Many have seen the stunning October 28 video of police in New Mexico assaulting a New Afrikan family after pulling them over on the side of the road. To most of Amerika this type of footage is shocking for any number of reasons. Whether it be because the teenage son was tazered by police for trying to protect his mother from pig oppression, or because police shot at the kid-filled van. Most Amerikans deem this type of behavior unacceptable and they demand answers. Likewise, some within Amerika agree that this behavior is not what those who "protect & serve" should be doing, but they'll come up with excuses for the police such as, they only have a split second to react, and in the heat of the moment hesitation can cost you your life. And then there are the more convoluted excuses such as, the police did what they did because of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), or any other such stress-related condition associated with being a cop. And to the white settler-state, and even to some from the oppressed internal nations, these idealized excuses perfectly suffice. But the truth of the matter is that this type of behavior on the part of the pigs is acceptable exactly because that is how the police keep the oppressed in check. These types of abuses are not isolated incidents, but institutionalized practices that are part and parcel to maintaining white power in the United $tates.
To the [email protected] nation this type of police brutality is nothing new, isolated or particular to New Afrikans. Rather it is part of reality for the oppressed of the [email protected] nation and any other internal semi-colony. For those of us growing up in the 80s and 90s in the ghettos and barrios of Amerika this was certainly a daily possibility, especially whenever we dared to venture out the hood and into or near the settler communities.
Integration into the consumer economy via labor aristocracy wages has brought privilege for the oppressed within U.$. borders via the stolen super-profits and cheap abundant goods from the periphery. But the reality of imperial dominance cannot be negated by class relations as they continue to be modified by national interests and the principal contradiction: imperialism vs. the oppressed nations. Leave it to the apologists for national oppression in Amerika, the post-modernist theorists and other petty-bourgeois intellectuals who would have us think that we've reached some type of "post-racialism" and that therefore it's ok to paint oneself in black-face for example, or dress up as your favorite Latino stereotype for Halloween because "race" relations in the United $tates have never been better. And the hystory of segregation is better forgotten. Yes "race" relations in the United $tates have changed profoundly, but let's not get it twisted, segregation was ended and civil rights were won exactly because of the strong national liberation movements and the threat of armed struggle that underlined the Black, [email protected], Boriqua and First Nation power movements of the 1960s and 70s. What humyn dignity we have today is not owed to concessions and benevolence on the part of the oppressor nation and their power structure. Rather they are rights won by revolutionaries and masses before us; as there are no "rights," only power struggles.
Pigs almost always walk away with a slap on the wrist for abuses of power and attempted murder incidents such as the one in New Mexico, so let's not start believing that just because that shooting was caught on video it's gonna mean a conviction equaling the ones doled out to the Black and Brown in North America on a daily basis. If we want justice, we better go get justice and not expect it's gonna be given to us.
Much has been said recently about the overtly racist remarks made by one of the contestants on the "Big Brother" reality show. Viewers were shocked at the nerve of some of the show's participants, not only in the fact that they would say such things, but in the contestants' blatantly unapologetic attitude afterwards. After all, this is the 21st century, and according to some, we have moved beyond those inconsistencies in Amerika's past which had previously kept her from fulfilling the promise of its ethos. Most Amerikans (white people in particular) like to believe that although things like slavery and segregation are all a part of our nasty past we should all just forget and move on from this shameful hystory. Surely the United $tates has made great strides when it comes to "race relations," and Amerikans of all colors have never experienced a more collective prosperity than they do today, never mind the previously unthinkable: a Black man in the White House.
So why then does racism continue to exist? More importantly, how do we eradicate it? To properly answer these questions we must take it back to where it all began, and for this we'll have to revisit some ugly truths.
Origins of Racism: Connections to Capitalism
People forget that Amerika is a nation of settlers founded on genocide, slavery and annexation. This oppressive nation-building formula includes the more subtle forms of national oppression and the many different ways they are institutionalized and manifested in our society. One particularly malevolent form of national oppression, which most of us are all too familiar with, is of course racism and the more pernicious racial ideology from which it stems. But racism isn't simply some oppressive philosophical dogma utterly disconnected from the real world. Rather, racism and racial ideologies are direct products of national oppression, which is engendered by society based on property relations and the division of labor produced therein, which in turn has influenced how humyn beings have come to interact with each other in the struggle between the global "haves" and "have nots." In short, racism has not been around forever. As a matter of fact, the very concept of "race" didn't even exist prior to the 16th century. Racism and racial ideologies have only been around so long as capitalism itself has been around. The concept of "race" developed alongside the rise of modern society and not as usually believed as a remnant of the irrational and dark Middle Ages. What's more, the concept of "race" has been directly linked back to the primitive accumulation phase of capitalism, which is itself grounded in the first rape and plunder of Africa and the Americas. This primitive accumulation phase is clearly explained by radical eco-feminist and author Maria Mies when she stated that:
"Before the capitalist mode of production could establish and maintain itself as a process of extended reproduction of capital - driven by the motor of surplus value production - enough capital had to be accumulated to start this process. The capital was largely accumulated in the colonies between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Most of the capital was not accumulated by merchant capitalists but largely by way of brigandage, piracy, forced and slave labor."(1) And furthermore, "One could say that the first phase of the primitive accumulation was that of merchant and commercial capital ruthlessly plundering and exploiting the colonies' human and natural wealth..."(1)
What should be kept in mind here is that as feudalism disintegrated and capitalism came on the scene the common people, the peasants and the soldiers, needed to be reassured that what they were doing to the people of the colonies was not only in the beneficiary population's interest but the interest of the colonized as well. The European masses also needed to be taught that the colonized were less than humyn so as to discourage any feelings of solidarity amongst the oppressed. Hence, the racial ideology was borne, which wasn't just about the innate ignorance and stupidity of the colonized, but of their innate treacherousness and savagery as well.
Examples of Racism in National Oppression, Yesterday and Today
Racism as a building block for the rise of the modern western world was as indispensable for that society as it is to the continuing subjugation of nations and the integrity of the First World today. Testimony to this is the way that the people of Islam have been demonized as "dark" and "backward" by the "civilized" west who sees itself as "exceptional." Thus the role that racism has played in gaining public support for the current wars of conquest is undeniable. One need only examine how Muslims, who were Amerikan citizens, were vilified and attacked by settler violence following the retaliatory attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon under the guise of "Amerikan Patriotism." The conscious connection of these actions to the collective white history of colonialism in Africa is manifested in the term "sand nigger." What this "Amerikan Patriotism" really translates into is a special brand of oppressor nation chauvinism, and a vehicle for white power in the 21st century. It is particularly popular and appealing to [email protected] and New Afrikans who think they can fully integrate into Amerika by becoming agents of imperialism and uniting with the oppressor against the people of the Third World.
Therefore the revolutionary character of militant Islam, seen when it is waging war for the independence of Muslims from U.$. imperialism, should be supported by the oppressed nation lumpen as it is objectively an anti-imperialist struggle despite the reactionary views of those leading the struggles, whether it's Al Qaeda or Bashar al-Assad and their associates, for it weakens, disintegrates and undermines imperialism. The struggle of the West and their "democratic" running dogs in the region strengthen the victory of imperialism. Real communists know that there are only two sides to a battle, therefore it is our duty to unite all who can be united in the camp of the oppressed and build a United Front against the imperialists and their racist backers! In his day, Stalin had to combat those promoting a "third way" between the socialist camp and the imperialists, pointing out that those who broke away from the Soviet Union inherently joined the imperialist system, becoming victims of it. The lack of a socialist camp today does not change the bankruptcy of the third-way idealists. Revisionists today point to the forces waging war in the Middle East and call them the "Two Outmodeds" and are peddling a third way out for the oppressed. However, this third way out is itself reactionary and anti-revolutionary, and if upheld will in fact reinforce the very same imperialist structure it pretends to be against, by weakening national unity of the oppressed. This is one lesson we take from the theory and practice of United Front in the Chinese war of liberation against Japan.
Racism as Pseudo-Science and Glossing Over of the National Question
Purveyors of racial ideology fancy themselves as being backed by science, and indeed there is a "science" to racism, it's called eugenics and it stresses the genetic makeup of people as determinant of their "natural" abilities and inclinations. Eugenics was developed as justification for the oppression and enslavement of non-white people and outlaws alike. It was, however, thoroughly criticized and debunked by the wider scientific community for, among other things, not being an objective and quantifiable method of analysis of the humyn species. While most people today have hardly heard of eugenics it was certainly popular back when England had stretched the tentacles of the British empire (forerunner to U.$. imperialism) all over the Third World, while here in Amerika the slave owning south was likewise using it for the continuing oppression and enslavement of the New Afrikan nation.
The lack of scientific relationship to biology since there is only the human race.
The creation of categories of inferior and superior based on arbitrary characteristics and definitions.
The creation and perpetuation of a system of oppression of the "inferior" group in all aspects.
The re-enforcement of a relative differential in treatment - and it's ideological justification between those considered inferior and those considered superior.
The use of race as a principal means for social control.
Rendering irrelevant the experience and viewpoint of the subordinated population except and insofar as interpreted by dominant populations. This specifically has been applied to African descendants, Indigenous peoples, Asians, and Latinos, those usually referred to as "people of color."(2)
Author Bill Fletcher, to whom the above is attributed, explains: "Race is, then, not a state of mind, but a socio-political reality. Even though there is no scientific basis for race, it occupies a real space and the institutions of the racial-capitalist society reinforce this reality every day."(2)
We'd also add that the false concept of "race" is a social construct originally based on power struggles between humyns in the pre-capitalist era of slavery, and it has done much to gloss over the fact that the oppressed internal nations of [email protected] and New Afrikans are separate nations from the Amerikan nation (white settler-state), with separate hystories distinctly their own. Therefore we speak of nations and nationalities where most people speak of "race," in order to refer to a group of people who share a common language, culture, territory and economy. The concept of nations is thus more accountable to hystory and is firmly grounded in material reality. (See "Marxism and the National Question" by J.V. Stalin.)
Methods for Resolving the Principal Contradiction
Despite the fact that the concept of race has been repeatedly disproven, proponents of racial ideology and the national oppression it engenders (and vice versa) hold steady to their un-scientific beliefs. And to a certain extent this is fine. They have their beliefs and prejudices, but we have science! We know where they stand and we know that the oppressed people of the world will not sit idly by but will take up armed struggle against the imperialists to impose the will of the people on today's oppressor nations. What isn't fine however are the so-called allies of the oppressed nations within the Amerikan "Left" who mistakenly call themselves communist yet go about espousing the concept of "race." Whether they are speaking about the common cause of all the "races" that are equally oppressed by capitalism-imperialism, or whether they are agitating around the "race issue" here in Amerika, they're of no great help. They are immediately caught in the irrevocable trap of idealism, and that is no attitude for a communist to have. First, these idealists objectively hurt the revolutionary movement within U.$. borders by elevating the problem of "race" to that of principal contradiction when in fact there is no problem of race. There is a problem of imperialism and national oppression. Secondly, they deny that the principal contradiction is imperialism vs. the oppressed nations by emphatically denying that there are any other nations in the United $tates besides Amerika. Some have opportunistically come to acknowledge New Afrika, while denying other nations' existence, not because they are dialectical materialists, but because they're focused on pulling numbers to their side. Lastly, by denying the concept of nations and national liberation and instead focusing on multi-racial unity they deny the theories and practice of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, as well as the revolutionary movements they spearheaded and the many national liberation movements that followed in their traditions.
Racism in the United $tates or any other place in the world will not be wiped from the earth solely by educating it out of existence, but by getting rid of the many material conditions and relations from which it springs. Racism is a product of national oppression, hence we must focus on uniting the oppressed nations for their own liberation from this jailhouse of nations that is the United $tates. Only then will we seriously be able to talk about combatting racism as a backward idea from another period of history.
Just as the oppressed communities are racially profiled as the garbage pits of society that breeds and houses criminals, we prisoners are racially profiled in practically a similar, if not a more blatant extreme. The powers that govern and operate the U.S. Prison Colonies, have catapulted measures that are atypically designed to target prisoners, and criminalize their behavior in relation to belonging to a disruptive prison gang, in particular, those prisoners who are descendants of Afrikan/Mexican origin. They target those prisoners who have demonstrated the capacity of independent thought process (non-conformity), or those who are believed to be some kind of shot caller, with influence over a particular group of prisoners. The independent thought process itself that will enable prisoners to become conscious of the injustices that are perpetrated on a regular basis behind these walls, and so they are considered a threat.
This criminalization is called "The Validation Process." Prisoners in the SHU (Security Housing Units) at Pelican Bay State Prison, in Kalifornia, have been validated as criminals belonging to a prison gang, for some of the most idiotic reasons. From saying good morning to a fellow prisoner, to signing a fellow prisoner's get well card for a sick relative, or a loved one. But the most ridiculous reason of them all is the administration paying three collaborating informants to say that you belong to a prison gang! Usually you've never even met this paid rat, or only may have by chance possibly shared the same breakfast table with him one morning, or looked at him in a manner that he did not appreciate one afternoon. But yet, the burden of reliability is given to the paid rat automatically, prior to the actual examination of facts. The courts/society are practically lulled to sleep in the midst of this madness, as the U.S. Prison Colony officials have planted the seed in them, that their means of action is just, and required, in the interest of protecting the safety/security of the institution. That's nonsense! As per Pelican Bay State Prison's own policies, a gang member is one who is consciously, and knowingly promoting criminal activities for a particular gang. Over 75% of the prisoners housed in the SHU at PBSP are being housed on an indefinite basis as allegedly belonging to a prison gang, but have not committed one rule infraction.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer exposes the use of control units for social control in Amerikan prisons. This system of isolation for control has a long history in the Amerikan criminal injustice system. Demonstrated to cause both severe mental and physical damage to humyns, this long-term solitary confinement is nothing less than torture. The recent prisoner hunger strike in California was initiated by prisoners demanding change to the rules behind SHU lockup and improvements to the conditions in the SHU. Conditions are so bad that prisoners are literally wiling to die to fight for change. The importance of control units, as this writer describes, is control of leaders and politically conscious prisoners. This is not about criminal activity, it is about stopping prisoners from spreading consciousness. Many of those targeted for the SHU are actually promoting peace among prisoners, organizing different sets to get together to fight the injustice system. The prisoncrats know this is the real threat to the system.
October 18 - The Utah Supreme Court overturned an injunction that had barred almost 500 people that Weber County claims are members of a lumpen organization known as the Ogden Trece from associating with each other. Members were banned from driving, standing, walking, sitting, gathering or in any way appearing together anywhere in a 25-square-mile area that covered most of the city of Ogden. It also imposed a curfew between 11pm and 5am for these folks. This ban has been in place since 2010.
The Supreme Court threw out the injunction on a legal technicality, because the county failed to properly serve summons to members of the organization. The county posted notices on a Utah legal notices website and in the Ogden Standard Examiner, a local newspaper. The court found this to be insufficient notice. Members of the organization also challenged the constitutionality of the injunction in denying their right to associate, but the Court did not rule on this challenge.
The Deputy Attorney for Weber County made a case for the injunction: "Case loads on average going from 16 per month on something like graffiti down to four. So we can show a 75 percent drop in criminal street gang activity." This is an interesting definition of "criminal street gang activity": acts of graffiti.(1) Clearly the police and courts are determined to go after this lumpen organization, which they call a "public nuisance," civil liberties and rights be damned.
We see a lot of parallels between validation in prison and identification as a member of a street organization in Ogden. According to the Ogden Gang Detective Anthony Powers, the police keep a "gang database" to document who belongs to a street organization. There are eight possible criteria, and anyone meeting two of them is entered in the database. A musician in a group that includes people believed to be Ogden Trece members was included in the injunction because he has been seen around with these folks.(2)
We only have news of this from the mainstream press, but we regularly see this same repression of oppressed nations both in prisons and on the streets. The trick of labeling someone a member of a lumpen organization is used to lock prisoners in solitary confinement and keep them from having contact with other prisoners. It's often used to target politically active prisoners. On the streets, whether in Utah or any other state, we are seeing that Amerikans, who are often willing to suspend constitutional rights for prisoners, are similarly unconcerned about this same practice on the streets.
We know that street organizations, just like prison organizations, are a natural result of imperialist society in the United $tates. The oppressed nations are going to come together in self-defense, and in the absence of revolutionary leadership they will join whatever group meets their needs. While lumpen organizations are fighting one another and targeting their people for street crime they are helping the imperialists. This is why we work so hard to build a United Front and bring these groups together for the betterment of all oppressed people.
We mourn the death of Herman Wallace, one of the Angola Panthers. Herman died on Friday after a judge threw out his case, as a result Herman was able to die outside of prison. The fact that Herman was held the longest in solitary confinement — approximately 40+ years, speaks of the history of torture in U.S. prisons.
For many of us Herman is much more than simply a prisoner who was held in the hole for decades. He co-founded the first prison chapter of the Panthers, and spent his time in prison serving the people. He dedicated his life behind the prison walls to educating people, ending the hostilities surrounding prisoner-on-prisoner crime and fighting guard brutality. For his determination to liberate his people he was framed for a crime in an attempt to neutralize him by sealing him in a cage for decades.
Herman refused to surrender and he was an example to other oppressed prisoners to resist even in the dungeon. This example was too much for the state and he was denied compassionate release by the oppressors. His liver cancer is also suspect, we know the state has many dirty tricks in its arsenal. But Herman, like others who rise up in prison, understood that he might in the end pay with his life for this resistance.
It has been reported in the press that Herman's last words were to the effect of "I am free" before he died. But Herman was already free, he was free while still in prison because he had liberated his mind decades ago, and this was his real crime that the state was making him pay for. Had Herman been a drug addict prisoner who preyed on other prisoners for a cellphone from the pigs or for a sack of dope he would never have spent over four decades in solitary confinement. Freedom comes from one's actions and this is something that the petty bourgeoisie does not grasp and so they will never be free.
Those of us here in the SHU understand that at any time we can be free from torture by simply making up information on someone or debriefing. But like Herman many cannot fathom doing this to another human being and instead choose to build our nation and RESIST! And for this we are also met with torture. But like Herman we are also free, more free than many people on the outside whose minds are in many ways more chained than SHU prisoners. May the example of resistance displayed by Herman live on in U.S. prisoners!
Lots of attention is being given to counting prisoners in the political arena, why?
Because census counts add prisoner population numbers to the community where the prison is located, more and more incarcerated inner city residents are being used to strengthen the economically weak areas of rural Amerika. More prisoners means more jobs, more government money and more political power.
Prisons, which were once eschewed have become a boom for many small towns. Cheap land and willing residents make these isolated communities the perfect location for this country's growing number of human warehouses.
Census numbers determine such things as highway funding, fire stations, hospitals, medicaid, foster care, rehab-services, schools and parks just to name a few. Most of these benefits will never be seen by prisoners. Prisoners are a lucrative commodity in the census game.
State officials are quick to cite the benefits of prisons in economically depressed communities. Government aid, indigent medical care, energy assistance, and revenue sharing are just a few of the selling points.
The majority of the nation's prison population is either Black or Latino. Locating these unwilling residents in a small, predominantly white towns fundamentally shifts the balance of political power through the redistricting process. It is not just federal money that follows us out of our community, it is political power as well.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This prison-based gerrymandering is a problem that has been extensively documented by the Prison Policy Institute who explain: "The Bureau counts incarcerated people as residents of the towns where they are confined, though they are barred from voting in 48 states and return to their homes after being released. The practice also defies most state constitutions and statutes, which explicitly state that incarceration does not change a residence."
Unlike the PPI, we don't prioritize the fight to change the Census Bureau policies. The push for reform is insidious in the implication that we can improve capitalist democracy to make elections and government programs actually serve the people. But this is a good example of the hidden forms of white power that are executed through the state to this day in 2013. While oppressed nations are disproportionately disenfranchised of the vote in Amerikan democracy, white communities use these prisoners to skew financial resources away from the oppressed nations to themselves. This, of course, is only possible because of national oppression earlier on in the process where law enforcement targets oppressed nation communities, while drug use in white communities goes on with little interference. Such types of oppression and manipulation are inherent in a capitalist system.
I am writing to express my concerns with your paper. I am 100% for a true United Front. I do not judge people by the color of their skin. I am white and I'm proud of the fact. I come from Oakland CA and in school was a target just because I was white. My family did not have money.
In a story in ULK 26 May/June 2012 you claim that poor whites searching for identity turn to white supremacist and we find our identity in the false belief of their supremacy in the color of our skin. Well my friend, I refute your belief and you're just way off the mark. I came up in Oakland, CA in the 60s, 70s, 80s when Oakland was at war most of the war was drug war, but in the 60s and 70s there were political wars and protest from the Blacks. There was one movement after another.
I for one never claim that I am better than anyone because I'm white, but growing up in Oakland, because of my white skin I was jumped. In spite of that, to this day I do not judge people by the color of their skin as you clearly do.
Now about ULK 24, 2012 page 3 concerning Special Needs Yards (SNY). I came into the system in the 80s and sure there was no such thing as SNY back then, they called it PSU. CDCR has always housed child molesters, rapists and snitches and they programmed on the GP yards for years, and for the most part we ran them off the yard. SNY was not put in place for that kind of people, SNY was put in place for prisoners who got sick and tired of killing each other. The system back in the day was run by a bunch of older guys who kept the youngsters in line. Well you had a bunch of kids coming into the system, yes more Blacks and Latinos, who were in search of an identity. They would join these prison gangs not knowing what they were getting into. Then you had a lot of kids on the streets looking at the drug dealers with all the money, cars, houses, women, so they joined up with their gang, then they come to prison for drug charges and as soon as they hit prison they have to prove themselves.
Now SNY came into play when people like myself said, wait why are we fighting each other and letting the system take more and more of our rights away from us, so they check in to PSU. But word got around on the GP yard that you can do your time without fear of death so SNY was formed. CDCR said OK that we now got these prisoners that want to drop out of the gangs, that's a win win for everyone. It took me until 2004 to check into SNY. I heard all races there stand as one. I said great. I think SNY has about 65% of the prison yards now, and about 80% of SNY prisoners stand as one voice, with 20% not ready or able to let go of the GP ways.
I can state I never had to debrief, I never had to tell on anyone, I am no sex offender. My position on sex offenders stands: they are still considered seriously damaged people that I myself stay away from. This person that sent you his BS about all SNY prisoners are weak and come to this side for better treatment is wrong.
I was in Corcoran as an SNY in the SHU and we all engaged in the hunger strike, we all signed numerous grievances and complaints to the administration, and as you know we didn't get all we requested but we did change things for the better. Yes CDCR needs to change its stand on SHU prisoners and I think this year will see more change.
Now when my SHU time was over they sent me to Ad-Seg pending transfer. Ad-Seg is a mix of SNY and GP. It was SNY prisoners who took the stand and boarded up, no GP took the stand but they enjoyed the outcome of our SNY work. We got our 3 showers each week back, we got hot meals with canteen.
We prisoners here in SNY do not get more privileges than GP. Our program is the same as GP except that they're locked down more because of the nonsense they're not willing to let go of. There has not been one lockdown since I got here six months ago, and that's because we still have guys who have disagreements but we don't try and kill each other, there are fist fights but it ends there.
So the program is the same, but we get more of it because we stand as one people and our fight is not with each other, our fight is to get out of prison as fast as we can. The way to shut down prisons is to not have prisoners to fill them. And the way that is done is for all prisoners to change their thinking, change their outlook on life and become better people no matter what color you are.
If prisoners would stop killing each other because of the color of their skin or where they're from there would be no need for SHU or Ad-Seg.
So before these so-called GP prisoners call all of us weak they need to think about the real facts. SNY in the next five years will be the new GP and these prisoners who want to hold on to the nonsense that keep them in prison will be locked away.
On this side of SNY we ask to be treated like humans and in most cases we are. When we stop fighting each other and put the paperwork in to bring back the programs needed to better our lives, then change comes.
I think we have the same goal in mind, unity and peace. I am willing to work to bring unity and peace to all prisoners no matter the color of your skin or where you are from. With dedication and determination we can change the system and make it work for us in a way to end business as we know it today. We need to reach out to those that will listen and work with us to bring down the number of people in the system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: First, we will address the question of unity and the interests of whites. We have always maintained that whites can be revolutionaries and can act in the interests of the oppressed. But we make statements about groups of people and their material interests. This individual white persyn may in fact really be willing to fight for the interests of all people, but whites as a group in the United $tates have demonstrated their material interests are aligned with the imperialists. And historically they have gone for fascism over revolution (See Sakai's book Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat). Examples of one white persyn in Amerika who claims not to judge people by skin color is not relevant to this scientific analysis. This is not about judging people for the color of their skin, it is about understanding the history of nations and national interests. We don't like Obama better as a President because he is Black, he's still the leader of the biggest terrorist government in the world. Nonetheless, we call on all white people to unite with the movement against national oppression both in the U.$. and globally, and we know some whites will be on our side.
On the SNY debate we have more unity with this prisoner. We agree that there are many individuals in SNY who are part of the anti-imperialist movement, fighting on the side of the oppressed, and not snitching or betraying people. But this letter goes too far in posing SNY as better than GP. Conditions are different in each state and even within states in each prison. We need to judge the actions of individuals rather than making sweeping assumptions about "all SNY prisoners are snitches" or "all GP prisoners are fighting each other."
We also do not agree that "If prisoners would stop killing each other because of the color of their skin or where they're from there would be no need for SHU or Ad-Seg." We maintain that control units are a tool of social control, not a legitimate punishment for prison violence. And so we do not blame the prisoners for the system that confines them and in fact encourages violence. We know that many prisoners in the SHU are locked up for their political organizing, not for violence. We should not perpetuate the myth of legitimacy around these control units.
Every ill-conceived notion and manipulative scheme to sabotage the success of the lumpen under class is embodied within the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
For the past 3 months a common front page headline article in the El Paso Times has been associated with a cheating scandal involving El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) "trustees" and various school officials and administrators. In truth, this scandal and scam has been marinating for years, not months. There is concrete evidence which shows TEA was aware that something was not right in El Paso but for whatever reason whether it be cronyism, nepotism, or a hidden political agenda, the scandal was kept quiet.
However, when the Department of Education and the Department of inJustice, represented by the FBI, got involved, a shocking scheme was revealed. EPISD educators and administrators were trying to game the federal accountability system by "disappearing" certain students who did not perform well academically and didn't score well on certain standardized tests. In some cases, EPISD administrators not only kicked poor performing students out of school, they did not offer them an alternative. Further, it was discovered that these crooked "trustees" would sic ICE agents on the predominantly Latino children, not just kicking them out of school, but deporting them out of the country! This ensured that they would not be around to tell it!
I mentioned that there might be a hidden political agenda at work here and there is. In 2011, during the Texas state legislative session, Texas lawmakers decided to cut $5.8 billion dollars from the public school budget. These budget cuts placed many school districts that serve minorities in dire straits; they just did not have the financial resources to teach the children or pay quality teachers. During this time Governor Rick Perry was eyeing a bid for the Republican Presidential nomination and in his best imperialist oppressor moment, he refused to accept any federal government stimulus money or allow Texas independent school districts to compete for money in a new initiative called Race to the Top. Perry outright lied to the media and said Texas educators don't need any federal money to educate children in Texas. The Federal government changed requirements and regulations for Race to the Top funds and allowed independent school districts to apply themselves for federal money instead of relying on racist, crooked-ass politicians like Governor Rick Perry to represent them. As a result of the rule change, Texas led all states in the United $nakes in applications for federal money geared toward education. Looks like old redneck Rick is out of touch with what his constituents really want and need. Or is he?
While Governor Rick Perry is fully aware of the lumpen's need for a quality education, it is not his intent to provide quality education for the lumpen under class. Better education would derail Texas's pathway-to-prison strategy. Do you really believe that Black and Latino men and wimmin have the market cornered on criminal behavior? Comrades, so many times it is our social and economic conditions that lead us to the penitentiary. MIM theorists have been telling us this for years!
In 1793 political scholar William Godwin criticized the whole idea of a national education system. He states in his inquiry concerning political justice that: "the project of a national education ought uniformly to be discouraged on account of its obvious alliance with national government. Government will not fail to employ it (education) to strengthen its hand and perpetuate its institutions...Their view as instigator of a system of education will not fail to be analogous to their views in their political capacity..."
We have taken a quantum leap here. We are not just talking about the flawed system of mis-education in El Paso or Texas as a whole. I am telling you that there is a serious flaw in the national education system in the United $nakes and this should be enough to convince a comrade to study Maoism seriously.
But I'm not done with redneck Rick yet. I want to reveal a couple more facts about what he has got cooking in Texas. Comrades, with a prison system that is overflowing with Blacks and Latinos, what particular slot is redneck Rick trying to get the poor lumpen underclass to fill? Moreover, what particular slot is this pig's poor education system trying to get them to accept?
Recently, 600 independent school districts in Texas took the State government to court stating they were not being given adequate funding to educate children, and that this neglect by the State amounted to a serious violation of the U.S. Constitution. The court ruled in favor of the school districts! Furthermore, it was found that Texas's inability to provide adequate funding for schools was unconstitutional.
Governor Rick Perry has recently been making trips to California attempting to lure businesses to Texas citing Texas's low tax rates and easy-going regulations for large corporations. Nevertheless, Perry ignores the cries of the lumpen for adequate funding for education. His actions speak volumes: "My allegiance is to the imperialist corporations, I could care less about educating the lumpen under class, they might wake up to my real agenda!" I suspect these are the thoughts of Governor Perry.
Today, February 22, 2013, activists from Houston, TX prepare to travel to Austin, Texas, the state capitol, in order to lobby and protest in reference to the $5.8 billion that was cut from education in 2011. The battle cry for the lumpen in Texas seems to be "If you don't fight for what you want you deserve what you get!" As the great James Brown would say "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!"
MIM(Prisons) responds: As we reported in an article in Under Lock & Key 30 on national oppression in education, on average, Black and Latino high school seniors perform math and read at the same level as 13-year-old white students. Money available for school districts with a majority of the students from oppressed nations is far less than what is available for white school districts, and segregation is on the rise again in Amerikan schools. So we are not surprised to see this story about Texas denying money and education to oppressed nation children. The court decisions in these cases have gone back and forth, and we can't count on them to rectify the problem.
While the differences in funding between schools based on national composition is damning, this is just a symptom of the problem. The campaign to increase school funding is dominated by the petty bourgeois labor unions who utilize oppressed nation children in their campaign for higher pay. As this prisoner points out, the schools will still be run by the government and deliver the education they want. This will not address the needs of the oppressed or create anti-imperialist change. We need to use the school situation as a tool to educate youth about national oppression and the need to join the fight against imperialism. Just as we run independent study programs for prisoners across the United $tates, the youth need independent education programs that teach them what they need to know to create a better world.
Recently an ex-LAPD officer, Chris Dorner, was in the news for killing cops and their family members, and then eventually himself in the resulting manhunt. This is a classic case of the chickens coming home to roost. When this story broke, many of us prisoners were not surprised about this activity. The state has for generations unleashed pig brutality on the internal semi-colonies (brown, black and red peoples), it is a way of life. What is surprising is for this to be unleashed on the state by one of its own.
Dorner was fired by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 2009 in retaliation for reporting police brutality including incidents of unwarranted abuse on innocent Latino and Black people in Los Angeles. This speaking up against pig brutality was crossing the line, and threatened the pig culture that permeates the states institutions. Poor people are looked at as the enemy by the state. It's not only one's skin color, although skin and thus nation continues to be a driving force for oppression. But state terrorism does not happen in Bel Air or other wealthy or "middle class" communities. These terrorist acts are carried out in poor communities.
When the manhunt was launched for Dorner, people were told that if they had a truck they should "stay home."(1) This is sending the message that the state is seeking to attack any truck on the road, and this is not a big exaggeration. One only need ask Emma Hernadez, the 71-year-old Chicana who was shot with her daughter while they were driving a truck delivering newspapers.(2) I didn't know what was more surprising: the fact that the pigs turned a truck into swiss cheese with wimmin in it with no provocation, or the fact that the corporate news media was slow to mention it. The Spanish language outlet Univision mentioned it while other English stations took days to cover it. When they did they grudgingly mentioned "a shooting" and a day later "two wimmin were shot." The media once more failed to criticize the state terror that we experience. This shooting was treated as critically as a fender bender.
What transpired with Dorner points to a contradiction within the United $tates where some of the oppressed are allowed to eat from master's table and given crumbs like jobs, rank in its military, and positions in the political body that ultimately serve the oppressor nation. These crumbs come at the expense of oppressing other oppressed people. This dilemma hits people with different results. Some in the military come to this realization while in the Third World and react by either committing suicide, attacking the state like Dorner did, or simply continuing to oppress other people. The media, which is the state's mouthpiece, says how "dangerous" Dorner is, but who is he a danger to? With his training he could have easily attacked people on the street but he stated he is bringing a war on the LAPD in an online manifesto, so the only danger he would pose is to the state. Putting the state on the defensive benefits those oppressed by Amerikkka.
The death of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty, like the U.$. military, has been on the rise in recent years. In 2009 there were 122 pigs killed in the line of duty, in 2010 there were 154, and 163 for 2011.(3) Like the enlisted military, Amerikan police are compelled to oppress Third World peoples, often people who look just like them. This has resulted in not only resistance from those being oppressed but also in mental trauma for the oppressor in what has been referred to as "post traumatic stress disorder." This trauma, regardless of what it's called, is brought on by one coming to the realization that killing innocents for Amerikan empire is a horrible thing; so horrible that it often results in violence either unleashed on the state, on oneself or one's family, or on the public.
Pig violence inflicts terror on the barrios and ghettos in the United $tates in its most crude forms, which then works to traumatize the people, particularly our youth. We are so immune to violence that we often consume the oppression inflicted on us and mirror this oppression on others just as many of those abused as children go on to abuse others. It is a process that mimics behavior one was taught.
We are beginning to understand that violence affects us more than we know. More than merely teaching us violent behavior, we are now learning that violence affects us biologically as well. A study recently found that children exposed to violence are prone to disease about 7 to 10 years earlier. According to this study "that early childhood adversity imprints itself in our chromosomes."(4)
Growing up in neighborhoods where an activity like walking the dog in the evening is met with being thrown against the wall by a pig, or a child riding her/his bike after school is met with being questioned, photographed and having a field card filled out which locks you into a gang database, affects our youth in ways we are only now learning about. National oppression is not simply occupying our land or killing us on the streets. There are many more diabolical ways in which this genocide is inflicted besides bullets.
The stress that our youth are now facing by the pig terror comes in many forms. One journalist for example said he interviewed a 22-year-old from Queens, NY who has already been "stopped and frisked" 70 times.(5) Think of how this must affect our youth when living one's childhood revolves around being approached, harassed and hunted by gun-toting pigs who you know have a license to kill you at any time. But the streets are not the only place where our youth are hunted by the pigs. In "operation crew cut" the NYPD doubled officers in an attempt to combat "gangs" via social media. This can be seen as an attempt to bait our youth online to discuss illegal acts or to pry info out of youth which may implicate others, trolling the internet in search of more brown and Black skins that they cannot get from the streets.
But wanton murder by the pigs is still alive and well; the lead raincloud continues to hang over our heads in streets across the United $tates. In 2011 54 people were killed by the LAPD.(6) This is the same police department that Dorner rose up on. This national oppression is supported by the highest levels of the Amerikkkan government. When the NYPD officer who killed Sean Bell back in 2008 was acquitted, Obama, who was a candidate for president at the time, issued a statement to the public to "respect the verdict." This is not a matter of a couple of pigs acting up here and there; it's national oppression.
The social reality of the oppressed is much different than what is perceived from those who are not oppressed in the United $tates. Our interaction with the pigs is violent and traumatic. It is common for homes to be raided by "mistake" and often these raids result in an occupant being murdered or injured physically, but almost always occupants are injured psychologically. The author Michelle Alexander gets at this a little when she writes: "In countless situations in which police could easily have arrested someone or conducted a search without a military-style raid, police blast into people's homes, typically in the middle of the night, throwing grenades, shouting, and pointing guns and rifles at anyone inside, often including young children."(8)
I would add to this that pig raids are much more than this for children. Anyone who has ever experienced a pig raid, especially through the eyes of a child, can understand what I mean. Personally I remember as a child when the pigs raided my home. Seeing our home stormed guns a-blazing, and having a gun pointed at me, watching my family be cuffed and beaten by these predators. It's not a matter of the pigs going in a house doing their "job." It is a much more brutal reality for most people facing national oppression.
The oppressed nations people here in the United $tates have come to see our social conditions as normal, but this is only because we have been oppressed since birth. We grew up with our land occupied, and we have never seen anything else but living under an imperialist society. Mao once said: "In class society everyone lives as a member of a particular class, and every kind of thinking, without exception, is stamped with the brand of a class."(9)
This cuts right to the bone of the matter and dispels the revisionist outlook of picking and choosing oppression to suit their agenda. What Mao is saying is everything is stamped with a class brand. Some will say art does not or should not be political but art will, like all other phenomena, have a class character to it and thus will serve one class or the other. This concept also applies to national oppression: if a nation is oppressed in any given society, all ideas — and thus actions — are stamped with the brand of national oppression. Pig terror is a form of national oppression we face in the United $tates and actions taken by Dorner are a result of the contradictions that occur when those from the oppressed nations grapple internally with what the state is having them do to other oppressed people.
On February 13, Dorner's last stand took place, where he was surrounded in a mountain cabin in Big Bear, California. He shot it out, taking down another pig before he was finally killed. This was an unprecedented event of an ex-cop declaring war on the state. But matter is in constant motion and contradictions arise constantly. The fact that people are products of matter tells us that there will continue to be contradictory struggles like this in the future. Historical materialism tells us that the oppressed will continue to resist in many ways. Even those who are lured or bought off by imperialism will many times break with the oppressor and instead serve the ruling class a taste of its own medicine.
Like many of you who are reading this issue of Under Lock & Key, I was saddened to hear about the senseless killing of 20 young humyn beings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. They were babies, taken away from us far too soon. After shaking off the initial shock, my analytical Maoist mind kicked into overdrive. I went into my locker and I retrieved my July/August 2012 issue of Under Lock & Key 27. I would like to quote comrade Soso of MIM(Prisons) in her/his piece entitled "Trayvon Martin National Oppression Debate." "A recent report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement cited at least 110 Black people killed by Amerikan cops and security in the first half of 2012."
Is this report not alarming? Should there not have been public outcry? Did not President Obama state: "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon." Well then why the hell didn't he form a special task force then to address gun violence? Was not Oscar Grant enough? What about James Craig Anderson in Jackson, Mississippi? What about young Jordan Davis of Jacksonville, Florida, murdered in cold blood because his music was "too loud"? All these young men of color murdered by white men, however, for some reason their deaths did not solicit the same response. Five hundred murders on the streets of Chicago this year! One fourth were under age 18. President Obama barely mentioned the gun violence in Chicago during his campaign. Why?
Comrades, the sad truth of the matter is, a Black life is not equal to a white life in Amerikkka. And it is not just the lives of Black youth that are under-valued. Latino, Arab, Asian, all are viewed as less than, undesirable, or expendable by the Amerikkkan Injustice System. This problem is pervasive and saturates the racist news media. Now here comes new gun legislation and "new" task forces. Who do you think the alphabet boys are going to be carting off to U.$. penitentiaries? Not white bread gun fanatic NRA members, that's for sure. It's going to be us! The Black, Brown, Asian and Arab lumpen underclass.
I recently was listening to a Houston hip-hop radio show on KPFT (90.1 FM) called Damage Control. The host "young Zeke" said "if a Black man shoots a bunch of people in Amerika he is a criminal. If a foreigner does it, he is a terrorist, and if a white man does it he's classified as mentally ill - that's bullshit!" Remember comrades "to be aware is to be alive!"
MIM(Prisons) adds: Since this comrade wrote this reflection, there was an incident in New York City where an Amerikan womyn pushed an Indian man in front of an oncoming train and killed him. She's been widely quoted as saying, "I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims — ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I've been beating them up." The victim, Sunando Sen, was Hindu.
Erika Menendez was charged with murder as a hate crime, but has been ordered to have a mental health exam. Whatever Menendez's mental health, it is not like she said she killed Sen because he had brown eyes, or was too tall. She killed him because of his perceived religion and ethnicity, which are both proxies for national oppression. Sen would not have been murdered if Amerika did not promote hatred of other nations who try to free themselves from the grip of U.$. imperialism.
Just because most Amerikans aren't sophisticated enough to distinguish different religions and cultures does not make their national oppression any less real. Islam has been branded by Amerikans as the culture of a dangerous foreign enemy people. Armed resistance against imperialism has been strong across South and Central Asia for over a decade and it continues to spread. This is the material basis for Menendez's actions.
Some theorists that dabble in Maoism have hypothesized that nation is no longer principal in the age of neo-colonialism (simply defined as white power in black/brown face). But MIM(Prisons) still holds that the principal contradiction remains nation under imperialism today, even if it is not as black and white as it used to be. In the discussion around Trayvon Martin, we already said that George Zimmerman's Latino family does not preclude him from being associated with white supremacism. Similarly, we do not need more info on Menendez's background to state that she was clearly acting within the ideology of white supremacism. Neo-colonialism isn't just for those with political power anymore. There is a whole movement to enlist young men from Latin America to fight for U.$. imperialism in the Middle East.
The concept of nation is based in social conditions, not in phony ideas of genetics as race is. So while Amerika was a nation built on a racist ideology, it is in constant flux, like all things are. Similarly, nations can be transformed through assimilation. And even as separate nations exist in the United $tates, different segments of those nations will have different interests at different times. Those who use identity politics and simplistic expectations to negate the national contradiction ignore these ever-changing and interacting forces. In the United $tates the national contradiction is at a bit of a crossroads, but internationally the contradiction is stronger than ever. This is why the internal semi-colonies would be smart to stay on the right side of history and stand against imperialism as their ancestors did.
As we've discussed elsewhere, there is ample evidence that most "mental health" problems are social problems, which can be addressed with a re-ordering of the society we live in. By ending national oppression, ending militarism and ending the competitive individualism of capitalism where people get left behind and become alienated from society, we can prevent the types of incidents that happened in New York and Connecticut.