Its always been a significant source of humor for me that the moment you question whether people think for themselves in this society, people immediately and completely take offense. No one wants to be thought of as following someone else's plan for how they live their lives. Yet, there are examples all around us that clearly demonstrate that very few people really do any concrete thinking for themselves and the way so-called holidays are carried out in this society is textbook curriculum to make this point. Without knowing any history of the day. Without even bothering to create our own context for the day, most people in this society follow along with the dictates of this power structure for what days we celebrate, when we celebrate them, and how we celebrate them.
The Black Panther Party was a wonderful organization. I, like millions of others, have spent my entire life inspired by their courageous example. Their fearless pursuit of police terrorists in the streets of Oakland, California. Their blossoming into a national, and then international, organization that developed an outstanding legacy of struggle and resistance.
We believe the answer to that question is technically yes, but not in the way you would necessarily think. Historically, whether we are talking about Whites aligned with our struggle for liberation in Azania (South Africa) or in the U.S., etc., the model being discussed has always been around the question of multi-racial organizations. This line has been certainly promoted within white left socialist formations. Their position has been that the primary contradiction is with the capitalist system so only when people unite across racial lines to form a multi-racial class struggle socialist party will we see collective progress.
Whether people like Minister Louis Farrakhan or hate him, one thing no one can deny him, he consistently finds ways to keep his work in the discussion. Facebook recently blocking him from using its platform has again placed the Minister in the forefront of many discussions raging among African people. The purpose of this piece isn't to dissect the legitimacy of the Minister and/or the Nation of Islam. We have faith in the legitimacy of the African masses to figure out for themselves who they will respect. The purpose of this piece is to address much of the misinformation being vomited out about the murder of Malcolm X, formally a member of the Nation of Islam. The role of the Nation, particularly Minister Farrakhan, in that assassination, and how we look at and discuss those events today.
Tomorrow is May 1st which is May Day, the international day of the worker. By worker we mean anyone who provides labor to achieve a specific objective. Whether its working a job where you receive a paycheck or being a parent who raises a child, all of that and everything in between is work. May Day is the recognition of the work everyday people do everyday to push the world forward. African and other colonized people should honor May Day. We should because we are the most exploited workers on Earth and May Day, in its essence, is the commemoration of worker's fighting to free themselves from capitalist exploitation.
Us colonized people should definitely honor May Day, but we approach May Day completely different from the organized white left. And, by white left we mean Marxist/Leninist, Trots, Maoists, anarchists, etc. As was previously alluded to, African people are without question a part of the international working class, but because of international white supremacy, colonialism, and neo-colonialism, we will not heed the tired old refrain of the white left that we forget about those elements, push aside racist subjugation - including that within the white left - and pretend on days like May Day that we are all one unified working class movement.
The primary struggle for African and other colonized people today has to be our organization against our colonized state in the world. That means movements like revolutionary Pan-Africanism, Filipino national liberation, Palestinian national liberation, Indigenous National Liberation in the Americas, etc., has to be our primary focus. Clearly, the white left can be continuously counted on to ignore the realities of our suffering e.g. their May Day talking points never address the components of white supremacy that dominate our lives. A defeat of capitalism with no anti-colonial recognition where colonized people have the right to fight for our national liberation will bring no salvation for colonized communities. Even V.I. Lenin, in his classic work "Imperialism" acknowledges this despite his and Marx's limited analysis of colonized struggles. As Lenin indicates, national liberation is the "pre-requisite" to socialist revolution.
Due to the systemic disrespect and outright racism directed at colonized people by the white left, trying to talk most African activists/organizers into commemorating May Day is like trying to get an atheist to go to church. The suggestion here is that we approach May Day with the same approach we should use for all of our work. Our participation is defined by our culture, meaning we come with our own revolutionary Pan-Africanist analysis. So, we help organize May Day events and we ensure our reality as colonized African masses is central to any May Day themes (along with other colonized people). We ensure we invite our follow up people we are working with to May Day. We inoculate our follow up to the contradictions of white supremacy that will be present while at the same time helping our follow up people understand that our struggle is part and parcel of all worldwide struggles. That last part is critical for us because we must continue to promote the balanced perspective that only we can save ourselves e.g. Pan-Africanism, but our struggle must be class based, meaning our connection to other liberation struggles is essential. We cannot demote into this endless and unproductive and xenophobic black nationalist conspiracy theory based negative analysis of our place in the world. Or, as we call it in our Nkrumahist/Tureist ideological analysis; we hold a nation (race), class, and gender analysis of our struggle.
Finally, May Day for us must talk about eradicating capitalism. It must have a strong anti-capitalist message with a clear understanding that the alternative to capitalism is socialism. We must talk about how socialism will only come about through organized revolution, including the component of revolutionary violence as a part of our struggle to dismantle capitalism. These talking points must be used to confront the bourgeoisie dominance of most May Day commemorations, particularly in the capitalist epicenters, where the entire focus is on workers joining the bourgeoisie class. And, that break through is not going to happen from the white left. Its only the colonized masses, particularly the African masses, who can develop this level of consciousness among our people and societies as a whole.
So, keep organizing and happy May Day because for me, May Day and African Liberation Day are the only holidays I commemorate. African liberation tied into worldwide worker solidarity. We maintain our dignity and independence while contributing to the worldwide struggle.
What has Pan-Africanism done for us? 90% of what makes Malcolm X iconic is what he learned once he connected the African struggle in the U.S. to Africa. Shirley Graham DuBois was a central figure in Pan-African work in the 1960s. Living in Ghana and Egypt she was a major connector for work taking place at that time. DuBois and Malcolm's work, unquestionably connected to mother Africa, provides much of the framework that defines our path today.
If you haven't come across them yet, ADOS is short for the so-called American Descendants of Slaves movement. Taking a dishonest page from the playbook of capitalists Charles and David Koch (the Koch Brothers), Antonio Moore, Yvette Carnell, and other assorted opportunists like Tariq Nasheed and Cornel West, have taken a discredited political position and given it a name that is bound to resonate with Africans here in the U.S. who continue to suffer as a daily ritual.
In another week or two we will have Mother's Day upon us here in the U.S. For several decades I've been pretty intentional about not celebrating any holiday sanctioned by this imperialist system. I've taken this position militantly, up to and including deciding (along with her mother) not to raise our daughter within the context of any of these holidays. My decision has caused a lot of difficulty over the years. Family doesn't understand. They used to think, I don't know if they still do because we don't discuss it any longer, that I was in some sort of cult by belonging to this Pan-Africanist political party. They expressed, often, that they felt I was denying my daughter due to my beliefs. The results of this contradiction are isolation and often being treated as if you have slain a family member because of fear and discomfort about my beliefs and way of life.
I grew up heavily influenced by independent Black Nationalist politics. In fact, when I was a teen, that's all I knew. It wasn't the hustler scam youtube based politics so dominant today either. It was sincere on the ground independent political organizing in African communities based on principles of self-determination for the masses of African people. Not material comfort by pimping our suffering which seems to be the primary objective of most of these video Black Nationalists today.
Today, there are approximately 2 billion Africans - all persons of African descent are Africans - on the planet. 1.2 billion of us live on the African continent and the remaining 800 million of us live in Europe, North, Central, South America, and the Caribbean. We are the most scattered persons on Earth. We are the most disconnected people on Earth. And, we are the most downtrodden people on Earth. In other words, anywhere you find us, and you can do that in plentiful numbers in about 120 countries worldwide, we will be at the bottom of society.