"America cannot exist without separating ourselves from our identities."
The fight began in 2011, with a lucrative proposal from a Canadian company to access tribal lands to transport crude oil to the Gulf of Texas. The construction they say will help create permanent jobs, the money given to the tribal councils will help meet the needs of the people. In reality, this pipeline will create an environmental disaster. America can't even fund its own infrastructure, how can anyone expect maintenance of a pipeline on sovereign tribal lands?
Take into consideration how all of the government spokespeople go ballistic at any violations of any treaties bestowed upon foreign governments by the U.S. government, why are they quick to dismiss the rights that tribal nations have been granted?
We went to war for those treaties. Yes it's 2016 and the rhetoric is that all "indians" should function like regular Americans. But by initiating a treaty it provides us recognition, and stipulates bilateral agreements that all parties must honor. Unless, in fact, our treaties are just "pieces of paper," and if that is the case, Russia should overlook the United Nations resolutions with the United States and just bomb Israel. Is this not the same? Article 6 of the U.S. constitution and the rider clause of 1888 say different. Both recognize the permanent power of all Indian treaties and all Indian nations. Just because the times have changed doesn't mean the words have.
The U.S. government has been pushing all tribal nations to genocide for the last 298 years. Poverty, bad water, polluted air, nuclear waste, uranium mines opened, alcoholism, no job infrastructure for starters. Suicide among young men has grown to an epidemic. We are just pandered to in words when government officials want to feel good, then they rip our children from us, take them state-side and throw them to "white people" to be civilized — violating yet another federal law, the Indian Child Welfare Act.
This land is more to us than just land for all tribal people, just as in 1848 when the United States annexed all of Aztlán from Mexico and erected the largest paramilitary border in the world, much is being done to separate tribal nations from our lands. In 1973 we fought and died for our land. If need be, mark my words, we will rise up and fight again. This land is our identity. It holds the blood of our ancestors, and the pipeline will kill our people.
The recent attention to murder and brutality of New Afrikan men by Amerikan police, and the shooting of police officers in Dallas, Texas by Micah X, apparently in retaliation for this brutality, inspired a lot of thoughtful letters from across the country. Many commented on the need to take up the gun to fight those with guns.
A contributor in Florida asked:
"So, my question is this: how effective and appropriate was the brother's actions (or sacrifice) at this point in time, or what do we, you and the readers make of all this? Are there any lessons, a message, or information to be learned from all of this? Or, ultimately, is there perhaps any more room, space, or a vacuum for more of this kind of self-defense at this point in time? And if so, how does one go about or start preparing, alleviating, educating, demonstrating or organizing for such right now from this example (or lesson) at this point in time? Like Micah X, are we ready to effectively exercise or address any more of this yet - or continue to keep the conversation going?"
If Micah were trying to spark a revolution, this would be a good example of what we call focoism:
The belief that small cells of armed revolutionaries can create the conditions for revolution through their actions. Demonstrated revolutionary victories, the successes of the foci, are supposed to lead the masses to revolution. Focoism often places great emphasis on armed struggle and the immediacy this brings to class warfare. Focoism is different from people's war in that it doesn't promote the mass line as part of guerrilla operations.
It is difficult for us to know Micah's goals and intents without having been there and spoken with em. Regardless of eir intents, the outcome of the actions ey took serve as ammunition for the oppressors to continue oppressing. For them, it is much easier to gain (even more) public opinion and sympathy when they are able to point at specific incidents of a member of a movement "mercilessly" gunning down pigs. Remember that the majority of people in power are already on their side.
While revolutionaries and many in the oppressed nations know that Micah's actions were an act of self-defense, white politicians and leaders will never see it that way. As a Federal prisoner wrote to us: "President Obama called what happened in Dallas Texas 'A Vicious, Calculated, Despicable ATTACK!'" In their eyes, violent actions taken against a pig (or pigs) can never be considered self-defense, especially when the "offender" in question is non-white.
At this point, standalone violent actions such as this one serve to incite the government to act with more urgency against those who they perceive threaten them, and allow them to place themselves ever more in the role of "victim," and to place the oppressed in the role of "aggressor."
Violence is a very necessary part of effecting any kind of true change that puts an end to imperialism, but there is a time for it, and that time is not now. Our focus now is on educating and organizing ourselves, so that we are better able to organize those who already see things as we do. It is important to consider what someone with a drive like this could achieve over a lifetime of work.
A contributor in Maryland wrote:
"One of the DJs said one of the solutions was for us to just comply with the pigs no matter what when confronted in the streets by them. Basically, don't dare challenge master. But there can be no change without challenge. Why do we continue to lay down?... The white supremacists of this land have taken up refuge behind the badge. They can never be rooted out. Not by Obama, or anyone else. Remember they got a 200 year head start on us."
While it is true that there can be no change without challenge, it is also important to remember that not all challenge enacts change. The pigs in no way deserve respect, compliance or gratitude. And it's true that they won't be rooted out without taking down all of the imperialists first. However, to challenge them now militarily serves to get the wrong people killed and give more instances for the oppressors to point at and say "Look! Look at how irrational and violent they are! We need to give the police more power, for our protection!" The oppressors will always try to paint the oppressed as the villian; we can never avoid this accusation altogether. But we need to look at the balance of forces and ask, in spite of this rhetoric, if we have enough public opinion in our favor that our armed struggle will have enough support to be successful. Suicide missions like Micah's make armed struggle look futile, so we should avoid them until we know we wan win. Even those who have reverence for what Micah did probably wouldn't do it themselves.
Look at the Black Panther Party, and what happened with them. The BPP openly carried guns as a demonstration of potential power, without engaging in focoist actions. But still the Amerikkkan imperialists struck back agressively with guns, drugs and imprisonment, leading to the eventual downfall of the group. We can only expect even more agressive attacks in response to use of the gun. The time for armed struggle is when the fight can be won. Right now, we're not close to that point.
This battle is a good example of why we need a vanguard party to lead the revolutionary struggle, including the armed struggle to take down the imperialists. It also provides some insight into just how hard the bourgeoisie will fight to maintain their position of power. Even after they are defeated militarily by the majority of the world's people we can anticipate that former bourgeois individuals and their lackeys in the police and military, as well as new people who aspire to wealth and power, will not immediately become cooperative and productive members of society serving the people. For this reason we need to think beyond the military battle and into the structure of society after capitalism is overthrown. This is why communists believe we must have a dictatorship of the proletariat under socialism while we undertake the long transition to a society where no groups of people have power over other groups of people. It is tempting to take up the gun now and fight back a death for a death, but we want to build a world where all people contribute productively to the betterment of humynity, and that will take a lot more than the death of a few cops.
Comrades, the question at hand is also the very impediment to the so-called African-Amerikkkans' right to determine our own destiny and experience true freedom. Ask anyone besides the so-called African-Amerikkkans what is their nationality and they will gladly tell you with great pride the national identity that they represent. This is possible because that is the nation of people that they identify with as sharing a common history, language, land, economic life and psychological make-up. It is the birthright of humans to understand their own national identity. Therefore, it is as well the birthright of so-called African-Amerikkkans to be free to determine our own nationality as well. Instead of the right wing of Amerikkkan white nationalism who are always oppressing us as a people, historically. "African-Amerikkkan" is a label Amerikkka placed on us to show the world that we are their lackeys.
Developing a national consciousness is the first step toward liberation. New Afrikan is a term that identifies and distinguishes us as a nation and people. Historically we have developed and share a collective language, culture, economic life and psychological make-up. This forged us into a new Afrikan people that is distinctly apart from Africans and all other people on the planet earth. Therefore we should reprimand usage of being called Black, Niggas, African-Amerikkkan, Negroes, etc. We are New Afrikans, we should embrace our own national identity because it's our birthright as free men and women. "Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation. Understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act." -Comrade George Jackson.
Protesting for reprieve against police brutality is not the answer for New Afrikans, Asians, Chicanos, and First Nations. Historically, New Afrikans have always struggled with the problem of pigs killing our children within the streets. Although within Amerikkka, Chicanos, and First Nations have experience just as much repression from the pigs. As New Afrikans we must understand that integrationism into Amerikkkan imperialism impedes our progress towards self-determination. At the same time cultural nationalism and national chauvinism serves to impede further our struggle towards self-determination. As Lenin said, "The weight of emphasis in the internationalist education of workers in the oppressing countries must necessarily consist in advocating and upholding freedom of secession for oppressed countries. Without this there can be no internationalism."(1)
We must be able to discern authentic revolutionaries from those faking the funk. They fool our people into thinking that they are the revolutionary vanguard of the people, when clearly they are not for the people's liberation. These perpetrators are always overlooking certain issues of oppression. Their lips stay zipped tight on issues of women being oppressed and on the struggle of oppressed nations.
We should present a mass organization, under revolutionary leadership towards the current struggle of pig brutality. Accept your own nationality and be yourself. By applying the United Front theory with revolutionary science will we overcome imperialism.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We have much agreement with this writer but a few notes to make in response to this essay. First, it is not unique to New Afrikans to identify with their oppressors. We have seen many [email protected] identify with whites. And within prison for instance some [email protected] lumpen organizations (LOs) will even ally with white supremacist groups.
We very much agree with this comrade's call for revolutionary leadership. But we're unsure what it means to call on people to "be yourself." Perhaps within imperialist borders we would be better to call on people to not be themselves, or at least not be the people they have been trained to be from birth, and instead to rebel, and take up revolutionary science. Become a new and better person, fighting on the side of the world's oppressed.
I have seen individuals and groups develop lumpen class consciousness. It was done using history, specifically New Afrikan history, supplied in books and zines. The zines spoke on political and militant New Afrikan organizations. It was also experienced from grown up lumpen New Afrikans in oppressed kommunities.
Lumpen organizations develop class consciousness among their membership by making it a mandatory study and part of our historical development. Study why we are in the conditions we are in, and it becomes part of studying knowledge of self and our enemy.
A majority of the lumpen only care about themselves, money and things. They become territorial to protect their drug spots and the streets they roam and people they know. Some are aware of their class in how it relates to other New Afrikans who are proletarian or boogee. The lumpen want a better life. They get caught up in a trap of mental depression or hopelessness. That’s why they take their last and buy nice looking clothes and cars. To feel like they have something, to show an illusion.
Those who are not as blessed spend their money on drugs, alcohol and women to escape reality temporarily. We realize the bigger picture when we encounter the pig (cops) occupying force and they treat us like the ring around a dirty bathtub. We feel the national consciousness of oppression when we are in the court room or modern-day auction block and we are sold off to the modern-day plantation called prison. We see walking and driving while New Afrikan is just cause to be stopped and frisked. Then you realize on the battlefield (street) or in prison (plantation) you are a victim of social engineering and you were not given a fair chance or opportunity. You grew up with a higher percentage of stumbling blocks than most people. You're a victim of circumstance because you're born New Afrikan in an environment set up like a rat maze with traps around every corner. This is the national consciousness. We're at war against oppression and exploitation.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good reminder of why we need to focus on education as a critical part of organizing the lumpen. Drawing the connections between day-to-day oppression and the bigger picture of national consciousness can be achieved by presenting real examples from history and pushing people to think about these important connections. Study doesn't need to start with deep theory, it can start with something relevant to the student's life, like the example of Malcolm X becoming revolutionized in prison after learning to read, or the Black Panther's fight against police brutality. But we have to give people the tools to take this information further and build a theoretical understanding of why these things happened and what we need to do today. That means studying the deeper questions of political theory and the history of revolutionary struggles, so we can learn what works and what doesn't. With the first sparks of class consciousness among the lumpen will come an even greater desire to learn, and revolutionaries have a duty to feed this desire with material to study and an opportunity to struggle and discuss and build.
La recurrencia de la brutalidad policial y los prejuicios raciales contra grupos nacionales oprimidos en los EE UU ha capturado atención general y elevado la cuestión nacional. Cada vez más, grupos y comunidades nacionales oprimidas están expresando su descontento con un sistema de opresión que los deshumaniza y marginaliza. Se han realizado protestas masivas, la incertidumbre se ha apoderado de las ciudades, y se han formado movimientos organizados como respuesta directa a estas injusticias. O sea, los reclamos por parte de las naciones oprimidas en los EE UU comienzan a definir la cuestión nacional.
Estos eventos señalan una conciencia entre los grupos nacionales oprimidos en los EE UU de que el sistema actual no representa sus intereses, y que de hecho, funciona en su contra. Aunque los indicadores socioeconómicos revelan iniquidades en las comunidades donde residen los grupos nacionales oprimidos, estos indicadores no pueden comunicar las dimensiones de miseria y sufrimiento que resultan del racismo institucionalizado y la discriminación. Así como la conciencia de clases comienza a echar raíces y a crecer entre los trabajadores explotados al cuestionar y compartir sus experiencias unos con otros – dando lugar a organizaciones y movimientos diseñados para combatir esta realidad — de igual manera la conciencia nacional sigue este proceso a medida que las naciones oprimidas lidian con la realidad de la opresión nacional.
El movimiento Black Lives Matter (Las Vidas Negras Importan) o BLM, es una indicación de este proceso. Este activismo reanudado se ha dado, no solo por los asesinatos sancionados de jóvenes de naciones oprimidas, sino por la acumulación de opresión nacional que ha ocurrido por años. El desarrollo cuantitativo de la cuestión nacional en relación al imperialismo social en los EE UU ha alcanzado un punto crítico. Las semi-colonias y naciones oprimidas en los EE UU tendrán que disputar su liberación o buscar un camino de reforma y mayor integración. Entonces, la pregunta importante es, ¿Cómo es que nosotros, los Maoístas, vamos a alimentar esta semilla emergente a través del nacionalismo revolucionario?
En última instancia, el punto de este artículo es el explorar brevemente como la opresión nacional informa la conciencia de las naciones oprimidas dentro de las condiciones únicas de una sociedad imperialista en los EE UU e identifica las implicaciones claves que resultan del movimiento BLM y que son relevantes al movimiento de liberación nacional a mayor escala. Es importante notar que el movimiento BLM no es una organización revolucionaria. Aun así, BLM es una enseñanza para nuestra causa, ya que demuestra el potencial de las semi-colonias internas y las naciones oprimidas internas en los EE UU de poder organizarse en base a los problemas relacionados con opresión nacional.
La opresión nacional y el derecho de una nación a la auto-determinación
En cuanto a las semi-colonias internas y a las naciones oprimidas de los EE UU, la cuestión nacional debe de basarse en reconocer sus derechos a la auto-determinación. Las naciones oprimidas están sujetas al semi-colonialismo, y por lo tanto, no pueden controlar su propio destino. Debido a que la supremacía de los blancos domina cada aspecto de la nación oprimida, la existencia material de dicha nación toma un plano secundario dentro de la estructura de poder regida por la raza blanca.
Más aun, la nación-estado blanca-dominante ha creado mecanismos de control social para mantener el dominio de las naciones oprimidas. Encarcelamiento masivo, la disfunción comunitaria y de familia, la cultura de estereotipos y estigmas, entre otros, son algunos de los medios que utiliza para no perder de vista a dichas naciones oprimidas. Un ejemplo relacionado con el punto anterior son las restricciones sistemáticas que impiden el acceso a una educación reconocida y que limitan el acceso a oportunidades de empleo significativas. La falta de trabajo significa pobreza y los males sociales que la acompañan. Además, el racismo institucionalizado y la discriminación promueven actitudes y comportamientos que continúan formando una cultura de inequidad dentro de las comunidades de las naciones oprimidas. Como resultado, algunos miembros de las naciones oprimidas se ven obligados a perseguir un estilo de vida criminal, exponiendose al represivo sistema de injusticia criminal.
Aunque la situación descrita no es una representación de la nación oprimida en su totalidad, si nos presenta la necesidad de una liberación nacional y la ejecución del derecho de una nación a la auto-determinación. Es cierto que las semi-colonias internas en los EE UU y las naciones oprimidas gozan de estándares de vida y privilegios que sus compatriotas del tercer mundo morirían por tener. Aun así, la realidad de la opresión nacional no es menos perjudicial para la nación oprimida estadounidense. El dolor y sufrimiento asociados con las injusticias a causa del semi-colonialismo no dejan de ser menos reales.
Estas experiencias sociales de opresión nacional afectan emocionalmente a las naciones oprimidas. Cada día y cada instante de opresión nacional que los miembros de dichas naciones tienen que soportar deja una impresión en su conciencia. Eventualmente, los mismos empiezan a conectar los puntos y a reconocer lo injusto de su situación en la sociedad estadounidense.
¿Qué significa la conciencia nacional?
El punto central de este artículo es el ayudar a que las naciones oprimidas desarrollen una conciencia de su situación debido a la opresión nacional. Esta conciencidad no es revolucionaria ni es substantiva. Para aclarar, cualquier situación material que los humanos viven provoca la conciencia correspondiente y refleja su situación de vida. Rashid Johnson nos dice en su libro, “Historical and Dialectical Materialism: The Science of Revolution points,” que la conciencia es un producto de la materia; del mundo físico. La casa-prisión que resulta de una sociedad imperialista en los EE UU es el mundo físico, y las relaciones e interacciones económicas, políticas, y sociales que lo forman envuelven actividad física.
En este sentido, las naciones oprimidas en los EE UU están sujetas a este proceso dialéctico a medida que estas relaciones e interacciones acondicionan su conciencia. La actividad en la vida diaria dentro de la sociedad imperialista en los EE UU deja una impresión en el estado mental. Y como demostramos anteriormente, la opresión nacional es una parte fundamental de la vida diaria de las naciones oprimidas en los EE UU. Además, la conciencia nacional es similar a la clase nacional en que durante el ajetreo de la vida diaria las personas intercambian y comparten ideas en cuanto a su situación material, sus condiciones de vida. Comienzan a buscar maneras de resolver los problemas a los que se enfrentan. Los intelectuales se reúnen a discutir, teorizar, y buscar la solución a problemas comunes. Pero más importante aún, se fundan instituciones y organizaciones para ayudar en el empuje de sus agendas. Todas estas acciones toman lugar a medida que las personas se reúnen después de reconocer el problema.
Entonces, cuando los marxistas de antes hablaban en cuanto a construir y profundizar la conciencia de clase entre los trabajadores explotados, se estaban refiriendo al proceso por el cual la gente comienzaba a darse cuenta del predicamento en que se encontraban, pero de una manera revolucionaria. Para nosotros, los Maoístas, nuestro trabajo en este punto histórico es el de mover hacia adelante las luchas de liberación nacional dentro de las naciones oprimidas con nacionalismo revolucionario. Debemos construir conciencia nacional entre las naciones oprimidas para que estos grupos entiendan que los conceptos tales como raza son falsos y que Amérika no vela por sus intereses. Estos grupos tienen que llegar a entender que las naciones existen y que su respectiva nación se merece el poder ejercer su derecho a la auto-determinación.
¿Por qué las vidas negras importan?
El movimiento BLM no es nada diferente al compararlo con el movimiento [email protected] que exigió la revocación de la legislación chauvinista, racista, dura-contra-inmigrantes en Arizona unos años atrás.
En las comunidades [email protected], la inmigración es un problema extremadamente decisivo. Las pólizas chauvinistas de Obama han deshecho familias, el maltrato de los trabajadores migrantes en el campo laboral se ha hecho demasiado frecuente, y en general, las comunidades chicanas sin servicio ni recursos continúan creando iniquidades y pobreza. El hecho de que Arizona estaba tratando de pasar—y eventualmente pasó—leyes anti-inmigratorias, fue la última gota que llenó la copa, lo cual movilizó a la comunidad chicana. De igual manera, la opresión nacional ha causado estragos en la comunidad Nuevos Africanos (New Afrikan o NA), siendo dicha comunidad la cara de la inequidad y la injusticia en los Estados Unidos. Los NA, particularmente los jóvenes, están cansados del maltrato. El movimiento BLM, aunque surgió como resultado de la brutalidad policiaca, personaliza el rencor y la angustia de la nación oprimida de NA ante la marginalización y represión que han sufrido por años.
Debemos tomar ventaja de movimientos como estos ya que demuestran la frustración de las personas oprimidas con el sistema, como también su disposición a comprometerse y cambiarlo.
Una implicación clave que surge de esto es la recurrencia de las naciones oprimidas a querer superar la opresión nacional. ¿Competirán las naciones oprimidas en los EE UU por su liberación o se conformarán con una reforma, y por extensión, una asimilación e integración parcial? Los medios convencionales proveen cobertura de estos eventos para controlar un grupo que de otra manera seria una amenaza a su situación vigente (status quo). Por lo tanto, actúan como supervisores en vez de reporteros objetivos con el propósito de formar una opinión pública y debilitar la idea de una revolución organizada. Esto tiene consecuencias serias para el movimiento de liberación nacional en los Estados Unidos en conjunto. Por eso es que el movimiento BLM es tan crítico, porque no podemos permitir el mismo resultado que ocurrió al final de la era radial en el año 1960.
En pocas palabras, el impacto de la opresión nacional en las semi-colonias internas y naciones oprimidas de los Estados Unidos ha comenzado a empujar hacia adelante la cuestión nacional. Hemos comenzado a ver una realización emergente entre las naciones oprimidas de que la sociedad imperialista en los EE UU esta cundida de inequidades e injusticias. Solo el nacionalismo revolucionario puede nutrir y ayudar a crecer la semilla de la conciencia. Y si nuestra meta es la liberación de las naciones oprimidas dentro de los Estados Unidos, entonces debemos de formar nuestra conciencia nacional como preparación. Los movimientos como el de BLM ilustran el potencial y el activismo que está vivo dentro de las naciones oprimidas. La responsabilidad cae sobre nosotros quienes debemos de capitalizarlo.
This month the Brown Berets - Prison Chapter (BB-PC) honors Mary Crow Dog, born Mary Blue Bird. She was a resident of a town called Saint Francis on the reservation of Rosebud during 1973 at the siege of Wounded Knee.
In 1971 Mary joined the American Indian Movement (AIM). During the siege at Wounded Knee Mary was tasked with organizing the women to do the cooking, cleaning and communications. She organized food running and getting in and out of Wounded Knee to get much-needed supplies. The siege lasted 73 days, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) using armored personnel carriers and Huey helicopters. Mary helped keep morale up among everyone at the camp. Her bravery and courage is why my family in Pine Ridge and Rosebud have the freedoms we do today.(1)
MIM(Prisons) responds: The BB-PC sent us these words on Mary Crow Dog, along with some notes on the documentary on the Black Panthers that we reviewed in ULK 49. We thought it appropriate to print something on the AIM in this issue, as they are very relevant to understanding the conditions in the United $tates during the time of the Black Panther Party. While the BPP can brag of having most of the FBI actions of the time targeting them, this is probably due mostly to the size of the New Afrikan nation and their mass base, compared to the First Nations who have been decimated by genocide. And while Panthers engaged in long shoot outs with police, nothing compared to the U.S. Army invasion of Wounded Knee:
"In the first instance since the Civil War that the U.S. Army had been dispatched in a domestic operation, the Pentagon invaded Wounded Knee with 17 armored personnel carriers, 130,000 rounds of M-16 ammunition, 41,000 rounds of M-1 ammunition, 24,000 flares, 12 M-79 grenade launchers, 600 cases of C-S gas, 100 rounds of M-40 explosives, helicopters, Phantom jets, and personnel..."(2)
Churchill and Vander Wall document the details of the intensive war the FBI led against AIM. They write about the pursuit of AIM founder Dennis Banks as having "garnered the dubious distinction of becoming the most sustained attempt at a federal prosecution in the history of American jurisprudence."(3) While on the run from the state in 1976, Banks is reported to have been hidden by [email protected] leader Corky Gonzalez, and members of the Crusade for Justice working with local AIM members. Later that year, Corky Gonzalez was falsely accused by the FBI of possessing "a rocket launcher, rockets, M-16 automatic rifles, and hand grenades," intended to use in combination with AIM and others to kill police.(4) Such rumors were part of the FBI's public relations war against liberation movements, attempting to distract from the fact that the U.$. government is the real perpetrator of violence.
The American Indian Movement was formed in 1968, in a rising movement for national liberation among First Nations that paralleled that in New Afrika. Forming two years after the Black Panther Party, like many, they were inspired by and modeled themselves after the BPP, though not taking up the explicit Maoism of the BPP or the Young Lords Party. Like the Panthers, AIM saw chapters pop up across the country soon after its founding. And like the Panthers, AIM promoted armed self-defense of its people and territory.
It is worth noting the different conditions faced by First Nations compared to other internal semi-colonies. The threat of annihilation, and the clear recognition of territory rights, lead to a more advanced national consciousness and more advanced conditions for national struggle. While we take lessons from the BPP's ultra-left tendency to pick up the gun too soon, the conditions of the time — from the First Nation reservations in the United $tates to Vietnam to China — makes their decision much more understandable than it would be today. Even today, we recognize the objective conditions among First Nations overall to be more advanced and armed struggle to be a correct path for them before it would be in other parts of the United $tates.
On 20 February 2016, one day before we would mourn the assassination of Brother Malcolm some fifty-one years ago, Stillwater Penitentiary, in honor of Black History Month, welcomed three of Minnesota's most prominent African American leaders. Bobby Champion Keith Ellison and Spike Moss took valuable time out of their busy schedules and spoke on the topic of how they became who they are today. An appropriate topic considering the month, and the current state of affairs Black men find themselves in today.
I think before I provide my opinion of each speech from the men of honor, I should include the fact per our overseers, the benevolent Department of Corrections, we were shown Twelve Years a Slave, and also Django. Of course I couldn't watch Django, but Twelve Years a Slave, I watched. After the movie I wondered if the kernel of truth in the movie was supposed to be: all white men aren't liars, or just wait on the white man because he's coming to save you. I think the hardest pill to swallow was watching a movie from within a failed system, and being subliminally told that a slave's belief in a system that makes the slave a slave will save him.
Boby Champion, a Minnesota Democratic State Senator and fabulous orator, spoke about the obstacles he faced in graduating from Macalester College. Senator Champion's speech took us on a journey of perseverance and fatherhood. He based his success on staying out of trouble, and singing gospel in his group he established. It was Senator Champion's belief that serving the community completed the healing circle. I thought that was noble, and believed he was sincere in his belief that he served his community through assistance in our incarceration. Yet, I felt as I sat there he didn't talk about criminal justice, and avoided what I had on my mind, the death of unarmed Black men.
Next to hit the floor was the University of Minnesota graduate, Keith Ellison, Representative of the Fifth Congressional District of Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives, fresh off his endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders. U.S. House Rep. Ellison, with little talk of his life, stayed on topic with a Zinn-esque perspective on Black History. I can only speculate on the reason he didn't talk about his life. Perhaps if he had spoken on his profession as a defense attorney, in turn the defense and assistance in lengthy prison sentences for those in the gymnasium would have become the topic of conversation. Although House Rep. Ellison was not as energetic as Minnesota Senator Champion, his topic fit with the theme; however, I still wanted someone to speak about current relevant issues.
Finally, Spike Moss took the stage and he didn't disappoint. Within his Civil Rights history lesson he baptized the crowd in cultural appreciation, and pointed to the lack of cultural markers as one cause for black men losing their minds. At some point his message shifted form uplifting to victim-blaming Black Lives Matter, and African men for being complicit in the death of the black community.
I sat in my chair and tried to figure out where Moss had gone wrong. How did an event about the ascension of Black men, successful men, to relative success, turn into a selective history lesson on the Black community destruction being the sole responsibility of those who have destroyed? The connection between drugs and guns is forgotten. I didn't understand. It's true that Black men sold drugs, shot guns and murdered innocent people in the Black community. This is equivalent to white folks paying Black mercenaries to destroy the community in which Black mercenaries live; when the Panthers were imprisoned and murdered, the drug dealer was given the community under police protection. If Spike Moss is willing to accept the fact drugs were placed in our community, then why is he not willing to accept that guns were too?
Black people don't know a Black drug dealer who own cargo ships, and Black people don't know Black gunsmiths or a Black gun store owner. Moreover it's through the lens of these facts a capacity to destroy a city is severely minimized. The Uzi machine gun comes from Israel, yet in the 1990s it was the weapon of choice. How does it get to Los Angeles? The FBI and CIA are involved.
In defense of Spike Moss, because most, if not all of those persons in prison think he is a snitch for actively turning dealers and gang members in. It is only prison gossip and I have not verified it for the record, but in defense, not excuse of his "Negro of two minds position," I believe he's scared of the white man, and the unconscious mercenary Negro. I think his fear is justified. I am in prison with them, and from far off they resemble that thug that Jesse Jackson said "he was scared might run up behind him." But what must be understood, even a domesticated dog will bite his owner in the right conditions. Freud once said: "That which you fear, and are afraid of is that what you truly desire." In the case of Spike Moss, his double conscious mind actually inversed and he hates the thing he helped create; the incarcerated youth.
I am neither for Black Lives Matter, nor am I for Mr. Spike Moss, but believe they both represent positive activism, and have the betterment of Black people in mind, Therefore, I say "seize the time."
After the show I stopped House Rep. Keith Ellison and asked some of those relevant questions I thought the voiceless had a right to ask:
"Why did Hennipin County District Attorney Mike Freeman only charge the white boy who shot at the protesters with a single offense that at the end of the day will get dropped down to a misdemeanor offense? Because if that was some brothers, who done the same crime they'd be charged with a drive-by shooting, and reckless firing of a firearm in public place. They'd be charged not only with the victims that were shot, but with every potential victim, and every person in the area would have aiding and abetting charge. I know people right now in the gymnasium that Freeman charged and got a conviction with suspect evidence, and in the white boy's case Freeman gots the gun, witnesses, and him on Youtube."
I also told him: "It seems to me and a few of the brothers here that ever since Blacks started migrating from the south to northern cities, whites have saw fit to enact legislation, specifically to target our behavior and gave more time."
After listening to three of the most prominent African American men in Minnesota, it was hard not to feel like I was Platt Epps in Twelve Years a Slave. With a voiceover Malcolm X narrates from a speech he performed some fifty-one years prior, called "Message to the Grassroots." As my voice, Malcolm attempts to argue that African American men should not be dependent on the white man:
"And if someone comes to you right now and says, 'Let's separate,' you say the same thing that the house Negro said on the plantation. 'What you mean, separate? From America? This good white man? Where you going to get a better job than you get here?' I mean, this is what you say. 'I ain’t left nothing in Africa,' that’s what you say. Why, you left your mind in Africa." (Malcolm X's speech "Message to the Grassroots," December 1963)
The recurrence of police brutality and racial prejudice against U.$. oppressed nation groups that has captured widespread attention has also heightened the national question. More and more, oppressed nation communities and groups are expressing their discontent with a system of oppression that dehumanizes and marginalizes them. Mass protests have taken place, unrest has gripped cities, and organized movements have arisen all in direct response to these injustices. In other words, the demand for change by U.$. oppressed nations is beginning to define the national question.
These events signal a realization among U.$. oppressed nations that the prevailing system does not represent their interests, and that in fact, it functions at a disadvantage to them. While socioeconomic indicators reveal inequalities in communities of oppressed nations, they cannot communicate the dimensions of humyn misery and suffering that result from institutionalized racism and discrimination. Just as class consciousness begins to take root and grow within exploited workers as they question and share their experiences with each other, resulting in organizations and movements expressly designed to overcome their plight, so too does national consciousness follow this process as oppressed nations deal with the reality of national oppression.
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is indicative of this process. It is not the recent sanctioned murders of oppressed nation youth alone that is responsible for this renewed activism, but the accumulation of years of national oppression. The quantitative development of the national question as it relates to U.$. imperialist society has reached a critical point. Either U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations are going to vie for liberation, or seek the path of reform and further integration. Thus, the question becomes how are we, as Maoists, going to nurture this emerging seed of awareness with revolutionary nationalism.
Ultimately national oppression informs the consciousness of oppressed nations within the unique conditions of U.$. imperialist society and there are implications from the BLM movement that are relevant to the larger national liberation movement. It is important to note that the BLM movement is not a revolutionary organization. Yet, BLM is instructive to our cause because it demonstrates the potential among U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations to be organized around issues of national oppression.
National Oppression and a Nation's Right to Self-Determination
For U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations the national question should be about realizing their right to self-determination. Oppressed nations are subject to semi-colonialism and thus have no control or power over their destiny. Because white supremacy dominates every aspect of the oppressed nation, their material existence merely functions as an afterthought to the white power structure.
Moreover, the white-setter nation-state has created mechanisms of social control to maintain dominance over oppressed nations. Mass incarceration, family and community dysfunction, the culture of stereotypes and stigmas, etc. are just a few means used to keep oppressed nations in check. To elaborate more on this point, the systematic restriction of access to meaningful education undermines access to meaningful job opportunities. No jobs means poverty and the social ills that accompanies it. In addition, institutionalized racism and discrimination inform attitudes and behavior that further creates a culture of inequality within communities of oppressed nations. As a result, some members of oppressed nations are compelled to pursue criminal lifestyles, opening themselves up to the repressive criminal injustice system.
While the above scenario is not representative of the entire oppressed nation it does speak to the need for national liberation and the exercise of a nation's right to self-determination. Granted, U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations enjoy living standards and privileges that their Third World counterparts would die for. Nevertheless, the reality of national oppression is no less detrimental to the U.$. oppressed nation. The hurt and pain associated with injustices of semi-colonialism is no less real.
These social experiences of national oppression take a mental toll on oppressed nations. Every day and every instance of national oppression that members of oppressed nations go through makes an impression upon their consciousness. Eventually, they begin to connect the dots and recognize the injustice of their situation in U.$. society.
What is National Consciousness?
Oppressed nations within U.$. borders develop an awareness due to enduring national oppression. This awareness is not revolutionary nor is it substantive. To be clear, any material situation that humyns inhabit conditions a corresponding awareness that reflects their living state. Marx and Engels developed the theory of materialist dialectics, which dictates that consciousness is a product of matter, the exterior world. The prison-house that is U.$. imperialist society is the physical world and the social, political, and economic relations and interactions that comprise it involve actual activity that is outside of our minds.
In this sense, the oppressed nations are subject to this dialectical process as these relations and interactions condition their consciousness. The activity of daily life within U.$. imperialist society makes an impression upon mental capacity. And as shown above, national oppression is a fundamental part of the daily life of these oppressed nations.
Furthermore, national consciousness is similar to class consciousness in that during the grind of daily life people exchange and engage ideas about their material situation, their living conditions. They begin to seek ways to resolve the issues that they face. Intellectuals gather to discuss, theorize, and come up with solutions to common problems. More importantly, institutions and organizations are founded to help push their agendas. All of these actions take place because somewhere down the line people got together after recognizing a problem.
Thus, when Marxists of old talked about building and deepening class consciousness among exploited workers, they were referring to a process in which people began to realize their predicament, but in a revolutionary manner. For us, as Maoists, our job at this hystorical point is to push forward national liberation struggles within oppressed nations with revolutionary nationalism. We must build national consciousness among oppressed nations so that these groups understand that concepts such as race are false and Amerika is not representative of their interests. These groups must come to understand that nations exist and that their respective nation is entitled to exercise its right to self-determination.
Why Black Lives Matter
The BLM movement is no different from the [email protected] movement that demanded repeal of the chauvinist, racist, tough-on-immigrant legislation in Arizona a few years back.
In the [email protected] communities, immigration is an extremely decisive issue. Obama's chauvinist policies have broken families apart, the mistreatment of migrant workers in the workplace has become all too frequent, and in general, under-served and under resourced [email protected] communities continue to suffer from inequalities and poverty. The fact that Arizona was trying to pass - and eventually passed - even more extreme anti-immigrant laws was just the straw that broke the camel's back, mobilizing the [email protected] community.
Similarly, national oppression has wreaked havoc on the New Afrikan community, as the New Afrikan is the face of inequality and injustice in the United $tates. New Afrikans, particularly the youth, are tired of the overt mistreatment. The BLM movement, while it arose in response to police brutality, embodies the anger and angst of the New Afrikan nation at the marginalization and repression they have suffered for years. Movements like these must be used to our advantage as they demonstrate that oppressed people are not just fed up with the system, they are willing to commit themselves to actually changing it.
One key implication that arises from this is the recourse for oppressed nations to overcome national oppression. Will U.$. oppressed nations vie for liberation or will they settle for reform, and by extension, assimilation and partial integration?
Mainstream media provide coverage on these events to control a group that might otherwise threaten the status quo. Therefore, they act as a supervisor rather than objective reporter all in an attempt to shape public opinion and undermine revolutionary organizing. This has serious consequences for the national liberation movement in the United $tates as a whole. This is why the BLM movement is critical, because we cannot allow the same outcome as took place at the end of the radical era of the 1960s.
The impact of national oppression on U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations has begun to push the national question forward. We are starting to see a realization emerge among oppressed nations that recognizes U.$. imperialist society is rife with inequalities and injustices. Only revolutionary nationalism can nurture and grow this seed of awareness. And if our goal is the liberation of oppressed nations within the United $tates then we must build their national consciousness in preparation. Movements like BLM illustrate the potential and activism that is alive within oppressed nations. The duty falls upon us to revolutionize it.
In MIM(Prisons)'s response to "How to Unite with White Lumpen" in ULK 46, it is pointed out that white supremacists in prison generally do not make for allies in the anti-imperialist struggle.
It is necessary to distinguish between white supremacist and so-called white people. A white supremacist whole-heartedly believes the purported "white race" is superior to all other skin colors. Because of this supposed superiority, they believe it is moral and destined that they should rule, dominate, and oppress/extort/enslave people of other skin tones/colors. Naturally, these views are not scientific nor are they compatible with Marx-Lenin-Maoist ideology.
In prison I've encountered varying groups of white supremacists: Aryan Brotherhood, Odinists, Wotan, Christian identity, to name a few. Each group has two prominent things in common: 1. Non-white races are not equal and it isn't wrong to treat them as inferior subhuman species; and 2. These groups idolize Hitler and the politics of National Socialism (Nazism). Ironically, Hitler would have enslaved and/or exterminated most of these white supremacists just as he did "white" poles, Czechs, Russians, etc.
In the prison context my experience has been that the white prisoners who are not affiliated with any lumpen organizations are more open to anti-imperialist truth. Those who have been rejected, impoverished, put in institutions at an early age, and generally shit upon by Amerikkkan society have no allegiance to it. Don't be blinded by the white, but wisdom says don't look for gold in a sack of pennies.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this writer's assessment of the greater potential to appeal to unaffiliated white prisoners than those who are a part of explicitly supremacist groups. Different units and facilities have their own unique cultures (as in the article under discussion, the facility was reported to be controlled by the Black Muslim population, a unique condition indeed). It's certainly possible that Amerikkkans in Virginia prisons are friendly to socialist ideas at a higher-than-average rate. Whether they're devoting their lives to fighting against imperialism and oppression is another question altogether, and is not something MIM(Prisons) has noticed in our work.
We still think it is worth noting that we are talking about national oppression, not racism, and even the whites who have led very difficult lives have been raised on an unconscious diet of national superiority. It's not that everyone is consciously racist, but the white nation as a whole enjoys privileges that individuals don't even notice in day-to-day life.
White people don't notice that the cops aren't stopping them just for "looking suspicious", whereas cops regularly stop Black and [email protected] people for this reason, or none at all. White people don't notice that they're receiving better treatment in so many situations, just as a privilege of the nation to which they were born. At the same time, whites are taught that they deserve better (as they are taught that New Afrikans are more likely to commit crimes, Muslims are all terrorists, [email protected] are lazy, etc.) and those who want to fight on the side of the world's oppressed must consciously fight against this mis-education. That is what the article "How to Unite with White Lumpen" is about — unaffiliated whites, who supposedly are not conscious white supremacists, are very likely to get defensive in protecting their superiority on questions of imperialism and liberation of oppressed nations (i.e. on questions of reducing their national superiority). We're speaking in terms of generalizations and national tendencies discovered through studying history and practice, not painting every single Amerikkkan as an inherent, conscious and unchangeable white supremacist.
We say Amerikkkans working against the interests of the predominantly white Amerikkkan nation are "committing national suicide." We encourage them to do so, while not holding our breath waiting on them to take the plunge. We call on all people to join the anti-imperialist struggle and consciously work to end whatever national or class oppression they may benefit from, for the benefit of humynity and the world as a whole.
In response to the call to honor freedom fighters, it is an honor and pleasure to journal the commemoration of New Afrikan freedom fighter Amy Jacques Garvey.
So many today dismiss the Pan-Afrikan movement and its various bodies, both within and outside of U.$. prisons, as that of an unnecessary call and reference to an outdated idea. In the context of the proletarian political causes, it is often the ultra-leftist who has taken up this position.
However, in our attempts to fast forward the most correct methods of resolving contradictions, we acknowledge that they come in the form of class consciousness among nationalist leaders driven by internationalist struggles led by the proletariat. The Pan-Afrikan movement is one likely place where we find these elements.
Many prisoners are aware of the name Marcus Mosiah Garvey, but very few are familiar with Amy Jacques Garvey, the wife of Marcus Garvey and the bone and marrow of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Amy Garvey was a special person in the history of liberation struggles. Born 31 December 1895 in Kingston, Jamaica to a middle-upper class family, Amy Garvey was ahead of her time. Though "all identity is individual, there is no individual identity that is not historical or, in other words, constructed within a field of social values, norms of behavior and collective symbols."(1)
The mother of what author Ula Yvette Taylor coined "community feminism," Amy Garvey pressed the issue of lower class wimmin not only in serving their male counterparts, but also educating themselves to become political leaders in the nation. Today, lumpen wimmin of the internal semi-colonies still find themselves criticized for either being home-oriented or for sex. UNIA enjoyed support across gender and promoted equality of the sexes. Yet, in practice, this "community feminist" approach was a means of dealing with the expectations put on wimmin to be supporters of men while still being political leaders. While wimmin like Amy Garvey had to take on an unequal burden compared to their male counterparts, their actions served to break down the expectations of gendered roles, paving the way for others.
Amy Garvey empowered wimmin to confront racism, colonialism and imperialism, while contesting masculine dominance as well.(2) As she wrote, wimmin should use their "intelligence in a righteous cause" as they are needed to "fill the breach, and fight as never before, for the masses need intelligent dedicated leadership."(3)
Since the 1920s, Amy Jacques Garvey's organizing activities had sought to further the decolonization of West Afrikan nations as people of African descent endeavored to restructure their societies. The antecedents of these largely nationalist movements were well-established in Pan-Afrikan struggle that came into its own during the early 1940s, including the fifth Pan-Afrikan Congress. Meanwhile, other power shifts were occurring such as: the rise of the Soviet Union, liberation struggles in southeast Asia, the independence of China and the Asian-African Bandung Conference.(4) Indeed, within this political milieu, "West Afrikan nationalism and various brands of Pan-Africanism, could mix with everything from Fabian socialism to Marxism-Leninism."(5)
While engaging in the international arena, Amy Garvey also struggled against fellow comrades of the UNIA. She was well known for her refusal to hold her tongue on the contradictions that arose within, even at times writing critical positions of Marcus Garvey himself. It resembles so many of those within the belly of the beast babylon who struggle to liberate themselves in order to offer liberation to their people, only to be hushed by LO leadership.
Amy Garvey was from Jamaica and considered herself an Afrikan. She drove home the point that people of Afrikan descent in the United $tates (New Afrikans) and elsewhere were living as second-class citizens, largely as a result of economic oppression. Today we see the second-class citizenship that New Afrikans and [email protected] face as the biggest targets of social isolation by the U.$. prison system. The second class that the oppressed nations are being bred into today is what we call the First World lumpen class. In the imperialist countries, that is the class that has nothing to lose from a revolution except the very chains that bind them to a bourgeois system that doesn't serve them. "As the lumpen experience oppression first hand here in Amerika, we are in a position to spearhead the revolutionary vehicle within the U.$. borders."(6)
The 2015 release of [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán by a MIM(Prisons) study group introduces prisoners to the reality of their class identity with the lumpen of oppressed internal semi-colonies in North America.
"Kwame Nkrumah in his analysis of neo-colonialism in Africa defined it as: 'The essence of neo-colonialism is that the state which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.' Nkrumah stressed the importance of dividing the oppressed into smaller groups as part of this process of preventing effective resistance to imperialism as had already occurred in China, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba and elsewhere."(7)
Amy Garvey too considered the likes of Kwame Nkrumah as her comrade, alongside of Nnamdi Azikiwe, W.E.B. DuBois and George Padmore, just to name a few. She was a disciplined, arduous scholar whose objective was to fold Garveyism into existing progressive organizations, thus uniting a divergent Pan-Afrikan world.
Many of the ideas that are circulated amongst the lumpen organizations within the belly of the beast babylon are grafted from the ideas of the peoples parties like the UNIA, whether they admit it or not. The proof is in the pudding. Amy Garvey showed that one could stand on two legs and not buckle under the pressure of integrationist culture.
Amy Garvey held Marcus Garvey up while he served his prison bid in Atlanta, and took the driver's seat of one of the world's most influential Negro organizations in its time when wimmin weren't expected to be political. It is so similar to the anti-imperialist prisoner movement; prisoners aren't expected to be political souljahs.
Death to babylon-imperialism!
MIM(Prisons) adds: MIM said that Pan-Afrikanism should be a strategic question, and is not worth splitting over.(8) They also said that Pan-Afrikanism has historically been the most progressive of the "pan" ideologies. Clearly that the Pan-Afrikan mission has yet to succeed in the dire need for effective revolutionary leadership is evident in the recent revelations that
"In 2014, the U.S. carried out 674 military activities across Africa, nearly two missions per day, an almost 300% jump in the number of annual operations, exercises, and military-to-military training activities since U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was established in 2008."(9)
The imperialists continue to foment the tribal divisions across the African continent to wage proxy wars that amount to inter-proletarian killing on the ground. The overwhelming proletarian character of the populations in Africa gives Pan-Afrikanism its strong progressive character.