by a North Carolina prisoner September 2021 permalink
On 15 September 2021 twenty four prisoners declared hunger strike at Foothills Correctional Institution in North Carolina. By 2PM the administration locked up 3 comrades. Me and another comrade stayed fasting.
They only give us phone once a week; no yard in a month; and less than 2 hours of recreation per day. Basically we’re in segregation for no reason. I reflect on these b.s. measures, then I asked myself why and how does this opre$$ion end?!
“Why are the battles endless?! Why the Us vs. them?! Why is the Earth CRYING ?!”
In regards to the article by a Texas prisoner “Stimulus Checks are being stolen by TDCJ-CID”, well Texas isn’t the only state with such tricks up its sleeve. Last week the great snake of Arkkkansas done the exact same thing, however, they turned right around & put the money back in prisoners’ accounts after being met with resistance by means of grievances. Quite often they’ll try to pull a caper simply just to see if they can get away with it. Point: Utilize the grievance process.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Right on to the comrades in Arkansas who stood together to grieve this issue. As we say, there are no rights, only power struggles. Just because the law says they can’t take your stimulus money doesn’t mean they won’t. A comrade in California has drafted sample grievances and raised the money to distribute them to comrades who haven’t received their stimulus money in that state. We’ve also been hearing from more comrades in Texas and in the Federal Bureau of Prisons who continue to fight this battle. Because we are getting so many requests, here are some FAQs from https://www.taxoutreach.org
Will the amount of my second stimulus check be reduced if I have overdue debts in prison?
Unlike your first stimulus check, your second stimulus check has greater protection from garnishment. Like the first stimulus check, your second stimulus check is protected from back taxes or federal and state debts. In addition, the second stimulus check is also protected from debt collection. That means that federal and state prison cannot reduce the amount of your second stimulus check to pay overdue debts.
Will the amount of my third stimulus check be reduced if I have overdue debts in prison?
It is unclear whether your third stimulus check will be reduced to pay certain prison fees or debts. We will update this page once we have more information.
What happens if my stimulus check was sent as a debit card instead of as a check?
The IRS sent a letter to prison officials that if debit cards couldn’t be processed at your prison facility, prison officials have to return the debit cards to the IRS fiscal agent at:
Fiserv Attn: RAPID 1007 North 97th Circle Omaha, NE 68122
The debit cards will be voided and you will have to claim the stimulus checks as the Recovery Rebate Credit by filing a 2020 tax return or using GetCTC.org if you don’t have a filing requirement.
Previously I argued that taxpayers are not responsible for government capital policy because they are ignorant. My error was pointed out to me and now I see the truth – the January 6th rioters showed me that they are willing to fight for my oppression therefore their ignorance is irrelevant – they are indeed more responsible than I assumed, therefore I must ignore my compassion for their humanity as unnatural as that is for me. The object is more important than the subject.
When evaluating responsibility, it is tempting to be blinded by the subject. For instance, government officials are directly responsible for enforcing capital policy. However, collaborators often look like our neighbors, friends or even family. These collaborators will support & encourage oppression & tyranny out of ignorance or out of a callous heart. Ignorance cannot be excused if freedom is ever going to be won. When the object of freedom becomes important enough all barriers must fall, even if that means forcing ourselves to do what is not natural.
Rights are never granted, rights are won. Unfortunately, this includes basic human rights such as freedom. To win freedom from the tyranny & oppression that comes with a capitalist economy, the opposition must fall. This necessity does not come naturally, that is because the values instilled in our youth are instilled by capital policy (submission), these values are what allows capitalists to steal your freedom. We must relearn a greater value.
There exist those that will take more than one has to give, that is what capital is (inequality). There is only so much resource & for one to have more than one needs he/she has to deprive another of what they need. For one to be rich, one must be poor.
As I watch the January 6th investigation, one thing is clear. That is the effort was weak. I think that is because the rioters knew in their hearts that they were fighting for the exploitation of an oppressed class. Ironic that they choose to capture the Capitol Building in order to keep their capital wealth at the expense of the oppressed class.
For those of us that are fighting for freedom, We will not make a half-hearted effort because it is our very survival that we are fighting for. We are not fighting for material wealth because we have none. Because our oppression is total & complete then so is our fight for freedom.
We will not fight for one building, not even for one city, or one country. We are fighting for equality. We will not stop until all opposition is fallen. Our fight comes from the heart & that is why it is stronger than the January 6th fight for material wealth.
The difference is that I am sick & tired of being oppressed so that another can live lavishly. The difference is that unlike the January 6th rioters I am not here to have a big party with a bunch of friends at the Capitol Building – I am here to win my freedom and to fight for the freedom of all oppressed people and I will not stop and lay down, I will never stop!!
That is what Marx means by permanent revolution, we must never stop fighting because the very moment we relax is the moment the exploiters continue to exploit as they have always done. Sun Tzu said we can “never leave an enemy on the battlefield.” If we do they will come back again.
As communists we must know our enemy is the object and not the subject. Compassion can blur our vision of the object and it is in these moments I must remember that the capitalists never had any compassion for the oppressed.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This point is relevant as Amerikans remember the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and Afghans sigh in relief as the invader of their country pulls out. Professor Ward Churchill took a lot of heat for quoting Malcolm X on chickens coming home to roost after 9/11 and referring to Amerikans as “little Eichmanns.”(1) Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi in Germany who ran logistics for the system of concentration camps there. He was captured years after the war and in his trial claimed he was just following orders, just a cog in the machine, and should not be blamed for the deaths caused by that machine.
Since the end of the second imperialist war, the Amerikans have run the largest system of concentration camps in the world. While they lack the mass murder of the Nazi system, they are genocidal nonetheless against the oppressed nations that make up the majority of the prisoners. The day will come when Amerikans will be charged for their decades of crimes against humynity. Our success at building anti-imperialism and accountability in the United $tates today will ease the transition to a more just future on these lands.
The most recent killing of U.$. troops in Afghanistan on 26 August 2021 marks the deadliest day in over a decade for the imperialists in that country. It also makes two points quite clear. First, the once reviled Taliban has negotiated a deal with the United $tates in which they regained control of their country in exchange for cooperation against organizations like ISIS(K) who’ve claimed responsibility for the attack. The explosion took the lives of thirteen U.$. soldiers.
ISIS(K) is just one of over twenty armed groups in Afghanistan that pose a threat to Taliban rule. However, the main incentive for the Taliban’s allegiance to U.$. imperialism seems to be the Afghan economy which the Taliban inherited once the “democratically elected” government of Afghanistan realized that U.$. imperialism would no longer prop them up.(1)
Second, [email protected] continue to account for a substantial portion of Amerikan occupation forces in the Third World. Statistics in recent years have shown [email protected] continue to be a growing source of foot soldiers for the Amerikans.
The attack on U.$. troops came just three days before the fifty-first anniversary of the hystoric [email protected] Moratorium. Contrary to what various sell outs, integrationists and those who’ve simply been kept in ignorance have to say about the matter, the moratorium was not about civil rights or equality. Rather, the moratorium was an exercise in power by Raza who attempted to deprive the imperialists of [email protected] troops in their war of colonization and attrition in Vietnam.(2) Thus, it is both heartbreaking and sickening to see that so many years after the last real upsurge against U.$. imperialism in the semi-colonies, [email protected] continue to sacrifice and be sacrificed for the oppressor nation. If [email protected] are to live and die for a cause then it should be for Aztlán, the international proletariat and socialism. August 26 was yet another example of what happens when we fail to organize the oppressed – the imperialists organize them for us.
While four of the thirteen soldiers killed at the Afghanistan International Airport that day were [email protected] born and raised in occupied Aztlán, it should be noted that at least two other fatalities had Spanish surnames.(3) That said, it is still important to note that the attack was a blow against U.$. imperialism by anti-imperialists in the region, and for that we should be appreciative, not horrified. Our sympathies should be with the Afghan family who lost their lives in the U.$. retaliation drone strike and the rest of the victims of the ISIS(K) who were caught in the crossfire on August 26. [email protected] or not, those U.$. soldiers chose their own destiny when they decided it was okay to travel halfway around the world to further oppress an already oppressed population.
It is not far-fetched to envision a reality in which [email protected] youth strive to live and die for Aztlán liberated and free. The development of material conditions will be crucial in this regard, but it will be the struggle of revolutionaries and the masses of turned up youth that will be principal. We should not let the fact that Amerika’s longest war has come to an end deter us from the urgency of organizing the oppressed nations for liberation and against U.$. militarism. “Raza Si, Guerra No!” should be one of many political slogans that we champion in the bi-polar world that is life under imperialism, as Amerikkka’s designs on the African continent promise to become an even bloodier killing field in the years to come.
Notes: 1. The PBS News Hour, 27 August 2021. 2. A MIM(Prisons) study group, 2015, [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. (available to prisoners for $10) 3. KTLA 5 News, 27 August 2021.
This will be the official statement of the North Carolina United Front for Peace in Prisons. We will contribute to accomplishing these goals:
Peace. We must first find peace within, then help those around us to understand the tactics of divide and conquer; the true reason they’re in the system and how and why making peace within thy-self and with those around us is what real men/wimmin & L.O.’s represent.
Unity. Unite to achieve common interests; justice & peace and safeguarding our communities. Brothers of the faithful will continue efforts to restore peace among NC L.O.’s. All within the USW may join our branch of the UFPP.
Growth. Study MIM Assignment 1 on dialectical materialism & MIM structure & organization study pack. Then continue to study in whatever fields are appealing. To be successful we must learn to organize and (in certain matters) learn from the past (dialectical materialism). We spread our message and ULK to interested convicts and outside supporters. Books will be cyphered among comrades.
Internationalism. We will support the liberation programs of the oppressed nations internationally.
Independence. We plan to use a clothing company to promote political art. Some of us will also learn to become independent from government, which allows you to also make citizens arrest. Further abolishment.
On the day the Chicago city government released the body camera footage of the way Adam was killed, police abolitionist rallies and protests were gathered in Chicago and other major cities of the United $tates. Primarily, these rallies were calls for abolition and reform of pig forces in the United $tates and were attended by the Mexican and [email protected] masses – mostly the youth. Despite comprador Mayor Lightfoot and the Chicago Pig Department’s fearful cries of imminent social unrest and “riots,” these social rallies were peaceful and non-violent.(1)
During school time, the same youth who might have attended those non-violent rallies mourning Adam’s death and righteously condemning the Chicago Police Department (CPD) would have found a bit more safety than usual due to the lack of pig presence in their schools. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials announced on the 23rd of April – a week after the release of the body cam footage – that uniformed pigs won’t be on school campus until the fall semester. This policy however, is only temporary and will not apply to sergeants who patrol the areas around CPS schools. On top of that, officers are still assigned to 55 high schools whose local school councils voted to keep them in.(2)
The murder of a fellow oppressed nation youth has sparked a lot of righteous resentment against the oppressive police system among Chicago’s public school students during that month – the CPS population is comprised of 83% oppressed nation students.(3) Nathaniel Martinez, a sophomore of Roosevelt High School in Albany Park, made the following statements:
“The cops are the ones who are holding the gun. They have the power to choose what will happen, what won’t happen. And what they chose for Adam was death. And when I saw that, when I realized that, it just made me scared. But at the end of the day… am I scared of cops? Yes. Am I scared what one of them will do to me if one of them ends up having a bad day and they just want to do something crazy? Yes, I always am. … But right now we’re trying our best to make a difference.”
“We shouldn’t have students being monitored like criminals by cops in schools,”
Oppressed nation youth like Nathaniel lead movements across the country to get rid of armed pigs monitoring school halls. Many of these youth correctly recognize the disparity of how much harsher and more frequently New Afrikan or [email protected] children would be targeted by school pigs as compared to their Amerikan peers. Other progressive minded people have also recognized how the patrolling of schools and youth (oppressed nation youth in particular) lead to those youths entering the prison injustice system. In this sense, there is strong solidarity that should be built among the prison movement and the youth movement. However, a big weakness, reflecting pre-scientific thinking within these movements, is reformism and dependency on the imperialist system. These are ideas communists should be challenging through political education when deepening their roots into the progressive youth movements.
The Elders Respond
One important voice that has been raised are the ones from the older migrants. While these elders recognize the tragedy of Adam’s death, they also supported more pig presence among the Mexican/[email protected] neighborhoods in fear of violence from lumpen organizations. One Mexican elote (Mexican street food) vendor aged 74, named Santamaria, had this to say:
“We are tired of gang violence; it’s sad what happened with the young boy, but he had a gun with him and his friend had been shooting, so the officer responded to the threat,”(4)
Many of our reader base will know that the oppressed nation lumpen in the urban centers of the United $tates have hostile relationships with their urban petty-bourgeois counterparts. Some of our readers (and also many communists) might be quick to condemn the above attitude claimed by Miss Santamaria as coming from a petty-bourgeois street vendor and a chauvinist attitude against the lumpen class. However, we shouldn’t be too quick to brush off these sentiments and thoroughly combat the anti-people aspect of the lumpen class as well. Ideas stem from material reality after all. The segregated nature of the United $tates will mean that the bread and butter of oppressed nation lumpen will be other oppressed nation people: pigs will care less if a gangbanger steals from a New Afrikan or a [email protected] in the ghettos/barrios than stealing from the Amerikans. As stated in “Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates?” by MIM(Prisons), the First World Lumpen parasitically gets its means of living through other labor aristocrats, or other lumpen. This examination should lead to their surrounding petty-bourgeoisie as well. While it is true that in the United $tates, the First World Lumpen class should be organized to abandon the road of banditry and follow the road of revolution, it is also true that to demand respect and sympathy from poor and lower petty-bourgeois masses while also committing said banditry is idealist and commandist.
One important point that has been brought up by the youth and the intellectuals which led many of the mass rallies and discourse surrounding the murder of Adam was the fact that many of the elders in the Mexican/[email protected] community bring over conservative cultural attitudes of the countryside in mother country Mexico to the cities of the United $tates.(5) Many of these attitudes include the reaction against the violence of the lumpen proletariat drug lords and the Mexican bourgeoisie that fund and cooperate with these enemies of the people. Nine times out of ten, the Mexican drug lord is a gangster and a comprador capitalist at the same time – if not the running dogs of those comprador bourgeoisie. In the oppressed nation areas of the United $tates, most lumpen organizations might just be small-scale collectives of hustlers, pimps, and drug peddlers who claim blocks and corners and can’t afford to have the country’s military under their thumbs; in the Third World, they are war lords who control swaths of land and political power. This difference should stay in the minds of revolutionaries and communists who intend to organize not only the first world lumpen, but also the migrant proletariat who come from the third world oftentimes to escape from war lord tyranny.
The Campaign Against ShotSpotter
Several months after Adam was murdered, his family and activists gathered on the site of his death to protest the ShotSpotter technology used to detect gunshots in areas where lumpen activities heavily occur. On the Thursday of July 29th when that rally was held, activists demanded the cancellation of ShotSpotter’s surveillance presence in their neighborhoods as the contract the company had with the city of Chicago only had one month left.(6)
In response to the protests held by the people, ShotSpotter issued this response:
“All residents who live in communities experiencing persistent gunfire deserve a rapid police response, which gunshot detection enables regardless of race or geographic location. Because cities lack sufficient funds to cover an entire city with gunshot detection technology, they deploy sensors in neighborhoods suffering the highest levels of gun violence.”(7)
In classic Amerikan fashion, ShotSpotter disguised its surveillance and monitoring of the empire’s problem population (the oppressed nation of urban centers) as a gift and a right that the said population “deserves.” Maoists recognize that gunshot detectors in ghettos and barrios aren’t a safety measure. These technologies enable pigs to be deployed faster to occupy these regions in a more efficient and fruitful manner. The company also claimed that the technology detects “gunshots regardless of race or geographic location.” Any sane person should be able to recognize that this claim means nothing since humyn beings (in this case Amerikan corporations profiting off of militarized police occupation) put these technologies in to monitor New Afrikans and Mexicans/[email protected] geographically located in ghettos and barrios. Like Mao Zedong taught us, man is principal over machine and weaponry in warfare.
On August 11th, Adam Toledo’s family spoke about the plan of creating “Adam’s Place”; a non-profit shelter for at risk boys trying to escape inner-city conditions and lumpen violence. The shelter would be built on a 70 acre farm in Potosi, Wisconsin and was chosen by the family’s attorney Joel Hirschorn. The location is 3.5 hours away from Chicago and 2.5 hours away from Milwaukee.(9) The non-profit is claimed to be modeled after the Christian ministry program “Boys’ Farm.” In a town hall meeting in Potosi, Wisconsin, Joel Hirschorn announced that the home will not take in boys already in a lumpen organization. We are not sure how Adam’s Place will define a child to be “in a gang” (whether affiliates or individual hustlers will be classified as belonging to a “gang”); however, we see the fact that Adam Toledo himself would not be allowed in Adam’s Place as a prime example of liberal NGO tactics.(10) We hope for stable and safe path for all children who will enter Adam’s Place, and wish the family members of Adam Toledo for a peace of mind from the nightmare they must be facing. For attacking the problem at the root, and for real rehabilitation of lumpen youth, we point our directions away from NGOism to our readers and towards socialism and revolution.
When my brother first articulated the vision for the new venture, Forever Protecting the Community, and his general desire to uplift Our people, We were in a supermax prison, in the middle of nowhere. He himself had just days prior been released from a similar prison and had come to visit me. It was Our first time seeing each other in six years, since my trial, in which i was unjustly sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Thick, shatter proof glass separated Us in the visitation booth. i expressed through the phone, between static, my approval and tipped my head in acknowledgment of the self-development and maturation process that i knew had led up to this point in his life. i knew the process intimately, as i myself have undergone it as well in my own way. It is a process of social and mental growth that many before us have gone through. It is a process that sees one evolve from a state of self and socially induced ignorance, towards a state of a more completely functional humyn being, one who is engaged with the community and world around them, being productive therein. It is this way which We were meant to live among each other, but through the process of social-economic development, from a communal economy, into a hyper capitalistic society, We’ve become a mutation of Our true selves. Individualism dominates collectivism, greed has taken the place of contentment. Being as We are born and bred in such a world it takes a process of re-education and re-commitment in order to shun these counter-productive characteristics and act in the furtherance of productivity and communal upliftment.
Sometime later after Our visit, Prisoner A asked me to make a contribution to a collection of short stories that he wished to publish under the banner of Forever Protecting the Community. He stated that his vision was to correct those of Our homeboys behind enemy lines with the movement that was/is in process in the streets. As it is, when Our people are held captive by the state they’re often forgotten about, or merely become just another hashtag, as the world moves on. Additionally he figured, and i agreed, that brothers such as myself who are living the effects of social alienation, political disengagement/dependence, and economic insecurities, the combination of which has led to lives tarnished by and through captivity, should have much to express in regards to the direction of Our communities and Our nation (that is the nation of Black people in Amerika which i refer to as New Afrikans).
In responses to my brother’s request i consciously refused to contribute a ‘short story’. Reason being, short stories are fictional, while the subject matter surrounding the necessity of Forever Protecting the Community is far from fiction. It is real life that drugs and STD’s have ravished Our communities. It is real life that millions of New Afrikans – Black children, wimmin, and men are currently in captivity or under the ‘supervision’ of the state. It is real life that the public school system is failing Our youth, not providing the necessary tools to live a self-sufficient life but only to enter the ranks of the wage slaves. It is real life that in areas which We call ‘Our community’, property ownership among New Afrikan people is less than 5%, this number includes homes, commercial real estate, and ‘essential infrastructure’. These property relations are significant, as it is this factor which creates ‘social alienation, political dis-engagement/dependence, and economic insecurities’, so it is real, very real, that many of us live and die without having owned Our living spaces, and under the rules of Amerikan settler-colonialism and imperialism, it is increasingly difficult to own Our very identities, both collectively and individually.
So because this is Our real life, and has been for sometime, i felt what was/is needed more than mere entertainment is some ‘real talk’ as it pertains to ‘us’. Therefore i’ve offered up this place to shed light and open much needed communal discussion.
The word ‘protect’ means ‘to guard’; ‘to secure’; ‘to hold in safe keeping’; all these definitions imply that there is a force, or forces which seek to bring destruction, in whole or in part, to whatever entity needs guarding, security, safekeeping, or protecting. In Our context We are alluding to the need to secure Our ‘communities’, which are essentially semi-colonized territories dependent upon and occupied by outside forces.
It follows that if and when there is an entity that seeks the destruction of Our territory, Our community, Our nation, Our family, Our people, and Our self, that said entity is an avowed enemy to Our cause and Our interests. So therefore i pose the question, ‘who are Our enemies and who are Our friends?’ 402 years ago with the advent of the Maafa (African slave trade; tragedy) an unresolved contradiction arose. This contradiction has been characterized by the colonization of New Afrikan Black people, first as slaves, a nation of slaves, and oppressed and exploited free people, until now, where Our colonization is characterized by the forced dependence upon the United States, settler-imperialist neo-colonial empire, for the basic functions of modern nationhood. That is free development of independent political, social, and economic production and advancement.
During the last 402 years, what it means to be a New Afrikan in Amerika has been tied to Our ongoing collective struggle to express Ourselves in the full extent of Our humynity, to cast off the old forced colonial relationship, which saw us as completely dependent pawns in the ‘game’ of world affairs, and to exercise a role and position which has been guaranteed to almost all other peoples of the world, that is to determine for Ourselves who We are, what We are (a colonized nation), and how We wish to organize Ourselves for the daily survival of Our people.
For the settler-empire’s part in this contradiction they’ve sought to undermine Our natural, independent, development at every turn. All the empire’s actions towards Our people, whether they be in the field of military intimidation (police terrorism), propaganda, political policies, and all other matters, they have all been to further the relation of dependence upon their governance and economic structure.
Due to these simple truths and the multitude of ramifications that they produce, it shouldn’t be lost on the reader that the enemy of New Afrikan–Black people is the system of economic and political power that has been FORCED upon us. This system is called capitalism-imperialism, and the u.s. government at both federal and local levels is the world leader of this system which is the cause of not only Our collective misery, but that of the majority of the world’s people.
We, as a people, must come to understand that, ‘yes’, ‘protection’ is needed and it is needed from the forces of power. Our enemies are not those of another block, set, or turf who not only look like us, but more importantly, are victims of the same systemic oppression and alienation as us, which has fostered Our like conditions. Our enemies are not those whom the real enemy has told us are the ‘gangs’ and ‘criminals’. These We must begin to see as Ourselves, Our siblings, Our allies, in this struggle. Allies whom have not yet been awakened to their place and position within the ranks of Our New Afrikan Independence Movement.
Forever Protecting the Community, as many of you reading this already know, has grown out of the legacy of the Forum Park Crips, in particular, and that of New Afrikan-Black street organizations in general. Modern street organizations within Our colonies (communities) have for a long time possessed the tendency to re-imagine their identities and the role in which they intend to play in the development of Our people, that of destroyers or builders.
Prior to the creation of the original Crips of Los Angeles in 1971, there were other street organizations. During the mid-1960’s as Our nation was on a collective march to determine for Ourselves Our own destiny, several Black Power organizations began to recruit effectively within the class of people in Our colonies that were or would likely become members of street organizations. These Black Power revolutionaries impressed upon the sisters and brothers that the most effective way to combat the mistreatment they all faced was to unite on the basis of nationhood, and the shared quest for self-determination.
On the West Coast, the main Black Power groups leading the shift in social philosophy and participation among the ‘street class’, were the Black Panther Party, and the US organization. The former would succeed in consolidating ALL of the New Afrikan Black street organizations on the West Side of South Central into one mass body. This effort was led by Panther deputy chairman Alprentice Bunchy Carter: a former leader of the ‘Slausons’ street organization, and convict, turned political revolutionary while in California’s San Quentin Concentration Camp. Bunchy Carter would help politicize most of his former ‘gang’ buddies, recruiting them into the Panther organization and more importantly, re-install the sense of common-unity (community) among the working class of the surrounding area, with the former ‘destroyers’, the ‘gang’ element. This was only possible once the people could see that the 5,000 strong Slausons had made themselves a vehicle for productivity in opposition to the people’s REAL enemies instead of assisting the enemies of the people in the destruction of the people and Our areas of residence. Forever Protecting the Community, if it lives up to its calling, will follow down this same path of self-liberation, utilizing the examples set by the Slausons and others to build upon the advancement of Our nation in Our quest for self-determination and independence.
"The time is NOW for a total refocusing of Our efforts, away from non-productive distractions and other elements of temptations, and focus towards those disciplines that will make us real [contributors] in Our communities. We must stop the gangbanging and drive-bys. Our [nation] is being destroyed by the killing [drugging and imprisonment] of Our own youth. We must stop hating one another because of the block, hood, turf, and color We represent, these actions only continue the cycle of self-destruction.
“And finally, in my sincere appeal for peace and unity: Those of us that have experienced being Our brother’s keeper – We must educate Our members around Us. Education brings about awareness. Awareness generates the ability to think. Our youth must know the end result of crime is shame, disgrace, and imprisonment to themselves, as well as the community. We must come to the point of outlawing those who willfully disrupt Our communities and Our call [to Forever Protect the Community]. Crime must not be accepted as the normal way of doing things.” – Larry Hoover’s 1993 ‘Call For Peace’
As articulated previously, there has been a tendency among New Afrikan-Black street organizations to re-imagine their identities and the role in which they play, or intend to play in the development of Our people, that of destroyers or builders. Larry Hoover leading the transition of his organization from ‘Gangster Disciples’ to ‘Growth and Development’ is one of the most noteworthy and informative examples that We can/should take lessons from. Yet before We delve more into the lessons We can take from this grouping, it is important that We illustrate the hands of the enemy in regards to the growth and expansion of today’s street organizations and the sanctioned culture of gangsterism.
Going back to the mid-60’s, as the Slausons and other similarly situated groups began to cast off the self-destructive, and counter-productive behaviors, they consequently began engaging in the socio-political battles Our people faced at the local, ‘national’, and global levels. Once it became clear to the masses that Our oppression was/is political and economic and that the political reinforced the economic, it became evident that the interests of Our people had to be represented, by Our people, in the political sphere, and subsequently political bodies were formulated. The Black Panther Party, along with the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika, were two of the foremost leaders among these such groups. On a national level, the ‘street class’ began to be involved in the development of themselves, and their people on an objective basis, as such naturally their priorities began to shift, instead of clubbing, slanging and banging, this class of people, many of Our predecessors, began to initiate community political education classes, free health clinics, community ‘face lifts’, and clean up programs, free busing to prison for visits, and a host of other ‘survival programs’.
It was during this time, because Our people had clearly drawn a line of demarcation between themselves and the enemies of the people, furthermore the same elements of the New Afrikan-Black Nation which had, by force of circumstance, been most dependent upon the u.s. federal and local governments couldn’t and/or wouldn’t. Such a development signaled to the people that they themselves had the necessary power to liberate themselves, hence the popularity of the phrase, ‘Power to the People’.
Much of the oppressors continued rule depends upon the people’s belief that they’re utterly helpless without the structure of the settler-colonial imperialists. Once this illusion is unmasked and the essence of the establishment is exposed, the oppressive state apparatus must solely rely on brute force to maintain its illegitimate rule upon the people, Our people. The establishment seeks to bypass such a reality. Overt violence for the sake of political repression usually swells the ranks of those in opposition to the illegitimate governmental authorities.
It was this exact situation which saw the federal government intensify the contradiction which began in Black August 1619 to the level of a domestic war between two opposed and contradictory entities, through the FBI’s declared war on the various organizations and people within the Black Liberation Movement, by way of the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO).
The u.s. government’s carrying out of COINTELPRO in order to prevent the self-developed expression of the New Afrikan-Black experience as a colonized nation held captive for centuries by the u.s. government, resulted in numerous political assassinations of New Afrikan-Black liberation combatants, the political/false imprisonment of various souljahs and activists of Our cause, and the subsequent obliteration of what has been up until this point the most progressive era of Our collective struggle in 402 years (the Black Liberation Movement).
The defeat of the movement is important to this discourse on FPC, because it was in the wake of the defeat of the movement that the Crips, Bloods, Folks and Peoples established themselves. The establishment of these street groups was facilitated by the war initiated on the movement, and the subsequent elimination of progressive, productive, and revolutionary leadership in the colonies which We call communities. Ajamu Niamke Kamara (Stanley Tookie Williams), co-founder of the Crips, said the following:
"i’m convinced that had the Black Panther Party still been recruiting - uninterrupted by the duplicitous COINTELPRO… Huey Newton and Bobby Seale would have salivated over the untapped youthful potential We represented.
“Throughout this state and country, We embodied only a small divided body within a multitude of reckless, energetic, fearless, and explosive young Black warriors. Though we were often seen as social dynamite, i believe We were the perfect entity to be indoctrinated in cultural awareness and trained as disciplined soldiers for the Black struggle.”
Unfortunately for the original Crips and Bloods, and the many multitudes who have since followed in their foot steps, in 1971 while Tookie Williams and Raymond Washington were establishing the teenage clique that would become an international menace, the Black Panther Party was enduring a major split within its ranks, which was caused, partially, by the assault(s) of COINTELPRO, that would be the beginning of the end for the Party and the movement.
In the wake of the defeat, the establishment initiated a wide variety of methods to ensure that the widely dispersed wave of righteous rebellion and the desire of an internal colony to free itself from the forced yoke of imperialism and neo-colonialism, would never happen again. To insure that Our people would remain collectively divided and conquered, and sleep, the enemies invented and distributed crack cocaine, and military grade weapons throughout the mid 1980’s and into the 1990’s, allowed for the AIDS/HIV epidemic, created laws and policies that would hold millions of Our youthful and vibrant siblings in captivity based on fabricated and over-exaggerated portrayals of Our colonized territories and peoples, and Our responses to Our colonial oppression.
While the movement for self-determination was brutally crushed by the u.s. government, that same government, wherever it could, assisted the growth and expansion of the street organizations. The very industry that was factually created by the CIA (the Crack Trade) was the vehicle which drove Crips, Bloods, Folk, and Peoples factions in their growth across the u.s. empire. This subsequent growth and expansion led directly to the formation of the street organization, Forum Park Crips, an independent Crip faction in Houston, Texas, along with countless other similar factions and groups. What could have been the u.s. establishment’s motive in instigating the growth of parasitic groups, while murdering and torturing the productive organized bodies? The answer can only possibly be the intended destruction of Our nation and people.
With this realization that We have been manipulated, on a large scale, to act against Our own interests and that of Our nation, the formation of Forever Protecting the Community, though not the solution within itself, surely takes a step in the correct direction.
“… Our women and children are suffering greatly at the hands of an oppressive, dominant, racist political system… We can no longer afford the forced luxury of non-involvement or non-participation. The question remains: How can We contribute within Our limited capacities? .. i say to you: If We accept a partial responsibility for the plight of Our own people, then We must take an active role in the game of POLITICS.” – Larry Hoover’s 1993, “Call to Action”
Where Do We Go From Here? As stated above, the formation of Forever Protecting the Community is not a solution in and of itself, and it remains to be seen whether or not this formation will live out its full potential. What has already taken place however is the necessary act of determining for ones self what your identity and purpose will be. There will be naysayers who will point to all sorts of negative aspects of those who are or become active with the new FPC movement. They will, if hystory is any indicator, deter the general public from supporting and identifying with the movement of Our people and colonies.
In order to get out in front of this foreseeable roadblock to Our progress, We must do one of two things. 1) Abandon the words and personification of ‘gang’, and ‘criminal’, to those who have defined them (Our enemies) so that now they will have purely negative connotations; 2) redefine those words/personifications - or create a new word or phrase to describe organized groups within Our oppressed colonies (communities).
Whichever choice is made, NEW concepts must be developed that reinforce NEW forms of activity that should begin to appear on the basis of the NEW concept. Forever Protecting the Community is the NEW concept, and now what the leaders of this organization must act towards is organizing a wide variety of people of the community to work collectively to transform the ‘gang’ into a progressive organization of New Afrikan people, which struggles and works in the interests of Our people. The problem within Our colonies (communities) isn’t that there are ‘gangs’, but it is the real problems which all peoples under capitalist domination face, it is capitalism itself, and the social, economic and political alienation it creates, which indirectly gives birth to ‘gangs’ and ‘crime’.
Forever Protecting the Community has taken one step towards empowerment – one critical step closer to a new sense of collective identity, purpose, and direction – by using the power that We already have, to define Ourselves, name Ourselves and speak for Ourselves – instead of being defined and spoken for by others. The next step consists of leading all the people of the community to share in the responsibility for providing a NEW broader sense of collective identity, purpose, and direction – for Our children and Ourselves. It is time now to promote NEW ideas about the life We wanna live and the society We wanna live in. Its time to promote NEW definitions of Our problems (e.g. ‘racism’ or capitalism/colonialism) and the real solutions to Our problems (e.g. ‘empowerment’ or genuine independence). We must begin to promote among Our people the idea that Our purpose isn’t to simply own a nice car, jewelry, a house, or even to quasi control a few city blocks, but to share in Our control of entire cities, entire states, and eventually, to share in the control of Our independent nation.
The task is to begin to formulate a community coalition behind the idea/motto/slogan of Forever Protecting the Community. By a coalition i mean connecting with a variety of people who identify with and support the cause of the organization. Particularly, the following elements within the community should be sought out for support and assistance:
“What We have to do is get together the conscientious progressive thinkers within these [street] organizations that know that they have to make a change in order to survive… We have to put together a concerted effort by all segments of Our community– clergy, business, activists, and progressive thinkers within street organizations [local elected officials, educators, health care providers]. You have to go within these organizations to change them… You can’t just write off a generation… It is time for [New Afrikans] from all over the country to realize what has happened to Our people, and that while much of it can be attributed to outside forces We have to begin to take responsibility for Ourselves.” – Larry Hoover
As a politicized prisoner, and activist, co-founder of the prison activist organization Texas T.E.A.M.O.N.E., i extend my hand, and that of my comrades and supporters on both side of the walls, in support and solidarity of the Forever Protecting the Community organization, and more importantly i look forward to workin with my brothers, the 10’zzz, on concrete actions both FPC and Team One can collab on that will suit both Our missions.
We of TX T.E.A.M.O.N.E. believe the current United Struggle from Within movement which We support, along with the general prison resistance/abolition movements, align perfectly with Forever Protecting the Community’s mission. As such, We humbly ask that if you are a part of or support the mission to FOREVER PROTECTING THE COMMUNITY, that you also contact and actively support the souljahs behind enemy lines within the TX Team One formation fighting against legal slavery in Texas prisons, and the inhumane use of indefinite, and long term solitary confinement, as a toll of social and political repression.
Dare 2 Struggle Dare 2 Win; 1 Love 1 Struggle for LAND AND INDEPENDENCE
“Look you a Blood, i’ma Crip, but i figure we can get back to that Black shit, instead of killin and bangin for crack shit, is n****z too stuck in they ways? i know We long overdue, but is We ready for change? Stand under one flag like an ARMY brigade. Time to put the deuce-deuce down and pick a ‘K’, and if We bangin on sum Black shit. Let’s ride for the dead homies and get the burners for Malcolm and Nat Turner. Talkin’ to them other n*****z, my so called enemies We don’t own one block but We live and die for these city streets. Even though the pain runs deep, REAL n*****z know its time to make PEACE so We can FOCUS ON THE PAYCHECK.” – Nipsey Hussle
“Now if We wanna live the THUG LIFE and the gangsta life and all that, okay, so stop being cowards and let’s have a REVOLUTION. But We don’t wanna do that, dudes just wanna live a character. They wanna be cartoons, but if they really wanted to do something, if they was tough alright, lets start Our OWN COUNTRY, lets start a REVOLUTION, let’s get out of here [prison], let’s do something.” – Tupac Amaru Shakur
Triumphant TX T.E.A.M.O.N.E Co-founder New Afrikan Independence Movement
As we prepare this issue of Under Lock & Key (ULK) we tallied results of our first annual fundraiser. We have chose the Fourth of You Lie as a time to ask you to donate to this independent media institution of the oppressed. Without prisoners’ support and contributions this newsletter ceases to exist.
Our fundraiser had some successes in that we raised the second most donations in a month from prisoners in years; the highest amount being in March 2021. So we are on the upswing this year. We got an even bigger donation from an anonymous outside supporter, which are much less common. Our goal is to establish regular contributions from more people, both inside and out. Whether you send donations monthly or annually, we want to know we can count on you.
Compared to the previous 2 month period we reported on last time, our donations from prisoners were less than half in amount and also less in the number of people donating. The number of donators these past 2 months was about average for recent years, and far less than years past when we had more subscribers. And once again, the vast majority of the total amount we received from prisoners came from established USW leaders. So we did not see much of a response to the fundraiser from our general subscriber list.
Of course, it’s never too late to donate, and you can still send in your 7 stamps to cover your 2021 subscription to ULK. Or 14 to cover someone who is indigent as well. As always, ULK is available free to U.$. prisoners, and we know that many do not have access to funds. If that’s you, recommend ULK to friends inside and out to build support.
This issue is coming out a little later than planned because of a few setbacks. With more supporters on the outside working on ULK we can make this independent institution a more resilient one. So please get involved if you can.
Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis by John Smith Monthly Review Press 2016
[Editor: The author of this review uses “southern countries” to refer to what we would call the Third World, exploited or neo-colonial countries, and “northern countries” to refer to the imperialist, First World, exploiter countries.]
The dominant trend in capitalism for the last forty or so years has been the relocation of production from northern to southern countries, where the vast majority of the global industrial workforce lives. It’s impossible to ignore the offshore origin of most of the commodities we interact with in the U.S. every day, and equally impossible to ignore the wretched conditions and dramatically lower wages that most of these southern workers deal with. What this means for the present structure and future of the global economy is less clear, and that’s where this book comes in.
There’s a lot in this book I won’t talk about that was nonetheless very interesting – Smith’s discussion of GDP and productivity measurements, his history of Marxist thinking on imperialism, and his in-depth discussion of the production of a wide range of specific commodities.(1) I’ll just focus on his main contribution, the value theory of imperialism, in which he incorporates and expands on Marx’s discussion of surplus value and Lenin’s century-old understanding of imperialism.
Surplus in Marx’s Capital
Smith’s value theory of imperialism begins with value, which is the amount of labor required to produce a given commodity. A capitalist producing t-shirts wants to churn out the largest amount of them in a working day, at the highest possible intensity of work, and with the latest technology. Out of the sale of the t-shirts he buys equipment, raw materials, and pays wages. These wages are the monetary expression of labor power, or what a worker is paid to show up at a specific time and place and put their energies and abilities at the disposal of the capitalist. In return, the worker can use the wage they get to buy a basket of goods to keep themselves alive til the next day. The amount of labor that goes into the production of this basket the worker needs can be called the value of labor-power itself, which under capitalism is a commodity just like clothing, pickups or rifles. The pile of shirts the capitalist gets to sell at the end of the day can be sold for more money than the wages he pays for the labor that produced it. To cut a long story short, Marx investigates this anomaly and discovers that there is a part of the day where workers produce enough commodities to pay for their wages, and a part of the day where the labor they expend creates commodities that just make the capitalist money. The labor that happens in this second part of the day is surplus labor, and the value of the commodities produced at this time is surplus value. This magically free labor is the beating heart of capitalism, and its pursuit and distribution are the core of all capitalist economic phenomena.
Marx discussed two main ways that capitalists in the 19th century would attempt to grab more surplus value.(2) The first he called ‘absolute surplus value,’ and it consists of extending the working day by either making workers work harder for the time they’re at work, or making them work for longer at the same or similar wages. The second path to more surplus is making the value of labor power (or the amount of labor it takes to create enough goods for a worker to survive) less. Marx called this second form ‘relative surplus value’.
Smith takes this basic account and expands it to an era Marx didn’t live to see and couldn’t have predicted – the transformation of the labor-capital relationship into a relationship mostly between northern capital and southern labor.(3)
North-South relations in Lenin’s Imperialism
Lenin’s book Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism describes a world divided into oppressor and oppressed nations, the competition of monopolies, and the trends inherent in capitalist development of this era that lead to ever more destructive bouts of violence. The need for more surplus and more profits drives capitalist firms beyond the confines of their home market, to seize and exploit foreign ones. Competition gives way to centralization and large monopolies, and the increasing integration of these monopolistic interests into the state makes war over colonies and their resources more and more likely. At home, the super-profits obtained in the colonies create a labor aristocracy, the size and influence of which has been debated basically for the entire hundred years since Lenin’s book first appeared.
Smith identifies a weakness in Lenin’s work, mainly that he doesn’t discuss or use value as a concept to explain imperialism.(4) The thing Smith attempts, after several chapters of setting up the data on the existence and persistence of wage differentials and trade relationships between northern firms and southern labor, is a synthesis and update of Marx and Lenin’s contributions.
Smith’s point is that the outsourcing of production has allowed capitalist firms to conduct what he calls ‘labor arbitrage,’ or buying labor power where it is cheap and selling the commodities produced where they can be sold dear. Thanks to innovations in shipping and communications technology, firms can seek out the cheapest labor and the most favorable environmental and labor laws (ideally, they want no environmental or labor laws) to churn out the most surplus value possible. This has driven the wage down below the value of labor power – workers in many countries are not paid enough to survive and have to make a living through wage-labor in capitalist factories plus something else, like subsistence farming or stealing. This is an extreme form of the relative surplus value extraction method that Marx discussed, or what has also been called superexploitation.
Additionally, the relationship between companies like Foxconn (which actually makes the iPhone) and companies like Apple (who first create a design that breaks in three years, then contract the production out and stamp a logo on it for 300% markup), or ‘arms-length outsourcing’(5), hides the exploitation and transfer of value from one country to another behind an apparently innocent market transaction. The vast majority of the profits, taxes and tariffs from offshored production end up not in the country where the commodity was produced, but in the country where the final seller of the commodity is headquartered. This is how Germany, a country that cannot produce coffee, makes dramatically more from its re-export than any country where it is actually grown.(6) Marx hints that this phenomenon, called ‘value capture,’ could exist theoretically, but Smith demonstrates that it is at the core of relationships between countries in today’s economy. There is also a lengthy discussion of ‘value chains’ or sequential input-output relationships conducted between firms that leads to the final commodity. A Zambian copper mine sells to a wire factory, which sells to a company that makes circuit boards, which sells to a car company who uses the circuit board to run an automatic transmission in a hundred thousand dollar pickup. The conditions of work and the selling price dramatically swell along the chain, to the point where the worker watching a robot bolt the circuit board into place makes more in an hour than the copper miner made in a month. But all labor really is equal. It’s not like swinging a pickaxe is an entirely different movement in Zambia or America. And it’s not like the people doing the swinging are any different either.
The Political Economy of Coffee
Smith provides a lot of concrete examples of how these exploitative relations between nations lead to permanent conditions of underdevelopment in southern countries, and vast profits in northern ones. Maybe the most stark of these examples is his discussion of coffee from the early part of the book. Coffee is only grown in southern countries, and it is almost exclusively processed in northern countries, where the markups can exceed four hundred percent. Wages paid in the coffee-processing sector, taxes from this business and tariffs on imports, all contribute to the northern economy in question (Germany, perversely for a country that can never grow coffee except in a greenhouse, is the biggest exporter of processed coffee) and rely on southern countries furnishing the raw material at a reliably low price, a price that ends up being a tiny fraction of the cost of the final product. In this case it’s clear not only how unequal the exchange is, but also how the entire chain of production in the northern country relies on the exploitation of other workers. Another writer on this subject, Zak Cope, estimates that the total transfer owing to this process of hyper-exploitation, markup and re-export, across all commodities, amounts to sixteen percent of GDP in northern countries every year.
What makes these conditions permanent is the persistently low price of the export for the country where the coffee is grown, which will not allow it to develop or move up the ladder to more capital-intensive forms of production that might be safer on the global market. An additional factor is politics, and the careful policing of the ability of southern countries to raise wages, enforce their own labor laws, hold northern firms to account when they commit crimes(7), and raise the price of their exports. In the case of Rwanda (a major coffee producer) in the early 90s, the political destabilization and genocide that occurred in the country was partially the result of the collapse of an international coffee-exporting agreement that attempted to set a (low) floor on the price of the commodity and provide some stability and guaranteed income for countries who rely on its export. Northern countries oppose any agreement that would make their inputs cost more, or make their value-chains dependent on cheap labor any more expensive. They can be more or less effective at ensuring this, in cooperation with the comprador bourgeoisie. A particularly galling example of this, from the textile sector, unfolded in Haiti in 2009 over the raising of the minimum wage of 31 cents an hour, which president Rene Preval eventually backed away from, after opposition from the U.S. Embassy and local factory owners.(8)
Whose fight, and who’s fighting?
What Smith doesn’t do is discuss the immediate political consequences of all this for us. On the last page of the book he says “together with their sisters and brothers in the imperialist countries, [southern] workers have the capacity, the mission and the destiny to dig a grave in which to bury capitalism.”(9) It’s a little too convenient, and maybe in the future he can discuss the history of this elusive internationalism. Whether workers in northern countries fight actively or consciously for this super-exploitation to continue, whether and to what exact extent different groups of workers in northern countries benefit from this arrangement of production, whether workers of the world can unite and what they could accomplish if they could, are all questions Smith doesn’t answer. MIM would argue that workers in northern countries clearly benefit from imperialism, and seek those benefits in an alliance (an alliance that might have some rough spots now and then) with the bourgeoisie of their own countries, and are thus not a mass base for a revolutionary movement but instead a labor aristocracy. Changes to all of these relationships – between northern and southern countries, and between workers and their bosses, north and south – will drive changes in the political economy John Smith’s book goes a long way towards helping us understand.
Notes: 1. pp. 13-34 2. p. 237 3. p. 12 4. pp. 225-230 5. p. 68 6. p. 31 7. It always helps when the law in northern countries maintains a fictitious barrier between a northern firm relying on exploitation and those they exploit. A recent extreme example is the Supreme Court’s ruling that the slave labor of children used in harvesting product for Nestle under conditions the company controlled wasn’t technically the company’s fault. See: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/17/supreme-court-rules-in-favor-of-nestle-in-child-slavery-case.html 8. Dan Coughlin and Kim Ives, 1 June 2011, WikiLeaks Haiti: Let Them Live on $3 a Day, The Nation. 9. p. 315
Any pig that enjoys punishing citizens who even think about resisting arrest or even ‘looking funny’ at him should move to Corruptarado (as we call this state) and go work for the Denver Pig Department.
Per an 11 August 2021 article in the Denver Post, “Denver paid $1.1 million settlement to police officers fired after beating unarmed man, records show,” two pigs that severely beat a 23 year-old Latino man in 2011 were fired, but as part of the ‘deal,’ were paid thousands of dollars in exchange for agreeing to never work for a pig department ever again.
But wait. The pigs sued, claiming they should have not been fired. After a ten year battle, the Colorado Supreme Court allows this Colorado Court of Appeals ruling to stand. A ruling for the pigs.
So … one of the pigs got $420k, and the other got almost six hundred grand from the City and County of Denver. City officials said “We are acutely aware that this result means that the officers essentially escape the consequences of their conduct.” Ya think?
No doubt pigs around the country smile when they read of this decision. Maybe many of them will now be sending their job applications to the Denver Pig Department, home of the pigs with 007 licenses to kill.