Let’s Get Free!: We Have The Means, Now Do What’s Necessary

Editors note: in the wake of the Seattle Police Department killing of pregnant black woman Charleena Lyles, we decided to republish an excerpt of this brilliant essay by DGR member Kourtney Andar.


On June 28, 1964, Malcolm X gave a speech at the Founding Rally of the Organization for Afro-American Unity (OAAU) at the Audubon Ballroom in New York. In the speech, he stated what became his most famous quote:

We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.

Interestingly, X was popularizing a line from a play titled Dirty Hands by the French intellectual Jean-Paul Sartre, which debuted in 1948:

I was not the one to invent lies: they were created in a society divided by class and each of us inherited lies when we were born. It is not by refusing to lie that we will abolish lies: it is by eradicating class by any means necessary.

There are some really important ideas presented in both of these quotes. Sartre succinctly summarized the primary struggle for the socially conscious – that society as we know it is divided into classes, and that social change is not achieved merely by refusing to behave like dominant classes, but by ultimately dismantling the power structures upholding this stratification.

X’s spin on this was equally profound. The white power structure of his time enacted brutal and morally reprehensible repression on the masses of black people in the United States, and X was stating the very real yet existential condition: that this repression was a dehumanizing tactic, upheld by violence and enslavement, and that the response to this repression must equal the scope of the problem. Simply put, white supremacism will use any and all means necessary to maintain power, and thus those fighting against it must do the same.

Read the rest of the article on the DGR News Service.

We’re also republishing here an excellent response that Kourtney wrote to a comment on the article:

Frau Katze (@LolKatzen)

Do you “radicals” realize how counterproductive it is to tie the environmental movement to “social justice”? I’m a blogger on a conservative site who can’t convince ANYONE that climate change is real. Why? Because to conservatives, environmentalists all come with extra baggage that NOTHING to do with the environment.

Environmental problems should be looked at from a cool scientific and unemotional viewpoint. As it stands, you’ve lost millions of people who might agree with the straight environmental aspect of things.

Keep the “social justice” separate.

Frau Katze,
If my intention is to be as respectful as possible, I may state that I kinda understand what you’re saying here. However, it’s tough to stay polite in this regard.

Environmentalism is a social justice issue, and if you actually take the time to think about it for more than a few minutes, you’ll see why.

You see, where do oil companies drill? In the backyards of wealthy whites? Negative – we both know where they drill.

Who suffers first and most from the effects of a changing climate, polluted air/water/soil, and depleted natural resources? Wealthy whites? Again, negative. It is the poor, the destitute, the enslaved – we are the ones who suffer. The power plants, the oil refineries, the recycling plants – these are in the backyards of my people, and the indigenous. The indigenous are the ones who suffer when their rivers are dammed and their land is stripped bare and their food sources over hunted to the point of extinction.

The tendency that causes men to rape at minimum a third of all women, and film it for the sadistic entertainment of woman-haters; the tendency that causes whites to lynch and burn and beat and kill people of color in the streets and grant the perpetrators paid leave and pensions; the tendency that causes corporations to pollute every river in the U.S. and blow up mountaintops and enslave African children in diamond mines; these tendencies are all the same, and have the same root – the iron heel of civilization crushing the necks of human and non-human communities the world over.

Maybe your “conservative” values are shielding you from common sense. But I will not mince words, and I have zero patience for such dismissal. Our planet is dying; my people are being systematically killed or incarcerated; men are at veritable war with women; and there is an ongoing genocide against indigenous cultures. These are all products of civilization, the brutal arrangement of power that has the planet on the brink of sheer and utter destruction.

You would benefit from doing your homework, because this class grades in life and death.

This entry was posted in Culture of Resistance, Defensive Violence, People of Color & Anti-racism, White Supremacy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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