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The Carletonian

Voting is not harm reduction

The timing of this article is a bit late, but nonetheless it must be said. Whether or not your electoral, or uninformed, heart can take it, voting is not harm reduction. Thus, your centering of voting in your “activism” or organizing, which inherently pressures, harasses, and scapegoats voter-suppressed marginalized communities, is violent. It is violent in the sense that it does not recognize that this country is founded upon systems and tools of extermination: genocide, slavery, concentration camps, white supremacy, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, capitalism, settler-colonialism, prison-industrial-complex, prisons, and many more. Beyond that lack of recognition, however, exists the literal contradiction that happens when you center voting as the panacea when in actuality, it is reinforcing and perpetuating these systems. How so, you may ask? It is because you are working through liberalism, and at times rebranded as a multiculturalist framework. Liberalism makes you strongly hold that through more diversity and inclusion into these structures of power, we will be liberated; but I ask you to reconsider who is this “we”? It certainly will not be Black undocumented trans sex workers – one of the most marginalized communities ever, but also the ones doing the most work in regards to abolition. 

In addition, we can see your hypocrisy and your lack of understanding of what it means to actually liberate and support the most marginalized as your efforts are not even reflected when current peers require assistance. Let me ask you: did you donate to the Ujamaa Collective, did you vote on the cultural fund initiative, did you open your wealthy, white purses when it came to mutual aid projects or reparations for Black, indigenous queer and trans folx, or was that one Black Lives Matter rally enough for you? Did you find satisfaction in performatively placing ACAB or BLM in your bios, in posting “quirky” photo ops, or perhaps in signing petitions for the Carleton administration to have a taskforce on anti-racist training? The point is, these actions do not amount to much, especially if you are non-Black, white, cishet, able-bodied, a citizen, etc. when you have not taken the time to sharpen your mind as a way to uncover the carceral, anti-Black violence that is inherent in our existence. 

Many of you will posit that it does not have to be a binary choice, and I agree, for having a goal toward abolition is not binary at all; it is imaginative and deeply grounded in a rich history with tangible solutions that do not rely on this imperial core state (the United States). However, you cannot honestly tell me or any of my fellow colonized communities that your phone banking, canvassing, and campaign tactics for the Biden-Harris 2020 ticket is doing “both” when in actuality you are providing a stamp of approval. You are perpetuating and approving not only the process of de-radicalization but also the literal violence that will happen under this administration (which is already happening). Further examples include the enactment of more drug crminalization policies, which will then massively increase prisons (much akin to slavery continued) and the concentration camps at the border because we have Miss KKKopmala as VP, and the king-of-domestic-and-international-war-crimes Biden as president. This does not even scratch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the horrendous U.S. foreign policy on Latin America, Africa, and other colonized occupations like Palestine. Therefore, you cannot claim sustainability or plans for climate change if it does not include decolonization (as per Frantz Fanon’s definition: “Decolonization is always a violent event.”), which is at least returning the land  to indigenous communities. Some of you then will read this sliver of violent policies I have listed and bark at me with “so you would rather Trump be president?” That to me, is a clear indicator that you have not understood what I am communicating whatsoever. If that is your go-to ace to shut down grassroots abolitionist or communist organizers who have been putting in the work to free their communities through creative methods that center community-care, then you need to sit down in your little corner of liberalism, prop open some books, and read. 

You do not have the lived experience that grants you the ability to effectively speak on this subject.  It does not matter if you have taken political science courses at Carleton. It does not matter whatever your Ph.D. white professors in Political Science, Economics, or any other harmful discipline claim. The people who are having their communities ripped apart and massacred for the utter and total accumulation of capital probably have a better grasp of what these structures are, and what solutions there should be. 

For my fellow colonized people who may feel the same and argue for a “lesser-of-two-evils,” my emails are open for a good-faith basis conversation because I will always hold space for you. 

Now I do not have the space to run you through a crash course on political education that is vital to the liberation from these dreadfully violent socioeconomic conditions; however, I can break down long-term and short-term solutions and attach a reading list to start. 

Long-term: abolition of the state (if this sounds scary, I invite you to research the 8 to Abolition movement) 

Short-term (that doesn’t require complicity with the colonizer): mutual aid projects such as GoFundMe, Venmo-ing, community-based housing projects for unhoused gender non-conforming and trans people, political education for the masses, radical zine-making, protests (which cannot be peaceful or at least palatable to the state!), and listening to the needs of the community. 

For more information on any of these complicated, interdisciplinary topics here are some brilliant, accessible scholars who have also done organizing and have written about their lived experiences of marginalization. If the communist texts put you off – that is for you to sit with why you feel that way. I will not be unpacking your U.S. imperial core propaganda. So before you get all up in arms about what has been said thus far, please I urge you with all the love in my heart to read Assata Shakur, W.E.B. Du Bois, Franz Fanon, Angela Davis, Karl Marx, Audre Lorde, George Jackson, and any other communist or abolitionist organizer. And if it is hard for you to read due to living with a disability or neurodivergence, there is a lot more material out there that is accessible and across mediums: from interviews, to music, to art, and anything else that is creative. 

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    Chris dNov 20, 2022 at 10:03 am

    Using venmo supports Peter Thiel, by encouraging people to venmo you’re explicitly endorsing enriching him. Every dollar Peter Theil earns is another dollar committed to policy and technology developed to ensure that articles like this never see the light of day in the future.