i am not Charlie, i will never be Charlie, Charlie is the boss, dead prez resonates in my mind every time hashtags #JeSuisCharlie appears in my network. i am angry, i sometimes shake with rage and disgust over the spectacle we are forced to participate in. The spectacle that has unfolded since workers at Charlie Hebdo were killed on Wednesday has been one of explicit white supremacy. This global spectacle plays out in the discourse and rhetoric that media use to frame these murders. When digital networks are permitted by hashtags like #JeSuisCharlie and #notinmyname, it is obvious that the narrative is one of colonial contouring.
— SCZ (@decolonizedmind) January 9, 2015
i also find myself meditating on these words
“Is there anything more violent than your violence?
Yes, my violence is necessary.
Is there anything more violent than your violence?
Yes, my violence is liberatory” (Bocafloja, BIO-lence in Prognosis Decolonial Poetic Exhale)
for me the problem continues to be, that we allow the media, the state, and global systems to shape our concepts of violence.
my partner listens to NPR when he is driving, (aside, i hate NPR. its how liberal america can feel warmnfuzzy and progressive, while still sitting comfortably on the backs of others). sometimes i am convinced he listens to it, just to see me dissolve into obscenities which tends to happen when programs like the BBC are spouting their garbage. We aren’t usually in this shared sonic space, however over the last few days, I began the news cycle about these events with him, and listen to about ten minutes of the BBC World news this morning. it is a disgusting farce that i feel like we are trapped in. The rhetoric and speculation in the first few hours was tragically predictable, the media talked about “terrorism”, “Islam” “extremism” and the implicit (although explicit in Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons) is the underlying white supremacy and colonial repression that is felt on the bodies of non-white people living in France. The intentional over simplification in the media of nuanced and complex realities of the event at the Charlie Hebdo’s publication, leads to violent and lethal consequences for black and brown people. It is not surprising that global media has largely ignored the violence that has been waged on Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim by white supremacist. A mosque in France has been fire bombed and a pregnant woman was beaten in the streets, however the language of white accountability for the actions of a few, is absent, and these reverberations are felt outside of the nation-state. It is the same sentiments bring over 18,000 people to the streets in German as part of pro-fascist and anti-immigrant protests. And yet, spectacle demands that we turn ourselves into minstrels, that the signs on the exhibit at the colonial zoo reads, “#notinmyname”, we are continually viewed as less than human.
This morning, the rhetoric around a police stand-off with the two people suspected of murdering the workers at the publication, and the juxtaposition of a hostage stand-off at a Kosher Market in Paris are not unexpected. This allows the global rhetoric of power to pull out some of its favorite cards, anti-Semitism and pro-Zionist agendas that always allow for US and European repression of non-white, perceived to be “Muslim” bodies within their own borders, and further direct global imperialism in nation-states along North Africa and the Middle East. In addition, this framing of jewishness as white, and the antithesis to “muslim” violence, it is also part of narrative of erasure for non-white, non-european jews. White supremacy exercised through the Zionist state has, in addition to perpetrating genocide on Palestinians, brutalized non-white Jewish bodies since its formation.
for framing purposes i think it is useful to revisits Harha Walia’s, “Undoing Border Imperialism” where she discusses one of the pillars of border imperialism as racial hierarchies which is central to my understanding of how this spectacle is unfolding with regard to the phenomenon of global white supremacy. in the book, Walia, cites Yasmin Jiwani (pg 62) who argues “The racialization of these Others is maintained and communicated through a focus on the inferiorization, deviantization and naturalization of difference. While overt and explicit forms of racism are no longer condoned by the liberal state, color-blind racism permeates institutional rhetoric and through the meditation of inferential referencing, cordial tonality and cultural modality, focuses on difference as the site of the abject and contemptible.” This creates a duality where white supremacy does not have to answer for the actions of a “few” irresponsible white folks, but forces black and brown people into a sick game of trying to access our humanity by forcing us to participate in the condemnation of actions that serve to represent all of an oppressed group. i won’t play, i am not Charlie. These racialized hierarchies create space were people exist within nation-states, without ever being of a place. It is these notions of white supremacy that mark bodies as “foreign” and of not belonging, and therefore they continue to create measures of acceptable violence that communities and people are forced to endure. France is nothing new, xenophobia, fascism, and anti-migrant violence have dominated European bio-political landscape since colonialism on the continent of Africa officially “ended” (which is a laughable notion, but i ain’t got time to discuss that ish today). These condition exist outside of Europe as well, in the United States, we continue to see how black and brown bodies are brutalized and continually viewed as “Other”. The current media rhetoric of #JeSuisCharlie, part of the same beast that largely ignored the bombing that took place of an NAACP office in Colorado on the same day.
Yesterday, i read both Khalid Albaih‘s article ‘When cartoons upset the “wrong people“‘ and Jacob Canfield‘s article, “In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism“. both of these articles discussed the varying complexities of this event. Khalid used is own cultural production through the medium of cartoon to discuss the precarity of the tension of the embodied experience for many Muslims around the world in this current moment. Canfield discusses the over simplification of the current media analysis, but ends his critic with this simple summary and is the point were i will end today, “Nobody should have been killed over those cartoons/Fuck those cartoons.”