In the wake of the gruesome massacre of nine black churchgoers by an angry racist white gunman in Charleston, South Carolina, comes an article that encourages black youth to be angry, racist, uninformed, unforgiving, intentionally opaque, and to explicitly exclude and ignore “white folks” in a direct call for unrest and anarchy.
The most shocking part is that the call for uncivilized radical action comes not from some obscure underground revolutionary manifesto, but from an author with a conventional liberal resume, including a writing gig at the Huffington Post and a previous executive position with an ostensibly positive program working with black youth.
The article is called 8 Things Black Folk Don’t Have to Do in Light of the AME Massacre and it’s published on the website Black Youth Project. The suggestions of what “black folk” don’t have to do include forgive, “police our rage,” “be peaceful,” or “explain ourselves to anyone — especially white folk.”
The article also suggests youth avoid staying informed about news developments, with the author describing major media as a tool of the white man: “Personally, I have not hate-watched any news coverage because I do not feel compelled to pad the pockets of white supremacist propaganda.”
The battle cry for unbridled racist exclusion, uninformed anger, and actions, including the refusal to “give up space,” shows how the radical agenda has become an acceptable part of public discourse in the Obama era.
A closer look at the author and her work also shows the disturbing connections between community organizing groups that paint themselves one way publicly, but seem to foster and promote a far different agenda when examined.
The author of “8 Things Black Folk Don’t Have To Do…” is Arielle Newton, whose LinkedIn resume says she attended Northeastern University studying political science and international affairs and lists her as the chief innovation officer and former “Civic Engagement Chair” at a group called Rockaway Youth Task Force, a 501(c)3 group. Rockaway Youth confirmed that she left the group on January 20 of this year.
That group’s website shows smiling black youth involved in the group’s mission: “Since 2011, RYTF has engaged hundreds of local Rockaway youth between the ages of 15—25. RYTF’s mission is cradled with our humble beginnings—to empower local youth through civic engagement and volunteer opportunities. We build on our Four Principles: civic engagement, volunteer work, mentoring, and professional development.”
That description sounds good: civic engagement and development are lofty and positive goals, which makes the racist suggestions by Ms. Newton all the more bizarre…that is, until you look into the Rockaway Youth Task Force.
The charity information website Guidestar has no information about the financials for the group, but the group’s leader has a criminal record worthy of note.
Given Newton’s call for anger, it’s ironic that the Rockaway Youth Task Force’s founder Milan Taylor had his own issues with rage. According to the website DNAInfo:
Milan Taylor, 25, allegedly threw the female victim, whose age was not released, on to a couch in the offices of the Rockaway Youth Task Force at 19-20 Mott Ave., near Beach 20th Street, on June 5, at around 8:30 p.m., according to the criminal complaint.
Taylor then placed his hand on the victim’s neck and choked her, the complaint said.
Ultimately, Taylor pleaded to a lesser charge and was ordered to take eight weeks of anger management classes and given a restraining order. The victim, Riána Sherwood, was upset by the plea deal:
Sherwood was also granted a full order of protection for one year against Taylor.
The victim, who said she is a co-founder of the group, said she has known Taylor for more than 10 years, during which time he exhibited “irrational behavior.” She did not elaborate.
1) In the aftermath of Charleston, Arielle Newton wrote an article stating that black youth don’t have to “justify or police our rage,” because they “have the right to feel and express our rage in a manner we deem appropriate.” She added only one qualification: “My only ask is that Black folk aren’t harmed by other Black folk.”
2) Ms. Newton was an executive at an organization whose founder and CEO was required to take anger management classes for choking a woman.
Newton’s article is a racist embarrassment—something that would get any white writer fired and shunned if the races were reversed. One can only imagine the (justifiable) outrage if a white author with ties to a mainstream political group had issued the same call to action after, for example, the 1993 Long Island Railroad Massacre, when killer Colin Ferguson killed six and injured nineteen in a shooting of “black rage.”
Here’s the post—printed in its entirety under Fair Use—to avoid any claims of “selective editing,” and because it needs to be read in full to be believed:
By Arielle Newton
Justify or police our rage.
We have the right to feel and express our rage in a manner we deem appropriate. My only ask is that Black folk aren’t harmed by other Black folk.
Apologize for our trauma or anger.
We do not need to further relinquish what little power we have. To anyone.
Stay informed of every update or development.
The triggers are real. If constantly being plugged in to this tragedy is causing mental, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual angst, it’s okay to power down and step back. Personally, I have not hate-watched any news coverage because I do not feel compelled to pad the pockets of white supremacist propaganda.
Explain ourselves to anyone — especially white folk.
Explanations given to those who don’t agree or understand your analysis takes up entirely too much emotional space. Especially when these explanations are given to white people who are comfortable benefiting from a system that literally hates us.
Include or involve the feelings of white folk in our responses.
The last thing on our minds should be how white people will respond to our expressions. If anything, they need to be concerned about how their expressions are received by us. We aren’t obligated to hold white hate, denialism, and guilt.
Give up space.
Space is yours to take. Especially if you’re from the most marginalized corners of Blackness.
Peace is a subjective, shallow term that upholds the status quo. Being “peaceful” — especially when mandated by the agents of white supremacy — is coded language which tells us to stay quiet, assimilate, and internalize our oppression. We are not obligated to be or remain peaceful when “peace” only exists to solidify racism.
Forgiveness does not make us more profound or conscious than our oppressors. This beast that was invited into Black space and murdered these gracious host does not deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness is not justice. Forgiveness — especially since we have not yet had room to decompress or process — is at best, an impediment and at worst, a distraction.