AnalysisGuest Analysis

Laundering Black Rage

Reposted from Black Agenda Report

“Black rage is founded on blatant denial

Squeezed economics, subsistence survival

Deafening silence and social control

Black rage is founded on wounds in the soul”[1] – Lauryn Hill, “Black Rage”

“Capital is dead labour which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.”[2] – Karl Marx, Capital Volume 1

For stolen lands to remain colonized, for investments to remain profitable, for white capital to remain ruthless, Black Rage must be neutralized. Black Rage—the omnipresent force radiating throughout the anxieties of the State—is a boundless threat to the capitalist order.

Like a Big Bang, Black Rage began its expansion into colonial existence at the exact moment the first African was plucked from their roots and cast down into the sunken dungeon of the European slave ship. Its expansion is the survival of the human spirit, serving as a potential death knell to oppression—ringing its bell with smoldering waves of resistance quietly hissing in infamy. Black Rage finds expression in the assisted asphyxiation of the slave trader (accompanied by the seizure of their ship), the alleviation of the slave master’s heartbeat (seasoned by the enslaved maid), the transformation of the settler city-state into a community fireplace (the riot of the unheard).

When politicized against white capital, Black Rage blossoms into an anti-colonial weapon. Black Rage harmonizes the anger that the colony tunes out, it synchronizes our struggles, it is an ode to the bold notion that our discontent is undeniably justified. Black Rage is justice—outlawed by the State.

The State, as defined by Dr. Rasul Mowatt, geography and American Studies scholar in his book The Geographies of Threat and the Production of Violence, is the “configuration of the power of government, corporate interests, classes of elites, and upper levels of a bureaucratic management class that implements the ruling class’ goals and aims that sits atop an accumulated economic base.”[3]  Thus, the State is incapable of coexisting with Black Rage in its most potent form. It’s too combustible of a substance to tolerate in the open market. When unleashed on white capital’s economic base, Black Rage sets aflame all its market principles: genocide, dispossession, slavery, and profit.

Attempts to outright suppress this substance only further stoke the flames of rebellion. Conversely, supporting its unfettered spread is State suicide. So, whether it’s suppressed or supported, explosion is imminent. As a result, Black Rage cannot be entirely controlled, only managed.

To manage Black Rage, it must be laundered like the Blood Money that birthed it. To launder Black Rage into the market, its potency must be defanged. The social capital it produces, the clarion call by the Black masses for a free and equitable world, must be snatched and funneled into the hands of the State; “cleaned” of the original people and conditions that manufactured its existence but still recognizable enough to appear untraced. 

Laundering may manifest in a litany of forms including tax havens ,[4] structural adjustment ,[5] non-profiteering, municipal bonds ,[6] drug dealing, etc. but ultimately laundering is the logic of the State. Historically, as white capital was looting people, land, and resources, they gradually erected competing institutional fronts including government, commerce, media and religion to manage and codify their conquests i.e., the State. Henceforth, practically everything built under the rule of the western State is a front for white capital.

Ergo, what first appears to be inspired by Black Rage is reduced to simulacra: the self-determination of Black power is pigeonholed to front Black capitalism ,[7] the anger and suffering of the Black poor is liquidated to front rich Black entertainers’ ambitions ,[8] the courage of Black militancy is strangulated to front State repression ,[9] and on the laundering flows.[10] At the helm of nearly each sheep-herding front squats the Black elite, feeding off the breadcrumbs bribed to them by white capital.

With each commodity, laundering repurposes the crimes of white capital and the opposing threats against their rule—to legitimate their rule. The imperial laundering strengthens with every cycle as the “illegitimate” crimes of the past fund the “legitimate” crimes of the present. Black Rage is the repercussion of each crime, the deafening echo from the past roaring into the decadence of the present.

To muzzle the roar, the State dispossesses the labor of Black Rage and harnesses it into a commodity that can be consumed harmlessly as if its original potency is retained. Stated plainly, Black people do not own our rage. More precisely, we are robbed of our rage with the coercive aim to legitimize the State.

This process supersedes everyone of good or bad faith, spilling its blood on all involved. A grand conspiracy need not be necessary when our immediate material interests are linked to the maintenance of the State. To further understand this metamorphosis of Black Rage an examination of money laundering itself is first required.

Laundering Deconstructed

According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FCEN) of the US Treasury Department : “Money laundering is the process of making illegally-gained proceeds (i.e. “dirty money”) appear legal (i.e. “clean”).”[11] In accordance with FCEN, expert forex trader and head of content for wealth management at J.P. Morgan, James Chen explains how the dirty money must “appear to have come from a legitimate source. The money from the criminal activity is considered dirty, and the process “launders” it to make it look clean [emphasis added].”[12]

Hence, dirty money is never truly “cleaned,” nor are the questionable activities done to accumulate it, just manipulated to make it appear as such. An undirting occurs. So, laundering is making something “clean” by simply moving the dirt or debris away, not by actual scrubbing. Thus, the original source of the funds cannot be redeemed.

To achieve concealment, the process of money laundering occurs in three steps: placement, layering, and integration. Chen explains the purpose of each step:

Placement puts the “dirty money” into the legitimate financial system.

Layering conceals the source of the money through a series of transactions and bookkeeping tricks. In the final step, integration, the now-laundered money is withdrawn from the legitimate account to be used for whatever purposes the criminals have in mind for it.”[13]

Each step is consummated to distance the source away from its questionable origins. Famously, we see this process transpire in the critically-acclaimed TV drama, Breaking Bad, when the meth chef, Walter White a.k.a. Heisenberg buys a literal car wash to conceal his “empire business .” We also see Walter try to redeem the source of his empire with the now infamous excuse , “everything I do, I do for my family.” This type of rationalization of harm is common considering that money laundering is predicated upon an appearance of legitimacy. Yet again, the source cannot be redeemed.

Similar to Breaking Bad, money laundering is generally depicted as the actions taken by the morally corrupt who break bad from a flawed but otherwise “legitimate financial system.” This conception of money laundering, like that of FCEN, Chen and even the United Nations with their emphasis on terrorists,[14] has its limitations. The pitfalls lie not in the description of the process, but in the amorphous categories that are ascribed to it. Typically, definitions of money laundering assume a clear line between good and bad that is easily identified: legal vs illegal, citizen vs criminal, clean vs dirty. Although so-called criminals may conceal their illicit activity, the definitions assume criminality—both the criminal and criminal behavior—is neatly defined.

These definitions fail to acknowledge how the State socially constructs the rigid categories of good and bad, and the subsequent laws that govern them. For example, the U.S. often facilitates the very activity it claims to criminalize such as laundering money to fund an anti-communist war in Nicaragua while outlawing laundering at home.[15] [16] Yet, since the State creates the law, it can pardon its own activity to make it look clean. So, what gives it legitimacy? What source makes capitalism a legitimate financial system?

The irredeemable source at the core of capitalism, endlessly breeding the entire structure, is conquest. As Pan-Africanist, psychiatrist and political philosopher Franz Fanon makes strikingly clear in his text Toward the African Revolution: “The colonial situation is first of all a military conquest continued and reinforced by a civil and police administration.”[17] Put differently, the continuation and reinforcement of the colony is to launder the spoils of imperial conquests. With each conquest, industries were built and expanded around the globe with resources pillaged from the previously conquered. As expansion occurred, the integration of colonial production became inevitable. When speaking of European imperialism throughout the globe, Walter Rodney highlights this phenomenon in his seminal text, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,

“…sugar production in the West Indies was joined in the colonial period by cocoa production within Africa, so that both merged into the chocolate industry of Europe and North America. In the metallurgical field, iron ore from Sweden, Brazil, or Sierra Leone could be turned into different types of steel with the addition of manganese from the Gold Coast or chrome from Southern Rhodesia. Such examples could be multiplied almost indefinitely to cover the whole range of capitalist production in the colonial period.”[18]

Conquest begets conquest; crimes enacted on one population became seed capital for the next crime of capitalist production on another. Without stolen resources from stolen land, stolen people would be unaffordable, and vice versa. Laundering arises as the colonial act of legitimizing each conquest.

At its base, money laundering is capitalism. Early-stage merchant capitalists primitively accumulated wealth from “criminal” activities via slavery, genocide, and dispossession. As land, people and resources were being stolen, capitalists invested their felonious profits into constructing a State of fronts to do the laundering/management (Placement). These fronts established the necessary laundering institutions such as government, law, banking, commerce, education, tax collecting, media, etc. as well as the violent enforcement agencies of police and military, thereby concealing capitalists’ crimes and making their blood money appear clean through reinvestment (Layering). By capitalists legitimizing themselves via the organized crime of State-making,[19] their nefarious behaviors disappeared through Heisenbergian rationalizations such as “a more perfect union” or “The White Man’s Burden.” Invaders became founding fathers, thieves became businessmen, human beings became chattel and indigenous lands became colonies (Integration).

Emerging from laundering is what Mowatt identifies as a spatially fabricated society, “built upon the indigenous, the enslaved, and that which is crafted by the labourer.”[20] The enclosed cities of the State create a racialized and gendered division of labor alienating people from themselves and the source of fabrication. However, laundering conquest as a legitimate enterprise is no easy task to fabricate.

Whereas wealth is being accumulated, so is suffering and death. This contradiction eventually bleeds through the eyes of the conquered. It is in this colonial process of conquest, the dialectic between wealth and death, that Black Rage finds its form and which all Black Rage originates.

As Fanon articulated in: “The people come to understand that wealth is not the fruit of labor but the result of organized, protected robbery.”[21]  Black Rage, uninterrupted, is the opposition to conquest which is the protected robbery of white capital managed by the State. Consequently, in the inevitable moments when Black Rage migrates to the surface of the colony, laundering is set in motion.

Laundering Black Rage: A Short Case Study

In early June 2020, as contagious Black Rage was charring US cities in response to the enkindling police murder of George Floyd,[22] a sea of capital flooded the streets to cool off the raging heat.[23] On the government front, the Democratic Party broke their one-month online fundraising record raising $392 million just in the month of June alone via Act Blue, including a massive $115 million in the first four days of June, thereupon capitalizing on the rage from Floyd’s murder which occurred only a week prior on May 25th. Posing as the “opposition” to Black Rage, and the hotbed for white rage, the Republican Party also saw a huge bump in the same month raising a respectable $131 million. On the philanthropic front, “racial equity ” funding nearly tripled from $5.7 billion in 2019 to $16 billion in 2020.[24] On the corporate front ,[25] roughly $50 billion was suddenly pledged by “America’s 50 biggest public companies and their foundations” to fight so-called “racial inequality.”

Promising big transformative change,[26] the Democratic Party rode the 2020 wave of Black Rage to seize control over the White House and the halls of Congress. On brand, the Democrats failed to pass any legislation to address police violence including their own lukewarm George Floyd Policing Act. This need not matter since the toothless bill would not have saved Floyd’s life anyway.[27] Still, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi merrily thanked Floyd for “sacrificing his life for justice.”

This “sacrifice” also proved beneficial to the white rage party, as Republican controlled states exploited the fear of Black Rage by passing repressive anti-protest laws that criminalized protesters for assembling in the streets while granting immunity to the drivers who ran them over.[28] Skillfully, Republicans used the fear of what was already washed diversity programming to attack K-12 education with anti-critical race theory bills .[29] Obviously, neither CRT nor any critical Black history was taught in schools prior. Thus, Black Rage was but another commodity to bolster their racial fascism. Notwithstanding, bipartisanship proved to still be alive and well as frolicking party leaders vied to demonstrate their love for police.[30]

Ostensibly, Black Rage was raining down rewards for everyone but the ones who suffer and die for exercising it. Following a $90 million windfall of manna from the co-opt cosmos,[31] Black Lives Matter Global Foundation Network laundered and embezzled Black Rage to buy a mansion and enrich the family members of their top celebrity-activist leaders.[32] [33] Meanwhile, many local BLM chapters and Black families of slain police victims were initially left destitute despite it being the families and chapters who create the pressure for a donation to be sent to BLMGFN in the first place.[34] [35] As of this writing, the BLMGFN director is currently being sued by BLM Grassroots for stealing $10 million.[36] Whether the allegations prove true or false, these Spider-Man meme level conflicts obscure the fact that philanthropic foundations are repository fronts of “twice-stolen wealth”[37] for capital to avoid the taxation of their profits stolen from workers; what remains left is a struggle over crumbling bribes.

Quietly, Black legacy organizational fronts like the NAACP and the Urban League received more “racial equity”[38] bribes than BLMGF as they steered Black Rage towards enfeebled outlets already debunked by professor of communication studies, Dr. Jared Ball such as “buying Black [39] and Black banking .[40] Prominent historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs ) also gobbled up bribes as some of their students slept in tents to avoid their molded dorms.[41] [42] [43]

Most of the funds pledged were about undirting the rage rather than scrubbing the problem. Of the $50 billion pledged by the top fifty corporations, only $70 million directly went to fight so-called criminal justice reform.[44] In comparison, $45 billion was “allocated as loans or investments they could stand to profit from.” Much of this blood money intersected as the principal State fronts funneled their funds through their Black subsidiary fronts including the above-mentioned entities.

Often, the charge is made that said institutions are “profiting off Black death.” This is only half true since Black people are killed daily with impunity yet not a single donation, grant, loan or thought is generated on most days. It is the threatening response to death—Black Rage—that activates the laundering. Black death is merely an ingredient.

At the core, Black Rage was the source indirectly financing the entire heist. The failure here is not in any one fronts inability to deliver but in the extractive structure that funnels the money in their direction at all. The general public may have believed a donation to these State carve-outs was a net positive for Black people, but white capital undoubtedly knew any serious resistance to their rule ceased with the first transaction.

Laundering Black Rage phases

As established prior, laundering is the maintenance and perpetuation of imperial conquests administered by the white capitalist State. Rage is an inescapable outcome of conquest. To enslave, steal, and kill is to become your own gravedigger. This is not lost on the conquering class of white capital. As Walter Rodney once said to a crowd of Guyanese comrades, “when you dedicate yourself to oppressing others, you cannot sleep.”[45] This means long before police precincts scorch the stolen earth or the colony is amassed with revolution, mechanisms are developed to bring Black Rage to heel.

Therefore, what many call co-optation is the regularly scheduled laundering of the State developed over centuries of conquests. Materializing from this development are the three primary phases to laundering Black Rage: Incubation, Labor, and Commodification.

Incubation, via the State, places Black Rage in circulation by setting both the oppressive conditions for rage to be expressed and seeding the contradictions for it to be cleaned. Labor, sets mass uprisings in motion. Threatened by the Black masses, the State layers the narcissistic rage of the Black elite overtop the illegal militant rage of the masses to conceal class interests and collapse the labor of Black Rage into the grips of capital. Commodification, the now-laundered Black Rage— managed by the Black elite—is integrated within the State, ready to be withdrawn as a labor-crushed commodity to be bought, sold, or repressed by white capital for the next cycle.

[1] Lauryn Hill, “Black Rage,” YouTube (YouTube, August 22, 2014), .

[2] Karl Marx, Capital: Volume 1. (London: Penguin Books, 1976) 341.

[3] Rasul Mowatt, The Geographies of Threat and the Production of Violence: The State and the City Between Us. (New York and London: Routledge Taylor & Francis, 2021.), 2.

[4] Vanessa Ogle, “The end of empire and the rise of tax havens: How decolonisation propelled the growth of low-tax jurisdictions, with lasting economic implications for former colonies.” The New Statesman. 09 September 2021. Retrieved from .

[5] York W. Bradshaw, and Jie Huang, “Intensifying Global Dependency: Foreign Debt, Structural Adjustment, and Third World Underdevelopment.” The Sociological Quarterly 32 no. 1 (1991) 321-342. .

[6] Destin Jenkins, The Bonds of Inequality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2021)

[7] In Black Awakening in Capitalist America Robert Allen lays out how in the late 1960s co-opting American state fronts such as the Ford Foundation, the Urban Coalition, and National Alliance of Businessmen were attempting “to equate black power with black capitalism.” By reducing Black Rage to a failure of the exclusionary market Black Power could be redefined. Robert L Allen, Black Awakening in Capitalist America (Trenton: Africa World Press, 1969.)

[8] For a clearer view on how the contemporary Black poor provide involuntary labor for the Black elite and Hollywood see Bertrand Cooper, “Who Actually Gets to Create Black Pop Culture?”Current Affairs, July 25th, 2021. .

[9] The FBI COINTELPRO Ghetto Informant program, although minimally effective, provides insight into how spaces for radical gathering were turned into fronts for capture. Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans, Ghetto Informant Program 75-76, by Frank Church and John G. Tower,

[10] Fedaral Bureau of Investigation. Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law    Enforcement Officers. Fedaral Bureau of Investigation, by FBI Counter Terrorism

[11] Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, “History of Anti-Money Laundering Laws,”, accessed August 26, 2022, .

[12] James Chen, “Money Laundering.” Investopedia, May 18, 2022, .

[13] Ibid

[14] For UN definition on money laundering see “Money Laundering Overview,” United Nations: Office on Drugs and Crime, accessed August 26, 2022, .

[15] From 1981-1986 top officials in the Regan administration were secretly selling Arms to Iran to “illegally” fund the right wing contras in Nicaragua against the communist Sandinistas. This is also known as reverse laundering where “legitimate” funds are used to fund illicit activity. For more on Iran Contra see Robinson, Teresa Simons. 1991. “FBI knew BCCI financed Iran-Contra deal, bank official says.” United Press International. 22 October. .

[16] The Money Laundering and Control Act of 1986 was apart of the larger War on Drugs bill, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. The Anti-Drug Abuse act disproportionately criminalized crack-cocaine. Coincidently or not, much of the cocaine used to make crack was imported by CIA sponsored Contras. For more see William J. Hughes, “Money Laundering Control Act of 1986,” Money laundering control act of 1986 §, accessed June 15, 2022, .

[17] Frantz Fanon, Toward the African Revolution: Political Essays (New York: Grove, 2004), 84.

[18] Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (London: Verso, 2018), 357.

[19] For how capitalist states monopolize the force of “crime” see Charles Tilly, “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime,” in Bringing the State Back In (Cambridge etc: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 169-191.

[20] Mowatt, Geographies of Threat, 108

[21] Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 2021), 191.

[22] Derrick Bryson Taylor, “George Floyd Protests: A Timeline,” The New York Times, May 30, 2020), .

[23] Elena Schneider, “Record Cash Floods Democrats, Black Groups amid Protests and Pandemic,” Politico, July 7, 2020, .

[24] “Foundation Maps Racial Equity,” Foundation Maps, July 24, 2022, .

[25] Jena McGregor and Tracy Jan, “Corporate America’s $50 billion promise,” The Washington Post, August 23, 2021, .

[26] Cassella, Megan. 2021. “‘Part of the fabric’: Democrats say Biden’s sweeping changes will be hard to undo.” Politico. 28 April. .

[27] For the uselessness of the George Floyd Policing Act read, Derecka Purnell, “The George Floyd Act Wouldn’t Have Saved George Floyd’s Life. That Says It All ,” The Guardian (Guardian News and Media, March 4, 2021), .

[28] Adam Gabbatt, “Republicans Push ‘Tsunami’ of Harsh Anti-Protest Laws after BLM Rallies,” The Guardian (Guardian News and Media, April 12, 2021),  

[29] Kiara Alfonseca, “Map: Where Anti-Critical Race Theory Efforts Have Reached,” ABC News (ABC News Network, March 24, 2022), .

[30] Eric Bradner, Sarah Mucha, and Donald Judd, “Biden Says He Doesn’t Support Defunding Police,” CNN (Cable News Network, June 8, 2020), .

[31] Nicholas Kulish, “After Raising $90 Million in 2020, Black Lives Matter Has $42 Million in Assets,” The New York Times .

[32] Sean Campbell, “Black Lives Matter Secretly Bought a $6 Million House,” NY Mag (Intelligencer, April 4, 2022), .

[33] Morrison, Aaron. 2022. “AP Exclusive: Black Lives Matter has $42 million in assets.” Associated Press. 17 May. .

[34] BLM 10, “Tell No Lies, Statement from the Frontlines of BLM,” Statement From The Frontlines of BLM, July 8, 2021, .

[35] Imani Perry, “Stop Hustling Black Death,” The Cut, May 24, 2021, .

[36] Orlando Mayorquin, “Activists Accuse BLM Foundation Leader of Siphoning $10 Million in Donations, Lawsuit Says,” USA Today (Gannett Satellite Information Network, September 6, 2022), .

[37] Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “In the Shadow of the Shadow State,” in The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017), pp. 41-51.

[38] Black Lives Matter Leaders Defend BLM’s Decision To Buy $6M Home, Condemn Claims Of Mismanaged FundsYouTube (Roland Martin Unfiltered , 2022), .

[39] Jared A. Ball, The Myth and Propaganda of Black Buying Power (Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2020).

[40] Jared Ball, “Buying Power and Black Banking Revisited!,” iMWiL!, May 5, 2020, .

[41] Black Alliance for Peace – Mid-Atlantic, “The Neocolonial Collusion of Hbcus and the State,” Hood Communist, October 28, 2021, .

[42] Tracy, McGregor, and Hoyer, “Corporate America’s $50 billion promise,” Education

[43] Hannah Joy, “Atlanta HBCU Students Protest, Sleep in Tents for Better Campus Conditions,” TheGrio, October 22, 2021, .

[44] Tracy, McGregor, and Hoyer, “Corporate America’s $50 billion promise,” Criminal Justice

[45] Walter Rodney, “The Struggle Goes on by Walter Rodney,” History as Weapon, September 1979, .

Reposted from Black Agenda Report

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