|Comrades, on May 25th, Sundiata Acoli walked out of prison into the arms of his family and loved ones! We knew this day was coming but wanted to ensure it was official and that we saw it with our own eyes. As you can imagine, after 49 years, Sundiata is finally able to spend time with his family and we want to make sure we respect these precious moments. To that end, we will be asking our supporters to hold off on requesting meetings with him until he can get settled and his family can love up on him by themselves. We’ll announce an official homecoming celebration in the coming weeks.|
In prison, there’s no 401k, no savings plan, and no pension. It’s up to all of us to provide that. We ask for your generous support to allow Sundiata to enjoy his years of freedom with the financial stability he deserves.
All donations received will go to Sundiata’s family to care for him.
When Huey Newton inspired the Polynesian Panthers of New Zealand who stood up to racism
Six young New Zealand-born Pacific Islanders were inspired by the works of Newton and his party and in 1971, they created The Polynesian Panther Party (PPP). The PPP was a revolutionary social justice movement formed to fight racial inequalities carried out against indigenous Māori and Pacific Islanders in Auckland and New Zealand as a whole.
Pacific Islanders is a term used to describe the Indigenous peoples of Oceania (Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia). During the 1950s when New Zealand’s economy was not in good shape and needed workers, thousands of Pacific Islanders arrived. Over time, the color of the population changed in inner-city Auckland. The city was no longer all-White and this bothered people and authorities. Soon, Pacific Islanders faced issues such as racial profiling, redlining, disproportionate incarceration, and segregation in the sports world, according to this report.
Six young Maori and Pacific Islander men, namely, Fred Schmidt, Nooroa Teavae, Paul Dapp, Vaughan Sanft, Eddie Williams and Will ‘Ilolahia took notice of what was happening and founded the PPP on June 16, 1971, inspired by the American Black Panthers. The group was specifically inspired by the book Seize the Time by Bobby Seale of the American Black Panther movement. According to Stuff, the book’s central philosophy guided the PPP’s three-point platform — peaceful resistance, Pacific empowerment (identity work) and educating New Zealand about systemic racism.
“Initially it was the literature of the Black Panther Party in America that we got attracted to – the work they were doing in America, and when we read the books deeper we found out that the problems they were complaining about were the exact problems that we were seeing in New Zealand, so we decided to do something constructive and formed the Polynesian Panther Party,” Will ‘Ilolahia, who was the party chairman, said
With their black uniform and berets adopted from their peers in the United States, they seemed to be a threat to the White middle-class in New Zealand, however, their movement centered on community work, as stated by Stuff.co. The PPP set up its headquarters in Ponsonby, a suburb of Auckland, and started to implement its program through community organizing and direct action.
“What was it all about being a Polynesian Panther? Standing up on behalf of our people, being good to your neighbour, don’t take no s… and stop this racism,” ‘Ilolahia was quoted by Stuff.
Indeed, acts of community care by Newton and his Panthers in the U.S. served as an inspiration to the Polynesian Panthers movement to serve the Polynesian community through grassroots community initiatives and of course protest of injustices. Some of its activities included youth programs intended to inspire community initiative and discourage gang integration, prison-visit programs, homework centres and tutoring for Pacific children, and free meal programs and food banks for families.
The PPP also kept aggressive police force accountable and organized legal aid for those unjustly evicted or fired or people who have lost their visas or under threat of deportation. All in all, it led programs that educated Māori and Pacific Islanders on their rights as New Zealand citizens. Within a few years, the PPP which was made up of former gang members, revolutionaries, university students and radicals expanded nationally with 13 chapters including its chapters in prisons and in South Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin.
From the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, special police squads conducted raids on the homes and workplaces of Pasifika overstayers throughout New Zealand usually at dawn. Over-stayers of Pacific Islander heritage were disproportionately targeted in these raids even though the majority of people overstaying were from the UK, Australia and South Africa, per this report.
In response, the Panthers organized “counter raids” outside the homes of government ministers, chanting around their homes with megaphones.The PPP’s actions helped to stop the dawn raids and the group even went on to successfully campaign for a state apology.
The Polynesian Panthers may not be very much alive today in New Zealand but their legacy as liberators can still be felt.
Revolutionary Daily Thought
“We’re gonna organize and dedicate ourselves to revolutionary political power and teach ourselves the specific needs of resisting the power structure, arm ourselves, and we’re gonna fight reactionary pigs with international proletarian revolution. That’s what it has to be. The people have to have the power: it belongs to the people.” – Fred Hampton
AUGUST 21, 1831 & AUGUST 21, 1971: NAT TURNER SLAVE REBELLION & PRISON ASSASSINATION OF BLACK PANTHER FIELD MARSHAL GEORGE JACKSON
The Nat Turner rebellion.
REMEMBERING A REVOLUTIONARY By Assata Shakur
This is not an easy statement for me to write. Somehow, I thought that Martha would always be here. In my mind she was like Mt. Kilimanjaro, always strong, always solid, always standing tall. I met Martha about 30 years ago. She was a proud intelligent, irreverent black woman. She had a sharp mind and an even sharper tongue. She wore her hair in a buck wild Afro, and she wore her clothes like she did not give a damn. She was never into trends and fashions; she wore torn jeans and sneakers with holes way before it became fashionable. She didn’t give a damn about appearances. She cared about the essence of people and the essence of life. Martha loved people. She had a deep special love for African people. She was always analytical, always critical, but she supported our struggle for freedom with all her heart and soul.
Martha Pitts was a revolutionary, and she loved revolutionaries. She was a revolutionary who trusted her instincts, trusted her own eyes and listened to her heart. She hated hypocrisy, and she hated empty rhetoric. She despised injustice, she despised oppression, and whenever she was confronted with them, she felt righteous indignation.
Martha was a woman of action. She had little patience with idle chatter. She put everything on the line to live up to her convictions. Shortly after I met Martha, I was forced to go underground. Even though she didn’t know me that well, she didn’t hesitate when I asked for her help. She gave me the keys to her apartment and vowed to hide and protect me. Those were repressive and hellish times, when many revolutionaries were faced with the terror of COINTELPRO. She was tightlipped, she was serious as cancer, and she was not afraid to take a stand. It is an understatement to say that I loved her with all my heart.
During my years as a political prisoner, Martha Pitts did everything she could to fight for my freedom and the freedom of other political prisoners. She loved her some Sundiata Acoli, and she fought like hell for his freedom too. Year after year, she endured humiliating searches, police surveillance and police harassment to make sure that we had a visitor, to make sure that someone cared, to make sure that in the oven of that burning hell, there was a beautiful black angel of mercy.
During all my trials and tribulations, Martha was there. When we needed someone to do research, Martha did research. When we needed someone to coordinate visits, Martha coordinated visits. When we needed someone to analyze medical data, Martha analyzed medical data. Martha worked full time as a nurse and she worked full time as a political activist. She was totally committed to the struggle for social justice and totally committed to the revolutionaries who were committed to the struggle for freedom.
Martha Pitts was always about keep it real. As we waited for the verdict in New Jersey, a verdict from an all white jury, after a legal lynching trial, Martha stroked my hair and told me, “Assata, you know those white folks gonna convict you, you never had a chance.” I didn’t cry, I couldn’t express what I was feeling right then, but Martha held my hand and looked deep into my eyes. “You gonna be freed one day, Assata. You gonna be free.” It was a miserable time in my life. It was a miserable time in her life, but she made me believe it. What were my choices? Freedom or death. What were her choices? Freedom or death. What were our choices? Freedom or death.
Martha Pitts was a great human being. She received no Nobel Prize for Peace, she received no freedom awards. But I can testify about how much blood, sweat and tears she shed in our struggle for liberation. I know how deeply Martha Pitts was loved. I know how lovingly she will be remembered.
Please, carry on her work! Please, carry on her legacy! Please, carry on her love!
Liberate this planet from injustice! Liberate this planet from oppression! Liberate this planet from exploitations! Liberate this planet from pain!
July4 for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Saturday, July 4 2PM
1401 JFK Blvd
Why Has COVID-19 Not Led to More Humanitarian Releases?
Jalil Muntaqim, a Black Panther imprisoned since 1971, is one of thousands of elderly prisoners the United States has refused to free during the pandemic.
In 1971, two weeks shy of his twentieth birthday, Anthony Bottom, a young Black Panther, along with another Panther, Albert Nuh Washington, were arrested following a shootout with San Francisco police. The pair would be tried along with a third man, Herman Bell, for a separate attack: the May killing of two New York City police officers. They were convicted and sentenced to twenty-five years to life, the maximum penalty in New York at the time. The judge who sentenced them said the sentence was befitting a society at war.
Even the most liberal of U.S. governors would rather risk their prisons turning into mass graves than offer the faintest of admissions that mass incarceration is unnecessary for public safety.
Bottom had first joined the Panthers in the weeks immediately following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. In prison, Bottom converted to Islam and adopted a new name, Jalil Muntaqim. After almost five decades of incarceration, Muntaqim has racked up a laudatory file of accomplishments. He earned two bachelor’s degrees before Bill Clinton ended Pell eligibility for incarcerated people. He cofounded an organization, the Jericho Movement, dedicated to the release of U.S. political prisoners. He has received numerous accolades from human rights organizations for his dedication to social justice. He has taught poetry, history, and alternatives to violence classes for other incarcerated people. When I first began corresponding with him nearly two decades ago, he was organizing a fundraiser for AIDS orphans in Africa.
In 2002 Muntaqim became eligible for parole. Yet the Patrolmen’s Benevolence Association—the revanchist police fraternity that has shielded abusive cops and pursued aggressive forms of social control—lobbied heavily against it, as it has every time he has come up for parole. The PBA even set up a website to monitor the schedule of parole hearings for anyone convicted of killing a police officer, allowing visitors to send an automatically generated letter to the parole board opposing consideration of release.
For decades, the PBA effectively controlled the parole board, and such pressure ensured Muntaqim would be denied parole every two years. Each time he has been denied parole, the board has stated that its decision is based not on his deeds in prison or his readiness for release, but on the nature of his crime. Since that can never change, PBA pressure renders the parole board irrelevant. Every prison sentence becomes a de facto death penalty—as became evident when one of Muntaqim’s codefendants, Albert Nuh Washington, was denied compassionate release for stage IV liver cancer. He died in a prison hospital in April 2000.
When COVID-19 struck, Muntaqim’s advocates argued before the state that his life was in grave peril. Fourteen of the top twenty pandemic outbreak clusters have been prisons and jails, and incarceration creates and exacerbates a number of health problems. At sixty-eight years old, having lived for fifty years in prison—and having survived a stroke, hypertension, and heart disease—Muntaqim is at extreme risk of dying from COVID-19. He is one of more than 9,000 people over the age of 55 who is incarcerated in New York. An estimated 10 percent of the nation’s prison population is in this high-risk age group. Yet governors have thus far refused to act on clemency for elderly people.
Recognizing the precarious situation, the New York State Supreme Court ordered Muntaqim’s temporary release at the end of April. In granting it, Judge Stephan Schick said, “Mr. Muntaqim may have gotten a 25-to-life sentence, but it was not a death sentence.” The state Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus agreed, offering a letter of support for his release. Yet the state—led by Attorney General Letitia James, the first black woman to occupy that role—appealed Sullivan’s ruling. As the appeal wound its way through the courts, Muntaqim sickened. On May 25, he was transferred to the Albany Medical Hospital with COVID-19. Ten days later, with damage to one of his lungs, his kidneys, and liver, Muntaqim had recovered enough to be transferred back to the prison infirmary. That same day, June 4, the Appellate Division reversed Judge Schick’s ruling. Muntaqim, the court said, must remain in prison.
New York’s intransigence fits with a national pattern that the pandemic has revealed. For while a number of municipalities shrunk their jail admissions in the early months of the pandemic, no state has meaningfully reduced its prison population. Jails generally house people who are awaiting trial but who are too poor to make bail or who are serving short sentences, whereas prisons house people who have been found guilty and sentenced to a year or more. In the restrictive purview of elite empathy, then, jails have been an easier sell for massive reduction. According to an analysis by the Prison Policy Initiative, local municipalities have reduced their jail populations by an average of 31 percent. State governments and the federal Bureau of Prisons, meanwhile, have reduced their incarcerated population by an average of just 5 percent. Typically, this has meant a release of a few hundred people—some of whom have not been released but merely transferred to home confinement.
The carceral state is anticipatory violence masquerading as responsive force.
A number of states have created an almost nonexistent category of those warranting release: people over fifty-five who are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses and who are within three months of release. Yet few of the many septuagenarians in our nation’s prisons meet this restrictive categorization. As the group Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) noted in its evaluation when New York governor Andrew Cuomo created this impossible category, 98 percent of the people over 55 incarcerated in New York are excluded from consideration for release under Cuomo’s plan.
Meanwhile New York prisons remain the epicenter within the epicenter, the highest source of outbreak in the state with the largest number of cases. As of June 9, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision reports 1,282 prison staff and 512 incarcerated people have tested positive for the disease. Yet due to low levels of testing, the comorbidities of incarceration, and the generally abysmal levels of health care inside, four times as many incarcerated people as staff die from the pandemic. And the vast majority of those who have died have been black or Latinx—higher even than the already disparate rates at which New Yorkers of color outside of prison have succumbed to the pandemic. RAPP calculates that 81 percent of the deaths in prison since the pandemic began, both related to COVID-19 and not, have been people of color. Black people account for 14 precent of New York state, 50 precent of the state’s prison population, but 60 percent of the deaths since the pandemic began.
And it is not just New York. Washington governor Jay Inslee has been widely praised for his commitment to science-based responses to climate change and the pandemic. Yet even in a proclamation declaring that elderly people are at particular risk of contracting the pandemic and that prisons are too crowded for people to practice effective social distancing, Inslee only committed to releasing a few hundred people from a state prison system that confines 19,000. Inslee’s order pertained only to those who fall into the elusive category that political scientists Marie Gottschalk has called the “non-non-nons”: nonviolent, non-serious, non-sexual offenses. Inslee added a further narrowing claim that required people to be within three months of their release. In Pennsylvania, advocates have grown so weary of Governor Tom Wolf’s refusal to engage in widespread releases that they launched a hunger strike on June 1.
Governors nationwide have pursued similarly limited initiatives. This is the reform conjured by focus groups and vetted by police unions, not the one backed by data. Five decades of mass incarceration has so thoroughly limited the imagination of political elites that even a pandemic cannot dislodge their belief in the necessity of mass incarceration. Their refusal of a broad humanitarian release of incarcerated senior citizens serving lengthy sentences—really the lowest of bars—reveals, in its absurd perverseness, a deeper truth: even the most liberal of U.S. governors would rather risk their prisons turning into mass graves than offer the faintest of admissions that mass incarceration is a colossal failure and unnecessary for public safety.
If liberal politicians struggle to admit this fact, conservative politicians continue to run in the opposite direction, insisting that the carceral state alone stands between civilization and chaos, despite all evidence to the contrary. In a speech that branded Antifa—an umbrella term for antifascism activists—domestic terrorism, Attorney General William Barr menaced would-be demonstrators by saying, “It is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting.” He promised to “enforce these laws.” The law in question is part of the 1968 repressive Anti-Riot Act that was appended to the otherwise laudatory Fair Housing Act. Legislators rushed to pass this bill after King’s assassination and the tinderbox it lit nationwide; they colloquially referred to their repressive cri de coeur as the “H. Rap Brown bill” after the charismatic leader of SNCC.
Spontaneous uprisings are by nature unpredictable, yet a cogent demand is emerging from coast to coast: “Defund the police.”
The carceral state is anticipatory violence masquerading as responsive force, and Barr has been preparing for this moment for a long time. Last August, Barr praised police as “fighting an unrelenting, never-ending” war and deserving of “ticker-tape parades.” Barr has actually made it harder for incarcerated people to get out of federal prison during the pandemic and then placed the whole federal prison system in lockdown. Yet he was quick to criminalize the nationwide protests against police violence. He promised to utilize the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), a collaboration between federal and local police that began in 1980 to stop a rash of bank robberies (including those allegedly committed by the Black Liberation Army). This amounts to a federal redefinition of any protest against police as terrorism. The nation’s jails and prisons stand ready to detain the latest targets of America’s long war.
Police departments heard the message clearly, as they have targeted largely nonviolent demonstrations with a seemingly endless amount of tear gas, flash grenades, clubs, tanks, pepper spray, and mace. In the past two weeks, we have witnessed a national police riot, complete with numerous actions that would qualify as war crimes. New York police clubbed peaceful demonstrators, then charged at them with SUVs (this has been reported in Boston as well). In Philadelphia police cordoned demonstrators onto the highway and then gassed them all with no place to escape. Later, other officers posed for photographs with armed white vigilantes. Washington, D.C., police shot tear gas inside a private residence after the homeowner sheltered fleeing demonstrators. Louisville police had no body cameras on when they shot and killed a black restauranteur who frequently served police. Around the country, police have obscured their badge numbers before engaging in unceasing violence. All this in stark contrast to the muted response police gave armed reactionaries at state houses just weeks ago. The police, writes critic Alex Parene, have taken the side of white vigilantes.
Meanwhile Muntaqim and hundreds of thousands of other incarcerated people have been abandoned to the courts and COVID-19. In the face of federal threats to break the backs of protestors, though, the actions against state violence continue. By returning daily to the streets, violating curfews, seizing hotels shuttered by COVID-19, caring for each other amidst a pandemic and a rampaging police state, and pulling down racist statutes, thousands of Americans display heroic courage. They are willing to give their lives to the work of remaking the country by ending policing and incarceration as we know them. Spontaneous uprisings are by nature unpredictable, yet a cogent demand is emerging from coast to coast: “Defund the police.” Every day in the streets of U.S. cities and towns, these rebellions seek to overturn the police state that consolidated in opposition to Muntaqim and other black radicals of the 1960s. For in moving to defund police, we must also act to dismantle the prison system where many victims of police violence reside.
Ilyasah Shabazz Talks About Malcolm X’s Legacy
Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, talks about the legacy of her dad on what would have been his 95th birthday with Karen. #MalcolmX #IyasahShabazz #KarenHunterShow
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!