Tag: Fred Hampton
“It’s a Class Struggle, Goddammit!”: A Speech by Fred Hampton (1969)
The following is the full transcript of a speech delivered by Fred Hampton at Northern Illinois University, November, 1969
What we’re going to try to do, is we’re going to try to rap and educate. We’re glad to try to throw out some more information. And it’s going to be hard to do. The Sister made a beautiful speech as far as I’m concerned. Chaka, the Deputy Minister of Information, that’s his job–informing. But I’m going to try to inform you also.
One thing Chaka forgot to mention that Brothers and Sisters don’t do exactly the same. We don’t ask for any Brother to get pregnant or anything. We don’t ask no brothers to have no babies. So that’s a little different also.
After we get through speaking, for those people of you who don’t think you understood all of the ideology exposed here so far, and the ideologies that I will espouse, we will have a question and answer period. For those people who have their feelings hurt by niggers talking about guns, we’ll have a cry’in after the question and answer period. And for those white people that are here to show some type of overwhelming manifestation of guilt syndromes, and want people to cry out that they love them, after the cry-in, if we have time, we’ll allow you all to have a love-in.
So now we’ll get down to business. First of all, about what some people call the TRIAL. We call it a HECATOMB, we call it a hecatomb. That’s spelled h-e-c-a-t-o-m-b. And I know there’s enough dictionaries floating around up here to probably fill the room up, so you can check that out. It means a sacrifice. It usually means a sacrifice of an animal. So we’d like you, if you’d like to do that, so people ask you “Have you been to the trial,” tell them that you’ve been down or heard about the hecatomb, because that’s what it is. It’s a public sacrifice. It’s a situation where they’re trying to unjustly, illegally try our Chairman.
We look at it as a 1969 manifestation of the Dred Scott Decision. We look at Chairman Bobby as being the manifestation of Dred Scott in 1857. And we look at Judge Hoffman as being a manifestation of Judge Taney in 1857. Because in 1857 Dred Scott was a negro, a former slave–he was still a slave, because we’re slaves–who went into court and evidently had some type of misunderstanding about what he was in American society, where he fit in.
So he went to the Supreme Court to have Judge Taney answer him and try to clear up some mistaken ideas that he had floatin’ around in his little old head. Ang Judge Taney did just that. Judge Taney explained to him very clearly that, “Nigger, you’re nobody, you’re property, you’re a slave. That the systems–the legal system, the judicial system–all types of systems that are functioning in America today was set up long before you got here, brother. Because we brought you over to make money to keep what we’ve got going, these avaricious, greedy businessmen, to keep what we’ve got going, going on.”
And Dred Scott couldn’t understand this. There was a big rebuttal. And at that time, Judge Taney made a statement that has become famous. And that statement, maybe not in the same words but through actions ant through social practice, is being manifested down at the New reigstag Building at Jackson and Dearborn. It’s being manifested through Judge Hoffman by saying the same thing that Judge Taney said in 1857. When he told Dred Scott that “Nigger, a black man in America has no rights which a white man is bound to respect.” And that’s the same thing that Judge Hoffman is telling our Chairman every day.
And we understand. You know a lot of people have hang-ups with the Party because the Party talks about a class struggle. And the people that have those hang-ups are opportunists, and cowards, and individualists and everything that’s anything but revolutionary. And they use these things as an excuse to justify and to alibi and to bonify their lack of participation in the real revolutionary struggle. So they say, “Well, I can’t dig the Panther Party because the Panthers they are engrossed with dealing with oppressor country radicals, or white people, or hunkies, or what have you. They said these are some of the excuses that I use to negate really why I am not in the struggle.”
We got a lot of answers for those people. First of all, we say primarily that the priority of this struggle is class. That Marx, and Lenin, and Che Guevara end Mao Tse-Tung and anybody else that has ever said or knew or practiced anything about revolution, always said that revolution is a class struggle. It was one class–the oppressed–those other class–the oppressor. And it’s got to be a universal fact. Those that don’t admit to that are those that don’t want to get involved in a revolution, because they know that as long as they’re dealing with a race thing, they’ll never be involved in a revolution. They can talk about numbers; they can hang you up in many, many ways, but as soon as you start talking about class, then you got to start talking about some guns. And that’s what the Party had to do.
When the Party started to talk about class struggle, we found that we had to start talking about some guns. If we never negated the fact that there was racism in America, but we said that when you, the by-product, what comes off of racism, that capitalism comes first and next is racism. That when they brought slaves over here, it was to take money. So first the idea came that we want to make money, then the slaves came in order to make that money. That means that capitalism had to, through historical fact, racism had to come from capitalism. It had to be capitalism first and racism was a by-product of that.
Anybody that doesn’t admit that is showing through their non-admittance and their non-participation in the struggle that all they are, are people who fail to make a commitment; and the only thing that they have going for them is the education that they receive in these institutions—education enough to teach them some alibis and teach them that you’ve gotta be black, and you’ve gotta change you name. And that’s crazy.
The minister of education of the Party, Raymond “Masai” Hewitt, and Chief of Staff, David Hilliard, just got back from Africa visiting Eldridge Cleaver. And they said niggers over there never will be wearing the type of garb that some of these Africanized fools over here wear. They’re wearing rags or either they’re wearing nothing. And if you want to dress like some African people, then you oughta dress like the Angolans or the people in Mozambique. These are the people that are doing something. You need to dress like people that are in liberation struggles. But nah, you don’t want to get that Africanized, because as soon as you have to dress like somebody from Angola or Mozambique, then after you put on whatever you put on, and it can be anything from rags to something from Saks fifth Avenue, you got to put on some bandoliers and some AR-15’s and some 38’s; you’ve got to put on some Smith and Wessons and some Colt 45’s, because that’s what they’re wearin’ in Mozambique. And any nigger that runs around here tellin’ you that when your hair’s long and you got a dashiki on, and you got bubus and all these sandals, and all this type of action, then you’re a revolutionary, and anybody that doesn’t look like you, he’s not—that man has to be out of his mind.
Because we know that political power doesn’t flow from the sleeve of a dashiki. We know that political power flows from the barrel of a gun. And that’s true. It has to be true. We know that in order to be able to talk about power, that what you’ve got to be able to talk about is the ability to control and define phenomena and make it act in a desired manner. That means that if you can’t control and define phenomena and make it act in a desired manner, then you don’t even have any dealings with power, you don’t know and you probably never will know what power is. And we know what power is, and we know who’s doing harm to the people—the enemy.
And everybody wants to talk about…the pork chops will tell you in a minute “The pigs don’t want you to get black. They don’t want you to get no black studies programs. They don’t want you to wear dashikis. They don’t want you to learn about the motherland and what roots to eat of the ground. They don’t want that—because as soon as you get that, as soon as you go back 11th century culture, you’ll be alright.”
Check the people who went back to 11th century culture. Check the people that are wearing dashikis and bubus and think that that’s going to free them. Check all of these people, find out where they’re located, find out the addresses of their office, write them a letter and ask them if in the last year how many times their office been attacked. And then write any Black Panther Party, anywhere in the United States of America, anywhere in Babylon, and ask them how many times the pigs have attacked them. Then when you get your estimation of both of them, then you figure out what the pigs don’t like. That’s when you figure out what the pigs don’t like.
We’ve been attacked three times since June. We know what pigs don’t like. We’ve got people run out of the country by the hundreds. We know what pigs don’t like. Our Minister of Defense is in jail, our Chairman is in jail, our Minister of Information’s in exile, our Treasurer, the first member of the Party, is dead. The Deputy Minister of Defense and the Deputy Minister of Information, Bunchy, Alprentice Bunchy Carter, and John Huggins from Southern California, murdered by some pork chops, talking about a BSU program. We know what the pigs don’t like.
We said nobody would shoot a Panther but a pig, because Panthers don’t pose a threat to anybody but pigs. And if people tell you that Panthers pose threats, then ask them what kind of sense it would make, unless it’s to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning to feed somebody’s son and then at 3 o’clock that afternoon shoot him—save a meal. We don’t need to do that. What sense does it make for us to open up a free health clinic where the only prerequisite that you got to have to receive free medical aid is the prerequisite that you be sick. And we’ve got students who jiving themselves and running around playing, talking about they doin’ something for the struggle, and I want to know what more could you do? And you all people come from Chicago.
People talking about the Party co-opted by white folks. That’s what that mini-fascist, Stokely Carmichael said. He’s nothing but a jackanapes. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a jackanapes, cause I’ve been knowing him for years, and that’s all he could be, if he go around murder-mouthin’ the Black Panther Party.
If we’re co-opted by white people, then check the locations of our offices, our breakfast program, our free health clinic is opening up probably this Sunday at 16th and Springfield. No does everybody know where 16th and Springfield is at? That’s not in Winnetka, you understand. That’s not in Dekalb. That’s in Babylon. That’s in the heart of Babylon, Brothers and Sisters.
And that free health clinic was put there because we know where the problem is at. We know that black people are most oppressed. And if we didn’t know that, then why the hell would we be running around talking about the black liberation struggle has to be the vanguard for all liberation struggles? If there’s ever going to be any liberation in the mother country, ever gonna be any liberation in the colony, then we got to be liberated by the leadership of the Black Panther Party and the black liberation struggle. We don’t negate that fact.
We’re not hung up in anybody’s not a Panther. We don’t want to get you thinkin’ that, because we can dig Fred, I mean Everett, we can dig him. But we can’t dig Ron Karenga and LeRoi Jones. We can’t dig that. We can’t see any social practice on the part of them Brothers. We know that they both have names longer than my arm. And both of them supposed to be so intelligent and so smart. And that’s the problem right now.
We’re talking about destroying the system, and they have hang-ups doing that because they’re constantly buying property within the system. And it’s kind of hard to burn up on Tuesday what you bought last Monday. Because they’re a bunch of unrepentant capitalists. They’ll never repent. And they know better. We try to make excuses for them—“Maybe they’ll have to go through stages, Fred.” No, that’s not it. Because they’re much older than we are—I’m 21. We’re all young. So stages, they don went through them. Ron Karenga has more degrees than a thermometer. That’s right, he has more degrees than a thermometer and he continues to do what he’s doin’. And how do they fool you? Because they pick the leaders they want. And they put those people up there and portray them as being your leaders when, in fact, they’re leaders of nobody.
…we call the oppressed apologists. Because after something’s happened, all they can do is apologize for it. Look in the papers. Now they’re drawing pictures of the Chairman chained and gagged. Don’t you know that if the news media, the established press, had moved before this, that they could have stopped this rising tide of fascism years ago. But they endorsed, they joined, they supported what fascists were doing at the time. And now it’s being heaped down upon all of the people.
And a lot of people think now that their hands are getting dirty. We call them ideological servants of United States fascism. And that’s what they are, because they serve fascism by doing nothing about it until the law goes over and then they apologize for it, they get apologetic. But we say it’s the same press that we’ll look at and believe and think is bona fide; the same press that talked us into believing that we was somebody when in fact we were nobody.
I don’t think there’s anything more important. I think that what Malcolm says is important. Now think back. Those students were laughing at Malcolm. Can you dig it? They were laughing at Malcolm. Why? Regis Debray, he says the revolutionaries are in the future. That militants and pork chops and all these people, radical students, are in the present, and that most of the rest of the people try to remain in the past. That’s why when somebody comes that’s in the future of a lot of us can’t understand him. And the same thing that you don’t understand Huey P. Newton now, you didn’t understand Malcolm when he was living. But we know that when Malcolm left, the well almost ran dry. You don’t miss the water til the well runs dry, and it almost ran dry.
Huey P. Newton got to reading, and he’s not like a lot of us. A lot of us read and read and read, but we don’t get any practice. We have a lot of knowledge in our heads, but we’ve never practiced it; and made any mistakes and corrected those mistakes so that we will be able to do something properly. So we come up with like we say more degrees than a thermometer, but we’re not able to walk across the street and chew gum at the same time, because we have all that knowledge but it’s never been exercised, it’s never been practiced. We never tested it with what’s really happening. We call it testing it with objective reality. You might have any kind of thought in your mind, but you’ve got to test it with what’s out there. You see what I mean?
They talked us into buying candy bars and throwing the candy away and eating the wrapper. They’re the only people in the world, you understand, that’s right, that can sell ice boxes to Eskimoes. They can sell natural wigs to niggers that’s got natural hair already. And see, this is a shame. They can sell a one-legged man probably 24 tickets in a asskicking contest, and he knows he has no business being there. See, these are the things they can do to us and then they have us believe that what they’re tellin’ us is right, it’s bona fide, it’s justified. We say that’s wrong, that’s incorrect, that Malcolm, when he spoke to students, and you probably heard that record, he speaks to some Jews, some slick people, and he told them.
You might say, “Well, the way I feel, people ought to be able to walk around naked because rape is love.” That’s idealism. See what I mean? You’re dealing in metaphysics. You’re dealing in subjectivity, because you’re not testing it with objective reality. And what’s really wrong is that you don’t go test it. Because if you test it, you’ll get objective. Because as soon as you walk out there, a whole lot of objective reality will vamp down upon your ass and rape you of whatever you have. So whenever this happens, this is when people get a whole lot of mistaken ideas. That’s why a lot of you can’t understand and can’t agree with a lot of what we said. You’ve never tried it.
You don’t know whether people relate to the breakfast program, because you’ve never fed anybody. You don’t know anything about the free health clinic because you never asked anybody. You don’t know anything about the good that a gun does you, because you never tried one. And we say that if you was born and if you said you didn’t like pears and you never tasted pears, you’d have to be a liar. You don’t know whether you like pears, but you can’t claim that you don’t like pears. The only way that anybody can tell you the taste of a pear is if he himself has tasted it. That’s the only way. That’s the objective reality. That’s what the Black Panther Party deals with. We’re not metaphysicians, we’re not idealists, we’re dialectical materialists. And we deal with what reality is, whether we like it or not.
A lot of people can’t relate to that because everything they do is gagged by the way they like things to be. We say that’s incorrect. You look and see how tings are and then you deal with that. We runnin’ around talking about “We gonna love all black people. We have an undying love for all black people.” And you know what? That if Malcolm came back, he’d walk pas a million Klansmen to get to Stokely and whoop his motherfuckin’ ass. Because Malcolm was standing right like this in a room, where white people weren’t even allowed. You hear me? They wouldn’t allow no white people in there. But Malcolm’s dead. Now what happened? What’d that fool’s name, James Whitmore. Didn’t he do his little skin?
Because they had names with 37X, 15X, blacker than black, and they were able to sneak in because of this ignorant potient #9 that these maniacs are trying to whoop on us—“We gonna love all black people because every Negro is a potential black man.”
The man that testified against Chairman Bobby in the Conspiracy Trial down in Chicago was a black man. The man that has Chairman Bobby on a murder trial in Connecticut is a black man. The man who murdered Malcolm X is a black man. The judge that denied Eldridge Cleaver bond after a white man had granted him bond—a nigger who investigated on his own and said, “Nigger, I don’t think you ought to be on the street,” was a black man, Thurgood Marshall, Thurgood NOGOOD Marshall, that the NAACP put in. That’s one of the things about sittin’ in and dyin’ in and waitin’ in and cryin’ in got us. If Thurgood Marshall hadn’t been there, then Eldridge Cleaver would probably still be here with the people.
He’s a nigger, a bootlicker, a tonto, a jackanapes. You understand? Goin’ “I don’t think you should be on the streets.” And we runnin’ around lettin’ niggers tell us we got to love all black people.
You heard about the conspiracy trial on the West Side that they were able to win, with Doug Andrews and Fat Crawford, when they had the big burn on the West Side in the Martin Luther King riot? Ask ‘em! Brothers, what’s wrong with you, Brothers and Sisters? Ask ‘em was that a white man. No! Because Doug and them they criticized us for our liberal stand. They call it liberal. So they let nobody in their hood but black people. But they didn’t know. Anybody ever hear about Gloves on the South Side of Chicago? He’s not white. [Glove Davis was later on one of the Chicago policemen that participated in Fred’s assassination.] Did you think Buckney was white? Buckney, who’s taking all of your Brothers and all of your little Sisters and all of your little cousins and nephews, and he’s gonna continue to take ‘em. And if you don’t do anything, he’s gonna take your sons and your daughters. And a lot of niggers is going to school now trying to make a name. We don’t hear nobody running around talking about “I’m Benedict Arnold, III,” because Benedict Arnold’s children don’t want to talk about they his children. You hear people talking about they might be Patrick Henry’s children—people that stood up and said “Give me liberty or give me death.” Or Paul Revere’s cousin. Paul Revere said, “get your guns, the British are coming.” The British were the police.
Huey said “Get your guns, the pigs are coming.” Same thing. There’ll be a lot of Newtons running around. A lot of your kids will be calling themselves Huey P. Newton, III. They won’t be calling themselves Ooga-Booga or Karangatang Karenga, or Mamalama Karenga—none of that shit. They won’t be calling themselves that. You see, ask the pigs in California. Ask them! You see that? Hand me one of them posters, Brother. The one right there. Now if you think I’m lying, look at this. Take a look at this. Now all you Sisters here, tell me what looks better—a nigger runnin’ around in a robe and a staff pole, lookin’ like Moses, or these bad—these are the baddest lookin’ …. You might think, you might say you’re chauvinistic, organizational chauvinistic you might call it. You might call me wrapped up in the Party’s own ego. But I’m wrapped up in the truth. And I think the Sister can verify that these are the baddest. These are the movie stars for Babylon, Godamnit. Huh? Fuck John Wayne and all this other shit.
Alright. But you see, if you look at that, that’s what we look good in. We don’t care if niggers wear dashikis. You understand? That’s not gonna mean anything in the final analysis. But we’re saying that you need some tools.
You ever had the occasion to have a doctor come to your house, or a plumber comes to your house? Suppose a plumber came to your house, he opened up his bag and he had stethoscopes and thermometers and hypodermic needles and syringes. You’d say “You came to fix the plumbing? Brother, you got the wrong tools. Something suspicious is going on because you don’t even have the proper tools.” Ain’t that right?
Suppose somebody came to deliver your baby and he had plumber’s tools? I know you Sisters would scream bloody murder. No but you’d say, “This is not right, Brother. We can’t have this. You got to, you understand, you gotta come a little easier, you got to show me something better. You got to have some tools that are more appropriate for the occasion, you understand, because I don’t have any runny faucets or anything.”
So when people come into our community with tanks, when they come into Babylon or Warsaw, or whatever you want to call it, like they did into Henry Horner Projects—and that’s a manifestation of, a very clear manifestation of what’s happening in Babylon. When they do that, when they come in there with tanks and those tanks are tools, those tanks are tools of war, they’re declaring war on the community. And if you, when they come into the community with tanks, you come out with dashikis and nothin’ but dashikis, bubus and nothin’ but bubus, sandals and nothing but sandals, then you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. You’d better go back in the house, if you have to strip buck naked, if you got to get asshole naked, put you on even if it ain’t nothing but a holster and a gun and some ammunition. Take your bear ass, you understand, and they won’t consider you being naked. Nobody will try, you understand, to whistle at you, or anything. Cause this will be gone from the minute …any kind of sexual attraction you had will be gone. Cause they will be looking at Mr. and Mrs. Colt .45, Mr. and Mrs. .357 Magnum. And the shapes on them are the best shapes we have in Babylon to deal with. And you Brothers holdin’ a .357 Magnum in your hand, there ain’t nothin’ that feels like a .357 Magnum, except one of these beautiful black Sisters. But we need them.357 Magnums also.
When we go out there, we’ll be able to protect ourselves. Huey P. Newton issued a mandate a long time ago. It was executive Mandate #3. It said we need to draw the line of demarcation. And when pigs move on our cribs, we have to protect our crib with gun force. Pigs don’t move on Panther cribs. When they move on Panther cribs, they make sure the Panther’s out of town. We had a situation where they moved on a Panther crib and they had three helicopters above his crib. I’m serious, I’m serious. See, they come prepared. Because they know when they comin’ to a Panther’s crib that we might talk a lot of rhetoric, but we deal with the same basic jargon that the people in Babylon deal with. It takes two to tango, motherfucker. As soon as you kick that door down, I have to kick it back to you. We don’t lock our doors. We just get us some good guns and leave them motherfuckers open and when people come in there we put something on them that will make them go to the hardware, buy a lock, come back, pull the door closed, lock it and stay their ass outside!
We’re gonna move as quickly as we possibly can for the people with the questions and answers and the people with the guilt syndrome and the people that have been embarrassed and shamed and disgraced. And we’ve talked about their leaders like LeRoi Jones and Mamalama Karangatang Karenga, a big bald-headed bazoomie as far as we’re concerned. That’s what he is. And we think that if he’s gonna continue to wear dashikis, that he oughta stop wearin’ pants. Cause he’s look a lot better in miniskirts. That’s all a motherfuckin’ man needs in Babylon that ain’t got no gun, and that’s a miniskirt. And maybe he can trick his way out of somethin’. Cause he not gonna shoot his way outta nothin’. He won’t fight temptation, but he never killed anybody but the Black Panther member. Name somebody. Name me a time you read about Karangatang’s office being attacked. The only time he ever had the occasion to use a gun was on Alprentice Bunchy Carter, a revolutionary. This Brother had more revolutionary poetry for a motherfucker than anybody. Revolutionary culture. John Huggins. The only time they lifted a gun was against these people.
As Huey says in prison when they lifted their hands against Bunchy and when they lifted their hands against John, they lifted their hands against the best that Babylon possesses. And you should say that. You should feel anytime when revolutionary Brothers die. You never heard about the Party going around murdering people. You dig what I’m saying? Think about it. I’m not even gonna tell you. You think about it for yourself.
We started the Black Panther Party in 1966. I’m gonna tell you the whole story in a minute. We started dealing with pigs. You think we scared of a few karangatangs, a few chumps, a few male chauvinists? They tell their women “Walk behind me.” The only reason a woman should walk behind a faggot like that is so she can put his foot knee deep in his ass.
We don’t need no culture except revolutionary culture. What we mean by that is a culture that will free you. You heard your Field Lieutenant talking about a fire in the room, didn’t you? What you worry about when you got a fire in this room? You worry about water or escape. You don’t worry about nothin’ else. If you say “What’s your culture during this fire?” “Water, that’s my culture, Brother, that’s my culture.” Because culture’s a thing that keeps you. “What’s your politics?” Escape and water. “What’s your education?” Escape and water. When people ask us about our culture, we say our culture’s guns, baby. Our culture’s revolutionary art, like that. And when you see those two Brothers who picked up them guns and went out into Babylon in ’66 when a lot of us were scared to do anything except lock ourselves up in the closet and listen to Coltrane—ain’t that something for woopin’ a motherfucker’s ass. And this turned us on and this made us black enough that we were bad. Then this made us black enough to get out and launch a blanket indictment at the murder-mouthin’ rest of the black people. Nigger, you ain’t got no natural. Nigger, how come your name ain’t changed? Ask the pigs in California. Ask ‘em. “Who do you fear most? Ron Mamalama Karenga, or Huey P. Newton, who is named after a demagogic, lyin’ politician, Huey P. Long?” And pigs don’t care about that. Because you don’t have to call, if your shotgun’s a Browning, you don’t have to give it no African name, because believe me, it shoots the same. You understand? It shoots the same….
Changing your name is not gonna change our set of arrangements. The only thing that’s gonna change our set of arrangements is what’s gotten us into this set of arrangements. And that’s the oppressor. And it’s on three stages, we call it the three-in-one: avaricious, greedy businessmen; demagogic, lyin’ politicians; and racist, pig fascist, reactionary cops. Until you deal with those three tings, then your set of arrangements will remain the same. The only difference will be that you’re still under fascism, but instead of Fred being under fascism, I’ll be Oogabooga under fascism. But I’ll feel the same. Instead of me goin’ to the gas chamber, I’ll go to an African section of the gas chamber. We so Africanized over here that if Africans came over here, you’d have to give them a catalogue to find out what the fuck they were buyin’. That’s right, you’d have to give them a catalogue to find out what the fuck they were buyin’. You got posters and pictures and names, we’re namin’ things and namin’ ourselves names they never even heard of. And we call ourselves Africanized. And ain’t that somethin’? You understand?
If you’re racist, let me tell you somethin’. Or if you’re a reactionary nationalist. White folks run it. Go to south Africa and ask ‘em. Go ahead. If you want an example of cultural nationalism, the best one I can give you is Papa Doc, Duvalier. In Haiti, all the black people, “We need some black-ness” Papa Doc—naw, Duvalier said “Right on, we need some blackness. Let’s get all the white folks out of here.” Got all the white folks out, and now he’s oppressing all the black folks. When the black folks complain about it, he says, “Well, godamn; what you all complainin’ about now? I’m black. I can’t do nothin’ wrong brother. We already qualified that.” That’s why these apologists like Wesley South come on the air, and to rap that sophistry that the Sister was talkin’ about. Talkin’ about, they’re ballyhooing, really. Just rappin’ about nothin’ because they’re jackanapes in our community allowed to remain there only because of their skin complexion. And we ought to drive them out. Think about it.
You’ve got Bobby Seale chained and gagged at the Federal Building. You’ve got James and Michael Soto who was murdered in two days. By the way, for all you white folks who claim you’re radicals, that claim you’re gonna support the Party. We move in and we’re saying that there’s no better, there’s no higher Marxist than Huey P. Newton. Not Chairman Mao Tse-Tung or anybody else. We’re saying that unless people show us through their social practice that they relate to the struggle in Babylon, that means that they’re not internationalists, that means that they’re not revolutionaries, truly Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries. We look at Kim Il Sung. We look at Comrade the Marshall, Marshall Kim Il Sung of Korea as towering far and high above in his social practice as Mao Tse-Tung. If you can relate to that, cool. If you can’t relate to that, walk out with your as picked clean like the chickens do, you dig? If you can’t relate to that. And we’re tellin’ you that.
And you motherfuckers who think you’re so radical that you’re trying to radicalise everything in Washington. And I don’t know what the fuck you could radicalise, because you ain’t gonna do nothing but walk between the bodies of two dead men, Lincoln and Washington. And I know you’re not gonna stand up and gain no redress. And there’s just as much chance for Nixon giving you some redress. If you can’t get 200,000 people to march on Washington for something that’s in Vietnam, why the fuck can’t you get 200,000 people to come to Jackson and Dearborn, the Federal Building, and march for the Chairman of Babylon, the man who did more for Babylon, and more for Vietnam than you marchin’ maniacs will ever do. Because you’re not doin’ nothin’ for nobody but Florsheims and Stetsons or Stacy Adams and anybody else, because you’re gonna wear your soles out—your metaphysical souls and the soles on your shoes. And we say if you can’t relate to that, then fuck you.
Because our line’s been consistent. We know the Marxist-Leninists. People who might not want to dig on it, they say Marxist-Leninist they don’t curse. This is something we got from slave masters. We know niggers invented the word motherfucker. We wasn’t fuckin’ nobody’s mother. It was the master fuckin’ people’s mothers. We invented the word, you dig? We relate to that. We Marxist-Leninist niggers, and we some Marxist-Leninist cussin’ niggers, and we gonna continue to cuss, godamnit. Cause that’s what we relate to, that’s what’s happening in Babylon. That’s objective reality. Don’t nobody be walkin’ around in Babylon spoutin’ out at the mouth about a whole lot of academic bullshit, intellectually masturbating, catching diarrhea of the mouth. We say to those motherfuckers if you want to catch a mouth disease, you come and talk that shit in a community where the Panthers are at, and you’ll get a mouth disease alright. You’re gonna get hoof-in-mouth; Panther hoof-in-mouth. So if you radicals can’t relate to that, then fuck you, because we know what Chairman Bobby did for the struggle.
And we know that the people in Vietnam, they know that peace, just like Huey P. Newton tells about our motto, that we are the advocates of the abolition of war. We do not want war, but we understand that war can only be abolished through war. That in order to put down the gun, make a man get rid of the gun, it’s necessary to pick up a gun. And you motherfuckers that’s for peace in Vietnam, the Black Panther Party is for victory in Vietnam. We say that they’re aggressors, they’re a bunch of lackey running dogs, that they’re imperialists. They’re a bunch of Wall Street warmongers. And they need to be driven out of there.
And the only way that the liberation of the oppressed people Vietnam or the oppressed people of Babylon’s freedom can be founded, it has to be founded on the land that is fertilized by the bones and blood of these aggressive pig dogs that come into our communities and occupy our communities like troops occupy a foreign territory and go into Vietnam and fight and struggle relentlessly against the people in Vietnam to have a right to self-determination. We don’t care whether anybody likes it or not. That’s our line. It’s a Marxist-Leninist line. It’s consistent. It’s going to remain that way, and it’s been that way.
If you can’t get 200,000 people to come see about Bobby, then we say you’re counter-revolutionary. That what you’re doing is you’re taking some kind of route from DeKalb where you’re going to get to Vietnam without even passing the Henry Horner Projects on the West Side of Chicago. That’s impossible. You think Vietnam is bad? Check the laws. In Vietnam if you lose one son they allow you to keep the other one. They say, “Here, mother dear, hold him—hold him tight.” He can stay at home, you understand. If you have two in there and one dies, they’ll ship him back. They’ll ship him back and get him out of the war where there’ll be no chance of him dying, because “Miss, this war is not going to take both of your sons.” And then you’re marchin’ on this cruel war in Washington, all you radicals, and what about Mrs Soto, who lost two sons in one week? That proves to us through historical fact that Babylon is worse than Vietnam; we need to have some moratoriums on the black community in Babylon and all oppressed communities in Babylon.
And Charles Jackson, from Altgeld Gardens. Last week a 14-year-old boy throwing rocks. The pigs told him to halt, and the motherfucker shot and murdered him. Murdered him in cold blood. And then you motherfuckers got the nerve to go tramping off to Washington, marching between two dead motherfuckers. The Panther Party is going to criticize you motherfuckers. We gonna criticize you out open because we believe in mass revolutionary criticism. We’re gonna tell you that you’re wrong, because we done had a lot of criticism levelled at us for fucking around with you. You will either be part of the problem or you’re gonna be part of the solution. And if we find out you motherfuckers is part of the problem, we’re gonna start turning the guns on you crazy motherfuckers.
We’re gonna have some questions and answers. We’re gonna do one thing, too. And this is another thing out of sight to show the people where we come from. We come from Babylon. The Black Panther Party’s ran solely by black people. If you get a chance—I don’t think it’s gonna be this Sunday, but we taped this Sunday and shown next Sunday, I’m almost sure. It’s gonna be taped this Sunday and shown next Sunday. There’ll be a big round table discussion that’s gonna be on “For Blacks Only”, any you can check the thing and see what it is. And either myself or Chaka will be there. We’ll be presenting the Black Panther Party. And if you get a chance, why don’t you look at it.
If you wanna do something for me, we’d like to do something for Chairman Bobby, if you just clap your hands for me. This is what we call—you don’t have to clap to loud—this is what we call the people beat. It’s a beat that was started in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. It’s a beat that never stops because it’s the beat they got because they knew it couldn’t be stopped. It’s the beat that manifested in you, the people. Chairman Bobby Seale says that as long as there’s black people, there’ll always be the Black Panther Party. But they never can stop the Party unless they stop the beat. As long as you manifest the beat, we can never be stopped. You think the beat is dangerous? We know it’s dangerous. Because when the beat started out on the West Coast, the chief pig out there, Mafioso Alioto, said to the rest of his people that helped him with his fascism out there, he said, “Listen to those people beat. Hey, they’re beating much to fast. Why don’t they go back home where they belong.” When that beat started last November a year ago in Chicago, Illinois, at 2350 W. Madison, when me and Chaka and Bobby Rush and Che and some more Brothers and Jewel got together and said we’re gonna start a Black Panther Party right here. Because this is part of Babylon; the Party exists tight here too. That we might be in school now, might think we’re on the mountain top, but we’re gonna come down to the valley, because people in the valley, commitment’s in the valley, oppression’s in the valley, aggression, repression, fascism, all exists in the valley. No matter how nice it might be on the mountain top, we’ve got a commitment, so we’re going back. We got to go back to the valley.
And when we did that, even Daley and Hanrahan and Judge—we call him Adolph Hitler Hoffman—the chief fascist who knows the art of tapista, the art that Mussolini was supposed to have mastered. We say that Hoffman is better at the art of tapista than Mussolini ever was, because we know what the art of tapista is: it’s an art of good timing. And when we started that beat, Judge Hoffman and Mayor Daley and hammerhead Hanrahan said, “Hey, listen to the people. It’s Chicago beat. Politically they are even beating beating much too fast. Why don’t they go back home?” To live with all black people where they belong, to live in dashikis and bubus and to be porkchop nationalists and cultural nationalists. Why don’t they go back home to thinkin’ what you’re wearin’ is going to change you? Why don’t they go back to “Political power flows from the sleeve of a dashiki.” And we said, No!” As long as that beat continues, we continue, because it gives us in the Party a type of intoxication, that it let’s us understand… we’re so revolutionary proletarian intoxicated that we cannot be astronomically intimidated.
Don’t worry about the Black Panther Party. As long as you keep the beat, we’ll keep on going. If you think that we can be wiped out because they murdered Bobby Hutton and Alprentice Bunchy Carter and John Huggins, you’re wrong. If you think that because Huey was jailed the Party’s gonna stop, you see you’re wrong. If you think because Chairman Bobby was jailed the Party’s gonna stop, you see you’re wrong. If you think because they can jail me you thought the Party was gonna stop, you thought wrong. Because they can “Rage”, Eldridge Cleaver out of the country…you’re wrong. Because we said it before we left and we said it today. That you can jail a revolutionary, but you can’t jail the revolution. You can lock up a freedom fighter like Huey P. Newton, but you can’t lock up freedom fighting. You might hire some pork chops like Mamalama to murder Alprentice Bunchy Carter, a liberator, but you can’t murder liberation, because if you do, you come up with answers that don’t answer, explanations that don’t explain, conclusions that don’t conclude.
We say that if you dare to struggle, than you dare to win. If you dare not to struggle you don’t deserve to win. We wouldn’t go into the ring with Muhammad Ali and not fight and wonder why we lost, would we? If you don’t fight, then you don’t deserve to win. If you don’t move on these fascists, then you’re crazy. We say it’s no longer a question of violence or non-violence. We say it’s a question of resistance to fascism or non-existence within fascism. We say let’s stop the war in Vietnam. Let’s stop it by acquiring victory for the spirit of Ho Chi Minh. We say let’s stop the war in Babylon. Let’s initiate the decentralization of the police….
The only real thing is the people, because pigs bite the hand that feeds them and they need to be slapped. And like Chaka said, when you catch them in you’re house, hit ‘em with anything. You shouldn’t argue about whether to hit ‘em with a chair or a table, because they’re out of order from the start. We say that the oppressor—fuck Judge Taney—the oppressor has no rights which we, the oppressed, are bound to follow.
If you get a chance, come see about Bobby. You oughta come see about Bobby because Bobby came and saw about you. You oughta come see about Bobby because in 1966, when we didn’t even think we were important enough to protect ourselves, Bobby and Huey got their guns and went into the community. They left college. They where pre-engineer students, that was Bobby, and Huey was a pre-law student. And what they read they put into practice. You oughta come see about Bobby because Bobby came and saw about you. I’m gonna see about Bobby and if you have anything to say you’ll come see about Bobby. Come down to Jackson and Dearborn and see about our Chairman, because he’s the Chairman of Babylon. He’s the father and the founder of the breakfast programs and the free health clinics, and there’s nothing wrong, nothing in the world wrong with that.
All power to the people. Northern Illinois power to the people that go here to Northern Illinois University.
We say that we need some guns. There’s nothing wrong with guns in our community, there’s just been a misdistribution of guns in our community. For one reason or another, the pigs have all the guns, so all we have to do is equally distribute them. So if you see one that has a gun and you don’t have one, then when you leave you should have one. They way we’ll be able to deal with things right. I remember looking at T.V. and I found that not only did the pigs not brutalize the people in western days, they had to hire bounty hunters to go arrest them. They shoot somebody with no intention of arresting them. We need some guns. We need some guns. We need some force.
Thank you. I’m going to call Chaka end Sister Joan back up here to deal with any questions that you want answered, because we have plenty of time to spend; we don’t have any time to waste. As the sister said, “Time is short, let’s seize the time.”
source: “It’s a Class Struggle, Goddammit!”: A Speech by Fred Hampton (1969)
ON THE QUESTIONS OF RACE AND RACISM: REVOLUTIONARY NATIONAL LIBERATION AND BUILDING THE UNITED FRONT AGAINST IMPERIALISM
This was originally published in 2006 on the New Afrikan Black Panther Party’s website.
The economic nature of racism is not simply an aside… Racism is a fundamental characteristic of monopoly capitalism.”
George L. Jackson, 1971
Many people believe that racism – indeed the very concept of race itself – develops automatically when groups of people with different complexions, hair, and body types are brought together. This is not so! Actually, the concept of race is barely 500 years old. The common people have been programmed into accepting “race” as a normal and natural thing, to prevent them from questioning, investigating, and challenging the ideas and roots of race and racism. Race and racism are the inventions of a specific social class, and devised to serve a specific social purpose. The creators are the oppressor capitalist ruling class, and the purpose is to divide the laboring class that the capitalists exploit against themselves. This is because, if united, the workers pose the single greatest threat to the capitalist class monopoly over social wealth, power, and control. A dispassionate study will show that in every situation where race has arisen to become a sharp dividing social factor, the hands of the capitalists can be seen pulling the strings, and it is only they who benefit from the conflicts.
George Jackson clearly recognized this. He pointed out that while white racism, the dominant form of racism in Amerika, expresses itself as:
“…the morbid traditional fear of Blacks, Indians, Mexicans, [and] the desire to inflict pain on them when they began to compete in the industrial sectors. The resentment and the seedbed of fear are patterned into every modern capitalist society. It grows out of a sense of insecurity and insignificance that is inculcated into the workers by the conditions of life and work under capitalism. This sense of vulnerability is the breeding ground of racism. At the same time, the ruling class actively promotes racism against the Blacks of the lower classes. This programmed racism has always served to distract the huge numbers of people who subsist at just a slightly higher level than those in a more debased condition (in the 1870’s the strikes frequently ended in anti-Chinese or anti-Black lynchings)…Racism has served always in the U.S. as a pressure release…”
The sole concern of the capitalist class is to secure and increase their profits and power. They do not care whom or what they damage or destroy to accomplish this, nor do they care what nationality or complexion the people are whom they exploit, only that they keep the exploited workers unable to unite and mobilize against their conditions of exploitation. Racism has been the capitalists’ most effective method of accomplishing this. Here in North Amerika, the game began in the late 1600’s.
THE CREATION OF THE WHITE RACE AND RACISM
The first laborers exploited in North Amerika under British colonialism consisted of Afrikan, European, and Indian slaves and indentured servants. The concept of ‘race’ did not exist then. The laborers were all equally oppressed and exploited of their wealth-producing labor by the capitalist plantation owners and thus saw each other as equals. They lived, labored, loved, suffered, bred, bled, escaped, and died together. They also repeatedly rebelled and revolted together. But because they lacked a unifying leadership and vision or control over resources, they were unable to come together en masse to wage a united revolution to overthrow the plantation elite and the British colonial government that served and backed the elite. This all changed in 1676 when Bacon’s Rebellion occurred.
The leader of the rebellion, Nathaniel Bacon, was a young plantation owner. He had left England to settle in the British colonies in 1673, and was appointed to the Council of British Colonial Governor William Berkeley. The colonial government’s principal concern (as with any capitalist government) was to maintain stability in the colonies while protecting and expanding the holdings and wealth of the ruling class. To achieve this, Berkeley promoted developing trade relations and peace with the Indians who lived on surrounding lands. Bacon, however, promoted running the Indians off their land to expand the colonial settlements. In defiance of Berkeley’s policies, Bacon independently organized and led poor farmers who lived on the outskirts of the colonies (most of whom were recently freed indentured servants), on murderous terror raids against nearby Indian communities. But instead of fleeing, the Natives responded with counter-raids against their attackers. Bacon, unable to match the Indian counter-attacks, sought but was denied military support from Berkeley.
Bacon then turned on the established colonial ruling class and Berkeley’s government. He armed and organized the colony’s Afrikan and English slaves with promises of freedom, and in 1676 led them in revolt against the colonial rulers. The revolt succeeded in overthrowing the colonial ruling class and government, and captured the capitol at Jamestown, Virginia.
However, six months into the revolt, and at the height of his power, Bacon died of influenza. Bacon’s Rebellion, deprived of its leader and organizer, collapsed, and the colonial ruling class and Council quickly regained control, though not without a determined last stand by the core group of rebels, principally composed of Afrikan slaves. It was at this point that the plantation elite and their reinstated government realized the immense danger and power of a unified working class. Consequently they decided to ensure that no united revolt like Bacon’s Rebellion occurred again. Their solution was to split the lower class by permanently enslaving one sector while winning the loyalty of another sector, inciting its fear and contempt against and using it to police the enslaved sector. To divide, agitate, and rule was the plan. This they accomplished by inventing the concept of race and dividing the lower class along racial lines.
Laws were immediately passed that established the categories of “negro” (Spanish for “black”), and “white” as distinct racialized social statuses. In 1682 legislation was enacted that made slavery a permanent and hereditary status for all “Blacks,” and over the next several decades slavery and indentured servitude of ‘whites’ were phased out. Further laws were passed that forbade and penalized positive social interactions between the races, particularly escapes, marriages, and procreation.
The poor white men made up the body of the colonial militias and, beginning in 1727, were conscripted into manning slave patrols under fines and other penalties if they refused. This plantation police force was the forerunner and grandparent of today’s urban police forces that continue to be concentrated against people of color to repress them across Amerika with violence and terror. In most areas, the slave patrols came to outnumber the black slaves. A variety of minor privileges were also granted to the poor whites, including tiny plots of land to live on – at the Indians’ expense – a musket, the authority to kill rebellious Blacks, tax exemptions, and other benefits for manning slave patrols, greater leniency in the eyes of the law than Blacks, voting privileges, etc.
By inventing the social category of “white,” and granting the lower class Europeans a share in power over the super-exploited and enslaved Afrikans, the capitalists created a scheme that caused the poor Europeans a false sense of privileged class unity with, and a confused loyalty toward the ruling class which was the source of all of the lower classes’ poverty and misery. By selling out their own class interests to the elite, the poor whites made a deal with the devil that saw them focus their frustrations on Blacks instead of the capitalists, and thus ensured that they would remain an impoverished and exploited class, just a step above the Blacks.
To ensure the dedication of the slave patrols, and whites in general, in repressing and containing the black slaves, the ruling class generated a paranoid fear of slave revolts and especially of “Negroes with guns.” From every pulpit, and every center of white social gathering and influence, Blacks were depicted as always plotting to revolt with the aim of murdering all whites indiscriminately (men, wimyn, and children), molesting white wimyn, and subverting ‘good’ white Christian civilization with Black “heathenism.” Both the political and religious institutions were, and remain today, proponents of racism and white fear of Black revolt.
The church hierarchy, which was tied in with the ruling elite, also added fuel to the fire of racism by theologizing the myth of white racial superiority over all other races, claiming that whites were the Creator’s “chosen people” destined to rule over all others as a divine right, and that slavery was a punishment ordained by the creator for Blacks as the “Curse of Canaan.” It was through these combined methods that “white supremacy” and the very concept of the “white” and “black” races were born and spread, and remain today normalized concepts that divide the lower class to further the interests of the wealthy elite.
The capitalists found race and racism such effective tools for manipulating and undermining the working class that appeals to race and racism, (overtly and subliminally), have been their generalized method of subverting working class struggles and manipulating workers to serve as mercenaries and mindless cannon fodder in fighting capitalist wars. To solidify lower class support, the capitalists who were struggling to break free of British control appealed to poor whites to fight the Amerikan Revolutionary War (1775-1783), to achieve an independent “white nation.” The Declaration of Independence expresses this in its statement “When…it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another.” Because of the racialized identity of “whiteness,” the colonists had come to identify themselves as a different “people” than the English.
From such wealthy elite notables and “Founding Fathers” as Benjamin Franklin (in 1751 to John Jay), James Madison, Jedediah Morse (to Andrew Johnson in 1864), they all emphasized in public and in private letters that Amerika was to be a “white nation.” (See Steve Martinot, The Rule of Racialization, 2003). This was specified in one of the first legislative acts of the independent Amerikan government – the Naturalization Act of 1790 – that stated that the U.S. was to be a “white republic.” The “White” racialized identity which had its origins in the Virginia colony, was subsequently adopted into European thinking and served as it had in North Amerika, to rationalize European colonization of people of color in Asia, Afrika, Australia, and elsewhere, and to alienate the European working class from uniting with the super-oppressed peoples of color.
The Amerikan capitalists used the same device to justify their brutal and genocidal seizure of Indian and Mexican lands to expand their agricultural empire. They won the allegiance of the poor whites by promoting these actions as white “Manifest Destiny,” as the duty and calling of whites to conquer “inferior” peoples, and by giving out free land grants. These same appeals are used today in pursuit of U.S. conquest and repression of people of color, only the concept of white supremacy and” Manifest Destiny” have become so ingrained and normalized in the collective white Amerikan mind, that they need not be explicitly stated. Moreover, to do so is politically incorrect and unwise in today’s world where people of color have proven unwilling to accept overtly expressed racist oppression, (witness the national independence struggles of the 20th century against European colonialism that swept Asia and Afrika; the urban uprisings, civil rights, and New Afrikan, First Nation, Mexican, and Puerto Rican liberation struggles in Amerika, the worldwide opposition to South Afrikan Apartheid, etc.).
Therefore, the white supremacist appeal today is made and pursued more clandestinely and with greater sophistication, using such code words as “spreading democracy,” “fighting terrorism,” “fighting crime,” “preventing the spread of Communism,” etc. But any objective analysis quickly reveals that these policies, backed by extreme state violence, and demonizing labels such as “criminal,” “terrorist,” etc., are consistently applied to non-white peoples, and it’s the white U.S. population that’s appealed to in order to back these policies. That the national identity of Amerika remains that of a white nation is revealed by its population being still classified by race, with panic arising anytime the elites claim some ‘other’ race like Latin Amerikan immigrants are threatening to overrun the “white majority,” or that Blacks are a danger to the stability and moral integrity of Amerika.
White racism caused many whites, (especially of the lower class), to become so consumed and intoxicated with the myth of their racial superiority, their right to repress and contain Blacks and others’ ambitions, and the idea that their own poverty and lack of power was somehow the fault of Blacks, that they’ve resorted to confused, fundamentalist reactionary violence to subvert every effort of Blacks to improve or challenge their own conditions. Thus, Black political and economic struggles and gains have frequently been followed by reactionary white violence, or the rise of far right-wing white terrorist groups, like the Ku Klux Klan and Knights of White Camellia for example, the white mobs that attacked Blacks in Massachusetts (1850) and Philadelphia, Boston, and Cincinnati (1830’s) to repress the Black vote; the frequent lynchings during Reconstruction (1865-77), white riots against Blacks communities when Blacks moved in large numbers to Northern and Western cities to fill industrial jobs in the early 1900’s, mob attacks and violence to repress civil rights struggles in the south during the 1950’s and 60’s, etc. This reactionary fanatical racial violence and conflict occurs always upon incitement of the ruling elite, to divert and neutralize the danger of revolt of any sector of the working class against their class exploitation and political impotence.
DIVISION CREATED WITHIN RACIAL RANKS
The divide and rule scheme was further refined based upon the claimed proposals of a Caribbean slave owner, Willie Lynch, to a gathering of plantation owners in Virginia in 1712. Lynch proposed not only instigating sharp division between Blacks and whites, but among the Black slaves as well, by playing on minor differences between them to generate envy, fear and distrust. He proposed that the “black slaves should trust no one except the plantation elite. That they should be hostile toward themselves and that hostility should be maintained between them and the lower class whites. Lynch put it this way:
“Gentlemen, I greet you here on the banks of the James River in the year of our Lord 1712. First, I shall thank you, the gentlemen of the Colony of Virginia for bringing me here. I am here to help you solve some of your problems with slaves. Your invitation reached me on my modest plantation in the West Indies where I have experimented with some of the newest and still the oldest methods for control of slaves. Ancient Rome would envy us if my program was implemented. As our boat sailed south on the James River, named for our illustrious King, whose version of the Bible we cherish, I saw enough to know that your problem is not unique. While Rome used cords of wood as crosses for standing human bodies along its old highway in great numbers, you are here using the tree and the rope on occasion.
“I caught the whiff of a dead slave hanging from a tree a couple of miles back. You are not only losing valuable stock by hangings, you are having uprisings, slaves are running away. Your crops are sometimes left in the fields too long for maximum profit, you suffer occasional fires, your animals are killed. Gentlemen, you know what your problems are; I do not need to elaborate. I am not here to enumerate your problems, however, I am here to introduce you to methods of solving them.
“In my bag here, I have outlined a number of DIFFERENCES among the slaves, and I take their differences and make them bigger. I use FEAR, DISTRUST, and ENVY for control purposes. These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies and it will work throughout the South. Take this simple little list of differences, and think about them. On top of my list is “AGE,” but it is there because it starts with an “A”; the second is “COLOR” or “SHADE”, there is INTELLIGENCE, SIZE, SEX, STATUS ON PLANTATION, ATTITUDE OF OWNERS, WHETHER THE SLAVES LIVE IN THE VALLEY, ON THE HILL, EAST, WEST, NORTH or SOUTH, HAVE FINE HAIR or COARSE HAIR, or is TALL or SHORT. Now that you have a list of differences, I shall give you an outline of ACTION – but before that I shall assure you that distrust is stronger than trust, and envy is stronger than adulation, respect or admiration.
“The Black slave after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self-refueling and self-generating for hundreds of years, maybe thousands.
“Don’t forget you must pitch the OLD BLACK MALE vs. the YOUNG BLACK MALE, and the YOUNG BLACK MALE vs. the OLD BLACK MALE. You must use the DARK SKIN SLAVE vs. the LIGHT SKIN SLAVE and the LIGHT SKIN SLAVE vs. the DARK SKIN SLAVE. You must use the FEMALE vs. the MALE and the MALE vs. the FEMALE.
“You must also have your white servants and overseers distrust all Blacks, but it is necessary that your slaves trust and depend on us. They must love, respect, and trust ONLY US.
“Gentlemen, these kits are your keys to control. Use them. Have your wives and children use them. Never miss an opportunity – if used intensively for one year, the slaves themselves will remain perpetually distrustful. Thank you, gentlemen.”
These methods of dividing slaves and Blacks versus poor whites can clearly be seen still in operation today, and the effects still remain with us – the distrust, fear, and envy. While the lower classes have come to love, emulate, and depend on the predatory capitalist class, its wealth, luxury, and artificial prestige, are all obtained through the labor, powerlessness, and poverty of the working class. Yesterday’s chattel slaves are today’s wage slaves: only the slave class today has grown to include all races and nationalities.
CAPITALISM CREATES RACISM ABROAD
Kwame Nkrumah observed that the same game of racial divide and rule was played when capitalism took root in Afrika:
“The close links between class and race developed in Africa alongside capitalist exploitation. Slavery, the master-servant relationship, and cheap labor were basic to it. The classic example is South Africa, where Africans experience a double exploitation – both on grounds of color and of class. Similar conditions exist in the U.S.A., the Caribbean, in Latin America, and in other parts of the world where the nature of the development of productive forces has resulted in a racist class structure. In these areas, even shades of color count – the degree of blackness being a yardstick by which social status is measured.
“…[A] racist social structure…is inseparable from capitalist economic development. For race is inextricably linked with class exploitation; in a racist-capitalist power structure, capitalist exploitation and race oppression are complementary; the removal of one ensures the removal of the other…
“The effects of industrialization in Africa as elsewhere, has been to foster the growth of the bourgeoisie, and at the same time the growth of a politically-conscious proletariat. The acquisition of property and political power on the part of the bourgeoisie, and the growing socialist and African nationalist aspirations of the working class, both strike at the root of the racist class structure, though each is aiming at different objectives. The bourgeoisie supports capitalist development while the proletariat – the oppressed class – is striving towards socialism.
“In South Africa, where the basis of ethnic relationships is class and color, the bourgeoisie comprises about one-fifth of the population. The British and the Boers, having joined forces to maintain their positions of privilege, have split up the remaining four-fifths of the population into “Blacks,” “Coloreds,” and “Indians.” The Colored and Indians are minority groups, which act as buffers to protect the minority whites against the increasingly militant and revolutionary Black majority. In the other settled areas of Africa, a similar class-race struggle is being waged.
“A non-racial society can only be achieved by socialist revolutionary action of the masses. It will never come as a gift from the minority ruling class. For it is impossible to separate race relations from the capitalist class relationships in which they have their roots.
“South Africa again provides a typical example…It was only with capitalist economic penetration that the master-servant relationship emerged, and with it, racism, color prejudice and apartheid…
“Slavery and the master-servant relationship were therefore the cause, rather than the result of racism. The position was crystallized and reinforced with the discovery of gold and diamonds in South Africa, and the employment of cheap African labor in the mines. As time passed, and it was thought necessary to justify the exploitation and oppression of African workers, the myth of racial inferiority was developed and spread.
“In the era of neocolonialism, ‘underdevelopment’ is still attributed not to exploitation but to inferiority, and racial undertones remain closely interwoven with the class struggle.
“It is only the ending of capitalism, colonialism, imperialism and neocolonialism and the attainment of world communism that can provide the conditions under which the race question can finally be abolished and eliminated.”
Kwame Nkrumah, Class Struggle in Africa, 1970
AN EXAMPLE OF RACISM INCITED TO DIVERT WORKING CLASS STRUGGLE
World War I (1914 -1918) was a competition between the European imperialist countries for access to and control over the abundant natural resources and markets of the Third World colonies. The war generated a boom for the war industrialists, particularly the Amerikan steel and manufacturing industries that were producing and selling weapons, machinery, and spare parts needed by the European elite to supply their armies, (which were manned by the working class of course). When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, the mandatory draft created a large shortage of white industrial workers. Laborers were needed. With promises of plenty, southern Blacks were drawn by the industrialist’ job recruiters into the Northern and Western cities to fill the vacant jobs. The poor migrant Blacks were also a welcomed replacement, since they would accept work at much lower wages than the white workers would tolerate, thus increasing the capitalists’ profits by lowering labor costs.
The war’s end in 1918 saw the return of the whites in need of employment. A strong working class movement was already underway in the U.S., which had the capitalists in a panic. They feared working class revolution, like the one that had just succeeded in overthrowing the capitalist class in Russia in 1917. To offset a united radical struggle of the working class poor, capitalist agents within the trade union movement incited the whites against the Blacks, diverting their attention away from challenging capitalist class oppression and toward the Blacks who’d “stolen” their jobs and were driving down wages.
This appeal to reactionary race hate to channel the anger of white workers away from challenging working class exploitation provoked racial violence against Blacks, which culminated in widespread white race riots in the “Red Summer” of 1919. These riots saw over 20 incidents of white mobs converging on Black neighborhoods to gang rape Black wimyn and girls, and murder and maim Black men, wimyn, children and the elderly indiscriminately.
Fast-forwarding to today, we now see an identical situation of competition over jobs along racial lines taking place between Blacks versus Mexican and Latin Amerikan migrants. Under centuries of colonial and neo-colonial policies, U.S. capitalists with government backing have robbed the fertile land and resources and crushed the economies of their countries, imposing imperialist policies that have violently driven millions upon millions off their native lands and into complete insecurity, poverty and beggary. In desperate need of jobs to provide for their families, many are forced to migrate to Amerika, to fill jobs that pay starvation wages or deprive them of benefits enjoyed by ‘legal’ workers. Their predicament duplicates that of Blacks who were forced to migrate to the northern and western cities from the south in search of employment upon being pushed off the land by Klan terror, and being otherwise compelled to live in impoverished servitude.
But instead of struggling alongside these migrant workers today, Blacks have been incited by imperialist agents and propaganda to assume much the same repressive role as the white workers during the early 1900’s. We perceive these migrants to be “stealing” “our” scarce jobs, government benefits and housing, and driving down wages. Consequently a virtual war has been taking place between Black versus Mexicans and Latin Amerikans on the streets and inside U.S. prisons. Much of the violence, which begins inside the prisons where these ‘races’ are forcibly confined in miserable close quarter, spills over into society.
In just 2005, over 300 race riots occurred in the California prison system alone, mostly between Black versus Mexican and Latin Amerikan prisoners. These conflicts have been exposed repeatedly as incited by the imperialist controlled prison guard unions. So, once again, the capitalists, whose greedy ambitions are the cause of massive poverty, job shortages, land theft, and forced migrations of both Blacks and the Native peoples of this region of the world, (who must risk their lives to cross borders created by the capitalists and white racism), have the commonly oppressed people, who are all victims of class and national oppression, warring amongst themselves.
THE RACE GAME PLAYED BETWEEN WHITES
The game of racism was not only created and used to play working class whites against people of color. It was also used between whites, and with the same purpose of undermining working class struggles against capitalist class exploitation. Indeed it was the principal method of whipping up mass hysteria in support of fascism in Western Europe during the early 1900’s. And contrary to popular deception, the U.S. capitalist elite and government supported its purpose and function, which was to suppress working class revolution. There is an extensive although repressed record in proof of this.
The tendency in mainstream circles and of the ruling class propaganda industry has been to paint German Nazism, for example, as a sort of odd latent German anti-Semitism, which was brought to the surface by a “mad” leader (Hitler), who by luck and guile found himself in power. This, however, runs counter to the actual fact that the German and Amerikan capitalists consciously and deliberately financed and pushed Hitler into power to suppress a working class revolution that was threatening to take power. The capitalist Great Depression had disillusioned the workers across Europe about the promises of capitalism, and they were looking with hope to the example of Russia, (Socialist Russia being independent of the imperialist countries was not affected by the Depression). The capitalists also feared that the destabilized middle class would join forces with the lower class workers to overthrow their economic and political control. They opted to play the race card.
By inciting “Aryan” racism – blaming non-Aryans for Germany’s economic crisis, which was actually caused by the capitalists – the Nazis won over the confused German middle and lower class and youth to subvert the working class movement and re-channel its momentum toward attacking sectors of German society that were classified as non-Aryan (“inferiors” and “degenerates”). Violent repression was thus targeted against the German Communists and radical youth, who were leading and organizing the workers’ struggle, and the Jews, Slavs, Poles, Gypsies, gay and disabled people. Overt fascism, like pure racism, was a desperate political strategy of capitalist class control.
Just as the method of allying the majority white Amerikan working class to back the capitalist class’s designs has been, by rallying them under the banner of a racialized “white nation,” so too did the German capitalists do the same using the Nazis to rally the German workers’ support under the banner of a racialized “Aryan nation.” And as intended, this incitement of racist sentiments divided a once united working class against itself, whipped up hysterical and irrational mass support for the ruling class’s designs to smash working class struggle and to back the capitalists’ aims to expand and colonize other nations, in this case not only nations of colored people but Europeans as well. Under the spell of a purely invented racism, the German masses proceed to back the Nazi war machine that saw them kill and die by the millions and carry out acts of the most savage brutality recorded in history – and all by and against white working class people. As said, the U.S. government and business community supported Hitler and Mussolini before World War II. See for example:
Christopher Simpson, The Splendid Blonde Beast: Money, Law and Genocide in the Twentieth Century. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1995. pp. 46-64;
David Schmitz, Thank God They’re On Our Side: The United States and Right Wing Dictatorships, 1921-1965, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1999, Chapters 1 and 3;
David Schmitz, The United States and Fascist Italy, 1922-1940, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1988;
John P. Diggins. Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972.
U.S. government internal documents explain the class-based reasons for the warm Amerikan business support for fascism that are detailed in these books. In 1937, for example, a report of the U.S. State Department’s European Division described the rise of fascism as a natural and commendable response of “the rich and middle class, in self-defense” when the “dissatisfied masses, with the example of the Russian revolution before them, swing to the Left.” Fascism, thus, “must succeed or the masses, this time reinforced by the disillusioned middle classes, will again turn to the Left.” The report also stated that “if Fascism cannot succeed by persuasion [in Germany], it must succeed by force.” (See Schmitz, The United States and Fascist Italy, 1922-1940, p. 140). U.S. Ambassador to Russia, William Bullitt “believed that only Nazi Germany could stay the advance of Soviet Bolshevism in Europe.” (Daniel Yergin, Shattered Peace: The Origins of the Cold War and the National Security State, Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin, 1977, p. 26).
The Amerikan charge d’affaires in Berlin wrote to Washington in 1933 that Amerika should back the Nazi Party as the hope for Germany. He stated that Nazi policies “appeal to all civilized and reasonable people.” Amerikan Ambassador Frederic Sackett noted that “it is perhaps well that Hitler is now in a position to wield unprecedented power.” (See Schmitz, The United States and Fascist Italy, 1922-1940, pp. 174, 133, and Chapter 9).
U.S. corporations like Ford Motor Company were totally approving of fascism; financed and profited from the Fascists states, and participated in plundering Jewish assets under Hitler’s Aryanization programs.
“Many U.S. companies bought substantial interests in established German companies, which in turn plowed the new money into Aryanizations or into arms productions banned under the Versailles Treaty. According to a 1936 report from Ambassador William Dodd to President Roosevelt, a half-dozen key U.S. companies – International Harvester, Ford, General Motors, Standard Oil of New Jersey, and DuPont – had become deeply involved in German weapons production…
“U.S. investment in Germany accelerated rapidly after Hitler came to power, despite the Depression and Germany’s default on virtually all of its government and commercial loans. Commerce Department reports show that U.S. investment in Germany increased some 48.5 percent between 1929 and 1940, while declining sharply everywhere else in continental Europe. U.S. investment in Great Britain…barely held steady over the decade, increasing only 2.6 percent.”
Christopher Simpson, The Splendid Blonde Beast: Money, Law and Genocide in the Twentieth Century, supra, p. 64.
The U.S. government did not in fact unanimously declare European fascism an avowed enemy until it attacked U.S. interests. And even then Amerikan business interests still backed the Fascists. In fact, Prescott Bush, (grandfather of George W. Bush), and his father-in-law, George Herbert Walker, were the Nazi’s financers and traders through periods of the Jewish Holocaust, after their attacks on Britain and France, and even after the bombings of Pearl Harbor in 1941. It took the seizure of their Union Banking Corporation by the U.S. government in October 1942, under the Trading with the Enemies Act, to stop Bush and Walker.
Prior to WWII U.S. support for Italian Fascism was much the same. In December 1917, the Wilson administration expressed that the rising labor movement posed, “the obvious danger of social revolution and disorganization.” Mussolini’s Black Shirts solved the problem with violence, referring to Mussolini’s October 1922 march on Rome, which smashed Italian democracy. The U.S. Ambassador noted with approval that the Fascists carried out “a fine young revolution.” With government backing, the racist thugs bloodily repressed working class agitation. The U.S. embassy noted, Fascism was “perhaps the most potent factor in the suppression of Bolshevism in Italy.” In a February 1925 report, the embassy also approvingly observed that the Fascists had smashed the workers struggle through “restricting the right of free assembly, in abolishing freedom of the press and in having at its command a large military organization.” It was also stated that “between Mussolini and Fascism and Giolliti and Socialism, between strong internal peace and prosperity and return to free speech, loose administration and general disorganization, Peace and Prosperity were preferred.” (See Schmitz, See Schmitz, The United States and Fascist Italy, 1922-1940, pp. 76-77). These approving pronouncements are as undemocratic as one could get. It should also be remembered that when these official champions of capitalism talk about “disorder,” and “peace” and “prosperity,” they’re speaking about these things from the perspective of their capitalist bosses in containing, repressing, and controlling the exploited workers, and against the workers’ struggles to gain control over the society’s economic and political institutions and power.
The U.S. business press spoke openly in support of Fascism. Fortune magazine, for example, devoted a special issue to Fascism in July 1934, and in its article “The State: Fascist and Total.” It commented approvingly that “the purpose and effect of Fascism is to un wop the wops,” and any views by Amerikan people that the Italians should resent Fascism, “is a confusion, and we can only get over it if we anesthetize for the moment our ingrained idea that democracy is the only right and just conception of government.”
The rise of counter-revolutionary racist Fascism in Europe was accompanied by an attendant rise of far right-wing racist counterrevolutionary elements in Amerika. The Klan for example saw a resurgence, and its membership swelled as never before in the 1920’s.
Clearly when any struggle arises from within the ranks of the working class, the capitalists incite a corresponding rise of racist elements to divide and counter the up-thrusting masses and their challenge to capitalist domination. In essence, racism, and its most fundamentalist political and military form (namely fascism) are purely counter-revolutionary tools of the capitalist class used to sabotage working class struggle by dividing, inciting and turning the working class against itself.
THE RACE GAME PLAYED BETWEEN BLACKS
Racism has also been used to divide exploited Blacks against themselves to further imperialist interests. One outstanding example occurred among the people of Rwanda and resulted in the genocidal war of 1994, which saw hundreds of thousands murdered while the imperialists sat by and watched. Until the Belgians entered Rwanda with imperialist aims in 1916, the Rwandans were a united people. The various ethnic groups shared the same language and had for centuries cooperated, supported, and sustained each other. The Hutu were 85%, the Tutsis 14%, and the Twa 1% of the population. The Hutu raised crops, the Tutsis tended herds. Economic relations between them were based upon the Hutu exchanging their surplus of vegetables for surplus Tutsi livestock. Their economies also sustained each other in that the Hutus set aside land for the Tutsis to graze their animals on. The manure of the animals in turn provided fertilizer for the Hutu crops.
In 1918 the European imperialist League of Nations “awarded” Rwanda to Belgium as a colony. This Afrikan country presented a source of great wealth to the Belgian King Leopold, in the form of vast forests of rubber trees. Rubber was in high demand in the industrial countries due to the recent invention of the inflatable tire. Like the agricultural capitalists of Amerika, the Belgians needed a local slave class to work the rubber plantations and a local middle level force to police them. The colonial Belgian government, along with the Catholic Church played the race game to produce the desired result. They opened mission schools to only the Tutsi and forbade the Hutu from receiving an education. In the schools, Rwandan history was rewritten to project the Tutsi as the racial superior of the Hutus. The myth was taught that the Tutsi were a partly Caucasian Hamitic people because of their having taller statures, thinner features, and lighter complexions than the Hutu. Identity cards were issued which classified the entire society as Hutu, Tutsi, or Twa.
The Belgians treated the Hutu with the most savage brutality to enforce their submission. Millions upon millions resisted and were massacred, while millions more had ears, noses, and limbs cut off. Tutsi chiefs were appointed by the Belgians over the Hutu to serve as agents to this brutality. The Tutsi, like whites in Amerika, were pleased to be identified as allies of the ruling powers and to believe the myth of their racial superiority. Consequently, the Tutsi also lived in perpetual fear of Hutu revenge if the Hutu ever came together in revolt.
When the national independence struggles against European imperialism began to sweep across Afrika in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the educated Tutsis took notice and agitated for Rwandan independence. In turn the Belgians backed the Hutu to repress the Tutsi. Rwanda still won independence from Belgium in 1962, but this saw the Hutu take control of the upper levels of government. The Tutsi remained in the lower ranks, continuing to control the educational system, church, and livestock. The Hutu however took much of the Tutsi land upon taking power. Many of the Tutsi fled.
A 1973 coup saw a new Hutu government take power which changed the status of the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa from racial to ethnic groupings, and sought to democratically restructure the ethnic groups within social institutions according to their numbers. This meant a larger share for the Hutu in the economy, church, and educational institutions. Thousands of Tutsi lost their jobs and fled the country. A few years later the government turned sour, state property was privatized, and the economy collapsed. In addition to droughts and famines, the imperialist International Monetary Fund imposed a neo-liberal structural adjustment program that totally devastated the country. The Tutsi were repressed and another wave fled Rwanda, to refugee camps in Uganda.
The genocidal war of 1994 was the result of the exiled Tutsis returning and seeking to regain power in Rwanda. The imperialists, including Amerika, were fully aware of preparations for the genocide before it began, but sat by as events unfolded. This “race” war, like many other race based conflicts, saw “respectable” people engaged in the murderous frenzy: teachers, doctors, nurses, journalists, and clergy. Husbands killed wives, friends killed each other, gang rapes were frequent, etc. Such is the result of race hate, racism, and the violence they spawn. Over 500,000 were killed in a matter of just a few months.
The entire “racial” division in Rwanda was, like that here in Amerika, created by a ruling capitalist elite, whose power and profits were served by dividing a previously united people along racial lines, granting one sector a share of relative power and elevated social status, and a sense of racial connection to the ruling elite, so to use it to repress and control the other sector that is super-exploited by the ruling capitalist class. While in reality the entire divided people are collectively exploited by the ruling capitalist class.
RACISM IN REVERSE
For a people, like Blacks in Amerika, who have endured centuries of brutality, degradation, disrespect, indignity, powerlessness, and being labeled “inferiors” based solely upon skin color, the desire for respect became and remains very strong. This desire for respect has left many Blacks vulnerable to the appeals of reverse racism. Reverse racism is here defined as a belief in Black superiority and white inferiority. But, for Blacks in Amerika, who have no independent access to or control over any institutions of power or productive wealth, the features of reverse racism take place primarily in their minds, as they lack the means to exercise any dominant or comparable power over those they claim to be their inferiors, namely whites.
Reverse racism first took root on a large scale with the teachings of Marcus Garvey, who preached the beauty and high culture of Blacks. In colonizing Afrika, beginning in the late 1800’s, the European imperialists used racism to alienate their country’s own oppressed working class from the super-exploited Afrikans, and to rationalize their brutal colonial oppression of Afrikans. To give a scientific gloss to their racism doctrines, the imperialists commissioned novelists and intellectuals to develop theories to support their claims of European racial superiority and African racial inferiority. These European and Amerikan writers claimed that Afrika, when discovered by the white man, was a land of backward, ignorant savages upon whom they had bestowed the benefits and blessings of Christianity and white civilization. Garvey reversed these false and degrading European histories and views of Afrikans. He countered that ignorant, murderous, pillaging European savages attacked Afrika out of jealousy over our power, prosperity, and having achieved the highest level of civilization yet known. Neither version was objectively true. However, Garvey’s teachings had an electrifying effect on Amerikan Blacks. In only a few years millions of Blacks joined his universal Negro Improvement Association, supporting his “back to Afrika” movement. Garvey’s teachings offered Blacks a new basis for pride, self-esteem, self-confidence, and respect, all tied into a messianic notion of Black racial superiority. By turning the teaching of white supremacy on its head, Garvey brought together the largest Black organization in U.S. history.
Following his arrest and exile, and the collapse of his UNIA, Garvey’s doctrine and its Black capitalist underpinnings became the common doctrine of Black organizations that sought a large following. Most notable was the Nation of Islam, which was founded three years after Garvey’s deportation. Indeed, the NOI absorbed many who came under Garveyite influences, including some of the NOI’s most influential leaders like Malcolm X whose parents were Garveyites. The NOI, however, enhanced and gave a theological twist to Garvey’s doctrine, (much as the white church had done with white racism), by posing Blacks as the Creator’s chosen people and whites as spawns of the Devil. The NOI’s teachings were enhanced even further by its excommunicated member Clarence 13X, in his youth-based Nation of Gods and Earths, (formerly the 5% Nation), which promotes the Black man as god and whites as the actual devil.
Another proponent of subjective reverse racism was Dr. Khalid Muhammad, another excommunicated member of the NOI, who led the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) up until his death in 2001. Dr. Muhammad steered the NBPP far away from the class-based ideological and political line of the original BPP and in the direction of race-based anti-white politics, the NBPP’s present path.
The New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC) distinguishes itself from such race-based politics as promoted by the NBPP, as we are proponents of class struggle and the revolutionary nationalist liberation struggles of those oppressed by imperialism. We recognize that the capitalists created and use race divisions to perpetuate conflict within the oppressed lower class sectors, and that racism and the race blame game serves the interests of the oppressor class and undermines the interests of the oppressed. This is proven historical fact. Furthermore, as revolutionary New Afrikan nationalists, we realize that there is a contradiction between race and nationalism, and moreover, that there is no nation composed of a single race. All existing nations, like the Indian Nations here in North Amerika, include whites and mixed bloods, even though there are contradictions. It was the policies of white colonialism created by the ruling class that produced these contradictions, and indeed the New Afrikan Nation. In this regard, we say all people of Afrikan heritage, regardless of skin tone, are part of a single Afrikan- New Afrikan Nation…A Pan-Afrikan Nation. Indeed most “Blacks” in Amerika are mixed bloods, mixed with white and/or Indian bloodlines.
We therefore move beyond the black and white dogmatism – Native Americans have always done this in adopting any “race” of people into their nations who embrace and respect their heritage and culture. All non-chauvinistic nations have done this. We also accept that nationalities can overlap and are not merely an either/or situation. People the world over embrace multiple nationalities, and so can New Afrikans. One can be Venezuelan and New Afrikan, or Lenape and New Afrikan, etc. This concept becomes practical revolutionary internationalism that has all oppressed nationalities struggling for both national self-determination and united multi-national anti-imperialist cooperation.
In the context of national liberation, we must remember that nationality is itself a temporary form of social organization and identity. It is a means to an end and not an end in itself. The nation is a product of social-historical development, and will wither away in time. Our orientation as genuine revolutionaries is to the whole of humynity and the future classless and nation-stateless society. Getting from here to there involves national liberation struggles and security issues. As Mao Tse Tung observed, “Proletarian nationalism is applied proletarian internationalism.” It involves uniting all who can be united at each stage of the struggle. From our point of view, the key question is building alliances between the oppressed nations within the U.S. and abroad and the multi-national proletariat.
RISING ABOVE RACE TO BUILD CLASS-BASED ALLIANCES
World suffering and oppression, poverty, and want are not caused by race, but by national and class exploitation and oppression at the hands of the monopoly capitalist class. However, as repeatedly pointed out above, race and racism have been a principal tool and weapon of this class used to keep the oppressed workers of the world divided and warring among themselves, to divide, agitate, and rule. Toward the end of their lives, both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. came to realize that basing struggle against oppression on race without challenging capitalist economic exploitation was a losing battle. And it was at that point when they began to agitate to have their followers struggle against capitalism, imperialism, and colonial oppression instead of exclusively focusing on race, (merely struggling against white oppression), that they were murdered. George Jackson pointed this out:
“It’s no coincidence that Malcolm X and M. L. King died when they did. Malcolm X had just put it together…You remember what was on his lips when he died, Vietnam and economics, political economy. The professional killers could have murdered him long before they did. They let Malcolm rage on Muslim nationalism for a number of years because they knew it was an empty ideal, but the second he got his feet on the ground, they murdered him.”
Fred Hampton, Sr. summed it up perfectly in his November 1969 speech delivered at the University of Northern Illinois and aptly entitled “It’s a Class Struggle Goddammit!” Fred stated:
“You know a lot of people have hang-ups with the [Black Panther] Party because the Party talks about a class struggle. And the people that have those hang-ups are opportunists, and cowards, and individualists and everything that’s anything but revolutionary. And they use these things as an excuse to justify and to alibi and to bonify their lack of participation in the real revolutionary struggle. So they say, ‘Well, I can’t dig the Panther Party because the Panthers they are engrossed with dealing with oppressor country radicals, or white people, or hunkies, or what have you.’ They say, these are some of the [reasons] why I am not in the struggle. We got a lot of answers for these people. First of all, we say primarily that the priority of this struggle is class. That Marx, and Lenin, and Che Guevara, and Mao Tse-Tung and anybody else that has ever said or knew or practiced anything about revolution, always said that a revolution is a class struggle. It was one class – the oppressed – against the other class, the oppressor. And it’s got to be a universal fact. Those that don’t admit to that are those that don’t want to get involved in a revolution, because they know as long as they’re dealing with a race thing, they’ll never be involved in a revolution. They can talk about numbers; they can hang you up in many, many ways…
“[We] never negated the fact that there was racism in Amerika, but we said… the by-product, what comes off of capitalism, that happens to be racism. That capitalism comes first and next is racism. That when they brought slaves over here, it was to make money. So first the idea came that we went to make money, then the slaves came in order to make that money. That means that ‘through historical fact, racism had to come from capitalism. It had to be capitalism first and racism was a by-product of that.”
Like Malcolm X and MLK, and not even a month after giving this speech, Fred Hampton was assassinated, shot in the head while asleep in bed, by Chicago police (in collaboration with the FBI), in a well-orchestrated hit. Coincidence?
The imperialists’ hired guns made no pretenses about murdering Fred. No attempts were made to conceal their involvement by using puppets or agents. They used forces in government uniform, and a Black cop pulled the trigger at that. So what made Fred so threatening that the capitalists’ guns would go to such open extremes to neutralize him? It was because Fred proved to be a much greater danger to the ruling class than all other leaders of the Black Movement combined. He was not only an exceptional organizer and inspirational leader and teacher of New Afrikans, but he could turn the most reactionary of white workers into revolutionaries.
It was Fred’s work that led to the formation of the Young Patriot Party (YPP), a revolutionary party of poor redneck white Appalachian youth whose symbol was a confederate flag with a red star emblazoned on it. Fred’s approach was to appeal to class instead of being sidetracked by race. He walked into a redneck Hillbilly bar in Chicago when they asked, “What are you doing here?” he said, “I’m here to organize the Niggers.” They said, “No Niggers come in here,” and were ready to fight. He said, “Oh yeah? Well the way I see it, they work y’all like Niggers, treat y’all like Niggers, and make y’all live like Niggers. So that makes y’all niggers in my book, and I say it’s time to get organized and deal with this shit!”
In another 1969 speech Fred pointed out:
“We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the white masses, I’m talking about the Black masses, and the Brown masses, and the Yellow masses, too. We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism – we’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don’t fight capitalism with no Black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism…
“We have to understand very clearly that there’s a man in our community called a capitalist. Sometimes he’s Black and sometimes he’s white. But that man has to be driven out of our community, because anybody who comes into the community to make profit off the people by exploiting them can be defined as a capitalist. And we don’t care how many programs they have, how long a dashiki they have. Because political power does not flow from the sleeve of a dashiki…”
From within the Chicago chapter of the BPP, Fred was the leader of a growing multi-racial, multi-national, anti-imperialist united front that included the BPP, the Puerto Rican Young Lords Party, the Students for a Democratic Society (before the Weathermen faction took over), and the Revolutionary Youth Movement II. He even worked to politically develop apolitical street gangs. The imperialists realized, as did the southern plantation owners, in the wake of Bacon’s Rebellion, that the greatest threat to their power is the united resistance of all elements of the oppressed laboring class. “In order for capitalism to continue to rule, any action that threatens the right of a few individuals to own and control public property must be prohibited and curtailed whatever the cost in resources…whatever the cost in blood…The national repressive institutions (police, National Guard, army, etc.), are no less determined.” (George Jackson). It was because of the genuine threat that Fred’s revolutionary practice posed in bringing together the divided “races” into a united movement to combat imperialism that he had to be liquidated.
NEW AFRIKAN LIBERATION AND THE RACE QUESTION
The position on race presented here is not to say that New Afrikans or “Blacks” should abandon or hand over our liberation struggle to the initiative or control of whites, nor that our struggle in this regard should depend or wait upon the cooperation of those who identify as “white.” Quite the opposite: We are our own liberators!
New Afrikans are an oppressed and colonized nation within Amerika. As such, reforms cannot secure racial and social equality for us. Nor can whites identify with and recognize the conditions we suffer under – no one knows our oppression, the forms it takes and the liberation we desire like we do. We are a people with a history, a culture, and an identity that is our own, and was forged over centuries of common experience and oppression. It is therefore our place and no one else’s to claim those things as uniquely our own and develop them to their highest potential as a people. In order to have any security as a people and not be dependent upon the whims of any other sectors, we must contest the basic means of our survival and governance. If we are not able to defend our own destiny and selves, we are not free. And if we do not break free from the conditions of our colonization, we leave ourselves open to further colonization under any number of reformed conditions and methods.
Merely joining up with Amerikan whites cannot ensure this because our oppression exceeds theirs. We must be able to assert and protect our economic and political rights whether whites support us or not. Self-determination is the essence of our achieving liberation, and it is our right and duty to run our own organizations and liberation struggle. As the victims of racism only we know best how to resist it. But overall, we are oppressed as a nation and must free ourselves as a nation. In doing so we will destroy the basis of our colonized condition within the Amerikan Empire.
In aid of our struggle, the advanced sectors of white Amerika should work to destroy the notion of white skin privilege and white national chauvinism, which are the underlying national identity of Amerika. They must aid us in protecting our democratic rights and the democratic right of all peoples, including their own. In turn, we must join up with the entire multi-ethnic, multi-national, and multi-racial working class, radical youth, and progressive elements in a United Front Against Imperialism, to smash the overall imperialist system.
Imperialism is capitalism is colonialism. The defeat of imperialism requires the liberation of the colonized and neo-colonized nations on which imperialism feeds. But we must also remember that imperialism is capitalism, capitalism on a global scale that enslaves and profits off not only the workers of the non-industrialized nations and oppressed nationalities across the world, but also the workers of the industrially advanced capitalist countries. To defeat capitalism we must join together in a united struggle of the entire working class of all nations, ethnicities, and “races” in a United Front Against Imperialism, and to ultimately overthrow the capitalist political economy and its ruling class’s power, privilege, and domination over social labor and wealth. Without a repressed working class under its thumb, capitalism cannot exist. Therefore, the entire working class must deny the capitalists its labor power.
Political forms of organization to lead the whole working class are necessary, and we support them. The advanced and anti-imperialist whites must also struggle against the fanatical and backward white supremacist elements like the Klan, Neo-Nazis, etc. These elements represent overt fascism in embryonic form, who will be backed by or handed state power to suppress and divide any working class and national independence struggle that arises to challenge monopoly capitalism, as the elite are wont to do, (and Western Europe in the early 1900’s stands as a glaring example), when their power is threatened from below. They will move the most rabid racists into positions of political and military power to attack and smash revolutionary and progressive elements and incite and engage in a divisive race war. They will certainly also incite the fanatical Black reverse racists to turn on and attack Black revolutionary elements. They will justify such actions with claims that those who collaborate with any whites are “sell-outs.” To them all whites are the enemy, as they have no concept of class struggle and will back dictators and sub-fascists like Haiti’s Papa Doc Duvalier and the Congo’s Joseph Mobutu, so long as they have black skin.
To the reverse racists it’s all about a racial contest, and their backward thinking enables them to be used as imperialist agents to attack and kill the revolutionary elements. This is how Amilcar Cabral was assassinated in 1973. Cabral was Afrika’s leading revolutionary, a Pan-Afrikan and anti-imperialist theorist and fighter of the 1960’s and 1970’s. He effectively led the people of Guinea Bissau against the greatest odds, in a successful national independence struggle against Portugal’s colonialism.
Cabral emphasized that race must not be the basis of his country’s independence struggle; that he did not confuse imperialism and colonialism with the color of people’s skins, but desired to see economic, political, and military power in the hands of the working people so to free his country of all oppressive forces, be they white or black. In fact, his position and showing of solidarity with the white workers of Portugal generated a general uprising of the lower classes in Portugal that nearly saw a revolutionary overthrow of power there. He was also able to turn other white nations against Portugal’s colonial policies in his country. It was this uprising and international support coupled with the political and armed liberation struggle of the people of Guinea Bissau that ultimately forced the Portuguese military and colonial administration to abandon Guinea Bissau and return to Portugal to suppress the revolt there.
In turn, Portuguese agents inside of Cabral’s party assassinated him. Those Black agents, Cabral’s fellow countrymen, were opponents of his class-based struggle and were incited to murder Cabral because of his collaboration with “whites” and his being of mixed Afrikan and Portuguese blood. The Portuguese imperialists used proponents of reverse racism to kill the man who had led Afrika’s greatest national independence struggle, freed his people from a savage and brutal colonial existence, and even offered his country’s support to the struggles of New Afrikans here in Amerika. There are valuable lessons to be learned here.
The imperialists have used reverse racists many times in attempts to derail many other revolutionary movements of people of color and to assassinate key leaders. Such racialist elements were used to murder Malcolm X. The FBI used such elements as the United Slaves Organization to assassinate key members of the BPP, Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and Jon Huggins in January 1969. Indeed in many cases, such as during the national independence struggles in Angola and Mozambique during the 1960’s and 1970’s, the elements who promoted anti-white ideology ended up becoming open collaborators with and agents of the very “white” imperialist powers they were supposed to be fighting. For example, Holden Robert’s UPA/FNLA (Uniao das Populacoes de Angola/Frente Nacional de Libertacao de Angola), became open agents of U.S. imperialism in Angola, and Jonas Sivimbi’s Unita became open agents of the Portuguese imperialists in Mozambique. These groups became agents of their imperialist sponsors and turned their arms away from fighting the colonial forces and declared war for them against their own people’s revolutionary forces, namely the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) and Frelimo (the Liberation Front of Mozambique).
At no time and in no place has playing the race card or the racial blame game ever won any people freedom from oppression. But what it has done is generate most every known major genocidal war that has occurred over the past several centuries, from the genocidal extermination of tens of millions of Native Amerikans to the genocidal attacks on Afrikans by Arabs in Southern Sudan today. The racial game produces only a back and forth cycle of bloodshed, carnage, and misery between competing racial groups. For its blind participants, racism offers nothing positive except a subjective and superficial sense of belonging to a group which professes to be “superior” to another group and the destruction of the natural compassion and sanity that would otherwise prevent humyns from brutalizing and massacring innocent people. And it’s a double-edged sword: one “race” victimizes another and is in turn victimized, or another “race” becomes the target of the victim. The complicity of many Jews today in Anglo-Zionist race-oriented genocidal policies against Palestinians and other Arabs is an outstanding example of a people who were once victims of racial violence in turn victimizing another innocent people in the name of race and claims of “God-given” right. And all to advance the wealth and power interests of a capitalist elite.
For white and Black supremacists here in Amerika, a race war would not prove beneficial to either “race!” It would only produce a cycle of mutual slaughter of members of both races. No one would be “liberated” as a result, but multitudes of loved ones, friends, and colleagues on both sides would be brutalized, butchered, maimed, massacred, and displaced. In the race hate game no one wins – there is simply no way for a sane mind to romanticize it. But in a unified struggle of the oppressed classes and nationalities against imperialism, the very source of world suffering, misery, and racism itself can be uprooted and power turned over to those who can be trusted to use it properly, namely the oppressed masses.
In the fevered minds of racists, their fanatical howlings about violent repression or annihilation of “inferior races” sounds like fun: that is until the bloodshed begins and they find themselves on the receiving end of counter-violence that quickly spins out of control. To many racist southern whites, the brutal enslavement of New Afrikans seemed like a fun enterprise: that is until revolts like Nat Turner’s turned the guns back on them. At that point a massive Black and white abolitionist movement sprang to life to end slavery. There are simply no superior and inferior races. Indeed the very concept of race is an invention. A comrade put it this way in a letter to me:
“Racism is the spawn of colonialism and is based on lies. The technological edge the Europeans took advantage of came late in the game. Much of it was borrowed from other cultures like gunpowder from China, or the lanteen sail from Afrika, and potatoes from South Amerika. The combination of these elements and the ability to use them to establish global hegemony created the illusion of white supremacy.
“In reality, we’re all pretty damn equal. Even the difference between smart and dumb people is not so great. No one of us is really all that smart. Is capitalism smart? We let the nastiest men run the show by the nastiest means and hope that it will work out alright for the rest of us. Is that smart? We’ve got all these gadgets running, but the sum of it is we’ve burned a hole in the atmosphere and the ice caps are melting.
“Even the idea of Communism is not so brilliant. It is just common sense. Ants work together for their common welfare. The genius lies in overcoming our own stupidity to do what is necessary to survive, and this will be a big struggle and one we could lose. There is a time factor in our getting our collective act together.
“The good news is that all the elements necessary for our survival as a species are present. We just have to sort out our political-social organization, and deal with the nasty men.”
Even mainstream sources now admit that the concept of race is today a scientifically unsustainable concept. That the “theories” invented centuries ago to validate the idea are invalidated by today’s science. The Merriam Webster Collegiate Encyclopedia (2000) defines and dismisses the notion of race thusly:
“Race: Term once commonly used in physical anthropology to denote a division of humankind possessing traits that are transmissible by descent and sufficient to characterize it as a distinct human type (e.g. Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid). Today the term has little scientific standing, as older methods of differentiation, including hair form and body measurement, have given way to the comparative analysis of DNA and gene frequencies relating to such factors as blood type, the excretion of amino acids, and inherited enzyme deficiencies. Because all human populations today are extremely similar genetically, most researchers have abandoned the concept of race for the concept of the cline, a graded series of differences occurring along a line of environmental or geographical transition. This reflects the recognition that human populations have always been in a state of flux, with genes constantly flowing from one gene pool to another, impeded only by physical and ecological boundaries. While relative isolation does preserve genetic differences and allow populations to maximally adapt to climatic and disease factors over long periods of time, all groups currently existing are thoroughly “mixed” genetically, and such differences as still exist do not lend themselves to simple typologizing. “Race” is today primarily a social designation, identifying a class sharing some outward physical characteristics and some commonalities of culture and history.”
This same text goes on to admit that racism is a creation and tool of colonialism:
“Racism: Belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that some races are inherently superior to others. More broadly, the term refers to any racial prejudice or discrimination throughout the era of European colonialism, the British viewed imperialism as a noble activity (“the white man’s burden”) destined to bring civilization to the benighted races, while the French invoked the notion of mission civilistrace, their duty to bring civilization to backward peoples. An influential modern proponent was the Comte de Gobineau, who held that the so-called Aryan was the supreme race. His most important follower was Houston Stewart Chamberlain, whom Adolf Hitler credited with supplying the “scientific” basis of the Nazi’s racialist philosophy, used to justify the persecution of Jews and other non-Aryans. South African society was built on the principle of apartheid, or racial “separateness.” Today the general trend is away from racism, though the problem of racist thinking remains intractable.”
Although this mainstream reference work totally avoids pointing out what social-economic class invented the entire racial concept and its birth and role here in North Amerika, it does make clear that both “race” and “racism” are today proven to be scientifically baseless and live on solely as psycho-social concepts. So why then do the Amerikan political and economic rulers still classify Amerikan citizens by race? It is obviously because they desire to maintain its role as a divisive undercurrent to be appealed to and whipped into hysteria when their power and privilege are threatened from blow. Thus, the national identity of Amerika remains that of a “white nation.”
The concepts of race and racism, like a deeply ingrained backward superstition, are so deeply embedded in the social psyche and are so deeply influential on social attitudes and behaviors, that they cannot be simply ignored. The oppressed “races” must collectively struggle against racial oppression and domination, while the conscious members of the oppressor races must struggle to conquer the myth of racial superiority within their own “racial” groups. Reverse racism must also be countered. In confronting racism we must be aware of its counterrevolutionary nature and the forms it takes in the minds of those who embrace it consciously or subconsciously. George Jackson gave an insightful analysis on this point. He stated:
“Racism is a matter of ingrained traditional attitudes conditioned through institutions. For some, it is as natural a reflex as breathing. The psychosocial effects of segregated environments compounded by bitter class repression have served in the past to render the progressive movement almost totally impotent.
“The major obstacle to a united left in this country is white racism. There are three categories of white racists: the overt, self-satisfied racist who doesn’t attempt to hide his antipathy; the self-interdicting racist who harbors and nurtures racism in spite of his best efforts; and the unconscious racist, who has no awareness of his racist preconceptions.
“As Black partisans, we must recognize and allow for the existence of all three types of racists. We must understand their presence as an effect of the system. It is the system that must be crushed, for it continues to manufacture new and deeper contradictions of both class and race. Once it is destroyed, we may be able to address the problems of racism at an even more basic level. But we must also combat racism while we are in the process of destroying the system.
“The self-interdicting racist, no matter what his acquired conviction or ideology, will seldom be able to contribute with his actions in any really concrete way. His role in revolution, barring a change of basic character, will be minimal throughout. Whether the basic character of a man can be changed at all is still a question.”
As Comrade George pointed out, our struggle demands that we acknowledge and recognize the three categories of racists. However, we must also acknowledge and recognize that the reverse racists also fit into these three categories. And in answer to George’s question whether there is a possibility of changing the basic character of the “self-interdicting racist,” we think yes. The Marxist recognizes that there is a dialectical relationship between our social practice and how we think. That reactionary thinking can be corrected through revolutionary social practice. But that practice must also in turn be guided by and committed to correct ideology.
Our Comrade Tom Big Warrior analyzed the process very well in a discussion we had some time ago concerning a New Afrikan brother with whom I was struggling to break out of a deeply ingrained hatred of whites. This brother’s views had been imbedded in him at a very young age by a now deceased grandfather, whose memory he held with the highest respect. While he could not refute my arguments against race-based hatreds, he also felt powerless to change his feelings. Here is Tom:
“I understand what you’re talking about with the brother who has deeply rooted hatred of whites. I’ve got brothers in my nation who have the same issues regarding Blacks, particularly among the hillbillies of mixed white-Native heritage. It was bred into them from a very young age and reinforced by their social practice (or lack of it) with Black folks.
“Hell, everybody in Amerika has been brainwashed on race. I know I have been affected by it, but I’ve got the advantage of both a theoretical understanding and a lifetime of positive social interaction with people of all ethnic backgrounds (and particularly Black Comrades), so I can identify and throw away feelings that come from racist programming as they come up.
“I think the key with this brother is to get him to see that his feelings are part of the slave mentality he (and his grandfather) were programmed to have to keep Black people from throwing off their oppression. If you can’t inspire meek submission and self-deprecation, you can inspire hate and fear, (which is the next best thing), and this leads to alienation and division.
“”The greatest threat in the South was unity between the Blacks and poor whites, who had common class interests. So the big landlords played them against each other by promoting blind hatred and racism.
“If he can grasp that his feelings are chains upon him causing him to act against the interests of Black people and working people in general, (that he is falling into the role of a “Nigger” set for him by “Mr. Charlie”), he will see that it must be overcome so he can be a “true Black Warrior” and a genuine revolutionary.
“We feel the way we feel because we think the way we think. Changing our thinking changes how we feel. In fact our feelings expose how we think at the deepest levels. Sometimes we think we have something all sorted out and understood, but then a feeling pops up to show us that we are still in process, and we have to keep struggling to grasp the idea more firmly.
“If the brother wants to be a revolutionary, he can’t be liberal with himself. He has to recognize that white people must be won to support Black liberation and make proletarian revolution. Unless this is done, Black people will continue to be oppressed, and the imperialists will keep running the show.
“He has to decide if he wants to be part of the problem or part of the solution. The MC5, the house band of the White Panther Party, had a song where the singer shouts out, “It takes 5 seconds to decide and determine your purpose here on the planet, 5 seconds to decide if you are going to be a part of the problem or you are going to be a part of the solution – KICK OUT THE JAMS MOTHERFUCKER!”
“This is just what they were talking about – this mental/emotional programming that jams up our ability to make revolution. Ain’t nothing to do but kick it out, get rid of it, to get to what needs to be done.
“When you reason with him he says, “Yeah, yeah you’re right, Brother,” because you can’t reasonably argue for racism. But he’s not willing to let go and backslides right back into it. As if counter-revolution was his purpose on the planet.
“It’s time to invoke the 5 second rule. Time for him to make a commitment and stop being liberal with himself. The world can’t wait for us to get serious about revolution.
“If he really wants to honor his grandfather’s memory, he shouldn’t let the wounding that was done to him and other Blacks go on another generation. You can’t play the blame game and win.
“The pigs didn’t kill Fred Hampton because he was good at organizing Black people, but because he could turn redneck Hillbilly crackers into Red revolutionaries, which he did with the Young Patriot Party – that’s true history.
“He was a better revolutionary than Huey Newton, Bobby Seale and Eldridge Cleaver put together, and he is the one we should measure ourselves and our praxis by.
“It is our practice that determines our thinking, but there is a dialectic between theory and practice called praxis, in which theory becomes the determining factor.
“This is different than idealism, which Marx was struggling against. This is what Mao was talking about when he said ideological and political line will determine everything. It is the difference between Utopian socialism and our Scientific socialism.
“We begin with a concrete analysis of concrete conditions and from this developed theory, then apply our theory to practice, then sum up our practice to strengthen and advance our theory, then go back to practice, over and over getting sharper and sharper. That’s praxis.
“That’s how a bush-wah intellectual, or a peasant or a lumpen can transform into a proletarian revolutionary without working in a factory or even ever seeing one. It doesn’t happen spontaneously, it takes struggle.”
When we truly recognize that the capitalists are at the root of racism, that it is a tool and weapon invented and used by them to preserve their power and privilege and to keep the lower classes divided, oppressed, miserable, and powerless, then we must also recognize our revolutionary duty to rise above racist and reverse racist programming. This is a difficult task that demands concrete practice. It is because of the depth of race-conditioning that the liberation struggle of New Afrikans and other oppressed nationalities cannot be dependent upon white cooperation, however, that cooperation should be sought and developed in process to build a United Front Against Imperialism. True liberation from national oppression compels destruction of the imperialist system. Otherwise, the monopoly capitalists will continue to derail independence struggles by allying themselves with racialist and comprador elements within the bodies of the oppressed nationalities and races, push them into positions of power, and then use them to subvert the liberation struggles and bring the masses back under imperialist control. This is the essence of neocolonialism and the method used by the imperialists to undermine most all of the national independence struggles of the last century.
In that it’s the capitalist institutions that create, perpetuate, and benefit from racism, (indeed they need to preserve it to maintain their elevated power and status), they will assuredly mobilize resistance against all genuine efforts to build class-based racial solidarity. They will use the most rabid of white racists, and incite many New Afrikans, Natives and other people of color to fall out on the reactionary side, and the more intelligent reactionary, (reverse racist and comprador), leaders will encourage this. Our movement must be prepared to confront and counter such measures. We must set an example of promoting class unity and solidarity. It will also occur that some people will vacillate between the revolutionary and reactionary sides and that the dividing line won’t be static and clear-cut. The task of winning people politically will ultimately decide victory.
It should be clear by now that those of us who play into racism act as agents of our own imperialist oppressors, (whether consciously or not), and we aid in continuing our own oppression and want. In fact, we increase and intensify our own oppression and misery by inciting and perpetuating hatred, humiliation, insensitivity, and violence not only against the other race(s), but also in turn against our “own” race. It’s a cycle that no one benefits from except the oppressor class that sits at the top laughing at what fools we are, while their power and wealth remain secure form any real challenge. It is on this basis that the New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison Chapter promotes, unites with, and supports the White Panther Organization and all anti-imperialists of all nationalities and all oppressed peoples in a common struggle against imperialism. We welcome the WPO as fellow comrades and Panthers within the democratic centralism of our aspiring Vanguard Party.
All Power to the People!
JESUS WAS BLACK
The appropriation of Jesus’ image is one of the biggest intellectual thefts of history, and it begins around the 4th century AD when followers of Christianity began painting images of Jesus based on Greek and Roman Gods as a way of bringing in new followers. It was marketing, but it had a deadly impact because the second greatest trick white supremacy ever played was making us believe that the man of the century was a beatified Ken doll, and not an original soul brother. (White supremacy’s #1 greatest trick was making us think we were inferior to them when we are definitely not, but I digress.) This shift in Jesus’s look matters because imagery matters. When we see people who we identify with in positions of power or beauty, then we know for certain that we can attain that status. We feel affirmed. Living in a world where millions of Christians worship a blonde-haired, blue-eyed son of God only puts blonde hair and blue eyes on a higher pedestal. It allows whiteness to think even more of itself. But we know the truth — that image is a lie. Jesus was Black.
Even more than Jesus’s look, we know that Jesus was a brother from the way he lived and died. He was not from the dominant group. He was a revolutionary, a radical born into poverty and barred from entering certain spaces. He was on the run from the man throughout his life — as a child he had to escape his home country in order to dodge being killed by the man (aka the King). He spent much of his life oppressed and on the run from the authorities who spied on Him and chased after Him — yet He still found time to drop knowledge and drink wine with His friends. His end begins with Him getting snitched on. He’s wrongfully arrested and then, in front of a crowd, He’s lynched. That definitely sounds like a brother to me. The oppression Jesus battles throughout His life, and His constant mistreatment by a government that’s so afraid of Him that it puts Him to death — all of that positions Him as an outsider. Jesus’ story is reminiscent of the Black experience, where the state functions as an oppressive force, damaging your life when you try to change the world — think of Dr. King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and on and on. When you speak out you get snuffed out. But, like so many who die tragically in the ‘hood he ended up with the ultimate mural: His image painted across the globe. And yet, nowadays, despite living that Black life, Jesus looks like the face of white supremacy.
And imagery matters. So, if this Christmas, you are looking to have an image of the baby Jesus or a grown up Jesus on your tree (or beneath it), get yourself a Black looking Jesus. You deserve to see Jesus as the beautiful Black man that he was. You deserve to see the true revolutionary who came from nothing and became brilliant, powerful, beloved, feared — and, eventually, permanent. One of the greatest people ever, a person who told us how to live right, would surely not counsel us to steal. When Christian leaders at any level traffic in images of that surfer-dude Jesus, they are trafficking in dishonesty, in stolen imagery, and in the perpetuation of white supremacy. You don’t need to bring that lie into your home.
Revolutionary Daily Thought
Fred Hampton remembered as ‘focused, caring’ visionary
By Kathy Chaney
An early morning raid on an apartment on the West Side a half-century ago left the Black community in an uproar over the deaths of Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, and a fellow Panther with one question that’s plucked at his nerves for 50 years.
Billy “Che” Brooks, who remembers Hampton as a “focused, caring, full of love and funny visionary,” wants to know, “Who the hell drugged Chairman Fred?”
Hampton, 21, and Clark, 22, were ambushed in the Dec. 4, 1969 raid conducted jointly by the Chicago police and officers assigned to the office of then-State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan.
Brooks, the deputy minister of education for the Black Panther Party of Illinois, said the police raided their offices several times that year, and constantly harassed them.
In November 1969, fellow Panther Spurgeon “Jake” Winters , 19, for whom the party named their medical center in Lawndale, died in a shootout with police. Two officers died too.
After Winters’ death, the Panthers could sense “something was imminent,” Brooks said.
Police entered Hampton’s apartment in the 2300 block of West Monroe Street and unleashed 99 bullets, versus one shot fired by the opposing side. The apparent ambush cost Hampton and Clark their lives.
The Chicago Sun-Times wrote a story that challenged the narrative provided by police and official photos after a Sun-Times reporter took a Panther-led tour of the bullet-riddled apartment. The story detailed what was depicted in official photos, such as nail heads circled as being bullet holes.
- Bobby Rush (left) and Fred Hampton, pose at Illinois Black Panther Party headquarters at 2350 W. Madison. Rush is the party’s deputy minister of defense and Hampton is deputy chairman. Sun-Times Library
- Fred Hampton Jr., son of slain chairman, Fred Hampton and Deborah Johnson. Sun-Times Library
- Fred Hampton and R. Chaka Walls, deputy minister of information for the Black Panther Party, Ill, discuss the fate of Bobby Seale in November 1969. Sun-Times Library
- FBI model of the Monroe St. apartment in which the December raid by state’s attorney’s police took the lives of two black Panther leaders. Federal grand jury condemned the raiders, who entered through both front door and rear door, firing a total of 82 to 99 shots. Sun-Times Library
- Black Panther attoneys Francis Andrew Right and Dennis Cunningham with controversial panel of front door of Black Panther apartment. Sun-Times Library
- Police carry the body of slain black Panther leader Fred Hampton from at 2337 W. Monroe. Sun-Times Library
- At a rally outside the U.S. Courthouse Oct. 29, 1969, Dr. Benjamin Spock, background, listens to Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois Black Panther party at a protest against the trial of eight persons accused of conspiracy to cause a riot during the Democratic National Convention in 1968. AP file photo
- A technician from the crime laboratory searches for clues during a revisit by state’s attorney’s police to the apartment at 2337 W. Monroe where Fred Hampton and Mark Clark where slain Dec. 4, 1969. The picture was taken through a window from outside the building. Sun-Times Library
- Mourners pass the body of slain Black Panther leader Fred Hampton at Rayner & Sons Funeral Home, 3654 W. Roosevelt. Sun-Times Library
- Criminal Court Judge Philip Romiti looks back before entering apartment at 2337 W. Monroe where Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were shot to death in Dec. 4, 1969. Sun-Times Library
The home was dubbed “Ground Zero” by Hampton’s son, Fred Hampton Jr.
Brooks was jailed from November 1969 to January 1970 for a case he caught in 1968.
When he heard the news, he was devastated and couldn’t fathom how it could happen.
Reports said fellow member William O’Neal was an FBI informant and provided the floor plan of the apartment. It was also speculated that he put “Seconal in Fred’s Kool-aid,” making it easier for police to kill Hampton.
While Brooks didn’t comment on whether O’Neal provided the floor plan, he said O’Neal did not drug Hampton.
“O’Neal did not come into that house. I know that for a fact. So, who did it? Nobody wants to talk about it. That’s the real question. Who put the Seconal in Chairman Fred’s Kool-aid? Who drugged Chairman Fred?” Brooks asked.
That question has dogged him most of his life.
While he knows he’ll never get the answer, he thinks things would’ve gone differently if he’d been there.
“I hate the fact I was in jail when that s— happened,” he angrily said.
Brooks said he would’ve been another man in the apartment able to keep a closer eye on things and maybe Hampton would still be alive.
He said not only was Hampton a friend, he was like a brother to him. And while they were the same age, he learned a ton from the “charismatic, full of empathy” leader who was “beyond the times.”
“Fred was considered a threat in the eyes of law enforcement because he could galvanize all types of people. We wanted to end police brutality. We created programs to point out the contradictions that existed in society. Children were going to school hungry and we started a free breakfast program. Shortly thereafter, the government started breakfast programs, and lunch programs in schools,” he said.
Brooks continued, “The government wasn’t thinking about sickle cell anemia so we opened up our medical centers and started testing Black people for sickle cell. Shortly thereafter, it became an issue and the government took it over. We had a way of creating consciousness amongst the people, forcing the government to do what it was supposed to do.”
Comparing that decade to now, Brooks said it’s gotten worse, and it brings him to tears.
“The fascist tactics that police use now are tantamount to murder. They don’t think twice about killing a person of color. A lot of it has to do with the political climate in this country. There’s an analogous situation with 1969 and what’s going on now. Then we had [President Richard] Nixon. Now we have [Donald] Trump as president. Their whole objective was oppression, and it’s the same flavor now,” he stressed.
Hampton, who grew up in Maywood, was honored in September 2007 in the west suburb with an honorary street name and statue in his honor. The former Oak Street is now known as Fred Hampton Way and his statue sits in front of the Fred Hampton Family Aquatic Center.
Black Panther Fred Hampton Created a “Rainbow Coalition” to Support Poor Americans
On December 3, 1969, 21-year-old Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers, led a political education class, had some dinner, and talked to his mom on the phone. He passed out around midnight, still on the phone with her.
At about 4:45 a.m., the Cook County police department burst into the Panther headquarters. They shot 18-year-old Mark Clark, who was on security detail, in the chest, killing him instantly. They sprayed close to 100 rounds as they swept through the apartment, heading for Hampton’s room, where he was sleeping with his pregnant fiancée. His fiancée and another man heard the gunshots and tried to wake Hampton up, but they couldn’t. The police charged into Hampton’s room, dragging his fiancée and the other man out.
“He’s still alive,” they overheard an officer say. They said they heard two shots, and a second officer said, “He’s good and dead now.” They’d shot Hampton point blank in the head.
Years later, it was revealed that Hampton’s bodyguard, William O’Neal secretly worked for the FBI. He’d been coerced into becoming an informant in exchange for getting criminal charges dropped. O’Neal had given the cops a map of the apartment that helped them locate Hampton in the predawn raid. It’s long been suspected, but not confirmed, that O’Neal had also drugged Hampton ahead of the raid. Years later, O’Neal killed himself.
Hampton’s killing was part of the FBI’s secret COINTELPRO program. COINTELPRO targeted members of the Black Panther party and other leftist groups in the 1960s and early 1970s, surveilling and infiltrating them to sow discord. “COINTELPRO was designed to destroy black liberation organizations starting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X,” Flint Taylor, the civil rights lawyer who fought in court to expose the facts about Hampton’s killing and the existence of COINTELPRO, told Teen Vogue. FBI head J. Edgar Hoover, who started the program, worried that a black “messiah” would electrify the movement for black rights.
In Chicago, at the age of just 21, the charismatic Hampton had realized Hoover’s fear, starting a number of popular programs, including a free breakfast program. He also founded the Rainbow Coalition, an alliance uniting poor blacks, poor whites, and Latinos. The Panthers organized with the Young Lords Organization, a Puerto Rican group, and the Young Patriots Organization (YPO), comprised of poor white migrants from Appalachia.
Hampton and other Panthers, like section leader Bobby Lee, made the case that, as poor people trying to survive in Mayor Richard J. Daley’s racially segregated city, they had more in common with each other than not. They banded together to protect members from the cops, fight against police brutality, run health care clinics, feed the homeless and poor kids, and connect people with legal help if they were dealing with abusive landlords or police.
“We did security for the Panthers along with other Panthers,” 70-year-old Hy Thurman, a member of the YPO, told Teen Vogue from his home in Alabama. “Here’s a bunch of hillbillies doing, you know, security for black people and Black Panthers,” Thurman said. “That was shocking for a lot of people.” Out of respect for the Panthers, the Young Patriots — which grew out of a street gang called the Peace Makers — decided to stop wearing the Confederate flag.
Meanwhile, the Young Lords foregrounded issues impacting immigrants from Latin America and citizens who moved from Puerto Rico, birthplace of cofounder Jose “Cha Cha” Jimenez. The introduced the slogan, “Tengo Puerto Rico en mi corazón,” in the fight for Puerto Rican self-determination.
“By organizing them under that banner, it makes it easy for them to come and recognize the class struggle,” Jimenez told Teen Vogue.
Jimenez, whose dad had worked as an itinerant tomato picker, said his group had plenty of common ground with the Young Patriots Organization: “We were peasants! Our parents were peasants, and now we were in the urban city. So it was easy for us to get together.”
Hampton’s death sent shockwaves through the Rainbow Coalition. Billy “Che” Brooks, deputy minister of education for the Chicago office of the Black Panther Party, learned about Hampton’s murder while he was in jail. “I had the pleasure of getting told by this cat … he was the warden in the Cook County jail,” he told Teen Vogue. “He came up gloating. They had me in the hole. He came up and said, ‘They killed your punk leader.’”
Jimenez sat near the front at the funeral service. When the Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed the crowd, he finally realized the full force of what had happened.
“That’s when it hit me that he was dead,” Jimenez said. “I knew he was dead. But it takes people different words to really hit it home. That’s when it hit home. I was at the front, trying to hold back tears. And I just couldn’t in the end.”
He recalled thinking: “What are we doing that’s bad, that they’re coming to kill us?”
The Chicago Panthers’ interracial outreach is immortalized in a grainy black-and-white film clip. Bobby Lee, a skinny, young black man sporting a black beret and turtleneck, made his case for an interracial alliance at a meeting organized by the Young Patriots Organization.
A member of the YPO introduces him in a twangy Southern accent. “I wanna introduce a man that come over here tonight from another part of town, but he’s fighting for some of the same causes we’re fighting for…. So I’m gonna introduce you to Bobby Lee here,” he says.
Lee takes over. “I’m a Black Panther; I’m a section leader of the Black Panthers.… The Panthers are here,” he tells the assembled group. “You have to tell us what we can do together. We come here with our hearts open; you cats supervise us. Where we can be of help to you.”
He runs through all the problems they share.
“There’s police brutality up here; there’s rats and roaches. There’s poverty up here…. That’s the first thing we can unite on; that’s the common thing we have, man.”
Lee appears to have won the crowd over. At one point, the video cuts to an older Southern white guy who pledges his support to the Panthers: “I want you people to stick together, and I’ll stick by the Black Panthers if they’ll stick with me, and I know they will.”
Thurman, the YPO member, was at that 1968 meeting. He often worked with Lee. “Working with Bobby Lee was great,” Thurman said. “He always had a great way of educating you.”
Thurman grew up in Dayton, Tennessee, a town best known as the staging ground for the Scopes monkey trial, a high-profile legal battle over teaching evolution in public schools.
“It was rough,” he said. “It was poverty. It was real bad.” He estimates he started working in the fields at around age three, and his family, headed by a single mom, was so poor they had to give away a sister with special needs. “Poverty destroys families,” Thurman said.
He said local cops deemed them poor white trash and hassled him and his siblings.
When Thurman was 17, he followed his older brother up to Chicago, hoping for better job opportunities, part of the historic wave of migration from the South to the urban centers of the North. Instead, he was greeted by more hardship and more police abuse.
The city had relatively high rates of poverty and unemployment. And many Southern migrants who’d only ever worked in farms or mines didn’t have the skills to get jobs in the city. Some of the older people had health problems, like black lung from years in the mines, that kept them jobless and suffering without proper health care.
Thurman joined a street gang called the Peace Makers. Eventually, they’d become the Young Patriots Organization and join forces with the Panthers and the Young Lords.
Thurman remembers asking Hampton why he was willing to work with white people from the South. “I asked him, ‘Why in the world would you let someone like me work with you? We enslaved you…. We oppressed your people.”
“He said ‘I put that behind me because the revolution is in front of me, and you can’t have that without everybody,” Thurman said. “So he saw us as brothers.’”
“We were just a bunch of kids trying to survive,” Thurman said.
Jimenez, cofounder of the Young Lords, was born in Puerto Rico, the son of a farm worker who shuttled back and forth between Boston and Puerto Rico to recruit more workers. “They’d pay for the plane ticket, the bed. You were basically a slave until you made back the plane ticket,” he said. His family moved to Chicago in the 1950s, where his dad worked for Armour Meatpacking in the Union stockyards and joined a social club mainly organized around drinking. His mom worked with the local Catholic Church.
His mom hosted catechism at the house, which helped him get in Catholic school. He’s proud of the Puerto Rican community his parents helped build from scratch around Lincoln Park. But he recalls how constricted his family’s movements were in the city. They couldn’t go to certain beaches or walk through parts of town for fear of the cops and gangs.
The original point of the Young Lords gang, he said, was for protection. He says they never dealt drugs; it was just a form of group survival, a way to navigate a city riven by class and race division.
His political evolution stemmed from witnessing Puerto Rican families getting booted from their homes as part of urban renewal projects. “Before I finished the eighth grade, I was moved nine times by these developers and forced to attend four different elementary schools,” he said in 1974, when he ran for alderman of the 46th Ward, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The daily abuses against his people — as well as the historic events of the era — radicalized him. The community his parents helped build was decimated by gentrification and urban renewal projects. After serving a stint in jail, he decided the Young Lords would become a political group.
“That’s when we started trying to form the Puerto Rican progressive movement,” he said. “The Democratic convention was at Lincoln Park and Grant Park. All those things: Vietnam, MLK getting killed … that impacted all of us. Just like today, Donald Trump impacts everybody. That got people to want to join a group like that.”
They accepted women, encouraging them to organize. “We trusted the women that were organizing. We had grown up with them. We all became Young Lords.”
“We had a Rainbow Coalition, and the beauty about that is … Chairman Hampton recognized the fact that we could not talk about class struggle without talking about racism,” he continued.
Billy “Che” Brooks’s family moved from Mississippi to Chicago when he was about three. His dad was a Baptist Minister.
Unlike Jimenez and Thurman, he never joined a gang as a teen. Several gangs tried to recruit him, but he was more scared of his parents. “I’d rather fight the gangs than my parents,” he joked to Teen Vogue. He was an athlete, running cross country and track in high school. He’d planned to be a doctor or a lawyer. It wasn’t until the later part of high school that he got involved in politics.
After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April 1968, Brooks said, he started reading every political text he could get his hands on.
“I developed a more conscious understanding of imperialism, capitalism, and colonialism,” he said.
Brooks linked up with Hampton, who he admired for his “willingness to lay it all on the line,” and became education minister of the Black Panther Party in Chicago.
“We read the Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon. It was all to ideologically develop consciousness of thought so we could parlay that into social practice,” he explained. “We had to implement our survival programs. Like the free breakfast program. The medical center. These programs were designed to raise the consciousness of the people. So they could see the contradictions and how unfair the government was — and still is — particularly with the tangerine man in office,” Brooks joked about President Trump.
Harassment by police and the city were near constants in their lives. Brooks, who also served as Black Panther cofounder Bobby Seale’s bodyguard, was under constant scrutiny by the Chicago Red Squad and Gang Intelligence Unit.
“They kind of saw Hampton as a focal point … a galvanizer,” Brooks remembered. “Cause he was a hell of an organizer. His commitment was off the charts. People listened to him; they respected him.”
And that was perceived as a major threat.
Once Hampton was killed, everything fell apart.
“That’s when all hell broke loose,” Thurman said. “When Hampton was murdered. We were harassed. All three organizations took some major hits.”
“I’d wake up, and there’d be all these cops in my apartment,” he recalled.
He said police and landlords worked to dismantle the Rainbow Coalition’s social programs. “With the breakfast program … the health clinic … the cops would come in and harass the landlords, and they would evict us. They would take medicine from people, harass people.”
Eventually, Thurman and other YPO members gravitated back South.
For years, Jimenez was hounded by the police and was indicted on charges ranging from mob action to resisting arrest, according to the Chicago Tribune. He went underground until 1972 and ended up spending a year in jail. After that he ran for alderman, getting almost 40 percent of the vote.
All three men abhor President Donald Trump and continue to fight for a revolutionary agenda. Jimenez says he still considers himself a Young Lord, because the group’s mission lives on. For one thing, he can’t believe that Puerto Rico remains a U.S. territory — he would call it a colony. “We should not be talking about a colony in 2019. We have never forgotten our mission to free Puerto Rico and the people from bondage.”
Thurman pledges to keep organizing and fighting for a progressive agenda, which, for him, includes LGBTQ+ rights. “I’m 70, but I’m not gonna quit,” Thurman said. “I’m not gonna stop until the Lord stops me. Then I’m gonna ask Him, how is He gonna organize?”
Same for Brooks, who believes women’s access to abortion and trans rights are an essential part of the revolution.
“The beat goes on,” Brooks said. “What Fred said: We knew going into it that it was a protracted struggle and that we were making the ultimate sacrifice. Tomorrow seemed impossible. But we’re still here. We’re still struggling.”
“The consciousness of young people in this country today, I think it’s soaring,” Brooks said. “People are more aware of what needs to be done. A mass movement against oppression — all levels of oppression.”
“All the social justice issues we have to process every motherfucking day,” Brooks said. “The implementation of concentration camps on the border to the murder of innocent people across the country. The whole fiasco with Eric Garner … It’s fucked up. But I’m an optimist. I believe the spirit of the people is stronger.”
“We can’t give up. What Fred and the Black Panther Party exemplified was a struggle against injustice. It’s a struggle that always needs to go on,” Brooks continued. “You can murder a revolutionary, but you can’t murder a revolution.”
Interview with Jose “Cha Cha” Jimenez on original Rainbow Coalition
There are many 50-year anniversaries being celebrated these days, including the founding of the Young Lords on September 23, 1968, and the Rainbow Coalition in April 1969.
Fight Back! interviewed the founder of the Young Lords, Jose “Cha Cha” Jimenez, about the original Rainbow Coalition. The powers ruling Chicago were struck with fear when the Rainbow Coalition came together. The United States government and the FBI repressed the groups of the Rainbow Coalition with the courts and violence in the form of COINTELPRO, the counter-intelligence program. The Rainbow Coalition inspired many activists in the late 1960s and continues to hold lessons for today.
Fight Back!: How did the Rainbow Coalition come together?
Jose “Cha Cha” Jimenez: In late 1968, Chairman Fred Hampton and I, the Black Panthers and Young Lords, were already working together on building Black and Brown Unity. We were working on a Black Active and Determined (B.A.D.) conference with Danny Underwood and Marion Stamps, at the Cabrini Green housing projects and the Olivet Church. The Young Lords had recently arrived back from Puerto Rico and from a trip to Denver, Colorado where we had established contact with Corky Gonzalez and other Chicano movement leaders. It was September 1968 and we were working out of the offices of the Concerned Citizens of Lincoln Park at 2512 North Lincoln, a church organization of mostly white pastors assisting the poor and opposed to urban renewal. Reverend Bruce and Eugenia Ransier Johnson, Pat Devine and Reverend James Reed were all part of this Northside Cooperative Ministry.
Around the same time, the Young Lords were also connected with the Latin American Defense Organization (LADO). It was primarily a Puerto Rican group led by Mexican national, Obed Lopez. They were forming a Wicker Park/Humboldt Park welfare rights union. It was well supported and became connected to several West Town groups like SAAC, MIO, PACA, PSP, and the West Town Concerned Citizens Coalition. Today’s Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center was also part of that grouping, centered on the Wicker Park Welfare office at North Ave. and Milwaukee.
In February of 1969 LADO asked me to bring the Young Lords to support their picket line. The Young Lords came in large numbers and we also brought along Chairman Fred Hampton and other members of the Black Panther Party.
We arrived at the picket line and were there no longer than 15 minutes when the police rounded up Chairman Fred Hampton, Obed Lopez, and I. The three of us were placed into the paddy wagon and hauled to the 13th District Police Station. We were charged with mob action. Mary Lou Porrata of the West Town Concerned Citizens Coalition and a few other Latina women were also detained and later released. The same situation occurred a couple of weeks later at the same location with Chairman Fred, Obed, and I. All three of us were arrested once again and charged with mob action in the same month of February 1969. This history is well documented in the LADO, Concerned Citizens and Young Lords newspaper collections at De Paul University and at Grand Valley State University special collections: www. gvsu.edu/younglords
Two months later in April, at the street corner of Armitage and Dayton, Chairman Fred Hampton and I were talking about police repression of our groups and the then political climate of fascism. He asked me if I or the Young Lords would object to being part of a coalition of forces for all of our protection. He said that the Black Panther Party was working with a new group on the Northside called the Young Patriots whose leader was William “Preacherman” Fesperman.
I made it clear we had no issues and agreed on the spot. Puerto Ricans had lived next to the hillbilly community at the “La Clark” neighborhood in the 1950s. There was also the Oasis Restaurant hangout at Webster and Bissell, and then a hillbilly gang called “The Rebels,” whose leader was a Puerto Rican, at a diner on Lincoln and Sheffield in Lincoln Park.
Within days all three groups were visiting each other and hanging out. Since the Rainbow Coalition became a response to Mayor Daley and the possible vehicle to stop the rioting, our first task as a coalition was to promote the announcement in a series of press conferences at various media outlets and various parts of the city. That was not a problem, as everybody wanted to be on the TV.
Fight Back!: What were the times like which brought you together?
Jimenez: The year before in 1968 was the Democratic Convention and the Black West Side, South Side and pockets of the North Side of Chicago had erupted into riots over the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. Now, in April of 1969, once again there were strong signs that these same neighborhoods were going to again erupt. The Uptown neighborhood was turning into a decaying area and the new skid row. Puerto Ricans in Chicago had also rioted several times, and they now were the predominant force in the North Side’s Lincoln Park and Lakeview neighborhoods. Reporters had also been bloodied while they covered the hippies being beaten, and now a militant wing of the SDS, the Weather Underground was preparing to wear plastic helmets and use baseball bats to duel it out with the Chicago Police in the Days of Rage.
Still what Mayor Daley feared most was the united front led by Chairman Fred Hampton and the Rainbow Coalition. In fact, Hampton publicly referred to the proposed dueling of the Days of Rage as suicidal and “Custeristic” naming it after General Custer’s last stand. Hampton added that it would lead to unnecessary mass arrests. Our few attorneys would be diverted from the many Young Lords and Black Panther repressive court cases, and this would set the movement back years. Fred Hampton proposed working instead for a disciplined armed revolution and a classless society.
There was democratic discussion taking place among the New Left, which was healthy, but a clear division took place in October 1969 between the downtown Days of Rage event and the already planned Young Lords demonstration to be held within the Puerto Rican Community to honor Don Pedro Albizu Campos and the movement for self-determination of Puerto Rico.
Chairman Fred Hampton asked me if the Young Lords could accommodate the SDS revolutionary marchers from out of town as part of our Puerto Rico demonstration. Of course, I agreed since a contingent of our East Coast Young Lords were also coming and would be among them. This would also expand the march, having greater impact in the neighborhood. It became a counter event to the Days of Rage downtown, but the press focused more on the dueling between the police and the SDS and Weather Underground. During this same period, was when Chairman Fred Hampton took to the airways and expounded on the need to organize the people for a people’s revolution. Eventually we all were reunited but it showed the power of the FBI’s COINTELPRO infiltration and the U.S. government’s re-direction of the movement’s goals, along with “divide and conquer” tactics. It was not just COINTELPRO that helped to destroy the movement, it was members of our movement themselves, those who spread rumors, and put their personal opportunist interests above the people’s interests.
Fight Back!: What were the demands?
Jimenez: One of the questions, which Chairman Fred Hampton repeated and demanded that mother country radicals ask themselves, was, “How can you go all the way to Vietnam without first going through the West Side of Chicago?” Mother country radicals sought to become internationalists without doing the day-to-day work needed to win victory in our local ghettos and barrios. It is impossible to make revolutionary change without the people. Yet the New Left wanted instant gratification instead of canvassing door to door, or a step-by-step process. The New Left wanted to make change for the people, when self-determination meant making change together, with them.
Chairman Fred Hampton also said that our work was not like a theater. White activists must not just be entertained, by Black, Puerto Rican and other oppressed nationalities, but must also organize within their own communities to fight against racism. They must attack white chauvinism and stop promoting patronizing individualism. Black people should organize within the African American communities. Red, Yellow and Brown people should also organize in their own respective communities. It is not just about being inclusive and respecting each other’s diversity, but it is about making revolutionary change. This is also because each struggle is in its own point or process of development. There is no even template. We must take a look first at, “Time, place and conditions within each community” to determine how we can come together. That is why we tolerated the Young Patriots using the symbol of the Confederate flag.
Fight Back!: How did the Rainbow Coalition view Mayor Daley of Chicago? How about the U.S. President, Johnson?
Jimenez: He was the enemy. A revolution has friends and enemies, and Chairman Fred clarified this. How else can you battle and either lose or win if there are not two clear opposing sides: the red and the blue; the people and the enemy. The Rainbow Coalition officially began in April of 1969 and within 30 days, in May of 1969 Mayor Richard J. Daley, alongside his protégé States Attorney Edward Hanrahan, organized the Mayor’s political cabinet into a special committee to declare a “War on Gangs.”
President Johnson, the FBI’s COINTELPRO and Mayor Richard J. Daley were all clear on, “Who were their friends and who were their enemies?” Who were their opposing targets. To make it appear authentic, Mayor Richard J. Daley and Edward Hanrahan immediately attacked the street youth leaders of the Disciples, Black Stone Rangers and Vice Lords; arresting them and racking up multiple charges. Jeff Fort had about 19 pending felony cases. I had 18, Obed Lopez had nine, and Chairman Fred Hampton also had nine. There were others as well. This was an effort to criminalize without legal cause; to bankrupt our finances, harass us and put us away for life.
Today we know that the clear intended targets were not these street organizations but the political groups whom the political machine feared and whom Daley and Hanrahan labeled terrorist gangs: the Rainbow Coalition. It is true that by September the street youth leaders like Vice Lord Gore was behind bars, but it was also true that on September 29, 1969 UMC Pastor Bruce and Eugenia Ransier Johnson were discovered murdered, each stabbed multiple times at their parsonage home. It is true that two months later, on December 4, 1969, State’s Attorney Hanrahan took a personal police task force to assassinate Chairman Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in their home. The patronage machine and Mayor Richard J. Daley was the clear Father of Gentrification in Chicago which displaced thousands of poor from the city. Police brutality became part of the fabric of Chicago and the Rainbow Coalition was organized to build a People’s Army to fight against it.
Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata said that the basis of all revolutions is land. The Young Lords studied the modern-day land question and began to comprehend today’s city hall plan to privatize public housing and to force the poor away from downtown and the lakefront. These were prime real estate areas where all our barrios were built. So, we were not poor by choice. We were robbed.
The Rainbow Coalition was more than just a gang of activists or folks trying to gain one or two small victories. Demands are for battles. What we wanted was revolutionary change. Each of our groups were already small revolutionary armies connected to the people’s struggle and trying to create a People’s Army to win the battle. We were lumpen proletariat, peasants from the countryside, or urban and factory industrial workers. It is why Chairman Fred Hampton’s quote stands out, “I am so proletarian intoxicated that I cannot be astronomically intimidated.” Ours was never a middle class liberal revolution, but a true grassroots people’s revolution.
If you can comprehend this, you can visualize the type of loose yet disciplined alliance that dignified and respected the empowerment of each community and their cultures. Our goals were clear, simple and known to all.
Ho Chi Minh once said that the revolution was just a job like washing dishes. The survival programs were not reformist, but structures created to provide services while constructing the new world. They were not candy to be donated or given away but part of a planned attack to bring awareness and heightened contradictions. We were exposing the city for not providing food, health and other social services. We are never a non-for profit but revolutionaries.
Fight Back!: What are the big lessons from the Rainbow Coalition?
Jimenez: We must start from within and fight racism.
We must be clear on who are our enemies and who are our friends so that we can unite with the many to defeat the few.
Ours is not about individuals but a people’s struggle led by the common folk.
Ours is a protracted struggle that will take years and we must prepare ourselves for the long run via structured community programs specific to the revolution.
We stand for Puerto Rico, all Latin American nations and oppressed nations of the world, against colonialisms and for self-determination and neighborhood empowerment.
source: Interview with Jose “Cha Cha” Jimenez on original Rainbow Coalition