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Facelift – The revamping of a long-lost society. SOAS BLA(C)K PANTHERS SOCIETY

By Ismail Abdi BA International Relations and Economic

How would you like to form part of a new “society”? While I am sure most of you, dear readers, will have already engaged with plenty here at SOAS, I’d like to simply ask: besides the organisational aspect, how many of them really feel like an actual community? How many do you feel have actually invested in the construction of such an environment? How many have actively called upon you in that process? Well, here I present the opportunity for you to take part in something that seeks to provide just that. 

SOAS Bla(c)k Panthers Society is a project which hopes to create a new platform for both discussion and real-time action. It draws upon the concepts of defunct society ‘Demilitarise SOAS’. Few might recall, but their primary focus was to disconnect the institution from its links to entities supporting oppression, and cutting back on its extensive security regime. The Bla(c)k Panthers Soc frames this from the angle of anti-bla(c)k oppression, that such entities are fueling a system that actively promotes such. The society evolves upon these ideas to include key themes from the Black Panther Party; community engagement and knowledge-driven action. But what’s unique about the Bla(c)k Panthers?

a forum for the collective study of and knowledge-based action against anti-bla(c)k oppression.”

Well, a hint is in the name: “Bla(c)k”. The primary focus is to “fight both anti-black and anti-indigenous systems of oppression”. Bla(c)kness is interpreted here as a universal measure of oppression, the degree of which being proportional to the oppression faced, thereby explaining oppression within and amongst the oppressed. As such it’s important to learn about the root causes of the supposed impurity of blackness. Think of it this way, across many cultures, the term black is associated with the deviant. “Black sheep”, “black heart”, or my personal favourite “maskax madow” (Somali for “black brain”). Now, you’re more than welcome to challenge the founder on this–by all means I’m just the messenger. In fact, that’s very much the point of this article, finding the sort of folk who are willing to do just that. The core idea, however, is to bring together the struggles of the various bla(c)k–not exclusively African–and indigenous groups from all over the world – Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Polynesia and beyond – to learn together through collective study, and organise in support of all groups oppressed through anti-black measures. The Bla(c)k Panthers Society aims to create a forum for the collective study of and knowledge-based action against anti-bla(c)k oppression; to establish a voice on campus for these groups of varying blackness and to understand the intersection between their struggle, and how their fates, and more broadly that of global society, are intrinsically linked.

Since its founding, the society has held startup events to shed light on those most peripheral movements, such as Independence for West Papua, and the crisis in Sudan, as well as a special Intl. Women’s Day screening of “Assata: Women in Revolution” in collaboration with SOAS Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!. 

The founder is seeking students willing to help get the ground running, not simply in setting up an operational society, but rather to help create an ethos. To create, from this raw idea, a practically applicable concept. To build a new “society” in essence.

For more information, or to register your interest, you can contact the founder via @soasblackpantherssoc on Instagram.

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