Today, there are approximately 2 billion Africans - all persons of African descent are Africans - on the planet. 1.2 billion of us live on the African continent and the remaining 800 million of us live in Europe, North, Central, South America, and the Caribbean. We are the most scattered persons on Earth. We are the most disconnected people on Earth. And, we are the most downtrodden people on Earth. In other words, anywhere you find us, and you can do that in plentiful numbers in about 120 countries worldwide, we will be at the bottom of society.
Yesterday, Tiger Woods won a major golf tournament. In response, Africans everywhere celebrated Tiger's victory as if it was a collective victory for the African masses. In truth, it was a collective victory because the masses of our people understand, even if Tiger doesn't, that despite how good he is, he would've never been able to step foot on a golf course were it not for the collective struggle for justice against white supremacy that the masses of our people have waged against this backward capitalist system. Our people realize this so its understandable that we would claim any victory African individuals achieve. We saw Barack Obama's win as president in the same vain and if one understands the depths to which we are oppressed as a people, its not hard to understand why we would see these things as collective victories.
For the casual observer, the concept of Black nationalism and white supremacy are diametrically opposed to one another. Black nationalism is the belief that African people must unite to overcome racist oppression. On the other hand, white supremacy is the system that enforces oppression against Africans and other non-European people on a worldwide basis. The nuance comes when you factor in that neither of these belief structures can be properly evaluated without including a class component e.g. the mechanisms of how the capitalist system functions and interacts with humanity.
Sudanese Defense Minister and Vice President Awad Ibn Auf just announced that the Sudanese military had removed President Omar al-Bashir from power. This action resulted from the mass protests that have rocked the country for the last few months. For those of us concerned about Africa’s political reality, these protests are a welcome sight. They represent the people of Africa taking the future of our national homeland into their own hands, claiming their own power. This reality also negates the rhetoric from those who claim mass action cannot overcome the resources of the power structures in place. For those people, it should be restated that the Sudanese military was forced to take action to respond to the people’s demand that Bashir be removed.
Still, it is critically important that we have analysis from a revolutionary Pan-African perspective on anything that happens in Africa and throughout the African world. Imperialist dominated media outlets are linking the military usurping of power in Sudan to the recent removal of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as a rekindling of the so-called “Arab Spring” uprisings from 2010 and 2011. When those occurrences happened in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, etc., we said then that those so-called “uprisings” were not revolutionary movements and we warned that how a cake looks on the outside has nothing to do with what the cake tastes like. This is not to say that mass uprisings that have not matured into revolutionary struggles are reactionary. The mass uprisings are critical elements in the struggle to advance towards revolutionary change. Our point back in 2011 was that those so-called uprisings, because they were focused on the removal of individuals in power, were ultimately not going to be mass movements steered by the masses of people in those countries. The present reality in Egypt and Tunisia confirms we were correct. The conditions of oppression remain. And, in Libya, the concerted effort to connect the Libyan Arab Jamihiriya government of Muammar Qaddafi to the reactionary puppet regimes in Egypt and Tunisia was simply a ploy to convince the international community that the Libyan government, like the other two countries, had limited to no mass support. We said then that imperialism was targeting Qaddafi for reasons having nothing to do with democracy. It took the release of that imperialist Hillary Clinton’s emails (when she was Secretary of State targeting Libya for Obama’s criminal regime) to finally convince many of you that we were right.
We have also said many times that neo-colonialism is the dominant problem in Africa today. By neo-colonialism we mean a system where European capitalist interests, developed and firmly entrenched in exploiting Africa after 500+ years of colonialism and the trans-Atlantic slave trade, are now institutionalized throughout Africa despite the fact the Europeans may not be physically present. The mechanisms of capitalist corporations and exploitation are operational. Corporations like Cargill International, Voltec, Bangote, Debeers, etc., function with fully trained staff (trained by and for European capitalism e.g. the values of profit over people) and full access to all resources available where they exist. This is how neo-colonialism looks and there is no space on the African continent today where this system isn’t dominant. Under neo-colonialism, African heads of states serve as the gatekeepers for imperialism. Their job is simply to keep anything from conflicting with capitalist interests. Therefore, no protests, no uprisings, and certainly, no revolutions. For their loyal service to the enemies of humanity, they receive riches and comfort. Bashir, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Mobutu Sese Seto in the Congo, Buhari in Nigeria, Addo in Ghana, etc. These are the faces of neo-colonialism in Africa. In the case of Sudan, the people of that country decided they are finished with al-Bashir because of Sudan’s declining economy. Inflation in that country is up into the low 70s (percentage wise). The price of bread and other basic goods in Sudan today is high enough to raise eye brows even in the capitalist countries. Also, people justly place much of the blame for the Darfur trauma of a few years ago at Bashir’s feet. Approximately 300,000 people were killed and several hundred thousands have disappeared since 2003 in Sudan. The source of this problem was the Bashir government seeing the people of the Darfur region as wanting to overthrow his government. The truth is the Darfur region housed oil reserves that oil analysts predicted had the most profitable potential of any reserves on Earth. The Darfur conflict fueled the eventual succession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011. And when South Sudan left it took with it about 70% of Sudan’s oil wealth which has contributed to the drastic economic situation Sudan finds itself in today. Sudan today has a non-existent credit rating to borrow on the international market and this reality has crippled the country’s ability to negotiate for goods which has contributed to the devastating problems with the economy. Meanwhile, Western imperialism can play like its appalled by events in Darfur and other human issues in Sudan when in reality if they decided they are opposed to the Bashir government, that is only because that government is no longer willing or able to serve their imperialist interests the way they desire.
Sudan’s economic woes are a critical component in Bashir’s loss of power. The history in Darfur is also a critical component. In fact, Bashir was indicted for committing crimes against humanity for his brutality in the Darfur situation, but as heinous as these things actually are, they do not get to the root of the problem in Sudan. And that root has little to do with ethnic and/or religious differences. In Sudan, before 2011 when the country split into two, there were plenty of Christians who sided with Bashir’s government and there were Muslims who supported the claims of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, the voice of Southern Sudan. There were Nubians (Black), Zaahawa, Copts (many also Black), Beja, etc., on all sides of these issues.
Its great to see Bashir go, but like the change in individual “leaders” in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, etc., that alone isn’t going to change much in Sudan. The problem is a systemic problem. Neo-colonialism is the last stage of imperialism and imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism. Since neo-colonialism is the end of the road for what imperialism has in its toolkit, what all of this signals is its just a matter of time before the tricks run out. The people of Sudan, just like the people of South Sudan, and all of the rest of Africa, the African world, and humanity in general, all need an end of imperialist exploitation and the maintenance of the neo-colonial system that ensures imperialism stays in place and capitalism can function business as usual. Capitalism/imperialism thrive on exploiting cheap African human and material resources. This is the problem that must be corrected. This is the real issue that the people of Sudan are protesting. The fact Ibn Auf (Sudanese Defense Minister and Vice President) already announced that the military will hold power for at least two years indicates clearly that just removing Bashir isn’t the solution. Its actually ironic, but Bashir himself came to power in a military supported coup, 30 years ago. So, his removal isn’t the solution and despite imperialism’s efforts to convince you that it is, you should not be confused, especially since you have seen this movie many times before. Not only the man, but the entire system must go. And, despite the fact most people in the so-called industrial world know very little about what happens in Africa on a daily basis, these types of mass uprisings are happening everywhere. Our work is to support them and ensure they are not side tracked with limited agendas (like replacing one despot with another one). Our work is to be on the ground, organizing to unite the true revolutionary Pan-African forces so that the people’s actual voice can not only be heard in token ways, but can be supported and actualized in ways that build and bring true power to Africa and her children. Our people have been led by false hope for to long. There is no solution as long as imperialism remains intact. If we don’t accept that reality, we will be having similar conversations about Sudan and other places for years to come with no real relief in sight.
1968 Birthday party commemoration for Huey P. Newton after he was imprisoned for the death of a corrupt police person. From left to right, the late Bunchy Carter of the Los Angeles Black Panther Chapter. Seku Neblett - former BPP Field Marshall and current A-APRP member living in Ghana. Kwame Ture. Jamil Abdullah al-Amin (H. Rap Brown), Bobby Seale. And, unidentified young Black Panther
And this is significant to me because Kwame Ture (formally known as Stokely Carmichael) has been a primary role model in my life for the last 40 years. Outside of Malcolm X, there isn't another figure who has had more influence on my life and I actually got the opportunity on numerous occasions to even work with Kwame in person. Thus, verifying his legitimacy as a revolutionary of impeccable integrity and commitment.
When I was a young child, the first thing that I developed any interest in was Major League Baseball. I loved my San Francisco Giants. I loved them so much that even though it only took me a short period of time back then to figure out that Willie Mays was really not somebody to be respected on a macro level, I can still today recite all of his career statistics off the top of my head. During those early 1970s, one of, if not the best, shortstop position players in the game was Dave Concepcion who played for the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. I remember watching games then and hearing announcers rave about Concepcion's skill level at his position. Still, I was perplexed because Concepcion routinely made more errors than a lot of shortstops. As I got older, I realized that him making errors and still being the best at his position wasn't a contradiction. His range in the field was so wide that he often got to balls that other shortstops had not chance of even reaching. Thus, his potential for errors was greater.
As I've grown and dedicated my life to radical, Pan-African, organizing work, I've thought of the Concepcion example often because it applies universally to this work. The more you do. The more you contribute, the more criticism you will receive. Due to the dysfunctional basis of this society, that's just how things happen. There are many reasons for this, but the basic reason is that by being a person who makes things happen, you are automatically creating pressure for those who do nothing. Since honesty and integrity have absolutely nothing to do with material reality in this society, even by many who are supposedly "conscious", most people won't have the backbone to say that your dedication intimidates them. Instead, they will attack your work because the people they attack it to (it will seldom come directly to you) are just as dysfunctional as they are. So, the attacks are rarely challenged. Usually, they are met with reinforcement. To be grounded and committed to this work, you have to understand all of this. You have to tell yourself its not personal all the time. You have to be steeled in understanding that the incredible risks and sacrifices you make will be met with skepticism and outright hostility, even by some of the people your work directly benefits.
I've heard negativity towards my work for years. I've spent more time than I care to remember engaging people who ended up treating me and my efforts in the most terrible form imaginable. And, I have no reason to believe the release of my latest novel is going to be any different. To be proactive, I decided to write this piece to address why I decided to publish my book through Amazon. I'm involved in this work everyday. Not just on the weekends. Not just after waking up a few years, months, weeks ago. I've been doing this for a long time. I understand how capitalism works fairly well. I understand how imperialism upholds capitalism fairly well. I understand how neo-colonialism fortifies imperialism which maintains capitalism much better than a lot of people. So, believe me when I tell you that I certainly understand what and how Amazon does business. I know about their labor practices and what they do around the world. I also understand that companies like Amazon are subsidized by everyday working people who don't even shop through them because they pay their workers so little that those workers must depend upon social welfare programs to eat. Since working people pay for food stamps, etc., we are subsidizing Amazon everyday. I am fully aware of these things.
I didn't make my decision lightly. I went through the same process I went through with each of the three previous books I've published. I researched publishers. I researched literary agents. I created an Excel spreadsheet. I plugged in the agents/publishers I wanted to send a query to. The query is the summary on the back of every book. That write up is what you send out to initiate interest in your project. If there is interest, the publisher and/or agent will request chapters of your manuscript. This evolves into them reading the entire book and if they like it, they make you a publishing offer. They offer you a contract. The contract consists of publishing rights, royalty amounts paid to you, what promotional work they will do for your book, etc. Each of the publishing experiences I'd had with all three of the published books were traumatic to say the least. The first company in 2010 did practically no promotional work. All they did was call one book store and schedule the space. What you want in this area is for the company to publicize your events, make sure books are ordered, and have a program developed so that you can come in to people and talk about your book. They didn't do that. The second and third books (I'm talking about three completely different publishing companies) were produced in 2015. The first company that produced my second novel did some marketing through their networks, but they did absolutely nothing to set up promotional events despite the contract calling for them to do so. They did have a network where the book sold, but to this day, four years later, I have never received a dime in royalty income from them. I pursued legal action against them and the owner filed bankruptcy. So, there you go. My only other option was to fly to New York City and meet him in an alley way. Believe me, I considered doing that often, but all doing that would have accomplished is create issues for me. The third book was published by a company in Germany. As far as I can see, after publishing the book, they did nothing whatsoever to promote the book.
Based on my research of this publishing industry, with all three of those publishers, they apparently have processes built up to get enough books ordered from them to meet their expenses. Evidently, once they reach that point, they are done and never actually have any intention of putting any time and energy into promotional work. That's bad enough, but in each of those three situations, my ability to have access to the books is limited because of the unprincipled practices of the publishers. The only way I can order each of those three books is the same way you can. By ordering them at retail prices while receiving nothing for my labor and passion in creating the books.
It was never royalties that concerned me. My primary focus has been producing these books to promote the concepts within them. Those who have read my books understand that. Others don't. The latest book - the 740 page "The Paradox Principles" - is strictly about a group of activists who become targeted by the FBI/CIA. Its a story of people coming together to fight back against the beast. Its about teaching people that we can win. Those are the concepts I wish to spread far and wide. So, this was never about royalties to me. Its always been about talking about the books. That's why the lack of promotional work has been the largest slap in the face. The lack of paid out royalties just reaffirms the wickedness of this capitalist system while also placing additional pressure on me to finance my work out of my pocket.
After I went through my initial research for this book, I sent queries to about a dozen publishers and agents. I only received two outright rejections (common). I did reach the point (described above) of receiving three publishing offers from three different companies, but when I researched promotional work those three publishers had done for their previous authors, I saw the same results I'd experienced with the three previous publishers. Those contracts also possessed some of the controls I wanted to get away from e.g. no control over pricing, etc. As a result, after about three weeks of thinking about it, I decided on Amazon after doing extensive research. I reasoned that with them, I would be able to control my work. I can order books at print cost which will make them much more available to me to spread around. I was able to set my own pricing for my book through them, something I've struggled with each of the previous publishers on. With this latest book, I set the price as low as I possibly could e.g. $19.99 USD for a new 740 page book. The ebook version is only $9.00. Being able to control the pricing was important to me so I could ensure as many people as possible could afford it and I could afford to get as many copies as I needed.
The promotional work for "The Paradox Principles" is completely on me, but its always been like that anyway so at least this time I'm not waiting for something that isn't going to happen. Instead, I'm relying on my creativity to come up with ideas on how to get the book in people's hands. I have connected the launch of the book to a July trip for African youth here in Sacramento to go to Ghana. I'm donating 75% of royalties to this important effort to take our youth home. I have other things I'm doing. The process is slow and it causes a lot of anxiety, but I'm going to give it my best shot. Any help, ideas, people have, I'm open.
My realization was that when it comes to publishing companies the question isn't how to avoid dealing with criminals. The question is what type of criminal you want to have to deal with. With this choice, I'm at least able to control the essential aspects of my work which is something artists from any genre will understand. Its a means to an end and that end is the continued work to heighten the revolutionary consciousness of the masses of people. At the end of the day, that's the only thing that matters.
Honestly, I didn't follow the career and works of this dear departed African. I was closely tuned into rap music during the consciousness era of the late 80s and 90s. Even into the 2000s, I regularly listened, but besides a few select artists, I haven't been much into rap music (recognize the differences between rap music and hip/hop culture) over the last 10 years or so. By keeping my ear to the ground in our communities, I have heard some about the work our dear departed African was attempting to engage in. And, having experienced enough trauma from existing in oppressed African communities, I, like many people, am triggered whenever seemingly senseless violence impacts our communities. Whether its Jazmine Barnes in Houston, Ezra Hill in Chicago, 130+ people killed in Mali over the weekend, or Nipsey Hussle, the reoccurring pain of our people being systemically eliminated just for existing is a constant trauma in our daily lives.