In truth, it took me a couple of days after her presentation to understand the reasons for my lack of desire around seeing her again. When I thought about it, I realized my lackluster attitude reflected some feelings of resentment, not against Sister Angela, but against the horde of White adulation that surrounds her whenever she appears and speaks. Angela's Davis's message, from her days of being on trial in the early 70s as a member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), to the present time, has been an important message of inclusion and collective unity against the forces of injustice. Still, I could never escape the feeling that a lot of that adulation by the great white left was in large part because Angela was that African organizer/activist with incredible credentials who came out of a multi-racial organization that called for multi-racial organizing. Consequently, she was never known for calling out white activists for their arrogance and cleverly disguised white supremacy. So, in her, these people always found credibility and to me, that's at least part of the reason why they flock to her so easily. My anger about this is connected to the fact that I know there are a number of African organizer/activists who did not come out of the white left bosom centers like the CPUSA. They came directly out of the African liberation movement or what some would even call the Black Nationalist movement. These people didn't advocate multi-racial organizing. They argued, even demanded, that the only safety valve African people can ever have is self-determination. They called for African only organizing efforts where Europeans (White people) were encouraged, even forced, to organize in White communities against white supremacy, patriarchy, etc. This position, although widely accepted and acknowledged within African organizing spaces, is still an extremely sensitive and controversial subject among the white left. Why it is that way is a mystery to us. The logic advanced by SNCC in 1966 is rock solid even today. African people, as well as other brown communities, have to deconstruct colonialism and this requires us working with our people because capitalism has created this thing called white supremacy that has us convinced that "the white man's water is always sweeter." Plus, white communities, always the shock troops used against us by the power structure, need to be organized to prevent this tired ritual where we cannot confront the system because too many working class white people are in our way. You white left people know that because many of those people getting in our way are your relatives and sometimes, even you. We know our history. We know of the overwhelming racism and challenges African communists in Harlem and other places in the 1920s faced. George Padmore, Joseph Stalin's political secretary in the early 30s, wrote extensively about the contradictions within the Communist International before he abandoned it and joined the Pan-African movement. Despite all of this clear history, the white left still expects us to agree to just shoulder all of its racism so that their myth of one monolithic class force against capitalism can be sustained. No thanks.
Its clear to us that the people who advanced this self-determination position made contributions for justice that matched and even exceeded contributions by wonderful people like our Sister Angela, or Nelson Mandela, or other African organizers/activists who called for the multi-racial approach, yet, these nationalists continue to be ignored, shut out, and written out of history. That's the part that irks me and its a contradiction that I'm sure even Sister Angela wouldn't support.
The people I'm talking about are people like Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) who I write about often. I had the honor and privilege of traveling with him often so I saw firsthand the large crowds that came to hear him, but I also saw the extreme difference in demeanor that greeted him compared to that of Angela Davis. Here was a man who went to prison over 40 times for fighting for justice. Twenty-six of those times were in rural Mississippi and Alabama and several months were in the infamous Parchmen Prison. This man was the face of the militant Black Power movement that transformed the world. It was that movement that ushered in the women's liberation movement, the LGBTQ movement, the ableist movement. And all of this opened up this country and the world in ways that its still struggling to adapt to. Yet, I saw this man, who sacrificed so much, and asked so little, being treated like he had just spent 25 years in prison for murdering humanity whenever he spoke. None of the love and adulation reserved for Angela was directed at Kwame by white people. And, I knew the reason why. He was a part of that movement within the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) that demanded that white people leave SNCC and organize their own people. Then, to add insult to injury, he elevated from Black Power to Pan-Africanism, moved to Africa, and continued to advance African Nationalism, unity, and socialism. From the perspective of the white left, and far too many African people, surely this man was insane. And, it wasn't just Kwame. Its never spoken of, but there are a number of Africans who traveled that same route of SNCC, to the Black Panther Party (BPP), to the All African People's Revolutionary Party (A-APRP). David Brothers was a co-founding member of the Brooklyn BPP in the late 60s and he served tirelessly in the A-APRP until his physical transition in 2007. Yet, virtually no one outside of the African liberation movement, the movement - not the community, knows anything about him. Bob Brown helped found the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party while playing a significant role in Fred Hampton's recruitment into the BPP and Bob continues to organize within the A-APRP GC as this is being written. This man was the field organizer for the original Million Man March in 1995 - which despite the recent women's march, is still the largest single assembly of people at the D.C. mall in history, yet again, no one outside of the African liberation movement knows anything about him. Seku Neblett was a SNCC freedom singer and then one of the few field marshals inside of the Black Panther Party. For decades, Seku has been an active member of the A-APRP's Ghana Chapter. He remains active today. I promised him when I was there in December 2015, that when I retire I'll come to Africa and make a home that he is welcome to come and live on. And, Brother Seku, with all you have done for our people, if I live long enough, you can rest assured that I will keep my promise to you. Then, Mukassa (Willie) Ricks was the field secretary in SNCC who braved KKK and/or police terrorism to spread the word about Black Power in June of 1966 in Mississippi. He played a major role in facilitating the process vote regarding white people leaving SNCC, yet again, no one outside of the African liberation movement knows anything about him. Jamil Abdullah Al Amin, formally H. Rap Brown, didn't travel the route into the A-APRP, but he was one of the Nationalist Africans who went from SNCC to the BPP. Brother Jamil continues to serve an unjust prison sentence that is clearly a COINTELPRO action from his work in the 1960s and beyond. Yet again, most people still have no idea about his suffering. And that's just the brothers. As always, there are plenty of sisters who played leading roles that we never know anything about. There's Ethel Minor who was a member of the Nation of Islam. When Malcolm X left the Nation in 1964, Sister Ethel left with him, but she took his well developed anti-zionist position with her and when she joined SNCC, she brought those politics with her into that young organization. She had a profound impact on SNCC organizers like the young Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) and in 1967, SNCC became the first national organization in the U.S. to take an anti-zionist position against the state of israel. As all of those giants left SNCC/BPP to join the A-APRP, all those politics came with them and that explains how in 1991, the anti-defamation league, or as Kwame called them "the African Death League" labeled the A-APRP "the most anti-zionist organization in the U.S." I remember reading that news story in 1991 with great pride. I still have that pride today when articulating our anti-zionist position. And, when we host Brother Mukassa in a few short weeks here in Portland, in a room provided by Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER), I'll be thinking about Sister Ethel Minor.
All of these African Nationalists deserve all of the respect and adulation that Angela Davis, Nelson Mandela, and any African activist/organizer deemed friendly by the white left deserves, but they won't get it. And, we aren't sitting around waiting for expecting it from them. In fact, this piece isn't even being written for those people. Its being written for those who want to know the truth. And, that truth is people like Bob Brown, David Brothers, Seku Neblett, Mukassa Ricks, Ethel Minor, and certainly Kwame Ture, are the torches of our movement for self-determination and justice. We refused to let neo-nazis, zionists, and yes, white left people, disrupt their messages in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and we refuse to let them disrupt that message today. The message is for our people, our family members in the Indigenous and Asian communities, and any true White accomplices who are truly living in the spirit of Marilyn Buck and John Brown. For anyone else we are just saying we see through that fake stuff when Angela speaks. And, our people can see through it too. That's why you will never get the number of African people to join your ranks that we can. But, that's not our point here. We just want to express respect for our true soldiers because we know that if we don't, no one else will. And, we also intend to continue to press the point home that everyone should do anything you can to support soldiers like Seku, Bob, Mukassa, etc., who are still alive because they have a wealth of history, of pain, of struggle, that we have all benefited from. That message about white people leaving SNCC is even more valid today then it was in 1966. Sometimes, your best friends are the people who tell you not what you want to hear, but what you need to listen too.