Suspected for Being Black

[This article was originally published on ZNet. We are republishing it here to share the sharp analysis of what lies behind he Ferguson explosion and the chord it has stuck among the Black masses in this country.]

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Each time there is a police or extra-judicial killing of an African American I have two immediate responses.  One is intense anger at the absence of legitimate democratic rule in the USA exemplified by the ability of the State as well as hate groups, to snuff out the life of African Americans at will. The second response is the recognition that this is an experience of terror that envelopes every person who is identifiably Black and, for that matter, other peoples who are of the ‘darker races.’

Two recent killings, one of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, speak to a very different reality experienced by African Americans compared with whites in the USA.  Without going through the details, there are certain questions that can be asked to anyone in the USA and, depending on the answer, one can ascertain what I would call the ‘racial terror index.’  Here are a few examples:

  • Are you generally afraid of the police?
  • To what extent do you expect there to be a possibility that you will be stopped by the police? Have you ever been trained on how to respond if you have been stopped?
  • If you were in a car that broke down, how likely are you to knock on someone’s door seeking help?
  • If you are man, how likely are you to drive long distances with a female of another ‘race’?
  • If you had difficulty getting into your own home, how likely would you be to contact the police and ask for their help?
  • How many neighborhoods do you need to be careful in transiting for fear that the police will stop you?

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities

Hip Hop and Ferguson

J. Cole in Ferguson

J. Cole in Ferguson

Resistance is deeply embedded in Hip Hop’s DNA. Hip Hop culture was born in the midst of the Black Liberation Movement, at a time of popular uprising, when people were doing their utmost to be free. No matter how much the forces of capitalism have done in their attempt to coopt it, at its heart Hip Hop culture is still a culture of resistance.

From the beginning the culture has been characterized by a willingness to document the ills of the community, the source of those ills outside the community, and the need “to fight the powers that be.” Anthems such as PE’s “Fight The Power” and “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos,” NWA’s “Fuck Tha Police,” and going further back, Grandmaster Flash’s The Message are emblematic of this tradition.

The events in Ferguson, and the reaction of the Hip Hop community have brought this to the fore.

While much of the Hip Hop royalty, if you will, has remained silent regarding the execution of teenager Michael Brown by Darren Wilson of the Ferguson MO, PD, many have expressed their outrage. Some already produced songs in protest.

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Posted in Music

Protests erupt in Missouri after another police murder

Protestors in Ferguson confront police with hands raised to show they are unarmed. Michael Brown was shot and killed while doing the same.

Protestors in Ferguson confront police with hands raised to show they are unarmed. Michael Brown was shot and killed while doing the same.

Evidence is still being collected and facts sifted through as I write but what we are absolutely clear on is that a black, unarmed teen was murdered by a Ferguson cop yesterday. Ferguson is a one of many municipalities that make up St. Louis County in Missouri.

Michael Brown was visiting his grandmother at the Canfield Green apartment complex when the tragedy occurred. Details are sketchy but most eye-witnesses tell the same sad story: When accosted by the Ferguson police, Mike raised his hands to show that he was unarmed. Shots ranged out. He raised his hands again to show “compliance” and police fired again, killing him.

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities, Police & Prisons

Take action now for Palestine!

“I look forward to surviving. If I don’t, remember that I wasn’t Hamas or militant, nor was I used as a human shield. I was at home.”

- Mohammed Suliman @imPalestine, July 20, 2014 (9:20am)

“As much of the world approached a new year the people of Palestine were subjected to a cruel bombing campaign in Gaza, killing hundreds of civilians… 

Israel, backed by the United States is blaming Hamas for their bloody actions and claim retaliation for attacks on them…

Palestinian refugees seeking to escape the horrific air strike campaign are lacking in adequate medical care, food, medicines, electricity, water and other necessities and residential homes and other buildings, including a university, have been targeted by Israeli air strikes.

Journalists are actively banned from entering Gaza in an attempt to hide the atrocities.

But numbers can’t really begin to describe the devastation that the Palestinian masses have been subjected to by their U.S. backed Israeli occupiers.”

– FRSO/OSCL, January 8, 2009 (“End the Occupation of Palestine, Build Anti-Imperialism!”)

Comrades and friends:

As we have called on you before—many times, over the entire history of our organization—we call on you again to take action in solidarity with the people of Palestine, who need it every day, but especially now. The ongoing colonization and occupation of Palestine by Israel has trapped the Palestinian people in their own land, in their own homes, where Israel has indiscriminately killed more than 1,000 civilians. Many more will die from this war, and from this occupation. It must end; we must do everything we can to help end it.

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Posted in International Solidarity

Stand up for Palestine!

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Israel’s illegal occupation and apartheid domination of Palestine continues this month with a renewed round of escalated bloodshed.  Those of us who have been looking on with horror from the US, those hailing from the Middle East, and anti-imperialists everywhere, are being joined by new segments of society, especially youth. Meanwhile, the mainstream media outlets are counting the Palestinian dead, putting Israeli explanations in quotes, and delivering coverage that is more even-handed than maybe ever before.  The BDS movement has won significant victories, with the Presbyterian church decision to divest, and the EU issuing a business warning against linking with the settlers.  The tireless organizing to make Palestine free, in the last eight years especially, combined with this terrible moment of violence, may be opening a new window for dissent.

In response to the Israeli bombing operation, comrades in the Tennessee district helped to organize a rapid-response demonstration. The street-corner sign-holding action took place simultaneously in three cities in the state where we have comrades. Thanks to sharp organizing work as well as the alertness and internal organization of some of our local Arab communities, the action drew between 120 and 150 people across the state with only 24-36 hours notice.  This made the event one of the biggest protests of its kind that we could recall. Media coverage was also less sluggish and less unsympathetic than any of us could remember it being to a Palestine solidarity action.

After the action, several participants asked when the next one would be. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said this bombing campaign “could take time.”  We may need to be open to using this simple tactic again.  The need to build-out awareness and opposition to apartheid Israel continues, and grows in urgency alongside the death toll. Whatever form our organizing takes, FRSO/OSCL will continue to stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle for justice and self-determination.

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Posted in International Solidarity, War & Empire Tagged

Karega Hart, presente!

 

Joe Navarro wrote this poem to commemorate the passing of Karega Hart, a beloved comrade and lifelong revolutionary.

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That Was Karega

Anyone who knew Karega
Knew that his baritone voice, even though soft,
Was full of courage and commitment.
His even tone, calmly, but articulately
Addressed injustice and national oppression
With working-class charismatic humility.

His revolutionary passion, embellished
With socialist compassion, condemning
Those blood-sucking capitalists,
Even in his poetry. From the
Assembly line to the bus line
Karega organized for peace
Equality, Justice and Socialism.

From the point of production
On the factory floor to
The point of understanding how
Systemic oppression undermines the physical
And mental health of human beings.

That was Karega. A father and grandfather
Who believed that we could live
In a better society that was driven by
Human need instead of corporate greed.
That’s the world he wanted for his family.

He is the spirit that
Lives in my heart and soul, because
He was always a compass for human dignity.
It’s nation-time…if justice cannot be achieved.
Liberation for the Black-belt South,
Ending police violence,
Self-determination,
Self-defense,
Freedom!

That was Karega. Even in his poems.
If you are man or woman, African-American,
Chicano, Latino, Native-American,
Asian, immigrant, poor, working-class,
Karega stood with you, side by side.

That was Karega. A revolutionary
Who broke-it-down, from
His heart, explaining why capitalism
Is contradictory to democracy,
Self-determination, human and civil rights.
His soft spoken humility was always
Overshadowed by his revolutionary prowess.

…From his heart…that was Karega.
Whose love for humanity,
Drive for human dignity,
Vision for a better world…
Lived his life as he spoke it.

That was Karega, my brother, my comrade…
Who leaves a void in my heart,
But whose revolutionary insights
Will remain etched in my mind
For as long as I live.

Brother Karega Hart…¡Presente!

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Posted in Poetry, Presente!

The Revolution in Rojava

We received this article from the Urun/Harvest Group and we are publishing it here in full in order to help share news and information about the important national liberation struggle and revolutionary process taking place in Kurdistan.

Kurds live in Iraq (Kurdistan, or the Kurdish Regional Government/KRG), Turkey (North Kurdistan), Syria (Rojava) and in East Kurdistan (Rojhelat and Iran). Kurdish vernaculars divide into two central groups and then subdivide into other branches, dialects and subdialects. Tribal, clan and family ties have been primary, although urbanization, voluntary and involuntary assimilation and the forced resettlement of Kurdish populations have weakened these ties. A majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslims but Kurds also follow Shi’a Islam, Alevism, Yazidism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. A Kurdish Jewish community lives in Israel.

Map from Springtime of Nations - http://springtimeofnations.blogspot.com

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leads the Kurdish struggle in North Kurdistan and Turkey and has companion parties with fighting forces in Rojava and Rojhelat. There also various Kurdish coordinating bodies at the grassroots in North Kurdistan, Rojava and Rojhelat. Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned in Turkey since 1999, is the person most often associated with the PKK and the broader Kurdish liberation movement. Salih Muslim and Asia Abdullah are the co-presidents of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Rojava. Masoud Barzani is the president of the KRG. The PYD and the revolution in Rojava have taken much from Öcalan’s theories and put these ideas into practice. An especially advanced revolution is underway in Rojava while Barzani is seeking to isolate the revolution.

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Posted in International Solidarity, Oppressed Nationalities

What Goes Around Comes Around

When I was asked to write on the history of May Day, I took a big gulp. Having never been taught about May Day in either school or college, I had to do some reading. Oh, I knew the basic one sentence, isn’t that when they hung those guys in Chicago for throwing a bomb? Clearly that wouldn’t be enough of  speech, nor is it in fact the real story. So after all my digging, I’m going to start with my conclusion: as the old saying goes, “What goes around comes around.”

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May Day, the left-wing version of Labor Day, has its roots in 1880′s in the demand for shorter work days. The parallels between the events of 1886 and today are both startling and unnerving. The country was undergoing profound economic change as the Second Industrial Revolution took hold. In a ten year period between 1880 and 1890 capital investment in manufacturing grew threefold. The death of small-business capitalism was giving way to trusts, mergers, and monopolies. Steel production went from half of England and France’s to outstrip them both and provide a third of the total steel production in the world. The workforce grew dramatically, from 2.7 million to 5.9 million. This was the period when those huge factories sometimes employing 10 thousand or more workers were built.

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Posted in Labor, Movement History

Cesar Chavez, the Movie

I went to see the movie, Cesar Chavez on his birthday, March 31st.  I watched and felt a mix of sentiments about it.  Being an individual who was partly inspired by Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union (U.F.W.) I felt a certain amount of kinship with the characters of the movie.  As a former union president, of the International Molders & Allied Workers Union Local #164 in Northern California I felt a sense of solidarity.  I met Chavez in Exeter, CA in 1979 while we discussed mutual support of each others unions.  They walked with us in our picket lines and we walked with them and supported their boycott campaign.

The national boycott was inspiration to many people of my generation.  We walked picket lines at Safeway and Lucky stores to discourage shoppers from buying grapes and lettuce.  Many young Chicanas and Chicanos like myself thought of the United Farm Workers Union as an extension of the “Chicano Movement.”  The Huelga (strike) made people conscious of the conflict between capitalists and workers in an agricultural setting.

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Posted in Chicano National Movement, Movies

Chokwe: Reflections on a Fallen Warrior

Chokwe Lumumba with his children Antar and Rukia.

Chokwe Lumumba with his children Antar and Rukia.

It is surreal.

Instead of welcoming the impending celebration of Chokwe Lumumba’s first year in office as mayor of Jackson, we are struggling to put his son into the mayor’s vacated seat. Chokwe Antar Lumumba was hastily drafted to run in a special election after his father’s shocking death on February 25.

Just over a month before Chokwe’s death, the Black Liberation Movement and the international progressive community was mourning the sudden death of Amiri Baraka. Renowned poet, playwright and activist, Baraka died of natural causes at 79 years old. I was still reeling from the death of my friend and mentor when the news of Chokwe came like a wound-up punch to the stomach. It has taken time to process it all.

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities, Presente!