be held at 2pm eastern time on Sunday, February 23, 2014.
Many of the theoretical breakthroughs made by the Party took place during the Oakland years of the 1980s when the development and consolidation of the solidarity organization involved critical struggles with and in APSC and thesolidarity movement under the leadership of the Party. In addition our Party struggled with other political lines within the sector of the white Left that characterized itself as being in solidarity with Africans and others oppressed and exploited by imperial white power.
One such line is the concept of “White Skin Privilege,” the notion that the struggle is against the privileges that white people are afforded by their skin color. The many problems with this white self-centered position are glaring to us within the Uhuru Movement today. This is a position that maintains the centrality of white people as subjects of history, one that obscures the parasitic relationship existing between Africans and whites, who function as the oppressor nation sitting on the socio-economic pedestal regardless of status or income. This relationship stems from the colonial parasitism that gave birth to the system of capitalism and the concept of whiteness itself.
The idea that Africans would be essentially tied to a struggle to end white skin privilege is one that undermines the reality that our concern is not about the “skin privilege” of whites. African people are fighting against white colonial domination of our entire people. The political advantages that whites have in the world are based on the nature of the system that elevated whites to significance through expropriation of our political and economic power over our own “rights” and resources. Our struggle is against white colonial domination for the purpose of sustaining a parasitic economic relationship that requires political repression, both popular and state-initiated. It is the group arrogance of whites that is born of this parasitic economic foundation—an arrogance whose basic criticism of the system revolves around their own sense of significance.
The white skin privilege position protects the actual system by attempting to end white skin privilege without destroying the colonial relationship that white people have to African people. The existence of “privilege” is a statement of power. White privilege is white power in relationship to those who do not have power. Our struggle is not one against the privilege of whites. Rather it is a struggle for black power over our own black lives that in and of itself undermines the concept and reality of white privilege.
A related position that we found equally objectionable proclaimed that the struggle is against “white and male supremacy.” This is another position that contends with the definition of our struggle as advanced by Africans ourselves and others who have been battling white imperial domination for centuries. It is a position that attempts to win support for the efforts and organizations of the whites who promote the view but not necessarily to the struggles of the colonized. What we would define as colonialism they would define as white supremacy, while proclaiming that we both meant the same thing. However, ours was not a semantical difference. Support for the struggle against colonialism would strengthen the organizational and political position of the colonized.
Support for the position of struggling against white supremacy, renders organizational and political support for the white organization, not support for the struggle for African liberation and our own organizations. We needed this work and struggle with the solidarity movement and the white Left in general for our own development. It was a critical means through which another political and ideological window to the world was opened to the Party for examination. We had to find explanations for some of the essential questions confronting the most critical contradictory relationship that Africans have had with the world since the advent of colonial slavery and the rise of parasitic capitalism.
This relationship forced us to expand our theory of African Internationalism through deepening our understanding of the question of parasitism, the foundation of the capitalist system at our expense. We were compelled to find the scientific basis for how the success of white people and white power requires the permanent pedestal of the forced expropriation of value from African and the oppressed of the world. This gave us the clarity to fully comprehend how the political and economic structures of colonialism exist for the purpose of protecting and promoting this relationship of parasitism.