A cry is coursing across our community, and no one yet knows if it heralds death or rebirth. The contradictions inherent in preserving a community under capitalism have come to a head. Our businesses serve the tourists and gentrifiers. Our workers have been scattered away from our neighborhoods. Our elders are being thrown into the street. An era is coming to an end, and we must decide if we will end with it.
No one can close their eyes to the calamities that cut across the country. The pandemic has stolen countless jobs, homes, and lives. The West’s centuries-long war on Asia has come home again, as American “patriots” attack our elders in the street. The ash is still raining from the 2020 rebellions. Decades of deepening economic inequality, ecological devastation, and premature death have come to a head. A great reckoning is at hand, and what must be determined is how it will be expressed. Is it a question of reform, or a question of revolution?
The reckoning requires an analysis of the problem. Yet reformists can offer no more than pathetic cliches and platitudes. They tell us that the problem is “hate,” or “prejudice,” or “ignorance.” A few of the more savvy reformists speak of “institutional racism,” but all they ever seem to mean by these words is “hatred and ignorance” on a larger scale. Ask them where this hatred comes from or what creates it and they all go silent. Their solutions follow from their foolishness: liberal reformists prescribe “raising awareness,” while fascist reformists prescribe “anti-hate crime legislation.” The liberals expect us to believe that hatred is a mere historical accident and requires no more than a racial sensitivity workshop. The fascists expect us to believe that all the U.S. needs to oppose hatred is a larger police force. They see no connection between hatred and imperialism, or colonization, or imprisonment, or capitalism—“don’t mind those systems,” they cry, “have you tried having an intentional conversation with the police about racism?” We have no time to waste on their ignorance. We insist upon a radical analysis of our problems. A radical analysis is no more than a complete analysis of the problem—we demand an analysis that starts with the root.
We know our enemy as racial capitalism—a social system imposed on the world by European empires, and one that rules and profits through a combination of racist violence and economic domination. Racial capitalism began with the genocide of indigenous people in the Americas and the enslavement of Black people in Africa; the wealth (or “capital”) generated in the Americas was then used to industrialize Europe and transform its peasantry into white workers. From there, Europe turned its eyes on the rest of the world, invading and plundering the people of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. The world has since remained smothered in the oppression of racial capitalism—the system generates and sustains the violence we witness daily. This is what we fight—not a few random accidents in our communities but a system holding it captive. A world infested with colonization, enslavement, and exploitation can never know peace.
We will not treat a bullet wound with an aspirin—we fight for nothing less than the end of racial capitalism, and we fight to end it now. The time for reform ended when the first indigenous person was murdered by settlers. The time for reform ended when the first African person was chained to a slave ship. Every day, thousands of people’s time runs out in the face of the police, the prisons, and poverty. The dead needed revolution centuries ago. The dying—and that includes the planet itself—need revolution now. This is the essence of the revolutionary question: can one tell those who are dying today to wait until tomorrow?
JAS exists because the revolutionary question is muted in other J-Town organizing spaces. It is easy to find a space that will identify and discuss how racial capitalism is entangled in our community, yet difficult to find a space that strategizes to end it. It is all the more difficult to find such a space that, while identifying, discussing, and strategizing, returns to the source and holds itself accountable to the dying. The revolutionary question, however, will not be silenced—it rang clearly in the fires of the 2020 rebellions. Black youth have posed the question to the world. Our community, like all communities, owes them an answer.
We fight for revolution now.
We fight for a revolutionary community that upholds decolonization, abolition, and socialism.
We expect nothing less from a community we love.
We make our case for precisely what that means.
This land is and always will be Tonvaangar. Settlers have no right to Tovaangar—all they have ever had are soldiers and police. What sits atop Tongva land and all of Turtle Island is a colonial occupation; the settler’s ongoing project to destroy the Tongva and other indigenous peoples’ right to the land through mass violence. This project, of course, can never succeed. Violence cannot overturn an ancestral right. No honest soul could speak of justice and then deny that this land remains Tovaangar.
The only just response to colonization is decolonization. The settler’s occupation must end. All indigenous peoples have the right to protect and care for their land in whatever way they see fit. A settler can make no moral argument to obstruct or delay this task. All a settler can assert against indigenous freedom is violence—they either claim the violence of the past is legitimate, or they threaten to deploy violence in the present. There is nothing to debate. Moreover, there is no time left. With each passing year, we encounter yet another environmental catastrophe. The settler’s occupation is inflicting great violence upon the land, to a degree that has never been seen in the history of humanity. An occupation cannot care for the land; all that an occupation knows how to do is pillage it. The care and restoration of the land will only ever occur under the sovereignty of indigenous people. It should be enough to say that decolonization is justice, and yet we would be fools to ignore that decolonization is also a matter of survival. The world depends on decolonization.
We fight for decolonization now. We do not merely acknowledge the sovereignty of the Tongva people, but seek to respect and uphold it. We follow the Tongva people’s will in the care and protection of the land. If the preservation of our community requires the preservation of the settler occupation, we oppose the preservation of our community. The community we seek is one with the Tongva people. It is our hope that all who are not Tongva will join us in seeking this community. We love and honor the history of Little Tokyo, and we would be pained to see the community torn apart. We will not, however, ignore the fault lines of justice. If something remains on the side of oppression, then shikata ga nai. Those who attempt to stand on both sides will inevitably have to choose one before they are split in two. We will not step away from justice. Instead we will dare to build our community anew.
The police exist to be anti-Black. This is not their sole purpose, but it is the foundation of all the others. Policing in the United States begins with the slave patrol, transforms into the Ku Klux Klan, and comes into its present form with only stylistic changes. Their claims of “fighting crime” are insulting attempts at trickery—when the police say “crime,” the first thing they mean is Blackness. If Blackness is not all that they mean, then what they mean is indigeneity, or migration, or houselessness, or queerness, or mental illness, in whatever combination they so desire. Who, after all, do the police believe they can murder? The police have never attempted to murder a landlord for kicking a family out of their house, and yet the police believe they can murder a person for being unhoused. The police have never attempted to murder a boss for abusing a migrant worker, and yet the police believe they can murder a person for seeming foreign. The police have never murdered one of their own for murdering a Black person, and yet the police murder Black people daily. This is not an accident. There is no power greater than the ability to deal arbitrary death on others. Non-Blacks are empowered by the ability to deal death on Black people. Those with houses are empowered by the ability to deal death on unhoused people. Those with normative genders and sexualities are empowered by the ability to deal on queer people. The police deal death, whether from the barrel of their guns or by sending someone to a prison. This is the core of what makes them police.
We are not so naive as to believe that the power to deal arbitrary death is solely contained in the police force. When the police decline, the Klan and organizations like it grow. The first abolition ended slavery, but it did not end anti-Blackness. What we fight for is thus not simply abolition, but revolutionary abolition. We oppose the police and the forces that demand the existence of policing. To oppose these forces, we pursue revolutionary self-defense. This is not the racist self-defense of the settlers, which is first and foremost based on the oppression of others, but a self-defense that is based first and foremost on the liberatory transformation of ourselves. We pursue revolutionary self defense when we fight anti-Blackness, or gendered violence, or economic inequality (or all three at once). Our strength to defend ourselves stems from the power we build with the most marginalized among us. We will only drive policing out of our community if we work from the ground up.
Our community does not need another “conversation on anti-Blackness.” What our community needs is to make a basic set of commitments: will the police be called to our neighborhoods, or will they be blocked from entering them? Will we attempt to disappear our problems into prisons, or will we transform the roots of our community’s strife? Will we retreat to racist self-defense, or will we build self-defense alongside Black power? When the next precinct burns, will it be a time of fear or celebration? There is no time to waste. Revolutionary abolition now.
All communities require an economy to survive, but an economy is no more than a system of producing and distributing resources. We reject the capitalist economy, or an economy in which the land and capital (the equipment used in production) is controlled by a select group of people, otherwise known as the capitalist class. We reject the capitalist economy because the capitalist class exists through the exploitation of the remainder of the community. A capitalist has no right to the land, and yet capitalists force tenants to pay a rent that far exceeds the costs of upkeeping the land (and capitalists, for that matter, rarely upkeep the land at all). A capitalist spends only a fraction of their daily life doing anything that resembles labor, and yet capitalists pay the workers who spend all their days laboring next to nothing while hoarding the profits for themselves.
No economy requires capitalists. There is no service that a capitalist provides which justifies their domination of the land and capital. Anything that a capitalist does to serve the production and distribution of resources can be done by a worker (indeed, as a capitalist becomes more successful they gradually hire workers to do their management tasks for them). The only unique “service” that the capitalist undertakes is to corrupt the economy away from its original purpose of serving the community and towards the predatory purpose of generating profit for capitalists. The economy ceases to provide for workers, and instead exhausts and abuses them. The economy ceases to sustain the land, and instead pollutes and violates it. The goods and services that have long humanized and fulfilled our community are replaced with whatever soulless product that the capitalist believes can go viral on social media. The community does not survive because of the capitalists; the community survives in spite of the capitalists.
Our community and all communities deserve an economy in which the community oversees the land and capital, otherwise known as a socialist economy. The worker knows the shop better than the owner. The tenant knows the building better than the landlord. The community knows what the community needs better than anyone else. We, the community, can collectively run the economy better than the wealthy few. We don’t need developers, or entrepreneurs, or any other capitalist to make decisions for us. All we need from the capitalists is for them to return their property to the community—and if they will not return what is ours, we will seize it.
Our community needs a revolutionary vision. Racial capitalism holds it captive. The system turns on the theft of land, on the violence of enslavement, and on the exploitation of labor. The system can only be destroyed through decolonization, abolition, and socialism—and one cannot succeed without the other. Racial capitalism is a hydra—leave one head intact and it will regrow the previous two. The colonizer will regrow the police and the capitalists; the police will regrow the colonizers and the capitalists; the capitalists will regrow the colonizers and the police. All three are possessed by the delusions of Western civilization and could never imagine a world outside of them. We end it all or we end none.
Our mission and our practice are one: the formation of a revolutionary community. We fight to preserve the just relationships that sustain our community; we fight to end the unjust relationships that harm and dishonor it. In the fight against unjust relationships, we form new just relationships, and a revolutionary community is sharpened towards freedom. The relationship between housed and unhoused residents in our community is defined by scorn and police violence, so we help unhoused residents defend against the police while creating mutual aid to support them. The relationship between business owners and workers is defined by exploitation and exhaustion, so we help workers take control of their workplaces. The relationship between those who occupy the land and those are indigenous to the land is defined by erasure and disrespect, so we help indigenous people in their struggle for sovereignty. And of course, we oppose all predators: whether they come from inside the community through interpersonal violence, or whether they come from outside in the form of police, developers, and gentrifiers.
We commit ourselves to the formation of a revolutionary community by building our power with those that are Tongva, Black, immigrant, unhoused, queer, and working-class. We create relationships that defy the delusions of western civilization—relationships based in mutual aid, transformative justice, and genuine democracy.
We dare to struggle and dare to win.
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!