Oakland Council Member Blames Anti-Asian Attacks on Capitalism & White Supremacy
March 13, 2021
In an op-ed with theEast Bay Times, Oakland City Council member Carroll Fife blamed capitalism and white supremacy for the hundreds of anti-Asian attacks predominantly perpetrated by the African-American community. “Our Black and Asian communities have come together to push back against anti-Black and anti-Asian violence in recognition that all violence comes from the same root causes: white supremacy and capitalism,” Fife wrote.
She goes on to state:
Black folks are dying from gun violence in East and West Oakland, and folks in Chinatown are experiencing a rise in robberies and assaults. But it’s all coming from the same source.
Racialized capitalism forces working people to compete just to get our needs met. If people don’t have basic necessities such as health care, income, and education, they will shrivel and die or fight like hell to get them.
Our dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest capitalist culture drives the hoarding of resources and thrives on taking advantage of others. Capitalism monetizes caging people while creating conditions that disenfranchise entire communities in order to cage more people. Why? So the system can reproduce itself — lather, rinse, repeat.
Basically, Fife is saying African-Americans are unable to compete in a capitalistic society because of white and Asian supremacy, therefore the system should be changed to socialism.
This is what we mean when we say that all violence is state violence. When a young Black man in East Oakland is shot, as part of an underreported but disturbing rise in violent crimes impacting Black folks in Oakland this year, that is state violence. This violence is a byproduct of generations of stolen labor from Black communities through enslavement, of white supremacy enforced through Jim Crow, and of systematic disinvestment in and overpolicing of Black communities to create conditions of poverty.
This violence is caused by a system that makes working people compete against each other for scraps of what the wealthy possess. But our pain works for someone. It’s monetized, commercialized and churned out for consumption. Our communities are calling for systemic transformation, not the same ineffective approach that never truly addresses root causes and thereby exacerbates the issues.
So when an elder is brutally attacked in Chinatown in broad daylight by a person experiencing a mental health crisis, that, too, is state violence. When I saw that horrifying video of Yahya Muslim pushing an elder to the ground in a violent assault, I immediately assumed what his attorney later said was true. Muslim had a history of mental illness, and his assault was not motivated by racial bias.
In Western European countries such as Norway, Muslim would have been treated for his illness and perhaps would not have gone on to hurt other people. If our economic systems incentivized cooperation vs. competition and collective wellness vs. individualism, we could focus on fostering health and well-being. Right now, we punish and torture instead of rehabilitating.
“I am fighting to build a community where Muslim, his victim that day in Chinatown whose name I do not know, and all human beings have access to housing and health care they need to thrive.”