The following letter was initially send to RVA Magazine, signed Anonymous. In this case, Anonymous refers to a loose, nonexclusive, noncentral group of hackers, who often take up political causes.
I have eliminated the magazine’s commentary, as it mostly consisted of criticizing the tone of the letter. Included are links, which were sent with the letter; they constitute a kind of bibliography. They include many links to the public financial records of the relevant politicians.
May 8th, 2013
TO THE SITTING MEMBERS OF RICHMOND CITY COUNCIL AND MAYOR’S OFFICE
We have watched with displeasure the most recent crimes of the Richmond City administration and its petty ambitions; it sells its soul to the rapacious FIRE sector and throws its citizens to the wolves to appease the never-ending greed of its shadowy elite. There is no change in Richmond, only the quiet hum of the Jones Machine and the avaricious stare of the sitting mayor, dancing obediently on the strings of privileged and secret interests. There is no hope in Richmond, only despair for those who remember the lessons of the past. There is no voice in Richmond, only a pathetic handful of ‘local’ media sources who are content to take their pittances from corporate masters while their city rots around them. The corruption leaking from every pore of the city is indicative of its inability to understand or accept its own past.
In this city once flourished the most oppressive and disgusting form of business ever created by mankind: the slave trade. Human beings were bought and sold like chattel by the hundreds of thousands based solely on the color of their skin. From Richmond, blacks were shipped all over the country to sweat, bleed, and die at the pleasure of white slave-owners. The scars of this atrocity still bleed and fester in the forms of institutionalized racism and economic apartheid against people of color.
For too long Richmond’s elites have systematically manipulated and disenfranchised its black majority through regressive economic policy, criminally negligent spending priorities, mock elections, and shadowy real estate deals. Jackson Ward was obliterated by white elites to make room for an interstate highway. Navy Hill’s earthly remains consist of a marker found in a parking garage by a local professor. The black children of Richmond’s school system suffer from a 75% poverty rate. Black preschoolers attend a program for disadvantaged youth on top of an unlined dump in a school that was built during the era of Jim Crow. Huge swathes of East Broad Street were gentrified to make way for the Richmond Convention Center and CenterStage Theater, a coup for the conspicuous consumers that make up Richmond’s elite patrons and coordinated by Bob Mooney, former chief financier of Richmond-based Ethyl Corp. Monument Avenue’s statuary stands as false exoneration of the ‘heroes’ of the Civil War; ‘heroes’ whose greatest achievement will forever be marked as failing to win the war they fought so desperately to win.
Decades ago, the discovery of the Burial Ground for Negroes (now Richmond’s African Burial Ground) by Elizabeth Cann Kambourian under a parking lot in Shockoe Bottom began the decades-long struggle towards the reclamation of the nation’s second-most-successful slave market by the inheritors of its legacy of cruelty and hate.
Now, as Richmond’s black residents continue to make progress to regain their past and right the great injustice that white supremacist power has laid upon them, the white land barons have again mobilized to murder the threat of black power in its crib. The specter of the Shockoe Ballpark has been resurrected by Richmond’s criminal capitalist class under the guise of ‘growth’ and ‘wealth.’ The charge is in part led by one H. Louis Salomonsky, an unrepentant capitalist sent to prison several years ago for bribing a public official in a failed bid to swing a mayoral election; his cries of “community!” serve merely to increase the value of his many real estate holdings through wasteful public expenditure projects. His tendrils, and those of others like him, extend far into local politics; the real estate sector outspends the next highest industry in Richmond political campaigns by two to one.
We call you out, Dwight Jones. Your 2012 unopposed mayoral election garnered you $314,499 in funds; $43,350 came from the land barons and their interests, with $2,500 alone from Salomonsky and his subsidiaries. Over the course of your sixteen-year political career, the landlords have bribed you for $135,917.
We call you out, Charles Samuels. Your 2012 election garnered you $63,225 in funds; $10,850 came from the land barons and their interests. Over the course of your four-year political career, the landlords have bribe you for $24,250.
We call you out, Chris Hilbert. Your 2012 election against a neophyte social worker garnered you $41,702 in funds; $5,155 came from the land barons and their interests. Over the course of your eight-year political career, the landlords have bribed you for $43,472.
We call you out, Kathy Graziano. Your 2012 election garnered you $96,838 in funds; $12,450 came from the land barons and their interests. Over the course of your eight-year political career, the landlords have bribed you for $71,706.
We call you out, Ellen Robertson. Your 2012 unopposed election garnered you $12,110 in funds; $1,000 came from the land barons and their interests. Over the course of your nine-year political career, the landlords have bribed you for $29,525.
We call you out, Cynthia Newbille. Your 2012 unopposed election garnered you $17,166 in funds; $1,300 came from the land barons and their interests. Over the course of your three-year political career, the landlords have bribed you for $4,100.
We call you out, Reva Trammell. Your 2012 election garnered you $65,141 in funds; $6,645 came from the land barons and their interests. Over the course of your political career, the landlords have bribed you for more than $20,095.
We are watching you, Jon Baliles. Bruce Tyler was sold to the landlords for only $82,307.
We are watching you, Parker Agelasto. Martin Jewell was sold to the landlords for only $20,600.
We are watching you, Michelle Mosby. Douglas Conner was sold to the landlords for only $29,400.
We demand that the city permanently halt attempts by its white landowners to build a ballpark in this critically important district and commit fully and transparently to enacting recommendations by the Richmond Trail of Enslaved Africans Commission for a heritage site in Shockoe Bottom.
We will be watching.
WE ARE ANONYMOUS.
WE ARE LEGION.
WE DO NOT FORGIVE.
WE DO NOT FORGET.
I asked a young White woman why she was studying social anthropology. She replied that she was hoping to go to Zimbabwe, and felt that she could help women there by advising them how to organize. The Black women in the audience gasped in astonishment. Here was someone scarcely past girlhood, who had just started university and had never fought a war in her life. She was planning to go to Africa to teach female veterans of a liberation struggle how to organize! This is the kind of arrogant, if not absurd attitude we encounter repeatedly. It makes one think: Better the distant armchair anthropologists than these ‘sisters’.
African feminist Ifi Amadiume
white people, stay the fuck out of Africa
White people, stay the fuck out of Africa
White people, stay the fuck out of Africa
WHITE PEOPLE, STAY THE FUCK OUT OF AFRICA
(No more White Saviours)
I have mixed feeling on this. Firstly, I agree that many white people, including myself to a degree, are fucking ignorant and arrogant in their attempts to “save” Africans, which shouldn’t even be the language used when talking about traveling to Africa or attempting to work with Africans. Colonialism is very much alive, especially in the “development” field.
I have traveled to South Africa twice, once with family in middle school, and this past winter on a study abroad trip with my university. I also hope to have the opportunity to return this summer on another research trip regarding health in public housing, a collaborative effort between VCU and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
My personal reasons for traveling to South Africa are to experience how social justice work is carried out in a different culture and context, and hopefully have the privilege to participate in some capacity. I also wish to identify and analyze how struggles there can be related to Virginia and the United States, as well as how various organizing and coping(?) strategies can be adapted for our own contexts, and vice versa.
While the trip I went on did have a sort of charity element to it (we brought clothes, soccer balls and jerseys), the main focus was to learn about Zulu culture and the struggles in post-Apartheid rural South Africa. Our professor was born and raised in the area we spent a majority of our time in, and his sister is the principal of the school we worked/learned with. We also were trained/worked with a local ngo based out of UKZN, Sinomlando, who performs Oral History & Memory Work. In this context, it was largely based around the impact of HIV/AIDS on children in this community, many of whom have lost parents due to the epidemic.
I think using a blanket statement of “white people stay out of Africa” is problematic. If as white people, especially when we are young, do not travel and experience other cultures first hand, we can still become prone to the trap of armchair (insert -ist here), simply relying on secondary and tertiary sources. I believe it is very important to read and listen to the so called subaltern, individuals from the Global South (third world, majority world), but it isn’t the same as seeing, hearing, feeling for yourself the situations in places other than the “Great White West”. That being said, it is still VERY IMPORTANT to not get caught up in “white saviourism”, which I try not to do, but I very much appreciate others to call me out.
My roommates, who are by no means “radical”, like to tease me by saying “you only hang out with black people when its for charity”. This hurts me every time I hear it, because I don’t see myself that way, but there must be some truth to it? But it’s not like I hang out with black people, or other POC for that matter, for “rad points” or anything, because that would be tokenizing right? I hang out with people because we have something in common, because we are friends, regardless of race. However I also recognize my whiteness and combating the systems of white supremacy in my life is a daily struggle. Sure, most of my friends and people I hang out with are white, and male for that matter, but by no means all of them.
I will be giving a presentation on my trip to South Africa on Monday, April 15 at 6pm in Hibbs 426 (world studies media room). I encourage anyone who wants to attend to come and talk with me afterwards (and come see scott crow!). I’d also be glad to present another time, or just meet up and continue this conversation. tumblr works too for those of you not in Richmond