June 16, 2015


Cauleen Smith

Black people are at war without the proper armor. We require inoculations that repel the seductions of corporate servitude.

First, I offer a report describing a mundane experience in the life of a black man in America:

“Last summer, a rookie police officer in Oakland, Calif., pulled his gun on a man and his two young sons outside a fire station at night. The action was recorded by the cop’s body camera as he issued orders to them: “Put, put the bag down! Put your hands up! Put you hands up! Turn around!” Fortunately, the cop, who was white, quickly learned that the suspect, who was black, wasn’t a burglar, but rather an off-duty firefighter. The officer apologized…. “Our experience (with police body cameras) has been that the evidence has largely supported the actions of the police officers, in showing that they were in fact behaving appropriately,” (Police Chief Sean) Whent says.” 1

Wow. I have been described in student customer service surveys (a.k.a. teaching evaluations) as “threatening” and “aggressive” for asking an adult student to come to class on time. But hey, if I was a white police officer, I could point my gun at a man and two children simply because I am afraid. How do we arrive at the conclusion that the officer’s behavior was “appropriate” and therefore non-actionable? (There will be no consequences for the officer who was too frightened of blackness to conduct himself in a safe and professional manner.) How is it possible that social servants (police) are supported in dismissing brutality and incivility with a mere apology? Designating the officer as a racist, transfers responsibility from the social collective onto the individual servant of corporate interests. Let’s not do that.

We must ask ourselves: Who do the Police serve? The answer requires turning towards the cultural and political legacy of the economic engine that established The United States as a beacon of capitalism: human captive slavery. Professor John Matteson, Distinguished Professor of English at Joh Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City explains that,

“Slavery was a form of privatized law enforcement. What it did was take a number of the powers that are typically reserved to the government—the power to discipline … the power over another person’s life— and it conferred those powers on private individuals.”2

Private “individuals” require forceful levels of control over their assets (captive African laborers) to insure financial interests. Last year, the Supreme Court confirmed that Private Corporations legally enjoy all of the rights and privileges of individuals. Deeply embedded in our “ways of doing business” in America, is the fundamental belief that the black body, even while producing great profits (especially when incarcerated), can and must absorb brute force and coercive control within our cultural and economic markets. Indeed, systemic knowledge proposed that  black people don’t feel pain the way white people do; moreover, and the pain inflicted upon us is provoked by our very blackness which marks us as fugitive.

Neoliberalism, for which the HUMAN_3.0 READING LIST is a low-grade inoculation, turns our communities into markets, into auction blacks — I mean auction blocks. Here’s how:

“Whatever [neoliberalism] cannot contain, desocialize, deracinate through regulation it will expel through extreme externalization, into the dead zones, prisons, and borderlands of privatization.” At the heart of neoliberal policies in higher education is a veiled pursuit to destroy any tacit expectation that people of the United States may have once had with the government about the importance of the common good and, with that, public services have been tossed underhandedly into the up-for-grabs conservative arena of privatization and deregulation, so too have all notions of equality and public responsibility been subsumed by an unrelenting neoliberal culture of rampant greed, “mega-rich” ultra conservatives, neoconservatives, and liberals alike collaborate together for control of not only the marketplace, but all public and private institutions, including those tied to human welfare and education. 3.

And so here we are, the year is 2015, Illinois State Lawmakers recently passed an ordinance making it nearly impossible to sue the city if it sells off public assets to private interests. (4) And it is very difficult to help people understand that as a woven fabric, as communities, as neighborhoods – We Have Lost All Sovereignty (some of us never had it). Collecting revenue, fighting wars, and policing dys-selected populations (black folk) are the primary mandates of our so-called government.

Our Universities cannot exist without enslaving students through debt.

Our corporations cannot exist without tax-payer funded subsidies.

Public assets cannot exist without restricting the rights of public citizens to participate in their governance (i.e. schools, health clinics, parks). The institutions taking the place of government are themselves Titanics on the tilt (i.e. charter schools, private prisons, municipal maintenance).

We can rationalize the selling out of public property for higher property values and much needed neighborhood amenities (like fresh produce). We can occupy the streets in protest against state sanctioned violence against black men and black women (however we perform and experience our genders). But without a weaponized, and generative Consciousness << CONSCIOUSNESS – we cannot save ourselves from neoliberalism.

Neo-liberalism is a form of anti-governance that can only produce social chaos which will then demand a return to the perceived order of fascism. (In which case, the lovely greystone with the obscenely high property taxes that subsidize corporate interests means jack-all because some donut dunking bureaucratic brownshirt is going confiscate it  while crying eminent domain. Bet.)

And so I declare once more: Black people are engaged in combat without the proper armor. In addition to gas masks and kevlar jackets, and smart phone video, we require inoculations that repel the seductions of corporate servitude. I offer a this as an action:

STUDY. Deep and active study.

Supplemented with CONVERSATION engaged in with the intention of producing RESISTANCE.

While standing in the street, talk about what you are studying. While renovating your greystone plant something that will live longer than you. And witness like that seed sprouting from thawing ground the transformation of humans from our current incarnation designated by Sylvia Wynter as Man2 / homo oeconomicus into HUMAN_3.0.

Naw, this ain’t no afro-pessimism shit. This reading list is for the Doers-Who-Think; not the academics who think there’s no point. This shit is for the afro-nihilist. Because the only reason to destroy a world is if we share the fundamental belief that a better world is possible.

These 14 books are just the start, all that I had time to draw. These are some of the books that literally changed my life, saved my life and sustain my life, but also, (fair warning) make it difficult for me to go along, get along, look the other way, and gets mines. These behaviors neatly summarize the Neoliberal Code of Conduct, to which I  say: Screw you.

Spectator,  fellow reader, fellow student, please share your books with me. Replace my postcards for your own; and lovingly draw the list out for all of us the Human_3.0’s:

Us, yes, Us- the freaky and confused, the enraged warriors, prosecutors of vengeance, defenders of justice, the public enemies, the private info-hackers, the loving guardian, the haters who just ‘gon hate, the homo reciprocans, and everybody else:

Bless our hearts.

Read, Write, Resist. Yes.

Read. Right. Resist. Yes.

I share theses books in the hopes that through study and conversation exchange occurs and the inoculation sticks.

Resistance is not futile. RESISTANCE IS ALL WE HAVE.

Please bring forth all suggestions for further study. Sincere apologies for obvious omissions – I can’t draw or read fast enough. It’s gonna have to be a team effort. Long Live the conscious human with an interest in sustainable life centered communo-reciprocal social structures.



Read on.

Right on.

1 [California Bill Could Limit Police Access To Body Camera Footage MAY 01, 2015 3:38 AM ET, Richard Gonzales]

2 IDEAS RACE. Slavery Matters More Than Ever. John Matteson Sept. 19, 2014. http://time.com/3403773/slavery-ferguson/

3  Antonia Darder, From Radical Voices for Democratic Schooling: Exposing Neoliberal Inequalities 2012, Palgrave Macmillan, St. Martins Press Edited by Pierre W. Orelus, Curry S. Malott

Obama library news brings elation to South Side, By Lolly Bowean and Monique Garcia. Chicago Tribune, May 1, 2015 6:20pm


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