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Yesterday, my mom was going through a bunch of old papers and finding out what things she needed to shred and get rid of. There were documents from all parts of our lives, from Duncan (my lab who passed away almost three years ago) and his many medical procedures to old school worksheets. While I was working on something else, my mom gave me a long envelope with a packet that she told me she wanted to read. In that packet? A psychological evaluation from when I was eleven years old in 6th grade. And in that packet, I had been diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder I did not know I was evaluated for.


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Ethiopian and Eritrean students at a protest in the 1970s against the emperor

In the light of the recent widespread conflicts throughout Ethiopia and Eritrea this past fall, I recognized that I knew next to nothing about the countries my family is from. I understood on a very surface level the rise of the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) and EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front), but I didn’t know what information to trust about the history. I didn’t know what or how Ethiopia’s politics were impacted by US neo-colonial efforts as well. All of my questioning and curiosity led me to learn about AFRICOM.

AFRICOM, or the United States Africa Command, is a fairly unknown (at least in mainstream dialogue about foreign policy) US initiative that started in 2007 by the Bush administration and carried out/expanded under Obama. The mission statement for this military program is what you would expect it to…


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Image: Leah Millis/Reuters

What occurred on Wednesday, January 6th, 2020, was always a possibility. Amongst those I learn from and listen to regularly, it was Mariame Kaba who perhaps most prominently always foresaw at least an attempt at a coup taking form even before the November election. Other Black radicals also saw there is a chance that the fascist brigade could make at least one forceful attempt to end the steal or pressure enough Republicans to not certify the election results. With repeated social media announcements and alerts, these fascists told the world what they had planned to barge into the Capitol. …


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For as much as I oftentimes stray from having firm resolutions for the new year, I think that given the circumstances of this past year, it’s worth at least taking time to thoroughly reflect on what is up next. 2020 was the most important year for my political education journey, largely prompted by the unconscionable amount of grief and violence folks faced. 345,000+ people died here in the US from COVID-19, and thousands of others lost their lives for related reasons tied to the stress and isolation from the past nine months. …


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2020.

I’ve spent much of today and the better part of this week trying to figure out how I’d write something along the lines of a reflection on what this year has been like. It’s the last blog post of the year, and when it would seem like I would have some plan or even a hint of what to say, I have nothing. So I went back and read what I had written at the end of last year, as we all were ready to embark on a new decade. …


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It’s the end of the year, and as always, I return to my role as an extremely amateur music critic to attempt to rank my favorite projects and songs this year. We could describe 2020 as so many different adjectives, but during everything horrible, music was at least for me the one way I got the chance to escape into my mind. I dreamed of these songs, walked outside with a mask jamming to these albums, and got to learn more about some inspiring musicians and artists. This year, I just decided to lump EPs/Mixtapes into my “Projects of the Year” and add a list of “Artists I enjoyed the most this year” even for those who may not have released new music or as much new music this year. …


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Reuters

It doesn’t matter your background if you are oppressing folks; you are an oppressor. That’s it.

I’ve spent the better part of the last month and a half observing the incoming president and his team parade the new cabinet under the guise of “diversity.” It’s this long, drawn-out attempt to justify selecting nearly identical folks Obama had picked for his team (and we all know how that turned out). The president-elect’s team is filled with former state department members advocating for US imperialism and a board member of a military defense contractor, along with others with histories who made their careers by oppressing the Global South.

I wrote a piece earlier this year briefly discussing the history of the term “identity politics” as something entirely different from the way politicians today exploit peoples’ identities, but an idea of politics formed by Black feminist socialists in the 70s. It did not matter to me that Harris had been selected as VP. It’s clear her record has demonstrated she has little to no regard for working for Black folks, and she’s a prominent example of how a Black person can be egregiously anti-Black. Countless scholars, from Fanon (freshest as I’m reading him currently) to DuBois, spoke vehemently about what we consider the Black petit-bourgeois and its desires to uphold racial capitalism. It is in the interest of oppressors to diversify and maintain the heterogeneity of the highest class to feign some semblance of equality, even though we know there has never been such a reality here. This class manifests itself in the likes of the Congressional Black Caucus (Clyburn being the most prominent) or even in other formerly Black progressives who have since abandoned a vision for liberation. …


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It feels like I’m back at the end of winter quarter once again: my county is going back into stay-at-home orders, the pandemic seems more daunting and horrifying than ever, and finals stress is kicking in.

A lot has changed in the last eight, nearly nine months since that moment. I’ve become more radical and have a stronger dream and vision for the world. I’ve written some of my favorite essays, columns, articles, and blog posts ever. I’ve met some inspiring folks virtually and reconnected with others. …


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AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Imagine the audacity and the desire to ask for money, for more support, for more energy from working people amidst a pandemic where thousands face evictions, millions remain unemployed, and folks don’t have food on the table.

Well, you never had to imagine that because that’s what we’ve seen in the past few weeks.

I’ve been trying to really grasp the level of dehumanization and belittling of these once in a lifetime circumstances one needs to have in pursuing a political fundraiser. And frankly, I still find it disgusting. For those with the means, you could help pay someone’s bills, donate to a food bank, help jump-start or contribute to a mutual aid project in your area, or even help give a houseless person $10–20 for a warm meal. …


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Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in the preface of Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth “Have the courage to read it, primarily because it will make you feel ashamed, and shame, as Marx said, is a revolutionary feeling,” referring to white Europeans reading Fanon’s masterful book.

Sartre noting that fear, shame that we have learning about things we know we are not comfortable with is a practice and a skill that I find ever-evolving. In the case of the book mentioned above, the premise and the vision for a better world is one that requires a concession your people are responsible for the oppression and genocide of people everywhere. It’s a book that leaves readers with the conclusion that their very existence is predicated on the subjugation of those living in the Global South. Sartre speaks of the necessary feeling Marx recognizes as revolutionary once one feels shame. …

About

Noah Tesfaye

Just someone trying to share my story and find who I am, one post at a time

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