I'm talking about those people who dedicate their lives to fighting against the corruption and oppression of this system everyday that they breath? Specifically those people who choose the courageous path of challenging this system in a revolutionary and uncompromising fashion? This is a critically important question that we should honestly be willing to stop and think about immediately. Who are the people that should be appreciated and what exactly do they do? I choose those two questions because I'm forever haunted by one of the very last interviews Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) gave to a CPAN reporter shortly before Kwame made is physical transition. In that interview, the interviewer - a European man who it appeared took the assignment with little to no understanding about who his interview subject was - kept asking Kwame how he paid his medical bills and how he was able to travel to Cuba and Libya (before U.S. imperialism destroyed the latter) with no income? Kwame politely and repeatedly responded that the African masses paid for what he needed. When the reporter pressed on why people who may or mostly didn't know Kwame would contribute to his care, Kwame said several times that the people did this because they know Kwame "struggled" for them. It was apparent to me that this reporter, and probably about 95% of the general population for that matter, had and have absolutely no idea what this "struggle" looks like. More importantly, this 95% sees this "struggle" as having no direct impact on their day to day life. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Whether we are talking about Kwame or anyone who dedicates themselves to this struggle, we are talking about a lifetime of consistent and unrelenting sacrifice. We are talking about constant emotional fatigue and pain. We are talking about a life of isolation. None of these things are mentioned to generate sympathy. Anyone who takes that personal pledge to fight for the people uncompromisingly knows that these things are going to happen. We know this because we know that by deciding to directly challenge the values and practices of this capitalist power structure we are opening ourselves up to a lifetime of abuse by this system. And this abuse manifests itself in physical ways, but also in psychological and spiritual attacks.
The last two sentences answer the question about who these people are. We are talking specifically about those who choose to dedicate themselves to engaging in organized struggle to build capacity to fight nonstop against this oppressive system. We single out those who 100% oppose the system e.g. are not working to reform it, but destroy it and build something better, because these folks, by their very dedication and focus, are exactly the folks that those 95% have been taught to ignore at best and outright disrespect and harass at worse. These conditions clearly don't apply nearly as much to those who choose to battle inside of the system for change. Those who work on political campaigns to get people elected and pursue other policy results. This segment of people also have a heavy load, but they benefit from their views on reforming the prison system, police departments, etc., because their work is not necessarily always popular, but it is basically socially acceptable, at least to a certain point. In other words, only the most reactionary elements within society are opposed in 2019/2020 to adequate healthcare for all and police not indiscriminately killing unarmed people. The people who work within these realms, unless they are involved in the most militant elements of reform work like direct action, needn't usually worry about their family and friends ostracizing them for their beliefs and work, even if there is disagreement. For example, someone who works in a political campaign to elect someone, even if that candidate has some level of social reform in their platform, that organizer in that campaign will probably receive some level of prestige from their respective position to this candidate, who is probably relatively well known.
On the other hand, anti-capitalist organizers/activists are pretty much public enemy number one. The reasons for this are that as a society, everyone here is programmed 24/7 to never question that capitalism, the current dominant economic system in the world, is the way life, has been since day one of human existence, and it will be the dominant system thousands of years from now. Besides the fact that capitalism is actually only a few hundred years old, 95% believe its capitalism or human extinction. As a result of this low level of consciousness, anyone with the courage to declare that you are not only against capitalism, but desire a different system and - gasp - believe we can actually organize to create something better, are ostracized within this society on a systemic basis. And, this isolation happens even if the extent of your work is political education or just simply raising questions against capitalism and for something else like socialism, anarchism, etc. By isolation, what I mean is since people believe capitalism to be immortal, these folks remote control, automatically view you as insane for believing anything else is possible. And, often its the closest people to you who treat you this way and unfortunately, this is the best results of what happens. At worse, based on the degree of success you have with your work, you can be viewed as a threat which means you can be targeted by agents of the state that are in place to squash dissent against the system. Often, this can happen be covertly in ways most people don't recognize. Still, all of this is very well known to these activists and very few of these brave souls would move one inch off their principles of justice in order to stop any of the above abuses from happening. These things are byproducts of opposing capitalism and we all know this.
So, what is the issue then? In my humble experience, the most crushing and draining elements of this work are the internal challenges. As stated, we are prepared for the external attacks and in many ways, the external attacks validate the effectiveness of our work so we welcome and expect that. The internal represents the reality that in attempting to organize the masses of people it becomes apparent early on that by embracing the people you will be forced to also confront all of the dysfunctional elements that this backward society instills in our people. Examples are that persons involved in independent anti-capitalist work are consistently faced with challenges of personal abuse by participants against other participants. Some of these activists make the error of ignoring these contradictions which causes them not to go away, but fester and blow up. For those who decide to attempt principled approaches that confront these challenges you are faced with constant accusations that you are engaging in personally motivated attacks against the abusers. Those who do this work seriously know this is true because you have and are experiencing it. I've had to endure it multiple times along with you. And, in this bourgeoisie liberalism dominated society, when allegations that you are attacking people, or other accusations against your efforts to confront dysfunction are made, most people are not mature and/or principled enough to sift through the dysfunction. In other words, most of the time, most people believe accusations against you. Most people - for any number of reasons - view your efforts to confront the issue as the damage as opposed to the damage itself. Very, very, few people will ever speak out in support of your leadership and you suffer immeasurable assaults against your personal reputation. If there is another way to endure this trauma besides just living through it, I wish someone would help us find it.
Another common challenge is just how people are socialized in this individualistic and entitlement based capitalist society. If you are a revolutionary organizer you will spend your entire life doing work to help people improve their conditions and I'm not just talking about your primary political education and/or community work. I'm also talking about the countless number of single parents and other people needing assistance that you help move e.g. battered non-men needing that support, etc. The countless people you help by mentoring them, organizing them to do justice work, even helping them get jobs and/or get off the streets. You will do this type of work so many times that after a while it will become automatic for you because you live to help people. That's what revolutionaries do. What you receive most often for your contributions is people who many times don't even acknowledge you the next time you encounter them. Or, people who take your contributions to their lives for granted e.g. feeling entitled to your work. I remarked to someone I was helping in a mentor and financial way recently that I felt that whenever I saw them that I owed them money the way they approached me with aggressive demands for assistance.
Although the examples in the last paragraph do take their toll on you, I wish to make it clear that from this perspective, its still not the dysfunction that causes this to toll to be taken. Just like the lack of credit you will be given for the work, the dysfunction you have to encounter is also a byproduct of this work and we definitely understand that. So, what's the major rub then?
The primary reason I'm raising this issue is based in the title of this piece. I don't pretend to speak for revolutionary activists/organizers the world over, but from my humble vantage point, the only thing that makes enduring all of the above almost more difficult than many people can bare is due to the level of neglect and disrespect revolutionary activists/organizers experience in this society. What I'm talking about is the paradox where someone in the U.S. can even fix their lips to ask someone as immortal as Kwame Ture what he did for the people while these same people turn around every Veterans Day, etc., and without prompting, offer participants in the U.S. military all the respect and more for "their service." Meanwhile, I watched a video today of a panel from 1973 that included Kwame Ture, Angela Davis, Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer, and others, including an assortment of local and even nationally elected officials at the time. I viewed with contempt how these politicians, who only occupied their positions because of the back breaking work Kwame and Ms. Hamer did for the vote talk over the two of them and completely dismiss their perspectives for how we achieve power as a people.
This happens because of the lack of political education in this society. As a result, most people have no actual idea how they have the right to vote. They just accept the nonsense that the military fought for them to have it while they disrespect the actual people who won that "right" for them. We are actually programmed to believe that stars and stripes wearing terrorists who kill people globally are doing so to protect us when in truth,, they exist and function to advance imperialism's global agenda, nothing else. Still, its difficult for me to accept that people will support someone in the imperialist military without critical thought, while acting with contempt towards someone who is pepper-sprayed, arrested, beaten, harassed, etc., for fighting for water rights in North Dakota, or protecting someone's right to have a house, or marching for justice for humanity. The answer of what these activists/organizers do for everyone should be obvious. Water is a sacred right. The ability for our children to walk the streets without fear of being incarcerated and/or murdered for no legitimate reason is a right. The right to food, clothing, and shelter is a human right and the more we have a worldwide culture where those things are upheld, the safer everyone is.
So, if you don't clearly understand what the ask is from this piece, the ask is simply that you begin to take a moment to think about those who fight without resources, with regular contempt hurled at them, with internal challenges that take up as much of their time and energy as direct work against the system. That you take a moment to ensure you are thinking about those people. That you tell them how much you appreciate their service and that you stop acting like the work they do has nothing to do with you. You see them doing everything they can to help others. Stop acting like that's no big deal because if that was true, you would be doing it too. And, trust me, there are far too few who are doing it. So, take a major leap and offer some of these people a breakfast muffin sometimes. Not because they need it but because they spend all their money on this work so by doing a simple act like that you demonstrate that you recognize their contributions. Highlight these people and make sure when haters attack their work that you speak up for them. When people talk about police as corrupt, there is always no shortage of people who immediately ensure that everyone knows "all police aren't bad." Besides the fact that statement is absurd, where are the people who defend revolutionary activists/organizers? Where are the voices who say "those people are our best and most loyal protectors!" Try doing that because it really helps create a more positive atmosphere for us to be able to more effectively do our work.
My argument is that burnout in revolutionary activists/organizers can happen for many number of reasons, but if the rest of you would just lift the load just a little bit, through the ways indicated in the last paragraph, I do know that would help so many people and add strength to them so that they can continue on. And, God knows we definitely need them to continue on.
I just experienced it less than an hour ago and I go through this with people all year round, every year. Its always the same exchange. Someone wishes me a "Happy Thanksgiving" or "Merry Christmas" or "have a good fourth!" To all of them, I respond as politely as I possibly can that I don't celebrate these so-called holidays. So as to ensure I'm upholding people's humanity, I always immediately make it a point then to wish them well.
Each and every time this exchange takes place the person I'm talking to always responds to my response with some version of "I don't really celebrate Thanksgiving, the 4th, etc. either. I just use the time to get together with loved ones, etc." I always smile at them and usually say no more, but I'm always thinking "if you call it Thanksgiving, then you are celebrating Thanksgiving." And, I know they call it Thanksgiving because they just wished me one. In fact, literally everything people do on that Thursday is related to the methodology that defines the so-called Thanksgiving holiday. People come together and eat turkey, cranberry sauce, dressing, etc. There are changes to the so-called traditional menu these days, but the basic premise remains the same. People watch football on television and when the food is served, at least in African households, the prayer that's delivered always has some message of "thanks for what we have." All of that, whether we recognize it or not, is the formula for celebrating Thanksgiving and the reason why the capitalist system promotes the holiday in the first place. Well, actually, there are two major reasons. One reason is economic. To stimulate the travel, food, hotel, rent a car, etc. industries, but the other reason is to reaffirm the subtle message that this land doesn't actually belong to the Indigenous people it was stolen from. "This land is your land...This land is my land." And, this false narrative that on Thursday, somewhere buried underneath the football, eating, drinking, etc., is the idea that we have all of those comforts because this is such a great country to provide us with all of those things. As long as any portion of us believes that message than we miss completely the reality that the wealth of this country, which all of us benefit from, was stolen from our own peoples and continues to be stolen from our own peoples and from all of humanity. Also, once we accept this version of history, on either a conscious or subconscious level, we then have the obligation to defend this immorality. Its this thinking that explains this fear so many people have in this country that somebody somewhere is a threat to take something from you e.g. Africans, Indigenous people, immigrants, Trans people, Islam, women, etc.
The above are all of the reasons why I appreciate the offers I get to partake every year, but why I politely prefer to spend time apart from that hypocrisy. I'd much rather be at the Hot Springs reading an inspirational book and for that, I'd love to have people accompanying me because I'm never anti-social. Just anti injustice and anything that attempts to hide and/or dismiss injustice and that's exactly what "Thanksgiving" and all their imperialist holidays do.
None of this is a criticism against people for getting together for some fun. People in the U.S. work more cumulative hours than any people in the so-called industrialized world, so I'm going to be the last person to shame anyone for wanting some down time of food and fun, etc. My issue is you can't do all of the things most of us are doing and pretend you aren't celebrating exactly what the system wants you to celebrate. The damage of this is the backward values it instills in each of us and especially in the children.
There are many people who are making honest, sincere, and very creative efforts to combat the imperialist narrative and these folks are to be commended for their efforts. A very good friend in Portland, Oregon, U.S., named Pete and his partner Jessica are some of those creative people. They always open up their house to people on these days and offer food and refuge. They make it clear its not about "Thanksgiving" and the key is they intentionally don't call their gathering that. Plus, although I have never had the privilege of attending their get together, I'm pretty sure from what I know of them that they don't do the typical "Thanksgiving" activities previously mentioned. I'm sure there are vibrant and fruitful discussions during their gathering and I know many other people are doing similar invites. I'm hopeful this movement grows because capitalism seeks to isolate people and make us believe everything that's not as we like it to be is 100% because of flaws within us. These efforts to challenge imperialism's stamp of propaganda do a lot to make people feel genuinely included, not for what they have, but for who they are. We are revolutionary Pan-Africanists which means we are culturally and politically collective so of course, we see enormous value in this approach and we encourage everyone to continue in this trend. Just remember not to call it "Thanksgiving" and be even more pronounced about letting people know that your gathering is on a completely different vibe. Have the youth say grace if you do that and that grace should be giving thanks for all those who have struggled to bring justice to our world and continued commitment to continue to fight. Wherever I end up for dinner on Thursday, I'll be saying grace for three years since comrade Fidel Castro physically left us. I'll be asking for strength in carrying on his exemplary example of humanity for the rest of my days. Nothing could be farther from the backward "Thanksgiving" sellout narrative. Propaganda is important. That's why as I left work Friday I shouted "death to the pilgrims!"
By "alone" I don't just mean having no other people in your physical spaces. There are many people who are physically around many people who are alone spiritually and mentally. By "holidays" I mean the imperialist days like thankstaking and mis-Christ (Thanksgiving and Christmas) that promote capitalism, individualism, and the never ending social pressure to be someone you are not and to spend money you can't really afford to spend.
I'm a person who hasn't "celebrated" these imperialist holidays for decades. To be truly honest, with practically my entire family having made their physical transitions (mother, father, sister, brother), I no longer have much social pressure to participate. Fortunately for me, and as a result of the work I placed into it, even when my family was alive, I was able to convince them of the hypocrisy to the point where when I was in my twenties, they admitted to me how relieved they were that a big production for my then very young daughter was not needed and/or necessary. Nowadays, with my remaining biological family consisting of my daughter and remaining sister - each of who have been converted to not celebrating imperialist holidays (my daughter was not raised that way. We told her from the beginning that there was no Santa Claus and that the Western Hemisphere was land stolen from the Indigenous peoples), we all only discuss how to avoid the contradictions each year. Yet, since neither of them lives in California, I certainly find myself subjected to the social pressure of spending so much of my time alone this time of year. Please recognize and understand that my decision each year to avoid a lot of social interaction isn't because I don't get offers to have it. Most revolutionaries within this reactionary society learn early on how to be well grounded and genuine people. My experience is that others usually respect and want you around them. Still, I recognize that for a myriad of reasons, for many, this isn't a possibility. The challenge for me is I've decided years ago that I can be around people at other times of year, choosing to avoid the contradiction of being forced to endure customs and beliefs this time of year that literally turn my stomach. The challenge of course is the constant propaganda that pounds you 24/7 this time of year that you have to be a part of something (where lots of money is being spent of course). On some limited levels, I've come to accept and even embrace the loneliness. And, I've done much more with it that I'm hopeful will help those of you who wish to maintain your dignity and values while negotiating the isolation and accompanying loneliness.
As a result of all this struggle, I've developed what I believe to be healthy mechanisms to confront and combat the reoccurring feeling that I'm all alone in this world during this time of year. One thing I do annually in November is identify books that will inspire me. What inspires me is remembering that others have endured so much pain and suffering so that I could have a chance to exist and hopefully make a further contribution to making the world better. This realization has proven invaluable to me because its helped me contextualize whatever feelings of alienation I'm experiencing. This year (last Saturday), I picked up the autobiography of Albert Woodfox. He spent decades in one of the very worse prisons within the U.S. - the institution named Angola in Louisiana. Named for the fact it was a former slave plantation who's forced kidnapped laborers were from the West African country of Angola, this institution represents all of the horrors of incarceration and Woodfox's experience epitomizes those contradictions. The fact he was able to endure decades of solitary confinement in a prison who's main population housing was worse than most other institution's solitary confinement, Woodfox was able to maintain his balance by reaching deep down within himself, building on the revolutionary principles of humanism he learned within the Black Panther Party. His story stimulates me to keep moving forward. And, finding stories like his each year has helped me learn how to actually look forward to reading more and more stories like his, especially this time of year. This reaffirms that I'm not alone in how I move through the world which is a major blow to the constant feeling that we are insane for wanting something different. Something better.
Another practice that really helps me is planning to take time off work in order to do things that I want to do during this time. Obviously, this will vary from person to person, and many of us have limited resources in what we can do, but for me these things include everything from camping at Hot Springs to driving to Yosemite to going to the all you can eat buffet in Reno, Nevada, U.S. Typically, I have no one else to do these things with and I think the mistake most people make is in waiting until there is someone you can do things with. I've grown quite comfortable going on my own. Especially after I've permitted myself to relax with the knowledge that one day I may have someone to do these things with, but until then, there is absolutely no reason why I need to wait. At first, it can be awkward a little to sit in Hot Springs, without clothing on, alone, but despite the fact I practically never have conversations with anyone while I'm there, I've learned to take my good book(s) I'm reading and enjoy hours there in my own world. If money is an issue, there are many things still that you can do. Dancing in places with no cover charges, even if you dance alone is joyful. Listening to music, even without dancing. I go into places all the time that have music centers and spending no more than $5 I can fill the establishment with the music that inspires me and makes me feel great.
A third thing I do quite a bit of is writing during this time of year. Writing for me is therapy of the highest order. This is the reason I'm constantly encouraging people to disregard whatever obstacles that are keeping you from writing and just write. And you can write anything and it can help you feel better. For me, the power of either creating the world I want (fiction), or analyzing and offering alternatives to the real world (non-fiction), its all reaffirming and extremely powerful. I'll even go as far as to say its the most reaffirming thing I've discovered in my life, even when people disagree with what I'm writing, it still has an impact. Even if no one else besides you sees it e.g. journal writing, its still a very powerful tool.
Finally, I take this time of year to reaffirm healthy practices e.g. what I'm eating and the necessity to prioritize my daily physical workouts to ensure my goals are being achieved in each area. What I find all of these things do for me, whether I'm sitting alone in a coffee shop (as I am as I write this), singing karaoke by myself, or making the drive to the Hot Springs an adventure, I'm reaffirming my value to myself. That act alone does so much to combat the alienation. In fact, I never do any of the things I've identified here and walk away after sorry I indulged. Actually, I feel empowered with my approach.
None of this is to suggest that you should avoid get togethers. Social interaction is essential in an alienating society. As long as you aren't forced to be in toxic environments. The point here is if you disagree with the hypocrisy of imperialist holidays, dig out some space to honor that by taking care of yourself. You may have completely different ways of doing that then the ones I've identified that work for me and that's wonderful. Just make sure whatever you are doing isn't something that reinforces the concept that you are alone because something is wrong with you e.g. drinking alcohol alone, etc. Whatever you choose to do, it should reaffirm your value as you are, faults and inconsistencies along with everything else. If you approach your process like that, you will probably find that you begin utilizing this time to figure out ways to work through those faults and I assure you that nothing will start making you feel better than engaging those types of things.
Remember, there is an old African proverb that "even a dead fish can go with the current." None of this is an attack against holiday get togethers, even imperialist inspired ones. For most people, these events are their way of escaping the daily horrors of capitalism and no one understands that better than those of us who are engaged in a fight to destroy capitalism. The purpose of this piece is to reinforce with those who it applies that you may be like me in the sense that the accompanying values that come with efforts to escape capitalism are equally as painful for you than the imperialist gatherings themselves. For those of you who that perspective applies to, figure out how to protect yourself. Its important because you are important. Too many wonderful people suffer from depression and/or decide to end their physical existence this time of year for me to act as if this isn't a real issue.
There is no confusion that the worldwide institutional system of education is dominated by curriculum produced from the capitalist centers (U.S., Europe, etc). So although it shouldn't be necessary, there is a need for us to reaffirm here what we mean when we say house slave. The best definition was provided by Malcolm X during his classic presentation to young Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee supporters at Tuskegee University in 1965, just days before his assassination. In that presentation Malcolm articulated how the house slave was the African on the plantation who went over and beyond to please his master. The master never had to worry about the house slave turning against him. In fact, the house slave was the master's greatest weapon against the field slaves who were always determined to be free by any means necessary. Malcolm concluded that presentation by stating that the dichotomy between the house and field slave still exists today.
Stephan A Smith is a sports commentator who is prominently featured on various sports television networks. Smith was extremely vocal earlier this week in criticizing former professional U.S. football quarterback Colin Kaepernick for how Kaepernick chose to engage his private workout that took place last week. The National Football League (NFL), the professional league that has kept Kaepernick out of a job within their league for three years because of his courageous on the field protests against police terrorism, suddenly wanted to play the mediator by staging a workout for Kaepernick to demonstrate whether he still has the skills to pilot an NFL team. Kaepernick, understandably, doesn't trust the NFL. So, he changed some of the ridiculous terms the NFL had imposed on his workout. He even changed the location, who all could be invited, and how the workout was filmed. He did all of this because he had no interest in being used by the NFL just to make themselves look just and honest at his expense. Anyone with a basic ability to read and comprehend material at a 5th grade level should be able to understand the reasons why Kaepernick took the steps he did. Regardless, Stephan A Smith took to the airwaves immediately after the Kaepernick workout to loudly criticize everything Kaepernick did and when the general African public, and even some people connected to professional football - like former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens - chimed in suggesting Smith was behaving like a house slave, Smith had the audacity to react as if he had been mortally offended.
Just for the record, let's state loud and clear that Stephan A Smith is without question a house slave. And clearly, he has plenty of company. Jason Whitlock, another sports commentator, was quick to parrot Smith's talking points on Kaepernick and obviously this entire society is filled with house slaves on imperialist television networks, Instragram, Facebook, etc. Since speaking for those who oppress us is such a common and normalized condition for these types of African people, its necessary to clearly define why we accuse Smith, and all of you who agree with people like him on issues like this, as house slaves.
There are many house slave moves Smith and others made this past week, but there are two egregious things that cement house slave immortality for him. And these two things are essential because the only way they work is if enough of us sign on to them, consciously or subconsciously. First, Smith talked repeatedly about the disclosure agreement the NFL offered Kaepernick in order for him to conduct the workout. Smith's gripe was that Kaepernick refused to sign the disclosure. To Smith, Kaepernick's refusal represented an example of Kaepernick's refusal to be agreeable. Before we even discuss what was in this disclosure, I would need to know what idiot would openly trust an organization that has clearly colluded against me because I took a principled stand and that organization was only concerned about how expressing that stand would/could impact their profits? I heard Smith say multiple times that the disclosure was a standard agreement. We know now that it wasn't, but even if it was, what free thinking person doesn't ever have the right to decide whether they want to accept terms on an agreement or not? The NFL made Kaepernick a "free agent." The very definition of that classification means he's free to decide to agree on whatever he wants. Only a true house slave who has accepted the logic that the master is always the only entity that has the right to challenge and/or change terms would suggest that whenever we decide to exercise our rights to decide on our destiny, we are automatically being disruptive. This is classic house slave thinking because what it suggests is any attempt we make to think for ourselves that doesn't fall under the approval of the power structure will be defined as us creating a problem. In other words, the problem isn't the slave burning down the plantation in order to be free. The problem is the slave causing the master to lose property.
The second and even more serious offense Smith committed was making an issue on Kaepernick wearing the Kunte Kinte tee shirt during his workout. This one was very triggering for me because I often wear clothes with politically charged messages. And, I wear these clothes in my own time as well as to work. I do this because I wish to challenge the contradictions that live side by side in this society everyday. Every second of our lives, we are told that we have freedom in this country to do whatever we wish. And, that the U.S. military kills millions to secure those rights for us. Of course, all of that is complete nonsense and the fact wearing a Huey P. Newton hoodie, or Assata Shakur tee shirt is something that can generate sentiment that you are being disruptive is obvious clear proof of the lies. For me, I accept the risks. For many of you, going along to get along is all that matters, but honestly, I have complete contempt for that behavior which I deem to be complete cowardice. I realize that's a strong sentiment, but our ancestors had no luxury of "going along to get along" and our rear ends would not have that luxury today if they hadn't sacrificed so much, including their lives, for our dignity. So, the least I can do is honor them by displaying their images and words. That, I consider to be the bare minimum of my commitment and that's why I understand why Kaepernick wore that tee shirt. He wants to let the NFL know that even though he's interested in doing what he's dreamed about and prepared for his entire life - play football - he is only interested in doing so while respecting his dignity and the dignity of his people. This man has already proven to the world that he is willing to sacrifice his ability to play football for what he believes in so anyone paying even cursory attention shouldn't have any difficulty understanding this point.
The reason why Smith - the house slave - didn't understand it was because in his way of thinking, we do any and everything we have to do to secure positions, even if doing so compromises our integrity and dignity. The position is more important than our essence as human beings. This is the part that is completely unacceptable. The message this sends to our youth is that they have to spend their entire lives doing everything they can to fit into the racist European paradigm that shapes this capitalist society. Since no matter what they do, they are never going to fit, what they end up taking from that is that something must be wrong with them. This dysfunctional training has resulted in unquestionable harm to the psychology of African people everywhere. People like Franz Fanon wrote about this going on 60 years ago. The only way we can stop this dysfunction is by claiming our dignity, not being a grinning slave just to get a job on the plantation.
The worst aspect of this isn't people like Smith, Whitlock, Shaq O'Neal, and other house slaves. Those people are doing what they are going to do, serve the master and receive their payouts for good service. The most disappointing part is how many of us sign on to this sellout behavior as if it has legitimacy. No wonder so many of our youth demonstrate no respect for us elders. We are teaching them to continuously bow down and be slaves to material comforts when even they know the wealth we are seeking was stolen from us in the first place. And, that most of the time, even bowing down 100% still doesn't bring relief from this oppression. This is disgraceful and from my standpoint, the youth should continue to disrespect any elder who promotes this cowardly behavior.
I myself have no issue with being disrespected by youth because I promote an entirely different message to them. Dignity or death. Or, as James Brown sang in "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud - we're people. We like the birds and the bees, but we'd whether die on our feet than live on our knees!" House slaves like Smith, Whitlock, etc., and so many of you wish to live on your knees. As long as your knee pads are made with expensive materials (sown by some of our own people in sweatshop conditions) you are absolutely fine with that. Its time for those of us not fine with that to stop being silent or co-signing with this absurdity.
Thirty nine years ago on November 22nd, 1970, the European country of Portugal staged an illegal and immoral military invasion of the sovereign country of Guinea, West Africa. With the recent illegal and immoral imperialist staged "overthrow" of the democratically elected Evo Morales government in Bolivia, South America, there are many telling similarities between what these two countries have experienced.
Imperialism is telling us that the people of Bolivia desired the change in government. They are telling us that the people of that country wanted an end to the Indigenous focused and social justice based policies of the Morales government. Imperialism is using its mass media propaganda mechanisms to "show" us that people are on the streets celebrating the overthrow of Morales who has left the country for Mexico. This same narrative that leftist, socialist governments like Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, etc., are repressive to their populations and that the masses of those people do not support those governments is on full display with events in Bolivia.
Serious students of history should be able to see right through this dishonesty. The first rule of any social movement for justice is that the credibility of that movement is validated based solely on the degree in which that movement seeks to improve the conditions for the suffering elements of any society. This principle is the reason that no seasoned organizer will be fooled by the so-called "movement" that we are being told by imperialism is taking place in Hong Kong presently. Unlike Hong Kong, in Bolivia, the social policies of the Morales government strongly benefited the poor Indigenous populations as well as African and other poor segments of that society. In other words, its these poor people who revolutions are fought and maintained to benefit, but as it relates to Bolivia, its not these poor people in Bolivia who's voices you are hearing as it relates to what's happening in that country. Without social media, most people wouldn't even know about the true mass uprisings taking place in Bolivia that are being carried out by the actual masses of Bolivians who oppose the illegal coup that has placed a racist and right wing government in control in that country.
In the last week, I've had occasion to have conversations with two different people who each claim family history from Bolivia. Both of those people expressed support for the coup in Bolivia while expressing lies about mass starvation in Bolivia under the Morales government. We say lies because even a cursory analysis of the conditions of these two "Bolivians" reveals that both of them occupy a class privileged positions (college degrees and similar generational privilege) that easily exposes the fact neither of them know enough about the Indigenous and poor populations of Bolivia to half fill a thimble. What these two people rely on to make their claims about mass suffering are subjective stories allegedly articulated by "people in Bolivia." My response to these bogus claims was its very difficult for me to believe anything any of the people these people referenced have to say about Bolivia and that I can say that confidently because such a charged allegation such as starvation would be easily supported by independent data. For example, if I claim that institutional racism exists in the U.S., I can provide plenty of personal stories to substantiate my claim, but I can also provide even more data to validate inequity in this society. In the case of claims about starvation, mass crime, etc., there is no evidence, besides the immoral claims of class privileged people who have a vested interest in having a regime in Bolivia that upholds imperialism, that these social ills exist in Bolivia. Organizations like the United Nations, World Health Organization, Organization of American States, etc., all imperialist dominated institutions that have no love for Morale's government in Bolivia, would have plenty of data readily available to support these bogus allegations against Bolivia's previous social justice government if the allegations were true.
As we look at Portugal's invasion of Guinea from 1970, its important to commemorate the fierce resistance the people of Guinea waged to beat back the criminal invasion, but its equally important to use that 1970 example to illustrate how imperialism works as it relates to propaganda for circumstances like what we are currently witnessing in Bolivia. Since Portugal's invasion of Guinea was a coordinated effort by imperialism, there are since released Central Intelligence Agency documents confirming the details behind Portugal's intentions in carrying out their attack. According to discussions between U.S. and Portuguese intelligence agencies, Portugal's specific intent was to assassinate Guinean President Sekou Ture, Guinean co-President Kwame Nkrumah, and Amilcar Cabral, the founder and leader of the Guinea-Bissau political party - the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau (PAIGC). Even before these imperialist documents were ever released we knew these were the reasons for the invasion because during that time, Guinea served as the base for the three African liberation movements, including the PAIGC, that were fighting to defeat Portuguese colonialism in Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique. Sekou Ture and the Democratic Party of Guinea had warmly welcomed Cabral and the PAIGC into Guinea since 1960. With Ture's invitation to Kwame Nkrumah to come to Guinea and become co-president after Nkrumah's government was illegally and immorally overthrown in Ghana in 1966, Guinea easily became (along with Algeria) public enemy number one for imperialism in Africa. What's so important to understand about all of this history is that the imperialist narrative expressed through all of the mass media entities for going on 40 years has been that Portugal sent 400 highly trained terrorist operatives into Guinea because Guinea was hosting terrorist attacks against Portuguese nationals living in Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. Just like the lies about starvation in Bolivia, there has never been a shred of evidence to support this claim about Guinea terrorism, yet just the simple expression by imperialism that this is reality has been enough to justify Portugal's attempt to sabotage African self-determination and national liberation. The point of course is that those same dishonest tactics they used almost 40 years ago are the same dishonest and tired tactics they are still using today as it relates to all progressive and revolutionary governments and imperialism's efforts to control those governments.
Portugal was the poorest country in Western Europe in 1970 which explains why all three of their colonies in Africa had to be freed from colonialism with protracted armed struggle. Still, despite Portugal's standing as it relates to the rest of Europe, they were still a very rich country in comparison to all of Africa. There is ample evidence that the masses of people in Portugal were engaged in serious struggle against the Portuguese government because of dissatisfaction about social conditions in Portugal during that time. This isn't to say the masses of Portuguese were opposed to their government's colonial domination in Africa, but the actions of the Portuguese illustrates that the masses of Portuguese were struggling which underscores the point that Portugal's existence in Guinea, Angola, and Mozambique was beneficial to the Portuguese elites and not their working poor. So, there's never been any evidence of Guinea doing anything against anyone Portuguese anywhere and even if they was, the super rich have absolutely no history of conducting military invasions to help working people, working poor, etc. The Portuguese elite didn't do that in Guinea in 1970 and the Bolivian elites aren't protecting Bolivia's poor and working poor today. These super rich elites, and the petti bourgeoisie representatives like the two people I talked to, are narrating the events in Bolivia as against the people of Bolivia because they wish to open up Bolivia for big business interests e.g. exploiting the vast lithium reserves in the Uyna region of Bolivia that are essential to the automobile industries. This is exactly what the Portuguese were interested in doing in Guinea e.g. exploiting the vast bauxite reserves that are essential for the production of all aluminum products. These crooked scum recognize that they cannot tell you their true intentions, so they make up lies to justify why they sabotage the masses of humanity. And, they usually get away with it because they know most of you won't take 20 seconds to investigate and confirm that there is absolutely no truth to their allegations.
The people of Guinea stood up and chased the Portuguese out of Guinea in November, 1970. At the present time, the criminals of injustice have the upper hand in Bolivia, but what we should learn from Guinea's resistance is that a poor people with limited technological means can still properly organize to drive out a world power in the name of righteousness. Here's hoping we - and especially the people of Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, and all other front line states against imperialism - can be inspired by the example of the people of Guinea in 1970, and the truth behind imperialism's efforts, to help us learn how to stop them from interrupting the progress of the masses of people on earth.
In 2016, while he was the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers professional (U.S.) football team, Colin Kaepernick decided to use his platform as a pro athlete to bring attention to police terrorism against the African masses. His way of using this platform was to start sitting (which he and the others should have never stopped doing), and then eventually kneeling whenever the so-called U.S. "national anthem" was played at the start of games.
The fallout from his actions are widely known. Many other players, including his teammate at the time - Eric Reid - joined him and then the U.S. empire president used his racist platform to inflame his followers by dehumanizing and attacking Kaepernick and the other players. Much worthless noise around this issue has taken place since that time. After San Francisco informed Kaepernick that they were going to release him, he decided to try and take some control over his career by opting out of his contract. That was March of 2017 and Kaepernick hasn't had a job playing in the National Football League (NFL) since. He and Reid filed a lawsuit against the NFL claiming the NFL owners colluded against hiring them because the owners were afraid of angering the masses of their white racist fan bases. The collusion suit ended with a settlement between the NFL and Kaepernick with a gag order being placed over the results so that none of us know any details beyond Kaepernick and Reid receiving several million dollars each in the settlement. Most recently, the NFL announced earlier this week that the league was organizing a workout for Kaepernick. The stated purpose of the workout was to provide Kaepernick an opportunity to demonstrate that despite three years not playing professional football, he still possesses the skills to be on an NFL roster. The league announced that they were inviting all 32 NFL franchises to this workout which took place yesterday.
Like everything surrounding Kaepernick's relationship to the NFL since 2016, the workout was filled with controversy. Kaepernick's group apparently changed the time and location. The NFL attempted to accuse him of some misdeeds around the workout. The workout took place and teams did show up. So, the question is where does all of this sit today and why should we pay any attention to any of it?
First, we should acknowledge the racist curtain that surrounds everything involving Kaepernick today. The first sham is this narrative that the workout is a waste because Kaepernick doesn't have the talent to be on an NFL roster. Before the protests against police terrorism started in the NFL, Kaepernick was a starting quarterback in San Francisco in 2016. Just four years before that, he had taken San Francisco within a few yards of winning the Superbowl against Baltimore. Than, the very next year, he took that team to within a few yards of returning to the Superbowl. There are many quarterbacks who played concurrent to the time Kaepernick was in the league who were considered better than he, like Tony Romo, etc, who cannot make that claim about the team success Kaepernick experienced. To that, some haters have claimed that Kaepernick's skills in 2016 were not the same as they were in 2013, but the actual data doesn't back up those ridiculous assertions. No one is claiming that Kaepernick was ever Joe Montana or Steve Young in a San Fran uniform, but the facts are he completed 60% of his passes and had a very solid 71/31 touchdown to interception ratio. In 2016 he threw 16 touchdowns to only four interceptions. What this means is the arguments that he was "figured out" by teams in the league and that he couldn't play don't hold water. There are 32 teams in the league and each team keeps at least two quarterbacks on its roster. That means there are at least 64 quarterbacks in the NFL. Among these quarterbacks are Brian Hoyer, Mason Rudolph, Jamis Winston, Marcus Mariotta, Joe Flacco, Baker Mayfield, and many others who not even a complete idiot can logically claim are better than Kaepernick. And when I say not better, I mean their statistics don't compare and they certainly don't match Kaepernick's proven ability to make plays with his ability to run with the ball (for example, compare Kaep's running stats with those of Winston's or Mariottas). Is this saying Kaepernicks an elite quarterback? Of course not, but without question, he's qualified to be playing in the NFL today.
With a pardon to the non-sports fans who were forced to wade through the last few paragraphs here, the football background is important because the Kaepernick haters are using those arguments to justify why he isn't playing in the NFL when the real reason these people are against him has nothing to do with his playing ability because if that was true they would be lobbying equally as hard to get all of the sub-par quarterbacks I named and others out of the league. In truth, no one cares how bad a quarterback is unless that quarterback is performing poorly for the team they follow. So, why the universal hatred and justification for Kaepernick being without an NFL job? Plain and simple, the answer is white supremacy. Misinformation about white supremacy is the dominant element today. Everyone has a lot to say about it, but virtually no one has bothered to do any comprehensive study and organizing against it. Of course, like anything, those of us who have done this work have developed some pretty astute skill sets at being able to breakdown and analyze events around the implementation of white supremacist activities. For instance, we know that the bulk of the opposition against Kaepernick is based in the fact that this African slave had the audacity to call out the master (the police) for its mistreatment of the slave population. This sick and dysfunctional perspective explains the "just play sports and shut up" refrain because the same people saying that to Kaepernick are not saying the same thing to Europeans and/or Africans who represent the interests of European capitalism who articulate talking points that advance white supremacy e.g. Ted Nugent, Curt Shilling (former Major League Baseball pitcher), Clint Eastwood, and a series of other European entertainers, athletes, etc., who speak in support of the capitalist/imperialist white supremacist patriarchy. None of these people have ever told Curt Shilling to shut up. Now, their response to that last statement will be to say none of those white celebrities were articulating their views while working, but that's another sham white supremacist argument. Those people are supporting the system in power so they obviously have no need or requirement to protest against that system. As a result, after the games and/or concert interview provides for their propaganda needs (despite the fact people like Nugent have a long history of using their concerts to announce their backward political views, yet these Kaepernick critics are crickets on criticizing this when it happens). On the other hand, Kaepernick is protesting the very institution he works for. I realize that even he may attempt to say that's not the case, but he didn't choose the national anthem randomly. The reason he chose it to display his protest is because the anthem is a part of the contradiction. The entire lie that the U.S. is a free and democratic country, like the song promotes, is clearly a lie if the state sanctioned employees for the country can kill Africans and others with impunity. So, Kaepernick, whether he meant it or not, cannot just be protesting specific police killings when he doesn't acknowledge the U.S. flag and anthem. He and others are saying this country is based on injustice and that means the police, social services, the flag, the military, the anthem, everything. So, he is protesting his job and he and the others should be protesting the NFL. This is a league that has encouraged an environment where Kaepernick is hated for making a principled stand. He didn't violate any of their laws. He didn't harm and threaten to harm a single soul. In fact, he quietly protested. He even modified his protest (which, as I said, he shouldn't have done). Meanwhile, the NFL harbors players who brutally physically abuse women and all of these losers combined don't receive a fraction of the hatred directed at Kaepernick. What else is any critically thinking person going to conclude from this insanity except that the problem isn't Kaepernick's quarterback skillset. It isn't that he protested "wrongly." The problem is that he dared protest at all. That any African would dare speak out against this great plantation. The slave master (and all those who aspire to be slave masters e.g. capitalist shot callers), is angry with these rebellious slaves. In 1819 this anger translated into beatings, burnings, lynchings, etc. Today, it still could mean those things, but most often for someone with visibility like Kaepernick it means alienation and castigation. Same old thing and those of us who understand this history have no trouble spotting it when it happens.
What all of this means is we don't know whether a team will offer Kaepernick a contract after his workout. Really, that's not really a priority to anyone besides him. What's important is that we recognize that the NFL doesn't care about Kaepernick or anyone like him getting the opportunity they deserve. Their dominant perspective is that we are owned property and we should just entertain them, especially those of us they pay well for that entertainment. The contradictions like the domestic abusers, they couldn't care less about. These players like everything in capitalism are commodities. To the NFL elite its like your pedigree dog tearing your expensive shoes up. If a team thinks Kaepernick can help them win and they are comfortable in believing their racist public has forgotten their anger against Kaepernick, they will sign him. The point is its the racist narrative that will drive whatever happens to him. Its that narrative that drives what happens to all of us. And, after all the noise, that's really what all of this amounts to.
The fatigue is universal. Whether its the false equivalencies between police terror and the people fighting fascism, homophobia, or in this case of Bolivia, the mechanisms of international imperialism, the ruling capitalist classes and the minions who mindlessly parrot their talking points, all use the same old tired lines to deceive us. And, who can blame them? Those tired lines continue to work very effectively so why change?
This last weekend, Bolivia's democratically elected president - Evo Morales - resigned from his position, effectively removing his governing Movimiento Al Socialismo (Movement for Socialism) from occupying political power in Bolivia. Make no mistake about it. This was an illegal coup against a democratically elected government. In 2018, Morales won reelection by 600,000 votes, crushing the so-called opposition. International election observers from all over the world oversaw that election and reported fairness and no issues with everyone who desired being able to vote. And, its obvious why Morales was so widely loved by the Bolivian people. Since the rise of his party to power, education, healthcare, and other essential services necessary to facilitate opportunities for people to reach their full potential had reached unprecedented levels. The increased attention on the Indigenous people of Bolivia, of which Morales is a apparently a member, has elevated that maligned population in every measurable way since Morales was elected. Of course, none of these things are impressive to the bourgeoisie elite that the opposition against Morales represents. And, these scum have a long history in Bolivia. Like all of South America, and pretty much the entire planet, the division between the haves and have nots has been an ongoing class struggle in Bolivia for decades. It was 52 years ago when Ernesto "Che" Guevara died in rural Bolivia helping lead a guerrilla fighting regiment against the corrupt Barrientos regime. That regime was a bed partner to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Bolivia has remained bedfellows with U.S. imperialism to this very day. Despite the tearful announcement of the transfer of power to the opposition presented by Bolivian Senate Vice President Jeannie Anez, that opposition in Bolivia has been opposed to Morales since day one because of the priority on social policies Morale's regime prioritized. The denial of the lithium trade deal with the U.S. and other multi-national corporation led countries probably helped spell the death note for Morales government. Lithium is the rare earth mineral utilized to make car batteries. Auto manufacturers like Tesla, Toyota, etc., were depending upon that Lithium deal with Bolivia to supply their lithium needs for decades to come. Bolivia is also a very oil rich country which is very attractive to these roaches as well. In denying the lithium deal, Morales spoke to the need for the Bolivian people, and all oppressed humanity, to exercise self determination in managing their natural resources, meaning don't sell them out the the multi-national corporations that care only about exploiting them for profit purposes. The Uyuni region of Bolivia is said by lithium industry analysts to hold up to 70% of the world's lithium reserves, so for those corporate thugs, there was no other alternative to their interests other than regime change.
We previously mentioned the CIA's connection to Bolivia because the events of the last several days suggest a heavy U.S. hand in applying the necessary pressure on Bolivia's institutions to squeeze out the Morales government. This would certainly explain the strange call from the Organization of American States (OAS) to revisit the results of the 2018 election, despite a clean bill of health given to those results, as previously stated. We all know the Organization of American States is often a mouthpiece for U.S. imperialism so this request from the OAS shouldn't surprise anyone. Also, many of the military officials in South America were trained at the CIA's "School of the Americas" a U.S. military propaganda institution designed to ensure loyalty to U.S. imperialist interests in the Americas. With the CIA's history in Bolivia its highly conceivable that the CIA and other high level U.S. power sources were instrumental in pressuring the Bolivian military to call for Morale's resignation. Since those same military forces were engaged in systemic terror against supporters of the Morales government, his decision to step down, as he stated, was an effort at curbing the violence and protecting the Bolivian people.
So, on the surface, it appears that imperialism has won again. And, to the supporters and apologists for imperialism, these events are justified, but a closer look clearly demonstrates a different narrative is required. The difference today as opposed to 50+ years ago is most people, even so-called social justice activists, were inclined to accept imperialism's version of history once the guerrilla uprising led by Che was crushed in Bolivia in 1967. Today, you would have to be hiding under a rock for your entire life to be fooled by the amateurish effort to paint the Morales government as a brutal dictatorship. Imperialism told us the same thing about Muammar Qaddafi and the Libyan Jamihiriya in 2011, but information today is widespread about the great work Libya had done to bring stability and progress to all of Africa and that it was those efforts that led imperialism to murder Qaddafi and destabilize Libya. Imperialism has been telling us the same lies about dictatorships about Cuba and Venezuela for decades, but many activists and even just curious onlookers have been able to travel to Cuba and Venezuela and even with many of these people, who are not necessarily engaged or aware of the political histories, the narrative that these are oppressive regimes dictated by vicious individuals is impossible to believe based on the empirical evidence these visitors have experienced in those countries. The failed effort by elites in Venezuela to illegally overthrow that government is an example of that. The populations are clearly vibrant, informed, and dedicated to the socialist direction of their countries. And, the same is true about Bolivia. The only exceptions to this are the aristocratic elites who have money and only want more of it, regardless of the toll it takes on the masses of people. Many of these shoe scum are in the U.S. today, ready to tell you at the drop of a hat that they are "Bolivian Americans" and that Morales is bad. Pay notice to the fact these liars can give you no analytical truths about unjust life in Bolivia for the masses of people. All they can rely on is the fact that they walked the pavement in Bolivia as their credentials of legitimacy. Of course, if you countered by telling them about white supremacy and how the U.S. is nothing except a cesspool of racism, those same people would instinctively disagree with you, despite the fact you have lived here all of your life. So, excuse us if we dismiss their geographical origin as evidence that they have the slightest clue what they are talking about as it relates to Bolivia. We need more critical information and many of us are dedicated enough to study to understand that information. Plus, our connections to international struggles for justice and peace bring us in regular contact with multitudes of people and sources who have valuable information about what's really going on. That should serve to discredit those opportunists as well as the usual and tired voices from those on the white left in the U.S. and Europe who continue to be silent partners with imperialism whenever something like this happens. These people are so quick to point to any errors governments like Morales have made, and there are many. We are active organizers so we understand errors because we make them everyday. In fact, as Sekou Ture told us, "the only people who don't make errors are people who do nothing!" Our on the ground experience also helps us understand that the errors are unavoidable since imperialism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism give 0 space for us to build without sabotage and urgency of results. All of this is a formula for errors, but instead of recognizing this universal principle, the white left does what it does best, pass judgment with nothing to offer the colonized struggling masses besides white skin expertise and a big useless mouth (that most of us stopped paying any attention to besides pointing it out to those like us long ago).
Lastly, from a revolutionary Pan-Africanist perspective, we support Bolivia and the Movement for Socialism, but we suggest that the reasons why these immoral coups are as successful in Bolivia and almost in Venezuela, but not nearly as effective in Cuba is because of the lack of a revolutionary process e.g. a national liberation struggle as that which took place in Cuba. The concept that socialism can grow and develop from the structures of capitalism is not possible since capitalism is based on exploiting the exploited. We don't believe socialism can effectively happen in negotiation with capitalism. Socialism has to mean capitalism being defeated; politically, socially, educationally, morally, and yes - militarily. As we are witnessing in Bolivia, imperialism won't relinquish power just because they should. It has to be taken from them in a way where they cannot get it back. That means a national liberation effort where people develop a clearly defined and politically educated understanding of the enemy so that they see their very survival as linked to eradicating the exploiting classes. This is what the bourgeoisie are most afraid of and its that fear that makes them recognize that this growth would have happened in Bolivia, and still will, but they are of course going to do everything in their power to keep this from happening. In our view, recent developments are just the latest in a battle that brings us closer to the revolutionary process we speak of. A process that millions of people on Earth will ready and willing to bring about.
Whenever anyone seriously discusses revolutionary versus reactionary on any level, what you are really talking about is intense class struggle. I say this because I would argue that the primary contradiction in the world today is the battle of the haves and have nots. And, that battle is over who will own and guide the resources of the planet Earth. By haves, we mean the very small, yet highly organized, international bourgeoisie e.g. the capitalist classes. Those immoral entities who stole everything from everyone while maintaining what they stole by convincing us all through their propaganda mechanisms that they come to save the world. Whenever their propaganda tactics are ineffective, they rely on their military strength to crush uprisings. By have nots we mean the masses of people on Earth. The people who do all of the work to maintain the planet while receiving few of the fruits of that labor. Unlike the bourgeoisie, the masses of people are disorganized and kept confused by being forced by the bourgeoisie to focus exclusively on seeing each other as their primary competition for a better existence.
All of the capitalist countries, with the U.S. in the lead today, are the centers of bourgeoisie thought and action in the world today. So, if you are raising a child anywhere on Earth, particularly in any of these bourgeoisie centers, and you wish to ensure your children have values that contradict the values of the bourgeoisie, there are things you can do to help create those conditions.
Of course, since we are talking about class struggle, there are many people who are perfectly fine with their children being raised to think and act in concert with the bourgeoisie. These are people who support capitalism - either consciously or unconsciously. These folks could have a clear vision that supports the international bourgeoisie vision of controlling the entire planet for the purpose of private profit. We are at war so it would be completely naive to believe there are not people who are totally ok with that vision of domination. We are not talking to those people here because we believe in the concept of cadre development. What that means is unlike the Christian model, in order to be committed to particular class interests, a person doesn't just repent and belong to that class. In order to be a member of the bourgeoisie class a person must have certain positioning within society that comes from generations of service to dominating the planet. In other words, its not a club you can just apply and join. On the other hand, being a revolutionary is much more than a verbal declaration that you are one. It requires a commitment to fighting against the bourgeoisie on a protracted and consistent basis and this is never an easy task. Since the bourgeoisie control all narratives; political, social, cultural, etc., anyone who actively and consciously opposes that vision runs the risk of alienation in these capitalist societies. For examples, throughout my life, every action I've taken to express connection to the African masses, the working masses, the masses of people for peace and justice, has been met with clear signals of risk. My changing my name to an African name (I mean actually changing it, not just using an African name). Joining and organizing for a revolutionary Pan-African political party. Working to organize and carry out my life in a way that is consistent with the revolutionary Pan-African values I believe in, has brought unbelievable strain from family, so-called friends, jobs, state institutions, etc. From being denied jobs to being prohibited from receiving financial aid (because of my refusal to sign up for selective service to be eligible for imperialist military drafts), to being regularly shunned by people I grew up with, including family. And by being shunned I mean being treated like you murdered a family member all because you don't celebrate imperialist holidays, changed your name, have these "strange" beliefs, etc. Standing alone often when you take principled stands at work, etc. All of these things and much, much more have been and continues to be definition of my life.
At the tender age of 25, after having experienced enough of this alienation, and more importantly, enough revolutionary political education (after spending three years in constant ideological training within the work study process of the All African People's Revolutionary Party - A-APRP - at the time), the discussions with my partner at that time centered around the decision that we did want to have one child. We decided on one because we discussed how much we wanted to travel, especially home to Africa and we felt that with one child, we could position ourselves to ensure financially that our child could see the world and grow from that broader perspective. We were also discussing how we could raise our child to have the values that were and are important to us. By values I mean believing in the primacy of Africa e.g. the future of Africa is of the upmost importance regardless of whether we physically live there or not. By values I mean believing that we are not African-Americans. Not Black People. We are Africans and a part of the worldwide African nation which as stated, has Africa at its center. By values we mean believing in principles of socialism - meaning people over profit, and being 100% opposed to capitalism, imperialism, and bourgeoisie values. These are the values we wanted our child to be raised with. One of the most important things we did during these discussions is agree that regardless of what happened, no matter if the two of us split up. No matter if no one supported us in how we raised our child. No matter what, we would never compromise on our commitment to center our child in revolutionary consciousness. Remember that we are talking about the mid 1980s. So, I recall that something that was critically important to me at that time (and still) was that we figure out ways to arm our child with the ammunition they would need to combat the constant efforts to derail them that we had already faced.
The point of all of the above is that despite the fact we were so far from perfect. And, we - I - made an overwhelming number of errors and mistakes in raising our child, we did have a plan that we worked earnestly to carry out. That plan started with choosing two names. Either Shukura or Adisa. Obviously, Shukura won out (and Adisa became a character in my novel series). We planned on natural birth, which unfortunately didn't work out, but we also did something else that turned out to be quite clever. We discussed how if we were going to be successful with our daughter we needed to try and politically educate those around us, meaning our family, to our revolutionary Pan-Africanist, socialist values. So, 32 years ago, when such a thing was never heard of, I, along with my sister in law, organized the baby shower for my child's birth. And, I mean I actually played a major role in organizing the event. We didn't play the normal games you see at baby showers in this bourgeoisie society. We played African history games. It did take a lot to convince the family to go along and participate, but once they did, they enjoyed it and spoke to the value the experience brought them. Plus, the African wedding we had in 1985 did a lot to help prepare people to the reality that we were going to be doing things differently. Our way. Our revolutionary African way. Also, one year after my daughter came, we had to take in one of her (my) nieces for a few years. This act served to illustrate how true we were to our socialist principles to my ex's family and everyone else.
We were "home" schooling before it was a thing. By the time Shukura was three she could see a picture of Assata Shakur, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah, etc., and tell you who they were and something about them. She could tell you the names of several countries in Africa as well as other geography. And, she without question would tell you with extreme confidence that she is an African. Not an African-American. Not Black, but an African who's national home is Africa. At that age she would tell you that America is the home of the Indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere and revolution is the only solution to bring justice to Africa, African people, and the entire planet. All of this was accomplished not just by the lessons everyday in front of the large map of the world on our kitchen wall, but I believe, based on the principled way we tried to carry out our life. We talked constantly to our daughter about respecting the masses and we tried to demonstrate to her how that looks by respecting her, each other, and everyone around us. The core comrades,cadres within the A-APRP played a critical role at this stage of our process. Most of them were also raising children and we did our collective best to attempt to provide the best environments we could for our children. Here in Sacramento at the time that meant watching each other's children and I can tell you I played a prominent role as an African man in spending large amounts of time throughout my twenties with A-APRP and other children. We practiced love, patience, and caring with all of the children all of the time. To me, this was the most effective method of instilling our socialist values. Much better than just talking about it. I believe all of the children felt valued and loved, and the fact I still to this day receive massive love from them when I see them is proof of that to me along with the fact I receive that same love from my ex-in laws, despite the fact my ex-wife and I have been divorced for 26 years. I believe this happens because they saw our efforts to keep our separation as dignified as possible and that Shukura was always a priority during that difficult period.
As Shukura began to grow the daily lessons continued, but shifted, but what was established, even after the divorce, was an atmosphere of openness and respect. Despite being divorced, we still had regular check ins and we split time with Shukura right own the middle. Two weeks/two weeks, for 13 years. All the birthday parties and activities right down to the senior prom were carried collectively with all three of us participating together. This is a point that cannot be overstated. It isn't possible to preach revolutionary love for the people when you struggle to show respect for the person who you had children with. Your children will see right through that and it will cause them to question not you, but the principles you say you believe in. This is of course something that requires much work, but if you make every effort to be sincere to what you profess, that will also show through to your youth. Think about it. What better way to demonstrate love, collectivism, socialism, etc., than to not center yourself, but the collective in everything that you do. If you are consistent with that, your child will learn how to do that also and that will give them a healthy respect for those values.
We continue to have that collective involvement in our child's life 32 years later. All her graduations, move ins to dorms and apartments, have been fully participated in by both parents, collectively. This is the stuff that causes her family and my family to continue to treat both of us as family to this day.
So, if you are raising children, the take away here is that the political education, facts, and ideological training is important, but you have to understand that this isn't just verbal information. Its mostly how you act on what you profess you believe. Its that piece your children will pick up on more than anything else. Focus on creating a plan that permits you to flush out what your revolutionary values are and figure out how you can share those values with what you do with your child on a daily basis. Keep love for humanity at the center of those values and be as open and honest as you can utilizing self criticism to admit errors and mistakes. All of this will create an atmosphere of trust and respect. Your child knows you are not perfect whether you realize it or not. By attempting to hide your flaws, all you do is diminish your credibility. If you build your relationship on honesty it will be very difficult. For example, I made early mistakes with dating choices when my daughter was younger and I've been brutally honest with her about the struggles I had led to the decisions I've made. My point is the honesty comes with a heavy price, but its a price you have to be willing to pay if you want to raise your child differently. In capitalism, everything is form over essence. If you subscribe to these same backward values, prioritizing how things look over what they represent, you will be making the same mistakes that were made with you.
Finally, be prepared to make mistakes and possibly, serious errors, but provided you try to stick to honestly, you will find that your children are very adaptable. One other thing. This focus on honesty between you and your children cannot be seen as something operating in isolation. Its essential that you maintain that same principled stance on larger issues that confront your children's lives. This is a serious error that so many so-called revolutionaries make in raising their children. Your children, and you while you are raising them, will encounter many instances where decisions of principle must be made. Where the criminality of the system, the need to call out that criminality and immorality, and issues of comfort and personal safety for you and/or your child, will be in direct conflict. I'm not saying that anyone should ever snitch on your children or anyone to the terrorist police (there are much better and more effective ways to deal with those types of contradictions). What I'm saying is you can't preach revolutionary values 24/7, but when it comes to your child accepting a military scholarship or speaking out about imperialist intervention in the world, you need to be very careful in how you navigate through a challenge like that. If you are not careful and decide to choose personal advancement over collective truth, your credibility will be exposed to your children, and everyone else, forever.
None of this is rocket science. Like everyone always says, its really just about "keeping everything 100." Be real with your children. Make revolutionary values something living, breathing. Not just empty rhetoric. If you do that, your children, like mine, will grow up to be principled human beings who you won't have to worry about selling out and being an embarrassment because when that happens, it reflects as much on your inconsistencies as much as it does your children.
He's disrespected African youth all the over the world repeatedly and consistently for the last decade. Anyone who says he hasn't just isn't paying any attention to what's been going on. For examples we can start by talking about his lame and manipulative national talk about racism in 2008, shortly after his election as president. Incidents of white supremacy e.g. people acting out because they refused to accept his presidency, was the reason for his "state address" in the first place, but he used it, not to hold the overwhelming majority of European (white) people accountable for their racism. In fact, he never said anything during that speech to hold even a single European accountable to anything. Instead, he spent time talking about the necessity of young African men to be responsible parents. Well, actually, he spoke about African men in general, but the way he addressed the topic clearly played to the stereotype of young African men, producing babies everywhere they go, while taking care of none of them. Besides the fact that despite racist beliefs, non-African men abandon their children proportionately to African men, he felt the need to single out our men ,while saying nothing at all about the dominant, entitled, selfish, and criminal denial of white supremacy that the overwhelming majority of white people practice which was the real reason why his speech resulted in the first place. And, you can miss us with rebuttals about how important that message is to our young men. Calling us out on a national stage (something he claims to be against) isn't the way to deliver that message. A much more effective approach is that employed by those of us who are African fathers who are genuinely concerned about our youth e.g. working with them in consistent (not manipulative sound bite) ways.
Then, we should talk about the speech he gave after Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid, and other National Football League (NFL) players began protesting the so-called national anthem to bring attention to police terrorists who murder us down in the streets with impunity. In that pathetic speech, instead of speaking to the millions of white people who are upset that their stupid sports games are forced to acknowledge this legitimate political protest instead of being upset that we are being gunned down like roaches, he chose instead to single out Colin Kaepernick, asking him to consider the feelings of military families. Not the feelings of African parents, African mothers, Indigenous mothers, who are losing their children just because our children exist, but feelings for military families who's relatives go overseas and fight wars that devastate innocent people specifically to fatten the pockets of corporations who are striving to steal all of those people's resources. Then, to add insult to injury, after the current U.S. empire chief came out with racist and unprincipled attacks against these NFL players designed to appeal to his sick base of supporters, nary a peep was heard about that from Obama. At least nothing as pointed and direct as his criticisms of us.
Most recently, Obama decided to attempt a very half-assed and uninformed attack against the movement cultures of our young people by accusing them of focusing more on attacking people than building productive work. Of course, attacking any level of movement building is easy target work, but as Huey P. Newton correctly said "no participation, no right to observation." Since Obama is not affiliated and working in any African or otherwise grassroots activist organization, and despite the propaganda of his initial campaign messaging, he never has, his thoughts and opinions on how our youth organize our work is worthless. Especially since his critique represented the same tired passive aggressive blame the victims approach that defines every conversation on the topic facilitated within bourgeoisie circles in this country. His biggest crime in this speech was his violation of Kwame Ture's clear edit that no analysis of our conditions is complete unless the enemy is included in that analysis. You cannot speak to the culture of us attacking each other, call outs, etc., without also discussing this government's historic practice of undermining our people and our movements, the intensity of class struggle, and this society's alienation of activists for justice. All of those things are major contributors to the contradictions existing within our movements and they always have been.
And those examples are just a few from the U.S. We will expand internationally and talk now about how Obama's work within his administration to bolster the African Command military program in Africa has developed up to 100 U.S. military installations throughout the African continent during the time of his presidency. Despite the propaganda that these installations exist to bring "democracy" to Africa, anyone plugging into that weak and tired line can offer absolutely no evidence to demonstrate how these installations have done a single thing to secure the life of a single African child. What this military presence has done is serve to effectively eradicate the efforts by the former Libyan Arab Jamihiriya to provide potable drinking water to the millions of people living in countries bordering and inhabiting the Sahara desert regions. This presence has created dangerous attack drone facilities in Niger with potential to build other worthless (to the people of Africa) sites throughout the continent. What this presence has also done is provide regimes from the Congo to Rwanda to Nigeria and Ghana the training and capacity, in conjunction with the criminal and violent Israeli zionist regime, with resources to facilitate counter insurgency methods and tactics against the people. This training is taking place because although most people in the U.S. don't have a clue, Africa is on fire. From the Sudan to Azania (South Africa) to Ethiopia, to Zimbabwe, our people are rising up in righteous indignation against the oppressive practices of capitalist companies who control African governments (through neo-colonialist tractics) which are overwhelmingly oppressive to the people while stealing African resources in the process. These uprisings are being facilitated by youth and women so by developing the apparatus that is working to silence our people at home in Africa, Obama is thumbing his nose at the masses of African youth who strive to bring dignity to our people. The same can be said for his administration's support for oppressive policies against the Haitian people that have created the conditions for mass uprisings taking place there currently. And, as usual, in Haiti, like everywhere else in the world, youth, African youth, are at the forefront of the fight for African self-determination.
There is no confusion here about why Obama does what he does. Despite his physical appearance and the emotionally charged way so many of our people within the U.S. wish to see him, he is an international representative of the worldwide bourgeoisie. He and Michelle speak, act, and respond in accordance to those interests with everything they do. Attacking the wicked and contradictory racism of the masses of European people in the U.S. doesn't serve the interests of imperialism and that's why he never does that. Repressing and keeping the masses of African people at bay is a priority requirement for imperialism's safety and that's why he consistently plays his role in performing that function. He may be much more personable and polite than Trump in doing it, but like Malcolm said, that's only the difference between the approach of the fox or the wolf. Both are going to eat you up at the end of the day.
So, obviously, this piece isn't going to be directed at him or anyone, African or otherwise, who happen to occupy his oppressive class. Instead, this piece is directed at the masses of Africans, particularly those within the U.S., who continue to buy into his act. They do so because we are so oppressed by capitalism that even the slightest recognition from the system that oppresses us causes some of us to respond as if progress is being made. Its a sick and dysfunctional relationship similar to that of an abused party and how they relate to their abuser. Constantly seeking approval from the person (or system) that abuses you while ignoring the sound advice and support of those who genuinely have your interests at heart. This is us. Most of us are perfectly willing to ignore and/or justify all of the glaring contradictions I've identified here simply because we wish to continue the fantasy symbol of people who look like us being in power in this country. Despite the fact their existence brings absolutely no power to the masses of African people, some of us still have such a strong desire to have that image in existence, despite the consequences it causes for humanity. What we have to examine is why we respond this way. Part of it is class struggle. Some of us desire to be where the Obamas are so that is the appeal. Those people we consider cheerleaders for the bourgeoisie class so we aren't speaking to them. Others of us are sincerely confused and support bourgeoisie black nationalist beliefs that we can strive to integrate into worldwide capitalism and carve out a niche for us to co-exist with the people oppressing us. We can coexist with the system built and maintained on our oppression. Those are the people where massive political education work is needed.
For the record, I have more in common with a European man sleeping in a dumpster than I ever will have with the Obamas, on any level. And most of you reading this, your families, your friends, co-workers, and everyone you know. This is also true whether you recognize it or not. This system though. It relies on your refusal to accept that reality to keep itself firmly with its foot on our collective necks. Until we are prepared as a people to let go of this sick and dysfunctional infatuation we have with the bourgeoisie who look like us, we will continue to unwittingly contribute to our further demise.