Intro to Anarkata – Mapping Our Legacy (The Narrative of Black Freedom Struggle)

[At top of graphic in sky blue letters on a dark blue background “Anarkata Freedom School Kritical Kickback Series”. At the bottom in red letters on dark blue background “Intro to Anarkata”. Underneath that in sky blue letters on dark blue background “Thursday August 6th 7:30-9pm”. Text is set on background featuring a Black panther lounging on a red-orange colored cliffside against the backdrop of stars and wide, periwinkle colored moon.]

Started with some live music/singing (ring shout) to set the space: 

        “Those who wait…

        Will mount up on eagle’s wings

        Like our ancestors who could fly

        We will rise, we will rise.’

        Those who fight…

        Will mount up on eagle’s wings

        Like our ancestors who could fly

        We will rise, we will rise.”

  • Introductions of our names, pronouns, orgs if applicable, remember there is no pressure to introduce oneself or speak
  • Kickback disclaimer:

“The Anarkata Kickbacks are a chill, conversation based learning space. There should be no transphobia, homophobia, fatphobia, ableism, misogynoir, colorism, classism, sexism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism or any other harmful behavior in the virtual space. Likewise, our conversational norms prioritize the voices of the most marginal among us in the virtual space. That means that we pass the mic to our marginalized fam when they have something to say and refrain from cutting them off. We also pass the mic when others want to speak who aren’t normally as vocal. While I might be one person involved in facilitating the space, know that anyone can take the initiative to facilitate if they feel moved to do so and do not violate our conversational norms. People are also free to not engage or even leave as they please.”

  • If there is a word you are unfamiliar with let us know especially things specific to Anarkata. Let’s engage in good faith.
  • Context on Black August: “During Black August, radicals commemorate the struggles of our incarcerated (and formerly incarcerated) community members, family, friends, and kin. First organized in the prisons of California in the 70s to honor fallen Freedom Fighters, Jonathan Jackson, George Jackson, William Christmas, James McClain, and Khatari Gaulden, the “Black August” tradition aims to honor Black political prisoners and the ongoing legacy of resistance against slavery… But, historically speaking, Black August has often put focus on the contributions and struggles of cis/het and abled Black men, overshadowing the lives and liberatory contributions of Black and disabled women and other maGes. We know for a fact, however that it is Black trans and disabled folk on the front lines of anti-black criminalization and State/capitalist violence. Since 2019, the Afrofuturist Abolitionists of the Americas has been working to redefine Black August intersectionally, through a series of Kritical Kickbacks framed around Black Anarchic Radical politic. Each Kickback is different, and has different hosts, etc. This one opened with music and will end with a libation.
  • Talked about the first section in How We Roll: Suggestions for Organizing as Anarkatas where we map our legacy/trajectory of radicalism from lessons learned in the history of STAR, BLA, BPP and how/why they inspire Anarkata politics. In particular, STAR is inspirational. We took a pause to reflect. What jumps out to you here?
  • “Oooo that ingenuity hitting”” (response to convo on our keeping tradition alive)
  • “We go directly to 60s/70s organizations such as the BPP, BLA, and STAR because during that time mad uprisings and riots and movements were popping off all over the world all at once to destroy the white power structure. Sylvia Wynter teaches us that this worldwide challenge was part of a broad anti-colonial upheaval, even it was eventually suppressed or coopted by the Man. Collectively, the movements of the mid-to-late 20th century broke down various forms of white power over the economic, cultural, environmental, as well as racial and gender/sexual levels of human life. Six of the major results from that time period that we still live with today are flag independence for formerly colonized nations, as well as civil and workers’ rights (including for disabled and queer/trans folk), environmental protections, community welfare programs, and a change in consciousness toward Black self love, toward a drive for self-naming/self-defining, and an understanding that all Black people globally are united as one people. This inspires Anarkatas. 

But the fight is not over. Surface level changes in the laws/politics and even cultural consciousness of global society have failed to fully guarantee us freedom, even if we have a few measures of safety. Over the last few decades, we have begun to experience a wider and wider gap between rich and poor all over the world, and mass environmental destruction, as well as steady genocides against our people through the corporations, prisons, police, hospitals, schools, and the military. Representation of our people within white systems/media has not promised us anything worthwhile at all, and often times our representatives betray the interests of the collective for their own benefit. And xenophobic narratives continue to be sown in our communities in order to divide us so we can throw our most vulnerable siblings under the bus and betray each other. Many legal protections are often denied anyway and even being rapidly taken away. All of this has left our people and the entire planet vulnerable to death and destitution. And meanwhile, the liberatory traditions that were so impactful in the 60s/70s, are still being suppressed and marginalized—labelled ‘terroristic’ and suffering widespread repression. 

Every time the enemy has tried to crush our lineages, however, our ancestors have found a way to revitalize them. When our Afrikan ancestors were violently invaded in the Motherland Afrika, and some were made into chattel/property for European capitalist/colonizers, we fought in our homelands to keep alive our people’s legacies so that we would be able to work out our own problems and control our own destinies. Anti-colonial and national liberation movements find their origin then. When the Man forced us into slave ships and shackles, we fought on the seas, hijacked the vessels, or even jumped into the oceans in pursuit of freedom and autonomy. Anti-slavery movements find their origin then. When we were brought to the Americas and other places, forced to work in brutal conditions to build societies that hate and exploit us, we still fought and fought and escaped and created independant social lives/structures. Maroon communities, religious/spiritual organizations, proto-anarchist initiatives, and early Black feminist as well as Black queer resistance—all of these find their origin then. 

Each time a roadblock came, we would find a new way to apply our heritages of resistance in a way that adapted to new challenges/conditions. In Brazil, for example, as the kkkolonizer sought to suppress our combat/fighting styles, Afro-Brazilians found a way to keep their martial arts training alive through capoeira. To develop capoeira, our ancestors had to discover how to get around the fact that fighting was outlawed. They did it by using dance to revitalize and disguise their fighting systems. Similarly, in the US, as the kkkolonizer sought to suppress our musical communication/ritual styles, Afro-Americans found a way to keep our rhythm-based spiritual systems alive through the ring shout. To develop the ring shout, our ancestors had to discover how to get around the fact that religious congregation was outlawed and drums were banned. They did it by using coded songs and their bodies out in the bush/woods to revitalize and disguise their spiritual/communication systems. In both instances, something new was born in order to adapt to new challenges, all while keeping our lineage of resistance alive. While the legacy was being crushed, it was not and never has been, static or dead. Anarkatas keep this same energy. 

People like Assata Shakur, CeCe McDonald, Kuwasi Balagoon, Miss Major, Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, and Ashanti Alston are some of the people who have given Anarkatas the understandings we need to fortify and revitalize our revolutionary legacy so that we can overcome the challenges we face. There are many other influences too, past and present, from throughout the world wherever Afrikan/Black people live, breathe, and organize, well known and unknown. They have gone by many names, taken on many labels, advanced many movements. ”Anarkata” trajectories are like a cumulative outgrowth of of their diverse contributions (and a response to their limitations).” (Mapping Our Legacy: The Narrative of Black Freedom Struggle)

  • Pause for questioning after the ”Cece Mcdonald” paragraph. Any other examples come to mind or should be included in examples of this ingenuity?
  • ”Im just thrown by our resilience.”
  • Host references Ashanti Alston:

“… [our Blackness is..] not so much as an ethnic category but… an oppositional force or touchstone for looking at situations differently. Black culture has always been oppositional and is all about finding ways to creatively resist oppression. So, when I speak of a Black anarchism, it is not so tied to the color of my skin but who I am as a person, as someone who can resist, who can see differently when I am stuck, and thus live differently.”

  • ”Thas why we say we the wild thing Man cannot house!”
  • ”I think about the ways we maintained community, ie caretaking when they seperated families on the plantation”
  • ”Honestly ballroom, questioning family/community, especially when Black peeople have been forced to be that creative/resilient.”
  • Host speaks about while ballroom didnt originate where they were from, what they did know was the forms of care work led by mothers and queens in the ballroom scene existed among Black queer and trans folk in their local area. Recounts an experience about seeing LGBT youth failed by nonprofits, but knowing that drag queens were the ones always showing up for the young people.
  • “We got a whole bunch of cousins because mama always taking everyone in. Biological family could be so easily broken but if you around long enough, someone will just [informally] adopt you.” ”We have done that since slavery, through jim crow, and mass incarceration and mass deportation… [we] understand family in [alternative] ways.”
  • Cohost: ‘This is making me think of the Anarkata Statement, the Praxis section, literally the first few paragraphs:

“Anarkata praxis seeks to consolidate a revolutionary proposition around already existing cultures of opposition in Black/Afrikan life. Anarkata praxis strives to combat transmisogynoir, homophobia, and patriarchy through prioritizing the voices and leadership of trans Black women and non-men as crucial to the survival of our communities. Hierarchy anchors the way that Black people can be held captive, making Black trans women and other non-men exposed to more extreme vulnerabilities and violences. They must be at the center of Anarkata struggle in the total liberation of all Black people. Anarkatas understand Black trans women as being positioned at the very bottom of the gender hierarchy and as a result are subjected to large amounts of violence, while Black cis men are at the top of the gender hierarchy in the Black community and experience the most benefits relative to other members of the Black community.

Because of this, it is crucial and of utmost importance that Black trans women and Black QTGNC people are broadly supported and cultivated as leaders of revolution. By leadership, we mean respected and affirmed in our capacity and skill to readily take initiative in matters concerning Black liberation, including the drive to spread such capacity and skills so as to spread leadership (ex: the ways Black Queer folk organically intervene in houselessness by forming alternate homeplaces).”

  • ”That’s huge”
  • ”We are geniuses like that”
  • “It is because of this class-aware understanding of hierarchy, and our critical outlook on how race and gender condition access and oppression, that Anarkatas prioritize concrete and material change. We want to understand our positions in society, and put an end to our social or economic or racial or gender or sexual oppressions, so we focus on what actions we have to take to meet our material needs and take our power back. Anarkata is not just about lofty abstract ideals and a belief that we all matter and have value or deserve freedom. A belief/ideal is not enough to liberate anyone.” (Mapping our Legacy: The Narrative of Black Freedom Struggle)
  • ”They were saying some real shit thought! Idealism only goes so far without action for those in need. I remember Frederick Douglass said something like ”I prayed 20 years and I got no answer till I prayed with my legs.”
  • ”Many people’s first experience with anarchism is in settler organizations. This might be traumatizing. It is not that we ‘someday’ need a commune, we are hungry now. The need is immediate [unlike for white leftists]. That sort of lofty idealism… without movement leaves alot of us feeling flat, disoriented, pissed off. It doesn’t see the urgency in our communities, our homes, our lives…”
  • ”Exactly that. It pushed me away for a bit. And white settler organizations were focusing on shit that wasn’t immediate.”
  • ‘[even for Black people] getting started can be so difficult”
  • “For context, it was necessary to invoke “Anarkata” in the Black freedom struggle out of a recognition that our oppression is so volatile that only non-hierarchical and non-masculinist organizations can make our movements indomitable, ungovernable. ”Anarkata” recognizes that the oppression of the Motherland and its peoples is the basis of all modern oppressions; that Afrika continues to be robbed by neocolonial rule and caged by US military forces, which enriches capitalism and worsens ecological catastrophe, threatening all lifeforms. Anarkata says we therefore need an all-encompassing movement for Black people that builds from the ground for the liberation of all. Anarkata says that liberation cannot be skewed toward just straight men, or those in the US or who speak English, or to those who are able-bodied, or those who are not in prison or who are not forced to live on the streets, or even to just liberation of humanity. In other words, we realize the need for another age of widespread liberation movements, beyond borders and binaries, and we know that centering Africa/Africanness is the only way to sit in the heart and the horizons of what has become a truly planetary struggle.” (Mapping Our Legacy: The Narrative of Black Freedom School)
  • How are folks feeling so far?
  • ”Im fucking wit it”
  • ”I think i struggle translating words to action but im here with you”
  • ”Makes me want to continue the work im already doing. Just wish i had more support.”
  • ”I love it”
  • The cohost speaks about the spaces where Anarkata was clarified: queer and trans Black disabled people gave a name and synthesis to a broad based Black Anarchic Radical trajectory. This largely happened online. “I say this to say: there is an effective use of social media that is possible. If you feel isolated, just know that Anarkatas have demonstrated viable and powerful offline networks of radical action that first coalesced in the political education and mutual aid networks that have been built through the internet. And this is true for many Black Anarchic Radicals. The internet can be toxic, full of clout chasing, trash, but there is a way to use it in a principled fashion.”
  • ”White leftist spaces spend so much time arguing about the most insignificant shit.”
  • ”Niggas be discussing the differences of trotsky and lenin but wont trot out of their house and lend a hand to the niggas outside.”
  • ”Theory is cool, but theory without action aint shit’ – Fred Hampton
  • ”The anarkata statement, this Black august kickback series, all came about online. I dont want you to think that you have to be in the streets or go to every assembly to be real… Take the time now to… be able to explain to folks why you doing what you doin.”
  • ”These are things i been thinking about recently in how to use online platforms responsibly and not in counterrevolutionary ways”
  • ”The biggest things i was looking for in (black) leftist spaces was and at least some incorporation of oppression from ableism and cisheteropatriarchy in their analysis of class struggle. It gave me whiplash how much disability and queer/trans/gnc struggle were centered in the statement”
  • ”Let us also add that the Statement did not arise in the academy. It arose on the ground, in the hood, with working class Black disabled and trans and gender nonconforming revolutionaries…”
  • ”Alot of times when we are put in touch with these [radical] concepts, it erases our Blackness… Too often we find ourselves hesitant about anarchic traditions [because of this] because we let… examples [from Black folk] get left out. Most Black people who do things to keep us safe will not use words from the academy or settler leftism to describe what they are doing. What that causes is a break… We dont really move the same way a theorist might.”
  • ”I felt so at home reading the Anarkata Statement”
  • ”We wanna look at STAR, BLA, BPP, SQuAD… We are really examining those from the standpoint of abolition and an [anti-colonial] outlook. It brings life. We get gaslit by white leftists as if we dont know what we are talking about, we dont know what we should put our energies toward… but these anarchic traditions, these ancestors… that stuff is worth our time. It is worth putting our effort. Everyone should put that sort of time, that sort of respect into our history.. In its entirety. Not just in terms of their successes, but even in the ways they failed so we can leave that shit behind. There is a reason we use the sankofa so many different times in the Afrofuturist Abolitionists of the Americas because it means ”go back and fetch it.” Take from the ancestors while creating a new beginning. We can do that but only if we are brave enough to go back.”
  • ”I think we need to abolish this toxic perfectionism so we can count less successful operations as just learning opportunities.”
  • ”Yeah! Acknowledging where we are hitting the mark and where we fuck up!””
  • Host emphasises that this is essential to making sure we can have accountability and growth and learning in our movements, groups, organizations, our goals.
  • ”I love [anarkata] spaces because i feel supported and it gives me confidence. I dont fear screwing up here.”
  • ”That taking what you need part is real, and it reminds me of one of the lines in the general statement that was like ”we can never return to the past” but rather must work on a new future.”
  • ”That’s a huge fear for me.”
  • ”I figure if im already socially dead, that makes me immortal. Dead people have no constraints. If I already know that white supremacy doesnt value me, see my humanity in the way I see it, then I am free from that sort of humanity. I can move in any way. There is almost no absolute failure there. If we are talking about ontological deadness, and as an aside im not a huge fan of the Afropessimists [who] dont cite Black women and redefine their scholarship, but there is [no limit] to what I can do if I am not sociopolitically recognized as alive…”
  • ”I really resonate with that. Wherever oppression exists, resistance exists. If we are dead, and our oppression is so harsh, our liberation struggle is so powerful. The fear of the end of the world [in the Anarkata Statement’] is a fear of our struggle.”’
  • ”That section is a call to action. Come get your life. If you are already dead, we need to get our life. We need to go back to our ancestors, where we have that value, bring it back and bring that life back. Now queer lingo takes on a different resonance when you look at it from this perspective.””
  • We took time to pour out some libations and our cohost read the Black August Libationary:

    “We pour one out for all our niggas: for the nomads, the ungoverned, the refugees, the lil friends, the kinfolk, the pirates, the runaways, the maroons, the insurgents, the gworls, the spiritual leaders, the guerrilla warriors, the maGes, the street queens, the rioters.  And all the wild things Man cannot house. 

And we pour one for all those who are forgotten and unprotected

All those who aren’t allowed to love or live as themselves freely

All those who fought and died

for our freedom

For all our people wherever they are,

and for our homeland, and for our planet

For all beings, even those who are not human,

and for all the people everyone says are less than human

And for all people whose brains work different or whose bodies work different 

And for all those in prison or on the street

For all power to all the people. Asé.”

  • Black august helps us refocus bc black radicalism already tends toward abolition. And not just abolition of prison but of all forms of oppression
  • We want folk to move in intentionality. It takes time. Think. Study. Figure out where you align in a narrative. ”We hold ourselves to a narrative and a praxis, not a party. Organizations come and go but community is forever. We all need mythologies. Choose one where we are free.”
  • Invited folks to other Kickbacks and also for folks to host their own Kickbacks and even get facilitation help from us or other Black radicals. ”We have alot of people with alot of complementary knowledge and experiences. Your resources are your comrades. Everyone has something that is necessary, something to teach.”

Suggested Resources:

[Image description: black and white photo, a group of young people engaged in protest, one of them raises their fist in Black Power salute. A large letter ”A” encircled–the anarchist emblem–is decorated in red, black, and green (the Pan African colors), with the black bar decorated with stars and giving off a cosmic feel. the following words, in red, black, and green hang to the right of this emblem: ”Anarkata: A Statement, Part II Anarkata Tradition]

The STAR Manifesto

Look for me in the Whirlwind by The Panther 21

Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color by Kimberle Crenshaw

Rapping With a Street Trans Action Revolutionary – An Interview with Marsha P Johnson

War Against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America by Huey P Newton

The War Before by Safiya Bukhari

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

Message to the Black Movement by the Black Liberation Army

Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson: Listen to the Newly Unearthed Interview with Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries by Women at the Center

African Anarchism by Sam Mbah and I.E. Igariwey

The Black Liberation Struggle in Philadelphia by Russell Maroon Shoatz

We Will Return in the Whirlwind: Black Radical Organizations 1960-1975 by Muhammad Ahmad


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