I currently live in Sacramento, California, U.S., the sixth largest city in the largest state within the U.S. Sacramento is nestled in between the world famous city of San Francisco (from wence I hail) and the breathtaking Sierra Nevada, the home of Lake Tahoe. This city stands with the San Joaquin Valley, one of the largest food producing regions in the world, just minutes to the South. Sacramento's the capitol city of California with one of the most racially diverse populations anywhere. The metropolitan area is slightly over 1 million people with Africans, Asians, Indigenous people (Latinos/Natives, etc.), and Europeans each accounting for no less than about 15% of the state's population.
Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) fourth from right, at the Democratic Party of Guinea headquarters in 1997. With him are cadre from the Pan-African Union of Sierra Leone, African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau, Convention People's Party of Guinea, Gambia, and other Pan-African formations. Laying the groundwork for Pan-Africanism as Kwame Nkrumah articulated in the "Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare." Much more than what you have probably have as your perception of the All African People's Revolutionary Party today.
The truths we need have always been here, but I can say that's its never more obvious than it is today. Those truths are that capitalism as a system developed and evolved out of the enslavement of my African ancestors. The systems of colonialism and slavery that were set up for this process still represent the mechanisms that drive the world today, meaning our people are on the bottom for a reason. That reason is we must continue to be oppressed because the capitalist world depends on the human and material resources of Africa, African people, and the rest of humanity, to survive, function, and maintain its control.
If you don't follow professional basketball and/or just missed it, an accident happened last night in the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S. During the second quarter, Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook got into a heated exchange with a fan sitting closely behind the Thunder bench. Anyone who follows pro basketball knows that Westbrook, one of the game's best players, has a long history of extreme intensity and quirkiness, but none of that excuses the immediate racism that displayed itself immediately after this incident became public.
I was was born and raised in San Francisco, California, U.S. Born in the Kaiser Hospital on Geary Blvd that is still there to the best of my knowledge. I lived there until a few months after barely graduating high school. In the summer of 1979, after spending my first 17 years in San Fran, I left the city to pursue my growth and although I visited the city regularly to see my parents/family, I haven't lived in the city since.
Slavery by definition means a system where people are forced to provide labor to another group who holds power over them. Most people understand that definition for slavery, but most people are also overwhelmingly confused about the systems of slavery that have existed within human history. The confusion mostly results with people conflating different periods of the history and implementation of the terrible systems of slavery. And, of course, this confusion isn't by accident. Its by shrewd design.
First, we must discuss slavery as an economic system. As our great revolutionary Pan-Africanist theorist and practitioner Sekou Ture so clearly and accurately articulated in the classic work "Strategy and Tactics of the African Revolution - The History of Class Struggle", human history has evolved from one period of economic dominance to another. And this evolution has been based on people's ability to engage the forces of nature so as to attempt to shape them in ways that would develop our possibilities as human beings to exist and advance. Certainly, this phenomenon cannot be discussed without acknowledging the conflict that has helped shape and define this process. That conflict Ture correctly identifies as the development of class antagonisms e.g. class struggle. And, its these contradictions that have played a significant role in shaping human history.
The capitalists, and by definition, when we say capitalists, we are talking about the ruling class families that own the overwhelming majority of the wealth in the world today. We are talking about families like the Kelloggs, Duponts, Morgans, and Rockefellers. And, the reason we say families when we are talking about the capitalists is these few families actually own the majority of everything around us. In other words, the worldwide "Occupy" movement from 2011 helped popularize the phrase "the 1%", but most people can't articulate the meaning in clear terms behind that phrase. What it means is those 1% e.g. the Rockerfellers, etc., are only 1% of the population, but that class of people own about 75% of all of the production apparatus in the world today. Meanwhile, just within the U.S., the richest country on earth, 90% of the U.S. population has assets that are negligible, meaning practically everyone here is in debt - meaning they owe more than then they own. Obviously, as unbelievable as it may seem, these numbers are even more one sided outside of the U.S. where the deepest poverty exists. So, we are talking about these ruling families when we say capitalists. And, to give further perspective on their control, we can use the Rockerfellers as a quick example. That family owns controlling interest, e.g. dominant stock, in Chevron Oil Company and all its international subsidiaries. They own controlling interest in Chase Manhattan Bank and all its subsidiaries. They own controlling interest in the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and all of its subsidiaries (like CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, etc.). One family owns all those resources which gives them the ability to shape oil policy internationally, which you know has been, and will continue to be, a major component in shaping everything from capitalist foreign policy, armed invasions, coups attempted and supported in sovereign countries, etc., while having control of the mass media outlets that shape people's perceptions of what they are doing. Or, as Malcolm X succinctly put it; "during World War II, they told you the Germans were the bad guys and the Russians were our friends. After World War II they told you the Germans were our friends and the Russians were our enemies. Each time you believed them." So, we start by naming the capitalists because its important to name the people who pillage the planet and murder and oppress the majority of people who inhabit it.
Next, its important to state clearly that although these capitalists, who are in control today, want all of us to believe they have always been in control, and will always be in control, that couldn't be farther from the truth. The capitalists certainly have a strong stake in convincing people of this because as long as people believe their control is unquestioned, they won't believe they can ever do anything to stop them. As was stated in the beginning, Ture told us already that the world is a series of human developments and economics is certainly within that historical realm. The world hasn't always been capitalist. In fact, the world is thousands of years old while capitalism as a system is only a few hundred years old. In order to understand slavery as an economic system, we have to understand this history. There were dominant economic systems before capitalism and there will be economic systems after capitalism. The first documented system of human development as it relates to economics was the system of communalism. This system is considered the most basic form of human production because it existed at a time in history - thousands of years ago - when human beings hadn't yet developed large cohesive social systems. In other words, a good example of what a communal society would have probably looked like would be what you see if you watch the television show "The Walking Dead." In that show, smaller social aggregates of people e.g. 100 to 200 people, etc., form societies. In those societies, people organize systems of hunting for food, providing shelter, organizing their small society. The important thing about this period in history is that these communal societies were people focused, meaning they were based and organized around meeting people's needs. Another important element is these societies, much like the television show I mentioned, mostly don't know about any other similarly organized societies and/or don't have any interaction with them. Communalism as the dominant economic system existed for thousands of years, but as Ture discusses, humans continue to evolve (in the dialectical sense, meaning all actions create a reaction and that reaction is going to be positive and negative with one dominating more than the other).
As populations grew, people became more conscious of others outside their communities. And, more importantly, people began to understand that there would come a point where they could no longer exist independent of other communities of people. Obviously, this reality caused tensions to rise. And, at some point during this dialectical process, people figured out that there were some people who could physically dominant other people and this power to do so would give the first group power to exploit the second group for the first group's benefit. People identified as men during this period began the systemic practice of physically dominating other human beings, particularly women, non-men. And, this period of history, approximately 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, ushered in the system of slavery which became the dominant economic system. By slavery during this period, we mean the system where people work for others to create wealth for them. Of course, this significant change from communal times where people's needs were dominant, to this period of slavery where wealth for one group was the priority over the exploitation of another group, class divisions began to develop. As you can guess from the initial analysis of this period, its also the first time when patriarchy as a systemic system of oppression against women and non-men was institutionalized. As slavery evolved as a system, class divisions intensified and consequently, class struggle intensified. Still, its critically important to make a clear distinction between this dominant system of slavery thousands of years ago from the transatlantic slave trade of hundreds of years ago. This system of slavery was the dominant system all over the world. There is no known country in history that didn't practice slavery as its dominate system. That's the only way it could be dominant. This meant slavery was dominant in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. That means class divisions and class struggle developed in all of those societies. The concept that some societies had no class divisions is a fantasy and a myth.
Today, the enemies of African liberation (and liberation for all oppressed peoples) make every effort to create confusion on this question of slavery. They are so quick to point out to the Africans claiming injustice that "Africans had slaves!" They also want it known that "the Arabs traded for slaves in Africa!" From a scientific and historic standpoint, they are not wrong. I have just demonstrated that every country had slavery, but there is deception at work here. For example, when zionists, the people who justify the theft of Palestinian land in the maintenance of their illegal state of "Israel", claim their justification for Palestinian land is that "their people" inhabited that region thousands of years ago as slaves of the Egyptians (Kemitic people of North Africa). Yes, they claim "Jews were enslaved in Egypt." The truth is Africans, who were the people in that region during the time the Bible was written to reference, enslaved other Africans, regardless of religion, because as has been stated, that was the dominant economic system at that time. There is absolutely no evidence that the people who run "Isreal" today, the descendants of Europe known as "Ashkanazi Jews" were evident in North Africa thousands of years ago. Its also true that although many people beyond Europeans, including Africans, did participate in the transatlantic slave trade, e.g. kidnapping and selling our ancestors into slavery, their participation doesn't today have any impact on the state of Africa or her children just as the economic system of slavery doesn't have that impact today, but keep that point in mind.
Another reason why this question is so confusing is because people don't understand that dominant economic systems doesn't mean they are the absolute only economic system in existence at a given time. There always has been overlap as you can imagine would be the case when you are talking about human development. Another way of saying that is people develop at different speeds so the systems aren't always going to be the same at the same time. That's why we say dominant economic system, not absolute without exception. For example, today, you have capitalism as the unquestionably dominant economic system in the world, but even in 2019, there are still areas in the world where slavery is practiced as an economic institution. There are still areas where feudalism, the system of kingdoms/queendoms were the dominant economic system, is practiced. There are even remote areas where communal living is still practiced, but capitalism is the system of production that controls the world today. Feudalism isn't controlling anything for anyone not living within that realm and that also goes for all of the other non-dominant systems. Still, because of this uneven development, of course there is still slavery in Africa and other places, etc. The main point here, and the reason I asked you to hold the earlier point about Africans, Arabs, Indigenous people of the Americas, who participated in enslaving Africans, is because none of those people and their role in our enslavement is a factor in our oppression today. The capitalist system, which was built on our enslavement, and is maintained on our oppression built from that model, is the priority reason we are oppressed today. That's why we choose, unlike some of you, to focus on capitalism and not all of those other ill relevant factors.
What we are saying here is if the majority of people on Earth are starving, why would we define the world based on a few people who have enough to eat. Of course, we recognize them and figure out how to replicate what they are doing, or in the case of modern day slavery, etc., wipe it out, but we certainly can't define the world based on the outdated models. What we can say is due to the nature of class struggle, those Africans blaming Indigenous people, Arabs, etc., for any role any of their people played in enslaving us, we are being very dishonest to ignore that Africans did exactly the same thing to us. And, these people cannot produce any real evidence to demonstrate that our people participated any less, etc. than anyone else, but as I've already declared, that at best, is a minor argument that doesn't in any way hold the keys to our liberation.
So, as Ture correctly articulated, communalism evolved into slavery which evolved into feudalism which gave way to capitalism which, we believe, will give way to socialism, which will give way to communism, and what comes after that we haven't evolved enough to know yet, but people will figure it out. And, the transatlantic slave trade, the system responsible for the masses of African people in the Western Hemisphere today (the Americas), was the system that financed the so-called industrial revolution that created capitalism and its dominance today. The point is we fight against capitalism because this system sits on the necks of our people and all of humanity. Their system comes out of our oppression so no one who studies this question can deny our rights to be completely opposed to this system. Meanwhile, since we are against all forms of oppression, we definitely cannot dismiss those who suffer today under slavery. This system has to be put to bed as it will be eventually, but we also cannot permit those attempting to exploit these systems to convince people that slavery happening in remote areas here and there is the defining system in a world where most of us have no connection to that slavery. Even those remote areas are impacted in every way by capitalism and certainly none of us reading this can claim with a healthy mind that we are not impacted by capitalism in every waking moment we spend on earth.
We argue that we organize and eliminate capitalism and that sets the groundwork for also eliminating all of the overlapping and outdated systems. Nothing will be absolute at the same time, but we will continue to make progress this way.
Hopefully, now you understand why we focus our attention on dismantling capitalism. And, hopefully, you also understand why we are convinced that some of your efforts to continue to make these ill relevant points about today's vestiges of ancient systems of oppression only serve the purpose of confusing and unnecessarily dividing us from the most pressing task at hand today - organizing against and dismantling this brutal and oppressive capitalist system.
As incredible as it is, there are a growing number of people, particularly Africans within the U.S., who believe that Africa stood by twiddling its thumbs while the ancestors of those of us living in the Western Hemisphere were savagely kidnapped and brought to this part of the world. There are at least a couple of reasons why this insanity continues to grow legs. First, as much as people don't want to acknowledge it, people don't engage in serious study of history. Africans don't study African history and no one else does either. The danger in this is if you don't put in the work to properly understand our true history, you have absolutely no choice except to believe the false narratives promoted by our enemies. And, they have plenty of them that they cram down our throats 24/7. They tell us Africans in Africa don't want a connection with us. They tell us our people in Africa willingly sold us into slavery. They desire us to believe that slavery actually, as astounding as this is, has benefited those of us living within the U.S. No matter what confusion rolls out of people's mouths, if you don't know our glorious history in Africa fighting tooth and nail against those who would colonize and enslave us, you have no option except to accept, at least on some dysfunctional and sub-conscious level, the lies being told to us about our history and the fact so many of these myths still have legs beneath them confirms their effectiveness.
I have a huge headache. Its hurting because I'm really tired of this constant quest by so-called liberals within the U.S. to position their cowardly politics as the benchmark of human progress. Possibly, my issue is I have grown up over the last several decades listening to the messages of independent revolutionary organizers who had no alliance with anything connected to imperialism. These courageous and uncompromising souls had only one concern, the universal quest for justice in the world for all of humanity. This list of people is infinite, but for direct influence into my life I'll go with Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), Marcus and Amy/Amy Garvey(s), Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Mangaliso Sobukwe, Steve Biko, Winnie Mandela, Sekou Ture, George Padmore, Walter Rodney, etc., etc.
Last night, Spike Lee won the Best Screen Play (I believe that's the title of his award) academy award for his 2018 film "Blackkklansman." Some people are taking issue with Lee's demonstrative display of emotion at winning the award, jumping into Samuel L. Jackson's arms like a child at a playground. What I resent is the overall celebration about a movie that uplifts a police agent who infiltrates African organizations fighting for justice for our people. Yes, I've heard the perspectives that the agent - Ron Stallworth - the person who's life the film is based on, was allegedly so moved by the speech Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) gives that he is motivated to stop infiltrating African organizations (again, allegedly) and turns his focus to the ku klux klan.