by a California prisoner July 2018 permalink[MIM(Prisons): The following were submitted to us by a group of New Afrikans in California working with the United K.A.G.E. Brothers. K.A.G.E. stand for Kings Against Genocidal Environments. The United K.A.G.E. Brothers have been pushing this line of peace and unity alongside the United Front for Peace in Prisons for some years now. We stand in solidarity with United K.A.G.E. Brothers in promoting the tenants of New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism for Black August as a way to build for peace and ending hostilities. This can tie into further struggle for peace, unity, growth, internationalism and independence this September 9th.]
We aim to fast as a show of self-discipline and resistance from the sunrise until evening meal we will abstain from eating.
We aim to abstain from consuming any type of opioids, or other smokable or liquid intoxicants during the month of August.
We aim to combat liberalism even by limiting our selection of non-frivolous TV shows and educational programs i.e., radio, historic documentaries, journal writings and other creative art exhibits.
During Black August, we emphasize political and cultural evolution studies for those participants who care to assemble with other brothers and sisters rather by way of social media internationally and/or via facilitation within the institution forum.
As an external display, the delegates of Black August will wear a black arm band. Other ways to express our solidarity include: we wear either a black ring (made of thread) or a wrist band in eulogy to all those New Afrikan/Blacks who strove none futily and made an ultimate sacrifice for what they believed in to Live or Die in Black Liberation.
The New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist recognize Black August as a "revolutionary salute," in formation those nationalist and others who share or stand in arms with our ideology or are serious and consistently moving forward to end in voluntary servitude and other colors of repression, ossifyism, neo-colonialism should participate in solidarity with our aim to cultivate the youth in pinpointing the wrong, acknowledging the wrong, confession of the individual's fault, honest redemption, even understanding the aims of atonement, love for the people — eradicating self-hate via self-realized forgiveness, implicit reconciliation and explicit communal restoration while evolving with a sea of change toward a perfect Brother and Sisters International Union.
From prison to the street we aim to parallel a live concert and other forms of Afro drum struct-entertainment.
Black August bracelets and t-shirts will display our Red, Black and Green to promote our ceremonies and to raise economic support for both institutional establishment and to donate funds to the San Francisco Bay View prisoners' subscription fund.
NOTE: There will be no surprise in seeing a multicultural community, among the New Afrikan/Black youth event; even some rival ex-gang or active members may be seen. We are placing O.G.'s, reputables and other delegates whom are branches of our inside and outside executive body who would be responsible for preparing and sharing the proper attitude and conduct for attending all events correlated to our Black August Inclusive Ceremonies. We aim to attend these events peacefully and to actively engage with deliberative and mature dialogue again to even overstand the importance of atonement.
Reconciliation Periods: During the month of August these "reconciliation periods," will be devoted to events and other inside and out activities, conferences, seminars, summits and community service, which will create solid relations between New Afrikan/Black communities, make our communal a safe haven and develop positive interaction within the community.
[original statement goes on to describe these proposed events and community services.]
"If you are about peace then you are about revolution. You can't be about peace and not be for revolution!" — Fred Hampton
Conclusion and Ratification
In light of the collective prisoner activism seen over the past several years; however, it can similarly be fairly said that we have been making strides to abolish the walls upheld by self hate. As a collective, we believe if we build our foundation on divineness and brotherly and sisterly love, our united front will resonate with more results and gain true freedom under the guise of internationalism. "WE" struggle for the liberation and unity of all oppressed people. A prominent empirical indication of this "WEISM" is the historical and life affirming "Agreement to End Hostilities" (AEH), crafted in 2012 by the brave and forward thinking men held in California's solitary confinement units.
These trailblazers' agreement marks a turning point. California prisoners have transcended long-standing racial, geographical and ideological differences to provide a new model of prison to society coexistence, one fundamentally premised on the multilateral accord to end all group hostilities.
Because it is the new cool and it's our time as Kings and Queens of Peace we must fight to build self!! NO MORE GENOCIDE.
Who goes there? Calling on the keepers of the last grey stone. There has never been a time more appropriate for the gathering of the lost tribes of the dark world. However, is it real when we chant out "Black Lives Matter"? New Afrikans are launching the building bridges initiative of United Struggle from Within (USW) with the objective of reviving the Afrikan tradition of 'each one teach one'/'go a mile to reach one'. The most relevant topic that one comrade raises is to question "Does Black Lives Matter (BLM) when it is at the expense of the Afrikan identity?"
This subject will be covered by the New Afrikan anti-imperialist Political Prisoners over a period of time. In short revolutionary tracks this New Afrikan leader, alongside of all those who support him, will go in on the issues that face the BLM movement and what is to be done in order to paint a more clear picture for New Afrikans. This will be done in using language geared towards reaching prisoners, former prisoners and the righteous supporters of the anti-imperialist prison abolishment movement. We who are most affected by this principal contradiction within the United $tates; Oppressor Nation Integration (ONI) vs. Proletarian Nationalist Independence (PNI).
Jumping off the porch from the perspective of #If Black Lives Matter (#BLM) FREE LARRY HOOVER, FREE SHY C, FREE EUGENIE HARISON, FREE JEFF FORT, etc. FREE THE LUMPEN organizations and their leaders who for far too long bit the bullet for being the cause of the destruction of the inner city semi-colonies of the oppressor nation known as amerikkka. We who are truly the last hired and the first fired, we step to the plate speaking in plain language, asking the right questions. Like, if the CIA is responsible for all the drugs and firearms being circulated in the hood, why are we the ones who sit in prison since Black Lives Matter!?
We read publications, like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, that goes to describe the racial caste system of imperialist nations as the pit of class divides in the amerikkkas, but we go to the root issue of this class divide misinformation with the question of how could there be a class divide within an exploiter nation?
The whole matter is that really, we just want a bigger slice of the pie, but at whose expense? If Black Lives Matter, why settle for being black? Why not consider oneself to be in solidarity with a nation of its own, separate and unequal to that of its previous slave masters (oppressors), when we in all actuality just want to replace the slave masters only so that we may become them; Police bullies, gossip columnists, fake doctors, tax agents and bill collectors. We ain't doing nothing but reforming the beast (exploiter nation) that we love to hate. So in essence, the same crackers we claim is at the root of our suffering, the same bleach we claim to be destroying our skin, we're putting it on. We have become the beast. So why do Black Lives really Matter? Not until Black Lives become Afrikan, they don't.
This is the objective of this build, to destroy the misinformation spread throughout the prison yards, and the New Afrikan neighborhoods, done so to keep those of us who really suffer as a result of the oppressor nation's strategy to keep them (the so-called criminals, gang members and terrorists) uneducated about national liberation, un-united with those who share a similar national hardship/oppression, and dependent on the bourgeoisie exploitation systems of anti-socialism.
It is most imperative for those who hold most dear to the identity of Black Lives Matter to go to the root of this idea and relay the foundation of the identity of ancestral reality. Fighting over class positions that translate into a bigger slice of the pie, stolen from us in the first place, will get us no closer to the national identity determination and independence we so rightfully hope for. Only, that hope is false if we fall into the trap trick that selling our soul by becoming integrationist with the pig state that we will achieve national liberation. Remember, the pie (the systems like welfare, social security, income taxes) the exploiters created off the backs of we the People and our natural resources. If Black Lives Matter, why is it a crime for Blacks to consider themselves Original People (True/Native Ameriqans) or Asiatic Africans? Moors or Maroons & Caribbs?
Why do those who proclaim leadership or stewardship for the Black empowerment identity find themselves enemies of the state, that their own so-called people work hard with to maintain their Black Wall Street? Since we're on the topic, what happened to Black Wall Street? Did it really disappear, or did it turn up in Chicago with Oprah Winfrey, Louis Farrakhan and the 'Occupy Wall Street Movement'? A lot of groups ain't gonna like how we are connecting the dots to expose those who are most in need of the truth, that is the root reason for voices of the truly oppressed not being heard by the international supporters of anti-imperialism. But, we don't have nothing to lose because we never sold out, so it doesn't matter who don't like us.
We speak the People's & Kinsfolk's language (Block talk) because we are amongst them that are traveling in the murky waters, struggling with an objective solely rooted in delivering the message of Maoist culture in a way the People and Folks will comprehend it.
Knowing that we cannot free our people of their psychological enslavement without first addressing the national identity of WE as a socialist people. USW works from a bottom up vantage. We build from the inside out. Concentrating on the communities around us to develop independent systems of education, communication, economics and control.
"In order to guarantee that our party and country do not change their color, we must not only have a correct line and correct policies, but must train and bring up millions of successors who will carry on the cause of proletarian revolution." - Chairpersyn Mao Zedong
As we march upon 40 years of commemorating our Black August Memorial (B.A.M.), we recognize the historical origins of what this construct was founded upon, honoring our fallen comrades, i.e. George Jackson, W.L. Nolen, Joka Khatari Gaulden, Cleveland Edwards, Alvin "Sweet Jugs" Miller, and countless others, who were all murdered by this fascist police state, while fighting and resisting the social system of U.$. capitalism and its lackeys.
It would be easy for us to press forward and begin our collective fast, studies, and exercises come Black August 1st, as has been the case for the past 38 years!! So, the question becomes: "What have we learnt over this period?" And "What actions are we prepared to commit ourselves to, in relation to the contradictions that we've identified?" It is no secret, that our New Afrikan communities (N.A.C.) and thus, our New Afrikan Nation (N.A.N.) remains in a "state of emergency," while suffering from a litany of systemic social ills, such as: poverty, addiction, illiteracy, gang violence, tribalism, homeboyism, homelessness, pig brutality & corruption, Liberalism, egotism, inadequate health care, political immaturity, etc.
After being exiled in the state of California's notorious domestic torture chamber (Pelican Bay State Prison's Security Housing Unit) for the past 21 years (1994 to 2015), I've now been able to observe, examine, and study the aforementioned contradictions first hand, for the past 20 months! It is no question that we have our work cut out for us, and I'm confident that the fruits of our labor will begin to harvest the desired revolutionary consciousness amongst our people, as a qualitative negation of the false consciousness that has taken root in our New Afrikan Nation (N.A.N.).
Therefore, it is imperative to remind our people that Black August is a protracted struggle, that must be waged politically, socially, culturally, economically, and militarily 365 days of the year! And not just the 31 days that many unfortunately ascribe to. Our fallen comrades, have provided us with the correct line to march upon, via the fierce, defiant, and daunting struggle, by refusing to capitulate, submit, or surrender to the unrighteous decadent, and exploitative ways of U.$. Capitalism, which is the enemy of all oppressed people!!
In order for the true potential of Black August Resistance (B.A.R.) to be realized as a protracted struggle, 365 days of the year, we must recognize that our efforts will remain stagnant if we fail to develop cadres and equip them with the necessary tools. Tools that will enable comrades to be successful, by keeping the politics of Black August in command, in re-building our New Afrikan nation.
Meaning, we must set forth the course of a complete adherence to the standard of living that Black August entails, per the values, morals, customs, principles, etc. that are inherent in its construct. We cannot afford to waiver from this practice, if we proclaim to be serious about feeding, clothing, and housing the people, while pursuing the course of total liberation from U.$. capitalism!!
I've developed the W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program (W.L.N.M.P.) not only as a tribute to the legacy of our fallen comrade W.L. Nolen, but to also build upon the revolutionary principles that the comrade stood upon and died for! These revolutionary principles are the essence of Black August Resistance (B.A.R.)! And so, we invite all to join us in struggle, by contacting:
Attn: W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program
c/o John S. Dolley, Jr.,
P.O. Box 7907, Austin, Texas 78713
FREEDOM IS A CONSTANT STRUGGLE!!!
MIM(Prisons) adds: The W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program has been held back for a few years by censorship by the California Department of Corrections and "Rehabilitation." A battle MIM(Prisons) provided support for. We hear that the persistence of the comrades behind bars initiating this program has paid off and things are operational at the address above.
We are soliciting articles and artwork on the topic of prisoners engaging with organizing on the streets for ULK 58. This program is an excellent example of that. The WLNMP is primarily focused on linking people in the community with New Afrikan Revolutionaries behind bars to discuss issues of political struggle while meeting of the needs of everyday life. The comrades behind this project are proven leaders who have much to offer as mentors. We wish them success with this program.
"On June 19, 1963, nearly a hundred chairmen of corporations, foundations answered the call of the president of the Taconic Foundation to aid the civil-rights movement financially. Meeting at the Hotel Carlyle in Manhattan, they pledged over a million dollars to five major civil-rights groups. These leaders of finance and industry perhaps assumed that by assisting the established black organizations to secure their goals they could preclude the emergence of radicalism that would fill the vacuum if the movement failed. Whatever their intentions, these funds, and the sizable contributions from other whites and blacks, enabled the black struggle to expand, to reach more potential supporters, and to plan larger, more ambitious campaigns." (Wedding, Vega, and Mark, 2003, pp. 186-187)
Yes comrades, the capitalists took over the movement by buying our leaders from organizations such as SCLC, SNCC and CORE, etc. This list includes Dr. King, James Former, Roy Wilkins and Cecil Moore of the NAACP. They were able to create this capitalistic buy out because of exploitation of the fear already in the rich white capitalist. The name of this fear was Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, which they found out about largely through media:
"James Baldwin's 'The Fire Next Time' which forced into the consciousness of whites a new sense of the rancor of blacks and the destruction awaiting America if it did not quickly and completely change its racial ways" (Wedding, Vega, and Mark, 2003, p. 185).
He described the Afro-American's past of
"Rope, fire, castration, infanticide, rape; death and humiliation; fear by day and night, fear as deep as the marrow of the bone; doubt that he was worthy of life, since everyone around him denied it; sorrow for his women, for his kinfolk, for his children, who needed his protection, and whom he could not protect; rage, hatred and murder, hatred for white men so deep that it often turned against him and his own and made all love, all trust, all joy impossible." (James Baldwin's "The Fire Next Time" as reported by Wedding, Vega & Mark, 2003, p. 185).
This added to
"The popularity of the Black Muslims incitement of violent enmity, described by Baldwin, had first been impressed on white America by CBS's inflammatory documentary in 1959, 'The Hate That Hate Produced.' The Nation of Islam was depicted as an army of black fanatics planning for the inevitable race war. Little or nothing most whites read and heard informed them of Muslim success in rehabilitating blacks that others considered beyond reclamation, or of the Muslim gospel that blacks had to conquer their own shame and poverty by adhering to traditional American virtues as hard work, honesty, self-discipline, mutual help, and self-respect."
Things like this had a huge influence over wealthy white psyches. They began to fear these black Muslims. What I cite next took them over the edge, but Dr. King was ready to be the peaceful Negro leader solution.
"Malcolm X appeared on television more than any other black spokesman in 1963, and few whites remained unaware of his expressions of contempt for all things white, his appeal to blacks to fight racism 'by any means necessary,' and his insistence that the 'day of nonviolent resistance is over.' What often frightened whites instilled a fighting pride in blacks. An apostle of defiance, Malcolm particularly gave voice to the anger and pain of young blacks in the ghetto. His hostility and resentment toward whites epitomized their feelings, and they cheered when he preached 'an eye for an eye,' or when he brought 'whitey down front.' Such utterances expressed the rarely publicized longings of the dissident black masses. Malcolm's insistence on black unity and the right of self-defense, and especially his affirmation of blackness and his contention that blacks must lead and control their own freedom struggle, struck still deeper chords among the many in Afro-America who demanded faster and more fundamental changes in racial conditions and called for more forceful means to achieve these ends. To them, of all black leaders, only Malcolm seemed to understand the depth of the racial conflict; and only Malcolm appeared to view the black struggle for equality as a power struggle, not a moral one. To virtually all blacks, moreover, Malcolm X stood as an implacable symbol of resistance and a champion of liberation." (Wedding, Vega and Mark, 2003, pp. 185-186).
"The more Malcolm loomed as the alternative that whites would have to confront if CORE, SNCC and the SCLC failed, the more white officials acceded to the stipulations posed by the established leadership of the campaign for racial equality." (Harvard Sitkoff, 1981, "The Struggl for Black Equality:1954-1992, n.p.)
Using this, Dr. King and his cronies manipulated the power holding rich whites into sponsoring the nonviolent approach to civil rights, which they gained total control of, even picking who they wanted to be recognized as black leaders. This went so far up the political ladder that the POTUS of the era was effected and partially responsible for its growth as stated in the following:
"Kennedy began to act decisively on civil rights in the summer of 1963. He did so in part because of his personal sense of morality and in part because of his calculations as party leader and chief executive on how to respond to new pressure. He needed to satisfy the millions of Americans, white and black, liberal and moderate, protesting federal inaction and wanting an end to disorder. The president also had to dampen the explosive potential of widespread racial violence and to maintain the confidence of the mass of blacks in government. Additionally, Kennedy considered it necessary to assist Farmer and King and Wilkins in securing their objectives lest the movement be taken over by extremists." (Wedding, Vega & Mark, 2003, p. 187)
Once we see and know the truth about the fear and jealousy that King and his cronies had for the Nation of Islam in the persons of Honorable Elijah Mohammad and Malcolm X whose membership was growing exponentially in 1963-1964, which the nonviolent wing of the civil rights look at as a rival or even worse a direct enemy. What motivated King and his cronies was not the people's needs. It was power, influence and money. What is not discussed is that by many blacks Dr. King was a sellout in his own time. Later on Dr. King smartened up and became aware of the true enemy of the people, i.e. capitalism and wage inequality, which lead to housing and consumer inequality. He was assassinated before he could make this address on the Washington lawn. Killed by the capitalistic system as an example to show who controlled the movement and what was and wasn't allowed to be talked about. The slave master's name is not "whitey." Its name is "capitalism", which is the creator of poverty. Just ponder what happened to Johnnie Cochran when he decided to take on the United States on the issue of reparations for the slaves' descendants. Mysteriously Johnnie checked out on some cancer shit.
We should all wake up and see our enemy!
Ask yourselves: "Who Bought the Civil Rights Movement of 1964?"
It's been 50 years since the most advanced segment of national class consciousness of a people came together in unity nationwide in the inner cites to challenge imperialism. The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) was capable of leading the lumpen in the struggle for the overthrow of oppressive/exploitative relationships and the building of national independence, self-determination, and socialism. They were equipped with the right ideology of dialectical materialism, which is a concrete analysis of concrete conditions, and knew how to apply it to where the principle of "from the people back to the people" was being done successfully with the breakfast for children program. However, they couldn't combat the oppressor's COINTELPRO strategy, which destroyed a beautiful movement. We celebrate the sacrifices these beautiful men and women made when they stood up to fascism, and some lost their life to the struggle by death, or state-sanctioned death known as incarceration, and they will not be forgotten.
As I've read books by Mumia Abu Jamal, Robert Hillary King, Huey P. Newton, David Hilliard, and Eldridge Cleaver (just to name a few), I'm reminded of what it means to be New Afrikan in the United $tates, as well as why being a revolutionary is the most important ideology to have and apply when facing this oppression, and it's due to the same challenges we face today. COINTELPRO is not over, but has only advanced so that the oppressor does not see another people's revolution again. The spirit of the Panther lives inside of me, as well as countless others who languish behind enemy lines, and we will continue their legacy through our practice of serving the people.
MIM(Prisons) adds: As we enter the month marking the 50th anniversary of the most advanced Maoist party in the history of this country, we put out a commemorative issue focused on the BPP this summer for our 50th issue of Under Lock & Key. [In October, hundreds of copies were also distributed at BPP commemorative events. That month we also finalzed a new edition of our study pack: Defend the Legacy of the Black Panther Party.] We'd also add to this that the Party's own internal contradictions played out allowing COINTELPRO to deliver the death blows that it did. There is no all-powerful oppressor that can stop the oppressed, although we are in the minority in this country. So as COINTELPRO continues, we learn from history and push the struggle forward!
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.
Uhuru of the Black Riders Liberation Party - Prison Chapter: 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the original Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) by Dr. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Black Riders Liberation Party, the New Generation Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, under the leadership of General T.A.C.O. (Taking All Capitalists Out).
The original BPP arose out of an immediate need to organize and defend the New Afrikan (Black) nation against vicious pig brutality that was taking place during the 1960s and 70s; while at the same time teaching and showing us through practice how to liberate ourselves from the death grip of Amerikkkan-style oppression, colonialism and genocide through its various Serve the People programs.
The Black Riders Liberation Party (BRLP) came about in 1996 when former Bloods and Crips came together in peace and unity while at the Youth Training School (a youth gang prison) in Los Angeles. The BRLP, which follows the historic example set by the original BPP, is a true United Lumpen Front against pig brutality, capitalism, and all its systems of oppression.
The political line of the BRLP, as taught by our General, is Revolutionary Afrikan Inter-communalism, which is an upgraded version of Huey's Revolutionary Intercommunalism developed later in the party. Revolutionary Afrikan Intercommunalism is a form of Pan-Afrikanism and socialism. This line allows us to link the struggles of New Afrikans here in the Empire with Afrikans on the continent and in the diaspora. Thus Revolutionary Afrikan Intercommunalism is, in essence, revolutionary internationalism as it guides us towards building a United Front with Afrikan people abroad to overthrow capitalist oppression here in the United $tates and imperialism around the globe.
Our Black Commune Program is an upgraded version of the original BPP's Ten-Point Platform and Program, which includes the demand for treatment for AIDS victims and an end to white capitalists smuggling drugs into our communities. [The Black Commune Program also adds a point on ecological destruction as it relates to the oppressed. -MIM(Prisons)]
Mao recognized, as did Che, that every revolutionary organization should have its own political organ — a newspaper — to counter the psychological warfare campaign waged by the enemy through corporate media, and to inform, educate and organize the people. Like the original BPP newspaper, The Black Panther, the BRLP established its own political organ, The Afrikan Intercommunal News Service, and took it a step further by creating the "Panther Power Radio" station to "discuss topics relative to armed self-defense against pig police terrorism and the corrupt prison-industrial complex," among other topics.
Like the original BPP, the BRLP have actual Serve the People programs. When Huey would come across other Black radical (mostly cultural nationalist) organizations, he would often ask them what kind of programs they had to serve the needs of the people because he understood that revolution is not an act, but a process, and that most oppressed people learn from seeing and doing (actual experience). The BRLP's programs consist of our Watch-A-Pig Program, Kourt Watch Program, George Jackson Freedom After-school Program, Squeeze the Slumlord project, BOSS Black-on-Black violence prevention and intervention program, gang truce football games, and Health Organizing Project, to name just a few. These lumpen tribal elements consciously eschew lumpen-on-lumpen reactionary violence and become revolutionaries and true servants of the people!
Finally, the BRLP continues the example set by the original BPP by actively building alliances and coalitions with other radical/revolutionary organizations. George Jackson stated that "unitary conduct implies a ‘search' for those elements in our present situation which can become the basis for joint action." (1) In keeping with this view and the BPP vision of a United Front Against Fascism, in 2012 the BRLP launched the Intercommunal Solidarity Committee as a mechanism for building a United Front across ideological, religious, national and ethnic/racial lines.
While I recognize that the white/euro-Amerikkkan nation in the United $tates is not an oppressed nation, but in fact represents a "privileged" class that benefits from the oppression and exploitation of the urban lumpen class here in the United $tates and Third World people, there exist a "dynamic sector" of radical, anti-racist, anti-imperialist white allies willing to commit "class suicide" and aid oppressed and exploited people in our national liberation struggles. And on that note I say "Black Power" and "All Power to the People."
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: For this issue of Under Lock & Key we received letters attempting to feature the BRLP (like this one) as well as to critique them. For years, MIM(Prisons) and the readers of ULK have been watching this group with interest. We made a few attempts to dialogue directly with them, but the most concerted effort happened to coincide with the release of an attack on us by Turning the Tide, a newsletter that has done a lot to popularize the work of the BRLP. No direct dialogue occurred. We thank this BRLP comrade for the article above. The following is a response not directly to the above, but to the many statements that we have come across by the BRLP and what we've seen of their work on the streets.
On the surface the BRLP does have a lot similarities to the original BPP. It models its platform after the BPPs 10 point platform, which was modeled after Malcolm X's. The BRLP members don all black as they confront the police and other state actors and racist forces. They speak to the poor inner-city youth and came out of lumpen street organizations. They have worked to build a number of Serve the People programs. And they have inspired a cadre of young New Afrikans across the gender line. In order to see the differences between MIM, the BRLP, and other organizations claiming the Panther legacy today, we need to look more deeply at the different phases of the Black Panther Party and how their political line changed.
APSP, AAPRP, NBPP
The BRLP regularly presents itself with the tagline, "the New Generation Black Panther Party for Self-Defense." And it is not the first, or the only organization, to claim this mantel. The African Peoples' Socialist Party (APSP) was perhaps the first, having worked with Huey P. Newton himself at the end of his life. That is why in discussing the Panther legacy, we need to specify exactly what legacy that is. For MIM, the period of 1966 to 1969 represented the Maoist phase of the BPP, and therefore the period we hold up as an example to follow and build on. Since the time that Huey was alive, the APSP has shifted focus into building an African Socialist International in the Third World. We see this as paralleling some of the incipient errors in the BRLP and the NABPP that we discuss below.
While the APSP goes back to the 1980s, we can trace another contemporary organization, the All-African People's Revolutionary Party, to the 1960s.(1) The brain-child of Ghanan President Kwame Nkrumah, the AAPRP in the United $tates was led by Kwame Toure, formerly Stokely Carmichael. The AAPRP came to embody much of the cultural and spiritual tendencies that the Panthers rejected. The BPP built on the Black Power and draft resistance movements that Carmichael was key in developing while leading the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).(2) Carmichael left SNCC, joining the BPP for a time, and tried to unite the two groups. But the Panthers later split with SNCC because of SNCC's rejection of alliances with white revolutionaries, their promotion of pan-Afrikanism and Black capitalism. Carmichael's allies were purged from the BPP for being a "bunch of cultural nationalist fools" trying "to undermine the people's revolution..." "talking about some madness he called Pan-Africanism."(3)
In the 1990s, we saw a surge in Black Panther revivalism. MIM played a role in this, being the first to digitize many articles from The Black Panther newspaper for the internet and promoting their legacy in fliers and public events. MIM did not seem to have any awareness of the Black Riders Liberation Party at this time. There was a short-lived Ghetto Liberation Party within MIM that attempted to follow in Panther footsteps. Then the New Black Panther Party began to display Panther regalia at public rallies in different cities. While initially optimistic, MIM later printed a critique of the NBPP for its promotion of Black capitalism and mysticism, via its close connection to the Nation of Islam.(4) Later the NBPP became a darling of Fox News, helping them to distort the true legacy of the BPP. Last year the NBPP further alienated themselves by brutalizing former Black Panther Dhoruba bin Wahad and others from the Nation of Gods and Earths and the Free the People Movement. While there is little doubt that the NBPP continues to recruit well-intentioned New Afrikans who want to build a vanguard for the nation, it is evident that the leadership was encapsulated by the state long ago.
Readers of Under Lock & Key will certainly be familiar with the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, which was originally an independent prison chapter of the NBPP. Their promotion of Maoism and New Afrikan nationalism was refreshing, but they quickly sided with Mao and the Progressive Labor Party against the BPP and more extreme SNCC lines on the white oppressor nation of Amerikkka. They went on to reject the nationalist goals of the BPP, embracing Huey's theory of intercommunalism. The NABPP and the BRLP both embrace forms of "intercommunalism" as leading concepts in their ideological foundations. And while we disagree with both of them, there are many differences between them as well. This is not too surprising as the theory was never very coherent and really marked Newton's departure from the original Maoist line of the Party. As a student of David Hilliard, former BPP Chief of Staff, pointed out around 2005, Hilliard used intercommunalism as a way to avoid ever mentioning communism in a semester-long class on the BPP.(5) In the early 1970s, Huey seemed to be using "intercommunalism" in an attempt to address changing conditions in the United $tates and confusion caused by the failure of international forces to combat revisionism in many cases.(6)
Probably the most important implication of Huey's new line was that he rejected the idea that nations could liberate themselves under imperialism. In other words he said Stalin's promotion of building socialism in one country was no longer valid, and Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution was now true. This was in 1970, when China had just developed socialism to the highest form we've seen to date through the struggles of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which also began 50 years ago this year. Huey P. Newton's visit to China in 1971 was sandwiched by visits from war criminal Henry Kissinger and U.$. President Richard Nixon. Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, who would go on to foster normalized relations with the U.$. imperialists, stated that China was ready to negotiate or fight the United $tates in 1971.(7) The Panther visit was a signal of their development of the second option. But after 1971, Chinese support for the Panthers dissipated as negotiations with the imperialists developed.
A bigger problem with Huey's intercommunalism was how do we address the Amerikkkan oppressor nation when ey claims there are no more states, there are no more nations? In eir "speech at Boston College" in 1970 ey specifically refers to Eldridge Cleaver's "On the Ideology of the Black Panther Party" in order to depart from it. Newton rejects the analysis of the Black nation as a colony of Amerikkka that must be liberated. That Cleaver essay from 1969 has great unity with MIM line and is where we depart with the NABPP and BRLP who uphold the 1970-1 intercommunalism line of Huey's.(8)
Black Riders and NABPP Interpret Intercommunalism
To take a closer look at the BRLP itself, let us start with General T.A.C.O.'s essay "African Intercommunalism I." Tom Big Warrior of the NABPP camp has already written a review of it, which makes a number of critiques that we agree with. He calls out the BRLP for accepting "race" as a real framework to analyze society, yet the NABPP line also rejects nation based on Huey's intercommunalism. At times, the NABPP and BRLP still use the term nation and colony to refer to New Afrika. This seems contradictory in both cases. Tom Big Warrior is also very critical of the BRLP's claim to update Huey's theory by adding African cultural and spiritual elements to it. This is something the Panthers very adamantly fought against, learning from Fanon who wrote in Wretched of the Earth, one of the Panthers' favorite books: "The desire to attach oneself to tradition or bring abandoned traditions to life again does not only mean going against the current of history but also opposing one's own people".(9) This revision of intercommunalism is one sign of the BRLPs conservatism relative to the original BPP who worked to create the new man/womyn, new revolutionary culture and ultimately a new society in the spirit of Mao and Che.
The NABPP is really the more consistent proponent of "revolutionary intercommunalism." In their analysis a worldwide revolution must occur to overthrow U.$. imperialism. This differs from the MIM view in that we see the periphery peeling off from imperialism little-by-little, weakening the imperialist countries, until the oppressed are strong enough to impose some kind of international dictatorship of the proletariat of the oppressed nations over the oppressor nations. The NABPP says we "must cast off nationalism and embrace a globalized revolutionary proletarian world view."(10) They propose "building a global United Panther Movement." These are not really new ideas, reflecting a new reality as they present it. These are the ideas of Trotsky, and at times of most of the Bolsheviks leading up to the Russian revolution.
Even stranger is the BRLP suggestion that, "once we overthrow the Amerikkkan ruling class, there will be a critical need to still liberate Africa."(11) The idea that the imperialists would somehow be overthrown before the neo-colonial puppets of the Third World is completely backwards. Like the APSP, the NABPP and the BRLP seem to echo this idea of a New Afrikan vanguard of the African or World revolution. MIM(Prisons) disagrees with all these parties in that we see New Afrika as being closer to Amerika in its relation to the Third World, despite its position as a semi-colony within the United $tates.(12)
The NABPP claims that "Huey was right! Not a single national liberation struggle produced a free and independent state."(13) And they use this "fact" to justify support for "Revolutionary Intercommunalism." Yet this new theory has not proven effective in any real world revolutions, whereas the national liberation struggle in China succeeded in building the most advanced socialist system known to history. Even the Panthers saw steep declines in their own success after the shift towards intercommunalism. So where is the practice to back up this theory?
We also warn our readers that both the NABPP and BRLP make some outlandishly false statistical claims in order to back up their positions. For example, the NABPP tries to validate Huey's predictions by stating, "rapid advances in technology and automation over the past several decades have caused the ranks of the unemployed to grow exponentially."(13) It is not clear if they are speaking globally or within the United $tates. But neither have consistent upward trends in unemployment, and certainly not exponential trends! Meanwhile, in an essay on the crisis of generational divides and tribal warfare in New Afrika the BRLP claims that the latter "has caused more deaths in just Los Angeles than all the casualties in the Yankee imperialist Vietnam war combined!!!"(14) There were somewhere between 1 million and 3 million deaths in the U.$. war against Vietnamese self-determination. [EDIT: Nick Turse cites Vietnam official statistics closer to 4 million] Los Angeles sees hundreds of deaths from gang shootings in a year. We must see things as they are, and not distort facts to fit our propaganda purposes if we hope to be effective in changing the world.
We will conclude with our assessment of the BRLP based on what we have read and seen from them. While we dissect our disagreements with some of their higher level analysis above, many of their articles and statements are quite agreeable, echoing our own analysis. And we are inspired by their activity focusing on serving and organizing the New Afrikan lumpen on the streets. In a time when New Afrikan youth are mobilizing against police brutality in large numbers again, the BRLP is a more radical force at the forefront of that struggle. Again, much of this work echoes that of the original BPP, but some of the bigger picture analysis is missing.
In our interactions with BRLP members we've seen them promote anarchism and the 99% line, saying that most white Amerikkkans are exploited by capitalism. BRLP, in line with cultural nationalism, stresses the importance of "race," disagreeing with Newton who, even in 1972, was correctly criticizing in the face of rampant neo-colonialism: "If we define the prime character of the oppression of blacks as racial, then the situation of economic exploitation of human beings by human being can be continued if performed by blacks against blacks or blacks against whites."(15) Newton says we must unite the oppressed "in eliminating exploitation and oppression" not fight "racism" as the BRLP and their comrades in People Against Racist Terror focus on.
This leads us to a difference with the BRLP in the realm of strategy. It is true that the original BPP got into the limelight with armed confrontations with the pigs. More importantly, it was serving the people in doing so. So it is hard to say that the BPP was wrong to do this. While Huey concluded that it got ahead of the people and alienated itself from the people, the BRLP seems to disagree by taking on an even more aggressive front. This has seemingly succeeded in attracting the ultra-left, some of whom are dedicated warriors, but has already alienated potential allies. While BRLP's analysis of the BPPs failure to separate the underground from the aboveground is valuable, it seems to imply a need for an underground insurgency at this time. In contrast, MIM line agrees with Mao that the stage of struggle in the imperialist countries is one of long legal battles until the imperialists become so overextended by armed struggles in the periphery that the state begins to weaken. It is harder to condemn Huey Newton for seeing that as the situation in the early years of the Panthers, but it is clearly not the situation today. In that context, engaging in street confrontations with racists seems to offer more risk than reward in terms of changing the system.
While the BRLP doesn't really tackle how these strategic issues may have affected the success and/or demise of the BPP, it also does not make any case for how a lack of cultural and spiritual nationalism were a shortcoming that set back the Panthers. BRLP also spends an inordinate amount of their limited number of articles building a cult of persynality around General T.A.C.O. So despite its claims of learning from the past, we see its analysis of the BPP legacy lacking in both its critiques and emulations of BPP practices.
While physical training is good, and hand-to-hand combat is a potentially useful skill for anyone who might get in difficult situations, there should be no illusions about such things being strategic questions for the success of revolutionary organizations in the United $tates today. When your people can all clean their rifle blind-folded but they don't even know how to encrypt their email, you've already lost the battle before it's started.
Finally, the BRLP has tackled the youth vs. adult contradiction head on. Its analysis of how that plays out in oppressed nations today parallels our own. And among the O.G. Panthers themselves they have been very critical as well, and with good cause. It is clear that we will need a new generation Black Panthers that is formed of and led by the New Afrikan youth of today. But Huey was known to quote Mao that with the correct political line will come support and weapons, and as conditions remain much less revolutionary than the late 1960s, consolidation of cadre around correct and clear political lines is important preparatory work for building a new vanguard party in the future.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
by Stanley Nelson
This film screened in major U.$. cities in the fall of 2015. I was planning to use my notes in an article for our 50th issue on the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party. However, in February 2016 the film was shown on PBS with much publicity. Knowing that our readers have now seen the film we wanted to put some commentary out sooner rather than later. But do make sure to check out Under Lock & Key Issue 50 for a more in-depth counter-narrative to this pop culture film.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is an eclectic collection of video and photography, along with contemporary commentary from some who played important roles in the Party. The producer clearly had no deep ideological understanding of the Black Panther Party, as critics on the left and the right have already noted. What ey was good at was picking out some good sound bites and emotionally moving clips. Yet, even still, as someone with extensive knowledge of Panther history, i often found the film boring. Most of the audience seemed to enjoy it based on the loud cheering at the end.
I have not watched Stanley Nelson's other films, but it seems that a film on the Panthers is within the realm of previous documentaries ey has produced (Jonestown, The Black Press, Freedom Riders and Freedom Summer). It is curious that ey takes on these topics, and then does such a shallow portrayal of the Panthers. Nelson says ey was 15 when the Panthers formed and was always fascinated with them, but was not a participant in the movement emself.(1)
In line with the lack of ideological understanding, the treatment of Panther leaders was dismissive. The most in-depth discussion of Huey P. Newton was related to eir downward spiral into drugs and crime after the Panthers had been well on their way to dissolving. Nelson features sound bites from interviews calling Newton a "maniac" and Eldridge Cleaver "insane." Eldridge Cleaver was cast as a misleader from the beginning in this film. While both story lines are based in reality, the story that is missed is the great leadership role that Huey played, both ideologically and in practice, in building the greatest anti-imperialist organization this country has seen. At that time Eldridge too played an important role ideologically and organizationally, even if he was less consistent than Huey. Fred Hampton was given a more favorable portrayal by the film, but he died a martyr just as he was getting started. (And despite the attention given to Hampton's assassination there is no mention of him being drugged beforehand, presumably by an FBI spy.) There is a pattern of character assassination in the film that does nothing to deepen our understanding of what the Panthers were, why they succeeded, and why they failed. It will turn some people off to the Panthers and push people towards an individualist or anarchist approach to struggle.
To get an accurate portrayal of the Panthers one is better off watching archival footage, as today you can find ex-Panthers of all stripes, and very very few who uphold the Maoist ideology of the Panthers at their height. Former chairman, Bobby Seale, who long ago stopped putting politics in command, was barely mentioned in the film, perhaps because he refused to be interviewed.(1) Elaine Brown, who took over the chairpersyn position after the party had already moved away from a Maoist political line, does appear but has written a scathing denunciation of the film and asked to be removed from it.(2)
As other critics have pointed out there is a lack of mention of national liberation, socialism, communism, and the international situation overall at the time. It is ironic for a film titled "Vanguard of the Revolution" to ignore the key ideological foundations of the vanguard. This reflects a clear effort to build a certain image of what the Panthers were that ignores the basis of their very existence. As such, this film contributes to the long effort to revise the history of the BPP, similar to the efforts to revise the history of other influential revolutionary communist movements in history. This only stresses the importance of building independent institutions of the oppressed to counter the institutions of the bourgeoisie in all aspects of life and culture.
Beyonce is the Queen of pop in the United $tates, so this review isn't meant to uphold em as a revolutionary force. Eir ties to Empire and the lack of internationalism in eir recent series of publicity stunts is a reminder of Beyonce's attachment to U.$. institutions. Instead this article is meant to analyze eir performance at Super Bowl 50, and eir recently released song and music video, "Formation", from a revolutionary Maoist perspective.
The "Formation" video is the most interesting thing in pop culture in a long time, and the Super Bowl performance was likely the most interesting thing in all football history. Beyonce's dancers donned afros and berets (yet, not pants), and performed eir new song "Formation." Like Nina Simone, Beyonce is being compelled by the struggle of eir nation to take an explicit political position. Simone correctly stated that "desegregation is a joke" and Beyonce is suggesting that cultural integration is not worthwhile. After Martin Luther King was assassinated, Simone performed a poem which called for violent uprising against "white things", imploring New Afrikans to "kill if necessary" and to "build black things" and "do what you have to do to create life."(1) Simone was a reflection of eir nation at the time. While Beyonce’s twirling of albino alligators is a weak replacement for Simone’s poetic diatribe, we hope today's New Afrikans will keep pushing cultural icons in more militant and separatist directions.
Let's start with what holds this whole phenomena together. The lyrics for "Formation" are not revolutionary.(2) They promote consumerism, making billions, drinking alcohol, being light-skinned, and fucking. They primarily promote cultural nationalism and economic integration with Empire. What comment the lyrics make on the international relationship between New Afrika and the Third World is more promotion of Black capitalism, on the backs of the most oppressed people in the world – those who are slaving over eir Givenchy dress and dying to mine the diamonds in the Roc necklaces ey is rocking.
Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, correctly calls out Beyonce’s bad economic recommendations in this song, “her celebration of capitalism – an economic system that is largely killing black people, even if some black people, like her, achieve success within it – [has] also been a source of important critique.”(3) Although Garza’s comment is tame, it’s an important generalization to be made. Considering Garza’s following, it’s an important persyn to be making it.
On a positive note, the song celebrates New Afrikan culture that is still under so much attack in the United $tates. While we prefer the revolutionary content and gender relations contained in Dead Prez's "The Beauty Within", "Formation" is still an exercise of Black pride. Whether that pride is then mobilized into a revolutionary internationalist direction is up to the New Afrikan masses, who aren’t getting a whole lot of clarity from Beyonce on that tip.
“Formation” calls for New Afrikan unity of the sexes, and of females as a group (not unusual for Beyonce’s typical pseudo-feminist fare). In the lyrics about going to Red Lobster, or going on a flight on eir chopper, or going to the mall to shop up, Beyonce advocates a reward-based system for harmonious sexual relations. Beyonce also brings in gay and trans New Afrikan culture, from the use of the word “slay” over and over, to the voice samples and New Orleans Bounce style of music used for the song.(4) Resolution of gender antagonisms within New Afrika are a good thing. But if the goal is Black capitalism, that’s bad for the international proletariat and just an extension of the gender aristocracy phenomenon into the relatively privileged New Afrikan internal semi-colony.
MIM(Prisons) upholds the line that all sex under patriarchy has elements of coercion(5), and offering perks for enjoyable sex is still an expression of patriarchal gender relations even if Beyonce is not a typical male father figure. Within the predominantly white Amerikkkan nation, rewards for compliance with patriarchy help to unite Amerika against the oppressed nations.(6) But within the oppressed internal semi-colonies, these lyrics are more interesting, especially considering the long tradition of the Amerikkkan-male-dominated recording industry's use of divide-and-conquer tactics in selecting which music to record and promote. Beyonce isn't promoting sexual entitlement or sexual passivity – patriarchal values that do more to divide New Afrika in practice, and which are heavily promoted in mainstream culture. Assuming whoever is fucking Beyonce could still feed emself without relying on that trade, it's not a matter of life and death, and so these lyrics are less of a threat of starvation than a promotion of national unity. When united against a common oppressor, subsuming the gender struggle to the fight for national liberation, gender harmony in the oppressed nations can be a revolutionary force.
The best part about the song is the separatism and militancy. If the song were to get stuck in your head, it could be a mantra for working hard and uniting. It even gets into who the unity is directed against – Beyonce twirls on them haters, albino alligators. Ey twirls them, as in alligator rolls them, as in kills them. The haters are albino alligators, as in they’re white. Ey calls on others to slay these enemies, or get eliminated. In other words, choose a side.
The "Formation" music video, which was released as a surprise the day before the Super Bowl, is a celebration of New Afrikan national culture and a condemnation of oppression of New Afrikans. It is thick with important and unmistakably New Afrikan cultural references. Beyonce sings, poses, raises a Black fist, and drowns on top of a New Orleans Police car, sinking in floodwaters. A little Black kid hypnotizes a line of cops with eir incredible dancing, and the cops raise their hands in surrender. Beyonce raises two middle fingers on a plantation. There are references to the Moorish Science Temple, gay and trans New Afrikan culture, hand signs, a Black church service, and more, more, more...(7) "Stop Shooting Us" is spraypainted in the background. The subjects of the video look directly into the camera, confidently, and say "take what's mine," including Beyonce's kid Blue Ivy, complete with eir baby hair and afro.
This video doesn't clearly distinguish between integration and secession. Should New Afrikans just keep trying to make peace with Amerikkka, but while asserting a Black cultural identity? Should New Afrika honor its culture, and lives, by separating itself from Amerikkka and forming its own nation-state? Should this nation-state be capitalist or communist? Outside of a revolutionary context, much of the cultural markers that are present in this video could be taken as integrationist. Hopefully the militance and anti-white sentiment of the video will push New Afrika to get in formation to study up and push for actual (not just cultural) liberation from the many forms of oppression highlighted in the video.
The Super Bowl Halftime
That Beyonce was permitted to perform with dancers dressed up like the former Black Panther Party members is somewhat of a mystery. Is it because, ignoring any political content, one would still witness a show of tits and ass, so for the average ignoramus watching the biggest football event of the year, it's no different? Maybe it's because this year is the semi-centennial anniversary of the Black Panther Party, so it's gonna come up in mainstream culture sometime, might as well come up with lots of distraction from the political content. Or maybe the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement has made room for this performance to be possible, and perhaps even necessary to quell uprisings by helping New Afrika feel included in such a paragon cultural event. For whatever reason(s), it's obvious this half-time show would not have happened a few years ago. In fact, Beyonce led the entire halftime show in 2013 and while ey avoided any mention of patriorism, ey didn’t reference police brutality or New Afrikan nationlism either. It's a milestone, and one that shows Black pride is definitely resurfacing country-wide.
Not surprisingly, the Super Bowl has a long history of promoting white nationalism.(8) Some overt examples include in 2002 when U2 helped the country mourn 9/11, with Bono wearing a jean jacket lined with an Amerikkkan flag which ey flashed at the audience, with the names of people who died in the "terrorist" attacks projected in the background. In 2004, Kid Rock wore an Amerikan flag as a poncho, and when ey sang "I'm proud to be living in the U.S.A." over and over, two blondes waved Amerikan flags behind em. When necessary, the Super Bowl even has a tradition of promoting integration and "world peace," some of which we explore below. At this year's performance, Coldplay upheld these decidedly white traditions. Where there was one Amerikan flag, it was during Coldplay's portion of the performance. When there was feel-good bouncing and rainbow-colored multiculturalism, Coldplay was leading it. When the audience was told "wherever you are, we're in this together," the singer of Coldplay was saying it. It's not surprising that the white Coldplay frontman would be the one to promote this misguided statement of unity. As explored in the review of Macklemore's "White Privilege II" project, no, we're not in this together. And we don't need white do-gooders playing leadership roles that distract from national divisions, and thus, the potency for national liberation struggles.
At the end of the Coldplay-led halftime show, the stadium audience made a huge sign that said "Believe in Love." On the other hand, some of Beyonce's dancers were off-stage holding a sign that said "Justice 4 Mario Woods" for cameras. One is a call to just have faith that our problems will go away. Another is a call for a change in material reality: an end to murders by police. (Side note: Someone who was allegedly stabbed by Mario Woods just prior to Woods's 20-bullet execution has come out to tell eir story. Whether ey mean to or not, this "revelation" is being wielded in an attempt to discredit Beyonce as a competent political participant, and to lend more justification to the unnecessary police murder of Woods. Whatever Woods did just prior to eir execution, that ey is dead now is wholly unjustified. The demand for "Justice 4 Mario Woods" is correct, and underlines how New Afrikan people are gunned down in the streets without due process, which is supposedly guaranteed by the U.$. Constitution.)
While Beyonce's performance didn't break new ground by bringing up politics or social problems, it was done in a different way than in the past, that may be a marker for how our society has changed. The costume Beyonce wore, which was adorned with many shotgun shells, was a reference to the costume Michael Jackson wore during eir Super Bowl 1993 performance. Where Michael Jackson had banners of a Black hand shaking a white hand, Beyonce had Black Panther dancers, so touchdown for Beyonce. But where Beyonce sings "you might be a Black Bill Gates in the making", Jackson advocated for the children of the world because "no one should have to suffer." Beyonce's individualist capitalism is devoid of any awareness that today's New Afrikan wealth, especially of Gates proportions, is stolen by the United $tates military from exploited nations across the globe. Yet Jackson's multiculturalism invites unity with oppressor nation chauvinism, which historically usurps oppressed nation struggles and drives them into the ground.
In Janet Jackson's performance in 2004 (you know, the one where Justin Timberlake stalked em around the stage and then exposed Jackson's breast to the world), ey performed the song "Rhythm Nation." The video for "Rhythm Nation" features militant outfits, with pants. In the video, Jackson and eir dancers intrigue a few Black people who are wandering around what appears to be the Rhythm Nation's underground headquarters, another reference to the enchanting powers of dance. "Rhythm Nation" is about unity and brotherhood, "break the color lines", but it's not about Blackness.(9) At the Super Bowl, Jackson called out various injustices faced by oppressed nations (prejudice, bigotry, ignorance, and illiteracy) and called out "No!" to each one, but didn't make it about New Afrikan struggle. That Beyonce clearly delineates eir struggle from the struggle of whites with this performance is an advancement off of Jackson's.
On the topic of organizing females and combating New Afrikan female internalized racism, Beyonce’s performance is a step above other performances. A few examples: Nelly and P. Diddy's dancers in 2004 were dark-skinned but were straight-haired compared with Beyonce's backups. In 2004 they also wore straight hair, as in Madonna's performance in 2012 as well. Even though Madonna called on "ladies" like Beyonce does, Madonna called on them to cure their troubles on the dance floor. Beyonce calls on ladies to get organized (in formation). It should be obvious which message MIM(Prisons) prefers.
During Madonna's performance, MIA gave a middle finger to the camera during the lyric "I'ma say this once, yeah, I don't give a shit." But then MIA and Nikki Minaj joined a tribe of dark-skinned, straight-haired cheerleaders revering Madonna as their blonde, white idol. Beyonce's Panther dance-off with Bruno Mars is a step in a better direction. We also prefer Beyonce's dancers forming a letter "X" on the field (likely another New Afrikan reference), as opposed to Madonna's self-aggrandizing "M".
Whether it's dancing at the Super Bowl or dancing in front of a line of pigs, impressive dancing isn't what's going to get the New Afrikan nation out of the scope of Amerikkkan guns. Beyonce is a culture worker, so that's eir most valuable weapon at this time. As long as she keeps shaking her ass, white Amerikkka might stay hypnotized and let Beyonce continue to promote New Afrikan pride. Hopefully many people in New Afrika who watched the Super Bowl will study up on history, as Beyonce hints at, and revolutionary internationalism of the Black Panther Party can be injected tenfold into the growing Black Lives Matter movement.(10)
In the 20th century New Afrikans reached out to Islam in an attempt to find identity outside of Amerikkkan culture. In Islam they found history, identity, independence, integrity and a connection to the larger world, in particular the Third World. Today, revolutionary Islam is reaching out to New Afrikans and the First World lumpen. Just this month, an Al Shabaab-affiliated video was released featuring the stories of young men recruited from Minnesota who were martyred in Somalia fighting the African Union troops who serve their U.$. imperialist master. The first five minutes of this video is a pointed critique of the history of national oppression in the United $tates and the idea of race. It features footage from Rodney King to Michael Brown and uprisings in Ferguson, Missouri, prisoners from Georgia to California, and sound bites from Malcolm X to Anwar al Awlaki. It is an agitational piece that clearly promotes the national interests of New Afrika.(1)
In the video, Islam is presented as the answer to the racism and social hierarchy based on pseudo-biology that is inherent to Amerika. The conception of Islam as a liberation theology is not difficult to make given the prominence of the concepts of jihad, or Holy Struggle, and shahada, translated as witness or martyrdom. The Holy Struggle is to be one with Allah and to represent righteousness, truth and goodness as determined by Allah's divine wisdom. While jihad and shahada do not require armed struggle, martyrdom in battle for Allah's will is one way that Muslims can reach shahada according to the Qur'an.(2)
Throughout the stories of the Minnesota martyrs there is a theme of not fearing death, but rather running towards it. In regions where revolutionary struggle and political dissent of any form has been brutally crushed, Islam might fulfill a need in providing this basis for courage in the face of imminent death. There are many examples in history of the oppressed finding courage in a belief in their own immortality, but they generally did not end well for the oppressed. Ultimately, the myth of immortality may be good at recruiting cannon fodder, but it leads to recklessness and a lack of a scientific approach that is required for victory. We see the brazen unscientific approach to battle playing out in the Islamic State, which is now losing ground after a couple years of impressing the world with their successes.
"You can kill the revolutionary, but you can't kill the revolution." - Fred Hampton, National Deputy Chairpersyn of the Black Panther Party
Like the Muslim in jihad, the communist struggles to discover truth and goodness. But the communist serves the people, not Allah, so that goodness is relative to the real lives of humyn beings, and truth is that which changes the conditions of that reality. Whether we can serve the people better in life or in giving our lives will depend on the situation. But as most Muslims will agree, serving truth and goodness does not come in seeking death. Rather than finding our strength and resolve in myths, we look to this world to find strategic confidence in our victory. The vast majority of the world's people suffer under the current imperialist system. Yet that system depends on those same people to derive the profits that keep the system moving. So there is an inherent contradiction that will continue to play out in the form of class and national conflict until the exploitative system is destroyed and replaced with one that serves humynkind.
Islam is Growing
If there were to be a religion of the Third World proletariat, it would be Islam, just by the numbers. As of 2010, only 3% of Muslims lived in the imperialist countries, yet Muslims made up 23.4% of the world's population.(3) The Muslim-majority countries are dominated by young people, with over 60% of their citizens being under 30 years old today.(3) Thus the Muslim population is projected to increase, as Muslims will have birth rates twice the rest of the population for the next couple decades. The contradiction between youth and adults has always been an important one, with youthful populations being more open to change.
Of course, Islam has almost no influence in Central and South America and significant chunks of Africa and Asia. So Islam does not represent the Third World as a whole. But First Worldist chauvinism is just as likely to come in anti-Muslim rhetoric as it is to come in the form of racism these days. And it is interesting how its role among the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates has also emerged from the oppressor nation vs. oppressed contradiction, as we will examine in more depth.
It is of note that France, Belgium and Russia are the only imperialist countries that are predicted to have more than 10% of their populations Muslim by 2030.(3) In November 2015, France and Belgium were put under the equivalent of Martial Law in a search for radical Muslims in their countries. Paris remains under this oppressive police state months later. Following the attacks in Paris, there have been attacks in Russia and the downing of a Russian plane. Anti-Muslim nationalism is also rife in Russia, which has recently joined the war against the Islamic State in full force.
In the United $tates, Muslims make up a mere 0.9% of the population.(4) For this reason there is great ignorance of Islam, but Amerikkkans still share the anti-Muslim sentiments of other imperialist countries. 2015 saw the greatest number of attacks on Mosques in the United $tates on record, with a surge following the attacks by Muslims in Paris, France and San Bernardino, California.(5)
The imperialists have succeeded in creating a new race, that is Muslims, for the oppressor nation peoples to focus their hate on. Without this racism, there could be no bombings or occupations in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Yet the white nationalists, in their own twisted logic, can claim Islamophobia is not racism because its based in religion and not "biology." Academia and the media have jumped on this opportunity, presenting Islamophobic papers as legitimate research and reporting, in a form of modern-day phrenology. There have even been discussions online, no doubt dominated by Euro-Amerikans, about how being anti-Jewish is racist but anti-Muslim is not. It is amazing that in 2016, politricks still trumps science, and most people still believe in race. Racist has become such a powerful word due to a combination of the righteous struggles of the oppressed and the promotion of identity politics, that First Worldists are now convinced that Islamophobic chauvinism is not as bad as racist chauvinism.
Islam as Philosophy
When you study philosophy you will inevitably study many religious thinkers. To this day, you will find those who are very deeply involved in religions to be thinkers and philosophers who are trying to understand and use that understanding to interact with the world. As communists, we do the same. So it is no surprise that we often find ourselves in deep dialogue with those of different religious leanings. As we'll get into below, the underlying class makeup of different religions has more to do with how those religions engage with communism than anything else.
So what are we talking about then when we talk about religion? Religion is idealism with organized rituals. The organized rituals part is pretty straight forward. It implies that there is a group of people who adhere to the religion in order to participate in the rituals. And the rituals include all sorts of things from regular meetings, prayer, fasting, philanthropy, dressing up, studying texts, marriage, etc.
Idealism is a broader category of philosophy that includes religions. And there are different versions of idealism, as we might expect. What is common between the different versions is that idealism puts the mind as primary and matter as secondary or non-existent in terms of understanding the "real world." Prior to Hegel, who introduced the radical method of dialectics, idealism was generally metaphysical. Metaphysical idealism is the belief in predefined, static things-in-themselves. For example, for those who believe in one god as the creator, everything that exists is defined by an ideal image from that god. For idealists, there is a barrier between what we perceive through our five senses, and this pre-defined ideal. Philosophers like Kant, who Engels called an agnostic, falling between idealism and materialism, believed that the real ideal was unknowable, or knowable only through faith. For many religions, it is the task of the individual to attempt to know that ideal or absolute truth by following the rituals of their religion. In Islam, this is called jihad. The passing from the material world to the world of ideas is also called transcendence. Transcendence is a major theme of many religions.
For materialists there is no such thing as transcendence. We see that truth is obtained through our five senses in a constant process of gaining knowledge and understanding as a species through practice and the scientific method. There is no ancient scroll or secret key that will open our third eye allowing us to suddenly see and understand all the secrets of the world that are hidden from us by our senses. Or, as Engels puts it in describing why Hegel marked the end of philosophy:
"As soon as we have once realised — and in the long run no one has helped us to realize it more than Hegel himself — that the task of philosophy thus stated means nothing but the task that a single philosopher should accomplish that which can only be accomplished by the entire human race in its progressive development — as soon as we realise that, there is an end to all philosophy in the hitherto accepted sense of the word. One leaves alone 'absolute truth', which is unattainable along this path or by any single individual; instead, one pursues attainable relative truths along the path of the positive sciences, and the summation of their results by means of dialectical thinking."(6)
Why Do We Still Have Religion?
The United $tates is exceptional in the First World in often defining itself through religion (Christianity). One recent book describes this as a fairly recent development, starting from a campaign by industrial capitalists with libertarian interests opposed to the New Deal.(7) The author points out, however, that Franklin D. Roosevelt used a lot of Christian language in his promotion of the New Deal and criticism of the evils of the capitalist class. Roosevelt used that language to capture the populist interests of the majority in the United $tates who were suffering from the Great Depression. The Christian language was an alternative to the communist language in the Soviet Union, which FDR was trying to save the United $tates from. Since the Bolshevik revolution, religious language has been openly used to combat the materialist language of communists.
The capitalist class took up the religious lingo as a marketing scheme after they realized that campaigning honestly for their own interests against the New Deal was not going to get popular support.(7) They backed the election of Dwight Eisenhower in 1954 who brought "In God We Trust" to our currency and put "One Nation Under God" into the pledge of allegience. While Eisenhower did not undo the New Deal as they'd hoped, this trajectory continued with it's pinnacle in 1980 with Ronald Reagon backed by groups like the Moral Majority. It was Reagan who introduced the tradition of U.$. presidents ending speeches with "God Bless America." To this day these evangelical Christian groups have played a strong roll in U.$. politics.
This is just one example of how religion can be used to mobilize people behind a political cause. It also demonstrates how religion can be a very deceptive tool in politics because the politicians avoid talking about the real issues. While in the realm of philosophy we can talk about religion as idealism, in the realm of sociology we see it as culture. And culture is part of the superstructure in that it reflects the economic substructure; in our world that would be (imperialist) capitalism. And within capitalism the fundamental contradiction that defines that system is that between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. So, we will see how as the proletarian forces become stronger religion will reflect the proletarian world view, such as in Central America when socialism/communism had captured the interests of the masses in those Catholic countries. Religion must adopt a proletarian worldview to stay relevant as the scientific method begins to provide the masses with answers that the religions had failed to. In the status quo under capitalism religion most often reflects the interests of the bourgeoisie.
It has been popular in recent decades to talk about the clash of civilizations between the Muslim and Christian worlds. Some even look to history to show a long pattern of these clashes along religious lines. But these lazy historians cherry pick instances in history when religion is used to further the economic interests of different groups, as it often is. Yet a study of the causes of the most brutal wars in in our modern industrial society demonstrate that it was all about trade, markets and national interests. The two world wars were inter-imperialist rivalries over these things.(8) Then as communism threatened to remove vast segments of the world from the capitalist market economy, the imperialists took aim at countries building socialism. The focus on religion in the the last couple decades is a direct result of the victory of the imperialists in crushing socialist aspirations around the world. This repression, combined with some of the negative experiences countries in regions like the Middle East had interacting with revisionists and social-imperialists claiming to be communists, has led to a significant turning away from the socialist path in many parts of the Third World.
Islam and New Afrikans
Just as religion is today an outlet for many radical youth in the Third World, religion has been influenced by revolutionary politics in the context of New Afrika. In the 20th century we see a turn towards Islam by a number of New Afrikans who are searching for identity and liberation from oppression by Amerika. The great migration from the Black Belt to the industrial centers of the north was a time of great change for the nation, that left many searching for identity and culture. In fact, Noble Drew Ali, Elijah Muhammed and Father Allah all came from the south to face unmet promises of freedom and the American Dream.(9)
The appeal of Islam for people like Noble Drew Ali seemed to be in that it was exotic and unknown in North America, yet well-established elsewhere in the world. New Afrikans have spent much time trying to create a new identity by linking their history to lost histories of other peoples, and this was the tradition that Ali worked in. At this time, it seems that many would-be leaders presented themselves as actually being from more exotic places in order to inspire awe and respect from their would-be followers. But it wasn't just novelty that New Afrikans were looking for, it was something that spoke to their national aspirations, and not the same old Christian doctrines that had been used to keep their progenitors down.
There is a direct lineage from Ali's Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) to Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam (NOI) to Father Allah's Five Percenters, later the Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE). Even today people move from one organization to the other, building on the common mythologies between them. And all three organizations have had important relationships with various lumpen street organizations.
While loosely based on Islam with their founders basing their studies on religious texts, these groups represent a unique New Afrikan theology and culture. The NGE is the most eclectic of the groups because of its open nature. It had a more direct relationship to street life in New York City, and had influences from practices such as Rastafari, making it again a unique New Afrikan culture.(10)
While the NGE has generally shunned being called a religion, its primary purpose was in the realm of thought and philosophy. Father Allah focused on teaching, not on organizing people for any political goals aside from building opportunity for New Afrikan youth. Elsewhere we discuss the Almighty Latin King Queen Nation and its openness to representing religious ideas, while primarily being a lumpen mass organization. In contrast, the NGE, while rejecting religion ideologically, functioned primarily as a religious or spiritual organization, at least at first. It did evolve to take on more characteristics of a lumpen organization after The Father was killed leaving the youth to organize themselves.
In 1966, a couple years after the Five Percenters began, the New York City Police Department reported that they saw the decline of 200 street gangs, and the rise of one — the Five Percenters.(11) While they often found themselves in violent conflict with the armed wings of other New Afrikan religious sects, in 1971 the NYPD believed the Five Percenters worked with Muslims and Rastafarians in a vigilante killing of ten suspected drug dealers. Around that same time, in the 1970s, the Five Percenters played a leadership role in inspiring gangs to come together to obtain anti-poverty funds, parallel to what groups like the Vice Lords and Black P. Stone Nation were doing in Chicago.(12) In the later 1970s the Five Percenters recruited whole street gangs into their fold whose members accounted for a significant portion of the arrests in Brooklyn during those years.(13)
In another article on the MSTA, a comrade explains the dual roles of the organization, which began as a civic organization and later became a religion. This duality is another thing that MSTA has in common with the NOI, NGE and other New Afrikan organizations that are just as concerned with the nation as with spirituality. This role is also seen in leaders of Christian-based churches, as well as lumpen organizations in the New Afrikan community. While this is a manifestation of the continued national interests of New Afrikans separate from Amerika, it has unfortunately been used against their national interests as well. Some revolutionary theorists have pointed out that it is the most scientific revolutionary leadership that has been targeted for complete annihilation by the state, leaving those with idealist and profit-motivated views to fill the leadership vacuum.
Back in 1996, MIM Notes criticized the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan for stating that an earthquake would strike California in response to federal agents' harassment of NOI officials. MIM wrote, "While Farrakhan's statement appears on the surface to be an extreme example of religious metaphysics, Farrakhan was in fact skillfully using metaphysics as a cover for a crypto-pacifist line directed at his followers."(14) Farrakhan followed in Elijah Muhammad's footsteps, who predicted many major events that never materialized. The mythology of Fard (who is considered a prophet by the NOI) and Elijah Muhammad promoted the idea that the Black man was god and created the white man over 600 years of grafting by the scientist Yacub. Muhammad, and his follower Clarence 13X (later Father Allah), believed that after 6000 years the Black man would return to power, which happened to be in 1966. Muhammad predicted the "Fall of America" to occur that year. The early years of the Five Percenters focused on preparation for this event.
While Father Allah was close to Malcolm X even after both had left/been forced out of the NOI, ey did not join up with Malcolm because Malcolm had rejected the story of Yacub after eir trip to Mecca.(15) Later, Father Allah would take up the line that devilishment was a state of mind and not a genetically distinct white man that was bred by Yacub.(16)
It was Malcolm X who had developed the most scientific theory of liberation coming out of the NOI, which ey seemed to be separating from eir religious beliefs before ey was assassinated, by setting up two separate organizations. Malcolm X inspired many, but it was the Black Panther Party, a Maoist, and therefore atheist, organization that best claims to be the direct descendents of Malcolm's ideas.
The religious side of Malcolm's evolution was carried on by Elijah Muhammad's son, Wallace, who took leadership of the NOI after Elijah's death. Wallace had been shunned for siding with Malcolm in the past, so it was not too surprising when ey took the NOI and transformed it into a group based in traditional Sunni Islam, rejecting the mythology of Yacub and the focus on race. But once again, the appeal of that mythology had not died, and many traditional NOI members left. After originally following (and praising) Wallace's leadership, Louis Farrakhan restarted the Nation of Islam a few years later under the original teachings of Elijah Muhammad. Ey courted the Five Percenters as part of eir efforts to rebuild the NOI.(17)
It is MIM(Prisons)'s line that the principal contradiction within the internal semi-colonies is that between integration with Amerika and independence from Amerika. The continued interest in the mythology of Yacub indicates an unscientific rejection of integration by many New Afrikans. The organizations discussed here all have a significant base in the New Afrikan lumpen, and have ideologies that reflect a kernel of the drive for national independence. While some people from MSTA and NGE have recently distanced themselves from Third World Islam, we shall see whether this becomes the dominant tendency, indicating a further move towards integration with Amerikkka for New Afrikans.
"You know back in the day, some of y'all
Would shout out Allah's name like he was hostin yo' mixtape
Then after 9/11 you got scared and shut the fuck up
Didn't talk about the demonization of a culture, immigrants, nothin
Now you show up, talk about we takin it too far
Die slow! MOTHERFUCKER!"
—Immortal Technique, Watchout (3rd World Remix) from the album The 3rd World (2008)
Addendum: Islam Still Small in the U.$.
After publishing this article, we thought it instructive to add some data we came across on the numbers of people, in particular New Afrikans, who represent some strand of Islam within U.$. borders. That number is quite small, representing less than 1% of the people in the country.(1) Even within the New Afrikan nation the percentage is about the same. Yet, that hides the fact that New Afrikans are disproportionately represented in the U.$. Muslim because virtually all other Muslims are recent immigrants (63%) or descendents of recent immigrants from major Muslim countries.(1) In other words, 0.9% of New Afrikans is much greater than the almost negligible number of Muslim Euro-Amerikans. This leads us to the third pie chart above, showing 59% of Muslims born in the United $tates being New Afrikan. Again, this is why we stress the connection to the national question in the article above.
Finally, it should be noted that even among the small percentage of New Afrikans that do identify as Muslim, most practice a more traditional form of Islam than the groups discussed in the last section above.(2) While we didn't find good numbers on Nation of Islam membership, estimates put it at in the neighborhood of 10% of New Afrikan Muslims. The various sects of the Moorish Science Temple of America represent a much smaller group, though we know that among imprisoned New Afrikans the percentage is higher and we have gotten many letters of interest from prisoners in response to this issue of Under Lock & Key. We do not have numbers on the Five Percenters.