By Andile Mngxitama
Why are there no memorial services held across the globe by black people for the assassinated martyr of black liberation, brother Micah Xavier Johnson? In South Africa the only reported event in honour of his heroic acts are the activities of the The Way Of Life Kilombo through the Black Solidarity Action (BSA) initiative which held a night vigil and protest march at the USA embassy in Cape Town this week. Otherwise, there’s been deafening silence.
Blacks are pressured, by concerns of the ruse of common humanity, into denouncing their heroes and martyrs. Why is this the case?
Black people are trapped in a world created by white people for white people. What is considered just and ethical is that which doesn’t threaten white life. This white created life is inherently anti-black and is founded on “gratuitous violence” against black people, as scholars like Frank B. Wilderson III teach us. This means that for the white world to provide security for whites it must permit violence without reason against blacks. But this relationship of white life and black death has no means to be expressed for if this truth was expressed, then the ethical coherence of the white world would be shattered. So blacks are then violently incorporated into the white world as the illegitimate children of humanity with no means to express this horror.
To make this illegitimate existence possible in a world created and sustained by our criminalization by virtue of appearance, we are forced to adopt the speech and discourses of those who this world is created for. Such a move is of course at our expense. White people created human rights for themselves with the explicit exclusion of blacks in the rubric of the human. In fact we know now that the human is created out of relegating the black into subhumaness. Therefore, in this white world the human is white. If we understand this we would understand why violence the world-over against whites is punished or why when violence happens against whites its for a reason, being prior transgressions. However, violence against blacks need no reason and no accountability for. We can all present long lists of blacks murdered with no reason and for which no justice has been done.
Post-1994 in South Africa didn’t end the white world, just like the extension of civil rights in USA didn’t end the white world there. All these moves only accommodated us into rights regimes which are incapable of protecting us because the day black people enjoy rights for real is the day the white world ends.
The day light murder of Andries Tatane in South Africa was a prelude to the day light mass slaughter of blacks in Marikana. In both cases no one was held criminally liable despite the murders happening under television cameras. No one murdered those blacks, as Wilderson would remind us, “they just collided with free floating bullets.” The law can’t protect blacks. The police are policing humans not to fall into the abyss of the sub-human.
We blacks are caught up in a world that is not for us. This explains why when one of us gains a perspective and courage to act in a manner that exposes the true nature of this world, we find ourselves incapable of associating with such a black person. Its not just fear of retribution which is a real thing because the white world doesn’t forgive blacks who rebel against the natural order, it’s also because we blacks are trapped in the whole schema that makes the white world function: blacks must be killed for whites to live. Micah Xavier Johnson reversed the schema and we can’t cope with its demands, weight and black logic. Human rights determine that white life must be preserved at all cost and Johnson broke the seal of white life – we therefore walk away from him.
This white life/black death dialectic furthermore explains the treatment of black liberation fighters. Dedan Kimathi in Kenya was captured and decapitated by the colonialists and rendered illegal even in death. When independence came they continued the legal regime that rendered his acts taboo. The same is true of the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army in the USA and of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army fighters who continue to be jailed by the ANC in South Africa. The great moment of life for life driven by the Poqo uprising is erased from memory, for it’s too traumatic to imagine blacks with axes and machetes against white bodies.
Black repulsion for warriors like Micah Xavier Johnson must be understood as a consequence of being in a world created at your expense. The quick reaffirmation of the ethic of peaceful protest by movements such as the Black Lives Matter must be understood as part of this truth. Only black people who won’t kill those who kill them are considered reasonable and acceptable and white acceptability provides a false sense of incorporation into the white world.
The trap of human rights shall persist until blacks end this world and bring about a new one with a different ethical foundation which does not mandate black death as a condition for white life. But we are far from that point.
Andile Mngxitama is the National Convenor of the Black First Land First movement.