By Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan



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the affirmative’s emphasis on an impending apocalypse as the major danger to human life is a direct effacement of the everyday violence of institutionalized racism – the fiction of uniqueness for their extinction impact can only be establish through a genocidal forgetting of the historical world-ending violence of white supremacy


Omolade 89

[1989, Barbara Omolade is a historian of black women for the past twenty years and an organizer in both the women’s and civil rights/black power movements, “We Speak for the Planet” in “Rocking the ship of state : toward a feminist peace politics”, pp. 172-176]



Recent efforts by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan to limit nuclear testing, stockpiling, and weaponry, while still protecting their own arsenals and selling arms to countries and factions around the world, vividly demonstrate how "peace" can become an abstract concept within a culture of war. Many peace activists are similarly blind to the constant wars and threats of war being waged against people of color and the planet by those who march for "peace" and by those they march against. These pacifists, like Gorbachev and Reagan, frequently want people of color to fear what they fear and define peace as they define it. They are unmindful that our lands and peoples have already been and are being destroyed as part of the "final solution" of the "color line." It is difficult to persuade the remnants of Native American tribes, the starving of African deserts, and the victims of the Cambodian "killing fields" that nuclear war is the major danger to human life on the planet and that only a nuclear "winter" embodies fear and futurelessness for humanity. The peace movement suffers greatly from its lack of a historical and holistic perspective, practice, and vision that include the voices and experiences of people of color; the movement's goals and messages have therefore been easily coopted and expropriated by world leaders who share the same culture of racial dominance and arrogance. The peace movement's racist blinders have divorced peace from freedom, from feminism, from education reform, from legal rights, from human rights, from international alliances and friendships, from national liberation, from the particular (for example, black female, Native American male) and the general (human being). Nevertheless, social movements such as the civil rights-black power movement in the United States have always demanded peace with justice, with liberation, and with social and economic reconstruction and cultural freedom at home and abroad. The integration of our past and our present holocausts and our struggle to define our own lives and have our basic needs met are at the core of the inseparable struggles for world peace and social betterment. The Achilles heel of the organized peace movement in this country has always been its whiteness. In this multi-racial and racist society, no allwhite movement can have the strength to bring about basic changes. It is axiomatic that basic changes do not occur in any society unless the people who are oppressed move to make them occur. In our society it is people of color who are the most oppressed. Indeed our entire history teaches us that when people of color have organized and struggled-most especially, because of their particular history, Black people-have moved in a more humane direction as a society, toward a better life for all people.1 Western man's whiteness, imagination, enlightened science, and movements toward peace have developed from a culture and history mobilized against women of color. The political advancements of white men have grown directly from the devastation and holocaust of people of color and our lands. This technological and material progress has been in direct proportion to the undevelopment of women of color. Yet the dayto- day survival, political struggles, and rising up of women of color, especially black women in the United States, reveal both complex resistance to holocaust and undevelopment and often conflicted responses to the military and war. The Holocausts Women of color are survivors of and remain casualties of holocausts, and we are direct victims of war-that is, of open armed conflict between countries or between factions within the same country. But women of color were not soldiers, nor did we trade animal pelts or slaves to the white man for guns, nor did we sell or lease our lands to the white man for wealth. Most men and women of color resisted and fought back, were slaughtered, enslaved, and force marched into plantation labor camps to serve the white masters of war and to build their empires and war machines. People of color were and are victims of holocausts-that is, of great and widespread destruction, usually by fire. The world as we knew and created it was destroyed in a continual scorched earth policy of the white man. The experience of Jews and other Europeans under the Nazis can teach us the value of understanding the totality of destructive intent, the extensiveness of torture, and the demonical apparatus of war aimed at the human spirit. A Jewish father pushed his daughter from the lines of certain death at Auschwitz and said, "You will be a remembrance-You tell the story. You survive." She lived. He died. Many have criticized the Jews for forcing non-Jews to remember the 6 million Jews who died under the Nazis and for etching the names Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Terezin and Warsaw in our minds. Yet as women of color, we, too, are "remembrances" of all the holocausts against the people of the world. We must remember the names of concentration camps such as Jesus, Justice, Brotherhood, and Integrity, ships that carried millions of African men, women, and children chained and brutalized across the ocean to the "New World." We must remember the Arawaks, the Taino, the Chickasaw, the Choctaw, the Narragansett, the Montauk, the Delaware, and the other Native American names of thousands of U.S. towns that stand for tribes of people who are no more. We must remember the holocausts visited against the Hawaiians, the aboriginal peoples of Australia, the Pacific Island peoples, and the women and children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We must remember the slaughter of men and women at Sharpeville, the children of Soweto, and the men of Attica. We must never, ever, forget the children disfigured, the men maimed, and the women broken in our holocausts-we must remember the names, the numbers, the faces, and the stories and teach them to our children and our children's children so the world can never forget our suffering and our courage. Whereas the particularity of the Jewish holocaust under the Nazis is over, our holocausts continue. We are the madres locos (crazy mothers) in the Argentinian square silently demanding news of our missing kin from the fascists who rule. We are the children of El Salvador who see our mothers and fathers shot in front of our eyes. We are the Palestinian and Lebanese women and children overrun by Israeli, Lebanese, and U.S. soldiers. We are the women and children of the bantustans and refugee camps and the prisoners of Robbin Island. We are the starving in the Sahel, the poor in Brazil, the sterilized in Puerto Rico. We are the brothers and sisters of Grenada who carry the seeds of the New Jewel Movement in our hearts, not daring to speak of it with our lipsyet. Our holocaust is South Africa ruled by men who loved Adolf Hitler, who have developed the Nazi techniques of terror to more sophisticated levels. Passes replace the Nazi badges and stars. Skin color is the ultimate badge of persecution. Forced removals of women, children, and the elderly-the "useless appendages of South Africa"-into barren, arid bantustans without resources for survival have replaced the need for concentration camps. Black sex-segregated barracks and cells attached to work sites achieve two objectives: The work camps destroy black family and community life, a presumed source of resistance, and attempt to create human automatons whose purpose is to serve the South African state's drive toward wealth and hegemony. Like other fascist regimes, South Africa disallows any democratic rights to black people; they are denied the right to vote, to dissent, to peaceful assembly, to free speech, and to political representation. The regime has all the typical Nazi-like political apparatus: house arrests of dissenters such as Winnie Mandela; prison murder of protestors such as Stephen Biko; penal colonies such as Robbin Island. Black people, especially children, are routinely arrested without cause, detained without limits, and confronted with the economic and social disparities of a nation built around racial separation. Legally and economically, South African apartheid is structural and institutionalized racial war. The Organization of African Unity's regional intergovernmental meeting in 1984 in Tanzania was called to review and appraise the achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women. The meeting considered South Africa's racist apartheid regime a peace issue. The "regime is an affront to the dignity of all Africans on the continent and a stark reminder of the absence of equality and peace, representing the worst form of institutionalized oppression and strife." Pacifists such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi who have used nonviolent resistance charged that those who used violence to obtain justice were just as evil as their oppressors. Yet all successful revolutionary movements have used organized violence. This is especially true of national liberation movements that have obtained state power and reorganized the institutions of their nations for the benefit of the people. If men and women in South Africa do not use organized violence, they could remain in the permanent violent state of the slave. Could it be that pacifism and nonviolence cannot become a way of life for the oppressed? Are they only tactics with specific and limited use for protecting people from further violence? For most people in the developing communities and the developing world consistent nonviolence is a luxury; it presumes that those who have and use nonviolent weapons will refrain from using them long enough for nonviolent resisters to win political battles. To survive, peoples in developing countries must use a varied repertoire of issues, tactics, and approaches. Sometimes arms are needed to defeat apartheid and defend freedom in South Africa; sometimes nonviolent demonstrations for justice are the appropriate strategy for protesting the shooting of black teenagers by a white man, such as happened in New York City. Peace is not merely an absence of 'conflict that enables white middleclass comfort, nor is it simply resistance to nuclear war and war machinery. The litany of "you will be blown up, too" directed by a white man to a black woman obscures the permanency and institutionalization of war, the violence and holocaust that people of color face daily. Unfortunately, the holocaust does not only refer to the mass murder of Jews, Christians, and atheists during the Nazi regime; it also refers to the permanent institutionalization of war that is part of every fascist and racist regime. The holocaust lives. It is a threat to world peace as pervasive and thorough as nuclear war.



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