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Celebrating the “Father of Black Liberation Theology”

Theologian James Cone, who died two years ago, “sent shock waves throughout the Christian world” in 1969 when he published his book on Black liberation theology, said Matt Harris, a doctoral candidate at UCLA who co-authored an article titled, “In the Hope That They Make Their Own Future: James H. Cone and the Third World.”  “Cone’s critique of capitalism was always coupled with a critique of American imperialism,” said Harris.

source: Celebrating the “Father of Black Liberation Theology”

Langston Hughes: Let Amerika be Amerika again

Langston Hughes: Let America be America again

Langston Hughes. | Painting by Winold Reiss (c. 1925) / National Portrait Gallery

As people in the United States mark the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolution of 1776, People’s World presents the poem, “Let America be America again,” by Langston Hughes (1902-67). One of the great American poets and fiction writers, Hughes’ work was known for its powerful depiction of the lives of the working class in our country—particularly the lives of working-class African-Americans. As he once said, “My seeking has been to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America and obliquely that of all humankind.”

In this poem, published in the 1938 International Workers’ Order pamphlet, A New Song, Hughes issues a call for the nation to live up to its great ideals of freedom and equality. He looks to a time when America will be a land where liberty is not crowned with a “false patriotic wreath,” but rather becomes a place where “opportunity is real” and “equality is the air we breathe.”

In our own time, when demagogues try to divide people using nationalism and try to convince us that America needs to be “great again,” it is appropriate to turn to Hughes. He reminds us of the dream of what America could be, but not yet is.


Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed –
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek-

And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean –
Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today – O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home –
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay –
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again –
The land that never has been yet –
And yet must be – the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine-the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME –
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose –
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,


O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath –
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain –
All, all the stretch of these great green states –
And make America again!


Incandescent Whiteness: Dispatch from Portland, Oregon

Incandescent Whiteness: Dispatch from Portland, Oregon
Incandescent Whiteness: Dispatch from Portland, Oregon

We are murdered, but there is no recourse because there is no crime. No death occurred because we are not human.

“Oregon started out being the only state in the nation with a Black exclusion law in its founding constitution.”

A few days ago, I was approached by a reporter from KOIN to discuss a potential interview about current events. The reporter wanted to discuss my views on violence.  I stated that the United States government (city, state, county and federal) is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world and felt it is improper to condemn the violence of protesters that has no proportional equivalent to the utter destruction reeked on Black people in Portland, Oregon, the nation and the world.  The reporter did not call me back for an interview.

So, getting back to the question of violence, it is important to define it. Violence cannot be defined as solely a physical thing and one could argue more violence is done through non-physical ways.  Gentrification is violence.  Racial and class disparate outcomes in health care are violence.  Racial and class based disparate outcomes in education are violence.  We can go on and make this claim in relation to every mainstream institution, i.e., incarceration system, employment, transportation etc.  This does not even get at the psychological violence that Black people experience everyday walking, driving, social mediating and watching a movie or tv show, where these venues routinely benefit from the absence, death and suffering of Black people.  But we should not diminish in any way the incredible power of physical violence. The US supported the 6 million deaths of the Congolese during the 1990s.

“The United States government is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”

These disparate outcomes cause what is referred to as premature death. Black people die earlier because we are marked as Black and experience anti-Black racism in each of these institutions.  And it is important to understand that the premature death is just the tip of the iceberg.  Before we die, we suffer individually and collectively often in silence and shame. Anti-Black racism is the particular experience of Black people that deems us within civil society as not-human, we are abject.  As a result we can be murdered, and at the same time, we are not murdered.  No death occurred because we are not human. Thus, there is no recourse because there is no crime.  That’s why white police officers and vigilantes who murder Black people almost never go to prison.  One could argue no crime in fact occurred because in the eyes of the state no murder occurred. Just like the rape of Black women during slavery. There was no crime because an object cannot consent.  The police, vigilante or rapist was in fact defending themselves.  Similarly, our mainstream institutions act the same.  That Black people experience amputation as a result of diabetes at three times the rate of non-Black people is not a crime.  Health care is never held responsible.  In fact, it’s the Black person’s fault.  We just need to eat better.

I have often asked my students why we are not going crazy because of the million Black people in prison, millions more who are out of prison with no ability to participate in mainstream society because they have the felony charge, and the incredible discrepancies in education, health care, housing and employment.  It’s because nothing is wrong.  No crime has been committed.  This demonstrates we are not part of society. We do not care.  I know that many of us do care, but not enough of us do to act differently.  Please be cognizant here that there are Black folk who do not think anything is wrong with the criminal injustice system.  You do the crime you do the time. Not enough of us acknowledge the depth of anti-Black racism. And, more incredibly this is the normal many would like to return to.

Tthere are Black folk who do not think anything is wrong with the criminal injustice system.”

Let’s look at the facts in Oregon. Oregon started out being the only state in the nation with a Black exclusion law in its founding constitution.  It wanted to be a white homeland. Thus, the Black population is no more than two percent and Portland is the whitest large city in America.  Oregon has the highest drop/push out rate of Black high school students in the country.  This means that many of these Black youth are destined for the incarceration system.  It is no surprise than that Oregon has higher than national rates of incarceration for Black people.  The Portland Metro Area has the largest proportion of Black people in the state, so it is the schools in this area that are doing the majority of this school to prison work.  Gentrification of the Black community is relatively complete. There is no longer a physical space of contiguous city blocks that determines a Black community in Portland. If you look at health care and employment, Portland and Oregon are no different from the rest of the nation.  I know this all sounds depressing, but it cannot be denied.  I think it’s important to sit with and acknowledge the truth.  We owe that to ourselves, our children friends and lovers at the very least.  My dad, for example, never told me that the reason his family moved from New Orleans to the Bay Area in California was his uncle was murdered by a white man because he would not give up his job as a porter.

“Oregon has the highest drop/push out rate of Black high school students in the country.”

The solution. I offer none that could flip the above on its head.  I could offer reform measures, but we already have these answers.  They have been provided for centuries now.  These are redistribution of wealth, free health care, reparations, free public higher education, ethnic studies curriculum and disarm the police.  Tax the rich. These are each viable and would impact Black people’s quality of life, but we can’t even get there.  For many people the reason is because no crime has occurred. I remember in graduate school this young white woman said to me if you want change just vote. The only option back then, it was the 1990s, was the democratic candidate.  I voted for Clinton the first time, but then the book The Bell Curve came out and Clinton said nothing about this. His wife went on the affirm my suspicions with her comment of “Super Predator.”  The Bell Curve was a huge success (the author still works at Harvard and is asked to speak) and argued Black people were genetically inferior so do not invest in them.  When Obama came around, he did not seem like a good option, so I voted for Cynthia Mckinney of the Green party. Cynthia Mckinney, a Black woman, was a US Congressperson then and staunch advocate for Black and poor people.  I knew she could not become president.  Obama won the presidency largely because of Black people and then went on to successfully contribute to the destruction of three countries, Libya, Syria and Colombia.  The first two counties are pretty obvious. The second not so much.  The Plan Colombia started by president Bush killed 1 million Black Colombians.  Obama took it on with enthusiasm.

I would suggest voting is not an option.  This moment appears and has the weight of being more significant than a few days ago, before Breonna Taylor’s murder, before George Floyd’s. Was there any significant difference between a week and half ago and today?  I’m not dismissing their death’s. I’m saying weighed against the last five centuries? Next week, two months from now, in a year, I am going to have to go back and work with the same mostly white people that got us here. I’m going to have to defer to their power.  Many of these people act surprised, although we have been yelling and screaming for our whole lives that substantively little has changed.  We remain slaves, abject, without honor, and gratuitously violated.

source: Incandescent Whiteness: Dispatch from Portland, Oregon


Understanding the Role of Police Towards Abolitionism: On Black Death as an American Necessity, Abolition, Non-Violence, and Whiteness

{Photo credit: Ashley Landis/AP}

By Joshua Briond

In Blood In My Eye, the late great George Jackson writes: “the purpose of the chief repressive institutions within the totalitarian capitalist state is clearly to discourage and prohibit certain activity, and the prohibitions are aimed at very distinctly defined sectors of the class—and race— sensitized society. The ultimate expression of law is not order—it’s prison. There are hundreds upon thousands of laws, yet there is no social order, no social peace. Anglo-Saxon bourgeois law is tied firmly into economics[…]Bourgeois law protects property relations and not social relationships.”  And while thousands across the country take to the streets to protest state violence, in the aftermath of the public lynching of George Floyd, we have been seeing the structural reality the likes of George Jackson (amongst other Black political prisoners and revolutionaries) brilliantly and elegantly theorized on and experienced, once again holds true.

In this moment, it is crucial to understand the role of the police at their core, as merely a hyper-militarized bottom of the barrel armed force of the ruling class. Our ruling class owned media tries to portray both state and federal level police as neutral actors enforcing public safety—when in fact their role has always served to disrupt (radical) political activity by any means necessary. The past few days have sprung speculation regarding the police and media conspiring and exporting counterinsurgency—which is clearly happening. But what if, instead, we saw policing under white supremacist capitalism as inherently and in a constant state of counterinsurgency—because such an act is how empire sustains itself—especially if we know that, historically, police have surveilled, repressed and infiltrated individuals, organizations, and political parties that they have deemed ideological enemies because their interests represent a legitimate threat to the capitalist white supremacist status quo.

“Power responds to all threats. The response is repression. If the threat is a small one, the fascist tactic is to laugh it off, ignore it, isolate it with greater the corresponding violence from power. The only effective challenge to power is one that is broad enough to make isolation impossible, and intensive enough to cause repression to affect the normal lifestyle of as many members of the society as possible[…] Nothing can bend consciousness more effectively than a false arrest, a no-knock invasion, careless, panic-stricken gunfire.”

—George Jackson (Blood In My Eye)

The issue is not simply “police brutality.” But, the mere existence and functionality of the inherently anti-black, subservient to capital institution of polic[e/ing]. “Police brutality” like many liberalized frameworks, individualizes structural oppression and power. Such framing leaves space for reformism, as if there’s only certain aspects of policing that needs to be readdressed. It’s an undeniable fact that technically “not all cops kill” but instead of moral posturing, we can focus on the political and ideological functioning of policing in service of whiteness, capital(ism), and settler-colonialism, as being in direct contradiction of the lives and well-being of racialized, colonized, and working-class people. Focusing the problem on the mere existence of polic[e/ing], as an institutionalized direct descendant of chattel slavery previously branded ‘slave patrolling,’ we’re able to discuss the inherent (racialized & class-based) violences within the institution at-large. And it allows us to reckon with the entire institution instead of individual actors, their political or moral standing, as well as individualized notions of “justice” in the face of terror, violence, and death at the hands of the police. “Justice” under this racial capitalism, is an impossibility—an ideological liberal mystification. The scarcity in the realm of political imagination that [neo]liberalism champions leads to a reality in which many people’s analysis and understanding of “justice” is merely individualized imprisonment and tepid-at-best liberal reforms. Advancing our collective understanding beyond the individual “bad” or killer cop toward an understanding of structural violence, is crucial to building an abolitionist politic grounded in empathy and community.

We have been bombarded with dozens of videos and photos of cops kneeling, crying, giving impassioned speeches, and public displays of some of the most shallowest forms of performative solidarity—an age-old tactic wielded to “humanize” officers and neutralize the perceived threat in the protesters, while also attempting to control the media narrative —only for these same cops to turn around and within minutes unleash terror on the self-proclaimed “peaceful” protesters as they chant and march in-advocacy for the ending of Black terror and death at the hands of the police. If the mere pleading for the ruling class and its on-the-ground agents to stop massacring Black people with impunity is enough of a crime to be met with chemical warfare, “rubber” bullets, harassment, beatings, and mass imprisonment—what does that say about the functionality of these institutions?

When we see agents of the ruling class in militarized “riot” gear, oftentimes comment sections filled with disapproval, American liberals claiming “they look like they’re in war,” and viral tweets from imperialist veterans not-so-subtly declaring that type of militancy should be preserved for Black and brown people and countries abroad—and not home. We must counter these liberal narratives by highlighting that there is no significant political, ideological, or moral difference between domestic police and the military. Both serve the same class and ideological apparatus and represent an occupying force wherever they’re stationed. The military predominantly operates as the global police of the world, or as George Jackson would call it the “international wing of repressive institutions.” But, when the domestic police are overwhelmed, they call in their big brother (US military) to help fight their battle—hand-and-hand as enemies of the people—in a mission to terrorize and politically repress racialized, colonized, and working class people. So when Trump says “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” and grants the military immunity to terrorize and shoot protesters that is nothing more than the head of empire simply carrying on the legacy of terrorists-in-chief before him, reaffirming the purpose of the mere existence of the military, as fascist enforcers of capitalist, colonial, and imperialist violence and their right to do what they already do to colonized and oppressed people in third world and global south countries.

We must realize that we mustn’t give cops, in all forms, the benefit of the doubt or go out of our way to plead to their conscience—in which most, if not all of them lack—because their articulation of the situation at hand, as evidenced by their preparedness and tactics, is that of war. And in all of its possibly well-meaning glory, going into battle with the mindset of pleading to their (lack of) conscience or going out of your way to prove you’re one of the “good” and “peaceful” protesters—through chants and other means—won’t stop the terror of chemical warfare that will transpire when the political performance ends. The police are uncompromising in their belief in the current oppressive social order, they have legally, morally, and politically pledged their lives to it, and we must be uncompromising in our fight towards tearing it down and building anew. There’s a reason cops show up to even the most “peaceful” of protests with militarized riot gear prepared at any moment to immobilize activists, organizers, and journalists while conspiring with the media apparatus to demonize protests and all of its participants.

 “The political act is defined as criminal in order to discredit radical and revolutionary movements. A political event is reduced to a criminal event in order to affirm the absolute invulnerability of the existing order.”

 —Angela Davis (If They Come in the Morning)

The nearly non-materially existing dichotomy between “good protester” and “bad protester” or “non-violent” and “violent” are not only useless identifiers, but an unfortunate fundamental misunderstanding of the structural powers that be, at-large. The ideology of Black liberation is inherently violent to the forces of capital and white supremacy. We must move beyond the media fueled tropes rooted in colonial moral posturing, that serves no one but our ruling elites. History has shown us, it does not matter whether or not you’re a “good protester” or “bad protester,” “non-violent” or “violent,” and/or “innocent” or “guilty.” If you are for liberation for Black people, you are a threat to the interests of capitalism and white supremacy, and must be systemically repressed, by any means. To fight for the liberation of Black people, especially but not limited to the skin that has historically marked criminality, makes you an enemy of said nation who’s global economy is predicated on the terror and death of the colonial, namely Black, subject. Liberation, and the pursuit of it becomes a racialized affair under a system of colonial and imperialist domination in-which whiteness—a system of racial othering—is exclusively depicted as proximity to power and capital, which Black and other subjects of said domination have neither. It is crucial for the sustainment of this moment that we, first of all, not allow media political discourse to divide and conquer the wide variety of effective tactics that have been wielded by activists and organizers since the beginning of time; while also collectively understand the functionality of police and prisons as they are: inherently anti-Black politicized tools of the ruling elite to maintain their hegemony.

“The legal apparatus designates the Black liberation fighter a criminal, prompting Nixon, Agnew, Reagan et al. to proceed to mystify with their demagogy millions of Americans whose senses have been dulled and whose critical powers have been eroded by the continual onslaught of racist ideology. As the Black Liberation Movement and other progressive struggles increase in magnitude and intensity, the judicial system and its extension, the penal system, consequently become key weapons in the state’s fight to preserve the existing conditions of class domination, therefore racism, poverty and war.”

—Angela Davis (If They Come in the Morning)

Our understanding of non-violence should be that of an organized and meticulous tactical approach exercised by the oppressed, as opposed to a moral philosophy, endorsed and preferred by the ruling class and its agents. We never hear the ruling class, advocate for non-violence with their singular approach when they are hegemonizing and tyrannizing oppressed peoples across the globe, while being cheered on and thanked by many of its citizens. Non-violence, as a moral philosophy, in a society where violence against the marginalized is the norm—where millions are incarcerated, houseless, subjected to state sanctioned violence, and live in poverty—is, in and of itself just another form of colonial physical and ideological subjugation and therefore, violence. But, so much of non-violence is predicated on the premise of legality—despite its social and political limitations. Laws are only laws because we, whether knowingly or not, coercively consent to them. At any given time our government can utilize and maneuver the boundaries of legality and illegality as applicable to the material interests of the ruling class. What we’re seeing on live display is the state and all of its willing agents and participants are very much willing to terrorize and self-detonate than grant Black people even the slightest bit of freedom; and history has shown us it is not only appropriate but necessary to meet them with the only language that they understand.

As Kwame Ture has noted, public pleas and non-violence only works when your opponent has a conscience, and the United States of America has none. Therefore, we must move beyond public outcries for vague calls for “love,” “unity,” and “peace,” waxing poetic, and pleading for our oppressors to somehow manage to adopt a conscience and do what goes against the very ideological and economic foundation of all their colonial institutions: stop terrorizing and killing us. We must move beyond the cycle of inaction and emotional appeals, through stagnantly and continuously debating the semantics of ‘Black Lives Matter’ and other moral and political posturing, when the reality of our situation is clear: Black lives can never truly matter under captivity of white supremacist capitalism and colonial patriarchy that directly and consequently begets Black oppression. How can it, when Black death is a necessity of racial capitalism and the institutions (such as policing and prisons) that exist to uphold it? So instead of public appeals to the ruling class and its agents to recognize the “humanity” in those relegated to slave; we recognized the reality in which racialized terror and violence is quite literally the point—as the mere existence of Black lives are in direct and inherent contradiction with the forces of capital—and a necessity for the continued maintenance of the current white supremacist capitalist, imperialist, (settler-)colonial order. It is crucial for us to remember that these institutions, namely policing and prisons, that continue to so violently persist, are merely an extension of European colonialism and slavery.

“…with each reform, revolution became more remote[…]But if one were forced for the sake of clarity to define [fascism] in a word simple enough for all to understand, that word would be ‘reform.’”

—George Jackson (Blood In My Eye)

The only realistic solution to a reality in which anti-Black terror, violence, and death is an inevitability to the functionality of a system, is abolition. Yet, ironically enough, the lack of political imagination, beyond the electoral strategy and reformism, and the inability to envision a world, or even country, devoid of police and prisons is rooted in (anti-Black), racialized colonial logics of the biologically determined criminal, slave, and savage. The notion that an (uncivilized) people must to be, at all times, patrolled and policed, or else chaos and violence would reign, has been used as a justification for countless structural violences on the part of European peoples since the origins of colonialism. If we know criminality is inherently racialized, one must ask themselves: when you envision the criminal and/or “evildoer,” what do you see? What do they look like? More than likely it is someone who is non-white and/or poor. This is something we have to seriously grapple with, even amongst abolitionist circles. The vast majority of people who, for whatever reason, are incapable of envisioning a world without police and prisons, are simply unwilling to interrogate the dominant ideological apparatus that we have all, in one way or another, internalized.

Emphasizing the largely classed and gendered based nature of crime, is of the utmost importance. Crime is not an “inevitable” aspect of society, but an inevitable reaction to socio-economic and political structural forces at-large; specifically poverty being an inevitability of capitalism while sexual, gendered, and domestic violences are an inevitability of colonial patriarchy. If we combat the systems, we combat the social reactions.

Another thing we’re witnessing is white people moralizing the looting, destruction of, and “violence” towards inanimate objects (despite the fact that white history is that of constant looting, destruction, and violence) as result of their moral, spiritual, and political ties to land, property, monuments, and capital built on genocide and slavery. Whiteness being so inextricable to the foundations of capital(ism) and ultimately property, inhibits white people’s ability to extend such an empathy to the lives of Black people. Property and capital, being so inextricable to the foundations of whiteness and the construction of race, as a whole, ushers in the reality in which they become God-like figures. White people’s existence on this planet and their understanding of the world makes so much more sense once you realize that, white people, globally, are the police. Whiteness allows and entails them the “monopoly on morality” to be such a thing. Whether it’s with foreign affairs, and their paternalistic analysis of non-white countries, which ultimately leads to the justifying the actions of their imperialist government—even from “socially conscious” white folks. Or, in the case of how they overwhelmingly believe they maintain the prerogative to dictate the ways subjects of white oppression retaliate against said oppression (though, to be fair, they technically do). But, the point is: the entire logic of whiteness, as a deliberately political and social invention, makes it such a construct that’s—under white supremacy—inseparable from the role of the state. therefore, white people assume these roles as agents of the state globally—whether subconsciously or not.

And, of course, this is why we have been subjected to countless imagery on social media of white people (and those aspiring to be white by-way-of proximity to capital, power, and “respectability”) putting their bodies and lives on the line to protect capital (and physical embodiments of it) and private property—in a way that they would never sacrifice their bodies or even time for Black lives and liberation. Such an imagery should serve as a spit in the face to not just Black people, but all persons concerned with our liberation from the chains of capital. If persons of the white race are willing to put their lives on the line for their god: property and capital, but wouldn’t bother doing such a thing for Black people: what does that say about how they see us? We’re beneath inanimate objects on the hierarchy of things worthy of protection. But, it also just goes to show that as much as the white American is willing to die for property relations and capital—by any means necessary—we must be willing to live and die for our collective liberation. Let this be a moment in which we’re reminded that if there’s ever scenario in which our ruling elites are ever in-need of more armed protectors of the white supremacist status quo there will be countless ordinary white people, at the front of the line, fully prepared to live out their white vigilante idealizations and sacrifice their lives and bodies to save settler capitalism.



Law Enforcement Continues the Racist Legacy it Was Born From

By Ben Luongo

The killing of George Floyd has put on full display the persistent and overt racism present in America’s law enforcement. The way in which he was murdered typifies the gratuitous violence that white officers use on a daily basis against black men. The police always deploy force disproportionately against minorities, and that force is often deadly. Black men make up only thirteen percent of the population, but they constitute a quarter of the people shot and killed by cops. This makes them three times more likely than white people to be killed by police, despite the fact that white people are more likely to be armed.

The brutal and oppressive racism in the police force has led activists and political leaders in recent years to call for police reform. Those calls have reached new levels following the murder of George Floyd. One example is Joe Biden who said on a live-stream last week “It’s time for us to face that deep open wound we have in this nation. We need justice for George Floyd. We need real police reform.” Other examples include the founder of Utah’s Black Lives Matter, Lex Scott, who recently called for certain measures such as “data collection, de-escalation training for police, implicit bias training for police, less than lethal weapons for police.”

These are reasonable measures and we should seriously consider them. However, it is important that we not place complete faith in the promise of reform and that we remain open to alternatives to law enforcement. The reason for this is that the police have major structural problems which may be too deep-seated for modest reforms to solve. The idea of reform assumes that a system functions largely as it should aside from a few noticeable flaws. Whatever those flaws are can be corrected, or reformed, by implementing simple adjustments to improve how the system functions. As this relates to police reform, it assumes that police are a vital part of law enforcement and that we can fix the problem of racism to ensure that policing is more just and fair.

There are two issues with this view, however, which exposes the limitation of police reform. The first is that it assumes police are somehow a natural fixture of modern society that play a necessary role in maintaining order. This just isn’t the case. In reality, today’s institution of policing is a rather recent historical development emerging out of modern changes of property relations and white supremacy. As a result, policing continues an outmoded legacy of social order which serves very little purpose for our modern society. This brings up the second issue: because the police are rooted in racist and classist modes of social order, white supremacy may be a built-in feature which cannot be expunged from the institution of police.

One has only to consider this history in order to realize that the police were never intended to serve and protect people. Instead, they were designed to protect the property and economic interest of white elites and slave owners. Two related points in American history exemplify this.

The first can be found in 200 year-old methods designed to control and repress slave populations. As historian Salley Hadden writes in Slave Patrol, “the new American innovation in law enforcement during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was the creation of racially focused law enforcement groups in the American south.” As the south began to industrialize, slave owners found new lucrative opportunities in “renting out” their slaves to employers in the city. This meant that slaves spent more time away from their owners who were used to monitoring their every move. White people grew fearful of the opportunities this provided for slaves to organize and revolt against their masters. As a result, the state instituted race-based forms of legal repression called slave patrols. These slave patrols, as Robert Wintersmith rights, “scoured the country side day and night, intimidating, terrorizing, and brutalizing slaves into submission.”

Today’s police also has its origins in 19th century class struggle and how American cities in the north used state violence to repress and control immigrants and the working poor. As historian Sydney Harring writes in Policing a Class Society, “The criminologist’s definition of ‘public order crimes’ comes perilously close to the historian’s description of ‘working-class leisure-time activity.” As rural peasants migrated to urban areas looking for work, city and business leaders worried about the rise of “disorderly conduct,” which was essentially code for worker strikes, riots, and other kinds of collective activity. Cities stopped this kind of activity by hiring watchmen, which were groups of men who often resorted to extreme forms of violence in order to keep the peace. They slowly morphed into municipal police departments in the mid-19th century as states began to centralize power.

In general, the origins of the police reflects an oppressive history of white and propertied elites protecting their interests by controlling black people, immigrants, and the working poor. As a result, our modern society has been saddled with a paradigm of social order which reflects the interests of white supremacy and private property. Just consider how white cops brutally murdered George Floyd after receiving a report of him allegedly purchasing merchandize with counterfeit money. We like to think that, after two hundred years, today’s police academy reflects more modern values of justice and equality. While social institutions do evolve throughout history, however, they rarely abandon the legacy they were born out of. The structures of power that gave rise to the police simply reproduce themselves in new ways that make the paradigm of police violence more acceptable. In today’s context, this takes form in a racist discourse that justifies police brutality against the backdrop of “super-predators” and “thugs” that threaten social order.

Quite frankly, the idea that cops prevent crime is a myth that Americans should disabuse themselves of. Not only has the overall number of cops declined for the past five years, but the ratio of police per citizen has dropped for the past two decades. During this time, the number of violent crimes have actually gone down. This shows quite clearly that social order is not maintained by police. Instead, we need to recognize that social stability is rooted in racial equality regarding issues in housing, education, health, and employment. Just like the police, however, each of these issues continue an insidious and persistent legacy of racism which still haunts black Americans today. The best way to address these injustices is to take resources wasted on police reform and redirect it to rebuilding our communities.

Consider the fact that Minneapolis spent just over a third of its general fund ($163 million) on police. The general fund refers to discretionary spending which could very well have been spent on a more constructive community-based initiative. For instance, Minneapolis has the fourth highest unemployment gap between white and black residents in America. Imagine how that money could have be spent on closing that gap. It’s these kinds of investments which are necessary for erecting a fair and just society.

Ultimately, we need to adopt a new paradigm of social order, one that doesn’t rely on reforming the police. The problem of racism is far too entrenched and widespread for police reform to solve. Correcting this requires that we rebuild and restore the lives of black Americans which the police, up to this point, have only ruined


The “Carceral State” is the Enemy

The current wave of protest is correctly “targeting the commodification of Blackness by the state,” said Dr Brittany Friedman, a Rutgers University sociology professor at the Program in Criminal Justice. “We do not need the carceral state to save us, because the carceral state is the one that is killing us,” said Friedman.

‘Economic duress is nothing new’: Can Amerika’s oldest black bookstore survive the pandemic?

Dr Raye Richardson, one of the founders of Marcus Books, at an early store event.

 Dr Raye Richardson, one of the founders of Marcus Books, at a store event in the late 1970s. Photograph: Courtesy Marcus Books

Oakland’s Marcus Books has remained a space for ‘black living and thinking’ through gentrification and online competition. Now it’s turning to readers for help

Since 1975, Oakland’s Marcus Books has survived one of the most dramatic gentrifications in US history, aggressive competition from online stores, and the inevitable racism directed at a space that celebrates black voices. Located in a city that saw its black population nearly halved over two decades, Marcus Books staff learned how to navigate the intense pressures and forge a path towards survival.

But all those years of hard work were wiped away overnight when the Bay Area announced a strict shelter-in-place order in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, a seminal living piece of American history – the nation’s oldest black bookstore – is at risk of disappearing forever.

“A black bookstore is not only about the exchange of merchandise,” Jasmine Johnson, whose grandparents founded Marcus Books, tells the Guardian. The disappearance of Marcus Books – which first opened in San Francisco in 1960 – and other black-centric book stores would be devastating for the larger black community, she says. “We’re really about congregating around the diversity of black living and thinking. Surviving under economic duress is nothing new to us, but this is something totally different.”

The acute distress Marcus Books and other black bookstores are facinghighlights a severe disparity in reader-led funding. City Lights, an independent bookstore founded in San Francisco in 1953 and designated a landmark in 2001, launched a GoFundMe last month and met its goal of $400,000 in days. At the time of writing, the bookstore had surpassed its goal by nearly $100,000. City Lights has not disclosed how it plans to allocate the excess funds, amid calls to donate them to other struggling local bookstores.

Marcus Books in Oakland.
 Marcus Books in Oakland. Photograph: Courtesy Marcus Books

Meanwhile, Marcus Books launched its GoFundMe in April and has failed to reach even half of its $200,000 goal. When asked about the stark differences in Marcus Books’ and City Lights’ fundraisers, Johnson argues: “It’s pretty deeply connected to what happens when you qualify anything with black. You’re met with suspicion or dismissal.” She believes fundraisers by black bookstores are viewed by the larger public as a niche interest. “The publishing industry has had a history of framing us as a ‘diversity section’.”

Black bookstores have fought tooth and nail for the past three decades, as a handful closed each year. According to the African-American Literature Book Club, there were over 200 black-owned bookstores in the 90s. In 2019, the number was slightly over 120. The pandemic has only exacerbated their already precarious existence.

Johnson sees this as an opportunity to remind America why supporting black bookstores is important, even in normal times. “We want to come out of this and go from simply surviving to thriving,” she says of her hopes for the store’s fundraiser.

In an industry where black authors frequently receive less attention and promotion than their white counterparts, bookstores such as Marcus Books play an important role. Malcolm X was among the shop’s customers, and over the years, prominent black authors such as Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison held events at the bookstore – often before they experienced crossover success and were struggling to book events elsewhere.

“When I was publishing in the 90s and early 00s and had regular tours, Marcus was one of my favorite book stops,” the science-fiction writer Tananarive Due says. Blanche Richardson, who runs the store, “is a community gem and had sold so many of my books that Marcus produced some of my largest and most enthusiastic crowds. I was so in love with Marcus that I included the store in one of the scenes in my horror novel, The Good House, as an hommage to try to capture the magic of the store. Marcus is more than a bookstore – it’s a neighborhood, city and state institution.”

The Black Panthers march in protest of the trial of co-founder Huey P Newton in Oakland. Many black bookstores served as hubs for the Black Power movement.

 The Black Panthers march in protest of the trial of co-founder Huey P Newton in Oakland. Many black bookstores served as hubs for the Black Power movement. Photograph: Bettmann/Getty Images

Black bookstores have always had to justify their existence and combat racism. The FBI frequently spied on them in the 60s and 70s, when many served as cultural hubs for the Black Power movement. Johnsonsays she and other staff encountered “white-only-water-fountain-level racism” often. This continues during the pandemic: “It shows up on Twitter through people asking ‘Why does a black bookstore need to be saved? Why can’t they save themselves?’ They’re usually from anonymous accounts.”

Marcus Books’ call for help is not unique. Many black bookstores across the nation have launched fundraising campaigns as last-ditch efforts to stay afloat. There’s Black Stone of Ypsilanti, Michigan; Eyeseeme, which specializes in black children’s literature, of St Louis; and LEMS of Seattle, which claims to be the last black-centric bookstore of the Pacific north-west. An entire section of black culture is under threat.

marcus books interior

 Many black bookstores across the nation have launched fundraising campaigns as last-ditch efforts to stay afloat. Photograph: Courtesy Marcus Books

Some of these stores were not equipped to compete with online sales during normal times, much less during a pandemic. Unlike many other independent bookstores, Marcus Books lacks an online operation. So, for now, the store is reliant on phone orders and storefront pickups, severely limiting business when many customers are rarely leaving their homes and turning to online delivery in unprecedented numbers. Richardson, the daughter of the Marcus Books founders, is still operating the store every day.

The contributions to Marcus Books are trickling in, but not fast enough. Hoping to boost support, the store organized an online stream that featured live readings from the poets Danez Smith, Daveed Diggs, Tongo Eisen-Martin, and others. More than 400 people attended, raising $9,000. Johnson said it was more than a fundraising event, offering a chance for the black community to connect. “There was a real alchemy that came together during it,” she says.

Despite all of the challenges facing Marcus Books, Johnson says she is optimistic about the future of the store. It will find a way, she says: “Black bookstores have been making it work for years.”

Click here for more information on Marcus Books 60th Anniversary Fundraiser


Black and Proud


“Black Is Beautiful”-The Original Black Panther Party

Hotep (Peace)!!!

Take notes!!!!!!!!!

“Follow in the footsteps of your ancestors, for the mind is trained through knowledge. Behold, their words endure in books. Open and read them and follow their wise counsel. For one who is taught becomes skilled.”

-Selections From The Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt (Selected and Retranslated by Dr. Maulana Karenga page 50)
James Baldwin, the great Afrikan American writer once said, “To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” This statement is very true. If you are Black and conscious, White supremacy and the system of racism keeps your blackness in a constant state of rage. You become more and more angered with White domination and with Black oppression. Whiteness constantly and consistently challenges Afrikan people on their blackness through the neocolonialism in Afrika; Eurocentric education; police brutality (i.e. Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, etc); Black to Black violence (i.e. Dariun Albert, Hadiya Penalton, Dawn Riddick, Nakeisha Allen, etc); the denial of reparations; the negation of a Black agenda by elected officials; White racial violence (i.e. James Byrd, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbey, etc); Europeanization; Arabism; the controlling and concoction of Black leadership; the validity of Black unity; the validity of Afrocentricity; the validity of the Black Libration Flag; the validity of Afrikan History; the validity of Afrikan culture; the validity of Afrikan spirituality; the validity of independent Black schools; the validity of Black liberation organizations (i.e. the Moorish Science Temples of America, the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the Nation of Islam under the leadership of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, the Us organization, the New Black Panther Party, the Original Black Panther Party, the Republic of New Afrika, the Black is Back Coalition, Black Lives Matter, etc); the validity of Black nationalism; the validity of Pan- Afrikanism; the validity of Black Power; the validity of Black revolutionary struggle; the importance of Black marriages to Black people; the emasculation of Black manhood; the high incarceration of rates of Black people; and Black self hatred. However, as you age with time you learn how to keep your rage in the spirit of Ma’at (Kemetic for balance). Kemet is the original Afrikan name for Egypt. Ma’at is an ancient Afrikan ethical and moral philosophy for truth, righteous, reciprocity, and balance originated in Kemetic (Egyptian) spirituality. It is very hard thing to do in a world controlled by white hegemony. White supremacists and racists will work to destroy your blackness. Some of your own people will attack you on your blackness. And even some of your own family members will attack you on your blackness. White supremacy and the system of racism are so interwoven into our world that many people embrace whiteness (light, bright, and anything and everything close to Europeans) over blacknes. For some Black people, being Black is too hard for us to live in this world. White hegemony dictates and defines Whiteness as the only thing that matters in the world. In response, some Black people develop issues of self-hatred. A huge part of Black liberation struggle is freeing ourselves from Black self-hatred with a love for our blackness.

Oppression regulates a people down to lowest realms of society. White supremacy and the system of racism have made Black people an oppressed group in America. Mixed between the march and movements against White supremacy, and the system of racism, is the struggle against Black self-hatred. This oppressive mentality of anti-blackness rears its ugly head in our community socially everyday (i.e. movies, reality shows, t.v talk shows, radio talk shows, social media, music videos, rap music, etc), and even amongst many family members.

Culturally, to rid ourselves from our blackness, some of us desperately try to find the one ounce of white blood in our veins. This, we believe, will help us justify us not being Black. We will say, “oh I am not Black, I am German.” Or we say, “oh I am not Black, I am French.” Or we say, “oh I am not Black, I am Spanish.” And some of us say, “I am not Black, I am bi-racial.” We try to be everything else except what God intended us to be-Black. If you are Black and proud, this really hurts our Afrikan centered Black conscious soul. However, this is the struggle for blackness. Unfortunately, without a national movement for Black liberation, White hegemony has beaten some us Black folk down in this new millennium. Some of us have given up on blackness. They, many White people and some Black people, do not want to accept the fact that Black self-hatred is a consequence of White supremacy and the system of racism.

Consequently, the purpose of White domination is to reduce Black people down into oppressive conditions in America, and in the world, to be exploited as group of people. Black self-hatred has been a tool used by our White oppressors to keep Black people from being Afrikan centered in their Blacknesss. If Black self-hatred is pervasive in the Afrikan American community, then Black people will never seize power for ourselves to be on equal footing with everyone’s culture in America and in this world.

However, there are many us that have not given up on blackness. I happened to be one of many Blackmen that have not given up on blackness. Afrika has been in my spirit, heart, and mind since 1990. That is the year I became conscious of my blackness. Prior to 1990, I knew nothing about the value and the importance of my blackness. I, like many Black youth growing up in the post Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the late 1970s, and the 1980s, were not taught on our blackness. Most leaders and organizations of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements had vanished, or became irrelevant, due to US government co-optation and repression. The schools in our neighborhoods, religious institutions, and many family circles did not teach us our Afrikan History, Afrikan culture, and Afrikan spirituality to help us develop an Afrikan centered Black conscious love for our blackness.

In this new millennium, young people call your awareness to blackness being “woke.” These type Black people are just conscious of their blackness. However, the “woke” Black person has not reach the level of consciousness to apply their blackness to Black liberation struggles.

Prior to the millennium, when you embraced your blackness, it was called Black consciousness. These type of Black people are conscious of their blackness. They work to help empower Black people in government, non-profits, community-based organizations, schools, colleges, universities, the business sector, and in religions institutions.

However, in Afrocentricity, there is deeper level of blackness. It is called-Afrikan centered Black consciousness. These type of Black people used Afrikan centered Black consciousness as a pathway for independent Afrikan centered education, nation-building, self-determination, independent politics, independent businesses, and Black liberation.

When I was a college student, my path to Afrikan centered Black consciousness started with Afrocentricity through the Nation of Islam. Both movements were very popular in my community of Newark and East Orange, NJ in the early 1990s. They both survived the onslaught of government co-optation and repression.

After the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad departed in 1975, his seventh son, Warith Deen Mohammad (former named Wallace Muhammad) took over the leadership of the mighty Nation of Islam. In three years, the Nation of Islam, the largest Islamic organization in America was dismantled. There was no more Nation of Islam. It was replaced by Sunni Al-Islam. All of the Nation of Islam’s Mosques were closed for public meetings that were at one timeused as a platform for organizing Muslims and Black people for liberation struggle. They were turned into a masjid (Arabic for mosque) now just used for salaat (Arabic for prayer). The Fruit of Islam (F.O.I) and Muslim Girls Training-General Civilization Class(MGT-GCC), the weekly military training of Muslims, Blackmen and Blackwomen,were abolished. Its’ Black liberation theology on Al-Islam was replaced by a moremoderate American, and some aspects Arabic centered theology. After three years,the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who join the Nation of Islam under the most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X, could not take the destruction of Nation of Islam moving forward. He left Imam Warth Deen Mohammad’s leadership. He saw how the fall of the Nation of Islam, help set the Black community back deeper under the yoke of oppressionin America. Therefore, he went on to rebuild the work of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam to fight against White domination and Black oppression. He reestablished the F.O.I and MGT-GCC for the training of Muslims, Blackmen, and Blackwomen to help empower Muslims, Blackmen, and Blackwomen.

I joined the local Nation of Islam Mosque called-Muhammad Mosque #25. I was a committed member of the Nation of Islam. But after given a knowledge of my Black self through the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I became a exposed to Afrocentricity.

The movement of Afrocentricity is an Afrikan centered intellectual and cultural movement challenging White supremacist and racist notions about Black people, Afrika, Afrikan History, Afrikan culture, Afrikan spirituality, Black people, World History, Caribbean History, western religions, and American History.

I started studying the great master teachers of our culture to cultivate my Afrikan centered Black consciousness, such as Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, Dr. John Henrick Clarke, Dr. Yosef Ben Jochannan, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Dr. Asa Hilliard, Professor Jacob Carruthers, Professor Ashra Kwesi, Tony Browder, Professor Dr. Runoko Rashidi, Professor James Smalls, Dr. Naim Akbar, Dr. Lenard Jeffries, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, Dr. Marimba Ani, Dr. Charshee McIntyre, Dr. Amos Wilson, Dr. Maulana Karenga, and Dr. Molefe Kete Asante.

I went from being born Carlos Cortez to being reborn as brother Carlos X. I went from not knowing who I was in this world culturally to knowing my Afrikan roots.

In turn, my Afrikan centered Black consciousness help me develop my love for my blackness. And I wanted a name that reflected my new blackness in me. I did not want to go to the egunguun (ancestors realm) with the name of a European conqueror. Names like Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Jackson, O’Tool, Hudson, Marquette, La Salle, Cavelier, Albuquerque, Pizarro, Leon, Soto, Nunez, Vasquez, Velazquez, Lopez, and Cortez were given to Black people by our slave masters and European conquerors.

After a few years pondering over an Afrikan name, I chose Bashir Muhammad Akinyele in 1995. Bashir Muhammad Akinyele has been my legal name since 1996. That was the same year I left the Nation of Islam.

However, it was Islam as taught by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad that help me develop my Afrikan centered Black consciousness love for blackness. Therefore, I accepted the name Muhammad. It is Arabic. It means one worthy of praise or who praises much in english. My middle name is Muhammad. The name Muhammad is Islamic in origin. And if you qualify yourself as a good Muslim, Muhammad is the name the Nation of Islam member earns. With my sojourn in the Nation of Islam, I had earned the name Muhammad.

The name Bashir, my first name, means one who brings good news. It is also Islamic in origin. However, I choose my first name after the name of an Original Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army political prisoner named Bashir Hammed. I came to know brother Bashir Hammed after being inspired to write letters and visits to community activists in prison through political prisoner community activists Baba Zayid Muhammad, Tayari Onege, and T.J. Witicker. Original Black Panther Bashir and I became good friends. He became my primary source history teacher on the revolutionary struggles of oppressed people in the world. Bashir Hameed was framed by the US government’s racist counter intelligence program called, COINTELPRO, to neutralized the Black liberation Movements in the Afrikan American community. In the 1950’s, 1960s, and early 1970s, the US began a secret campaign to destroy all Black leaders, Black Power organizations, and discredit all Black nationalist ideologies in the Afrikan American community that threatened White domination. Original Black Panther Party member Bashir Hameed became one of its many victims. Unfortunately, Bashir Hameed went to the egunguun (Yoruba for ancestor’s realm). He died on August 30, 2008 at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, NY. As a Muslim, Bashir Hameed had his Janazah rights at Masjid Dar Salaam in Elizabeth, NJ.

The name Akinyele is Afrikan. It is my last name. Akinyele comes from the Yoruba people of Nigeria. It means a strong one befits the house, or one of valor is in the house. Although my first and middle names are Islamic, I specifically chose Akinyele to connect me culturally to mother Afrika.

Eventually, community activist Baba Zayid Muhammad had organized an Afrikan community naming ceremony for me in Newark, NJ at the W.S.O.M.M.M (the Women In Support of the Million Man March) community center. It was there that my name, Bashir Muhammad Akinyele became official in the Afrikan centered conscious community.

During American slavery (the Maafa), the slave masters legally and violently forced Black people to accept bondage. The politicians and White slaver masters in America made it illegal for us to bear our Afrikan names. But the slave masters did not stop at just taking away our Afrikan names. They made it illegal for Black people to speak our own Afrikan languages, practice our own Afrikan religions, follow our own versions of western religions (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, and Al-Islam), to know our own Afrikan History, and to practice our own Afrikan cultural traditions (i.e Yoruba, Kemetic spirituality, etc). But most importantly, the American slave system (the Maafa) made sure that Afrikan people hated blackness.

Ultimately, US slave masters did this to disconnect us culturally from everything Afrikan to turn us into an negro people. The concept of negro is an European concept that disconnects a people to their history, culture, or a language.

We had to bear the names and cultures of our White slave masters. To this day, this is why many Afrikan Americans do not have Afrikan names and cannot speak our own Afrikan mother tongue.

American slavery (the Maafa) lasted for 250 years in America. It accumulated billions of dollars in wealth for America and White people for generations. American slavery made the United States the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world. When American slavery ended in 1865, Black people never received an apology, nor a penny in reparations to repair the psychological, cultural, social, and economic damages done in the Afrikan American community for hundreds of years.

But the European Slave-Trade (Maafa) lasted for 400 years. It was international. White slave masters from all over Europe were importing Afrikan people from Afrika to many parts of their colonialized new world in the Western Hemisphere, such as Canada, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, the Bahamas, and Granada. To this day, this is why there are millions of Black people in the North and South America. The Maafa, or the European Slave -Trade, uprooted and displaced Black people to the new world. However, Black people transported our Afrikan cultural traditions, such as cornrows, soul music, and the drum. The word Maafa is Kiswahili for great disaster, which forced Black people from Afrika to the world. Kiswahili is an Pan Afrikan language spoken in many parts of Afrika. It is the language of the Afrikan / Afrikan American holiday called-Kwanzaa.

In certain parts of the Western Hemisphere, new people of Afrikan descent emerged, such as Jamaican Haitians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Brazilians, Latinos, and Afrikan Americans.

Struggling to liberate one self from the vestiges of American slavery (the Maafa) to embrace blackness is dangerous. Many of us know White supremacy and the system of racism will work to discredit and attack Afrikan centered Black consciousness. But we also know that some of our own Black people, our co-workers, and family members will work to discredit and attack our Afrikan centered Black consciousness as well in America and in the world. In our world, blackness is viewed as a threat to White domination. Personally, I have been attacked by some White people, some Black people, some education colleagues, and some family members because of my strong embrace of my blackness in this world. Dr. John Henrick Clark, the great Pan-Afrikanist and historian, taught us that one of the most powerful thing the European (Whites) did to Afrikan people (Blacks) was colonialize our minds.” Unfortunately, some people have developed a disrespect for blackness.

However, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught the Blackman and Black woman to be proud of being Black. He, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, said that the original man and woman of the planet earth are Black people. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, said this in his Lessons to the Lost-Found Nation of Islam in North America, “we are the maker, the owner, the cream of the planet earth, and God of the universe. If that is too ‘religious’ for you to accept as actual facts, then study the humanities and science of the secular world. Many histories and sciences reflect the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad by showing us that we as Black people fathered and mothered all people (humanity) on the planet earth (i.e. Afrikans, White people, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, etc), created civilizations, inspired the world’s religions, and established standards of beauty.

If you read Dr. Ivan Van Sertima’s book, They Came Before Columbus, it documents Black people from Afrika traveling to foreign lands to help build civilizations in places that the Whiteman calls North and South America, such as the United States, Mexico, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Columbia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Chile’, Honduras, Bolivia, and Peru.

If you read Charles Darwin book, The Origin of Species, he discusses that Afrika most likely is the birth place of humanity. Darwin said these things back in the 1800s!!! With the discoveries of the oldest recorded human bones in world history in Afrika by anthropology Drs Louis S.B. Leaky in 1959, and Donald C. Johannson in 1974, science now says conclusively that humanity’s birth place is in Afrika.

If you read Dr. Yosef ben Jochannan’s book, Africa: The Mother of Western Civilization, he documents Afrika’s Kemet (Egypt), and many other Nile Valley civilizations, contributed to the development of western civilization and western religions. This is why when Egyptologist Count C.F. Volney went to Kemet (Egypt) with Napoleon Bonaparte’s team of European scholarly professionals in 1798, he jumped at the opportunity. At this this time Napoleon was the Emperor of France, but he had an interest in the ancient world. They discovered that Kemet was a great Black civilization in Afrika, and that she influenced the world. Volney writes in his book, Voyages on Syrie Et En Egypt on pages 74-77, “Just think that the race of Black men, today our slaves and the object of our scorn, is the very race to which we owe our arts, sciences, and even the use of speech. Just imagine, finally, that it is in the midst of peoples who call themselves the greatest friends [White people] of liberty and humanity that one has approved the most barbarous slavery and questions whether Blackmen have the same kind of intelligence as Whites!”

If you read Dr. Runoko Rashidi book, African Presence In Early Asia, he documents Black people leaving Afrika to spark civilization on the continent of Asia.

Afrika’s presence is all over this planet. We can try to run way from our blackness, but as the respected Black nationalist freedom fighter Dr. Khalid Abdul Muhammad once said, “you can’t run from your Black self Blackman and Blackwoman.”

In summation, blackness has made me an effective Afrikan centered history teacher (I graduated from Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ in 1993 with Bachelor of Arts degree in History), a committed community activist, a better human being, and a proud Blackman. However, when you stand on your blackness Black people prepare for battle. Blackness is a threat in America and in the world.


Asante sana (Kiswahili for thank you very much) for reading my commentary.

O Dabo (Yoruba for go with God until we meet again)!!!

-Bashir Muhammad Akinyele is a History Teacher, Black Studies Teacher, Community Activist, Chairperson of Weequahic High School’s Black History Month Committee in Newark, NJ, commentary writer, and Co-Producer and Co-Host of the All Politics Are Local, the number #1 political Hip Hip radio show in America.

Note: Spelling Afrika with a k is not a typo. Using the k in Afrika is the Kiswahili way of writing Africa. Kiswahili is a Pan -Afrikan language. It is spoken in many countries in Afrika. Kiswahili is the language used in Kwanzaa. The holiday of Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 to January


Three Afrikan Skeletons Found in Mexico Show Horrors of Early Slavery in the New World

A skull analyzed in the new study, along with tubes for genetic and isotope testing.
A skull analyzed in the new study, along with tubes for genetic and isotope testing.
Image: Rodrigo Barquera

Three skeletons belonging to African individuals have been uncovered at a mass grave in Mexico City. They represent some of the first African people to arrive into slavery in the New World. An interdisciplinary analysis of these remains is shedding new light on this grim period of history and the harsh conditions endured by the first wave of enslaved Africans in the Americas.

“To the best of our knowledge, they are the earliest genetically identified first-generation Africans in the Americas,” according to the authors of a new paper, published today in Current Biology.

Found in Mexico City, the three skeletons were buried in a mass grave near the former site of the Hospital Real de San José de los Naturales. This early hospital dates back to the early colonial period of New Spain and was primarily used to treat indigenous peoples. All three skeletons date back to this early colonial period in the 16th century, which means these individuals were among the first wave of Africans to be kidnapped and brought to the Americas via the transatlantic slave trade.

An interdisciplinary analysis of these remains paints a bleak picture of their lives, showing evidence of forged migration, physical abuse, and exposure to infectious diseases.

“By investigating the origin and disease experience of these individuals through molecular methods and evaluating the skeleton[s] for signs of life experience and cultural affinity, we illuminate, in some measure, the identity, culture, and life of these people whose history has largely been lost,” wrote the authors in the new study, co-authored by Johannes Krause from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

The origin of this story goes back to 1518, when Charles I of Spain authorized the transfer of enslaved Africans to the Viceroyalty of New Spain, which at the time included most of what is now Mexico, the Caribbean, and parts of the U.S. and Canada. By 1779, an estimated 130,000 to 150,000 Africans had been forcibly relocated to the Viceroyalty, according to the researchers. Of these, some 70,000 arrived between 1600 and 1640. Writing in the new paper, the authors explained the sudden increase in relocation of enslaved individuals:

…in part due to a reduction in the indigenous labor force that resulted from both casualties in the many conflicts during the European conquest and from diseases (among them, small-pox, measles, and typhoid fever) that devastated nearly 90% of the native population. Creoles, Africans, mulattoes, and other African-descended groups were thought to have higher resistance to these diseases compared to Indigenous Americans and Europeans making them desirable assets. Further to this, Las Leyes Nuevas (The New Laws) of 1542 prohibited the use of Native American labor as slaves in New Spain.

To analyze the three skeletons, the authors combined genetic and isotopic evidence, along with physical evidence gleaned from the remains.

Proof that these people came from Africa came from multiple sources. First, their upper teeth showed evidence of decorative filing, a known cultural practice of some African tribes. Second, these three individuals shared a Y-chromosome lineage that is strongly correlated to people from sub-Saharan Africa and is now the most common genetic lineage among living African Americans. And thirdly, dental isotopes extracted from their teeth showed that the individuals were born outside of Mexico, having spent their entire youth in Africa, according to the research.

Skulls and dental decoration patterns observed on the skeletal remains.
Skulls and dental decoration patterns observed on the skeletal remains.
Image: Collection of San José de los Naturales, Osteology Laboratory, (ENAH), Mexico City, Mexico. Photo: R. Barquera & N. Bernal

Analysis of the skeletons suggests these people were subjected to physical abuse and intense manual labor, such as muscle-derived patterns on bones and signs of hernia on vertebrae. Other evidence pointed to “nutritionally inadequate diets, anemia, parasitic infectious diseases, and blood loss,” wrote the authors.

These enslaved Africans were also victims of extreme violence. One skeleton had five copper buckshots fired from a gun, while another showed signs of skull and leg fractures. None of these injuries resulted in their deaths, but all three died prematurely.

“And since they were found in this mass burial site, these individuals likely died in one of the first epidemic events in Mexico City,” explained Rodrigo Barquera, the first author of the study and a graduate student at MPI SHH, in a press release. “[We] can tell they survived the maltreatment that they received. Their story is one of difficulty but also strength, because although they suffered a lot, they persevered and were resistant to the changes forced upon them.”

The analysis also resulted in the detection of two known pathogens, namely the virus responsible for Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the bacterium responsible for yaws (Treponema pallidum pertenue), which causes symptoms similar to syphilis. Importantly, this is the earliest evidence of HBV and yaws in the Americas.

Joint and bone damage found on the skeletal remains: (A) extensive bone wear, (B) signs of hernia on a vertebrae, (C and D) greenish coloration as evidence of a copper bullet.
Joint and bone damage found on the skeletal remains: (A) extensive bone wear, (B) signs of hernia on a vertebrae, (C and D) greenish coloration as evidence of a copper bullet.
Image: Collection of San José de los Naturales, Osteology Laboratory, (ENAH), Mexico City, Mexico. Photo: R. Barquera & N. Bernal

“Although we have no indication that the HBV lineage we found established itself in Mexico, this is the first direct evidence of HBV introduction as the result of the transatlantic slave trade,” said Denise Kühnert, a co-author of the study and an expert in infectious diseases at MPI SHH. “This provides novel insight into the… history of the pathogen.”

The same could hold true for yaws, which was common in the Americas during the colonial period. Prior to the new study, however, the oldest genetic evidence of yaws came from a 17th-century European colonist.

“It is plausible that yaws was not only brought into the Americas through the transatlantic slave trade but may subsequently have had a considerable impact on the disease dynamics in Latin America,” added Kühnert.

Needless to say, this is among the trickier aspects of the new study; linking the presence of HBV and yaws in these individuals to the spread of diseases from Africa to the Americas is a precarious proposition at best. Future research is needed.

The new paper presents a devastating snapshot of life during the early colonial period and the tremendous hardships endured by the tens of thousands of people abducted from Africa.


Wrong On Weed – Blacks And Marijuana Myths

Wrong On Weed – Blacks And Marijuana Myths
Wrong On Weed – Blacks And Marijuana Myths

Black state lawmakers helped scuttle efforts to legalize marijuana in the Garden State and Black preachers have been huge impediments to legalization.

Studies expose stupidity on ‘smoke.’”

When New Jersey State Senator Ronald Rice roadblocked legislation to legalize adult use of marijuana in the ‘Garden State’ last year he cited a litany of long debunked theories and specious assertions like legalization will inundate minority communities with “marijuana bodegas.”

The stance of Rice, an African American, helped stall efforts by New Jersey’s Governor and civil rights organizations to end racial inequities related to marijuana laws, like pot possession arrest rates for blacks being much higher than arrests for whites despite similar usage rates among the races.

Ending documented racism in enforcement of marijuana laws is a key impetus for efforts nationwide to end the prohibition on pot. That prohibition is rooted in federal legislation initially approved in 1937. The legislation was the culmination of the “Reefer Madness” campaign that contained clear strands of blatant racism.

An analysis released in November 2019 by ACLU-NJ stated blacks in New Jersey are three times more likely to face arrest for marijuana possession than whites. While that arrest factor is 2.3 higher for blacks in Senator Rice’s legislative District, the disparity spikes as high as 11 times more likely in one legislative District and over 9 times more likely in two Districts adjacent to Rice’s District.

“Blacks in New Jersey are three times more likely to face arrest for marijuana possession than whites.”

That ACLU-NJ analysis noted a 35 percent increase in pot possession arrests across NJ between 2013 and 2017. Additionally, that study criticized the annual expenditure in New Jersey of more than $140 million for enforcement of anti-marijuana laws.

A 2017 ACLU-NJ study found that the New Jersey state legislative district with the highest per capita rate for marijuana possession arrests was the district represented by Rice: the 28th Legislative District. Rice’s district contains portions of Newark, the state’s largest city where Rice once worked as a policeman and served as a City Councilman and Deputy Mayor.

Racial inequities embedded in marijuana law enforcement and now economic-related inequities surrounding the legalized medical/adult-use markets are well documented.

Politicians, police, prosecutors and media pundits have, historically, played prominent roles in resistance to reforms in pot prohibition. And, historically, the stereotypical public face of that resistance has been conservative and white. However, frequently overlooked in societal support for keeping marijuana illegal are ‘black faces.’

“The New Jersey state legislative district with the highest per capita rate for marijuana possession arrests was the district represented by Rice.”

Many black politicians, preachers and other leaders – through either advocacy or acquiesce – have opposed marijuana law reform despite irrefutable evidence that pot prohibition has bludgeoned the black community leaving millions with arrest records that cripple economic and educational opportunities. Compounding the damage from arrest records is the added burden for some of having endured incarceration for marijuana law violations where imprisonment carries a separate lifetime stigma.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is 33-miles south of the NJ’s State Capitol Building in Trenton where Senator Rice and a few other blacks were among the legislators that scuttled the marijuana legalization effort in March 2019.

In Philadelphia, during the two terms Michael Nutter served mayor, city police arrested over 20,000 blacks for marijuana possession, leaving those predominately male arrestees with the lifetime stigma of arrest records.

In 2012, the first year of second mayoral term of Nutter, an African American, Philadelphia police arrested 3,052 blacks for pot possession compared to just 629 whites. That arrest disparity was partly attributable to the racial profiling Stop-&-Frisk police enforcement championed by Nutter and implemented by Nutter’s Police Commissioner who was also an African American.

In 2015, the year after Philadelphia decriminalized marijuana possession over the vehement objection of Mayor Nutter blacks still comprised 82 percent of the pot possession arrests…albeit a smaller number of possession arrests due to decriminalization. Philadelphia’s city government saved over $2 million in the decriminalization switch to traffic ticket like citations for marijuana possession busts instead of the previous formal arrest procedure with costs that included fingerprinting, police overtime pay, paperwork and court hearings.

“A year after Philadelphia decriminalized marijuana possession blacks still comprised 82 percent of the pot possession arrests.”

In 2012 when voters in Washington State considered legalization of marijuana, many black ministers in that state assailed their African American colleague, the Rev. Carl Livingston, for his support of the legalization effort…that succeeded. Livingston, a political science professor at a college in Seattle, said he supported legalization due to his opposition to racist law enforcement that drives mass incarceration. Blacks comprised 70 percent of the pot possession arrests in Seattle despite being just three percent of that city’s population.

In 2010 when Californians were deliberating an ultimately unsuccessful ballot measure to legalize marijuana, a coalition of black ministers demanded the resignation of California’s NAACP president because of her support for legalization. That NAACP head saw legalization as a civil rights issue due to gross racial disparities in pot law enforcement.

In 1975 black political and religious leaders successfully stopped an effort on the City Council of Washington, DC to decriminalize possession of marijuana. Arrests of blacks for possession in DC had soared from 334 in 1968 to 3,002 in 1975. One black minister who was a DC City Councilman feared the city would become the marijuana “capital of the world” with decriminalization while a black DC City Councilwoman demanded that young people “be taught to obey the law.”

“Blacks comprised 70 percent of the pot possession arrests in Seattle despite being just three percent of that city’s population.”

In 2017, over forty-years after DC black leaders blocked efforts to blunt racist marijuana enforcement practices, blacks comprised 90 percent of possession arrests in America’s capital city. DC’s Congressperson, Eleanor Holmes Norton, issued a press release in May 2017 stating reform of marijuana laws is “a civil rights issue in our city.” Holmes’ opposed congressional blockage of legalization approved by DC voters.

Many black supporters of continued anti-marijuana laws are seemingly oblivious to the racist roots of pot prohibition.

Bigoted U.S. President Richard Nixon launched his “War on Drugs” in 1971 with an ulterior motive to weaponize anti-narcotics laws, including pot prohibition, to demonize and destroy the Black Power and civil rights movements.

Harry Anslinger, the racist federal anti-narcotics head who secured passage of the 1937 pot prohibition law, once said marijuana “makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” Anslinger frequently fanned fears that marijuana caused white woman to desire sex with black men, particularly jazz musicians.

For decades prior to that federal law barring both the possession of and research about marijuana, pot was a widely utilized medicinal compound in the United States and Europe. Medical substances containing marijuana were sold over the counter and advertised in newspapers, including a newspaper published by a black religious denomination.

“Anslinger fanned fears that marijuana caused white woman to desire sex with black men.”

The nation that spearheaded the outlawing of marijuana on the international level in the mid-1920s was South Africa, the country where abhorrent apartheid existed at the time.

Many supporters of maintaining pot prohibition utilize myths.

New Jersey Senator Ronald Rice frequently trots out the “gateway” theory that marijuana produces addiction to narcotics. That is a theory debunked by repeated reports from governmental bodies stretching back over a century.

For example, the study released in 1944, conducted by the New York Academy of Medicine for the Mayor of New York City stated “use of marijuana does not lead to morphine or heroin or cocaine.

The 1925 study on American soldiers stationed in Panama commissioned by the U.S. Army found “no evidence” that marijuana is a “habit-forming drug.”

In a March 2019 Open Letter opposing legalization that Rice distributed to his legislative colleagues, he declared, “We know that marijuana increases mental issues.”

Yet the 1894 report by the British Indian Hemp Commission concluded that marijuana in moderate use “produces no injurious effects on the mind.” That Commission was the first large-scale study of marijuana by a national government. That Commission, in preparation of its 3,281-page report, conducted 1,193 interviews in 30 cities across India, a country where use of marijuana for medicinal, spiritual and euphoric purposes spans thousands of years.

Ironically, anti-legalization Senator Rice, who has a reputation for advancing interests important to African Americans, supports expungement of marijuana arrest records and decriminalization. Rice introduced a decriminalization bill a few years ago, a measure drafted with assistance from the anti-marijuana NJ Responsible Approaches To Marijuana, an organization Rice has worked with.

While Rice opposed legalization, he did not oppose the legislative push to place the question of marijuana legalization on New Jersey’s November 2020 ballot for the voters to decide.

Unlike Rice, one of his African American colleagues in the New Jersey Senate, Shirley Turner, opposed both legalization and the ballot referendum on legalization. Turner was one of only two Democrats who joined the 14 NJ Senate Republicans to oppose that referendum.

In Turner’s 15th Legislative District – that includes Trenton – blacks are nearly three times more  likely to face pot possession arrest than whites.



source: Wrong On Weed – Blacks And Marijuana Myths