Stay Woke: A Lesson on Interest Convergence
Let me tip you off to an element of the game that's been co-opting the movement for Black lives for centuries. It's called "interest convergence." Look it up, you're going to need to know what it means and what it looks like because you’re gonna see it pop up again and again.
Notice all those corporations posting Black squares and suddenly “standing with the BLM movement?” There’s a name for that... interest convergence. They co-opt the efforts of our movement when it suits their pockets and hope their performance will fool us. Government does the same thing with legislation and policies. Look at the police reform bill Dems are proposing: many elements of the bill actually funnel more money into police force’s hands. If we let them, they’ll try to give us crumbs to put us back to sleep, making bank on our movement’s work and increasing their power while they’re at it.
Now, listen. I love BLM Plaza. Hell yes. With so many symbols honoring deranged white colonizers in this country, we should’ve been had monuments to Black people in the country we built with our own hands. No gold stars.
Let’s remember that until they:
Defund or abolish the police and prison system;
Allocate continuous budget specifically for reparations to Black people/employees/communities;
Reform their production practices;
Reform their boards and leadership teams;
Dedicate budget to anti-racist learning, development, and praxis with a specific focus on dismantling and divesting from whiteness;
Sentence violent, murderous, and racist officers with humility and a quickness;
Develop a restorative program for all police officers to counteract their training in slave patrol and military tactics;
Put Black women and other BIPOC in leadership positions with equitable representative power;
Address immediate and long-term obstructions to healthcare, food and job security, housing, education, transportation, and justice reform;
Divest from imperialist white patriarchal capitalism by exploring and committing to new governance and economic strategies;
Develop a restorative program for all citizens to counteract the social and psychological axioms rooted in and harm caused by supremacist propaganda and ideology;
all the government, corporate, and organizational tokens we’re seeing is just performative.
Sure, it’s better than nothing and I encourage more than anyone that we celebrate even small wins, plus it’s normalizing overt conversations about racism. But BLM Plaza is NOT WHAT WE ARE DEMANDING. Police kneeling with us is not what we are demanding. Cosmetic police reforms like banning chokeholds and racial bias training are not what we’re demanding. Black squares across social media are not what we are demanding.
Watch the patterns of manipulative performance play out. It’s happened time and time again for centuries in this movement: the government and corporations will give crumbs that simulate liberation upon sight of a material convergence of interest and/or overwhelming unrest to placate us. Those crumbs help protect their investment in imperialist white patriarchal capitalism and/or they temporarily inflate their investment in that structure.
What that means is, they'll give us crumbs to shut us up and, when possible, fatten their pockets with our voices. For example, diversity, equity, and inclusion: it's present in the corporate world not because of social responsibility, but because it has statically proven to increase the bottom line. They're co-opting our effort, energy, and the movement for Black lives to inflate their investment in imperialist white patriarchal capitalism, the very system this movement aspires to dismantle.
They'll try to give us just enough to put us back to sleep. Keep an eye out for it. Stay woke. Stay focused. Stay committed to our demands.
And don't, whatever you do, go back to sleep.