Mapping the Limits of Social Movement Organizing: Comité 21 Maart

What is often overlooked in glib renderings of oppression is the historic role of democracy and the law in maintaining and facilitating anti-black practices. Anthony Paul Farley remarks in “Sadomasochism and the Colorline: Reflections on the Million Man March” that the justice system produces “the very spectacle — black criminality — upon which it relies to justify its existence”. We cannot ignore the fact that the relationship that Black people have with the law has historically been a violent one. Neither can we brush over the fact that the thingification of Black bodies was sanctioned by law. Last year, a judge ruled in a court case brought against Zwarte Piet’s presence (during the arrival of Sinterklaas) “that it must be clear in what way the figure of Zwarte Piet oversteps the legal bounds”. The Court sided with the mayor of Amsterdam and ruled that “the objections are not sufficient in order to argue that public order is at stake”. A society’s conception of public order — that is, a reflection of societal norms of conduct, and so on — rests on policing practices, which, as we all know, disproportionately impact racialized groups. What troubled me was the fact that the “current” convergence was framed as extraordinary. Over and over the speakers stressed that racism is getting worse. I wondered, and am still wondering, what they meant by racism is getting worse — which not only obscures the historic embeddedness and mundane nature of racism, but also confuses the upsurge of undisguised racism with sudden and consistent increases in degrees of intensity.

Egbert Alejandro Martina in Mapping the Limits of Social Movement Organizing: Comité 21 Maart (Processed Life)