“Anarkata” emerges as a response to the political alienation that has been experienced by Black anarcho adjacent leftists who reject both the whiteness of traditional anarchism and the authoritarianism of some forms of Black nationalism.
21st century “Black Anarchism” as a concept has recently gained more popularity as the works of Lucy Parsons, Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin, and Kuwasi Balagoon, have become more widely disseminated on the internet (and especially with the publication of the ‘Black Anarchism Reader’). This increased attention and visibility has provided a degree of validation to those of us who are Black radicals that share a common belief in the need for decolonization and self-determination for Afrika and the Diaspora, but who reject an uncritical investment in hierarchy, centralization, and the State as the ways to achieve international Black liberation.
We find Black Anarchism as a political tendency particularly attractive because of its flexibility— how it draws from a number of revolutionary frameworks—Black Marxism, Maoism, Pan Afrikanism, Black feminism, Queer liberation—which makes it not just opposed to the Western and capitalist forces oppressing Black people, but also the transmisic, heterosexist, misogynistic, disablist, and human-centered forces working against us as well. Most of us in “anarchic” Black radical movements, however, find ourselves overlooked, and our politics get confused and dismissed as synonymous with classical, European Anarchism—which is itself often misunderstood by the non-anarchic world as largely an aesthetic and utopian movement, perhaps where people in bandannas smash windows or advocate an individualist liberty, a naive pacifism, or simply uncoordinated destruction and “chaos.” It is within this milieu—of the increased popularity and relevance of anarchism to Black revolution, and the confusing or
elusive nature of this relevance in the public consciousness due to anarchist mythology—that some of us decided we should develop our own name, to help demonstrate that we locate our anarchic radicalism in our own history as Afrikan/Black people.
The struggle for Black self-determination has often articulated itself through self-naming, whether naming independent parties or religious institutions or choosing non-Anglo/non-European names. Inspired by that tradition of self-naming, it was suggested we could use the term ‘Anarkata,’ to describe ourselves for ourselves within the revolutionary canon. Short for ‘anarchic akata,’ the term is to be a reclamation of the Yoruba word for ‘housecat’ or ‘wild animal’ (we thank Black Youth Project for getting us thinking about this) that has been used to describe Afrikans displaced in Amerikkka. Reclaiming a term that has been on some accounts regarded as a slur and on other accounts is said to be a way to conflate all Black/Afrikan folk with the Black Panther Party was important here. Anarkata means for us that first and foremost the prefix “anarch-“ (meaning ‘without unjust hierarchy’ or ‘without rulers’) would be grounded in the political struggle of ‘Blackness’ as a Pan-Afrikan (and Afrikan Diasporic) set of experiences and revolutionary histories (anarch-akata) and not just in some universalized, unspecified vision about absence of rule (anarch-ist). We would thus be defining domination, subjugation, exploitation and resistance to them in light of Black/Afrikan thought and struggle.
In this way, to be Anarkata is akin to something Ashanti Alston once said, where our Blackness is “…not so much as an ethnic category but… an oppositional force or touchstone for looking at situations differently. Black culture has always been oppositional and is all about finding ways to creatively resist oppression. So, when I speak of a Black anarchism, it is not so tied to the color of my skin but who I am as a person, as someone who can resist, who can see differently when I am stuck, and thus live differently.” Anarkata politics seek to consolidate that flexible culture of Black oppositionalism into a consciously revolutionary, ethical and logical form—especially in response to 21st century problems facing Black/Afrikan people globally such as climate change, environmental racism and disablement, neocolonialism, neofascism, Zionism, settler colonialism, militarized policing, mass incarceration, etc. It is this process of synthesis, a synthesis of Black radical oppositionalities along the lines of a Black nonhierarchical critique
(Anarkata synthesis), that is characteristic of the Anarkata approach to Black liberation.
The following document is not to be a founding document for one particular organization but is intended to be a jumping off point for anarchic Black radicals to cohere our diverse thoughts together. The authors have not written this to speak for all things in anarchic Black revolution, but we write this as an invitation to us all to put our heads and minds together. We hope that
from this document a set of conversations and relationships can spring by which Anarkatas can then more effectively propagandize and produce a wave of literature that reflects even more of our perspectives. We envision that what’s proffered here get taken up, dissected, rewritten, expanded upon, and challenged beyond here—that this be a living document. We hope that it is
used to better inform and enrich the local Black anarchist work already taking place. Zines, videos, memes, lexicons, podcasts, articles— we hope to see all of this and more generated around this document so that the growing energy for and interest in anarchic Black radical politics can be intensified and pushed further. Our hope is that in coming together as Anarkatas we can then work more cohesively to make our traditions, politics, praxes, and freedom visions
accessible to everyone.