The point of ‘black unity’ is for action against the common people’s oppressor, not rallying around the oppressors who look like us.”
On April 24, 2021, the newly elected and self-proclaimed “People’s Mayor” Tishaura Jones, “progressive prosecutor” Kim Gardner, and Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist turned Congresswoman Cori Bush joined forces. They did not gather like super friends to overturn the empire of capital and the carceral police state. Instead, they began their actual campaigns to fulfill their mission and purpose: the suppression of the spirit of rebellion in St. Louis. They started with the jails because those warehoused have tried to emancipate themselves, exposing this trio for the fraud-world they maintain.
The Black Girl Magic trio toured the Medium Security Institution (MSI) and City Justice Center (CJC) and spoke to detainees. These penal institutions have been the source of great consternation for those who rule above society in hierarchical government. Whether they realize it or not, the Black Girl Magic trio are already on trial themselves in the court of public opinion.
Recent Rumblings Regarding St. Louis City’s Jails
For the past two years, self-styled activists, laboring under the politically bankrupt banner of “prison reform,” have called for the closure of MSI, also infamously known as “the workhouse.” Such calls for reform, made by those who fashion themselves as abolitionists, are preposterous. How do we reform dungeons of doom? The activists who have aligned themselves with the newly installed Black-led municipal government regime said very little about the conditions at CJC in recent years. These activists for the government who make a big show of wielding the social identities of the oppressed are not slaves by another name as they would have us believe. These paid actors come up with reform proposals on behalf of the government to misdirect and bewilder.
Who in their right mind would propose to close the MSI or “workhouse” but leave open the CJC? This maneuver implies that MSI is inhumane while CJC is alright. The uprisings of February 4, 2021, and April 4, 2021 by detainees at CJC prove this policy analysis is wrong and exposes the farce of musical jail cells that activists sponsored by the cultural apparatus of the Democratic Party like to play. They advise the government on what jails are “good” enough to warehouse the mostly indigent multitudes.
Self-Directed Liberating Activity of Detainees Exposes St. Louis Jails as Condemnable
Detainees at CJC have engaged in self-directed liberating activity in the form of two major jail uprisings. These sent the previous mayoral administration careening into a backpedal that landed them flat on their backsides. This stumble caused them to render unintelligible responses regarding the source of the rebellions.
It should be clear that the rebellions occurred because the conditions at CJC are every bit as damnable as those that exist at the workhouse that Mayor Tishaura Jones has pledged to close within her first 100 days in office.
If the conditions at CJC are degrading and barbaric enough to spark two rebellions in less than two months, shouldn’t it be condemned and closed as well?
The political performance recently staged by Jones, Gardner, and Bush is not about anti-racism, fighting mass incarceration, or ensuring the humane treatment of detainees. It is about establishing the legitimacy of Jones’ newly minted mayoral regime by attempting to extinguish the spirit of rebellion present in detainees and ensuring that such a spirit does not take hold outside of prison walls. The trio attempts to do this by using social identity politics and a velvet glove approach sprinkled with Black Girl Magic. Under this glove is not a black power fist or communication strategies that transcend toxic masculinity. They are the voices of the police state, of murder, mutilation, and mayhem.
Jones, Gardner, and Bush: The Greatest Show on Earth
The political theatrics performed by the Black Girl Magic trio challenge Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey for the title of “Greatest Show on Earth.” Jones and Bush described the conditions at the jail as disgusting. The way that all three women feigned outrage regarding the conditions that detainees have languished under for decades in the city of St. Louis is what was distasteful. The jail tour followed by a press conference was a three-ringed circus meant to amuse children and others who were politically born yesterday.These women have run in elite circles of the Black political class in St. Louis and the state of Missouri for the past decade.
Mayor Tishaura: Capital’s Choice to Restore Order Following Rebellions of 2020
Mayor Jones previously served in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2008 to 2013 before capturing the seat of St. Louis City Treasurer, a stepping stone to become the mayor of St. Louis. During her bid for mayor, it was touted in local media that Jones out-fundraised her opponent Alderwoman Cara Spencer, a white woman, in the weeks leading up to the election. It is evident from Capital’s investment into Jones’ campaign that the Democratic Party establishment realized that Jones was their best bet to maintain the status quo after a long summer of rebellion in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd.
Perennially haunted by the spirit of rebellion that galvanized ordinary people to destroy property and fight the police in the streets, these powerbrokers cast their lot with Jones. The establishment has witnessed how the wielding of social identities can be successfully employed to repress the self-directed liberating activity of the masses. This strategy was employed by official society in Ferguson with Captain Ronald Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and later of the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission, who famously disoriented the Ferguson Rebellion. The Black faces on the Ferguson Commission continued this mystification.
The spirit of insurrection is still right beneath the surface in St. Louis. Big Business has tapped Tishaura Jones to ensure that it does not rise to topple capitalist exploitation and social degradation that continues to haunt the most oppressed in St. Louis.
Corie Bush: Democratic Party Trojan Horse
Although some like to pretend that Cori Bush emerged out of obscurity to defeat former Congressman William Lacy Clay, Jr. of the old guard civil rights era, this is not accurate. Bush first cut her teeth in electoral politics in 2016 when she ran for U.S. Senate. She followed up this failed bid with her first challenge to incumbent William Lacy Clay, Jr. in which she fell short again. This failed bid was chronicled in the Netflix documentary Knock Down the House, a film that also documented New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bid for the U.S. House of Representatives. This idea that Bush emerged as a BLM activist who challenged the status quo in the wake of Michael Brown’s murder by the police state in Ferguson is a myth. It is time for a confrontation with these myth makers.
Indeed, activists masquerading under the banner of Black Lives Matter and other organizations who operate both in and out of the Democratic Party did lend legitimacy to Bush’s campaign. Activists for the government calculated Bush’s campaign would misdirect insurgent activity that rose like a phoenix from the ashes that remained of Ferguson’s 2014 rebellion. This bewildering of the freedom movement was momentarily successful. Self-styled radicals aided Corie Bush, the Trojan Horse used by the Democratic Party, to confound many activists who may have been sincere but misguided.
Clay could not do it with his old guard civil rights sensibilities. The rulers and their foundations (Rockefeller Bros, Ford, MacArthur, Marshall Field, etc.) who sponsor activists for the government tapped Bush to replace the leadership of that old association for the advancement of certain people. The Congresswoman touted that she was once a homeless single mother who could identify with the plight of the most marginalized. It appears that very few stopped to notice that Bush is a registered nurse and a preacher of imperial theology, not liberation theology, as evidenced by her longstanding efforts to join the empire of capital. She aspires to ascend as a junior partner in the pillaging and plundering of the most oppressed domestically and abroad.
Kim Gardner: The Mass Incarcerator
Despite all of Kim Gardner’s talk of Jim Crow 2.0, fighting mass incarceration of Black and Brown people, and how the criminal system needs dismantling, Gardner is at the helm of an office that criminalizes and incarcerates the very people whose patron she claims to be. Gardner, too, is a political insider who, for all her career, has fought to maintain business as usual while papering over this fact with social identity politics.
Prior to riding the wave of discontent fostered by multiple police killings in both St. Louis city and county into the office of Circuit Attorney, Gardner was a member of the Black political class in St. Louis. She served as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 2013 until her election to Circuit Attorney in 2017. The Ferguson Rebellion happened in 2014. Gardner is another phony rebel manufactured by the rulers that hope to catch metro St. Louis snoozing.
Gardner is a political opportunist who has taken advantage of those who are politically naïve enough to still believe that elevating Black faces to high places over five decades after the civil rights and Black power movements can mean anything for the multitudes of Black and poor people. Her efforts as the city’s top prosecutor to maintain the permanent slaughter of the carceral state proves that there can be no Black power without power to ordinary people.
Feigned Outrage is a Slap to the Face of the Multitudes in St. Louis
Given that all these elected officials have been political insiders in St. Louis for at least a decade, their contrived distress at the conditions that exist at the city jails is a slap to the face of both the detainees and the toiling multitudes. St. Louis knows all too well the degradation that occurs at these jails. What these professional pretenders saw was no revelation to them or anyone else who is a part of the political class, regardless of race, in St. Louis. Like everyone else in power, they have turned a blind eye to the barbarism at the city jails. The only reason they project concern and empathy for the plight of detainees is that the imprisoned, arriving on their own authority, have placed the bankruptcy of the government on full display for the entire nation to behold. These three Black women rulers have huddled up in an attempt to restore the legitimacy of hierarchical government in St. Louis and make residents believe that somehow things will be different on their watch.
Jones and Gardner had ample opportunities to address these perennial issues from the government posts they previously occupied and parlayed into higher offices. They never did so. It was not politically expedient to do so. Those who are really against systemic or institutional racism understand that individuals and policies do not abolish systems. Those who need an education that we do not live in a white racial state or a New Jim Crow will start being lashed by lessons under their regimes. To be clear, the fact that we do not live in a white racial state does not mean that white supremacy does not exist. It does and must be opposed and smashed whenever and wherever it is found no matter the race of the person administering it.
If not for the direct action of those incarcerated at CJC, who have pushed the Black Girl Magic trio from behind, it would still not be advantageous to the puppets and puppet masters even to pretend to be concerned.
Mayor Jones’ Budget Proposal Calls for Closure of Workhouse
The day after Mayor Jones’s inauguration, she announced a budget plan that contemplates closing the workhouse. Celebrated as “progressive” in some circles, a budget proposal is just that — a proposal. A mere proposal sets nothing in stone. Ultimately, the final budget needs approval by the city Board of Aldermen. However, this decision to propose a budget that provides no funding to the jail is a political move taken to gather support from the activists and others who in recent years have supported the workhouse’s closure. It is a win-win for Mayor Jones.
If ultimately, the city Board of Aldermen refuses to adopt the Mayor’s proposal to close the workhouse, the Mayor and her supporters will say: “well, she tried… but the Board of Aldermen fought her on it, and her hands were tied.” The activists for the government will then continue to make a big show of their fake rebellion against the carceral state and keep “protesting” on behalf of the mayor, the executive over the police who put people in the jails.
Promises Made to Detainees
When she toured the city’s jails, Mayor Jones told detainees that her priority was to close the jail and to get them home to their family. First of all, Jones, as mayor, has no legal bearing on who will go home in terms of being placed on bond. She does not file charges against individuals and has no power to determine whether a person will go to jail or not. Some people like to think that Jones will use her bully pulpit as mayor to place pressure on Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner to get detainees released. This is not faith but a pipe dream. It would also be political suicide for both Jones and Gardner in the long run.
Closely aligned as Black women “firsts,” Gardner, Bush, and Jones will do nothing to step on each other’s toes. It is unmistakable from the jail tours that they are part of establishing a Black united front that includes certain activists that operate absurdly from the premise that these leaders above society are fighting for the liberation of the most marginalized. However, there is no authentic Black united front for liberation including Black administrators of the police state and carceral state. Only a charlatan or fool would frame a liberation movement in this manner. The point of “black unity” is for action against the common people’s oppressor, not rallying around the oppressors who look like us.
Remaining Vigilant and the Struggle for Democracy (Majority Rule) in St. Louis
Those who are serious about the liberation of commoners in St. Louis must remain vigilant as things unfold politically in the city. While alert to the excitement that some have shown due to three Black women’s election to government posts above society, far more than we realize many do not identify with nor share such jubilation. The simple-minded will suggest that too many oppose Black women leading without concern for the trajectory or values of these aspiring rulers. The less than ethical will say, “few cared about male politician’s foolishness before, why discover ethics now?” Why not make it plain? The men who presided over government during the Ferguson rebellion, regardless of race, proved themselves sordid and ignoble. Let our current crop of Black women leaders say so as a means of setting an alternative standard. They will not and cannot for they serve the same masters.
We must oppose the elite professional politician, regardless of gender or color, especially where they proclaim that they are the embodiment of ordinary’s people’s liberation. This is a form of totalitarianism. Those who beat us with clubs and shoot us down in the street and warehouse our bodies can’t be permitted to talk loosely of liberation. These politicians do this to paralyze us. Their false aspirations to authenticity in fact is the commandeering of everyday Black people’s power and voice.
“Those who beat us with clubs and shoot us down in the street and warehouse our bodies can’t be permitted to talk loosely of liberation.”
Those who are serious about democracy (majority rule) must oppose the minority that rules above society. The minority who rules above society can never be liberators. We must reject overtures to live vicariously through politicians, who appeal to us through social identity and past and present victimization. We must take our authority back from such individuals. Ordinary people must hold the reins of society and directly govern our political, economic, social, and judicial affairs.
We must remember that the “Black Girl Magic” of Jones, Gardner, and Bush are not the achievements of the Ferguson Rebellion in 2014 or the St. Louis City Justice Center rebellions of 2021. They are the backlash of the empire of capital until the next revolt of ordinary Black people. The impending confrontation between the Black masses and the Black misleaders is coming. The activists for the government will not organize it.
Adofo Minka is a criminal defense attorney and native of St. Louis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org