“Palestine will be free before I am.”: Black Black and Identity Power Politics

Annie Teriba


Debates around the nature of political blackness are resurfacing. In the UK, there are demands that the NUS Black Students Campaign change its name and we continue to see Palestinian solidarity organising charged with “appropriating black struggle”. Concurrently, in the US, we saw #MuslimLivesMatter accused of appropriation and critiques of Obama’s continued imperialist policies in the Middle East shot down as “anti-Black”. We face a political landscape where, among some sections which claim the heritage of black liberation, calls to defend the civil liberties of an Ethiopian Israeli Defence Forces soldier within an apartheid state resonate more deeply than the liberation of the Palestinian people.

Generations of anticolonial solidarity is losing ground to an opposition which is primarily rooted in a reading of race through the purportedly theoretical framework of “anti-blackness”. This paper seeks to interrogate the theoretical limitations of “anti-Blackness” as an analysis of racialized oppression. I will argue that the theories of “anti-blackness” are incongruous with the nature of race – particularly in a post 9/11 world – showing that it guts antiracist organising of an account of concrete social relations. Further to this, I will draw from my research on the Black Panthers to argue that the particular territoriality of predominant rejections of political blackness are derived from a black tradition which has historically been associated with the right. Thus, I contend that, against a politics of affect, the true mantle of the Black radical left of the 1960s can only be carried a materialist racial politics which sees the inextricability of the universal and the particular.

Anti-colonialism - Arab - Black - racism - Anti-blackness - Palestine - Black Panthers - privilege theory