by Butch Lee
In Jailbreak Out of History, revolutionary Amazon theorist Butch Lee shows how the anticolonial struggles of New Afrikan/Black women were central to the unfolding of 19th century amerika, both during and "after" slavery.
The book's title essay, "The Re-Biography of Harriet Tubman", recounts the life and politics of Harriet Tubman, who waged and eventually lead the war against the capitalist slave system. As Lee explains, "Harriet Tubman was a radical political figure, someone totally involved as a player in the great political ideas and military storms of her day. She was a guerrilla. Someone who lived and taught others to live by the communal and working-class New Afrikan culture that her people had planted in this difficult ground, and a Black Feminist to the end."
At the same time, Lee exposes how the white supremacist patriarchy has distorted the truth of Harriet's life, by both trivializing and exceptionalizing her. Countering this disinformation, "The Re-Biography of Harriet Tubman" surveys the reality of struggle before and during the u.s. Civil War, showing how New Afrikan women were repeatedly taking up the task of smashing the slave system that confined them, on their own terms. Lee shows how what was special about Harriet was not that she was unique in resisting, but rather because of her military skill - "She was one of the most brilliant professional practitioners ever at the art of war. As a guerrilla, so elusive that she could strike fatal blows and never be felt. Lead battles and go unseen. As an Amazon, she conducted warfare in a zone beyond men’s comprehension. But her blows still fell on point."
Jailbreak Out of History's second essay, written in 2014, picks up the story where The Re-Biography leaves off, showing how New Afrikan women's labor and resistance remained central to how the global class struggle played out in the united states after the white men's Civil War came to an end.
"The Evil of Female Loaferism" details New Afrikan women's attempts to withdraw from and evade capitalist colonialism, an unofficial but massive labor strike which threw the capitalists North and South into a panic. The ruling class response consisted of the "Black Codes", Jim Crow, re-enslavement through prison labor, mass violence, and ... the establishment of a neo-colonial Black patriarchy, whose task was to make New Afrikan women subordinate to New Afrikan men just as New Afrika was supposed to be subordinate to white amerika.
About the Author:
Butch Lee is an Amazon theorist. Her work deals with the need to understand women's struggles in both their class and military dimensions, as well as the fundamental importance of grasping the relationship between colonialism, neo-colonialism, and patriarchy. Her other books include The Military Strategy of Women and Children and Night-Vision: Illuminating War and Class on the Neo-Colonial Terrain.