I watched a video of the 1998 Washington D.C. dinner organized to raise funds for and honor the life's work of Kwame Ture (formally Stokely Carmichael). At the time of the program, everyone was aware that prostate cancer had taken over Kwame's body and that his days for physical life were numbered. Since many people saw this dinner as possibly the last opportunity they would have to thank Kwame for his contributions to our liberation struggle, the turnout was overwhelming. Plus, we live in a capitalist society which means there were massive medical bills that needed to be paid.
The roster of attendees at this dinner is a testimony to Kwame's work to unite African people. Everyone from former D.C. Mayor (and first Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee - SNCC - Chair) Marian Berry to Congressman John Lewis to Minister Louis Farrakhan to (now political prisoner and former SNCC Chair) Jamil Abdullah al-Amin (formally H. Rap Brown), to former politician/SNCC activist Julian Bond, Congressman Bobby Rush, to many others were present. Many of them and others spoke during the program and as I often witnessed at events where Kwame was present, many people spoke of nostalgic 60s activism.
In typical All African People's Revolutionary Party (A-APRP) fashion, there was clearly a strategy to attempt to ensure the dinner wasn't just a sentimental head nod to Kwame Ture the individual. Instead, the A-APRP wanted to use the platform to further advance the party's message of organization to address the problems we face as a people. This tactic was evident once former Brooklyn Black Panther Chair and A-APRP Central Committee member David Brothers (RIP) and former A-APRP and All African Women's Revolutionary Union Coordinator Mawina Kouyate (RIP) took the stage. With a frail and clearly exhausted Kwame Ture sitting besides them, those two Pan-African giants reminded the huge crowd that Kwame's life stood for uncompromising dedication to our people's liberation by any means necessary. They made it clear that the only way to honor anyone is to commit to carry out their work once they are no longer able to make their contribution.
The strategic approach the A-APRP used that night 21 years ago was familiar to me the moment comrades Brothers and Mawina took the stage. What most people don't understand today is the A-APRP is a propaganda party. What that means is our primary strategy right now is winning the hearts and minds of our people over to the concept that until Africa is free, no African anywhere on Earth will be free. And, a significant portion of that message is that Africa cannot be free unless she is united and socialist. Brothers, Mawina, and Kwame, all represented a major part of the A-APRP's long time leadership before each of their physical transitions. For me, this type of strategic approach was what I was raised on in the A-APRP. Every family event I've had for the last 35 years has used the same approach as the A-APRP at that dinner. Everything from my daughter's rights of passage ceremony, birthdays, her graduations, my graduation, to my book events today, are carried out as propaganda events for our Pan-African organizing work. Its the African way. We don't honor individuals because we recognize that individuals make no history. Only the masses of people make history so there's no acknowledging Kwame Ture without placing his work to organize and unite African people at the forefront.
So, after comrades Brothers and Mawina spoke, I knew what was coming. It was Kwame's turn to speak. And, with all those people previously mentioned listening intently, the man was literary on his death bed, Kwame - being the warrior that he always was, didn't use that moment to engage in sentimentality. He didn't talk about the regrets and joys of his personal life. He didn't pontificate about what he wished he could have done. Instead, unable to stand due to either pain or fatigue, Kwame spoke clearly and resolutely. He took all of those Africans at the table with him to task. He berated John Lewis for bowing down to pressure to distance himself from Farrakhan. He criticized Farrakhan for falling into the same trap. Kwame basically lectured all of them to remember that they are only as good, only as strong, as the masses of African people. That all of their positions mean nothing unless they use those positions to advance the masses of African people. And, everyone there knew that there was no one with more credibility to deliver that message than Kwame Ture. Due to his international recognition from being the outspoken spokesperson for SNCC in the mid 60s, Kwame could have easily come out of the civil rights movement with whatever spoils he wanted. A cushy position as the chancellor at some prestigious university? The mayor, governor, or senator of somewhere. If Marian Berry, Julian Bond, Andrew Young, John Lewis, Jesse Jackson and others accomplished all of that, and Kwame's star burned brighter than any of them, than he certainly could have done the same if not better than they, but he had other ideas. He had no interest in positions within the capitalist system. Instead, he was only interested in contributing to building the capacity for the type of mass organization needed to overthrow capitalism in route to our objective of revolutionary Pan-Africanism.
The question in 2019 and beyond is what significance did Kwame's speech that night carry for the work we continue to do today? The relevance is Kwame Ture built a legacy building relationships with people that led to firm organizational relationships and those relationships built strength for our movements. If you need examples all you need to look to is the opposition against the Vietnam war. The anti-war movement in this country during the 60s and 70s played a major role in bringing about that war's end. This is true no matter how much revisionist history is presented today. That war ended primarily because of the fierce and highly organized resistance against U.S. imperialism led by the courageous Viet Ming Front and the anti-war efforts in this country and around the world. Understand that U.S. imperialism was defeated in Vietnam and it really hasn't had a war victory since then and it never will have another one. Outside of the Viet Ming resistance, in this country, SNCC played a major role in shaping the values of this resistance. SNCC mapped out a strategy that the best way to defeat the war effort from within the U.S. was to focus on the draft since that was something that impacted everyday families in this society. It was SNCC that popularized the saying "hell no, we won't go!" and Kwame Ture was a specific voice behind the slogan and the strategy. That slogan, which everyone knows today, could never have taken off with just the same number of SNCC organizers controlling its usage. The slogan had to spread like wildfire and Kwame and the other SNCC organizers understood that the only way to make this happen was through relationship building to construct principled coalitions. SNCC's masterful leadership in this regard, although shrouded underneath the dishonest efforts of the white left to pretend that they alone carried the anti-war movement, explains to you why 50 years later there is still no draft in this country.
This is a message that is lost on a lot of people today. There are too many people, particularly within the African liberation movement now, who's only practical experience has been through the Black Lives Matter movement. Nothing against that movement, its a great movement, but its a movement built around mobilization techniques. Not organizing. And, that is the disconnect. People don't understand how to build organizing work or why doing so is important. Since people don't understand this element, they don't see why they should build relationships with people they don't agree with. In fact, they see people that they perceive as incorrect politically as the enemy. They don't understand primary and secondary contradictions. The Vietnamese Communist Party was instrumental in building the Viet Ming Front because they knew they needed a mass effort to win against U.S. aggression. They won because they were able to effectively unite with people they didn't agree with in Vietnam because they convinced others that their primary enemy was U.S. imperialism. We lack this level of understanding today and as a result, since we don't agree with elected politicians, we denounce them. Since we don't agree with Farrakhan and we think he's reactionary, we denounce him. Meanwhile, we stay in our small groupings of people who agree with us which is usually not even enough people to fill a minivan. We completely fail to understand that building strength is in building relationships with people you don't agree with so that you can establish conditions to engage the ideological struggle for the correct ideas to win out.
Its humorous to me when people today try to tell me the evils of say - the Nation of Islam. I was very much aware of the Nation of Islam long before most of these experts warning me about them were even born. I've been aware enough of them to be principled and honest enough to credit them for their initial role in reaching out to me when I was an alienated inner city youth. I'm conscious enough to realize that there is obviously something there to work despite the disagreement I have with many of their positions. Plus, I trust my own revolutionary ideology enough so that I'm not threatened by anyone else's beliefs. My actual experience is once those conditions for ideological struggle are established, we have little difficulty in convincing people of the validity of our vision. I've also learned quite a bit in the process. I used to see anyone working "inside the system" as worthless until some of those people were able to assist me when the city of Sacramento came after me due to A-APRP work years ago. I welcome the challenge because I know that's the only way we can grow this work. Everyone plays a role and the rest we sort out through principled struggle.
Creating the environments for this type of ideological struggle to flourish is exactly what Kwame Ture was talking about that night 21 years ago at that dinner. Its exactly what he spent the last 40 years of his life working towards. Its exactly what I have spent my entire life attempting to contribute to. Kwame Ture was a man who lived his values even when doing so wasn't comfortable for him. How many of us are willing to do that? How many of us are willing to come out from behind our hiding places and link up with others to build capacity to truly win against the forces holding us hostage to international capital? Kwame delivered his message. He did his work. Now its up to us. African United Fronts are an effective strategy for us to gain initial strength and we can build from there. Kwame was correct. We must get everyone in an organization and from there we must get our organizations united. These are the steps people and if you have a better way, we really don't understand what you are waiting for to implement it.
With this recent perceived rise in fascism in capitalist countries (I say perceived because it has always been here) there are countless people, for example within the U.S., who wish to express their opposition to fascism. In doing so, these people are making statements against neo-nazis, white supremacists, etc., by drawing parallels between themselves and the U.S. fighting against Nazi Germany during World War II approximately 80 years ago. There are memes going viral that contain statements like "I'm an American and I'm anti-fascist!" This is an incredible statement. A complete contradiction. Its the same as saying "I'm a chef and I'm anti-food!"
First, its important to have a context. Words like "fascism" are thrown around in the capitalist media in ill responsible ways without anyone providing a clear definition. This opens the door to this widespread confusion. Fascism should be seen as a system where the state rules over people through terror. Where people have no rights and/or voices. Where this repression of rights is facilitated by the state. In fascist societies people who dare rise up against even the most non-confrontational whims of the state are viciously attacked, arrested, tortured, and murdered. This is a reality where nothing happens that isn't sanctioned by the state, regardless of how inhumane the position and/or actions are.
For most people in the U.S. the classic example of a fascist regime is of course Nazi Germany. The rise of the Third Reich, or the Nazi Party, came about in Germany in 1933 with the rise to power of Adolph Hitler. Under Hitler, Germany went on to basically attack the entire world in an effort to impose its political hegemony. In the course of their brutality, the Nazis consolidated their support among the German masses by promoting the concept that Germans were a higher breed of human beings. The Nazis appealed to the frustrations of the German people. Germany, for the last 100 years, has boasted the highest percentage of college educated persons than any other country so that drop of elitism was already there and the fact Germans saw themselves as suffering and repressed from the results of World War I, which like World War II was fought in large part to suppress Germany's political dominance aspirations, helped create the conditions where this appeal of German exceptionalism was able to germinate. Hitler wrote extensively in his autobiography "Mein Kamph" that power is achieved by properly utilizing propaganda as a tool to control the thinking of the masses of people. For the Third Reich, propaganda meant using fear as a tool to push the German population, already uneasy about its unstable position, to focus on certain segments of their populations as the source of their difficulties. It was the "Southern Strategy" on steroids. Invoke fear against other powerless people to stimulate support for a bourgeoisie nationalism based on insecurity and ignorance. The traumatic results where approximately 12 million people being systemically murdered by the Third Reich, including about six million Jewish people. A side note is the Jews were always in Germany and all the other European countries because Ashkenazi Jews are European people. As this genocide took place, the benevolence of the great U.S. didn't even see the need to get involved directly in the war against the Third Reich until eight full years after Hitler was in power. Its that late effort, almost after Hitler had successfully consolidated Germany's power over an entire portion of the world, that these modern day so-called fascists point to to connect their alleged anti-fascism with the U.S. role in World War II.
The problem is there can be no connection between the U.S. and anti-fascism in any real world analysis. Its true that the U.S. did not become the most powerful country in the world until the the rest of the capitalist world had exhausted its resources and suffered overwhelming losses in the the war effort against Germany in the 40s. Its also true that the U.S. did not have colonies in Africa and the rest of the world. Those who defend U.S. imperialism point to those two realities often in defending U.S. hegemony. What those unfortunate souls never mention is the U.S. didn't have colonies, but they supported all of the European powers who did and that support helped ensure the exploitation the colonies facilitated stayed in tact. The U.S. was an unquestioned ally for Belgium and its merciless role in dominating the Congo. That region of Central Africa is of course the most mineral rich region on Earth. Without Congolese rare Earth minerals, you could not be reading this right now. Belgium's terrorism in controlling the Congo led to King Leopold's massacre in Congo at the turn of the 20th century where between 10 million and twenty million Africans were murdered by Belgium's King. Although this genocide is equal in numerical devastation as Nazi Germany, far less people know about it. The point here is that the U.S. wasn't at the table at the Berlin Conference in 1884 that divided up Africa for Europe, but as the U.S.'s power grew, its capitalist leadership understood that its interests stood in unity with those carried out by the European colonizers. So, yes, the U.S. supported Belgium. It supported France, Britain, Spain, and all the colonial powers in their efforts to terrorize, control, and dominate Africa and the rest of the world.
And, as the U.S. emerged as the dominant world power after World War II, it settled into its role as chief beneficiary of colonial efforts in Africa. U.S. corporations understood that they needed cheap African mineral resources to be profitable so it was consistent with the corrupt values of capitalism for the U.S. to assume this role. So, to recap that piece, colonization results in the theft of cheap human and material resources which fuels capitalism. The fact so many capitalist corporations profit from destabilization in Africa this has to mean this country has openly supported the subjugation of Africa for decades. Today, the U.S. has taken over the dominant role in subjugating Africa. Its corporations are all over Africa and the U.S. military is also all over Africa to protect those interests. There isn't a single destabilization happening in Africa today that isn't connected to this unholy relationship. Whether its issues in East Africa e.g. Ethiopia, Somalia, or Sudan, or Southern Africa, etc, this is true. The fallout from all of this is millions of Africans murdered. Millions more displaced. Africa being in a continued state of destabilization. Every openly fascist regime in Africa the U.S. has supported. The apartheid system in Azania (South Africa) which was just overturned in 1994, would never have been able to hold on as long as it did without unlimited U.S. political, economic, and military support. And this is the system that personified fascism e.g. the apartheid system was based on racist segregation as legal policy. The framers of the apartheid system always credited the U.S. colonization of the Indigenous people in this country as inspiration for their fascist system. The Mobutu regime in the Congo was delicately created largely through the U.S. (through its destabilizing of the National Congolese Movement and the assassination of its leader Patrice Lumumba) from 1964 through 1997 until the people were able to finally run Mobutu out of power. Mobutu's regime with its mass killings, disappearances of opponents, and quashing of any dissent, is the poster child of fascism and Mobutu probably couldn't have lasted one month without extensive U.S. political, economic, and military support. There are many more examples from the U.S. support for the brutal Conte regime in Guinea, support for Central Intelligence Agency trained Kagame in Rwanda, on and on.
For any sane person, these facts make it impossible to reconcile fascism with any support for the U.S. No one reading this can give a logical explanation for how the U.S. holds any moral superiority over Nazi Germany. In our minds the only difference is the U.S. has advanced the techniques around using fear to control the masses that were so effectively utilized by Nazi Germany. Still, the exceptionalism that fueled German support for the oppression of so many is the same exceptionalism and reactionary nationalism that fuels U.S. support for oppression against humanity that so many people within this country so conveniently ignore and dismiss exactly the same way Germans did during the holocaust.
The final statement here is that if you consider yourself an "American" you cannot be an anti-fascist. Even the existence of the U.S. is the result of the murderous theft of Indigenous people's lands so even the concept of such a thing as an "American" is a nod in support of fascism. If you consider yourself an American, or you support any element of the U.S. empire continuing to exist, you cannot be anti-fascist. You are very much a part of the fascist team, right along with the neo-Nazis, KKK, etc. In some ways you are worse because at least that type of scum is honest. The proper correction of this confusion is a complete renouncement of the U.S. and clear statements that you are a person of the world committed to justice for all of humanity and you cannot be that if you are an "American." The same nationalism that Hitler used is the same nationalism that defines "American." Make your decision, but regardless of whether you choose right or not, you should know that us colonized people see right through you.
Thirty years ago tomorrow, Huey P. Newton, the co-founder and leading theoretical voice for the Black Panther Party (for self-defense) was murdered with several gunshots at approximately 5:30am in the morning in West Oakland. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Still in my twenties and very much influenced by the model Huey gave us, I was devastated by his death. I was working that day and I could barely concentrate. I thought of Huey and his impact on our people and my own personal development all day that day and several days afterward. I was sick to my stomach.
Then, I had the opportunity to participate in some of Huey’s funeral at the Allen Temple Church. Thousands of people came out and personal statements were delivered by Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, David Hilliard, and others. I remember a statement was read from Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) that said twenty years before, when our people were protesting Huey’s imprisonment in Oakland, Kwame recalled that the police that day in 1968 shouted that “if it takes twenty years, we’ll kill that n - - - _ r!" Of course, the police were incensed about Huey’s accusation of killing Oakland policeman Frey in an alleged shootout in which Huey was injured along with another cop named Heanes. I felt that the funeral was such a show of power and force from the African community that it really helped me on a spiritual level to feel that Huey’s death was a part of our continuum of struggle and not the end of anything.
Fast forward to 2019. I can’t even hardly recognize West Oakland today from what it looked like that cold morning in 1989 when Huey was killed. So many Africans have been systemically moved out of West Oakland that the complexity of the neighborhood has changed completely. And, that’s not all that’s changed. The internet has exposed us to an overwhelming nonstop flow of information. Now, I pride myself on being a prolific reader. I’ve read everything I could get my hands on about Huey and the Panther Party. I was aware of the accusations against Huey and his personal disintegration during the 1970s, but truthfully, the extent of the damage he carried out didn’t hit me until I read the book by Flores Forbes; a former Panther, entitled “Will You Die with Me?” That book, which has been collaborated by countless Panthers over the years, illustrates the degree of abuse and outright gangster activity Huey was in the leadership in carrying out throughout the 70s. Up to that point, I believe I had dismissed the charges against Huey e.g. pistol whipping a tailor and the death of a 17 year African woman, abusing Panther members/leaders, as counter intelligence information designed to discredit our movement. In truth, several Panthers like Bobby Seale, Elaine Brown, etc., people who had worked with Huey for years. Worked to get him released from prison, were ultimately abused by him. His illogical purging of loyal and dedicated Panthers like the entire Panther 21. The fact monies were misappropriated under his charge. His rampant drug usage. The Relationships ruined. And, although I knew about it all, none of it really resonated with me at that time.
Today, there is little question of Huey’s brutality. These charges are highly documented in books by Hillard, Bobby Seale, Elaine Brown, Forbes, and a number of other people. So, the question then becomes how do we react to all of this? The options are we can continue to go on as if the accusations are not true and just focus on Huey’s positive contributions. Or, we can – and this is what I believe we should do – focus on Huey as a complete human being, acknowledging his great contributions while also acknowledging his failings. Since all of us have both, taking this approach reaffirms that we are imperfect, but we can still have positive impacts. If we grow to understand this, then we can believe that everyone has potential to be healed to become a productive member of society, regardless of past discretion. Maybe this is a lesson we can learn from Huey’s life?
It makes sense to me that this is the lesson because Huey’s positive contributions are overwhelming. This African organized a group of inner city Africans to challenge the police and confront their unbridled brutality against our people. This approach impacted the psychology of our people as well as the police and has to be credited with influencing any future efforts to impact our people. I can never forget finding a copy of my father's "Playboy" magazine in 1974 specifically to look at naked women, only to find my 12 year old self enamored by the article inside titled "Why Blacks Aren't Scary Anymore." The picture was the famous one of Huey showcased above in the rattan chair with the spear and the rifle. That picture made him immortal. And, it had a huge psychological impact on African people everywhere that still has a strong impact today. It had that impact on me. In other words, the Black Lives Matter movement, efforts by Africans everywhere to create armed self-defense, etc., all of it has to credit Huey and his ideas/example. His work to guide the Panthers into becoming an international organization with revolutionary intentions made a strong indent that those of us continuing with revolutionary politics benefit from whether we know it or acknowledge it or not. The American Indian Movement credits Huey with inspiring its work. The Brown Berets credit Huey and this is confirmed by examples such as several Brown Berets coming out in 2018 to the Sacramento Black Panther 50 year commemoration to support and offer security. The proliferation of several Black Panther type organizations today is a testimony of respect to Huey's example. His courageous statement against homophobia and patriarchy, despite his personal violations, was a very strong thing to do in 1970 when virtually no one else, especially within the African world, was taking such a position. The fact he never came out, like so many others, denouncing militant and revolutionary struggle. He actually continued to promote uncompromising methods of struggle until his death. He participated in panel discussions about the Panthers and his PhD dissertation was a study of this government's illegal persecution of the Panthers. And, in one of his very final acts before leaving us, he refused to leave San Quentin Prison in 1988 after being incarcerated on various violations. He refused to leave, and forced the institution to hold him an additional five days in protest over the then continued incarceration of Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) on clear Federal Bureau of Investigation initiated illegal charges to imprison Geronimo, ultimately for 27 long years. All of these things make Huey's positive presence in our lives ill refutable. We know that these are the reasons we know who Huey P. Newton is in the first place. We can acknowledge that without diminishing his harmful actions.
I've spent the last 10 years debating within myself about Huey. Even Huey's courageous protest at San Quentin is ironic because at least part of the reason the government's framing of Geronimo was effective was because of Huey's willingness to play directly into the hands of the government by participating, and eventually leading, the suspicious atmosphere in Oakland against Geronimo. That effort was instigated by the police and Huey's embrace of their misinformation facilitated Geronimo's isolation with Panther leadership and his eventual targeting. Huey hurt people and that bothers me, but since he obviously helped people on a mass level as well, I have decided to have a layered and (what I believe to be) healthy perspective on the former Minister of Defense. He was a great man. A consequential one, who we need to learn had flaws. Many of his flaws and errors may have been precipitated by his imprisonment, but the truth is Huey had exhibited lumpen (criminal) tendencies long before the creation of the Black Panther Party. In fact, he surmised in his autobiography that he toyed with creating a pimping ring before deciding on a political organization. That would make it dishonest to blame all of Huey's abuse on prison. So, the lesson I take from all of that is that political education has to be a constant. Despite all of the information floating around out here about the Panthers today, too much of it is either idealistic idol worship or government inspired misinformation designed to discredit the Panthers. Since we know that only the masses of people make history, not individuals, we know Huey is a product of all of us. We produced Huey P. Newton so we have to take credit and blame for his failures as well as his victories. We have to learn more about those victories so we can build upon them and we have to also face his critical errors face on so we can figure out how to avoid making them in the future. We can't fall prey to the reactionary habit of defining people based on their errors e.g. you can do 99 things great, but that one error defines you.
The approach I'm suggesting here in my view is a healthy one that permits us to see people as whole while not judging them solely on shortcomings. This is the best way to honor people. In my heart, I believe Huey was always a man of the people. I believe he would want us to see him in this entirety. I choose to believe he wants us to critically assess his bad behavior and figure out ways to address dysfunction within our communities through our movements for justice. I think he watches over our efforts to improve upon his own to bring us closer to wiping out the oppression that he fought so valiantly to see destroyed.
The news of rapper/music industry mogul Jay Z's company forming a partnership with the National Football League (NFL) allegedly to address the issues of police terrorism has generated a lot of conversation about whether Jay Z's efforts represent a sellout of the ideals produced from Colin Kaepernick's protest starting back in 2016. First, we have to again bring up this rampant confusion and political immaturity within African communities today. Fifty years later we still haven't internalized Malcolm X's message about the danger of having entertainers speak for our liberation. Kwame Ture expanded upon that theme some thirty years after Malcolm. When the discussion came up around 1990 about the All African People's Revolutionary Party entering some sort of relationship with several rappers, led by KRS-1 and Boogie Down Productions, Kwame's position was that we should work with/through them, but that we should not partner with them. His logic? That they are entertainers dedicated to making money and not revolutionaries. We could not depend upon them staying the path if the market demanded them to go in a different direction. The subsequent softening of rappers like KRS-1, Ice Cube, Ice Tea, etc., is clear evidence of the prophesy of Malcolm and Kwame's words.
Jay Z is not even the same type of lyricist as the others. He's never rapped, at least not consistently, about revolution, organization, fighting the power. His music is filled with messages of pimping, drug selling, killing Africans, demeaning women, and all the other formats of self destruction prominent within popular capitalist culture. In other words, he always was a sellout so there should be no reason for people to be confused about his latest move. His company will stand to make millions from this partnership and at the end of the day, that's the bottom line for why he is doing any of this. Now, we know that for some of you, that isn't a contradiction in the least because you desire to make millions within capitalism like Jay Z. We should make it clear that we are not attempting to make any effort to transform your thinking. You, like Jay Z, are already sold out. Our only purpose for discussing this is because of the issue of our struggle for liberation that emerges because all of this is the result of Kaepernick's protests against police terrorism. On this question of justice, Jay Z cannot be the answer and we don't say that because Kaepernick still doesn't have a job in the NFL. That's the only morsel Jay Z is correct about. None of this was ever about Kaep getting a job.
What all of this should always be about is the question of justice in the case of so many people being killed by police in state sanctioned murder by agents of the state e.g. police, and how this is a symptom of the role of the state to continue to repress African and other colonized people. The protests in the NFL started simple enough with Kaep and others like Eric Reid sitting and then kneeling when the country's so-called national anthem is played before the start of the games. The real sellout started the moment those who were protesting agreed to kneel instead of completely sitting. The reason they started kneeling is because kneeling was considered more respectful to veterans of the U.S. armed services. And, from that surrender the protesters backed off further by spending so much time defending the protests as simple acts against murder as opposed to any statements against this system and its instruments.
The truth is any protest against police terrorism is actually a protest against institutions of oppression in this society. Its ill refutable that the only reason the police can operate with such immunity in repressing the African masses is because the state supports their ability to do that. And, by state we mean their departments, the courts, the media, the prison system, etc. The entire system. So, clearly, its not possible to protest against police without also protesting against the very system that produces police departments, the criminal U.S. government. And, if we are then going to protest against the U.S. government, then how can we do that without protesting against the symbols of that government e.g. its flag? And, if the military is an instrument who's specific purpose is to violently impose the will of the state, and we know the state is an instrument of oppression against the masses of people on earth, how the hell can anyone truthfully argue that we are not protesting against the flag, the military, the police, and any tool of this system that it uses to exert its will against humanity?
The ignorance, inexperience, and/or cowardice of so many created a situation with these protests where the actual power of the protest was sucked right out of it because once you removed the opposition to the state, which is really opposition to capitalism, all we were left with was a bourgeoisie complaint about individual actions of individual police. And, this liberal capitulation softened the militancy of the protests to the point where the NFL and capitalist America, Jay Z, Nike, etc., could slide in and pretend to be "partners" on the side of the oppressed.
This capitulation is what brought us to the place we are at today. So, the conversation is completely misplaced. Its not whether Jay Z sold out because Kaep doesn't have his job. Its not whether Kaep sold out with Nike. All of that should be a foregone conclusion to anyone paying attention. The real discussion is that we continue to let our movements be highjacked by the very system participating in our oppression because we continue to let them craft the message in ways that are acceptable to the power structure.
Police terrorism is a symptom of the greater problem of a capitalist system that kills African and other colonized people at will because doing so serves its interests of controlling the populations that are most likely to rise up and rebel against this system's hegemony. So, if you are protesting against police, you are protesting against the flag, the military, the legislature, the courts, the media, the street signs, and everything representative of this system. Until we mature enough to understand that and all that it means, we will continue this path of being thrown and whipped around like footballs.
Violent, unhinged, white supremacist gatherings are happening in the open everywhere across the planet. Europe, Azania (South Africa), Australia, Canada, the U.S., these are daily occurrences. Much of the discourse being presented about this, coming from the white left, suggests that the entire definition of fighting this phenomenon evolves from whether one physically shows up to confront these collective bottom shoe scum when they decide to show up. According to these experts, if you don't show up, you are supporting fascism. For those of us within the African liberation movement, who have been "showing up" to fight against white supremacy/fascism, and all of the vestiges of the capitalist system that has been terrorizing us for 500+ years, this framing epitomizes the insanity of these times.
Look, for the record, we think anyone who goes out to challenge these cowards is to be commended. And, we believe showing up to challenge them is a very important thing for people to be doing. What we object to is people who just started showing up last week, month, or year, etc., telling those of us who have been battling those losers for decades what we need to be doing.
First, lets clarify that white supremacy was created by white people for the benefit of white people to be sustained by white people. Logically, that means white people should be out in the streets challenging it because challenging violent white supremacy isn't just something we need to do on any given weekend. Its something we have to do everyday. These people talking about "showing up" would have to show up a whole lot more times, more times than I assure you they will, to catch up to the number of confrontations I've had with violent white supremacists. From ordering a pizza, to getting gasoline, to sitting in a park, to going to a coffee shop, to just being at work, school - you know - things you do in everyday life, I've had confrontations with these people. And, that's not to mention to activism that has brought me in direct conflict with them, often when it was just me and a couple of other people, overwhelmingly outgunned. So, sorry, but you people don't get to tell us colonized people who are not physically there what opposition looks like.
Frankly, its about time white people started throwing blows at these people. We were the only ones doing it forever while most white people observed from the sidelines. And, although its certainly unfortunate that the corrupt political elite in this backward country are framing the discussion to criminalize those fighting against these fascists, we have been telling you for centuries how it feels to be criminalized just for standing up for justice. So, instead of you beating your chest and demanding that everyone acknowledge what you are doing, we have some humble suggestions for how we can expand beyond the little stuff and actually build a strong enough movement to eliminate these nasty people.
It has to be acknowledged that just "showing up", although great, is still the absolute minimum effort required in this fight. The criteria is so liberal at this point that someone can go to a rally in red, white, and blue, and fully support the imperialism of the capitalist U.S., and still consider themselves to be anti-fascist. This is an oxymoron. Any country like the U.S., and everyone who supports the U.S.,will never qualify as being anti-fascist. The U.S. claimed to be fighting fascism in Germany during World War II while supporting the subjugation of millions of people in Africa, Asia, and the Western Hemisphere. The U.S. firmly supported/supports the apartheid regime in Azania (South Africa), the zionist regime in occupied Palestine, the colonial oppression of the people of Ireland, the Philippines, etc. All of those regimes had/have strong elements of fascist oppression within them so how the hell can the U.S. be viewed as the leader against fascism? And if you support the U.S. and call yourself an American you are a major part of the contradiction that has birthed the idiots you are on the street confronting these days.
The opening requirement for any true anti-fascist within the U.S. is opposition to the criminal U.S. empire. Then, from that point, we have to start engaging in block by block to organize ourselves to win this fight. We cannot just continue to just "show up." Its such an obvious thing at this point that I can already tell you what will happen at most of these gatherings. Justice desiring people will show up with little to no organization. The police, clearly the state's official allies to the openly fascist groups, will serve to support the presence of the shoe scum while harassing any efforts to challenge their existence. Those challenging the fascists, in uniform and out, will be beat, arrested, doxxed, and other forms of oppression because of our lack of organization when what we should be doing is figuring out how to trip up the entire oppressive apparatus. What ways can We cripple the cities, etc., when these people show up? What strategies can we employ to make it painful for these people to show up? We could be doing that, which would bring us success, but we don't. Instead, we just keep "showing up" without any plan and then we wonder why the results consistently turn out against us.
We are talking to people about community defense as that is the model from which we prepare ourselves to fight back effectively to win. Its a part of our strategy to compliment our revolutionary Pan-African work which is community defense in Africa on the offensive to create one unified socialist Africa. We will continue to implore and encourage people to become open to this approach. Many of us colonized people are not "showing up" because we don't just jump into action in reaction to our enemies. Instead, we daily engage in organizing work to build capacity to permit us to no longer have to "show up." Meanwhile, we appreciate you being out there, but don't think because you don't see us operating within your world that we aren't doing anything. The world isn't an extension of your nose. We are past being excited about punching a piece of rotten toilet scum. We want their complete elimination and we want the organized power for the masses of people of earth. "Showing up" is an important part of that process, but to see it as the only part is akin to seeing taking in a breath as the complete requirement to learning how to swim. Be safe. Make strong anti-fascist statements and then after the adventure ends start thinking about how we step up the game to the next level of this fight.
One hundred and thirty-two years after he was born, August 17th represents the born day for Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Born in St. Anns Bay, Jamaica, Caribbean, Garvey rose up to become one of the most effective mass leaders of African people we have ever witnessed. Unfortunately, so many of us are beaten down and dysfunctional in outlook on African people that we only know how to evaluate us based on negative information. In other words, too often, we attempt to judge people based on their mistakes and not their entire human existence. As it relates to Marcus Garvey, many people today wish to dwell on the the U.S. government inspired allegations against him. Yes, it is true he was convicted on mail fraud here in this country in 1927 and was immediately deported, but if you study the actual case, he himself was never linked to any specific mail fraud. The specific people who were using U.S. mails to financially defraud people under the banner of Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) were doing that based on their lack of political education and commitment to Garvey's cause of African liberation and no one can produce evidence proving otherwise. The other allegation against Garvey was his focus on capitalist based business ventures e.g. the Black Star Line. The criticisms in this regard certainly have validity, but again, for us to move forward, we have to learn how to glean the positive from any situation.
For us, we choose to acknowledge the shortcomings of Garvey while also focusing on his organizing capabilities. This man led an organization that recruited millions of African people worldwide. The UNIA had a newspaper which was published in three languages - English, French, and Spanish - in 33 countries. And all of this happened during the 20s without the benefit of the internet. Today, so many of us have internet, email, text, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whats App, Snap Chat, etc., and with all of those resources, we would have trouble getting 25 people to attend a baby shower.
Its those wonderful attributes that makes us honor Garvey and his work and we definitely can't let people who struggle to organize roaches out of their living quarters convince us to dismiss Garvey's unquestionable organizing skills. Skills which are without question desperately needed today. We possess the capacity to learn from people what will improve our work while also figuring out how to leave behind the qualities they possess which are not desirable. This is true for Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, Louis Farrakhan, you, me, and anyone else who has breathed air.
Of course, the creation of the red, black, and green flag, one of the few flags considered the identity for people of African descent wherever we live, was a contribution of Garvey and the UNIA. After observing that the European countries had histories and identities, Garvey correctly surmised that African people - colonized and oppressed - had more right and purpose for having an identity and history (as a vehicle for dismantling colonialism and establishing our national identity on the road to liberation), than anyone from Europe. So, the red, black, and green flag was created. When Kwame Nkrumah and the Convention People's Party came to power as a mass, socialist, Pan-African political party in Ghana in 1957, Nkrumah made it quite clear that he saw Ghana's achievement as a step in the complete liberation of Africa. In the course of his analysis, Nkrumah rose up the mantle of Garvey's great contribution to African unity by highlighting his creation of the flag. And, although Nkrumah and others eventually added yellow to the flag to represent the Pan-African flag (red for the blood, green for the land - Africa, yellow for the gold that they stole, and black for the people), the original basis will always be Garvey's red, black, and green. This is the reason that so many flags from African countries today have variations of the those colors and/or the black star to commemorate Garvey's black star.
The reason why all of this is relevant in 2019 and beyond is because there is so much confusion within the African community today. Africans born and living within the U.S., people who haven't read one single book about Africa. People who if they have traveled outside the U.S., its been as a bourgeoisie tourist, these people are telling everyone that there is some sort of divide that needs to exist between Africans born in the U.S. and the rest of our African family. These people are so dumbfounded and confused that some of them raise up the red, black, and green flag (some of these confused people prefer to wrap themselves in the imperialist and racist U.S. flag), despite the fact it was created by an African born outside the U.S. This ill-logic shouldn't shock anyone because these are the same people who would tell you that Africans outside the U.S. haven't done anything for Africans living within the U.S. That is the most absurd statement and its only because truth and justice exist within the backward U.S. completely divorced from material reality that such stupidity can flourish. Certainly influenced by the Garvey movement, as Nkrumah's pronouncements about Garvey illustrate, the African independence movement, sky rocketed by the 5th Pan-African Congress in 1945, carried initial independence throughout the African continent. That 5th Pan African Congress, where Nkrumah worked with Amy Jacques Garvey - the widow of Garvey - where she was honored, along with W.E.B. DuBois, as the conveners of the congress, served its purpose. It made the call for mass movements and political parties and those parties carried out the independence movements in Africa like a wild fire. This is relevant to the African in the U.S. only crowd because without that 5th Pan Congress there wouldn't have been an African independence movement. And, without that African independence movement, there wouldn't have been a U.S. civil rights movement. And, without a U.S. civil rights movement there wouldn't have been a Black power movement. Without those last two movements, these African traitors attempting to forge division among our people today would never be in the positions they occupy to speak to our people in the first place. The evidence is overwhelming. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who attended Ghana's independence ceremony in person, stated numerous times that his work was widely influenced by what was happening in Africa. The founders of the Black Panther Party, Huey P. Newton in particular, were quite clear that the Kenyan Land and Freedom movement e.g. the "Mau Mau" had much to do with inspiring them on their mission. And the impact of African revolutionaries like Nkrumah and Sekou Ture on the consciousness of people like Malcolm X, Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer, Kwame Ture (his name makes that pretty obvious), formally Stokely Carmichael, greatly influences our existence within the U.S. today. Kwame Ture, of course, was born in the Caribbean, but anyone in the U.S. who doubts his outstanding contributions to both the U.S. civil rights and Black Power movements needs to be hospitalized immediately.
Clearly, there is no concrete way to separate our existence within the U.S. from the contributions and existence of our African family members outside of the U.S. If this piece has made any one point certain, its that one. Another point we have strove to make here is that Marcus Garvey and his movement had a serious impact on much of what we believe and practice today even if we don't know it e.g. those who hang up and/or wear red, black, and green without even having a clear understanding of Garvey's work. So, for those who already honor Garvey's work, please use August 17th as a reflection point to push us to work to achieve more of his vision of international African unity and justice. For those who hopefully learned something positive about Garvey here, use that information to inspire you to get involved on deeper levels so that you can reach your full potential in this work. And, most of all, let's all make a commitment to silence this nonsense about us being different types of African people based exclusively on us identifying our existence based on the colonial borders created by our enemies.
Today I went to meet with a younger African man I've been meeting with recently. He just turned 40 years old and he was just released a few months ago from a long stretch in one of California's many institutions of incarceration e.g. prison. I met this young man while sitting in a coffee shop writing. We struck up a conversation and after subsequent interactions I learned that he was able to secure a job for himself that was circumvented by his prison record despite the fact he says his work record was great for the short time he was able to sustain that job.
In the last 45 days he's lost his living situation and now he's on the streets with no income and/or aide. I offered to work with him to help him and so far, that's looking like helping him develop a plan to provide shoe shining services through a mobile service. I committed to help him finance the kit, which isn't very expensive, and to help him develop a skeleton business plan. He's quite clear that this venture isn't going to solve his problems and I've made it clear to him the limits to my ability to help him financially due to the monetary needs I have to finance my political work.
My point here is that during today's meetup, we were discussing at the coffee shop his declining health from sleeping on the streets and his subsequent inability to maintain his optimism about his future. During the course of this conversation, the two graduate nursing students sitting at the table next to us started to engage the conversation and soon, we were having a full blown four person conversation about inequity in this society.
Helping facilitate those conversations is what I do in ways that are productive and more enriching than what most people have the skills to sustain. Still, the crux of the conversation came down to the lack of hope gnawing at my mentee (his definition of our relationship) and how people can maintain hope when their perspective from their individual circumstances is as bleak as his currently are .
As our four person conversation came to a close, he and I continued a more focused conversation about his specific situation. From that conversation I thought of Fidel Castro, that revolutionary Cuban who's born day was actually yesterday. In Western capitalist societies, we are dominated today by the internet and a world where people actually believe that the few poorly written and researched internet articles they read each week are truly preparing them to understand difficult ideological and historical phenomenon. Fidel Castro is an example of this. I would never claim to know everything, but I can say confidently that I already forgot more about Cuba than most of these Western Cuban experts will ever learn. I can say that because I've been seriously studying the concepts of socialism, the Partido Communista Cuba (Cuban Communist Party), its structure and governing processes, Cuban society, Cuban revolutionary history, Caribbean history, and everything related to those areas for the last 35 years. And, I mean reading probably about 40 books on those various elements of Cuba. Traveling there 25 years ago before most people today even knew there was a Cuban revolution, and doing extensive research to support the writing of my thesis on Cuban revolutionary socialism. All of this coupled with my organizing experiences over the last three decades, permits me to have a pretty strong understanding of how people can come together and make positive changes. Again, there is much I don't know, but I'm not a fool. I am not going to be falsely modest and pretend that some anti-communist hack can compete with my commitment to learning about Cuba's path. So, despite the rantings of ignorant so-called revolutionaries who insist on castigating the Cuban revolution in general and Fidel in particular, because these people wouldn't know how to build a revolutionary movement if they pushed out perfect revolutionary theory into the toilet, we continue to proclaim loudly our love for comrade Fidel Castro. And we say that understanding fully that the Cuban revolution doesn't have to be perfect as its critics complain. As one of the world's first legitimate socialist revolutions, the only responsibility the Cuban people have is to continue to build socialism. They will correct their errors in the process and their brief 60 year history is full of examples of how they are doing just that, but if you don't know those examples, that means you have lots of work to do. Its not our job to educate you (despite the fact we have done that countless times as a courtesy), so stop being lazy and do your work. What's important here is that the reasons we love Fidel is because he and others had the courage to stand up to imperialism and to provide hope to millions of people in the course of their revolution.
A special shout-out to all the idiots who swore that Cuban socialism would collapse the moment Fidel ceased to breath (because to these small minds, the Cuban revolution was Fidel's one man control over 10 million people which since Cuba is essentially an African country is about as racist as you can get). We love Fidel because he led the effort to tackle challenges that are reachable today. Challenges that were unimaginable 60 years ago. Challenges like facing off point blank against U.S. imperialism head on and without fear. Challenges like being able to ensure 10 million people could read and that the basic tenets of socialism were implemented so that the generational process of transformation could be imposed and culture could be changed. Today, we see Cuba, a country that when the revolution started it was in many ways basically a satellite of the Soviet Union, openly acknowledge its errors and make corrections. At one time, it was seriously frowned upon for Africans to exhibit African cultural characteristics because that was seen as nationalistic which is anathema to those so-called white Marxist/Leninists and other so-called white leftists who see the entire world as a caricature of European history (meaning because nationalism has been dominantly negative for Europe and European people, that means it has to mean the same for everyone else, even those of us colonized who must reclaim our identity - nationalism - in order to build for socialist development). Today, African culture is celebrated in Cuba and the government actually funds African culture and has made the study of Africa, African culture, and the oppression of African's required study for every Cuban student. A much more progressive and logical approach than that of the U.S. where oppression against anyone is still never acknowledged and any effort to do so is met with hostility. So, we love Fidel because we believe he helped establish their process of making these things possible in Cuba and as a result, that has to mean they are possible everywhere else.
How all of this about Cuba, their revolution, and Fidel, ties into my meeting today with my African man friend is the question of how we can transmit that hope that Fidel taught so many of us into the hearts and minds of people like my younger friend who has very little in his individual existence to encourage him to keep going? I think a lot of the answer is tied up in how we engage people. The reason my friend listens to me is because, according to him, he observes certain things in me that have caused him to have respect for who I am as a human being. For one, whatever I tell him I'm going to do, I do, every time. For someone in his situation, relying on people to be consistent with support, meetings, etc., is all he has to hang onto, so although from experience I know those traits are taken for granted by most people, for him they are extremely important. Also, our discussions are never just about his individual circumstances, but how his individual life is shaped by the structural conditions we are subject to. I believe that my efforts to help him remember that his problems are not because something is wrong with him, but because of this system of oppression, helps him stay encouraged. In fact, I know this is true and not just because he says so, but because that is very liberating message in a backward society that preaches to people that individualism is their only solution while ensuring that there are absolutely on resources to help them on an individual level. Finally, my brutal honesty with him which evolves from my revolutionary orientation. Since I have that instead of some liberal consciousness, I'm not going to tell him or anybody that the solution is here by just believing in God or having faith in a backward system. Instead, I tell him in the most sober terms possible that the only answer is collective organization to dismantling a system that is itself collectively organized to oppress us. In the course of that, I have to unfortunately tell him that his suffering is something that I can do what I can help subside, but that just me myself, I cannot stop it without creating a host of problems for myself in other areas of my life. In other words, he knows I have his back, but he also knows there is much going on in his life that I can't do much to help improve and that it is going to be like that for a while with him and many other people. Still, I know that a person can deal with trauma on any level if they are prepared. The important thing is that he knows he has support and that we are going to have to fight to make any progress on an individual level as well as collective level.
In all of that I have crafted a clear reaffirmation for the work that I do. We should do whatever we can to support those who are suffering, but its important we all understand that under this system, despite what we do on an individual level, people are going to suffer. If not here, than in Africa, etc., because this system depends on human suffering. My hope is to help individuals as I can while keeping my vision firmly sighted on the collective dismantling of this system and the creation of something better as the Cubans have been doing for 60 years. No one can intelligently argue that life for most Cubans, especially those most oppressed pre-revolution, is not better today. And, no one can argue that things will continue to trend upward for them, despite hiccups, largely caused by imperialism. Again, we love and thank Fidel for his contribution to this. And, we continue to be inspired by their example in our efforts to help others hang on and be inspired because in the final analysis, the more of us who accept this reality, the more prepared we become to change it, despite our personal circumstances.
Clearly, the capitalist empires are going through transformation. And since capitalism dominates the world today, if the centers of capitalism/imperialism are going through changes, that means the entire world is going through challenges. All change is dialectical, meaning there are positives and negatives in everything. The job of peace and justice loving people is always to help discern when positives outweigh negatives in any material circumstance and vice versa. An example is the move towards outright fascism is producing negative conditions because the policies of capitalist centers like the U.S., Britain, etc., are invoking suffering across the globe. The positives here are that the concept of fascism, what it means, how it looks, and what we have to do to confront it, is being discussed at higher and higher levels everywhere. For most people, the vision of this fight today is primarily European people in Europe, the U.S., etc., representing the front-line forces battling against fascist activities. We respect, encourage, support, and participate with any justice loving people who fight against injustice, but since we cannot disconnect fascism from white supremacy and capitalism, we know that historically, the role of colonized people in confronting fascism is excluded from the general narrative around this issue.
That's why its so important to stop and acknowledge the concrete contributions of principled fighters for justice like George Padmore. Born Malcolm Nurse in Trinidad in the Caribbean in 1903, Padmore grew up witnessing the contradictions imposed on our people from colonialism and capitalism. As a result, as a young man, he got involved by joining and participating in organizations that led to his active participation within the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) after he moved to the U.S. Padmore's proximity to colonialism in the Caribbean and racial segregation within the U.S. permitted him to understand clearly any discussion about violence has to start and end with the violence initiated and systemically implemented by the oppressing forces of capitalism and imperialism. He knew at a very young age that any talk of attempting to impose the mantle of violence on the people standing up against oppression is absurd. In the early 1930s he was writing about the empire being the cause of any violence despite whatever methods oppressed people chose in which to fight back.
Padmore's dedication to the Leninist ideas he initially learned permitted him to develop a class consciousness against exploitation, but his direct experience with racial oppression prevented him from adopting a class consciousness with a blind eye and this manifestation of his character caused him problems within the then Soviet led worldwide socialist movement. Padmore never abandoned his understanding that nationalism, serving the purpose of uniting oppressed and colonized people, is not the same bourgeoisie nationalism that Europe has a history of repeating. His commitment to organizing around this concept within the CPUSA caused conflict for him, especially from other African communists at the time like A. Philip Randolph and Cyril Briggs, among others.
Still, it was Padmore's hardcore opposition to fascism, and his clear understanding that fascism and anti-colonialism must never be separated, that caused significant consternation within CPUSA. In 1933, during the rise of the Third Reich, Adolph Hitler, and Nazi Germany, Padmore was living and organizing in Germany at the time. The Nazi regime immediately deported him because of this work and all of those experiences solidified his commitment to fighting fascism, but he was not willing to do that in isolation of his understanding of the role of colonialism in also advancing fascism. During that time Padmore began writing regularly about these contradictions and his landmark book "How Britain Rules Africa" was a major early contribution to the discourse around how capitalism today was developed off of the colonial system of oppression. As a result of this contradiction, Padmore was writing and organizing in the 1930s around the understanding that the U.S., Britain, and the other so-called "allied" countries were no less fascist than Nazi Germany. The unwillingness of the white left to acknowledge this glaring contradiction and the strange inability of African communists to recognize this error led to Padmore leaving his position as political secretary to Joseph Stalin in the late 30s. Padmore could not reconcile the Soviet Union claiming itself to be the bastion of socialist development while making a unity pact with the Western capitalist countries, including the U.S. Padmore's landmark book "Pan-Africanism or Communism" lays out his argument about why the correct path for African revolutionaries must be centered around the liberation of Africa and that our struggle is nation (race), class, and gender, not just class as the white left has spent the last 100 years attempting to jam down our throats. Another central contribution of "Pan-Africanism or Communism" that is rarely pointed out is its clear articulation of fascism originating from colonialism and how that reality negates the ability of the capitalist countries to point the finger of fascism at Germany alone.
This contradiction is highlighted today by the many memes and efforts by people to try and signify those who fought in World War II against Germany as those who were fighting fascism. The capitalists role in that war is today commonly identified as them being heroes against "the rise of fascism." If it were not for the tragedy of this confusion it would be laughable. Padmore's growing awareness and eventual break with the so-called Marxist/Leninism of the CPUSA was centered with his disagreement with the Soviet pathway of reconciling with capitalist countries. In order to take this position, Padmore was also very clear, 90 years ago, that the level of oppression those capitalist countries initiated and sustained in Africa e.g. apartheid regimes in the Congo, Azania (South Africa), Angola, Mozambique, Kenya, etc., made it impossible for those capitalist countries to be anything except fascist regimes. Padmore's thesis argument in "Pan-Africanism or Communism" was not that our struggle isn't also a struggle for communism. Kwame Nkrumah, one of Padmore's chief mentees, clarified that question when he concluded "Class Struggle in Africa" by stating that Pan-Africanism is defined as one unfiied socialist Africa. And, for us, the achievement of Pan-Africanism is simply our African contribution to (paraphrasing Nkrumah's quote) the worldwide movement to achieve worldwide communism. Padmore's point in 1936 needs to be repeated often in 2019 and beyond. Fascism cannot exist without the oppression imposed upon colonized peoples and the countries they originate from. There can be no movement against fascism that isn't rooted in anti-colonialism, the eradication of zionist control of occupied Palestine, the total liberation and unification of Africa, the return of the Americas to the Indigenous people's of the Western Hemisphere, etc. Any talk of doing this that doesn't center those elements is no anti-fascist movement, regardless of if you all sucker punch a million nazis.
Perhaps the primary reasons very few people today know anything about George Padmore is because of this highly unpopular (even today in left circles), but principled position he took almost 100 years ago around this issue. Still, he should always be acknowledged for his contribution to this consciousness because back in the 30s he was practically the only person writing and organizing from this perspective. And, despite the fact his struggles with Marcus Garvey during that period probably prevented him from giving Garvey credit for his enormous contributions much the same way people today are unable or unwilling to credit Padmore the same way, his work cannot be disputed.
Padmore went on to work with Kwame Nkrumah, Amy Jacque Garvey (the widow of Marcus), ,W.E.B. DuBois, and others to organize the historic 5th Pan-African Congress which propelled the African independence movement which propelled the U.S. civil rights movement/Black Power movement, etc. Eventually, Padmore settled in Ghana as an invited adviser to the socialist government of Kwame Nkrumah and he resided there until his death in 1959. Today, there is the George Padmore Library in Ghana as a monument to the outstanding contributions of the great son of Africa. Our best tribute to him will be the continued realization that fascism is a byproduct of capitalism and colonialist domination, not something separate and independent from it.
Currently, there is quite a focus on guns throughout the U.S. This reality is fascinating considering that there are approximately 120 guns for every person in the U.S. which means with a population of about 350 million people, there are 42,000,000 guns floating around within the U.S. Staggering, if you factor in that there are an estimated 217 million automobiles in circulation throughout the U.S. Most people have some access to an auto, even if its through Uber or Lyft. Well, that proximity represents only a fraction compared to the number of guns out here.
With the current justified focus on mass shootings, their clear connection to white supremacist ideology, and the clear articulation of white supremacy from the highest echelons of U.S. government (don't panic, that just means the sheet has finally been pulled off), many people, well intentions and all, are calling for the removal of all these guns from U.S. society. The logic imparted by these good people is that the overwhelming access of guns makes the ability for such mass shootings to happen that much easier, so by removing access, the actual problem will be positively impacted.
From our perspective as exploited colonized people fighting for our liberation against this backward empire, we have a completely different take on guns, and particularly gun control. When I was a young man of about 21, I used to go around telling African people that they were foolish if they didn't have a gun and passport. I still believe this almost 40 years later, but with much more depth, but first, its important for peace and justice loving people to understand the basics of guns.
The focus in this gun control debate is on so-called "assault" rifles e.g. AR-15 style, AK-47, style rifles, etc., that exist primarily to do intense and extended harm to other human beings meaning these are not typically the types of weapons one would use for hunting animals/game for food. In fact, these are specifically the weapons - the AR-15 for U.S. troops, and the AK style rifles for virtually everyone else on Earth, used in wars (along with other similar weapons). There is debate about this, but the "assault" title typically refers to these types of rifles that are automatic fire weapons, meaning one squeeze of their trigger produces continued fire of the ammunition supplied into the weapon until it runs out (provided the trigger stays depressed while firing). Automatic fire weapons cannot be sold "legally" anywhere within the U.S. to everyday people, but you can buy semi-automatic e.g. each time you squeeze the trigger a single round is fired and this method repeated, will fire the weapon until it is empty. It should be noted that it is basically possible to convert semi-auto weapons into automatic from information available on youtube and many other readily accessible sources. These types of so-called "tactical" rifles fire rounds from magazines and depending upon how you set up these weapons, they can fire anywhere from a single round at a time up to 100 rounds per magazine. Clearly, as was the case with the shooter in El Paso, Texas, U.S., this past weekend, a person can do significant damage with a weapon prepared to fire 100 rounds, semi auto or auto. With like semi automatic weapons, I've fired 100 rounds at targets in less than five minutes. And, although handguns are much less the focus of the current discussions, its important to keep in mind that handguns kill many times the number of people as rifles of any kind simply because its obviously much easier to conceal handguns and gain access to more spaces than it is with larger long rifles.
With those basic definitions that hopefully increase people's understanding, we should provide our quick analysis of the gun control debate. Let's state clearly that we firmly believe that there are to many guns within the U.S. We also believe that those guns are too easily provided to people e.g. the process to buy them is as easy as buying any other product in most states for the most part. So, we understand the emotional argument about reducing volume ammo magazines and certain types of weapons, but we caution everyone to avoid letting this emotional perspective hide important facts. Like the fact that the U.S. government is the best armed entity on Earth. The U.S. military and police departments all over this country are armed to the teeth. And their weapons are used daily to extract terror on populations all over the planet Earth. Even if 50 people are killed in inner city communities like Chicago, U.S., every weekend for the next 10 years, despite the fact the Chicago example is the one racists are always quick to ignorantly point out, the deaths in Chicago would still pale in comparison to the millions of people the U.S. has killed needlessly in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, etc., not to mention indirectly through arms sales to countries like Sierra Leone, the Congo, Ethiopia, etc. The point is any talk of gun control without leading with disarming the terrorist U.S. government is the talk of allies to imperialism, good intentions or not. Its the U.S. government that has created and maintains this violent atmosphere we find ourselves in. As previously mentioned, the highest levels of U.S. government are the main proponents of this violence, and I'm not just talking about the criminal Trump administration. The only qualified difference between this administration and previous ones, Obama's included, is this one is more honest about their violence, their racism, and their destruction. At the end of the day, the body count from Obama to Trump, etc., is always going to be consistent because their principle job is the continued dominance of capitalism and imperialism and anyone standing in the way of that agenda is going to face violence, period. Any talk of disarming everyday people without any discussion about state violence is either naive or anti-people's class talk. This is why any buyback efforts imposed on the people of the U.S. are continued failures with less than 1% of guns in any given community being turned in, regardless of what gift certificates or whatever they offer in trade. A large part of the reason for this is because people do not trust the U.S. government, despite the constant propaganda being beamed at them that its colonized people they need to distrust. That's one thing that the right wing has some truth about because even a broke down dog has its day. This government cannot be trusted because its the principle threat to the entire planet.
Instead of this bourgeoisie inspired talk of disarming everyday people, as if that will resolve this problem, the actual productive conversation should be how to dismantle the police/military industrial complex. The ideological and political work required to establish a concerted campaign to raise people's consciousness around this effort and the resulting continued de-escalation of support for state sanctioned terrorism. This type of mass organizing effort will provide the cure for the violence because the resources pumped into this militarization (more than 50% of this nation's budget goes to state terrorist organizations) would be redirected to services designed to serve society (socialism). Job preparation and participation. Drug and alcohol treatment, improved educational institutions, etc. This work is proven to reduce social problems. Its not that we don't know how to do these things. Its just that focusing on this approach is not profitable for the entities that run this world today. Even more so, this approach means organized revolution. And, yes, by organized revolution we mean doing all of the above in conjunction with organizing people to take up arms against the state to overthrow it to create all of the above resources for the people. Obviously, the capitalist system will never in a million years advocate anything that suggests the world is better without capitalism in it. And, surprise, they are never going to suggest the masses be armed because that creates an ongoing potential challenge to them.
This is why we have to end this, as we so often end all of our pieces here, by declaring again that the first steps towards a solution are getting people involved in organizational justice work. The importance of this cannot be overstated. People involved seriously in organizational work (by serious we don't mean participating on a 50% level for a few months, etc.), who belong to organizations that have a real political education program, realize quickly that the analysis we all walk around convincing ourselves comes from our own consciousness is actually the talking points of the bourgeoisie who work overtime to program what we think and believe. The concept that taking guns from or further regulating everyday people's access to guns will in itself solve the violence is a reflection of those bourgeoisie beliefs. Organized people with political education training, learn quickly to see directly through these lies. We learn to develop our own revolutionary analysis independent from what the system wants us to think. Since we are in organizations, instead of operating as individuals, we have the capacity to spread that analysis much further and wider. None of this can be logically disputed. Those who attempt to create non scientific arguments to do so are simply being dishonest because their egos just won't permit them to humble themselves enough to submit to working with others without individual and exclusive control over the work they are involved in. They are not fooling us with their claims against collective organization and political education.
The masses of people must increase their capacity to fight back, not limit it. And mass political education - not mass indoctrination as the reactionary and racist right practices - is the lynch pin of any efforts to raise consciousness. Gun control starts with disarming the state because the primary role of the state is to foment violence to repress the population so that the capitalist state can continue its hegemony over the planet. Mass shootings are simply byproducts of this hyper-masculine, patriarchal, profit over people capitalist state. Anyone who cannot see that the mass shooters are acting in conjunction with U.S. imperialist violence abroad and/or white supremacist (capitalist) ideology domestically, are either intentionally not paying attention or they don't have the skills to understand how to pay attention. Claiming the disarming of everyday people as a solution to violence in this society is like believing the best way to protect chickens from foxes is to cut off every chicken's claws (if that's what they are called, you get the analogy). The solutions are all around us. The only thing stopping us from achieving them is our unwillingness to make that commitment to start doing the block by block work necessary to organize everyone. If you are not going to commit to supporting and/or participating in this type of work, just get used to living in fear and continuing to falsely believe bourgeoisie institutions are going to save you.