Albert Ponce speaks at a DACA event at Diablo Valley College on Sept. 7, 2017. (Photo by Olivier Alata)

Abolition Collective Statement of Support for Albert Ponce

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.

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Burn it Down: Abolition, Insurgent Political Praxis, and the Destruction of Decency

“Let us burn this motherfucking system to the ground and build something better.”

-Claire Vaye Watkins

In this article, the authors examine the ways in which the state, broadly understood as a technique, practice, and effect of modern governance and its optimization, creates impossible conditions for radical political transformation in the U.S. To illustrate these conditions, the authors show how the state relies upon notions of decency or civility to enact and elide blatant colonialism. The authors draw from the following examples to advance this argument: the “EPA Spill” or the ongoing environmental genocide shaping life across occupied Indigenous lands in the U.S. Southwest; the surprising, yet all too ordinary, election of President Trump; and the racist detainment of children from Central America in the name of humanitarian “law and order.” The authors contend that because these acts illustrate how Euro-American colonial norms continue to shape everyday violence, abolition as a praxis and vision must contend with how to burn down all of the mechanics of contemporary governance, to cooperatively dismantle the state as such, before promoting alternative social systems and political worlds. One way that the authors propose to accomplish this is to incinerate decency as an organizing precept for democracy, civic comportment, and political participation.

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Caption This: Police in Pussyhats, White Ladies, and Carceral Psychology Under Trump

Caption this: white ladies hugging Black cops in pussyhats. It goes deeper than the multiculturalist perfection of absorbing a racialized threat as justification for the continued exploitation of those deemed unassimilable. A Black man donning a uniform and a pussyhat at once obscures and reveals the historical relation of the symbols he now sports. This is what an analysis of heteropatriarchal white supremacy must account for, and what carceral psychology cannot. Literally embracing cops illustrates the ongoing investment in police as “benevolent” masters over an abstract notion of safety that criminalizes people of color. A system rooted in racialized social control cannot get an antiracist makeover through a few public dialogues between cops and community members. As Tariq Khan writes, “Heartwarming Barbecues and Hugging Cops Ain’t the Solution.” This obsession with individual acts of peace-making with cops is the liberal face of carceral psychology.

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Shifting Carceral Landscapes: Decarceration and the Reconfiguration of White Supremacy

by Colleen Hackett and Ben Turk

This essay explores the changing contours of white supremacy in the United States, and in particular its relationship to systems of control and confinement. Many critics have illuminated the ways that racial control is inherent to and embedded within the penal system. In light of some of the federal- and state-level reforms that claim to incarcerate less and use more “alternative,” community-based sanctions, we interrogate the ways that white racial interests continue to be secured across the carceral landscape, thus granting official politics limited space to entertain negligible decarceration policies. In this preliminary survey of the carceral landscape, we critique several white-dominant social institutions that work together to confine and control communities of color outside of the prison walls, while reproducing varying forms of racial caste. We incorporate historical understandings of racialization and colonization, as well as contemporary concepts and observations from academia and beyond to highlight the extent of this entrenchment. It is our hope that this survey will address the shape of racialized control in the United States that must be considered when addressing just one of its manifestations—the prison state.

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Looking Historically at the White Working Class in the U.S. | David Gilbert

by David Gilbert, political prisoner

The bizarre and dangerous rise of Donald Trump did not just pop up out of the thin air. The very foundation of the U.S. is white supremacy. This country is, at its core, imperialist, patriarchal and based in a range of ways human beings are delimited and demeaned. Nor are the specific and terribly virulent politics of racial scapegoating brand new. Always a part of U.S. culture, that approach became more central in mainstream politics, with various ups and downs in the rhetoric, since the end of the 1960s. A stable imperialism prefers to rule by keeping the population passive, with large sectors at home placated by relative prosperity. But when the system is in crisis, those running the economy often resort to diverting anger by scapegoating the racial “other.” The sectors of the population who buy into that get the “satisfaction” of stomping on their “inferiors,” which is a lot easier than confronting the mega-powerful ruling class.

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Aggrieved Whiteness: White Identity Politics and Modern American Racial Formation

by Mike King

Recent social psychological research, opinion polls, and political movements, such as the Tea Party and the candidacy and election of Donald Trump, have highlighted an increasingly widespread sentiment among white Americans that they are a structurally oppressed racial group. In spite of persistent socio-cultural and political economic structures of white supremacy, real racial inequalities that serve to privilege rather than oppress white people as a group, a politics of aggrieved whiteness has become increasingly prevalent. Aggrieved whiteness is a white identity politics aimed at maintaining white socio-political hegemony through challenging efforts to combat actual material racial inequality, while supporting heavily racialized investments in policing, prisons, and the military, and positing a narrative of antiwhite racial oppression loosely rooted in an assortment of racialized threats. This political manifestation of white supremacy does not deviate from previous incarnations; it lacks a legitimate grounding in reason and fact, but still produces very real social consequences. This article will sketch how W.E.B. Du Bois’s concept of socio-psychological wages of whiteness, Paula Ioanide’s discussion of modern racial affect, and Wendy Brown’s application of ressentiment to modern political conceptions of identity can help provide a contextualized understanding of aggrieved whiteness and the challenges it poses to pursuits for genuine racial justice.

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Refusing to Be Broken: Hartwick College Criminalizes Black Female Self-Defense against Racist White Male Assaults

– by Jallicia Jolly –

… Black female resistance is always greeted with punishment as young Black women are forced to accept both the apology and justification for their violation. Viewed as a bearer of an incurable immorality, Black girls and women remain culpable for the suffering caused by their dynamic dehumanization. Ask Marissa Alexander – a Black woman from Florida charged with firing a warning shot at her abusive ex-husband.

Yet, Black women continue to fight against murderous embodiments of racist patriarchy. It is this context that makes the use of their own bodies as weapons of resistance revolutionary. It is in the battlefield of legal visibility, public recognition, and personal safety that their self-defense asserts their right to life, protection, care, and dignity. …

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Nazi-Punching Praxis: Against the Liberal Theology of Reason & Non-Violence

[George Ciccariello-Maher interviewed by Daniel Denvir – Part 2]

I think what is being missed is the fact that [punching Nazis] is a praxis, that this is not simply a performance—it’s not an expression of frustration. It’s an actual political practice that is constructive and creative. The effects that punching Nazis creates include, first, as Richard Spencer through his own absurd inability to think strategically has admitted, it has made his life a living hell already. He admitted that it’s making it very difficult for them to organize. He’s admitted, in other words, everything that many of us have said about how Nazis need to be treated and about this famous apocryphal quote from Hitler that says, “If someone had recognized early on and crushed our movement with the utmost brutality of violence, then we would never have been able to grow.”

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“White Genocide” and the Myth of White Victimhood

[George Ciccariello-Maher interviewed by Daniel Denvir – Part 1]

White genocide is a paranoid conspiracy theory held by white supremacists who, on the one hand, believe in race as a biological reality and believe that whites are under existential threat by multicultural policies and intermarriage and every time a mixed baby is born, that the white race suffers a fatal blow. These are really the kind of people that traffic in this idea of white genocide and these are the kind of people who at the same time, wanted to take my tweet which sought to mock white genocide, and to interpret it literally as though I were actually wishing for the death of all white people.

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What a Trump Administration Means for Health in the Black Caribbean

by Jallicia Jolly and Veronique Ignace –

As echoed by many reproductive justice advocates, the lives and health of many Black women remain subject to the whims of American politics. Alongside the white nationalist revival and nativism that accompanies Trump’s platform of bigotry, the recent divestments in health evoke a special terror in the Caribbean – U.S.’s “backyard”, a region that continues to be a “strategic ‘battlefield’ for US geopolitics no matter the human costs.”
Health remains an important political tool used to define the quality of life of Black women as it characterizes historically disenfranchised groups as the repository of social death.

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In the Time of Trump: Housing, Whiteness, and Abolition

– by Manissa M Maharawal and Erin McElroy (The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project) –

How is Trump the landlord connected to Trump the president? How can we think about the rise of Trump’s reign through a lens critical of the US’s racist and colonial histories of private property? Focused on the geography of the San Francisco Bay Area and the analysis of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, this piece shows the relationships between luxury development, public housing, gentrification, liberalism, and racialized dispossession. For understanding the data and building an intersectional movement, this piece argues that we need an abolitionist approach to private property.

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The Inauguration of Fascism? Thinking Violence and Resistance in the Age of Trump

– by David Langstaff –
In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, fascism has once again returned to center stage in left political discourse. If we aim to overcome the impasse of left praxis, our theories of fascism and resistance must refuse false dichotomies of race and class, as well as the treating of fascist violence as a radical departure from the normal operations of the liberal democratic state. Fascistic ascendance, as an historically specific manifestation of white nationalist revanchism, cannot be meaningfully apprehended apart from the foundations of the U.S. settler colonial state in racial slavery and genocide. Turning towards this “position of the unthought” opens up the possibility, not only of grasping systemic violence at its roots, but of recognizing and imagining, celebrating and embracing, forms of insurgent social life which already move beneath, against, and beyond the socio-ecological catastrophe that is the modern world.

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Lively Up the Dead Zone: Remembering democracy’s racist state crimes (Ashe)

– by Janine Jones –
A critique of political thinking in Africana thought brings us to a crossroads. At this intersection, passing trajectories meet. Moving in opposite directions, they send contradictory messages concerning democracy, racism, and political violence. One trajectory pursues the accomplishments of Africana intellectual, artistic, economic, and political elites… The other trajectory tracks the misery of local and global black masses. It also traces minority group repression by global capitalism, as well as the potential and real possibilities of racial democracies through state violence and neglect. The intersection of these two diverging lines produces a conceptual dead zone, one that is marked by the absence of analysis engaging antiblack racism and genocide in Western democracies and the resilience of elite thinkers to disavow such analyses.

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Donald J. Trump: Racist, Alleged Child Rapist, and President-Elect

– by Ahmad Greene-Hayes –
Even as white liberals cry and lament Trump with more fervor than they would ever mourn Tamir Rice, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and Sandra Bland; or cry with and for our indigenous co-laborers in North Dakota; or even our Latinx kin who have been deported under Obama’s regime, what is undoubtedly apparent to those of us who have been living under white nationalism is that white tears will not save us, nor will white Jesus, nor will white liberals, nor will white Evangelicals. What will save us, though, is a doing away with whiteness writ-large.

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