The white opportunism of Tim Wise versus the African Revolution
Uhuru Solidarity Movement
Published Feb 25, 2014
On February 19, 2014, a leading member of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM), Wendy Craig, attended a speaking engagement at a local community college where Tim Wise, a figurehead of the liberal “anti-racist” movement delivered the keynote presentation.
Disturbed by Wise’s failure to comment on slavery or colonialism, Comrade Wendy posted a comment on the public Facebook profile of Tim Wise in which she called for him to go beyond simply criticizing racism, which has proven to be a lucrative career for Wise who, according to his booking agent, charges $7,500 plus expenses.
Wendy made a call for Wise and his supporters to unite with the demand led by African workers themselves for reparations, self-determination and liberation from white colonial domination.
Wendy put out the Uhuru Solidarity Movement campaign that is struggling to raise resources for the economic wing of the African Revolution, Black Star Industries, the foundation of the black workers’ economy.
The Uhuru Solidarity Movement is the organization of white people formed by and working under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party, led by Chairman Omali Yeshitela.
The Uhuru Solidarity Movement is guided by the Chairman’s theory of African Internationalism which recognizes that parasitic capitalism was built on slavery, genocide and colonialism and that Africans are one people dispersed throughout the world.
Others in the broader movement for social justice for African people have taken note of the white nationalism of Tim Wise. In a blog piece penned by an African named Ewuare X.
Osayande called “Word to the Wise: Unpacking the White Privilege of Tim Wise,” Osayande responds to a reactionary diatribe posted by Wise on his Twitter account.
Osayande writes of Wise, “white privilege has become the watch-word of the movement. Yet, for the most part, it has been used as a means for white anti-racists to point the finger at “those” whites or navel gaze and wallow in a guilt that doesn’t produce results.”
In 2013 Wise agreed to deliver the keynote speech at the conference of Teach For America. Black Agenda Report Managing Editor Bruce A. Dixon wrote in his article “Why Is Tim Wise Stamping the Anti-Racist Ghetto Passes at Teach For America” that “Teach For America is a major player in the elitist and racist scam to privatize public education, supplying mostly white grads of elite colleges as ghetto teacher temps.”
Our most recent effort to expose the opportunism of the anti-racist ideology of Wise is not a “subjective” combat between Wendy Craig and Wise himself, but a struggle between the revolutionary theory of African Internationalism as developed by Chairman Omali Yeshitela and the self-centered, idealist “anti-racism” espoused by Tim Wise and his followers.
Upon being called out for his opportunism, Wise responded with a rancorous stream of slander and invective, in which he said that his refusal to donate to Black Star Industries “means nothing… less than nothing” and called Wendy and other members of USM “cultists.”
Wise said that if you believe that “unless I give money to x, y, or z, ‘revolutionary group,’ led by ‘Chairman’ (fill in the blank), I am a fraud, then you should […] be prepared to be called a cult…”
“Seriously, if you are what the revolution requires as a vanguard (or indeed, if you even believe in a vanguard party of any kind), count me as clearly opposed to your particular revolution. You can consider me your enemy,” declared Wise in a refreshing moment of honesty.
Our conscious decision to struggle against the opportunism of Tim Wise is motivated by our commitment to win white people to take a principled stance of solidarity with the struggle for African liberation from colonial oppression.
As African Internationalists we unite with the analysis put forward by Chairman Omali that the problem is not “racism,” the ideas in the minds of white people that unite us with the ruling class against Africans and oppressed peoples. The problem is colonialism, a material social and economic system of domination of the entire African nation by white power and white people.
The people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Venezuela are not fighting against “racism,” but against imperialism and colonialism, for national liberation and self-determination over their own lands, lives and resources. The same is true of African people in the U.S. and around the world.
The anti-racism of Tim Wise maintains the status quo of a system built on slavery and genocide.
If a white person takes an unlearning racism workshop, does that change the fact that all white people in North America are colonial settlers resting uneasily on the land stolen from the Indigenous people? Does it change the fact that the entire white population rests upon a pedestal of colonial genocide and enslavement?
Colonialism, not racism, is the problem. This is not an abstract or semantic dispute. It is a theoretical question that fundamentally informs our practice.
If we are white anti-colonialists, we embrace the worldview of the African working class. We can express anti-colonialism in practice through principled solidarity with the African Revolution by joining the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC) and the Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM). We can be part of the struggle to destroy colonialism and create a world without imperialism, war, oppression and colonial violence.
If you are a white “anti-racist” like Wise, you will perhaps pay a hefty sum to hear Wise speak on his campus lecture circuit or you might go to an “unlearning racism” workshop to work through all of your racist thoughts—but then get back into your Volvo and drive back to your house in the safety of the suburbs while Africans are still being gunned down by the police every 28 hours. Nothing will change, but you might feel better about yourself.
We have a choice to make. Which side are we going to be on?
We feel it is important to elaborate upon the differences between the worldview of Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s African Internationalism, the philosophy of the revolutionary African working class, and the anti-racist worldview of Tim Wise, so that white people can make an informed decision about which side you are on.
Are you on the side of the status quo and its liberal apologists like Tim Wise, or the side of the African Revolution in unity with all oppressed and colonized peoples on the planet.
The following series of quotations are culled from speeches and interviews of Tim Wise, juxtaposed with quotations from Chairman Omali Yehistela’s upcoming book, The Uneasy Equilibrium: The African Revolution versus Parasitic Capitalism:
Parasitic Capitalism: Tim Wise vs. Chairman Omali Yeshitela
TIM WISE: “The equation put forward by those who say ‘the real issue is class, and we need to end capitalism before we can end racism,’ may be exactly the inverse of reality. It may be, instead, that before any substantial alteration in the class system can become possible, we will have to attack white racism and substantially diminish it.”
CHAIRMAN OMALI YESHITELA: “Capitalism was born in disrepute, born of the rapes, massacres, occupations, genocides, colonialism and every despicable act humans are capable of inflicting. Capitalism was not responsible for some great, otherwise unimaginable leap in production, which—despite its contradictions—resulted in human progress and enlightenment. What capitalism did was to rip the vast majority of humanity out of the productive process—in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Australia and what has come to be known as the Americas. The hundreds of millions dead due to the slave trade and slavery itself; the millions exterminated everywhere Europeans ventured—these are people whose hands were forever removed from a relationship with nature that would result in ‘production.’
“Europeans achieved their national identity by way of this bloody process. This is not something that only happened a long time ago. The world’s peoples are suffering the consequences of capitalism’s emergence right now. Locked in colonies and the indirect rule of neocolonialism, restricted to lives characterized by brutality, ignorance and violence in the barrios of the Americas, in other internal colonies characterized as Indian reservations and black ghettos, kept under the paranoiac, nuclear-backed, armed-to-the-teeth watch of military forces born of a state power that has its origins in protecting the relationship between capitalism and its imperial pedestal, capitalism has been the absolute factor in restricting production and development. It has concentrated productive capacity in the hands of the world’s minority European population that sits atop the pedestal of our oppressive reality. Capitalism was not the good, “progressive” force that is the precursor to something better for “humanity.” Capitalism was a disaster that rescued Europe from a diseased feudal existence at the expense of the world.”
On Racism: Tim Wise vs. Chairman Omali Yeshitela
TIM WISE: “Racism is an institutional arrangement, maintained by policies, practices and procedures—both formal and informal—in which some persons typically have more or less opportunity than others, and in which such persons receive better or worse treatment than others, because of their respective racial identities…. I believe that all people (white or of color) raised in a society where racism has been (and still is) so prevalent, will have internalized various elements of racist thinking: certain beliefs, stereotypes, assumptions, and judgments about others and themselves.
“I think for folks of color the key to combatting racism period is a) trusting their instincts and b) solidarity with one another. The system of white supremacy is intended to make folks of color doubt themselves, their intelligence, their abilities, their very sanity. And so it’s important to remember that folks of color know their own realities. They need to trust that.”
CHAIRMAN OMALI YESHITELA: “We determined long ago that characterizing our movement as a struggle against racism was a self-defeating waste of time. What is called racism is simply the ideological foundation of capitalist imperialism. Rather than defining the system of our oppression, racism is a concept that denies Africans our national identity and dignity. It relegates us to the Sisyphean task of winning acceptance from, and often of becoming one with, our oppressors.
“With African Internationalism we have proven that race is simply a colonial invention originating from the enslavement and colonization of Africans and Africa that gave birth to capitalism and, simultaneously, the European nation. Our struggle has always been one for power, not against racism as we have shown.
“To the extent that we win power, the “racism” of others is irrelevant. Power is the great equalizer, the fundamental “aphrodisiac” that is capable of turning a racist of today into a fawning sycophant of tomorrow.
“The struggle against ‘racism’ is the struggle of the petty bourgeoisie fighting to integrate into the white capitalist world, to board the sinking ship of white power. It is a diversionary struggle reliant on failed philosophical assumptions that must be cast aside as a precondition for moving forward.
“This is not an innocent issue of semantics. The way this is understood informs our practice. The struggle against ‘racism’ presupposes one approach and the struggle against imperialist colonialism, another.
“We are not a race, but a nation of people, scattered across the globe.
“We have been pushed out of history by our imperialist oppressors, partially through the concept of ‘race.’ Our national homeland has been occupied in various ways for millennia. Our people have been captured and forcibly dispersed around the world. Our labor and land have been violently extracted to build the European nation and world capitalist system that determine our reality and the contours of the struggle in which we have been engaged for more than 500 years.
“The fight against AFRICOM cannot be characterized as a struggle against ‘racism’ any more than the liberation of our people in Haiti or the necessary unification of Africa to stop the rape of our Motherland and the theft of its resources. The material conditions Africans suffer worldwide have their origin in the attack on Africa that led to the capture of our national homeland and our people. Our poverty and susceptibility to ignorance, violence and material want throughout the world—including in the U.S., UK and the rest of Europe—result from the material conditions of existence in Africa since its capture and partition! Are the Iraqis and Afghans fighting against racism? What about all the people of South America and the Caribbean? Certainly, the bourgeois ideology of ‘racism’ serves to unite the vast majority of whites and even some Africans in support of the imperialist agenda.
“The anti-racists would have us fight for a place in a dying system; they would have us objectively uniting with our oppressors. Anti-racists would transform us into ‘house negroes,’ fighting to save the master’s burning mansion, to paraphrase Malcolm X.”
On “White Privilege”: Tim Wise vs. Chairman Omali Yeshitela
TIM WISE: “White privilege is simply the flipside of discrimination against people of color. The concept is rooted in the common-sense observation that there can be no down without an up, so that if people of color are the targets of discrimination, in housing, employment, the justice system, or elsewhere, then whites, by definition, are being elevated above those persons of color. Whites are receiving a benefit, vis-a-vis those persons of color: more opportunity because those persons of color are receiving less. Although I believe all persons are harmed in the long run by racism and racial inequity — and thus, white privilege comes at an immense social cost — it still exists as a daily reality throughout the social, political and economic structure of the United States.
CHAIRMAN OMALI YESHITELA: “[T]he concept of ‘White Skin Privilege’ [is] the notion that the struggle is against the privileges that white people are afforded by their skin color. The many problems with this white self-centered position are glaring to us within the Uhuru Movement today. This is a position that maintains the centrality of white people as subjects of history, one that obscures the parasitic relationship existing between Africans and whites, who function as the oppressor nation sitting on the socio-economic pedestal regardless of status or income. This relationship stems from the colonial parasitism that gave birth to the system of capitalism and the concept of whiteness itself.
“The idea that Africans would be essentially tied to a struggle to end white skin privilege is one that undermines the reality that our concern is not about the ‘skin privilege’ of whites. African people are fighting against white colonial domination of our entire people. The political advantages that whites have in the world are based on the nature of the system that elevated whites to significance through expropriation of our political and economic power over our own ‘rights’ and resources. Our struggle is against white colonial domination for the purpose of sustaining a parasitic economic relationship that requires political repression, both popular and State-initiated. It is the group arrogance of whites that is born of this parasitic economic foundation—an arrogance whose basic criticism of the system revolves around their own sense of significance.
“The white skin privilege position protects the actual system by attempting to end white skin privilege without destroying the colonial relationship that white people have to African people. The existence of ‘privilege’ is a statement of power. White privilege is white power in relationship to those who do not have power. Our struggle is not one against the privilege of whites. Rather it is a struggle for black power over our own black lives. That in and of itself undermines the concept and reality of white privilege.”
Conclusion: Join the African People’s Solidarity Committee and the Uhuru Solidarity Movement!
In the online debate with USM members and other Uhuru Movement organizers, Wise expounded on his vehement opposition to the rights of African people to set the terms for their own struggle for liberation and reparations, writing:
“[Wendy Craig] has taken it upon herself apparently to decide who in the black community is sufficiently revolutionary, and who thinks that giving her own money to that group makes her revolutionary, and more importantly, a bold example of what reparations should look like…which is both silly (white people don’t get to pick the leaders of the revolution) and evidence of an infantile understanding of reparations: reparations, to be transformative, must come from the state and private institutions that made enslavement and Jim Crow possible and profitable. The notion that individuals writing checks to a particular organization (which itself has no plan for redistributing those resources to the masses), is revolutionary is perhaps the most painfully ignorant notion ever floated by anyone, anywhere.”
Wise’s comment obscures the fact that all white people sit on the pedestal of colonial oppression of African people and therefore it is not only the governments and corporations that owe reparations but all white people.
That is why we are building a people’s movement for reparations that provides an opportunity for every white person to take a genuine stance in solidarity with African people through supporting the emergence of the African-led economy in the form of Black Star Industries.
We invite all open minded white people to join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and build the Days in Solidarity with African People in your community. Bring the voice of the African Revolution, Chairman Omali Yeshitela, to your campus or community this year.
We also call on all white people and other allies of African people to make plans to attend the National Convention of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement on May 3-4, 2014 at the Uhuru House, 1245 18th Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.