6. Black studies in the 1960s starts where no one wanted it to end—in student self-organization.
— low end theory (@touchfaith) February 26, 2015
from Queer Ultraviolence: A Bash Back! Anthology, by Fray Baroque & Tegan Eanelli
On Saturday night of the convergence, a now-infamous queer dance party on the El train turned into a spontaneous and illegal march in the streets. Hundreds of people paraded through Chicago’s assimilationist gay neighborhood, Boystown. The atmosphere was joyous, with people dancing wildly and wearing lingerie as masks. Some were completely naked except for their face coverings. The police subsequently attacked the peaceful yet illegal march. People near the back of the march began to place newspaper boxes into the street to stop the police from running queers down. At this point, shameful people in the crowd removed the boxes and screamed, “This is not polite!” With the boxes back on the sidewalk, the pigs were able to injure participants with their cars. The march ended with four people in jail, and one person hospitalized after a police cruiser intentionally drove over their foot.
The following morning, leftist-seeming elements at the convergence ﬂung wild conspiracy theories to disrupt the original radical predisposition of Bash Back! Although there was no black bloc and not a single window was smashed, spineless “outside agitators” claimed they were tricked into participating in a black bloc, and put into harm’s way. Some thought the march was oppressive because there was no consensus to have a riot. First of all, if those people thought that march was a riot, they clearly have no idea what a riot is. Had there been a spontaneous riot, what are the rioters supposed to do? Are they supposed to sit in the middle of the street, in front of the police and vote on whether or not to ﬁght the police?
Many white attendees who had ﬂocked to Chicago from the coasts claimed the spontaneous Bash Back! action was racist. When queer people of color from the Midwest countered otherwise, they were met with a brief silence followed by white people proclaiming that the “black bloc” was indeed racist. These “anti-racist” whites added that the partiers on the train exposed Black people to queerness, which was also “racist.” By the logic of these white “anti-racists,” there must be no queer people of color. The whites and cisgendered people insisted the action was also transphobic, despite trans people telling them not to speak for trans people. Some men even went on to call the actions of women “manarchist.” In a tone implying his guilt, Eric Stanley, of the defunct Gay Shame San Francisco, and now a lecturer at the University of California Santa Cruz, cattily said to a Bash Back! organizer, “Just so you know, people are descending upon Bash Back! to destroy it.”
Lez-be-real here. Propaganda for the convergence said things like, “You bring the balaclavas, orgies, and riot.” There were posters with images of riﬂes, riots, and people brandishing assorted weapons. Had any one of the people who objected to the street march on the basis that it was oppressive or unsafe read a flier, poster, communiqué, or for that matter, anything Bash Back! produced? lt was absolutely clear what kind of people would be attending the Convergence and the tactics Bash Back! advocated were even more clear.
Liberal provocateurs used any sort of identity politics to shade their own cowardice. When the very people these leftists claimed to represent (people of color, transfolks) countered the liberal narrative, they were silenced in the name of anti-racism and trans-solidarity. Rather than admitting their fear and guilt, “anarcho-liberals” fall back on racist tactics of refusal. They ignore, isolate, and alienate people of color (minus a few tokens) to create their own Twilight Zone anti-racist narrative. The Bash Back! tendency was the antithesis of leftist identity politics. The 2009 Convergence was when these two tendencies finally came head to head.
from destroy the scene: BROS FALL BACK
Advocates for Youth have defined a “safe space” as:
“A place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability; a place where the rules guard each person’s self-respect and dignity and strongly encourage everyone to respect others.”
“I think many people who use this language either believe that one can create a safe space in this world, or are limited by the language they have picked up in these subcultures. The need for spaces where one can feel comfort, physical security, love, and support is real, but, outside of specific moments, this is impossible without the total destruction of this world.” –VirulentFlowers
We often delude ourselves as punks or radicals; we act as though we’ve made a complete break with our cultures, as if we’ve created a space free of domination. We seem to think that we can simply walk away and leave it all behind. If we really want to actualize the spaces we want we’ll have to do better than that; we’ll need to burn the bridges behind us.
Safe spaces don’t exist. We can attempt to protect each other, and even make moves to screen who we deal with but until we end the world there’s no way we’ll ever be safe, even amongst ourselves. We’ve all gone to similar messed up schools, grown up among creeps, liars and bullies and we can’t simply undo everything that has led us to become the people we’ve become, not without actively unlearning who we are, and without undoing what made us. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t take care of each other, heal each other and empower each other, only that we need to understand our context. That we are surrounded by misogyny, white supremacy and every other form of domination that holds this world together. We should probably acknowledge pre-existing hostilities.
Starting from a place of hostility, what would it mean to keep each other safe, to protect each other in our spaces, to hold our ground and potentially take more?
http://youtube.com/user/DeAndreSmithREVO is a 2014 sculpture installation by amerikkkan artist DeAndre Smith. The sculpture is individually recreated in one of several different forms each time the viewer requests to see it by entering appropriate search terms into the multinational corporation Google’s popular web search engine. In each Google search he applied a different system of change to each of twenty-four possible combinations of results divided into four types , each containing one of the four basic types of lines Smith used (anti-policing, black liberationist, insurrectionary, and counter-hegemonic). The result is four possible permutations for each of the twenty-four original searches.
Smith has been the subject of hundreds of solo exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world since 1965. For more on DeAndre Smith and his work, we’ve compiled recordings of the artist in conversation with members of the media below.