Black anarchism is a political and social ideology that has roots in the struggle for African American liberation and self-determination. It emerged in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, at a time when African Americans were beginning to organize against the many systems of oppression they faced, including slavery, segregation, and racism. In this article, we will explore the history and key ideas of black anarchism, as well as its impact on the broader anarchist movement and society at large.
Emergence of Black Anarchism in the United States
The history of black anarchism in the United States is closely tied to the history of African American resistance and struggle against oppression. Some of the most prominent figures in this early era of black anarchism include:
- Ashanti Alston: Alston is a former member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army, who later became a prominent anarchist activist and writer. He is known for his advocacy of black autonomy and his critique of the state and capitalism.
- Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin: Ervin is a former member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army, who later became a prominent anarchist activist and writer. He is known for his advocacy of black anarchism and his critique of the state and capitalism.
- Kuwasi Balagoon: Balagoon was a member of the Black Liberation Army and the Black Panther Party, and was also a prominent anarchist activist and writer. He is known for his advocacy of black anarchism and his commitment to revolutionary struggle.
- Angela Davis: Davis is a scholar, activist, and former member of the Communist Party USA. She is best known for her work on the intersection of race, gender, and capitalism, and her advocacy of a socialist-feminist perspective on these issues.
- The Black Autonomy Federation: This group of black anarchists advocated for black self-determination and autonomy, and sought to build a revolutionary movement that would challenge the existing systems of oppression. They were active in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and played a key role in shaping the development of black anarchism in the United States.
- Lucy Parsons: Parsons was a labor organizer, anarchist, and civil rights activist. She was the wife of Haymarket Martyr Albert Parsons, and after his execution, she became a prominent labor organizer and anarchist in her own right. She is best known for her advocacy of the rights of working people and her opposition to the state and capitalism.
- MOVE: MOVE is a black liberation and environmental organization that was founded in 1972 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is known for its advocacy of black autonomy, its opposition to the police and the state, and its commitment to environmentalism and animal rights.
Key Ideas of Black Anarchism
Black anarchism is a political philosophy that incorporates anarchist ideals with a focus on the experiences and struggles of Black people. There are several key ideas that shape black anarchism, including the rejection of all forms of oppression, a commitment to self-determination, and a critique of the state and capitalism.
One of the central ideas of black anarchism is the rejection of all forms of oppression. This includes not just the systemic racism and oppression faced by Black people, but also other forms of oppression such as patriarchy, homophobia, and ableism. By rejecting all forms of oppression, black anarchists strive to create a world where people can live free from the chains of systemic power structures.
Another key idea of black anarchism is the commitment to self-determination. Black anarchists believe that Black people should have control over their own lives, communities, and destinies, without the interference of the state or any other external power structures. This idea is rooted in the histories of Black resistance, from the Underground Railroad to the Black Power movement, where Black people have sought to assert their own autonomy in the face of oppression.
Finally, black anarchism critiques the state and capitalism, viewing them as inherently oppressive and exploitative systems. Black anarchists argue that the state is responsible for perpetuating systemic racism and that capitalism perpetuates inequality and poverty. By rejecting these systems, black anarchists strive to create a world based on mutual aid, cooperation, and direct democracy.
Black anarchism is a political philosophy that has been shaped by the experiences and struggles of Black people in the United States and beyond. With its roots in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, black anarchism has evolved to incorporate the ideals of anarchism with a focus on the struggles faced by Black people. Key ideas of black anarchism include the rejection of all forms of oppression, the commitment to self-determination, and a critique of the state and capitalism. Through their activism and organizing, black anarchists continue to work towards creating a world free from oppression and exploitation.
To learn more:
- Read: As Black as Resistance
- Read: If They Come in the Morning … Voices of Resistance
- Read books and articles on the subject by authors such as Ashanti Alston, Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin, and Angela Davis.
- Follow black anarchist organizations and collectives, such as the Black Autonomy Federation.
- Attend workshops, lectures, and events hosted by black anarchist groups and individuals.
- Join online communities and discussion forums, such as the Black Anarchist Network and the Anarchist People of Color (APOC).
- Listen to podcasts and watch videos featuring black anarchist thinkers and activists, such as The Black Autonomy Podcast
- Engage with other people in your community who are interested in black anarchism, either through in-person meetings or virtual forums.
- Study the history of black anarchism, including its roots in the American Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement.
- Read about the intersections of black anarchism with other movements and ideologies, such as Afrofuturism, eco-anarchism, and intersectional feminism.