There was an amalgamation of factors which led you to believe that both Marxism and Capitalism were inadequate languages to speak your suffering in. But one of the leading factors had to be the way the Socialist you met seemed to despise money, while the Capitalist you met seemed to love it, and yet, all the Black people you loved seemed to need it. There was this different structure of affectation that led you to believe that there must be something else to this money thing. It was all your parents ever talked about. It was all they seemed to argue about. Other then your father’s cheating; Other then your father’s abuse. Other then your father. Other then that, just money. To this day, every swipe of your debit card feels painful, like there won’t be anything there one day, like one day it’ll all be gone – all of it. And where would you go? Home? Maybe…. And even then, everyone knows that home is where your wallet stays and if your wallet’s empty then, eventually even your home will be a blank-space too.
One day, I was driving with two Black men in Los Angeles. And although I’m sure they’d disagree with this, I found them to be two Black men who had so clearly internalized the logic of anti-Blackness. I could go into why, but that’d be beside the point. We found ourselves driving around Skid Row in LA when one of the Black men looked over at the other and said something along the lines of, “Yup, Skid Row. This is a No-Man’s Land. These motherfuckers might as well be zombies out here at night.” I was sitting in the backseat looking out the window. It was the first time I had ever seen Skid Row. I was shocked. Disturbed. Angry. But not confused at all. This was the effect of anti-Blackness. This was the effect of a world unimaginable to Marx and necessary to Capitalism. I remember thinking to myself, “This is a No-Man’s Land because this is a Blank-space.” It’s what you fear to see in your wallet and it’s what everyone fears while driving up and down Skid Row late at night. Being in a blank-space, being a blank-space. Indeed, and those bodies, those bodies that lay on the ground, in the tents, are bodies that exist, that are some thing, some thing in this world, and yet, no one would understand that which they have to be anything at all. For they exist as no one, as no body, as no-thing, as zombies.
When I think on Skid Row, I think on my mom and my father’s arguments. I think about how my father lived homeless on the streets of New York all by himself at the age of fourteen and how for most of my life he had been one of the biggest drug dealers in my neighborhood and I hadn’t known until I got older. I think about the friends I have who are on drugs and their fathers who were on drugs too and I wonder if my father had been one of the people selling them drugs. I think about how under any other order of capitalism without anti-Blackness what my father was doing might have just been called, “Entrepreneurship,” and then, I think about how directly after driving past Skid Row and thinking too hard on all the enigmas it raises, I went and smoked weed from a Recreational Drug Store owned by a White Corporation. It all makes me think about being Black and being broke and what it means to have money for Black people who, in the absence of money, are stripped bear of any borrowed institutionality and are made to stand naked before the World, zombified. I decided that money is a way into the World for Black people, into a World hell-bent on its destruction, by any means necessary. This is Frantz Fanon’s, “Whiten or Perish,” statement. Maybe, money is a form of whitening. But then, the problem would be deep. I need whiteness to eat. I need whiteness to not be a zombie, only so I can still be a zombie but at the very least be able to feign subjectivity as if I am human “like everyone else.” But, doesn’t the fact that I can become a zombie already make me different than “everyone else?” I’d say so. Maybe, money is a form of whitening that in the hands of the zombie becomes food. Maybe, money is food.
I always tell my girlfriend, I love her. I just want her to know. Especially when we low on money, and I’m the only person who has it at the moment and we need something or we want something. She has a high ethos for self-determination and it makes sense. She doesn’t want to need my help for anything, but since we’ve moved out to California finding a secure job has been difficult for her. It doesn’t matter that we both are college educated. The landscape of the land is joblessness, homelessness and lack, in the midst of obtuse abundance. Luckily, she just landed her first real Cali job so things are looking up for the both of us. It wouldn’t even make sense to get into the philosophical and material argument about what it now means for her to move from Joblessness to Proletariat because not only does she know, but it doesn’t change the fact that before she had no means to obtain basic needs and now, her labor can be calculated and routinized in order to produce surplus value for her employer and food for herself. I think I just be thinking about my mom and my dad’s arguments. The abuse and the cheating would have inevitably ended my parent’s relationship regardless, but I must say, it’s hard to love anything if your hungry. It’s hard to do anything if your hungry. I think about all the times they used to argue about money and I say to myself, “Maybe if they had some bread that shit would have been different.” The thought brings me down a rabbit hole.
I’m blessed right now to be able to eat with her. To have food in my pockets, to have food in my wallet. Even if the amount is so small that nothing short of agony permeates my being whenever I am forced to exchange the food in my wallet for any and everything I have to exchange it for. I know that this provides placement in the World, yet no ontological redemption. Still Nigga, as Jay-Z put it. But nigga shit was on to something.
Money is food.