The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 63]
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Grit's Break Down Build

book tower

Being a recent student participant of an on-site college program, I heard about Grit via my psychology professor, who really sold the book as "the best work of its kind" in his lifetime. He was an abnormally straight shooter, and over the spring semester he gained a high level of respect from me and several Gods attending his classes. That being said when I read the title I became ecstatically interested in reading it. To make things 1000% better ULK sent a request that asked me to direct a selected few ideas from the book's chapters, repurpose the information in a way that makes it useful for prisoners and prisoner movements.

Taking Grit to the cipher those last days of Ramadan provided the forum that I used to gain opinions from the Gods here. First it was introduced and the purpose was established as to what I was planning to do within our cipher with regards to the book. It was agreed that we would give light to its reading, our interpretation of the book knowledge as it regards the prisoner movements (meaning unified actions of prisoners between different lumpen orgs, religious orgs, racial groups and at times including sexually non-conformist groups).

Once that was the base of our collective understanding, we read the very first part out loud in its entirety, without stop. This was done in order to gain a clear mental picture of what the author, Dr. Angela Duckworth, wanted us to know: How she defined "grit." Her purpose for writing this book. How this information could be used (individually, as a group, systematically, as a tool of help or to exploit). Lastly we brainstormed on whether the subject was new, unique or reminiscent of other books any of us read.

This was all done on day one. It included reading the preface along with chapters 1-5, checking the dictionary and thesaurus for words we either didn't understand or had different definitions for. This was to ensure we all stayed on the same page until a full grasp of the work was gained (or as we say, the who, what, when, where, how and why). Once that's gained then each God can go back to the cell and reflect on what is being said versus what the author's voice is trying to persuade the reader of. Because of lockdowns we didn't come back together again for some time. In that time I made 6 copies of the book and hand delivered the copies to each member of the cipher. I read ahead because of these time restraints for my response for ULK to be ready for this 63rd issue.

The subjects that I found applicable to the prisoners and prisoners' movement's need to develop grittier comrades on the front lines are from the Part II chapters: Interest, Practice, and Purpose.

Using "the grit test" [a questionnaire measuring someone's passion and perseverence - ULK Editor], we can discriminate in positive ways to create better recruiting methods when it comes to bringing individuals into the inner communal cipher or cadre. This will change the qualities that community leadership uses to identify like-minded soldiers. Though most will have to use interview methods instead of written questionnaires, and questions will have to be asked again and again in different ways before confirmation can be made.

The study habits and increasing interest in each member's confidence in sharing these interpretations of studied materials must become the job of all in leadership, with little to no critique at first and high praises to study habits and being able to communicate ideas in their own voice.

Standing up to injustice must be celebrated. Especially in times they are made to suffer by the authorities for doing the righteous and self-respecting thing — which is the institution's systematic way of pushing said prisoner to believe they are powerless. This is the creation of the passive prisoner who just puts up with all levels of abuse from authority. To fight this mental bullying the leadership must celebrate the comrade's actions openly with high energy. Leadership must show and prove they are willing to suffer some loss if and when making a stand causes such losses — a united front plus true knowledge of where the cadre stands on issues by actions, not just theory or talk-based instruction.

Grit is made of both passion and perseverance, creating and maintaining, stick-wit-it-ness, evolving interest and deep commitment. As opposed to natural skill, know-how or raw talent which may or may not assist in being a success. Comrades, being grittier means overcoming obstacles, learning from defeats and setbacks, and never allowing them to define who you are nor the movement. Remembering effort is worth twice as much as talent.

Example: Recently myself and eleven other political prisoners attempted to establish a self-introspection help program. At the beginning the administration acted positively about allowing the program to have a pilot try, yet once we got a free body volunteer to facilitate our group the administration changed its decision. This forced me to educate myself on group creation, rules of submittal and how to get sponsored state-wide, which I’m currently in the process of doing. The lesson is: don't stop at the first (or second or third...) signs of resistance.

Interest

This chapter was organizational gold when clearly understood. Leaders please pay close attention to each comrade's passions within your cadre or cipher, with even more emphasis on possible new members in relation to the struggles the cadre is immersed in. Understand what each person is passionate about, issues they will be more able to persevere through any pushback or reprisal.

Besides that, knowing each person's passions and convictions helps to know what position everyone is good at and areas they need assistance developing, which can be introduced in creative, fun ways, then incentivized through recognition and praise for gradual growth in areas of difficulty.

Example: Say a comrade is uncomfortable communicating their ideas publicly. This problem is amplified when the COs are involved to the point this comrade doesn't assert his legal rights nor is he respected as a man in the righteous way. Leadership must cultivate these skills in members who have difficulties related to these identifiable areas. The "you spoke really well" type or "the way you used those descriptors in the last essay was golden, so please continue to develop those skills" type of recognition and praise. I call it fanning the flames of passion, then directing the flames of progress and confidence among comrades.

Practice

Practice is something all gritty people have in common. You've heard the saying "practice builds perfection." Well after reading this chapter I must take it even further. Without practice as a united front executing plans in concert, you don't know how to work as one body. This will create the "big me and little yous," or followers resentment. Learn to practice making decisions together by hearing everyone involved out, allow each person the opportunity to lead in every activity. Practice writing write-ups, working out as a group, being inclusive as much as possible. This will make the cadre able to operate even when separated.

The author's research shows that this kind of practice must be done in association with a positive state of mind related to the balance of quantity and quality of time spent in skill development. We must also seek out new creative ways of practice in direct relation to the top-level goal. Formal repetition and fun activities loosely associated to goals are also useful tools.

Examples: Getting our comrades to rap in the cipher, incorporating subjects, words, ideas related to the group's mission may help them develop a public speaking style, confidence in speaking these opinions, and help them be more connected to positive public communication as a way to handle issues. Another more formal method is reading and discussing essays with the group, both on the yard and in closed room settings.

Purpose

ULK readers this may be the most important thing to learn about in this whole book with regards to prisoner movements and issues that create the necessity for a more inclusive united front. This author makes the definition of "purpose" more than the passion of the moment. Purpose is also the intention to contribute to the well-being of others. The balance of both is what is needed in these occasions and is found in all the grittiest revolutionaries.

The comrades that feel they were born to live and die for the people are of such destiny-driven molds where this quality is found, manifested and acted out. These people are rare and even when they reach the stage of public awareness they are usually murdered by one of the system's arms of imperial aggression. Purposeful Revolutionaries must be supported by the people and understood by their peers as the magnetic all-inspiring super-motivation-drivers that they are. When unity is necessary these forces of nature will bring organization.

Example: Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the BPP was placed inside prison for a shootout with the police, and he was railroaded the first trial. The whole country polarized over this miscarriage of injustice creating one of the most supported appeals California had ever seen. "Free Huey" was the call, Black Power was the purpose, and the results are revolutionary history and the thing of legends.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Thanks to this comrade for reviewing Grit from the perspective of a revolutionary anti-imperialist prisoner organizer. We also studied the book and found lessons we can draw from it for our own work. We can't summarize them all here, but will respond to some points in the review above and emphasize what we see as the most important points from the book. (Grit is available from MIM(Prisons) for $10 or equivalent work-trade.)

We are hesitant to take any of the studies in Grit as representing humyn nature itself. As with all bourgeois psychology, the studies were conducted under conditions of imperialism. So we don't know if they're absolute representations of how humyns' minds work. But since we're also organizing under imperialist conditions, the studies do apply to our present conditions.

Throughout Grit, the author uses scientific studies and also case studies of "paragons of grit" — people who have reached pinnacles of performance in their jobs. This is one place where Duckworth's bourgeois perspective shines brightly. The book opens with a study of the most elite forces in the U.$. military, and jumps from athletes to musicians to chemists. The only mention of a socialist hero is when Duckworth puts Joseph Stalin's name right next to Adolf Hitler's. Ey admits Stalin had grit, but also that ey was "misguided" and "prove[s] that the idea of purpose can be perverted." In our communist version of Grit we would include case studies of not only Stalin, but also Mao Zedong, George Jackson, Stanley Tookie Williams, Assata Shakur, and the tens of thousands of people who participated in the over-5,000-mile Long March in China in the 1930s.

Regarding the grit test, we caution against using it as a measure of who should be allowed into our movement. It can be a tool for assessing where people need development, and how much we could count on them to follow through in this moment. But Duckworth emphasizes strongly that grit can grow. In fact, Chapter 5 is titled "Grit Grows," Part II is titled "Growing Grit from the Inside Out" and Part III is titled "Growing Grit from the Outside In." There are many interventions we can use to increase the grit of our cadre. And building our own and our comrades' committment and perserverence should be our focus. The grit test may be useful for measuring if we're improving our abilities to build grit in others, but should not be limiting who can participate.

USW7 outlines above the importance of group practice, and we also want to add the importance of individual development for improvement. Elsewhere in this issue of ULK we lay out the guidelines for deliberate practice. The group mentality is important, but we can't rely on it for our development. Kevin Durant summarizes the ratio by saying ey spends 70% of eir time practicing alone. Both are necessary.

effort counts twice

Besides our ability to grow grit, one of the most important points Duckworth makes in Grit is that effort counts twice. Duckworth warns us against being distracted by talent, or assuming that one's skills are dictated by talent. Talent plays a part, but without effort, one's talent won't develop into skill. And without effort, one's skill won't develop into achievement. People who have less talent certainly surpass those with more talent in their achievements. They do this with effort. The ability to put in effort even in spite of repression, setbacks, failures... that is grit.

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[Gender] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 61]
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We Must Judge Lumpen with Proletarian Morality of their Oppressed Nation

Sadly, we as prisoners, in many instances take the judgment of our enemy, the injustice system, as truth even when knowing first-hand their ability to get a conviction has little to do with facts or justice. This knowledge should be enough that we not begin to persecute or torment any member of the lumpen class based on convictions and charges that derive in these kangaroo courts. The contradiction is that actual violations of this nature by any member of the lumpen class is a violation against us all. I have served justice on a street level against such violators. Yet I am in prison due to a sex crime conviction that was racially motivated. Even when the alleged victim was impeached for lying and video was shown proving my innocence a jury of 12 whites found me guilty of the crime. I have continued to defend my innocence, lead many groups in prison and stayed politically engaged. Yet I have to deal with the stigma that is created by this label. I continue to use my voice to awaken members of the lumpen class about the poisonous beast of capitalism and educate them about the benefits of socialism.

In the book Soul on Ice, Eldridge Cleaver has a chapter called "The Allegory of the Black Eunuchs," which I would advise all revolutionaries to read. Also to all my New Afrikan comrades our politics are clear on this issue as it was dealt with in the Ten Point Program produced by our revolutionary forefathers, The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Point #8 of the program states, "WE want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails."

Marc Lamont Hill, author of Nobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and beyond, commented in the August 2016 issue of Ebony Magazine on p. 109:

"To many people, including Blacks and radical activists at the time, the call for releasing all prisoners was the most controversial tenet of the Black Panther Party's original Ten-Point Program. After all, how could we justify releasing criminals into society?

"For the Panthers, however, it was impossible to separate 'criminals' from the circumstances that criminalized them. Racist police forces, unjust laws, unfair trials and biased juries all made it impossible to determine whether someone was truly guilty or simply the victim of a rigged system. Even those who were guilty, they argued, had their hands forced because of the oppressive conditions of capitalism and White supremacy. Essentially, the question was, How can you blame someone for becoming a thief when he or she doesn't have a fair shot at an honest job with honest pay?"

But the Panther Program did not end with releasing New Afrikan prisoners. Point #9 continues to explain:

"We believe that the courts should follow the United States Constitution so that Black people will receive fair trials. The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives a man a right to be tried by his peer group. A peer is a person from a similar economic, social, religious, geographical, environmental, historical and racial background. To do this the court will be forced to select a jury from the Black community from which the Black defendant came. We have been, and are being, tried by all-White juries that have no understanding of the 'average reasoning man' of the Black community."

Here Huey P. Newton was referring to the tenets of the United $tates Constitution to justify a move towards building independent institutions of the oppressed. Newton was always conscious to not get ahead of the masses, but to lead them towards viable solutions. And the Black Panther Party leadership knew that getting justice for New Afrikans in the United $tates was not viable; that only the New Afrikan nation could apply a just morality in judging the actions of its people in the context of being an internal semi-colony of the United $tates white power structure.

So my conclusion to the sex offender debate for issue 61 of Under Lock & Key is that at no point should we take our enemies word or level of injustice over members of the lumpen class, when those lumpen maintain their innocence. Yet we should stand against these violations if they are knowable facts. We should get to know each member of the oppressed lumpen on a personal and individual basis, while understanding the history of the white supremacist criminal injustice system of labeling political prisoners with these kinds of charges in their effort to get them assassinated by other members of the oppressed. Just think of how we lost big Yogi a year or so ago.

Freedom or Death!
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[Democratic People's Republic of Korea] [Militarism] [ULK Issue 58]
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DPRK: White Supremacy's Global Agenda

Nuclear Weapons Tests

Through the eye of the media, one can't help but see and understand the agendas being put forth. First look at how the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's nuclear program is being covered with emotionally-driven and fear-inspiring news coverage. In comparison to the cold war period in the United States, where that was solely ideological war due to it being two white global superpowers with different political identities the nuclear issue wasn't syndicated by news on the level that North Korea's nuclear program has been. The United States and all major countries of European descent have done everything in their collective power to keep these weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of nations, governments and people of color or hue. This is about dominance over every country in the world or simply put, 'might makes right' ideology.

Just look at what happened when Iran was building a nuke. How much these European governments were willing to do and in fact pay so that these Middle Easterners would not have the same power of destruction that they themselves wield, and the United States alone has used, on people of color.

These global white supremacists have done everything they could to destabilize nations' governments that they could not control by creating borders on foreign continents, setting up puppet governments (often dictators the likes of Saddam Hussein and Benjamin Netanyahu who use war as a distraction of their individual greed), support contras by the sales of cocaine on the streets of their own country, in which they've colonized other peoples. Gangstering all less technologically-savvy nations out of raw materials, such as petroleum, gold, silver, diamonds, chocolate, opium, uranium, spices, sugar, and factory workers who they pay slave wages. They then turn around and use this wealth to build factories in their home countries and pay their own citizens the going wages.

I say equal power is equal defense, which entitles all nations the same kind of weapons including nuclear bombs if that's what you could be faced with. These global white supremacists only respect those who can present an equal threat. History has proven these whites are the makers and users of weapons of mass destruction, from muskets, rifles, guns, machine guns, grenades, C-4, chemical gases, dirty bombs, hydrogen and nuclear bombs. They've created viruses, diseases, tortures. Yet the media is far more dangerous than any of the ones before mentioned, due to its ability to influence the minds of those not fully conscious of the reality of being controlled by the designers of this Global White Supremacy Agenda.


MIM(Prisons) adds: In July, August and September the Democratic People's Republic of Korea launched a series of nuclear missile tests. The DPRK reports it has developed a more advanced hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM).(1) They've also reported that their ICBMs can now reach the mainland of the United $tates. Meanwhile, the United $tates has launched recent tests of their B61-12, a bomb that delivers nuclear weapons by fighter jet.(2) The United $tates and Russia still have far more nuclear warheads than other countries, almost 100 times the number of what the DPRK has.(3)

Countires With Nuclear Weapons

People who grew up during the cold war lived in a culture of fear of a nuclear attack. So we do not agree that the threat was ignored during that period because it was "white" countries involved. If anything, we'd argue that we've grown too comfortable with the risk of nuclear disaster that these weapons continue to put us in since the collapse of the social-imperialist Soviet Union. And this cold war was also an imperialist reaction to potential resistance. Although the Soviet Union gave up socialism and turned to state capitalism in the 1950s, the United $tates held on to the anti-communist fear. Socialism in the Soviet Union (and China, and other countries) was a significant threat to imperialism, and so the United $tates prepared for a war to defend their wealth and dominance.

Otherwise, we agree with the author above on the hypocrisies of the imperialists. Militarism is integral to the economic success of the imperialist countries. The DPRK has never used its military to gain wealth by exploiting or stealing from other nations. Rather it sacrifices resources from its isolated economy to ensure it can militarily protect itself from imperialists who would otherwise use their weapons against the Korean people to gain access to the labor and markets that the DPRK government denies them. The leverage of nuclear weapons decreases the need to mobilize the able-bodied population into military maneuvers in response to U.$. operations on its border. There are two massive military exercises led by the United $tates on the Korean peninsula each year. One, Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, occurs in August when it is harvest season.(4) The other, Foal Eagle, occurs in the spring, often overlapping with the planting season in the northern hemisphere.(5) By increasing the technological capacity of its military, the DPRK allows for more labor time to be dedicated to agricultural production and better protects its food supply. Because of sanctions, the DPRK cannot rely on importing food from other countries when harvests are short. In other words, these new developments are a logical product of the U.$. imperialists' stranglehold on the DPRK through economic sanctions and massive military provocations.

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[New Afrika]
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Who Bought the Civil Rights Movement of 1964?

"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!
"CAPITALISM"

Ask yourselves: "Who Bought the Civil Rights Movement of 1964?"
Notes: Rita Cameron Wedding, Eric Vega, Gregory Yee Mark (2003). "Ethnic America: Readings in Race, Class, and Gender", California State University, Sacramento, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 4050 Westmark Dr. Dubuque, Iowa 52002; ISBN 0-7575-0363-2
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