Last October, Albert Ponce, a member of the Abolition Collective, who teaches at Diablo Valley College, gave a lecture on campus, addressing the historical reality of the United States as a white supremacist, patriarchal, heteronormative, capitalist system. This lecture was recorded, and subsequently shared across social media by an array of alt-right, white supremacist forces who, emboldened by the current political landscape, have seized the opportunity to harass him.
Prof. Ponce has become the target of a racist internet troll campaign run by Red Elephant, Breitbart News and others, and has been subjected to hundreds of death threats. He has been subjected to doxxing since December of last year.
The Abolition Collective unequivocally supports Albert Ponce and his body of work. We defend his speech not only on the grounds of academic freedom and free speech, but even more strongly on the basis of its political content. Prof. Ponce’s “White supremacy in the United States” lecture and his work, which centers on the disposability of migrant labor in racialized capitalism, as well as the need to disrupt laws which naturalize violence against racialized bodies, are at the core of what it means exercise an abolitionist analysis, pedagogy and politic. As a collective, we are committed to work towards this goal by building an insurgent academic and movement against all institutions and systems of domination, exploitation, and oppression. Albert articulates and lives out this commitment unflinchingly. His scholarly and organizing work attest to a radically anti-racist, anti-oppressive politics both online and on the ground. In defending him and his work, we are calling for more than the freedom of speech; we are calling, with Albert, for the abolition of white supremacy in all its forms.
Now, more than ever, it is necessary to defend Ponce not because he is experiencing exceptional harassment, but because such abuse is increasingly commonplace and has become a key part of how fascism and racism are being normalized in the United States. More so, it is an intimation of the oppression and attempted silencing of those who have been bearing the brunt of racist and sexist violence for generations, but for whom few statements of support have been issued.
The violent racism that we are witnessing in the reaction to Ponce’s work is part of a long history of online attacks and targeted harassment of those who fight against white supremacist settler-colonial heteropatriarchy. With only a few exceptions, mainstream capitalist press institutions were easily manipulated into becoming ready and even eager platforms for an ideological smear campaign—one transparently organized by avowed racist fascists. In fact, from attacks on Saida Grundy, Zandria Robinson, Anthea Butler, and Brittany Cooper, to recent threats on Olga Cox’s life, an emerging pattern and strategy of suppressing ideological and political dissent points toward the ascendancy of right-wing extremism. It will continue to rise unless we collectively refuse it, resist it, and fight back.
Now, more than ever, the state of extant media culture reminds us of the necessity of formations like the Abolition Collective that seek to weaponize ideas in the service of beating back an ascendant right and contributing toward the rise of a radical alternative.
As the Abolition Collective, we support Albert Ponce in that fight without reservation. We call for academics and abolitionists to join us in defense of our colleague and comrade, and in an assault on the white supremacist carceral settler-colonial heteropatriarchy we seek to abolish.
[The photo above is of Albert Ponce speaking at a DACA event at Diablo Valley College on Sept. 7, 2017. (Photo by Olivier Alata – via the DVC Inquirer)]