Wait for it. Are you ready? Its not Nelson Mandela. Certainly, its not some silly answer like Barack Obama. Not even close. Of course, we don't claim to have done a formal survey on this. We haven't conducted a scientific experiment on this question. Our assessment is going to be entirely based on our understanding of African politics over the 25 year period in question and informal discussions with Africans everywhere.
Saturday night I paid $65.00 USD to see Ice Cube. Actually, I wasn't really going to see him. Also performing at the show was the classic old school group Zapp who I have loved since I bought their first album in 1980 as an 18 year old. I owned all their albums and since it always seems like 90% of hip/hop, at least the so-called West Coast "gangsta rap" is Zapp (Roger Troutman), and Parliament-Funkadelic samples, I will always enjoy Zapp. E-40 was also performing. His music defines reactionary, but if I'm honest, when I was at my lowest point of self-sufficiency in Oregon in 2010, 2011, listening to his music reminded me of the Califonria/Bay Area, which reminded me that's where I came from, which reminded me how I've come through much more than what I was dealing with at that time. So, for that, I wanted to see him too, because hearing his music live was going to be some sort of therapeutic thumb in the face to my struggles seven/eight years ago. And, because of the reasons given above, I was ok through Zapp and E-40's performances so that by itself was worth the cost of the ticket.
What I want to talk about though was Ice Cube's performance. He was the headliner and he spent almost twice the time on stage than any of the other performers mentioned previously. Now, I listened to Ice Cube once he left NWA and went solo. At that time, he was being mentored by former Nation of Islam National Representative, New Black Panther Party founder - Khalid Abdul Muhammad. By the time Ice Cube released "Death Certificate" in 1991, I was happy to plop down my - whatever it cost - for that CD. His approach was angry and extremely anti-woman and patriarchal, but most of us, including the many African women engaged in my organizational life at that time, collectively decided to forgo criticism of his unforgivable anti-womanism because of the strong anti-white supremacy statements that were expressed in virtually every song on that album. I'm not excusing that decision. Its not anything I'm proud of, but up to that point, no one else had figured out a way to express the raw anger of inner city Africans than what Ice Cube articulated on that album. His analogy of a European (white) man kidnapping Africans in his car to the slave trade was genius. "My Summer Vacation" is the story of so many Africans locked up in this country's illegal prisons. "Man's Best Friend" is still poetic justice on African gun rights and "No Vaseline" remains one of the very best dis records in hip/hop history. And without question, the best portion of that record is the end when Ice Cube viciously assaults the late Eric "Eazy-E" Wright for meeting with the Republican National Committee as a fundraiser for the just departed George Bush Sr. "I'll never have dinner with the president, and when I see your @ss again I'll be hesitant!" Pure genius! I'm not mentioning any of those songs filled with patriarchal lyrics because quite honestly, I don't really know them. I skipped over them 100% of the time, but the ones I've mentioned, I played often. Never in front of my then young daughter and any other children in my presence because Cube's constant use of the n word was just not something we have done since the 1970s. Those political lyrics though. "A Bird in the hand (crack) is worth more than a bush (the president) to convey how Africans know they have better odds dealing drugs than trying to play the capitalist game...No matter what anyone says, that's genius. That's the core of what hip/hop is on all levels, despite its shortcomings. During those early 90s, Cube surpassed Public Enemy, KRS-1, and other "political" hip/hop voices in some ways because of his ability to capture that anger. His music wasn't about intellectually dissecting racist society. It was about sticking a 45 caliber pistol into uncle sam's mouth and squeezing the trigger and I loved it!
Even with all I've said about Ice Cube's music in the early 90s and its impact on me, I wasn't under any illusions before Saturday night. The Ice Cube of "Death Certificate" was a young man in his twenties. The Ice Cube of today is a middle aged man who has become the maga capitalist mogul who has distributed blockbuster movies like the "Friday" and "Barbershop" franchise series along with several even more mainstream movies in recent years like "Fist Fight". He's become a major mainstream capitalist star who can be seen in commercials and on ESPN breaking down NBA basketball games with uncle Shaq and Charles. Khalid Abdul Muhammad is a very distant memory for Ice Cube so I knew before Saturday that the chances of Cube performing anything produced during his "angry" years (1990 to 1994) were slim to none. And, my prediction was 100% accurate. The only song Cube performed that could even be suggested as political was his recently released anti-Trump song which of course he would sing, he just released it. The most basic business sense would require him to perform it everywhere he goes, but his short version of it along with his immediate disclaimer after that song of "I'm finished with political stuff...I just want to have fun!" clarified how a song calling for Trump to be arrested may seem radical to those who didn't hear Cube's albums in those early 90 years. Arresting the president pails in comparison to someone who rapped that "the white man puts us in prison for doing everything he does to us - robbery, murder, rape..." Instead, Cube's entire presentation Saturday night was titled heavily towards his "Westside Connection" west coast "gangsta" theme of the late 90s. Why? Because the "gangsta" stuff is safer for him with his current mainstream image. The question why anti-woman (one thing that has never changed in his music) and Africans killing each other lyrics are much more socially acceptable than rap commentary about racist police terrorism and oppression against African people is an entirely different conversation all to itself. I will say that African people have no collective value to this system. Never have and never will. Consequently, if you understand that, it shouldn't shock you in the least that us being dehumanized is entertainment in this backward capitalist world and any commentary challenging that narrative is about as valuable as a song calling for safe passage for every roach people see in their houses.
What I would like to ask everyone to consider is how it is you can claim this country has free speech and democracy when the only way you can become a big selling artist in this country is to tow the line and produce "art" that disparages our people and our culture? That disrespects our women and non-men? None of that is an indication to me of a society where the masses decide the direction of their lives (the definition of democracy) or have the ability to speak to the issues of the times.
The truth is the fact this is the reality is a reflection of the lack of political education in this society. There was no mass uprising Saturday night when his performance ended, missing all of his political material. People seemed quite pleased with "Put Yo Back Into it" and "Up in the Club" compared to "No Vaseline." Now, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that Ice Cube probably has some desire to perform some of those early 90s songs. I say that because I didn't miss his off the cuff comments several times Saturday night about how "they want to blame everything on us!" but until we demand that our culture be represented in ways that uphold our struggle for justice, that day where artists say what they want, and more importantly, what many of us want, is never going to happen.
Sekou Ture, in his classic work "Revolution, Culture, and Pan-Africanism" said that culture is the tool in which oppressed people arm themselves to battle colonialism. I'm an author who writes fiction books that are focused on Africa and our African liberation struggle. Books that present women as full human beings. Books that don't reduce our struggle to one of being anti-European, but clarify that our enemy is the capitalist system. So, based on the challenges I have getting my books out there, I understand why the Ice Cube of 2018/19 is not the Ice Cube of 1991. Everyone who reads them, confirms the quality of my literary fiction. Quality isn't the issue or the defining characteristic. In today's popular culture, that defining element is the products ability to sell and that ability is determined based on the lacking political consciousness of the masses of people. In other words, as long as the masses are willing to settle for nonsense than the entertainment industries will produce nothing except nonsense. Ice Cube's movies are all stacked with nonsense so he clearly has learned that lesson. To be successful, you have to appeal to the most base element of people's consciousness. People don't want to think, they want to laugh as if people are too simple to do both.
In recent history, we have the examples of the social upheavals of the late 1960s and the political hip/hop era of the late 80s, early 90s, to prove that the consciousness of the people dictates what the artists put out, not the other way around. In 1968, James Brown had to produce "Say It Loud! I'm Black and I'm Proud" because the masses of Africans demanded music making that sort of statement. That's what people wanted to hear and despite the fact it was reported that Brown refused to even say the "I'm Black and I'm Proud" part of the song (the children say that part), he was still a smart enough business man to know the record would advance his career. And LL Cool J was equally as aware in 1990 when he was booed from the stage of a show in his native New York because people felt his player lyrics were out of touch with the consciousness of the times. He said so himself. So, don't tell us the masses don't make history. The capitalist system works overtime to keep us confused. Or, maybe you believe it was a complete coincidence that the Isley Brothers recorded songs like "Harvest for the World, Fight the Power" and "The Pride" in the early 70s compared to "Between the Sheets" in 1984. The difference? The consciousness of the times. The activist focused early 70s compared to the me first/only 80s. My point is all of this is the result of what people want and demand, not the artistic focus of individual artists.
So, no, I didn't enjoy Ice Cube's performance. Not because I expected him to perform my songs. As I said, I knew he wouldn't so that's not what bothers me. What's irritating is how easy it is for the majority of us to accept such regular slaps in the face without the slightest flinch on our part.
Like everything else in this extremely backward society, the lack of analysis around domestic violence has permitted the problem to be defined based on how it serves the interests of the person(s) articulating the issue. In other words, domestic violence, like virtually everything else, is defined as a arbitrary phenomenon that can be articulated and defined whatever way fits the narrative of the person doing the talking. So, in this dysfunctional environment men can be considered just as much survivors of domestic violence as non-men. Without question, there are certainly men who are legitimate sexual assault/domestic violence survivors, but revolutionaries always want and need to be systemic in evaluating social situations. As a result, we develop an analysis that is informed by objective data, not just our personal feelings. That analysis tells us that history, especially understanding the history of the development of class structures, has an intricate tie to violence against non-men. And this violence is perpetuated through the culture of patriarchy. That means the conditions impact all of us. Or, even those of us who identify as men, are impacted in adverse ways by this systemic assault against non-men. I will describe my exposure to this unfortunate problem. Hopefully, no one is triggered by this description and if this is a possibility, you should probably stop reading here. The point of recounting this story is to continue on my path of personal recovery from the dysfunction of my youth and to express the point that this unfortunate problem doesn't benefit men in any way and nor are we separated from its impacts of us.
When I was eight years old, living in San Francisco, I lived in a tenement building with my family. We had an extended family that included my maternal grandmother, my oldest sister, her husband, my physically disabled maternal aunt, my mother, father, and other sister. At that time, my male role models were my father and my brother in law, my sister's husband (she was 11 years older than I). She married at 18 and I think I understood some of the challenges they had. The constant struggle for them to find employment (obviously, they were living with my parents), especially my brother in law. I knew this because previously, they had lived in a unit downstairs, but finances forced them to move in with us. I remember the stress of all of us living in those quarters together. I wasn't aware of the distinct tension that existed between my sister and her husband. All I knew was I used to love sitting and listening to my father and brother in law talk. It was my first male role modeling. They would talk about family life. Besides profanity, these conversations were usually G rated and a lot of what I learned about my father, who seldom talked to me, I learned from these observations. I knew he considered my brother in law his friend and they often socialized and had drinks together sitting at our kitchen table.
One day my father I picked me up from school as he usually did since he worked graveyards. And, as was the typical process, he dropped me and my sister off at our residence so that he could drive down and pick up my mother from work. On this day as we drove up in front of our building, there was my brother in law standing there. I recall thinking it odd that he would just be standing on the street, instead of being inside, but I remember my dad honking at him and then I recall him walking on down the street, away from our residential building. This meant the only people inside were my grandmother, wheelchair bound aunt, and my middle sister and I. No sooner did I get inside and start eating the campbells soup my dad had left for me than the doorbell rang, repeatedly. I remember my grandmother buzzed it and in spilled my sister with my brother in law tackling her. My grandmother screamed at him, our little cocker spaniel dog was barking and I was losing my mind. At first, I tried to tell myself they were play wrestling. They were still teenagers and they often rough housed, but as I watched him strike blows against her I realized this was for real. Meanwhile, my grandmother was grabbing a steak knife and making her way down the stairs to defend my sister. At this point, my brother in a law pointedly told me to go into the bathroom and lock the door. Well, we were trained to listen to our elders without hesitation, so I did what he told me the do, terrified or not. Once in the bathroom, I heard the repeated pounding. I heard my grandmother pleading, screaming at him to stop. I heard our little dog barking. For my eight year old mind, my entire stability as a human being was being ripped apart. My brother in law, one of my male role models, was supposed to love and support my sister in my mind. He was supposed to respect her? I had no storage place to file this assault. What I've never said to anyone before is in my panic and confusion, I picked up a can of house spray sitting there and with the matches sitting there I lit a match and as a distraction, I thought it would be a good idea to see what would happen if I sprayed the spray into the small flame. Anything to distract me from what was happening outside that door. I sprayed the match and the flame increased 10-fold.
Eventually, my grandmother succeeded in getting my brother in law off my sister and out of our place. I'm not joking with you when I tell you that where I come from, we don't call the police. That was never a consideration, but I distinctly recall that once my parents returned there was a long debrief. Once they determined that my sister didn't need to see a doctor she was cared for and they lamented on and on about how my brother in law, knowing the daily routines in our family, waited intentionally for my father to leave and for my sister to arrive. I recall my mother and father getting some people together and going out to scour the streets for my brother in law. They never captured him and I never saw him again until about 30 years later at my nephew's wedding (the child of my sister and brother in law, my sister had my nephew at the time of the assault, although I don't remember where he was at the time). As I became an adult, I had always told myself I would harm my ex brother in law if I saw him, but as I saw him at that wedding, he was a much older man with his own health issues and he and I never even bothered to interact.
What I don't remember or know the answers to is what impact the attack had on my sister, who I remember having great potential at that time. She was able to type about 140 words a minute which in those days was a major skill. After that incident she continuously struggled with addiction and holding a job for the rest of her life. In 2013 she unfortunately met an untimely end. I'm not blaming that specifically on that attack. I'm saying I don't know what impact it had on her. I also don't understand how I didn't burn my entire face off that day because by all rights, I should have, but I escaped unscathed. Some people would attribute that to some spiritual intervention, but I refuse to believe something like that because I'm not that self-centered. There are people all day everyday who are much more deserving than I could ever be and horrible things happen to those people all the time. I prefer to believe that the variables and factors that happened to line up for me that day, as they have on many other occasions (and on many occasions they haven't). Instead of thinking I'm some sort of specially blessed individual, I believe whatever reasons I escaped serious injury, or death, that day, I have to use that as an impetus to continue to do good work. I don't know what impact the attack had on my parents or other sister because we never discussed things like that in our family. I do know that besides my mother and I, my entire family suffered from addiction. And, today, besides my middle sister and I, everyone else is deceased, and my surviving sister has a multitude of heath issues. As for me, I recall a feeling that my sister's life had little value. I remember feeling like I was helpless to do anything to help her. And I know I felt like my life had absolutely no meaning.
All my childhood beliefs vanished that day. I know I felt that day, and I've felt ever since, that the entire experience was unfair and harmful to my sister, my middle sister, my grandmother, me, our dog, my parents, and everyone else. We had a trust that evaporated that day and just like several thousands of years ago, a man figured out that by exerting his ability to physically dominate someone, he could express power for himself. I know that as a little boy in a racist society, I wanted to learn how to have a power of my own, but that day, I realized as I have for the rest of my life, that I definitely saw achieving power in that traumatizing and dishonest way as cowardly and harmful. Maybe that day also signaled for me that we cannot achieve the power we are looking for as individual African men. We have to do it as a part of a collective effort to empower the masses of people that respects and supports non-men out in front. Maybe that day did that. Maybe not, but I know that I've never felt fear and uncertainty more than I felt it that day. I wasn't the target. I'm a man, but even at eight years old, I realized this is a destructive way for men to interact with non-men. I also learned that day that when these assaults happen, they traumatize the woman being attacked, any other people who are there, and any people who are not there. We are all traumatized until we figure out how to evolve through these difficulties.
Now that George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the U.S., has died we will be faced with a barrage of propaganda designed to paint him as some sort of servant of the people of the U.S. There will of course be a state funeral that we will be forced to be subjected to, whether we want to or not. And, when that funeral happens, the Obama's will undoubtedly be there, hugging and cuddling with the Bush family. This is the nature of U.S. imperialist politics. People who are elected act like each other's enemies when its politically expedient to do so, but the reality is that all of them represent the same class interests e.g. upholding capitalism. Or, at least, none of them have the same class interests that you have. So, don't act surprised when the Michelle and Barack Obama are tongue kissing the Trump family when that old dishrag who is the current president finally keels over.
My shock isn't with the Obamas. I'm not confused about the undeniable reality that they are an entrenched part of the international bourgeoisie. In other words, they have more in common with the super elites who maintain and perpetuate oppression against the masses of people on the planet than they have with me or any of the masses of people on earth. What I marvel at is how easily so many people are so quick to forget who these people are and what they have done against humanity? And African people are the absolute worst. We have been been so brain-dirtied by the imperialist version of religion. We are so indoctrinated from the last several hundred years that we have permitted this dysfunctional religious teaching to convince us that the only way we can get into heaven is to forget and forgive our oppressors. What a wonderful scam for those who keep us downtrodden.
So many otherwise well meaning African folks are spending this time giving condolences to the Bush family for the loss of that old oppressor. Its as if we don't remember that he was the guy who got elected by appealing to the worst and most primitive racist beliefs of Europeans in the U.S. with his "Willie Horton" ad campaign in 1988. So many of us have pictures of Nelson Mandela in our houses, yet we apparently forgot that George Bush senior was a Central Intelligence Agency official in 1962 who played a role in helping the apartheid government in Azania (South Africa) locate and imprison Mandela for 27 years. We conveniently disregard the fact that Bush Sr. was a key player in continuing the strategy of permitting crack cocaine to infest inner city communities as a way of controlling those communities and stalling any potential grassroots organizing efforts against our systemic oppression. We don't recall that Bush Sr. led the campaign to assist the racist apartheid regime in making all of Southern Africa apartheid in the late 80s. We evidently missed the reminder that Bush was also a key player in the mass incarceration plot against our people as well as the architect of the "new world order" strategy which subjugated the masses of people on earth to U.S. imperialism through illegal invasions of - everywhere from Panama, Libya (two countries of African people) to Iraq, etc.
Its as if we are the bullied person on the playground who thinks the only way we can function is by responding to the brutality against us by showering our bully with love and respect. This is the example we demonstrate for our youth? That those people who reap oppression and brutality against us need to be memorialized by us? That is absolutely sick and a complete slap in the face to all those who fought and sacrificed so much for our dignity to remain in place. But, that's actually the problem here isn't it? The people today who reap all of the benefits of that struggle didn't have to suffer all of those sacrifices to achieve our current comfort level. So, to many of us misguided souls today, these people who manage this empire are to be respected because at least we have been able to live as comfortable slaves with no agency in our lives. That may be enough for some people, but that will never be enough for most of us. George Bush 41 and 43 are enemies to African people and all of humanity. The evidence is infinite. Barack and Michelle Obama may give some misdirected persons some sense of pride at seeing capitalism in blackface, but both of them are agents of imperialism and I can suggest many other much better suited role models for you to demonstrate for your children. How about Malcolm and Betty Shabazz? Sekou and Madame Ture? Marcus and Amy 1 and/or Amy II Garvey? But, I know those couples won't do for some folks because the real objective these folks are searching for is acceptance within the very system that oppresses the masses of our people. So, for these people, having bourgeoisie role models who represent the system (of oppression) is the only viable gauge for progress. This is again a severe slap against our dignity as a people.
Kwame Ture was accurate when he said poor and powerless people cannot belong to the same political party as rich and powerful people because these poor people don't have the same interests as the rich people. And, they have no way to enforce their interests within that political party against the rich people. In other words Africans, you aren't in the same political sphere as the Bush or Obama families. These people don't even see you in their vision for this country. You don't register with them. And, you look pitiful offering condolences for the people who worked overtime to keep your communities oppressed. We realize that truth and justice are completely divorced from material reality in today's capitalist world, but the role of justice seekers is to expose that contradiction at every turn.
We mourn Bush Sr. as much as he mourned the millions upon millions of people around the world he helped murder and oppress. The millions of LGBTQ people he cut services against during the height of the AIDs epidemic (many of which who were African). The masses of incarcerated Africans in prison from the drug trade industry. This man was an international criminal and Obama is one just as well. And their wives equally so. It was Barbara Bush you remember who said that Africans who were forced to evacuate New Orleans after her son cruelly elected to ignore their suffering after the flood of Katrina, had never had it as good as they had it in the survival camps. And Michelle Obama? She'll be kissing and hugging all of those devils in the next couple of days just like she'll be slobbering over the Trumps when that old basticle's days end. Actually, if that old basticle attends this funeral she'll probably be doing it right now because whether people want to acknowledge it or not, that's who these people are. Its who they always were. And, its who they will always be. Bush Sr. was the ultimate domestic and international abuser. Hell is too good place for him, his family, and the Obamas. But, don't let that little fact stop some of you from your fictional pursuit of fake forward progress at this expense of our hard fought dignity.
I’m really sick and tired of hearing a bunch of old racist Europeans tell my people in the U.S. that the economy here is booming and there are more jobs available for our people now than ever before. I was equally as offended at hearing the same nonsense during the Obama years so don’t try and make this piece “partisan” between the two U.S. capitalist parties. We have repeatedly stated in clear terms that we align with Malcolm X 100% when he said “I’m not a democrat, nor republican, nor American, and got sense enough to know it!” My opposition to this improved jobs/economy rhetoric is based on the fact I have training in evaluating economic data. So, I know how to discern and determine true progress compared to just being able to react to what some idiot in chief is telling us.
And, the funny piece is you know how to evaluate economic data also. Even if you have no such training, this is still true. The problem is these people are working 24/7 to convince you that you don’t have the ability to evaluate what’s happening on your own because they don’t want you to think about what’s actually happening because the minute you do, it will be painfully obvious how full of you know what they are.
Clearly, the most logical factor in evaluating a consumer based economy like the one that functions within the U.S. is to look at what’s happening with consumers. When I say consumer economy, what I mean is this capitalist economy is partially driven by how money is spent. If people have disposable money, they buy things. When they purchase things, since industry here is based on private profit, the corporations who consumers shop with experience increased revenues so the corporations hire more workers. In turn, those workers have money to buy things and the cycle continues. As a side note, we have been trained to believe that this type of system is universal when in fact it’s actually quite primitive. A developed and planned economy, a socialist economy, isn’t primitive enough to be based on how much money people spend. A developed economy should be based on people’s ability to participate effectively within it. In other words, an economy where people are gainfully employed and able to provide a quality life for their families and communities, that’s the definition of a productive economy. No one can logically disagree with that assessment. That socialist assessment, but that’s a separate piece. For now, we are talking about this consumer driven capitalist economy. You have the tools to assess and evaluate it. You don’t need lying idiots to guide you. You don’t need them because they are going to attempt to confuse you by suggesting, over and over again, that the criteria to evaluate the economy is based on the performance of the stock market. This is a highly effective method of confusing people about how economy works because most people don’t have a clue how to evaluate the stock market. They don’t have a clue because evaluating the stock market really doesn’t tell you squat about the strength of the economy. This is true because the stock market is really just the experience of so-called experts projecting the ability of a company to perform under current market conditions. Based on this assessment, the value of the stock of said company is valuated. This may be a solid method of determining which companies to invest money into for the capitalists, but it has very little to do with how productive the economy is for everyday people. For us, the factors and variables we should be concerned with are how much disposable income do you have? That question is answered based on the quality of wage increases you are receiving? The degree in which the price of your housing expenses, utilities, food, etc., is costing? If you and most people you know are not experiencing any significant improvement in disposable income, and no one I know is experiencing that, then the economy is not performing at some great level as these people try so desperately to get us to believe. In fact, most people are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Even the fluctuating price of gasoline isn’t so much the indicator it used to be because they will tell you the price of gas impacts travel costs. At least that’s what they always say when travel costs increase. Yet, gas prices can be reduced, as they are right now, and airline tickets, train tickets, bus tickets, package deliveries, etc., don’t reflect decreases in price. The costs for those travel mechanisms don’t decrease because the capitalists don’t voluntarily give their profits away. We are talking about people who would charge you $5,000.00 USD for a pencil if they could get away with it. That’s what a “manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is folks. It’s a price these people pull out of the sky to represent what they want you believe the product is worth. If you accept that, then that’s what you pay, but the MSRP never has anything to do with what the product is actually worth, or what you should realistically be looking at paying for it.
The other false measure of economy progress is this lie that more jobs are being created than the previous administration(s). What they fail to explain is that their system is designed to incent multi-national corporations with sweetheart tax breaks and other goodies. In return, the corporations invest a small portion of their mass revenues into projects of their choice (instead of having to pay taxes like the rest of us, where we have no say so in how our money is spent), like the Ad Council commercials e.g. McGruff the Crime Dog, or Smokey the Bear (which promote respect for bourgeoisie authority, institutions, and snitch culture). The corporations also serve their own interests, as well as the propaganda interests of the capitalist government, by “creating jobs.” These jobs that are created are low paying service industry jobs with no health benefits and no pension plans. In truth, most people today don’t even know what a pension plan is, how it works, etc. Still, these corporations, and their chief spokespersons – the elected officials – love to taut this nonsense as improving the economy by creating more McDonalds quality jobs. Show me one state within the U.S. that is increasing jobs with livable wages, quality health care, and pensions that pay until the retired employee dies (defined benefit). You can’t do it. Maybe try showing me these new low paying jobs that provide people with enough resources to pay their basic bills? You can’t do that either. What you could do is underscore the growing trend where multi-national corporations make record profits while the average family in this country cannot even pull $500.00 USD together in the event of an unexpected expense. Someone please explain to me how this sad reality could ever be confused with an improved economy?
The economy is booming if you are a huge corporation. Those capitalists are so slick that they have even figured out how get the masses of people in this country to subsidize them (because they pay their workers so little, there are millions of workers who rely on food stamps, which working people fund with tax revenues). This scam is public policy while no one seems to be that concerned at all about this travesty because so many people are instead focused on a single parent, usually a mother, who must depend upon public assistance for a period of time to support her family. People are outraged at mom for legitimately needing pennies while massive corporations steal billions from you and you don’t blink any eye.
One thing I do give capitalism credit for. They hoodwink everyone, all the time. They have taken crookedness to historical levels so much so that they have even figured out how to get people who have absolutely nothing parroting their theme that “the economy is doing just great!”
Today, the European left has embraced African revolutionaries like Amilcar Cabral from Guinea-Bissau. If you follow their writings on his contributions, you would believe he was a Marxist-Leninist who was seeking to build a Marxist-Leninist party in Guinea-Bissau. In Ghana, the truth and actual legacy of Kwame Nkrumah is finally being brought to the surface and as a result, those same white left forces are moving to position Nkrumah in their analysis as an African leader they endorse. Cabral and Nkrumah are being embraced by these forces as a result of their continuing popularity among the African masses. They have engaged in the same approach regarding Patrice Lumumba (who had Kwame Nkrumah as his mentor). These white left forces know that any true revolutionary force in the world has to have a strong focus on Africa and African people worldwide. So, by claiming these African giants, they hope to write the history on their contributions, pushing that work firmly into the camp that benefits the agenda and objectives of the white left.
Interestingly, the white left has consistently and continuously ignored Ahmed Sekou Ture in their efforts. Its important that we explore the reasons why. Its imperative for their objectives to leave out not only Ture, but the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) - the Pan-Africanist political party founded by Ture, because the PDG and Ture, with their clear focus on African self-determination, makes it much more difficult for these alien forces to re-shape what these Africans represented. The PDG unquestionably was and is a party dedicated to African freedom and independence. A party that resolutely believes in the Revolutionary African Personality and one unified socialist Africa. That's why most of what you will see written about Ture and the PDG will either superficially paint Ture as a Marxist or just dismiss him as a dictator.
A major factor in shaping Guinea's legacy is the bold method in which Guinea refused to continue as a part of the French Union in 1958. This mass action cemented Guinea as a country dedicated to African nationalism. And Guinea's continued refusal to bow down to the whims of the West during the 60s and 70s, further reaffirmed the inability to position them as darlings of the white left movement. Guinea made it clear since their 1958 independence that they would not side with the Western capitalist countries or the Soviet led Eastern block countries. That their allegiance was solely to African independence. They doubled down on this position with their refusal to accept Western aide and how they negotiated their relationships with capitalist countries. Repeatedly, Guinea rebuked U.S. and Soviet efforts to dictate their relationships, preferring instead to build relationships with genuine revolutionary movements like Cuba.
On November 22, 1970, the Portuguese military invaded Guinea in an effort to overthrow the PDG and the Ture government. The reason this invasion happened was because of Guinea's firm support for the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau (PAIGC), the Pan-Africanist party founded by Cabral to overthrow Portuguese colonialism. The PDG and Guinea offered the PAIGC a base in Guinea and full use of all of Guinea's military bases and resources. The PDG permitted the Cubans to come to Guinea to help train PAIGC fighters. Every thing the PAIGC needed to secure its ability to prepare its fight against colonialism, Guinea and the PDG provided to them. As a result, Portugal invaded Guinea and the people of Guinea responded by providing Portugal with a resounding defeat that they never actually recovered from.
Although the PAIGC was certainly a major reason for the invasion, they may not have been the only reason. Another imperialist concern was the presence of Kwame Nkrumah in Guinea. Four years before, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency helped engineer an illegal coup fueled by misinformation to overthrow the democratically elected government of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana. As soon as this unfortunate incident occurred, Ture and the PDG made arrangements for Nkrumah to seek refuge in Guinea. Ture immediately honored Nkrumah by naming him president of Guinea. In other words, Ture was willing to give up his position as president, hardly the actions of a dictator, to thumb his nose at imperialism. Nkrumah responded by indicating the people of Guinea elected Sekou Ture as president. Ture's response to that was to name Nkrumah as co-president and to implore Nkrumah to continue to develop the strategy for the African revolution. Nkrumah accepted this role and produced two of his most important works during his final years in Guinea e.g. the "Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare" and "Class Struggle in Africa." Why would it be inconceivable for Portugal, by wanting to eliminate the Ture government, would also provide a service for all of imperialism by eliminating Nkrumah as well? Its a fact that the Portuguese air-force immediately bombed Vila Syli, the Conakry-Guinea home of Kwame Nkrumah, upon their invasion. This couldn't have been an accident. The PDG's embrace of Nkrumah, and then Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture) - who moved to Guinea in 1969 after being the poster child of militant resistance in the U.S., along with its support for the PAIGC, as well as the liberation movements in Angola and Mozambique, had to be a major concern for all of imperialism.
Final thoughts suggest more discussion about the role and contributions of the PDG need to be explored. What we know is we more than likely could not have Nkrumah's final revolutionary works were it not for Ture and the PDG. We more than likely wouldn't have Cabral's outstanding contributions as well as those of the PAIGC and the other liberation movements. And, certainly, we could not have had an environment to nurture the continued political maturation and sophistication of Stokely Carmichaalel, later Kwame Ture, who went on to make major contributions to the current shape of the revolutionary Pan-African movement today. It is impossible to talk about Africa, Cabral, Nkrumah, Lumumba, Kwame Ture, the Black power movement in the U.S., and anything related to Pan-Africanism today without acknowledging and honoring the contributions of the PDG and Sekou Ture.
In a couple of days we will be subjected to the annual kickoff of naked consumerism that will dominate everyone's lives in the so-called industrial capitalist world for the next 30 days. This is the time of year where your ability, or inability, to demonstrate your love for the people in your life is measured by the quality of presents you can buy them. All of this happens while we all pretend as if this anti-humanism is being done to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Besides the fact there is absolutely no historical evidence that Jesus was born in December, this consistent societal pressure to spend money that most people not only don't have, but will never have, results in the majority of suicides occurring during this so called merry time of the year. The unavoidable alienation and feelings of inadequacy that are bound to result from such a materialistic indoctrination should provide all the evidence necessary to understand why so many people find it necessary to end their lives in the month of December each year.
I have had a couple of great opportunities to spend December 25th in Africa and each time was eye opening. People who have more Christianity in their pinky nails than most people in industrialized capitalism have combined, commemorate December 25th without the consumerism. Not a single gift is exchanged. Instead, the day is a reflection of spending time with those you love. Sharing food. Sharing life. There is no expectation of gifts, even among the children. Those experiences are extremely healthy ones, but we recognize that in the belly of this capitalist society, the chances of this approach becoming dominant are much less likely. The pressure to participate, and to do so in a very high and expensive level, are too intimately connected to our value as human beings because everything in these so-called industrial capitalist societies is based on a profit over people model.
Many people within the African (Black) consciousness communities, in a sincere attempt to address this soulless pursuit of materialism, have been making a push for a number of years to offer up what they believe to be an alternative to this madness. Their solution is to propose a Black Friday, or support for African owned business entities, instead of our people continuing to pour more and more money into the white hole of multi-national capitalist consumerism. On the surface, this approach seems logical. This is of course a racist system all the way to its core. As a result, we know discrimination in job hiring is the norm in this society. In other words, despite the common racist perception that African people don't want to work, we know there is unlimited data that confirms we apply for and attempt to work as often if not more often than anyone else in these industrialized countries. We just don't get hired because of racism. So, its understandable that our people, ever creative and determined, would develop our own alternatives to provide resources for us to find gainful employment to support our families. For this conscious crowd, this employment is small business opportunities. And, one of tools they use to publicize their efforts is this "Black Friday" campaign. Come shop with them on the Friday after the thankstaking "holiday." Don't spend your money with the multi-national capitalist corporations.
As a means of providing a limited number of our people with employment opportunities, this strategy is a fair solution, but beyond that, it has serious and ill-refutable shortcomings. The fundamental foundation of the capitalist system is in exploiting labor. As a result, the very structure of business in any capitalist society is in taking advantage of the people who perform the labor because that is how the owners of the business make their profits. Its the only way they make their profits. There is no way around this except abandoning this capitalist business model and moving to a socialist model, but that isn't what these people are proposing. They are operating under a scaled down version of capitalism e.g. selling products and services for an objective of profit.
The belief is that by exercising this model, we will be able to pull ourselves as a community out of poverty. Of course, the premise of this is we will do so by imitating the capitalist system. Or, doing capitalism with Black nationalism sprinkled on top of it. Our contention is that for those of us who study the capitalist system, there is no evidence that this model will help the collective masses of African people. No evidence at all beyond the visual incentive of seeing African people working for themselves. This isn't to discount that visual, but the severe limitations e.g. its inability to correct the core problem - the fact this system was built, and is maintained on our collective exploitation - has to be acknowledged and addressed. Capitalism 101: These small businesses can sell anything. You choose the product. Clothes, jewelry, food, etc. The product has to sell for a price. If the business owner sells clothes, they have to get the clothes from somewhere. They have to order them and have them delivered to them to sell. If they make the clothes they have to order the materials to sew. Either way, the cost of the products and/or materials will depend upon the volume of materials meaning if you are a sole business owner, its going to cost you much more to order what you need than Walmart because Walmart has the benefit of having what they need delivered to thousands of stores which means to distributor makes a pretty penny just by landing a contract with them. With the small business, there is no incentive to do business with them besides charging enough to make bringing them what they need worthwhile. This means that small business owner is forced to pass that increased cost onto you the consumer. And the myth that we create our own jobs is unfortunately not true as well. Look at any African business and show me where they can afford to hire workers in our communities and pay them more than minimum wage? Show me where Asian businesses, the model our people usually always bring up, show me where they are providing livable wage jobs for their people? The Asian nail salons, restaurants, massage parlors, etc., are well documented as functioning by depending upon using undocumented Asian labor. Just Google Asian businesses and undocumented labor and uncountable documentation will be provided of those businesses exploiting their own people to make a profit. The myth that they are sharing money through lending circles to build up their businesses is understandable. Its also not hard to see why we want to emulate this model as we wish to see it, but even if they or we could save $100,000.00 USD and walk in to buy a building, etc., the Internal Revenue Service would step right in and demand to know where that $100,000.00 came from. Since they are not structured to just accept our answer that we saved that money, they are automatically going to tax it so that the $100,000.00 will instantly become about $40,000.00, thus destroying the ability to accomplish the initial business objective. If you don't believe this, try conducting any type of financial transaction anywhere with over $10,000.00 cash and then count off the seconds before the Internal Revenue Service is breathing down your neck. The concept sounds good. It even makes us feel good, but it isn't based in reality.
Even the multi-national corporations don't work that way. Huge corporations like Amazon, Walmart, Koch Industries, etc., pay their workers peanuts when they rake in billions every year so why and how could it be possible for small businesses, with extremely thin margins of profit, to pay anyone more than minimum wage, if that. Most of these places are forced to employ their children and family members because of the inability to pay anyone else.
So, as you venture out to spend money on this Friday or any other day, please understand that we are not discouraging you from spending money with our people. I regularly do because as I previously stated, I recognize that this process is a way for us to provide at least some level of jobs at a subsistence level to our people. This is necessary. This is survival. We have to do this right now, but we cannot be confused into thinking this model is going to liberate our people. There is only one way we will have liberation and that won't be by operating on any level inside of this vicious capitalist system.
So, those of you who mean well and will promote this Black Friday/Black capitalism theme, take a minute to think critically about this. Its survival. Stop acting like its liberation. Stop telling people to just go shop with African people or give us business or money. You may think you are giving us support, but what you are actually doing is telling someone who has a fatal gunshot wound who is bleeding out to just hang on until they feel better. You are just comforting them until they die. If you really want to help us, start telling people to figure out how to organize to support efforts to create a new society free from capitalist exploitation where their business skills can be utilized to build up capacity to build a socialist economy. Help us understand how we can build such an economy because it is a thing. And make sure to add that while we do that, this capitalist black business model is survival. Nothing else, except momentary and temporary survival.
Ms. Hamer singing a spiritual hymn before the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee - SNCC) went into the National Democratic Party convention in 1964. Ms. Ella Baker, the founder of SNCC) is to the right of Ms. Hamer. Kwame Ture is in the back with the hat.
Another election cycle has concluded in the United States. At least, for a year or so, we will be spared the circus acts which pass as legitimate political action in this country. And most of all, we will get a break from the constant browbeating and judgmental preaching from those committed to the electoral process against people who bravely choose to find other grassroots means to exact social change.
One criticism we wage against the "go vote" crowd is their shortsightedness and general lack of serious knowledge about the history of electoral politics in this country. Instead of presenting a science based analysis on how to use voting as a tactical tool in our struggle for justice and liberation, the proponents of voting rely strictly and exclusively on emotional coercion based on dishonest claims about our ancestors and their desires when they made their contributions to our our forward progress.
I say dishonest because none of these emotional claims bother to even provide a semblance of a historical perspective on this question. The civil rights movement was only 50 years ago. This means many of the people who made those sacrifices are still here with us. Many of these still with us people are talking about why they made the sacrifices they made and the solid analysis many of these people provide e.g. Mukassa Dada (Willie Ricks), Cleve Sellers, (Stokely Carmichael), Ms. Hamer, etc. needs to be elevated to the level of people like their political contemporary John Lewis. Congressman Lewis is used as the poster child of voting rights today exclusively because his views coincide with those promoting how voting is handled today.
Besides those who struggled who are still alive, many of the people who are actual ancestors had enough focus on them so that their experiences and views are documented for all to see. Its incredible that so many people who claim to be experts on this subject fail to even engage in a cursory view of this history. Take Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer for example. her life is a textbook poster of the proper approach for utilizing the vote. Something that is not even remotely considered today, not to mention implemented. Ms. Hamer was an extremely poor sharecropper in rural Mississippi. She was a proud woman who saw her deep belief in Jesus as a pillar of strength against oppression. In other words, Ms. Hamer didn't rely on her faith as a crutch or justification to exist in an alternate universe, as many so-called Christians, Muslims, etc., do on a regular and accepted basis today. Instead, she saw Christianity as the vehicle that would ultimately empower her to become a larger than life figure on the civil rights stage.
In 1962, Ms. Hamer made a decision that could be life threatening. She decided to attend a meeting with Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) members being held in rural Mississippi. In that meeting, SNCC organizers exulted the local people to come together to challenge Mississippi's racist tradition of disenfranchisement of African voters. The organizers were extremely practical in their inoculation practices. Years later, Kwame Ture a leading SNCC organizer in their Mississippi projects, recalled that a very sober discussion took place in those meetings where it was made clear to everyone there that standing up could and probably would come with crippling economic hardship and even death. Ms. Hamer, relying on her unquestionable belief in God, never hesitated in volunteering to become one of the local people to heed the SNCC call. Despite having a third grade education and no previous organizational experience, Ms. Hamer became fully engrossed in SNCC work. Her decision to do so was overwhelmingly costly for her. The European landowner where she and her husband sharecropped immediately evicted her once he became aware of her voter registration work. Ms. Hamer and her husband were forced to move in with other local people and the resulting financial hardships created tension in her marriage, but she was undeterred.
In June of 1963, Ms. Hamer and other SNCC activists were engaged in creating the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) which they saw as a political vehicle to challenge the hegemony of the racist democratic and republican parties on Mississippi politics. SNCC's idea with the MFDP was to create opportunities for African people to run for local political offices and to become nominated to represent the state of Mississippi in state and national political decision making. While traveling to an MFDP conference during that time, Ms. Hamer and other activists were stopped by police in Winoma, Mississippi. She was jailed and it was there that police coerced two Africans who were incarcerated there to hold Ms. Hamer down and beat her relentlessly for hours. She was beaten so badly that she needed over a month to recover and the two men who beat her suffered health issues themselves from the amounts of energy they expended in brutalizing her. Still, SNCC, and Ms. Hamer were not to be intimidated. As SNCC continued to push against racist representation practices within the electoral process, it became evident that all of SNCC's work had created the conditions where the MFDP had a chance to seat delegates at the 1964 Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Ms. Hamer gave an internationally televised testimony about the beating and other illegal intimidation tactics utilized against the MFDP, and immeasurable support began to swell in favor of the MFDP's efforts.
Due to SNCC/MFDP's pressure against the national democratic party during that convention, the national party was forced to negotiate a compromise with the MFDP. Although the SNCC activists didn't get all that they wanted, they did succeed in seating African delegates at the convention which was a historical first. And, this act served to open up the national political process. What that means is people are celebrating the election of so many women to office during the just completed election, without recognizing that none of that could be happening without the sacrifices of SNCC and the MFDP.
When we say SNCC and the MFDP, the important piece to that is the organizational effort that pushed their political efforts forward. Its the difference of having a movement that elects candidates as opposed to what we have today; candidates who run independent of the communities they allegedly represent. This is our principle critique of electoral politics today. There is a complete disregard for the effective and grassroots based strategy that SNCC implemented in Mississippi, and Alabama as well with the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO - the first Black Panther Party) one year later. There was no electoral politics without a movement directing it. Today, we have completely dismissed that sound organizing strategy to embrace an approach that relies 100% on the racist democratic party since we have no other organizing mechanism (like SNCC, MFDP, LCFO, etc.) to ensure our interests are met. We continue to approach these elections the same way just described and at the end of those terms we have absolutely nothing to show for it. Some of us are so confused and so disconnected from our movement history that we actually believe having dark faced candidates is just as good as having an organizational mechanism that represents our mass interests.
The point is SNCC was the vehicle that held the MFDP accountable to the people. The MFDP was the vehicle that held the candidates like Ms. Hamer accountable to the people. There were no candidates for office through MFDP that did not go through their process. By the time that happened, those candidates were not confused about who's interests they were obligated to protect. Today? There is nothing even remotely similar to that in place. And none of the endorsers of capitalist electoral politics are even well versed enough to call for something like this to exist.
There is absolutely no reason why a mass coalition of activists from all sectors e.g. reform electoral activists to revolutionary organizers, could not be assembled to engage in strategy sessions around how to build political organizations today like the MFDP. The Poor People's Campaign could be that, but even that process is too heavily dominated by the democratic party. The MFDP was completely independent and that's what we need today. An organization that isn't beholden to the democratic or republican parties because both of those parties are in the hip pockets of multi-national capitalism. If a mass organization could be built with a mass political agenda of practical things (for working people) like national employment, universal free health care and education, etc., the people harassing people into voting wouldn't even have to coerce anymore because people would be highly motivated to participate. The reason you don't have these political platforms today is because the political parties are dominated by anti-working people's interests. White supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia, and all values connected to capitalism are the order of this day in electoral politics. People who aren't voting are not stupid. They are telling you they don't want to pretend that the system is viable. With a more genuine vehicle in place, many of those people would participate without your worthless pressure against them.
Finally, we must remind you that we are revolutionary organizers. Therefore, we do not believe electoral politics within the capitalist system can ever get us the freedom we seek, but we think mass political organization in electoral politics will do a lot to raise consciousness and more importantly, build a movement. Once that movement is active then the people can decide for themselves if they want to continue to reform capitalism, or go farther towards true justice and liberation. Either way, movement is the key and critical element that moves us beyond the current disgusting cycle of promises, loyalty on behalf of the working poor, particularly African people, towards the two party (one head) electoral scam, and continued suffering until the next "extremely important" election. If you truly want freedom and justice for all, you will stop trying to force people to compromise with capitalism and you will contemplate the history Ms. Hamer and the MFDP gave to us. To not do that is completely ill-responsible at best and criminal at worse.
On November 15th, 1998, Kwame Ture (formally Stokely Carmichael) made his physical transition. I remember where I was when we received the news. We were at Sacramento State University, early on a Sunday morning, preparing to begin our work study meeting when one of the members came in and made the announcement. None of us were surprised. Kwame had been ill with the prostate cancer that eventually took his life for quite some time. I remember thinking things were about to change for all of us.
Twenty years later, we have gone through major growing pains as an organization without Kwame’s presence. Whether intentional or not, from the All African People’s Revolutionary Party’s (A-APRP) inception in 1968 to his death in 1998, Kwame was the face of the A-APRP. Since his disappearance, the A-APRP has had to walk the tightrope of developing an independent identity as an organization. In 2018, we continue to struggle around many elements of this, but we have certainly done quite a bit of work to advance ourselves in this area. Today, the A-APRP exists all over the African world and pretty much all of the youth who are joining, particularly in Africa, have very little to no understanding of who Kwame Ture was. This contrasts with when I joined the A-APRP decades ago when our most potent recruitment tool was what we called our “Kwame Ture Recruitment Drives” or for short, the KTRDs. A KTRD consisted of Kwame speaking at a campus, community event, etc. Hundreds would attend, and we would have an orientation, usually immediately after he spoke. Consequently, orientations in those days were always attended by dozens of people. The energy was always extremely high. This was true even late at night which is when these orientations typically occurred. Even then, the tactic was a little uncomfortable for me. I had observed repeatedly that most of the people attracted to Kwame’s “celebrity” from the civil rights and Black power movements tended to lose their enthusiasm once he left town. By comparison, people who join today do so not primarily because of his presence/influence, but because they are mostly inspired by the party’s vision. This is without question a strong step forward, but its still important that the legacy of Kwame’s work be known by everyone. He was a major contributor to Pan-Africanism and there is much misinformation about who he was and what he did. So, we take the opportunity of the 20th year since his physical disappearance to again set the record straight about the work this dynamic organizer did to advance our struggle.
Why did Kwame move to Africa? This is a question that has been debated much over the last 50 years and most of what’s being talked about is so far removed from the truth that its difficult to understand how such confusion could fester, but yet it exists. And, in some cases, its dominant in people’s thinking. Since much of this confusion is rooted in anti-Africanism and anti-communism, we use this 20th commemoration to challenge much that has been passing as legitimate dialogue around our brother’s political legacy.
The enemies of African people have suggested, repeatedly, that Kwame moved to Guinea, West Africa, in 1969 because he was on the run because of his testimony to the U.S. House of un-American Activities (HUAC) and because he had engaged in questionable actions within the Black Panther Party (BPP). Neither is true. The HUAC hearing in question didn’t even happen until 1970, the year after Kwame had already moved to Africa. The rumors around this hearing are that the committee, which was a government sanctioned hunt against anyone who dared stand up to U.S. imperialism, received testimony from Kwame that was used against other participants in the African liberation struggle. This is still a commonly held perception today. Its common because the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), based on their own documents released from the 1974 Freedom of Information Act, worked very hard to plant this belief in the minds of activists/organizers around the world. Their objective was the discredit Kwame and they went to great lengths to attempt to accomplish this. They sent letters to activists/organizers detailing Kwame’s alleged testimony “snitching” on activist/organizers during the HUAC hearing. Some of those activist/organizers went public declaring their disdain for the then Stokely Carmichael for what they believed was his betrayal of our movement. One of those people was Huey P. Newton – co-founder of the Oakland Black Panther Party. Newton declared from jail in early 1970 that “Stokely Carmichael is a CIA agent…” We know now that Newton made those statements based on letters he received from the FBI accusing Kwame of selling out the movement during the hearings. What serious students have learned to be true is that Kwame did indeed respond to the subpoena demanding he testify to the committee. He did so on the recommendation of people he trusted in the movement. Had he not testified, he would have certainly been served with a warrant for his arrest as not responding to the subpoena came with an almost assured felony conviction which would have led to many serious problems e.g. having his passport seized. This is not to mention having to serve time in prison during a period where the barely existing A-APRP possibly could not have survived without him. So he responded, but the court records, all witnesses present, including his lawyers, and even the government officials who questioned him, all concur that Kwame didn’t utter a single word against anyone, or even about anything, during that hearing. He used the 5th Amendment repeatedly and the conveners left extremely frustrated at his crafty ability to sidestep their process. The FBI was of course relying on the inability or unwillingness of people like Huey Newton to check the record and actual confirmation was much harder to get in those days then it is today. So the lie grew teeth and still remains in the minds of many uneducated people about the subject. And for each person who still believes that lie, there is mistrust for anything associated with Kwame Ture. Since unlike so many other figures in the Black power movement, his work not only continued, but proliferated after the 1960s, discrediting him served to prevent his work from catching on with so many more people as was the potential at that time. One example of this is what is mostly overlooked today is one of the reasons for Kwame Ture’s uncompromising position in favor of mass political education was that he understood that had that level of political education existed in the late 60s, it wouldn’t have been nearly as easy to hoodwink cadre activists with simple lies about him or anyone else.
As for allegations against his work within the Black Panther Party, much has been written about that period. And in order to understand it properly, one must study closely the efforts initiated in 1967 to unite the BPP and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). There was much confusion around these efforts and much of that resulted from the role played by people like Eldridge Cleaver, BPP Minister of Information, who announced the “merger” of SNCC and the BPP (at the February 1968 Birthday party for Huey P. Newton in Oakland) before the relationship was officially agreed upon between the two organizations. Its still not clear what Cleaver’s intentions were for doing that, but what we do know is serious discussions on all levels between the two organizations never really took place. We also know that the FBI’s efforts to do whatever they could to sabotage this unification effort manifested itself in several discredit schemes, most notably the murder of Alex Rackley, a brother brought to the BPP through his association with Kwame Ture. George Sams, later to be confirmed as a paid FBI informant, accused Rackley of being a police agent. Sams mobilized Panthers to kidnap, torture, and kill Rackley. And, since at that time, the common belief was Rackley was a police informant (although its clear today that he wasn’t), the same suspicion against Kwame grew within the BPP as well. There were Panthers calling for harm to come to Kwame Ture, but this is still not the reason he decided to move to Africa.
Kwame’s reasons for moving to Africa were motivated by the same thing that pushes any of us to make major life changes and decisions. At a mere 25, 26 years old, Kwame’s experiences with SNCC and the BPP had helped him come to the point where he recognized that no progress for African people could be achieved until we had the power to determine our own destiny. Or, as he put it himself “in the 60s, we thought our struggle was one against racism. So, in our minds, we saw our struggle as that of fighting to assert our blackness, but our consciousness continued to grow. Soon, we realized that our struggle wasn’t just a struggle against racism. It is a struggle for power as a people and power means having land and resources and our land is Africa!” As this question began to challenge Kwame in all the moves he was making, if you study his trajectory during that time, you can see him clearly struggling over these contradictions. His speech at Newton’s birthday party in 68 was wrought with the ideas going through his head. What was the role of Africa in our struggle? Can our solution be capitalist or socialist? He was battling out those ideas in his head and sharing his struggle with all of us. In 1967, he went to Vietnam and visited with Nguyen Al Thoc, better known as Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Viet Minh Front and the Vietnamese Communist Party. When Kwame asked the Vietnamese leader what he thought he should do, Ho answered with “you are African, why don’t you go to Africa?”
The following year, Kwame, influenced by Ho Chi Minh, the SNCC delegation to Africa four years before, and many other things that were clearly pointing him home to Africa, went to Guinea-Conakry, hoping to meet Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Ture. Nkrumah was co-president of Guinea in 1968. Forcibly and illegally removed as president of Ghana in 1966, Nkrumah was welcomed by the Democratic Party of Guinea and Sekou Ture to Guinea and granted co-presidency. Nkrumah’s role in Guinea was to continue to advance the ideas of the African revolution. With the help of Shirley Graham DuBois, the young Stokely Carmichael was given an audience with Nkrumah. What we know from their discussions is that Nkrumah asked young Stokely, as he did Malcolm X three years before, if he would stay in Guinea and serve as Nkrumah’s secretary to help him carry out the work to build Pan-Africanism on the ground. Young Stokely accepted Nkrumah’s offer after Nkrumah had shared with him the then unpublished, but finished, manuscript of the “Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare” that Nkrumah was writing as the guidebook for how to carry out the African revolution. In that book, Nkrumah articulated the strategy of uniting African revolutionaries in Africa into one Pan-African political party called the All African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP). The vehicle to do this was the creation of the All African Committee for Political Coordination (A-ACPC), leading to the All African People’s Revolutionary Army (A-APRA) which would lead the armed phase of the African revolution. Young Stokely read the entire book in one night and Nkrumah then asked him to work to build this process within the African diaspora. Nkrumah had other assignments for Amilcar Cabral who Sekou Ture had provided a base in Guinea to build the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau (PAIGC), one of the Pan-African parties Nkrumah envisioned joining the A-ACPC and the A-APRP. There were other assignments and young Stokely, Amilcar Cabral, Nkrumah, and others formed the first work study circle for the newly called for A-APRP. This history also underscores the absurdity of white leftists attempting to “steal” the legacy of Cabral by labeling him a Marxist/Leninist.
From that first A-APRP work study circle in Conakry, Guinea, from 1968 to 2018 – the A-APRP’s reach has extended all over the African world. Today, there are A-APRP chapters and organizing efforts happening everywhere. And, the A-ACPC is no longer just a vision. It is now a reality. The 50 Year Commemoration of the “Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare” in September 2018 demonstrated this as representatives of several chapters of the A-APRP in Africa and the diaspora, as well as a delegation from the PAIGC in Guinea-Bissau (including the director of the Union of Guinea-Bissau Women, or UDEMU and directors for the Amilcar Cabral African Youth organization), a delegation from the Amilcar Cabral Ideological Institute in Nigeria, and another delegation from the Pan-African Congress of Azania (South Africa), and the Azanian People’s Organization, came together to do work to further cement the concept that the A-ACPC is here in 2018 and forward!
In 1977, Stokely Carmichael changed his name to Kwame Ture to honor Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Ture. And, as we know, in 1998, he left this physical world, but it is impossible to commemorate Pan-African work, as we did in Ghana in September, without remembering the contribution of Kwame Ture. And, it is equally impossible to commemorate his contribution without acknowledging he did outstanding work in SNCC and the BPP, but his best work was the 30 years he spent living in Guinea while building the A-APRP. He went there to do that work because he recognized that Pan-Africanism was the higher expression of the work he was doing in SNCC and the BPP. Unlike some of his conscious and unconscious detractors, Kwame Ture never abandoned Black power. He realized that revolutionary Pan-Africanism is the logical extension and growth of Black power because Pan-Africanism gives Black power class character and revolutionary identity. It expands to represent Africans everywhere and this is important because our problems as African people didn’t start in the U.S. or Puerto Rico, Brazil, or just Nigeria, Somalia, etc. The problems started when Africa was invaded and the problem will never be solved until Africa is redeemed. Finally, Pan-Africanism steers Black power to acknowledge, as Nkrumah said, that “the core of the Black revolution is in Africa and until Africa is free, no African anywhere on Earth will be free!” These are the reasons Kwame Ture moved to Africa and our people and our struggle are better because of his selfless decision to do so.
There are many reasons why people in 2018 choose to continue to believe misinformation about Kwame Ture. A lot of that is rooted in class struggle and anti-communism as was previously mentioned. Revolutionary Pan-Africanism isn’t nearly as sparkling and attractive as the much more generic title of “Black power.” Revolutionary Pan-Africanism requires a clear anti-capitalist stance and a commitment to one unified socialist Africa. This clear objective doesn’t jibe with the vision of black power pimps who desire to advance a rhetoric of African empowerment while prioritizing enriching themselves on the backs of our struggling people. Those types of opportunists can hide behind the ambiguous term of “black power”, but they cannot hide behind one unified socialist Africa as created from the work of the 5th Pan-African Congress in 1945, carried forward by the writings of Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Ture, etc., in the 1960s, and popularized by the work of Kwame Ture until his death in 1998. This man had more integrity in his pinky than many of the people passing themselves off as soldiers for our people’s liberation have in their entire bodies. That’s much of the reason many of these “people” continue to perpetuate lies about the legacy of Kwame Ture because by discrediting him, they create space for their sellout behavior. We strongly encourage you to study more about this important history and as we commemorate 20 years since Kwame Ture’s passing, we further prod you to give him the honor he rightfully deserves by deciding to participate in organizing for the true liberation for African people and humanity that he worked so hard to demonstrate for us.