CRC Statement of Clarity on Community Engagement
December 21st, 2015
CRC is an organization that combats white supremacy and actively builds & supports self determination in disenfranchised communities. We believe that in order to truly build self determination, our organization must actively build power wherever power is being expressed. One of the tactics we use towards this end is that we work to operate effectively in what we call “the 3 Arenas of Engagement:”
the Reactive Arena (when the State attacks our people, we must respond)
the Relief/Reform Arena (exploiting opportunities to win and implement reforms within the current system to provide material relief for disenfranchised people & increase our chances of survival)
and the Revolutionary Arena (system change)
We want to be very clear that CRC, as an organization, seeks to abolish white supremacy and replace the white power structure with institutions that serve the needs of disenfranchised people. We recognize that the systems we live under are not “broken;” they are doing exactly what they are designed to do - to disenfranchise, destroy, and kill Black people and other oppressed communities.
However, we are not going to sit in our ivory intellectual towers, critiquing the people who we claim to “advocate for.” We will battle abstract Leftism forever. Our belief is that we need to consistently assess, analyze, and engage with our folks - the best theory in the world is nothing without everyday practice. We recognize that struggle is never pure, perfect, or without contradictions. While the playing field may not be ideal, we have to get in the game.
Engaging in the Reactive and Relief/Reform Arenas requires the practice of Point of Unity Organizing - building principled coalitions around common goals/points of unity. This requires us to find principled and effective ways of working with folks who don’t necessarily share our radical politics. We are fully committed to meeting people where they are - at the points of unity we can already agree on (“Stop killing us!”). Through the process of deep engagement, solidarity and struggle, we work to progress the political understanding and concrete capabilities of our communities so that we can build real self determination. While we may have our own organizational objectives, we recognize that we must consistently submit ourselves to the people. Our own political vision and strategy is constantly being impacted, informed and adjusted by the needs of the people. At the same time, we are aware for the need for strong, radical Black leadership in our communities. We don’t apologize for attempting to establish this leadership within our own community because we recognize that the current leadership consists primarily of representatives of the white power structure, folks who don’t have the intentions or the capabilities to lead the people to a place where self determination can become real. We strive to serve, defend, and win the hearts and minds of our people through our work.
The struggle for (a measure of) justice for Mario Woods is fundamentally a Reactive Arena struggle - it is a defensive, response-based engagement. The State murdered our brother Mario, and we have a duty to respond. The central demand of Justice for Mario Woods (and the broader national movement against police terrorism) is simple: “STOP KILLING US.” This is not something that Black people should have to struggle for - to simply live, without fear of being gunned down in the street by police - but here we are. When they ask us “What do you want?” when we protest, when we shut it down, when we engage in civil and less-civil acts of disobedience, “STOP KILLING US” is the central demand of this reactive struggle.
While we are in full support of the Justice for Mario Woods list of community demands,, we want to highlight what we call the “Transformational Nature of White Supremacy:” the phenomenon in which the white power structure will adjust, adapt and even progress with our every move, and with every concession we win. For example, the abolition of slavery was a concession from the white power structure, which then adjusted and adapted to create other systems of domination, from share-cropping to Jim Crow to the prison-industrial complex - an apparatus that legalized forced labor & captivity as “punishment for a crime,” successfully obfuscating the role of white supremacy in that system and creating a “color-blind,” “fair” system that is just as effective at killing Black people, destroying Black communities, and increasing profits for the white power structure in the process. We’re clear that it’s necessary to work with the masses to accelerate the process of winning strategic concessions in a way that actually outpaces the white power structure’s ability to transform and progress so we can win. In order to do this, we need to keep our heads up and our eyes open - to think critically and struggle with each other in a principled manner as we formulate demands, develop strategy, and deliberate over tactics.
We are clear that it will take more than one organization, more than one tactic, more than one movement to actually achieve self determination for the disenfranchised. We have no aspiration to dictate or control this process, or to engage in what we call “imperialist organizing practices” that seek to emulate the empire by dominating the people. Our method of engagement is through contribution - not conquest, not control, not co-optation. Through consistent engagement in all 3 Arenas, and through the practice of Point of Unity organizing, we are working to build multi-national, multi-tendency, multi-generational, multi-organizational mass movements that can actually win a better world for our people and for all people.