Applying the United Front for Peace Principles to the Rasta Movement
ULK 33 was a hit. MIM(Prisons) did a great job with the collection of articles published and the placement of artwork and poems. I personally have been silent because I've been running from that Green Wall drone force and ducking placement in the SHU.
I want to respond to MIM(Prison)'s call for the various groups that signed on to the UFPP statement.
I signed on under the leadership of USW and since then have implemented the five principles in the following manner. In 2010 I took up the Rastafari Flag and grew out my dreadlocks and beard. After study, the RASTA movement showed me a perfect vehicle that allows for the incorporation of the five points of the UFPP, and it attracts people from all walks of life.
The Peace is principal and practiced every place that I step. When I meet prisoners I attempt to affect the space positively by being open to conversation with people outside my nationality, sex and class. What this means is I rap with Mexicans, Asians, Arabs, Europeans, etc., on a range of topics. I include homophobes, homosexuals, transsexuals, and lesbians in rapping sessions. I even talk to correctional officers, nurses, cooks, plumbers and cleaners when they are open. What this allows for is information gathering.
The RASTA Mon believes in the universal connection, so what I use as an umbrella for people to stand under in unity is the "one love" concept. This is attractive to a lot of people in here because society has put many of us on the shelf. When we are introduced to the idea of networking amongst each other around how to change living conditions, a conversation begins. Very few people will fight the weed smoking, dreadhead rasta man with the bag of books in his/her hands journeying around the world, but many will join because they know the movement is fair. I just use the 5 [five pointed star] as a way to introduce the 6 [six pointed star].
I've initiated the conversation that we all are convicts. Peace was established when fifteen guys asked me to speak at a meeting held for all convicts addressing the issues at this joint.
I'm anticipating holding a study group here to apply the educational factor of Growth. When a lot of these guys see me they admire the young man of intelligence and become totally open to learning. I tell everybody my motto is growth and development. In order for any true change to come about one must grow out of the termite ways and the key to change is only found through education. This alone implements the third principle.
As for Internationalism, the Rastafari movement has been recognized as one of the most internationalist movements that there is. I teach what I've learned about other nations through the movement. When you begin to talk to a person who would have never guessed you'd know about their native land, the conversation quickly begins to turn into a lesson from the people of another land. I just simply listen at this point.
And last but not least, Independence. Everywhere I've been since 2010 I've become both the Rastafari minister and/or the recreational clerk on the M.A.C. body. I simply go to the chapel, show movies about the struggle around with the brothers/sisters in relation to the movies, and play conscious music as we do workshops developing the tools, products and resources necessary in order for our cadre to affect the conditions.
The progress has not yet been seen by me on this side due to the setback of constantly having to split in order to dodge the iron fist, and a poor line of outside contact which my cell depends on for communication. Where we often have our relatives relay peaceful greetings to one another, sometimes a wife, girlfriend, mother or brother becomes upset or overworked without pay and the line is disturbed.
The way for us to build on each others' experiences is to share them, and be honest. Often times we prisoners want to exaggerate the circumstances, putting it on thick. Keep it 100%. Act like you want somebody to understand what you are sharing so that they can go apply your technique and move the struggle in a forward direction.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade shares some useful tactical approaches and philosophies for building united front across differing groups and individuals. On the ideological level Rastafari does have some congruence with our own work, in particular in the realm of pan-Africanism and African liberation. But these characteristics are a product of the oppressed people who developed the movement rather than the ability of its religious principles to address the material needs of the oppressed. Similar to other religious movements founded by the oppressed, Rastafari shifts the focus from immaterial religious characters to leaders of their own people and to themselves. In these ways these ideologies make a move towards materialism. But Maoism takes it farther, dismissing the lineages and prophecies of the past in favor of studying the material forces that exist within each thing today that will determine its future development. Part of historical materialism is looking at movements of the past, and taking lessons of what works and doesn't work to apply to shaping a better world today. At the same time we seek out where we agree with those of different ideologies to forge united fronts that can push the forces of history forward faster.
Build a United Front for Peace in Prisons