As Sharpton Drooled Over Royals, Righteous Folks Celebrated the Real Heroes of May 19th
“The revolutionary heroes of May 19th would find Sharpton and his clique not just repulsive, but criminal as well.”
One of the signature achievements of the Black Lives Matter movement was the outright rejection of Reverend Al Sharpton. Sharpton had been paid handsomely for decades to stifle Black rage whenever it emerged from the blood-soaked claws of white supremacy. When millions of young Black Americans and their allies took to the streets after the non-indictment of Michael Brown’s killer cop in 2014, Sharpton’s calls for peace found few welcoming ears in the movement. The end of Obama’s presidency also marked the end of Sharpton’s burgeoning television presence, with MSNBC promptly cancelling his show as part of its broader purge of Obama cheerleaders like Melissa Harris-Perry.
But Sharpton has not entirely been cast out into the shadows of the ruling elite. He still retains a weekly show on MSNBC and continues his work with the National Action Network (NAN). The NAN has been proven to be in the pockets of telecom monopoly giants like Verizon and Comcast.Sharpton thus remains a useful political tool for the ruling class.He carries a meager price tag and can always be counted on to spread his political pollution to the Black poor.
“Sharpton’s work with the FBI included the surveillance of Black Liberation activists.”
Sharpton has always possessed a dual character as a pimp and an escort. He has a long track record of pimping Black politics for his own benefit. However, Sharpton has always been an escort of the ruling class. Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford called him King Rat in 2014,a fitting label since Sharpton was once an informant for the FBI. Sharpton’s work with the FBI included the surveillance of Black Liberation activists, ostensibly to capture Assata Shakurafter her escape from prison in 1979.
King Rat Sharpton was at it again on May 19thof this year, the day of the so-called “Royal Wedding.” Sharpton had much to say about the British Monarchy’s latest blood-soaked marriage. His comments avoided the British Royal family’s leading role in centuries of colonization, enslavement, and murder of Black and Brown peoples. Sharpton also avoided the exorbitant public cost of the wedding(43 million USD)and the removal of “rough sleepers,”known in the US as the homeless, to make way for the festivities. Sharpton stayed true to himself, shucking and jiving for the ruling elite by calling the event a sign that “white supremacy is on its last breath.”
“To Sharpton and the rest of his class, the path to liberation is paved by lucrative careers gained from sucking up to the rapists, exploiters, and militarists that control the white Western world.”
This statement was a reference to the mixed-race identity of Meghan Markle, the newest bride of the royal imperialists in the UK. Sharpton lauded the addition of Markle as an extension of the deep impact that the Obama Administration had on white people. Whites looked at the White House during the Obama era like they look at the Royal family now--with reverence and admiration. That white admiration is Sharpton’s goal only demonstrates the bankruptcy of the Black misleadership class. Markle is the latest edition to the Black misleadership class and Sharpton couldn’t be more thrilled. To Sharpton and the rest of his class, the path to liberation is paved by lucrative careers gained from sucking up to the rapists, exploiters, and militarists that control the white Western world.
King Rat’s claim that white supremacy is on its last breath because of Markle’s entrance into one of the most racist families in all of history is more than ironic. It is pure stupidity. Black America shares a special relationship with much of the planet, but not due to its proximity to “royalty” but because of its antagonism with “royalty.” Royalty under the banner of colonialism and capitalism has looted the peoples of the world of their capital and self-determination for centuries, enslaving them to an imperialist system that enriches but a few, white capitalist oligarchs. Black Americans know this system best. Not only were Blacks robbed of their self-determination as captive slaves, but also denied any hope of economic redress through reparations after a century and a half of formal “emancipation.”
“Royalty under the banner of colonialism and capitalism has looted the peoples of the world of their capital and self-determination for centuries.”
White supremacy is alive and well as far as Black Americans are concerned, just not the kind of white supremacy that Al Sharpton wants to address. Sharpton is not interested in the million-plus Black Americansin prison or locked into the criminal (in)justice system. His only answer to the daily terror that the police inflict on Black communities, resulting in nearly one Black person murdered per day, is to improve relations between law enforcement and the Black community. This is a euphemism for “community policing,” not community control of the police. And Sharpton proposes no solution to the super-exploitation of the Black worker that keeps the entire Black community on a path to zero wealth.
These are the conditions that make it possible for the Starbucks corporation to deny Blacks the right to use the bathroom in a majority Black city like Philadelphia. White supremacy is about power, and Black America does not have any political power whatsoever. The absence of power explains why white Americans can call the police on Black Americans enjoying their day at the park as much as it explains why the unemployment rate for Black Americans remains twice that of whites. Sharpton has no interest in challenging the relations of power determined by US imperialism. His career depends on the patronage of monopoly capital, which has a vested interest in the reproduction of Markles and other Black misleaders to control, pacify, and misdirect the resistance of Black people.
“Sharpton has no interest in challenging the relations of power determined by US imperialism.”
This is a time to uphold and celebrate revolutionary leaders that neither took patronage from monopoly capital nor avoided the question of power. May 19thwas not only the day of the so-called “Royal Wedding,” but also the birthday of more than a few of such leaders. Malcolm X, Yuri Kochiyama, Ho Chi Minh, and Lorraine Hansberrywere all born on May 19th. These leaders represent the antithesis of the white supremacist power structure of the United States and the Black misleaders the US has produced in reaction to their revolutionary aims. While Markle and Sharpton collude to strengthen the US power structure, Malcolm, Ho, Yuri, and Lorraine sought to scrap it for a new system altogether.
And all of them would rebuke the Markles and Sharptons of the world for their collaboration with the most racist system known to humanity: US imperialism. All of them viewed the Black struggle in America from a global, class struggle lens. Lorraine Hansberry supported the Mau Mau in Kenya and the revolutionary leadership of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana. Malcolm X had learned much from seeing first hand the success of national liberation movements in Africa and Asia and died believing that Black America’s only hope for liberation rested upon forging an alliance with colonized peoples. Yuri Kochiyama held Malcolm X’s bleeding body after his assassination and was right there with him in the political sense as well. Ho Chi Minh traveled across the imperialist world and met Malcolm X in Harlem. “Uncle Ho” fought for Vietnam’s liberation from French, Japanese, and US imperialism and wrote an essay titled “On Lynching” where he called the Black race “the most oppressed and most exploited of the human family.”
Ho Chi Minh is still correct. And we have much to learn from his comrades Malcolm, Lorraine, and Yuri. The world continues to burn with little concern from the likes of Sharpton. Sharpton drools over the “Royal Wedding” even as the UK arms Israeli with millions worth in sniper rifles to massacre Palestinians in Gaza. He kneels to the US ruling class even as it recolonizes Africa through AFRICOM and reigns bombs over the Middle East like it does police bullets in Black cities across the US. It is an understatement to say that the revolutionary heroes of May 19th would find Sharpton and his clique not just repulsive, but criminal as well.
“U.S. imperialism cannot stop formerly colonized and exploited nations like China and Russia from taking the mantle of global leadership.”
White supremacy is not on its “last breath,” but the system of white rule is indeed in crisis. This crisis is not the product of a more diversified empire. A diversified empire has hastened the political crisis of the economy of white supremacy. That economy, imperialism, has exhausted all means of reform and cannot stop formerly colonized and exploited nations like China and Russia from taking the mantle of global leadership. US imperialism has launched a desperate assault on all oppressed people in response to its precipitous decline. Sharpton has profited from such an arrangement while much of Black America has been rendered disposable. This has further exacerbated the contradictions between poor Black workers and the Black misleadership class that claims to speak for them.
The internationalist, class struggle-oriented spirit of May 19th’s finest has yet to be applied to the current period. Lorraine, Malcolm, Ho, and Yuri gave us the tools to analyze the world and struggle for a new one. The left must use these tools to analyze the world as it is now so that a new path toward liberation can emerge from the rot of US imperialism. While it is not certain what this path will look like exactly, we know that it will inevitably conclude with a revolutionary confrontation between the exploited classes and the lords of capital. And we can be certain of the side Al Sharpton and the Meghan Markle stand on—the side of the oppressor.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He is currently writing a book with Roberto Sirvent entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: The Fake News of US Empire. He can be reached at [email protected]