Abolish the police?

Abolish the police, yay or nay? – A debate more of us should be having and why you might want to get into it.

Personally I’ve previously found it hard to truly stand by the idea of abolishing the police, in part because I’ve been raised to fundamentally believe that the government has every ones best interest in mind at all times (a lie), but most of us have also been told that there’s some things we just couldn’t possibly understand as commoners. For me it’s also due to the fact that I never really heard anyone suggest an option, aside from maybe chaotic anarchy, which was presented as an absurd joke to underline just how important the work of police really is (as in, if we’re left to our own demise we’ll revert back into wild animals and start killing each other). However one of the things these few weeks of heated online debate has taught me is that there’s an entire body of literature dedicated to this very subject. Aka what do you do when the organisation set in place to stop people from hurting and killing each other is doing the hurting and killing? I saw a tweet by @neontaster that read:

And I thought – Or in many black peoples case, something you shout at the top of your lungs when your family and community is falling victim to a government sanctioned body with a monopoly on violence. Nonetheless, whether you’re on the for or against it (or some sauce inbetween) side of this debate, this phrase has turned into an echoe with most of us unsure of what this would actually mean, so here I am writing about this, in hopes of pushing the commoners debate (myself included) past this phrase into actually discussing in real-time what it could mean. Somewhere along the way we settled for ‘humans can’t take care of themselves, they’re stupid and irrational, somebody has to keep them in check, hmm… a group of humans will do’. I don’t know what happened here, I guess it’s like how democracy is the worst way to run a country, except for all the other options.

Let me bring up a classic example touching on human behavior in positions of power, or in any ”fundamentally good vs evil”-debate: The Stanford Prison Experiment from 1971. One of the most well known experiments in the history of psychology. The purpose of the Stanford Prison Experiment was to examine the impact of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. To quote Philip Zimbardo, the psychologist behind the experiment.

”Suppose you had only kids who were normally healthy, psychologically and physically, and they knew they would be going into a prison-like environment and that some of their civil rights would be sacrificed. Would those good people, put in that bad, evil place – would their goodness triumph?”

Philip Zimbardo

To sum it up briefly goodness, did not triumph. The experiment was supposed go on for 14 days, but got cut after 6 days since the guards got abusive and the prisoners showed signs of severe anxiety and stress. Interactions between guards and prisoners were hostile. Guards became aggressive and prisoners became passive and depressed. Even the researchers themselves got dragged in, Zimbardo himself, head of the experiment, posed as warden and overlooked the abusive behavior of the jail guards until a student pointed out the horrible conditions and argued it morally wrong to continue with the experiment. Conclusion, when placed in positions of power, humans tend to behave differently than they normally would, leaning towards the evil, with very few exceptions. It’s worth noting though that the experiment has been criticized for being unethical, and for it’s unrepresentative sample of participants (white middle-class males). These last two factors has made the results difficult to apply to other scenarios and a wider population.

Alright, now let’s talk police, alternative solutions if we were to abolish it and what to do with the unreliability of the human mind.

From what I’ve been able to find out, many of the theories for an alternative to police revolve around changing the way in which we police people, as well as dividing the bracket of responsibilities that the police carry in most societies today. This can be hard to imagine, when I was initially posed with the question, my first thought was what could policing be other than what it is today? However reading through this stuff It became apparent that it’s really not that make-believe at all, especially if we center the question around what the police are supposed to be doing, which is protect people.

So, think of it like this, we have psychologists, to dissect and offer guidance and support for ”lost” human minds, rehabilitation centers for various forms of addicts, cameras, security numbers and systems for surveillance and help lines for victims of abuse. We have specialized people for these tasks, people who study for years in their respective fields, yet a cop is supposed to be able to handle all these various kinds of situations on the daily, preferably without issue or fail. They’re also armed, trained in combat, and expected to be ready on site within minutes of call. A huge responsibility is placed on one single organ of society, as well as a whole heap of physical and legal power in terms of weapons and ”passes”/leaniancy regarding the law they were sent out to represent and uphold.

Let’s be real here, these expectations sound rather unrealistic, inefficient and high-risk in terms of failure. Of course running a society isn’t easy, and there are always details the human factor tends to miss, regardless of if you’re an elected and respected politician or a random woman with some questions and an internet connection. So what do these people who’s work I’ve read suggest we do? Well, simply put, we de-fund the police, and put that funding in all the other organs of society responsible for handling all that stuff I mentioned earlier, these same places who probably suffered from de-funding themselves due to a need for more police, or a summerhouse. As a bonus, when the responsibility is split, so is the power! Or well, it has to be, for it to make sense. (Sidenote: Most people call for de-funding as a first step towards abolition, not as a solution to our current problem, de-funding alone wont cut it since the issues and desired solutions require a full revamp of the our policing-narrative, a clean sweep.)

What else do we need to take into consideration? Well, let’s look at a modern day example of what a society can look like without our version of police: Rojava. This autonomous self-governing state located in the north-eastern part of Syria, has established a system of it’s own where they have two separate groups of people responsible for different instances of safety in society; The Assayish who are responsible for the ”city” and the HPC (Civil defense forces) who are responsible for the ”community”. The Assayish are responsible for watching the borders, arresting criminals, guarding government building etc, whilst the HPC on the other hand consists of volunteers from local neighborhoods who receive basic training in security and only patrol their own neighborhood. The dividing of responsibility, encouraging everyone to help out aswell as proximity to whom they protect reduces the risk of de-humanization and hierarchical behavior. Close-knit neighbors and family protecting each other helps maintain the delicate power-balance.

So we need to take this with us into the equation too, proximity, inclusion and divided responsibility lessens the eventual hierarchical/power-crazed behavior.

Next thing to, connected to what we mentioned earlier, is that people tend to commit crime when they’re desperate, low income, bad housing/healthcare is directly linked to criminal activity, thus some of the money taken out should be re-invested in increasing the living standard for the people at the bottom of society and improving social services. This sounds like some imaginary utopia, and with how our society is built and running today, I absolutely agree, it is imaginary. Personally I fear it’ll get turned on it’s head and provide another market for big companies to capitalize of, like they capitalize of the privatization of prisons and hospitals. Yet, that shouldn’t hinder us from arguing for steps in the right direction. There’s always gonna be stuff to improve, and we shouldn’t normalize calling a cop if the issue is mental health, because then we’d just be overlooking and covering up the actual issue. The people that end up taking the hit for the higher ups falling out are marginalized and oppressed groups at the bottom of society. We can’t have that.

The stuff I’ve read about abolition is based on the american police and prison system, but I’d still urge the Swedish government to push for the same kind of reform, people are having issues with their police everywhere in the world. All because somewhere along the line it went from supposedly serving to protect all lives at any cost to defeating imaginary bad guys and taking your made up law into your own hands by throwing and wrestling a pregnant black woman to the ground over a subway-ticket (Sweden) or rushing into (the wrong) black woman’s house to shoot her in her sleep (USA). Clearly it’s time for something new.

I realize the actual reform is going to be more complicated, and there’s a myriad of ways in which we can implement it, some people have been suggesting everything from drone-surveillance to specialized elite forces and a market for professional assassins, (this is another reason for why you might want to get in on this lol, although if it comes to it, maybe we wont have a say in drone surveillance or any of the other, see Omniscient). Nonetheless, yes, this topic is huge and I’ll be linking some statistics around anti-brutality methods recently implemented that’ve failed ex. police body-cams, as well as issues with the social construct of crime itself – at the bottom of the post. I’ll also link some alternatives to calling the police that you can use in the meantime that can be applied basically anywhere.

Our world is an un-equal and un-just place, but it’s also an incredibly intelligent, globalized and highly technological place, so let’s urge our leaders to reform and improve it whilst also pushing for change individually. The system is clearly long overdue for an update, too many people have died and continue to get killed.

So I agree, abolish the police.

Links I’ve used as sources, plus more info on abolition:

How to Abolish the Police: Lessons from Rojava

Camila’s Abolition Reading List – A collection of texts and information (e-books, articles etc) (by @kuh_mila on twitter) about abolition.

Why is this happening? – Great podcast episode with guest pro-abolition educator Mariame Kaba.

The Reader: Guide to police abolition – Another collection of links and resources on abolition, serves great as an introduction

The End of Policing by Alex Vitale – A book that was linked and referenced in every single thread I found on abolition. I started listening to the e-book (free 30 day trial, a win)

The social construct of crime – an interesting twitter thread from a law school student

A randomized control trial evaluating the effects of police body-worn cameras (plus a this twitter thread with more information/links about other trial methods to lessen police brutality)

The Police Were a Mistake – interesting article about how today’s police have become the standing army the (racist) american founding fathers feared.

Why Ta-Nehisi is hopeful – Podcast episode with author Ta-Nehisi Coates on police violence and protests.

12 Things to do Instead of Calling the Cops – Title speaks for itself


So, I’ve already written about saviourism, white privilege, certain aspects of colonialism, aswell as some neo-colonialism that overlaps with systemic racism. If you’re interested in any of the above, since they’re all branches of racism, feel free to scroll further down for those posts, or to follow the blog since I most definitely will be covering them again. You can also type each of the terms into google to start reading any and everything you find or use the links ill be adding at the bottom. Take note that this post is specifically related to the B.L.M. movement, many of the tips can be applied to other social justice movements, but my intention is for the focus of this post to be on the B.L.M. movement and the fight against racism. Think of it as ”things to keep in mind” when you approach it with a wish to engage if you’re new.

If you, like so many others are hoping to join the fight against racism, or if you claim to already be in it and is reading up to get better at it, below ill be sharing some tips, pointers and links to potentially help you on your way.

The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter that I’ve chosen to use as my title, is also a great source to find information about different aspect of racism, how to actively work against it and un-learn it. To access it, simply type it into Facebook, Google or Instagram. People share experiences, tips, issues, articles, they also use the phrase by itself to highlight the importance of black lives, since there’s a need for it.

I’ll start this post by addressing some questions and thoughts I’ve received from friends and acquaintances:

1. If you (as a non-black) person feel bad about what you’re seeing in the media right now. Good. You’re supposed to. If brutalized and murdered black bodies make you feel sad and outraged, if systemic racial oppression makes you feel overwhelmed, exhausted and unsure about yourself, your actions and what you’ve been (or not been) doing to help… great! Then there’s something here we can work with. See, NEWSFLASH, you’re supposed to feel bad. Because it sucks, all of it, for all of us, and especially for black people. What you’re NOT supposed to do is write to your traumatized/exhausted/depressed/hurt black friends to ask what you can do to make yourself feel better. Because it’s not about you and that’s lesson one on racism as a non-black person. It’s not about you, always remember it’s not about you, and when you’re about to comment on something, mention something, share thoughts or just open your mouth in a racism related context, ask yourself: – Am I about to reshape or center this around myself or my experiences? If yes? Then don’t. (Also, the people that should worry you, are the ones that aren’t feeling bad right now). Take note that some activists/friends of yours or public speakers you follow may have expressed that they’re available for conversations if people have questions and wish to learn. Use these opportunities to ask the questions you might not’ve been able to answer alone through google, and if they have a gofundme/patreon/paypal chip in on the work they do, the same way you’d pay any teacher.

2. Scenario ”I haven’t shared anything or spoken out personally on the issue, but let me share a black picture for #blackouttuesday in solidarity with the black lives matter movement, because I do care! Fighting racism just takes a lot of effort” Hmm alright, uhm. So two things to point out here. First, If you decide to repost or share anything (something you think could be useful information for other people for example), make sure you understand what you’re sharing. Secondly, if you decide to post a black picture, ask yourself WHY you’re doing it and what the desired outcome is, if you can’t answer that, don’t do it. We’re struggling with alot of clutter and alot of mindless reposting. People think they wanna help but they don’t really want to go through the actual trouble it takes, so they settle for a repost of something they don’t understand or truly know why they’re sharing. Notice how there’s nothing wrong with the act of reposting, just make sure you understand. This obviously goes for anyone reposting anything ever.

3. If you’re not initially (and after that still occasionally) completely overwhelmed by the thought of dismantling racism, you don’t understand racism. Simple. The go-to should be learning about all the separate and intricate aspects of racism in part. Because if you think you’re tackling racism head-on and that you’ve figured it out, I’m gonna need you to take a step back. This has been going on for years, if it was as simple as telling people to ”be nicer to black people” we would’ve solved it years ago. Unlearning racism is a journey that takes time, effort and focus. You don’t simply read a 100 books to understand, ‘cause it’ll take you another 10 years to even begin to apply it to your daily life and your line of thinking. To give an example: I check myself every time I do my hair to ask myself why I prefer a sleek bun over a matted one, when my natural hair texture is matted, the desire (and preference) for a sleek bun is internalized racism. The racism isn’t gone until I’m free to wear either without preference based around which one is commonly accepted as ”neater”, and this is just me?! If we’re getting detailed here I’ve got the ”good” texture of the bunch, imagine what it’s like for people with ”heavier” afro-centric features than me (there’s an old system in place judging people favorably based on their proximity to whiteness, I’ll cover that in-depth some other day but google colorism and the paper bag-test for now). Then proceed to think about all the people I meet on a daily who’s gonna see my bun and think to themselves wow like did she even try? She should’ve sleeked it back with gel to make it look straight. Notice how this is also just a minor thing? One. Minor. Thing. That’s how extensive this is. Racism is a system, an indoctrinate teaching, a behavioral pattern and for some a way of life. Racism is mainly subconscious, meaning you won’t really notice that it’s there, making it harder to identify and fight within one self.

4. This is an important one, and I cannot stress this enough. Think for yourself. Please. When you see posts upon posts of people telling you to ”read up” they obviously mean read up, but that also includes this: thinking. I already said this in point 2 but let me repeat it because this is a key-step, PLEASE think for yourself. That’s the work you’re supposed to be doing, apart from showing support and speaking up when it’s needed lawdamercy think. for. yourself. When you see something you don’t understand, don’t just scroll past it and assume you’re good ‘cause you think racism is bad and you’ve got black friends, you’re not good, it’s not fine, figure out why you don’t understand. (Also, if you find yourself motivated to read up but unsure what to read, don’t be afraid to ask, but also, don’t expect a black person to do the work of finding valuable information for you, especially not for free. This is like asking a classmate to do your homework for you. Not cool. >>>Re-read end of point 1 if needed.<<<

5. When somebody goes ”Black Lives Matter”, don’t respond all lives matter, or blue lives matter or my dogs life matters or no life matters (nihilistic edgelord junk). Don’t. Don’t do it. Everybody knows this. Remember what we talked about before? About putting yourself in the center of an issue? May I ask why you feel the need to insert yourself everywhere? Don’t do it. This. This is it. So don’t do it. A great example I’ve seen people use is, if your house is on fire, and you shout ”my house is on fire!” to get it extinguished, and then every other house that’s NOT on fire got a resident stepping out onto the sidewalk shouting ALL houses are on fire, do you realize how stupid that looks? Yes, maybe someday your house too may be on fire, but right now we’re talking about this one. All lives matter, we know this, everyone knows this. However we’re highlighting that black people are unjustly being killed in frighteningly high numbers and systematically oppressed, this is the fire we’re trying to put out. Either you help out or you get out the way. Inserting yourself by asking why not all lives matter, that’s you trying to hijack another movement. If the only time you care about all lives is when somebody else is trying to get their message across, you don’t truly care at all.

This is also what my disclaimer in the beginning of the post is for, I’ve seen that there’s a bad habit in media of making parallels between different social justice movements, between different people or in hopes of making an example to further understand or pick apart an argument. For example, using another gruesome event to try to make the event being discussed seem less bad. Don’t do it. It’s not a competition in who can throw out the most gruesome event or make the most distasteful parallel. If you feel the need to comment on the ongoing violent protests in the USA today, and flip it, switch the colors of the protesters with the people getting hurt or anything like it in hopes of proving your argument, what you’re really doing is erasing the history of the problem itself by isolating one specific event, which obviously will render the event itself nonsensical. The defining history has to be taken into consideration.

6. Last point, this one’s for everyone. A skill you need to acquire when dealing with any and all social justice movements is to be able to step aside and let the people whom the movement is for step forth to speak. Google ‘interpretative prerogative’ or ‘tolkningsföreträde’ in Swedish. This is not just between black vs non black people in terms of the black lives matter movement, but also between black people within the movement itself. For the black people in Sweden taking a stance right now, earlier or in the future and expressing their opinions regarding the actions of black people in for example the US, it’s important to know that at the end of the day it’s not our place to judge their actions. We can comment, share our two cents and debate, but at the end of the day we can’t possibly imagine what it’s like to grow up in America as a black person, even if most of us have our own experiences with racism, identify with the people we see or feel a bond to what could be relatives and even if our own countries are dealing with the same issues, we can’t possibly begin to understand what it’s like to be them because we’re not them. The best we can do is support them in every way we can, share their stories, sign their petitions, donate to their cause, listen to what they need from us and fight our own local issues of racism along side theirs for an overall better future for black people everywhere. (This calls for another disclaimer, take note how I’m NOT saying it doesnt concern us because this is very much our issue too.)

This concludes my list for now, there’s obviously way more I could cover, but we’ll round it up here. Social media is blowing up right now but this is not the first or the last time this is going to or needs to happen, more discussions/fights/protests will be held in the future regarding identity, heritage, cultural ownership and race, it’s needed and long overdue as usual. Buckle up for more, we’re 6 months into 2020 which has come to be the year of exposing everything and everyone.

I’ve personally felt torn about what to write about for this last week. Everyday is history in the making and history is what I do, I naturally cover pro-black topics in relation to that, because, well, I’m black and history needs to be re-written and edited from a non-white western and non-western narrative, this is one of my fundamental beliefs. We need to create our own narrative and space, instead of living in somebody else’s. Thus, I decided to give into my feelings, and sit down, open my brain and write about Black Lives Matter and share some tips on how to approach and assist the movement, because black lives do matter. Everyday. Not just when your feed is a battlefield or my family’s a trending hashtag.

Useful links:

Rachel Cargle’s The Great Unlearn – Currated monthly syllabus to keep you engaged in unlearning racism, and racist behaviour. Self-paced and donation based: https://www.patreon.com/thegreatunlearn

A compiled list of some organizations you can donate to (help with bail, provide support for victims of police brutality, rebuilding etc), petitions you can sign, informative monetized videos who’s revenue will be donated etc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16VOvHrLcL37OFa9udKks_B05IR9N7V1FCVNM-pFmiXU/edit?usp=sharing


Why you need to stop saying all lives matter

Black Riot: The difference between riots and protests has more to do with who and where than what


The Armchair Commentary – Commentary on the intersection of race, culture and faith

Rachel Cargle is a public academic, writer, and lecturer. Her activism and academic work are rooted in providing intellectual discourse, tools, and resources that explore the intersection of race and womanhood.

Maybe it’s Contemporary Warfare (or maybe it’s Maybelline.)

What? War? I thought we were in a time of world peace (sort of)?

And uhm… make-up? I’m confused…

Well, supposedly this is the closest we’ve gotten to world peace. Commonly referred to as ”relative peace” or ”long” peace. It’s based on the idea that war for conquest is pretty much obsolete, punitive wars are nearly gone too and all the colonial wars have ended (*cough*). This leaves civil wars, most of which have cooled down over the years. The term ”long peace” marks the time from after the second world war, to the present day, due to the absence of major (obvious) wars between the dominating powers of the period aka the USA and Russia (previously USSR). Such a long period of ”relative” peace between major powers hadn’t been documented since the Roman Empire.

Major ”in your face”-wars, the ”blowing citys into smithereens” kinda wars might be over (it’s not, major citys in various countrys in the middle east are war zones, and we’ve got groups of people immigrating en masse) but from the toning down of guns and loud air-raids, we’ve seen the rise of a new form of warfare, namely the title of the piece, Contemporary Warfare (que off-key horns).

Technically, modern warfare isn’t that new, because the term covers everything after the gunpowder revolution (c. 1300- 1650) to now lol. So… how do we narrow it down to what I’m here to focus on? Well, luckily (modern) warfare tactics are divided into 5 generations, each generations set of tactics generally influenced by whatever was relevant at the time (so like guns from 1300’s and forward vs mounts and sharp things basically every generation before that). In this piece I’ll focus on 4th and 5th generation tactics, but if this is the first time you’re hearing about any of this, here you can read about the remaining generations.

Starting with the 4th generation (4GW), these tactics are characterized by a return to decentralized forms of warfare. Meaning here it might be hard to spot who’s fighting who and when/where the actual war in taking place, blurring the lines between war, politics, soldiers and civilians. A classic example includes any war where one of the major participants is not a state/recognized government, but rather a non-state actor. If we look at the Cold War, major powers fought to regain grip over some of their previous colonies, and with the non-state entities representing said colonies lacking muscle power to fight back, other methods became essential. Movements were created, propaganda was spread, espionage, secrecy, surprise attacks or means of terror were used to fill the obvious gap in raw muscle. The tactics themselves aren’t new, you’ll see similar tactics in previous slave rebellions or anywhere else where there’s a huge power-gap.

The 5th generation (5GW) is like a semi-continuation of 4GW. They share many similarities, and since it’s under development right now the definition itself isn’t quite finished, but so far 5th generation war is characterized by the usage of propaganda and information tactics, in hopes of accomplishing strategic, operational, and tactical objectives, without measurable damage that can be identified by the target. The goal is for the target to not know they’ve been attacked, resulting in loss before the fight’s even begun. If you google 5GW you’ll be presented with a number of pieces on Al Qaeda since these tactics are most commonly associated with terrorist organisations.

5GW espoused by the likes of Al Qaeda, with aspirations of setting up alternative political systems. They’re opportunists, intent only on destruction. But even pointless violence can have a perverse logic, for the sudden, irrational destruction undermines the idea that nations are viable in the modern world.

US Army Major Shannon Beebe, Wired (magazine) 2009

Alright alright, so now I understand the current generation of warfare, when do we get to the part where you explain why we’re talking about this?

– Right about now.

I chose modern warfare as my topic this week because these same tactics are all around us, and they’re being used on the daily by several other countries, organisations and companies. Not for the sake of terrorism, but for the sake of power. These tactics aren’t terrorist exclusive, and more common than most of us might think. Let me give you an example that ties to my meme-esque title. Earlier I wrote that this generation is characterized by the usage of propaganda and information tactics, in hopes of accomplishing strategic, operational, and tactical objectives. What if the tactical objective isn’t to take your city, but to take your money? Maybe it’s contemporary warfare, or maybe it’s Maybelline, is a play on the commercial slogan ”Maybe she’s born with it, or maybe it’s Maybelline”, by the cosmetics company by the same name. Most people have heard or seen it around, if not in an actual make-up commercial, then as a meme, since the slogan gained popularity for being catchy and easily meme-able. The company’s intention might not’ve been to go viral, but it was definitely intended to be stick. Just memorable enough, so it’ll stick around to the point where when I’m trying to think of a title, this is what I crawls up from the pits of my brain. It was also most likely the culprit behind why 14 year old me (subconsciously) thought it was a good idea to buy their shitty foundation. Objective accomplished.

A lot of the people reading this now, probably have that same phrase resting in your mind. It’s not that big of a deal, I guess, just a make-up add. However, if a catchy phrase can make you subconsciously favor one brand over another, what’s saying the same can’t be done with political partys? Or decisions in referendums? Or make you leave personal information up for grabs for the ability to virtually befriend people? This is how easy it could be to push an incentive. An alternative humorous title to this piece could’ve been – Capitalism’s invisible ”war” for your monetary favor. I say humorous because calling it war sounds like a click-bait scandal.

Nonetheless, let’s get to the conclusion.

The generations of warfare tactics reflect the times during which they were developed. It might be easy to think of war as heavy guns and infantry, but that’s not what the new tactics of our generation will look like, because it doesn’t reflect the big players of our generation, which is globalization, an information overload and favoring efficiency (I haven’t even touched on the internets role really, so that’ll be a beast for another day). Weapons and muscle are always gonna be relevant, for the fear they instill and damage they do, but if you can win people over by re-wiring them to think like you, or (as a reference back to the quote) undermine the viability of their nation, people wont even notice they switched sides, you’ll win masses without bloodshed, reserve immense amounts of energy (and it’ll take less to start a war too).

The lines between fields of study are getting blurrier, as we progress into a future of less black and white areas of discipline whilst adding more gray. So, what I wanted to share with this was the value of perspective through these examples, as well as the relevance of staying up to date on things that you initially might think doesn’t concern you. The world is becoming increasingly intertwined and time waits for no one. If you’re asleep, somebody is going to make your decisions for you. Just like how that catchy commercial made my decision for me.

Interesting articles and links:

Long Peace

World Peace

Contemporary war: Ethnic conflict, resource conflict or something else?

Modern Warfare

Gunpowder Revolution

Generations of warfare

Give it back (part 3)

Alright, so we’re back at it again with the last part under this title. This time we’re talking about supremacy! Specifically white supremacy and the role it played in the history of archaeology. (Aka the role it plays in today’s debate about shadily obtained artifacts.)

First you may wonder why specifically white supremacy? Why not just supremacy alone as a concept?

Well that’s an easy one. Supremacy alone is just a term used to describe predominance, sovereignty or hegemony. It’s literally the state/condition of being superior to all others in authority, power or status. White supremacy however, is the racist belief that white people are superior to other people and therefore should be the ones in power. This birthed a system and a political ideology that perpetuates an institutional domination by white people in every field from politics to culture and history.

From the Cape to Cairo, Udo J. Keppler, 1902

So let’s zoom-in a bit,

White supremacy was absolutely booming from the 1800s to the mid 1900s. Like a real hit. We had scientific racism, race-studies, colonization, apartheid, Jim Crow Laws, the Atlantic slave trade, like there was a lot. Zoom in a little more and we hit a man named Rudyard Kipling, the biggest poet of his time who in 1899 dropped the notorious poem ”The White Man’s Burden”. For anyone that might’ve read some of my earlier posts this isn’t news to you. This poem covers part of the very essence of the ideology that is white supremacy. A desire (and excuse) to take land, raid tombs, forcefully impose Christianity and seize power. To quote an excerpt:

Take up the White Man’s burden—

    Send forth the best ye breed—

Go bind your sons to exile

    To serve your captives’ need;

To wait in heavy harness

    On fluttered folk and wild—

Your new-caught, sullen peoples,

    Half devil and half child

The White Mans Burden – Rudyard Kipling

I’ve linked it above if you’re interested in reading the whole thing, but yeah, there you have it all. The guilt, the part where they’ll receive hate from the people they’re oppressing but must stand tall, the supposed god-sanctioned raids, the ”saving” and the enslaving too.

So how does it relate to the blatant stealing of artifacts you ask?

Here’s three major ways. We’ll start from the top. First of all, colonization provides access, you go and come as you please, you’re the one in charge, you’ve claimed the land, and it’s impossible to steal from yourself so your conscience is clean. Secondly, there’s accountability, fast forward to now, your countrymen literally wrote THE law in the past, and laid the foundation then for the jurisdictional system of today so there’s nothing officially holding you accountable from that time. Thirdly, we cover the saviourism, if you validate keeping an object regardless of history, by expressing concern, claiming you’re more suitable to care for it, who’s going to argue? No one. Especially not, since you ensured it. Colonization enriched your country and crippled others, securing your country’s financial position for generations to come. Besides it’s your burden, your duty, to take it upon yourself as better equipped, to assist in this noble cause of preservation. See It’s a deadlock. A wheel that spins itself.

So what can we conclude from this?

When posed with the argument ”we’re more suited for the job so it’s our duty to help”, highlight that sending money to fund a country to accommodate an artifact also qualifies as help, and that the desire to ”step in” and ”grab hold” smells of (white) supremacy. Another option could be to assign ownership of the artifacts to the country of origin, and set up a ”loan situation” with the current country of residence, until appropriate action towards an ideal housing environment is taken. This way the country of origin can financially and ethically benefit from their own history. The countries that requested independence should be treated as equals regardless of where they’re at in their development and stepping on them isn’t the best way to further the field of history nor cultural preservation.

This part culminates the ”Give it back” piece, and so I’ll be back with something new (and old) next week.

Give it back (part 2)

Alright so let’s pick up where we left off – How the illegitimate claim of ancient artifacts acquired during the colonial-era relate to power play and supremacy. Last time we ended on the note thatWalking into somebody’s home and taking something that belongs to them is stealing, regardless of whether you were invited in or fought your way through. It doesn’t become any more yours simply because time keeps passing”. So what can prompt somebody to do this? Well let’s get into it; In this part we’ll focus on power play.

Artifacts are enriched by being viewed in their place of origin, not only does it hold a unique connection to the area where it was produced but for somebody to come view it as a visitor, the historical context would become that much clearer due to the relationship it shares with it’s surroundings. I believe that link should be honored and respected.

If the argument against this is a desire to exhibit it where as many people as possible would get a chance to visit, I’d rather we value the historical context. People are going to have to travel to see it regardless, and exposing artifacts to high numbers of tourists posses a risk and tends to damage them. As seen with the tombs of the Valley of Kings, or this coffin in a museum in England, and these are examples of things that remain in their country of origin, yet the amount of visitors haven’t gone down.

But hey, let’s get into the term itself and let’s start with the illegitimate claim (stealing) and the power play part. So what is a power play?

”A power play is an attempt to gain an advantage by showing that you are more powerful than another person or organization, for example in a business relationship or negotiation.”


Take the Pantheon Marbles (aka Elgin Marbles after the man who stole them) for example:

Pantheon Marbles (Temple of Pantheon, Athens) in the British Museum, London

This collection of sculptures were shipped stolen in rounds from their home in Athens to Britain between 1801-1812, under the supervision of a Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin. Bruce claimed he received an ”a ok” from the Ottoman Empire who were ruling Greece at the time. Once in Britain he was met with both support and criticism but ended up being exonerated, thus he preceded to sell the marbles to the government, who then handed them over to the museum, in which they remain today.

After gaining its independence in 1832, the Greek state began a series of projects in order to restore monuments and retrieve looted art. Expressing disapproval of Elgin’s actions as well as requesting the collection be returned. However…. they still haven’t been.

Here’s where the powerplay comes in, let’s back up a few month, it’s now February 2020 and a draft of an EU document surfaces. Here the Union suggest attaching a demand for the UK to return Pantheon sculptures to Greece to its negotiations concerning post-Brexit trade deals. To quote:

”The parties should, consistently with Union rules, address issues relating to the return or restitution of unlawfully removed cultural objects to their countries of origin.”

The times of London

Regardless of how happy I’d be for this to possibly be a legit demand which could result in their return, this also serves as a juicy example of the issue at hand. Here several nations have agreed and acknowledged that Britain possesses illegally obtained artifacts which should be returned to their country of origin, yet the EU is trying to strike a deal, because legally there’s not much else they can do. These artifacts that are just supposed to be there to encourage learning and embody history (reference to my previous post) suddenly become a bargaining chips of power. So now we have both partys acknowledging the artifacts as something of great value due to their actions (Britain’s almost 200 year long refusal to return it and the EU’s Brexit demands to give it back).

The conclusion we can draw from this is that anyone that wishes to reduce this discussion to a matter of childish wonder, supposed ideal circumstances and impartial care, needs to step out the sandbox and look at it for what it is – a powerplay.

There’s real monetary value in culture, there’s influential value in owning objects of historical significance, and the people who discredit modern art, or wishes to lower modern day cultural funding, are the same people ready to fight when you speak ill of their mother ‘cause then it hits home. Some of us might’ve missed this or semi-forgotten it along the way but ultimately It’s about heritage. There is (and I cannot stress this enough) real power in knowing where you come from and owning items connecting generations back and the world leaders in my example literally just showed it to you.

If you’re more curious about powerplay amongst nations/groups of people, or wish to dig deeper in the use of this type of tactics, I recommend looking into Contemporary war/warfare or Dehumanization. However, if you’d rather it handed to you in a neat Marakulus wrapping, I’ll most likely write a piece on it in the future.

Seeing how long this got…. we’ll save supremacy for the next part lol.

Catch ya then!

Interesting links and articles:

Greece demands Elgin marbles for EU trade deal

Brexit: EU to ask UK to return Elgin marbles to Greece in trade talks

Give it back (part 1)

So.. let’s talk about artifacts.. and museums, and how archaeology during the colonial period (and various decades after that) kinda resembles… stealing.

Colonial-rule ”officially” ended for most countries during the second half of the 1900s, however, some opinions beg to differ and pose the question of whether colonialism has ended at all. In this post I’ll be discussing museums and artifacts, and the potential role they play in neo-colonialism.

So, I linked the term neo-colonialism above if you’re curious to find out more about it, but to sum it up briefly, it’s basically old school colonialism’s offspring. All those countries thrown into debt due to being left to their own demise as their colonial rulers reluctantly were letting go, were very often posed with an offer. Something like a – You’ll be independent but remain a commonwealth (wack, diminishing, acknowledging the monarch of your previous colonial ruler), or you’ll be independent but indebted to me because you need me to capitalize off of your main export, or here’s a gigantic loan to cover your massive expenses and potholes since we just threw you out the nest into the vampire that is the western economy.

The South African Cullinan Diamond, part of Queen Elizabeth’s crown jewels

Something we seldom talk about though, is how most museums today possess artifacts obtained through now illegal measures. They were excavated/stolen during the golden age of colonialism, and even though most countries officially have been declared free, their stolen artifacts remain in the possession of their previous colonial rulers. Not only are these artifacts valuable and increase the overall wealth of said country, but they also pull tourists which contributes to yearly BNP. Thus these countries continue to make money off of colonialism in this way to this very day.

Politicians know this, world leaders, professors and experts know this. That’s why some of these previous colonies have requested their artifacts be returned. Only to be be met with crickets and no’s.

I read an article just today quoting a sociologist named Tiffany Jenkins, arguing that the artifacts should stay where they are because determining the exact origin of some pieces will be difficult, as well as the inability to return things that were made in kingdoms and empires long since fallen, for example where would an Assyrian pot or a Nubian statue belong, when these places no longer exist? Jenkins also argued that the original purpose and ownership of artifacts are sometimes unknown, and that objects are made everyday only to end up in somebody elses hands. That pot or tablet allows us to learn the history of their maker and people, they don’t need to be returned to their place of origin for them to do so.

 The decision about where to place ancient artifacts should not be reduced to chasing impossible historical authenticity, contrition for the past, or ethnicity, but where is best for the object.

Tiffany Jenkins, Sociologist
Head of Amarna (Egypt) Princess, Altes Museum Berlin

Here’s where I’m about to go 180, firstly because that very same argument, to highlight ”it doesn’t need to be returned to it’s place of origin” also means, that you might as well return it, since It’s place of residency doesn’t affect its ability to be gazed upon (aka fulfilling it’s purpose). Secondly, because the value of housing these objects can not be overlooked from an economical standpoint in a capitalist-driven society. If it was only about the experience, museums could make it by with pristine forgeries for people to gaze upon, this would probably be better since it’d mean that more countries could offer the same exhibits, reaching a larger audience of learners. Leaving the original artifact to be stored under ideal circumstances, conserving it for as long as possible.

Sadly it’s not just about the experience, that’s why countries refuse to acknowledge requests of retribution. Because it’s also power and wealth, the cultural value and impact is high. People love to act like we’re past powerplay and that the age of supremacy is behind us, but it isn’t.

The very last claim that Jenkins makes states that we should be considering the best place to keep said object. Some countries would claim that they’re better equipped to house such valuable delicates. I agree. Thus, I suggest we (any and all countries housing colonial loot) collectively fund the establishing of proper protection and maintenance of the object as they’re returned home. One of many long sought after steps towards actual retribution.

Walking into somebody’s home and taking something that belongs to them is stealing, regardless of whether you were invited in or fought your way through. It doesn’t become any more yours simply because time keeps passing. The same way you proudly present your countries riches, stand ready to redeem their mistakes.

This theme will continue in part two where we’ll get further into the powerplay/supremacy/ownership aspect of this issue, ‘til then,

stay hydrated and wash your hands<3

Interesting articles on the subject:

British Museum ”has head in sand” over return of artifacts

European museums may ”loan” stolen artifacts back to countries in Africa

Do historical objects belong in their country of origin?

The battle to get Europe to return thousands of Africa’s stolen artifacts is getting complicated

7/4-20 part 2

She wanted to coin bars,
she wanted to birth rhymes,
but she ain’t ever had it in her to share it with the times-

A new rome,(an)
creators would wield it.

The masters, the villains, the Zahs.
Yield it, bend, skip break at their will.
Their lungs…. could kill.

There is nothing I desire like the word itself.
If I could have but one wish itd be to live as loudly as they do through word.

Every punctuation a breath,
every matched syllable a code.

Like Da vinci but way more culturally involved.

I never wanted to write! I’ve always been a talker, since I was a walker,
look at ‘er.

never good enough,
show it,
get a compliment, throw it,
forget you ever thought it was worth anyone knowing,
it’s too much.
Not enough,
way to salty wet, yet dry af.



Let me live,

All I desire,
is the wor(l)d power.

7/4-20 part 1

Corresponding forces of black and light,
I pause,
step out
and look at the stars this night.
With gas and conundrum,
chaos and heat,
they burn with shared passion that pushes my feet.

Another night, like any other, envelopes me whole,
I sink into it deep,
yet somehow stay a float.
Puls is the waves,
mind is the drift,
shifting in and out
me and everything that is.
I is. Are. Am. All.

Breezy, A (world) SeMinaR.

Bob Marley Didn’t Sing For You

As per usual the title states what I’m about to talk about, in this case it’s how Bob Marley didn’t sing for you. So now, before you jump to any conclusions regarding my choice of title, let me take you back to where it all started.

The year is 1945, Robert Nesta Marley is born in the country side of St Ann parish JA. Jamaica is still a colony as most other countries in the world at this time, however this is about to change with the end of World War II and the ripple effect events following afterwards.

Alright, so far I imagine you’re still with me. So now we’re going to skip a few years, if you want to know more about specific details I’ll link some more information later on.

Bildresultat för jamaica 1962

The year is 1962, The JLP (Jamaica Liberation Party) won the election and The Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Jamaica independence act, granting independence as of August 6th (with the Queen of England remaining as head of state). After years of slave rebellions, economic shifts, the great depression, UK missionaries and british rule, Jamaica was an imbalanced country seeking identity and stability. Being a majority agricultural society after the abolishing of slavery in the late 1800’s up until independence, the rapid swaying introduction to industrialization has left the country with huge class gaps and a high poverty percentage. Rastafarianism in it’s early stages has been around for about 30 years now and they’re not on good terms with the government. Originating in poor ostraziced afro-jamaican communities with ideological influences from the bible, ethiopianism and panafrikanism , openly critizising colonialism, the white church and their former colonial rulers, Rastafarianism was seen as very controvercial at the time.
Hey, now it’s getting interesting, let’s fast forward some more.

Bildresultat för catch a fire album cover

Relaterad bild

The year is 1963, Catch a Fire by Bob Marley and The Wailers just became the first reggae album to make it big internationally, for them it’s their third album as a group and food on the table. The album carries lyrics such as:

”400 years, 400 years
Of the same philosophy
400 years, 400 years
And, the people, they still can’t see

Referencing 400 years of slavery, and the biblical Genesis 15, believing that after these 400 years have passed liberation awaits. Other lyrics include:

”Today they say that we are free
Only to be chained in poverty
Good God, I think it’s illiteracy
It’s only a machine that makes money”


No chains around my feet but I’m not free
I know I am bound here in captivity”
”Where the living is harder (in a concrete)
Concrete jungle (jungle)
Referencing industrialism, urbanization, neocolonialism and inequality.

Fast forward a few years and all over the world people are singing along to Jamaican Redemption song’s about unity and freedom, Bob is now an icon for one-ness. Fast forward some more and people are still sharing red, green and yellow inspiration quotes with Marley’s face on them declaring ”One Love”. However, somewhere along the way after his passing people stopped talking about where he really came from, they kept saying Jamaica but forgot or chose to not mention the years of poverty, scrutinization as a rasta, violence, shootings and colonial scars of which he was also born. Bob Marley spoke for a whole generation of Jamaicans growing up in a time where the country and it’s people were yet to be their own, having been cut off from their history and ascribed a new one, Rastafarianism was a movement for identity and reggae music was their voice that would come to echo all over the world.

Sooooo, who is he not singing for?

The answer is new age spiritualist who wish to make his words mean something else than they do. When Bob Marley sings of slavery (both mental, symbolical and physical), slavery is exactly what he is singing about, slavery in all it’s forms. Most of us can never understand fully what this means, having grown up after colonial states gained their independence on paper, however, this does not give us the right to ascribe our own meaning to his words. This does not give anybody the right to hijack this Jamaican movement. Bob Marley sang and asked us to sing his songs of freedom with him, not for him.

This is worth remembering today and everyday with different movements being born all over the world as we speak, as well as old movements still working towards goals yet to be achieved. If you wish to support a movement and you’re completely new coming in as a guest, rule number one is to not make it about you. This is considered hijacking a movement, I could go on and on about that subject alone, but for now I’ll leave this as an introduction, maybe I’ll get into it some other time.

So until next time, if there’s any instance in the future where you approach an event, experience some art or listen to a song that you don’t understand or can’t relate to on a personal level, don’t just fill in the blanks with something you understand. Take the time to learn about what you wish to partake in, your place, your contribution and the space you’re about to take. If you truly wish to forward said movement you’re going to need to know when it’s time to take a step front and when it’s time to take a step back.

”I don’t wanna live in the park
Can’t trust no shadows after dark
So, my friend, I wish that you could see,
Like a bird in the tree, the prisoners must be free”



Links and books worth you’re time:


History of Jamaica

Independence of Jamaica



Reggae, rastafari and the Rhetoric of social control – Stephen A. King

CALL OUT’S and why we need them

Here I am at it again, writing about something scene related, something some of you all probably don’t want to hear, and that is okay. Everything isn’t for everyone and the same goes for Hiphop. Hiphop sn’t for everyone.

A few weeks ago a facebook post was made by Ice-O (a bronx born popper currently residing in Stockholm and an active member of the local dance scene) questioning whether ”call out’s” still matter anymore.

To recite: – ”Do call out battles even work anymore? Do they bring change? I understand when it comes to beefs that are personal, however many people in the dance scene don’t care about ”craft”, ”culture” or ”respect”. So what does a ”call out” do?

I read this post yesterday and it reminded me of the ”call out”-situation here in Sweden and how I should make a post about that too someday.

Then, the following morning comes along and I wake up to one of my friends messaging me about last night’s concert. Apparently, my friend had tried to call out somebody from the local scene, just to get ignored or ”go unseen”.

So, here I am, writing this post, because it’s about time.

First, we start by explaining what a ”call out” is, to those unfamiliar with the term (or familiar but with a lack of understandning),

What is a call out in literal terms?

I’ll admit to urban dictionary not being the most reliable source of information, but the world is evolving and to be ”cooking something up” doesn’t even refer to food anymore. Just like ”lit” doesn’t refer to any form of actual light.

So, a call out is to challenge someone or somethings behaviour or their claims, a groups ideal, an instance etc etc. The base is accountability. How legitimate is what’s being said? How true is this person to their claim?

In this post we’re adressing call out’s as a concept in the dance community. Thus there’s culturally specific traits/rules that have been applied to the basic concept of a call out. Usually, and maybe the most famous culturally specific trait, is for a call out to manifest as a dance battle (not to be mistaken for the event version of a dance battle which is closer related to a competition).

To a spectator looking in, the battle might give the impression of being a simple measure of cheer danceskill, and sometimes it is just that. Other times there’s alot more at stake. Winning a competition is nice, but earning the respect of your peers or discrediting some phony is great.

There are several things you can call someone out on, sky is the limit, but to bring forth some examples of common reasons for a call out:

Personal disputes: This is when you call somebody out that you don’t like for whatever reason (or vice versa) aswell as somebody who might’ve publicly insulted/questioned/discredited you.

Legitimacy: Claims such as – I am the best dancer here! I know this style so well that I can teach it! I am an OG! Can be subjected to call out’s regarding legitimacy. If people consider your claims to be false, they’ll call you out.

Growth: Calling someone out doesn’t need to be an insult. It’s also a challenge, meaning you can learn from it and grow. For example, calling your teacher out can be a great opportunity to remind yourself why they’re qualified to teach in the first place, or if it might be time to branch out and learn from new people. Calling your best friend out and wiping the floor with them can motivate them to practice more and come back and call you out in the future.

Here’s what Buddha Stretch (Hiphop OG and teacher) responded when I asked – What is a call out? :

The callout is the original way of confronting someone based on battling them. You feel that you’re better, or that they’re just wack? You call them out! You want to test yourself against someone with a reputation? Call them out! The modern day call out has been used to address the difference in opinion between dancers at organized battles, most of the times with biased judges/judging, the intent remains the same, to show and prove!

So, now that we know what a call out is and what they’re used for, why do we need them?

Here’s what Bboy Afternoon (active member in the international streetdance scene, teacher, organiser and literarian) answered when I asked him,

-Why do we need call out’s? What’s the purpose?

  • Settling disagreements
  • Making the general dance level in an area level up
  • Allow the community to regulate itself in skills and beliefs
  • Allowing dancers to level up
  • Create a sense of respect among said dancers
  • Squashing differences
  • Polarizing the scene and It’s members

So in conclusion;

A scene without call out’s would have to regulate in some other way, the same goes for the leveling up (development) and creating a space of respect. Every functioning system needs some form of regulation for the system to remain intact. Without a healthy element of call out’s in our scene we have no way of determining level, there’s no outlet for settling disagreements and the members of the scene don’t have a voice. There’s no tool for setting the standards of respect. Without means of regulation there’s no way of determining who’s in the scene and who isn’t either.

If we ascribe to a culture who’s origins are not our own, we are guests in said culture, which means for us to be allowed to respectfully partake we must respect the system and rules already set in place. Most cultures are built around communities and for you to be considered a part of said community, the members must accept or co-sign you. You can’t just call yourself something without having the means to back it up, because by doing so you’re already distancing yourself from said community, their ideals and rules. Thus, resulting in you not being a part of said culture and community.

We can’t just pick and choose which part of a culture we choose to respect. Even if we don’t personally agree with everything, we must respect it. To ignore somebody callling you out without a valid reason is to disregard a vital aspect of the culture you claim to be a part of.