The extremist terror promulgated in the United States is done in the name and at the behest of white supremacy, not Black Extremism.

-Kamali Senior

by Kamali Senior 

Last December, a man and his son were arrested for unlawful possession of firearms in Dallas, Texas. The FBI raided their home, the son and the father were separated, and two assault rifles were seized by the authorities, along with a book titled Negroes with Guns. This is the result of being labeled a “Black Identity Extremist.”

This title carries multiple meanings, but the most important distinction here is that, within the context of the greater political conversation, it is coded as “black and violent.”

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Black nationalists and separatists, now labeled by the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as “Black Identity Extremists”, have never proven to be as historically prevalent or as violent as white nationalists and extremists. Their similar desires for an ethnic homeland, an ethnically homogenous power structure, and nationalistic belief-systems are, at best, skin deep.

White nationalism is often protected and reaffirmed by the American institution. Black nationalism is not. White nationalistic interests were present in the colonialist beginnings of this country. Black nationalism interests were not.

The SPLC is an organization that was founded to fight against institutional racism and bigotry. Since 1981, it has tabulated and monitored the proliferation of hate groups and extremists all over the United States. Even Sociologists rely on their reports for data regarding separatist movements.

It has promoted itself as a champion for the least, the left out, and often looked over, but it is truly unbelievable to see this collusion with law enforcement and think that it is an aid to anyone the SPLC claims to protect, least of all Black Americans.

It is baffling that amid this political climate of bigotry and a persistent culture of misattributing criminality and violence to people of color in general, that they would continue that legacy by monitoring Black radical groups, similar to the COINTELPRO program of 1956. These “Black Identity Extremist” and “hate group” labels are transparent in their aid of the Trump administration’s monitoring of Black organizations, whether fringe or mainstream.

The inclusion of Black dissidents on the SPLC’s monitoring list as a “hate group” helps give validity to white revisionist arguments, especially those which claim that white Americans are the recipients of harsh racial abuse when Black people form separatist groups and hold animosity towards white oppressors. It is validating of whites who constantly regurgitating the many hollow and ill-researched fallacies like, “The Irish were slaves too” and gaslighting questions like, “Why don’t you just get over it?” Naming Black people who want to escape white people’s violence and micro-aggressions as “hate groups” and extremists is the equivalent of erasing the violent and bloody history of white supremacy in America.

In mixed company, we are conditioned to condemn violence and decry all violent acts as the same, all violence is allegedly equal. However, when this is done, the context of the violence, and why it is happening becomes lost. Shooting someone in self defense is not the same as shooting someone to possess their belongings, and a slave revolt is not the same as a slave massacre.

To say so would be, at best, a false equivalency  and gross misattribution to readily available facts, and at worse, intellectually dishonest. To be clear, condemnation of violent acts are a necessitation to keep a peaceful society, but this white supremacist and anti-Black society has never been peaceful.  

The entire underpinning of the American ideological cannon is violence. Fear of violence, the threat of violence, and even its application are wholly American. Violence is as integral to the American psyche as its perceived Christianity, and it’s exceptionalist “West is best” attitude. The true atrocity here is that,  more often than not, the extremist terror promulgated in the United States is done in the name and at the behest of white supremacy, not Black Extremism.

Historically, the most popular and organized purveyors of violence in Black communities have been “law” men. Because of J. Edgar Hoover, the man responsible for the development and implementation of COINTELPRO, William H. Parker exists. And because of William H. Parker,  the man known for militarizing the Los Angeles Police Department and inventing the trope of police victimization to become the forefather of “Blue racism”, police commissioner Raymond Kelly exists. And because of Raymond Kelly, the mass implementation of “Stop and Frisk” exists.

This is the influence of a top down assessment of how America must interact with Black bodies.  Black bodies are targets. We are alligator-bait, dog-biscuits, and demons. We are never really human. We must be suppressed, intimidated, and corralled, especially when we become “militant”, or “radicalized”.

Black people in America are not strangers to its violence. We cannot be. Our existence is often times predicated on being familiar with it so that we can survive it, understanding it so we can avoid it, and even becoming intimate with it so, when the time comes, we might be able to wield it in the defense of ourselves.

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Black Americans are always-already marked for death in a society that thrives on our oppression, and organizations like the SPLC that conflate Black radicalism with white nationalism miss the mark. Black dissidents have never been associated with violence in the same capacity as white radical organizations, and shouldn’t be monitored in the same capacity as hate groups that have tangible connections to terroristic violence.

For Black people, living in the American system is a zero-sum game of life and death; a game played at the behest of the racialist capitalist system. Learning the rules have never guaranteed safety, but we do not have the luxury of being only bystanders. Black folks in America play a game of death, where the only prize is perhaps survival, until we are forced to play, again, a game that is often lost on everyone except the player.

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