This is a statement from Portland’s chapter of Black Lives Matter about the politics and principles of their organizing. Reposted from the official BLMPDX tumblr.
What We Believe
We understand colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism to be the material basis of Black/African oppression. Our ancestors were the world’s first capital – kidnapped, sold, and forced into chattel slavery to build the foundations of Western empire. While we labored as slaves, our motherland was raped and looted to fund the violent expansion of European and American settler colonial states. Today, the masses of Black/African people suffer through poverty, terror, genocide, and constant state terrorism, surveillance, and control wherever we exist in the world. Our lives, land, resources, and futures are stolen to sustain the agents of our oppression and fuel the destruction of the earth.
And yet, we survive. Black/African people have resisted capitalist destruction and annihilation for hundreds of years. The masses of Black/African people living today are heirs to a furious, brilliant, and continuous struggle for justice and liberation. From slave ship mutinies, to plantation uprisings, to Native and African Maroon communities outsmarting and outfighting European military powers, to warrior queens crushing colonizing armies on the continent: our people have organized, fought back, and won throughout history. Revolution is in our blood.
But even as we recognize and uplift the power of our people, we must also acknowledge the winning strategies of our enemy. Capitalism and colonialism have adapted in order to manipulate, control, and destroy the resistance of the colonized – from the slave ship to the prison block, from the hangman’s noose to the nightstick and taser, from fields, slave quarters, and plantations to abandoned schools, shanty towns, and crumbling tenements, and from white European agents of colonial and capitalist violence to Black/African ones – this system has expanded and evolved at each step to try and crush our will to fight.
We know that a lie can’t live forever. Capitalism, colonialism and imperialism can not exist without lands and peoples to exploit – they can not exist without us – and the colonized peoples of the world outnumber our oppressors by a factor of thousands. The odds are with us. Our task now is to unlearn and reject the lies of capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism and organize the masses of Black/African people to destroy these systems once and for all. We must reclaim our histories and our future.
We are a Black/African only organization. We see the revolutionary awakening and organization of the masses of Black/African people as our contribution to the worldwide struggle for the liberation of all life on earth from the theft, murder, and destruction of colonialism and capitalism. We organize and resist in solidarity with all peoples fighting colonialism and capitalism all over the world. We understand that all Black/Africans today exist in a continuum of resistance which began when our ancestors fought back against the first colonizer to set foot on the shores of Africa centuries ago and we fight everyday to honor those ancestors, reclaim our history, heal our people, save our children, and preserve the future of humanity and the planet.
We are femme-centered. Black/African women and femmes, whether they are trans, non-binary, or cis, exist at the bottom of a worldwide hierarchy of capitalist oppression. Black/African femme identity has been commodified, objectified, marginalized, and cannibalized since the rise of colonialism and capitalism on this planet. We reject a global capitalist culture based upon greed, violence, and blind consumption which claims Black/African femme bodies, wisdom, power, and magic as commodities to be possessed and exploited. Our power and magic belongs to our people and our bodies and minds belong to ourselves. We will not be consumed. We will not be owned. We will not be bought or sold. We resist the oppression of the Black/African femme in all of its forms:
- We reject patriarchy – whether it wears a Black, brown, or white mask – as a lie created to violate, suppress, and control the power of the Black/African feminine, twist and poison the power of the Black/African masculine, and manipulate our people into destroying and subjugating themselves.
- We reject cis-heterosexism – we are queer, trans, and non-binary Black/Africans and we struggle beside and for queer, trans, and non-binary Black/Africans. We embrace and fight for the full and free expression of the entire spectrum of Black/African gender, sexuality, and identity.
We are organizing for the overthrow of colonialism and capitalism. Liberation is not power or representation in a violent, backwards system. Liberation is not slightly more comfortable or tolerable oppression. Liberation is not the ability to exploit other oppressed people for the illusion of safety and a few creature comforts soaked in blood. Liberation is every human of every identity on earth coexisting with safety, self-determination, and a connection to all of humanity, the ancestors, the water, and the land, with free healthcare, free housing, free food, free education, and the warmth and protection of a thriving planet, culture, and community.
How We Organize
All Black Lives Matter Portland events, spaces, and organizing are open to ALL Black folks including: Black trans folks, Black queer folks, Black non-binary folks, hood Black folks, poor Black folks, houseless Black folks, undocumented Black folks, Black femmes, currently and formerly incarcerated Black folks, Black single parents, Black elders, Black Latinx folks, Black Muslims, not yet woke and still getting woke Black folks, Black folks living with mental illness, Black nerds, Black weirdos, Black hoes, differently abled Black folks, anxious as fuck Black folks, Black folks who’ve never organized a day in their lives, ain’t shit but trying to do better Black folks, and more.
We are welcoming and accepting of all intersections within the universe of Black/African identity and all levels of political knowledge and revolutionary consciousness so long as the individual Black/Africans doing this work are engaged in principled struggle, constant learning, and a process of continuous personal and ideological self-criticism, accountability, reflection, and growth.
We, as individuals and as an organization, are accountable to the masses of Black/African people and to our communities, we engage at all times with honesty and respect, we own our shit, make amends, and do better when we do harm or fall short, and we are focused on building the revolutionary consciousness and capacity of ourselves and the masses of our people above all else.
Oppressive, abusive, or reactionary language and behavior of any kind will be interrupted and challenged in all BLMPDX spaces and work. We will respect, embrace, and defend the identities and complexities of all people and all life. We will not tolerate threats – in any form – to the safety of any member of our organization or any part of the communities we are accountable to. We will respect the boundaries, consent, and emotional and bodily autonomy of all persons and we will ask about them – we will not assume to know them. We will unequivocally believe and fight for survivors of rape, trauma, and abuse.
Organizers with Black Lives Matter Portland commit to build, learn, grow, and struggle beside each other for revolution and ultimate liberation. We commit to unlearning, revealing, and rejecting the lies of capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism everyday.