The Charlie Hebdo White Power Rally in Paris

A Celebration of Western Hypocrisy

by Ajamu Baraka / January 14th, 2015


The “civilized” have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death; these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the conscience of civilized world.

— James Baldwin

I have witnessed the spectacle of Eurocentric arrogance many times over my long years of struggle and resistance to colonial/capitalist domination and dehumanization. The grotesque, 21st Century version of the “white man’s burden,” which asserts that the international community (meaning the West) has a moral and legal “responsibility to protect,” is one current example; the generalized acceptance by many in the West that their governments have a right to wage permanent war against the global “others” to maintain international order is another.

Yet, when I think I have seen it all, along comes the response to the attack at the racist, Islamophobic publication Charlie Hebdo. Even though I shouldn’t be surprised, I am still left in complete wonderment at the West’s unmitigated self-centeredness and self-righteous arrogance.

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A National Plan of Action on Racial Justice — a Call to Build an Independent People’s Movement for Power

Friday, May 11, 2012

by Ajamu Baraka

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement recently called on the Obama administration to commit to the development of a national plan of action on racial justice, in light of the Trayvon Martin case. This is an important and necessary call, and an example of how to use human rights processes and discourse to demand accountability for human rights violations.

Demands for public services, the right to organize, the fight for a living wage, de-militarization of our communities, ending discriminatory hiring practices against transgender people, ending internal displacement because of mega-development projects, stopping paramilitary violence (George Zimmerman), halting FBI infiltration and disruption of lawful organizations—these are just a few of the demands that are being reconceptualized as human rights demands locally and are also being seen as fundamentally linked to global fights for working class power, self – determination and individual and collective dignity. This reformulation, emerging out of social practice and reflection from the bottom-up, is at the heart of what I have termed a “people-centered” approach to human rights struggle (see “From Civil Rights BACK to Human Rights: Reclaiming the African American Radical Human Rights Tradition,”

It is only through the process of building independent movements for power that the national and global structures of white supremacy will be defeated. This is true for the developing human rights movement in the U.S. and also for the broader social justice movement.  Independent power bases not linked to either of the major parties and the liberal establishment is a historical imperative. But what is also imperative is to recognize that the essential task now is to build structures that are grounded in and represent the interests of the people. A people-centered human rights approach recognizes that “advocacy” is not enough. It is important and should not be discounted, but appeals to the State are not enough when the State itself is responsible for massive human rights violations. What a people-centered human rights approach argues for is a process that builds independent power, so that the people will have the means to restructure society to realize the full range of interconnected human rights.  This is the position that most differentiates the people-centered approach from mainstream, liberal human rights practice. The liberal approach, with its privileging of legalism, elite change model, and anti-radical stance is unable to meet the critical needs of people suffering the catastrophic effects of the global capitalist crisis, growing repression and systematic racist assaults. Continue reading