Activists in Los Angeles yesterday decided to come out and protest Jeff Schoep, the leader of the National Socialist Movement, also known as America’s Neo-Nazi Movement. Schoep, or Commander Schoep as he is routinely referred to as by his people, was in town to meet with members of the Black community to discuss the state of white civil rights verses civil rights for the rest of us. I know, I know.
The event was being hosted by James Stern and his No Color Lines, Inc. organization and was being held in Beverly Hills at the H.O.M.E., House of Music and Entertainment.
Now I fully expected that there would be some activists who could come out in the middle of the day (11 a.m.) on a Tuesday and pay for parking in Beverly Hills to stand outside of a restaurant to yell and scream about the fact that an anti-Semite was in town. I mean you have be living a certain kind of life, even as a self-described activist, to be able to take off in the middle of the day to come to a protest on the westside of town, I’m just saying. Still, I didn’t have a problem with that. Power to the people. But I have to draw the line when activists, none of whom appeared to people of color, started telling me and other passerbyers within earshot that they represented people of color and all oppressed people in being angered that this event was taking place with a, and I quote, “fascist Neo-Nazi.”
Well the last time I checked, I was Black, and I could speak for myself—so could the other Black people who were there attending the event.
Maybe they weren’t aware that this wasn’t some kumbaya event where Black folks sit in a room and smile at the white racist men hoping for acceptance and posing for photo opps. The event, according to the organizers, was to be a conversation between two groups of people who historically don’t speak to each other on the issue of race—but rather at each other. I can dig it, that’s why I agreed to participate—much to chagrin of my Black revolutionist brothers and sisters.
However, the self-proclaimed communists outside of the venue apparently didn’t think that Black people should have been engaging in any dialogue with—and this is their words—“the enemy.”
Well who in the hell gives them the right to tell me or any other Black person who we should and should not engage in dialogue?
So they screamed and they shouted. They marched and they chanted. They even snuck into the venue when they were denied entrance by the organizers and the owner. They caused so much of a scene, that finally, the venue’s owners couldn’t take it anymore, as he was worried about his business.
I couldn’t help but note the irony in (1) listening to the venue’s owner yell about how hard it was for him as a Black man to get a restaurant in Beverly Hills to begin with to (2) then have to deal with the negative publicity from having a group of white communists, who claim to be representing the interests of people like him, standing outside of his doors screaming into megaphones at the top of their lungs that there was a “fascist Ne-Nazi” speaking here today.
Why is it that the same people who are always claiming to be allies and there to speak up for the poor oppressed Black person (who obviously can’t speak for themselves), are always the same people participating in the very oppression they’re supposed to be against?
It’s 2014, Black people can actually speak for themselves. If we don’t like something or someone, we know exactly how to voice it. Trust me, I speak from experience and lots of it. White separatists and supremacy is nothing new to Black people.
I don’t think anyone in attendance at yesterday’s event, which did go on at a different venue, was a fan of Schoep or the NSM. In fact, most of us said just that. But it was a civil conversation, for the most part, where ideologies were exchanged and explained.
The basis of the conversation as I know it, was to look at the how far America has come in terms of race relations and to discuss what today’s race related issues are from a Black perspective as well as from the perspective of white separatists. No one went in there holding hands and we didn’t walk out there of holding hands.
And while I know a lot of people are bugging out as to the reasons why Black people would want to sit down with a group of Black separatists, I’ll tell you this.
I am one of those people who want to know exactly what it is that I am against. I find value in having conversations with people who aren’t in my choir and all singing from the same line of the same song.
It was very clear to me that the NSM believes that there are issues that Black people should be working with them on to fix. Illegal immigration from south of the border is one of them. Now before you scoff at this idea, it wasn’t that long ago that the Minute Men came to Leimert Park (after being invited to do so) and marched with Black people against illegal immigration. And let’s not forget the even stranger alliance of the Black church with whites who were against gay marriage and California’s Proposition 8. Political issues can be make strange bedfellows. These things do happen and are likely to try and happen again as immigration and gay marriage continue to be hot button issues for Americans heading into this years elections and 2016.
Having those hard discussions with people we don’t necessarily care for and who we already know don’t care for us is sometimes necessary to move forward. If for no other reason than to figure the strategy for your own struggle.