imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Censorship at Infoshop.Org: The APOC Report

by Makhno Wednesday, Mar. 31, 2004 at 7:18 AM

Here is the article that the "anarchist" webmaster at didn't want people to see...

Was there anarchy in Detroit? An APOC reflection by Two members of RACE Anarchy #57
Spring/Summer 2004

There has been a long-standing critique of the anarchist movement from its contemporary non-white participants that it follows a Eurocentric tradition and in practice does not address the issues that affect non-white anarchists and their communities. In addition it has been said that the anarchist movement is racist, lacking in people of color, and insensitive to the issue of race. It is argued that voices belonging to people of color and their allies are dismissed or ignored altogether. Articles like, "Where Was The Color In Seattle?" and publications like Race Traitor, have attempted to bring these issues to the forefront, and have been met with cries of apologetic white guilt and defensive barbs of the "we are doing the best we can" nature.

Regardless of the relevance of any of these criticisms, they are a small part of what set the stage to make the first Anarchist People of Color Conference (APOC) a reality. A conference of this nature has been the dream and vision of some of the old school figureheads of the movement for over fifteen years. The weekend of meetings held at Wayne State University, Detroit, in October of last year was an exciting end to over a year of hard work, fund raising, logistics and organizing on the part of many, many people.

The announcement of the conference was folowed by a great deal of Internet activity. The conference website, the APOC email list and a separate list for conference organizers are just a few of the many virtual places that planning, information, exchange, debate and unfortunately, scandal, took place. Like every good conference there was a plan for workshops, a caucus or two, and the inevitable social time. Proposals were tossed around with the hope of achieving consensus by the end of the weekend. Warnings were posted about dangerous, racist, ill-intended individuals whose sole reason to exist was to put us all in harm's way and destroy our efforts. Plus there was the added bonus of years of personal and political friction between conference organizers being aired in public and not-so-public, but equally accessible, forums. As ridiculous as it all was, it didn't matter. This event, bringing so many non-white anarchists together, was a phenomenon indeed. None of this was going to keep the majority of people from coming.

The Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizers (BANCO) sent out the initial call for a non-white anarchist conference, and in its draft proposal (titled "Building an Anarchist United Front)" stated, "The main business of this conference should be about movement building...It [Anarchism] cannot remain what it presently is: an abstract political ideology for middle-class white people." Ernesto Aguilar, who has gained a level of notoriety for organizing the APOC list, also put forth a proposal prior to the event that declared, "Many movements are crippled by Eurocentric, middle-class and privileged orientations...We acknowledge the need to organize independently as a movement uniting people of color." Non-white anarchists interested in creating new, more relevant approaches to asking and answering questions centered on power, the State, and racism were encouraged to participate in and embrace this "truly historic occasion". While a large percentage of conference attendees came with a specific agenda, it is also true that many people were simply there to meet other non-white anarchists. The original intention was that these proposals were to be discussed over the weekend in a plenary session, for the sole purpose of reaching consensus upon one of them. Here begins our drama.

A week before the conference, BANCO posted a statement on the internet titled "Stop Character Assassination and Sectarianism in the Anarchist People of Color Movement" in response to a critique made by Ernesto and others that Lorenzo had been making decisions about the conference without gaining the approval of members of the conference list serve. It also addressed Ernesto's request that both the BANCO proposal and the network proposal be discussed in workshops rather than a plenary session since fewer than a dozen people who pre-registered for the conference expressed interest in building and APOC organization. BANCO accused Ernesto of "sabotaging the conference because of his political differences with Lorenzo", and having a "sectarian agenda". Ernesto responded by saying that BANCO was "exerting a benevolent authoritarianism", as a way to gain influence and power. Ernesto challenged BANCO's name-calling and attributed it to its (Lorenzo's) inability to deal with disagreements in a productive manner.

The day before the conference BANCO posted a final response to the pandemonium and declared that "Trotskyist and Maoist cults, cloaked in Anarchist colors", had taken over the conference and no member of BANCO would attend. It seems ironic and unfortunately all-too-common that the focus of so much conflict before the conference was rooted in semantic differences between two perspectives historically birthed from the same tradition - a European tradition that sees bigger as better, and values quantity (i.e., the number of members) over quality (i.e., the nature of the relationships between those members).

The rest of the APOC conference consisted of over twenty workshops representing the perceived "prerequisites" of single-issue politics. Heather Ajani, a member of Bring the Ruckus, opened up a discussion in her workshop, "Women of Color and Feminism", that centered on non-white women's relationship to traditional feminism. Gregory Lewis, a Karate instructor who has taught self-defense seminars for Anti-Racist Action, gave an interactive presentation relating to the techniques, concepts and applications of unarmed self-defense. There was a screening of the film Afro-punk: The rock 'n roll nigger experience, directed by James Spooner, who was also present at the conference to answer questions about the documentary. In his workshop, "From Compounds to Congress: White Nationalism in the U.S.", Eric Ward - editor of three books about white supremacy - gave his views on how anti-authoritarians can build frameworks of response to the white nationalist movement. There were multitudes of workshops that dealt with addressing police repression including "Organizing Against Police Repression - The Police and Cruising" by Gabriel Morales, "We Got the Camera: Building Local Copwatch Groups" by Heather Ajani, "Community Alternatives to the NYPD" by Rafael Mutis, and "The Drug War: An Anarchist of Color Response" by Roger White. "Herbs: People's Medicine" by Kwah Waadabi explored ways of taking health care into your own hands. The workshop "Anarchists in the Palestinian Movement" presented by the Student Movement for Justice, opened up a discussion about anarchist and nationalist struggles. "An Introduction and Application to Critical Race Theory for Anarchists" is the title of the workshop RACE presented, which examined the primary concepts of Critical Race Theory and discussed how the ideas and language it creates could help inspire anarchists to move away from adopting the traditional reformist "rights"-based perspective on issues of race and racism.

Our Story After three months of fund raising through bake sales at various anarchist events, Long Haul Infoshop movie nights and even the occasional gross but lucrative liberal function, enough funds were accumulated to justify the already-too-much money spent on plane tickets, car rental and seedy motel room. It was time to face the hard truth: we were going to Detroit.

We have all had the experience of standing against the wall at anarchist events thinking "Damn that's a lot of white people". So the official announcement of the APOC conference was an exciting one. It was the chance to spend a weekend with people who share so many of the same experiences and frustrations, to meet more than just one or two non-white people who share your political outlook, to work with a group of people who want to take the anarchist community in a different, more relevant, direction than the predominantly white movement seems to be going, or to just have that feeling of being a little less an outsider for a few days. All this meant we had to go, we absolutely had to be there. Unfortunately as the time to depart got closer, our spirits were falling and we were questioning our zeal. Nothing in the rhetoric, planning, or behavior of those involved in the conference demonstrated to us that it was going to be anything different than any previous anarchist conference. It seemed like this conference was to follow the form that had already been established.

Calls for unity are never very exciting or interesting; they suggest that it is relevant for people to set aside their differences for the sake of building a supposedly new and potentially influential movement founded upon some generic principle or characteristic we all have in common. We were hesitant to respond to these proposals because they all argued for a cohesive netowrk to be created after one weekend of interaction. The idea of this seemed, at best, forced.

In the name of thrift we flew to Chicago and drove to Detroit. It was a long day, so we showed up at the conference Friday evening just long enough to register and get schedules. The general feeling in the air was one of excitement, and there was no talk at all of the scandal that had immediately preceeded the event. We even approached on of those involved to see how he was holding up, and his response was that it wasn't important and he didn't want to talk about it.

Saturday morning was originally when the general plenary had been scheduled. Since one of the two original proposals was no longer on the table and the other was being introduced in its own workshop, it was decided that time would be used for a general "meet and greet". We went around the room, with people introducing themselves and touting their activist credentials. There were people from all over the country and a couple from South America, and several from various parts of Asia. New York seemed to be represented the strongest, as there were a couple of vanloads of people from there. While there was a mix of young and old, it was a little disappointing to see that BANCO not showing up meant that there weren't very many older anarchists there. The general attitude in the non-white community of respect for one's elders embodies something that the white anarchist community is often lacking. Many anarchists who have been in the fight for decades are first-hand witnesses of what it looks like when the State turns on its own. the perspective, context and insight they can offer is important to the younger members of the community. To have these voices present at an event like this, in a forum where their words would have boomed, would have brought a history and context we don't normally get exposure to.

The rest of Saturday was devoted to workshops. We were really hoping that they would be uncharacteristic, but unfortunately, they were the same mundane and uninteresting workshops that occur at every anarchist conference. Most didn't even go so far as to attempt to inspire an anarchist take that was out of the ordinary or separate from non-anarchist movement politics and rhetoric. Many of the responses people gave in the workshops were concerned with making proposals and voting on them. In the Palestinian Solidarity workshop, for instance, instead of really answering and discussing the question "What does it mean for anarchists to be building solidarity with Nationalist movements/struggles", three proposals were made:

1. Create a platform that addresses issues of colonialism.
2. Go back to your respective states and organize local marches and international boycotts of the military
3. Create a network so that information-sharing can take place among people of color.

These proposals were debated back and forth until the facilitator and the instigators of the proposals concluded that the best way to deal with the situation would be to take a vote. Some people resisted the idea that voting on proposals should be the natural progression of a one-hour conversation. When those people challenged the group they were met with trite comments at best, and complete disregard at worst. Thw workshop on white nationalism was intelligently thought out and abundantly fact-filled, but at the same time inspired nothing more than melancholy, as it was stylistically similar to the dull and droning lectures of those of an academic professor. The point of workshops is to learn something, not sit in class. The highlights were definitely the karate workshop taught by Gregory Lewis of Seattle, and the screening of Afro-punk: The rock 'n roll nigger experience. If you have not yet seen this film, go now! James Spooner puts together an amazing historical and personal tale that anyone who has ever stood on the sidelines feeling like they didn't belong will relate to. Aside from these shining stars, the presentation aspect of the conference was on a par with take your pick of any multi-day anarchist info-event.

What was disappointing about this for us was that we came to this event looking for a very different politic than that normally delivered by the anarchist status quo. We were interested in challenging the state of APOC politics. Our biggest question was, "Is the adopting of civil rights rhetoric the only way non-white people can understand themselves and their politics?" If "unity" means people setting aside, or "diffusing" their differences for the sake of building a movement, what would the actual composition of that look like? Has there ever been a movement that has truly represented the multiplicity of "people of color"?

Rights-based politics is mired in the tradition of thinking about the State and its policies, rules and institutions as things to be changed - as opposed to being eradicated. Simply put, this ideology seeks to reform something that anarchists seek to destroy. All weekend long we were surrounded by discussions of how to find equality and get more assistance from the State to those in need, or how to get the evil politicians to right their wrongs and keep their promises.

Discussion is sorely needed on how to bring communities of color together, rid them of dependence upon the State, and stop waiting on the charity of the political machine to do what's right.

In its wake the event spawned some minor internet scuffles that mostly resulted in non-constructive and attack-like criticisms of people's workshops and behaviors. There was an organized "POC block" at the FTAA protests in Miami, a new network for activists was created to focus on prison solidarity for non-white people, and there will be an APOC art tour this summer. It also generated the incentive for several regional APOC events, one of which has already taken place in DC, with others to come in Philadelphia, Houston, and the Bay Area, all later this year. It isn't that any of these are bad things. It's just that they are predictable. Is this any different than the work that was going on before? Are we having new and interesting conversations that we never could before? Hopefully the regional conferences, being smaller and on a more personal scale, will help take the dialogue in this direction. Perhaps, if we can combine this discussion with the fulfilling sense one gets after hanging out with so many non-white people for a few days, we can come up with relevant anarchist politics that reflect the diversity of cultures that we live with in the world.

Report this post as:

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 2 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Public Apology Makhno Wednesday, Mar. 31, 2004 at 10:41 AM
discussion fodder more rational Wednesday, Mar. 31, 2004 at 7:14 PM

Local News


lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Xyloglossie attitudinale A23 8:07AM

Shadowgun Legends Hack and Cheats A23 7:24AM

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy