Hijacking: Why the White mainstream keeps discovering Black culture

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Every morning I wake up to find out that the white mainstream has made yet another major “discovery”. From appreciating large posteriors to gelled down bangs, it seems that white culture is constantly at the forefront of cultural creation. Only one problem, how do you discover something that’s been around for ages?

The collective response from my people has been, “White people won’t let us have shit.” This is a fair and honest charge. White supremacy doesn’t want Afrikan people in this country to have anything of our own. Not natural hair, our music, or even the use of the word nigga. Yes I’ve actually seen some Whites say that they should be able to use the word, and even claim that it’s only racist when used in the wrong context. Needless to say, white supremacy seems set on erasing anything that Black people claim as our own.

Culture is everything when we are discussing people. Culture is identity. So we must question and understand why white supremacy is so fixated on Black culture. How do you enslave an entire race of people? You take away their culture. When whites enslaved Afrikans, the first thing they did was demonize anything Afrikan. They demonized the languages, religions, music, traditions, and anything else that gave the enslaved Afrikans some form of identity. The only identity the oppressor wanted the enslaved to have was that of a slave. A people with no culture have no identity. This makes it very easy for someone else to define (oppress) them. The worst thing white supremacy did was distance Black people from our culture(s).

Freedom is the power to define, so we can understand why white supremacy doesn’t want Afrikan people in this country defining things for themselves. Black people creating our own identity are a direct threat to white supremacy, especially if that identity empowers Black people to reject the white supremacist capitalist patriarchal status quo. For instance, when Hip Hop had Black youth all over the country yelling “Fight the power!” and “Fuck the police,” the oppressor knew action had to be taken. So what did they do? They hijacked Hip Hop and made sure they controlled what messages were being fed to Black youth. This is just one example out of many of cultural theft by white supremacy.

As much as white supremacy has attempted to sabotage, mock, and appropriate Black culture, my people have continued to find ways to survive and create. We’ve always been survivors. They took away our original foods, and gave us scraps. We took those scraps and made soulfood. They took away our original languages, and gave us English. We took that English and made our own version, which the academics call African American Vernacular English. We are natural born creators and nothing will stop us from defining the world for ourselves. Our ancestors gave birth to the first civilization, they gave the world religion, mathematics, science, and powerful structures like the pyramids. So to the mainstream, try if you won’t, but you will never define us. We will be free, by any means necessary. Stay Woke.

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Video of the Week: Interview with Kwame Ture

Recently I watched this interview of Kwame Ture which was recorded some 20+ years ago when the Gulf War was just beginning. In this interview Ture addresses a variety issues that are raised by the interviewer as well as from people who called in with questions. Ture discussed imperialism, capitalism, systemic racism, Zionism, and even challenges of his views of women. I was amazed at the relevancy of the discussion with what is going on today in 2014. Pay close attention around the 34:00 minute mark and you will hear Ture predict an event like 9/11 happen. Overall this a powerful video that will definitely uplift your consciousness if you listen with the intention of learning. Stay Woke

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The Revolution Will Be Organized: A revolutionary’s response to Ferguson

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It’s been one month since those who protect and serve white supremacy murdered Mike Brown. Over this month, it feels like history has repeated itself yet again. The system has suppressed, the people have resisted, and still we see no justice for the murder of our young brother Mike Brown.

It’s like déjà vu. We saw it happen in Watts in 1965, Chicago in 1968, Miami in 1980, and in LA in 1992. The people of Ferguson were fed up with continuous terrorization, brutalization, and overall systemic oppression and rose up in righteous rebellion against the power structure. For every action, there is a reaction. What happened in Ferguson was a reaction to the oppressive actions of police and state.

For weeks all eyes were fixed upon the town of Ferguson, MO. The media frenzy was high as the enemy scrambled to suppress the mass of uncompromising people demanding justice for Mike Brown. The oppressor used every trick in the book, from putting a Black man “in charge” to calling in so-called Black leaders to pacify the people. The enemy even turned the town of Ferguson into a literal warzone where people on the ground had to engage in a revolutionary struggle to preserve their humanity. Around the country people had their false-sense of comfort shaken again by what happened to Mike Brown and the vicious attack on the people of Ferguson. Rallies, vigils, and protests spread like wildfires throughout Amerikkka and around the globe. Social media timelines were filled with #DontShoot and #HandsUp pics. Celebrities, dignitaries, and even the President commented on Ferguson. However in spite of this humungous response from the people, we still haven’t even received an arrest for Darren Wilson. Now the hype has begun to die down, and many people are slowly going to back to sleep. Where did we go wrong?

Every time we have a sensationalized injustice, we get mad, we protest, we wait on justice, and eventually we go back to sleep. Why does this happen? It happens because we are mobilized but not organized. History can’t be repeated, but errors can be. We have continued to make the error of mobilizing around issues, and not organizing against the system. In order to be productive in a liberation struggle the difference between mobilization and organization must be understood. Mobilization is temporary, while organization is constant. Organization is proactive, calculated, and uncompromising. Mobilization is reactionary, compromising, and often non-specific.

It’s easy to mobilize people these days, especially during sensationalized events as the murder of Mike Brown. After a while, it even became trendy to respond to Ferguson. This is not to discredit anyone’s contribution, because trendy or not, it showed solidarity with Ferguson and raised awareness. However trendy consciousness and mobilization will not get us the liberation and power we so desperately seek. Power only comes from the organized masses. We have seen time and time again how unsuccessful mobilization alone is when it comes to improving our condition. Mobilization at its best leads to reform, and reform is not going to solve our problems. The only way oppressed people will achieve liberation in this land is through revolution. Revolution takes organization, without organization it’s just a mobilized unproductive reaction that is bound to fail.

Earlier in my activist career, I thought I could take the renegade approach to the struggle. Due to my disdain for the political drama that arises in organizations, I thought I would be able to fight for the people without being involved with a particular organization. I now understand that I was operating under an unconscious state of mind. In order to be truly productive towards the liberation of our people, one MUST be organized. True power comes from a people who are conscious, organized, armed, and uncompromising. Anyone who truly wants to get involved needs to join an organization that is working for the people with whom they share similar ideologies and strategies. If no such organization exists, then that person should take action and create one. Some people might think we have too many organizations currently, but I disagree. We could have three hundred different organizations working for the people, and if every oppressed person was an ACTIVE member of at least one of those orgs, we would see Amerikkka tremble and crack. As long as the organizations have an united front under the goal of freedom, nothing can stop their progress.

In order for liberation organizations to be productive and successful they must address the needs of the people. These organizations must take a radical approach in addressing the conditions which exist. I say radical to mean that the organizations must focus on the root of the problems. Building a revolution will require people to be radicalized in order to increase our social/cultural, political, and economic power.

Our social/cultural power will be raised once we elevate our consciousness about our identity, history, and how the enemy operates. Many people are unconscious; they have no idea of who they are or where they come from. They only know what the oppressor has conditioned them to know. Due to their unconsciousness many fall into the traps of self-destruction created by enemy. Our people and especially our youth need revolutionary education. This education must challenge the status quo and teach our people to be critical thinkers.

Also many of our people are still unconscious to the issues of other marginalized groups within and outside of our community. This unconsciousness comes at a heavy price as many aid in the oppression of these marginalized groups such as women, LGBTQ, people w/disabilities, etc. Organizations must provide spaces and opportunities to wake people up to their own contributions to oppression. We can’t organize sleeping people who think and act like oppressors.

Our political power will be raised once we stop buying into the liberal versus conservative distraction that Amerikkka has created. Neither the liberal or conservative ideology cares anything about the collective condition of Black and Brown people. History has proven this. Post our so-called Emancipation; Black people have blindly given our votes away to political parties and individuals who ignore our issues. We need to create our own political party. Though we are only a small percentage of the population, we are often deciding factors in many elections. We need to use this fact to our advantage. However don’t be mistaken; voting will not solve our problems. Voting however can be a way to improve our condition until revolution comes.

Another part of raising our political power is by arming ourselves. For far too long we have allowed to oppressor to condition us to think that the only way we should respond is through nonviolence. The enemy does this because he knows that nonviolence alone will never dismantle the power structure of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Amerikkka is the most violent country in modern history. To think that it is going to just to give up its power without violence is illogical. We must understand that nonviolence is a worthy and necessary tactic, but it should not be a principle in which we have to subscribe to at all times. Pan-Afrikanist revolutionary Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) once stated, “In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.” Organized people struggling against a violent oppressor must be able to protect themselves should an attack come. We must not be afraid to defend ourselves; it is essential in our struggle for freedom.

To build a revolution we need resources. In order to gain resources in this society we must increase our economic power. Though our struggle is against capitalism, we must build the wealth of our community in order to feed, house, clothe, and protect our community. Organizations must work to elevate the financial awareness of our people. Our people have to learn how to invest and save money. We have to teach our people to be creators. If we have to go to our oppressor for jobs, we will forever be enslaved to them. We should be able to employ our own people. We must pool resources and support each other as we strive to bring more resources to our people.

Revolution is our only solution. The systems that rule over the United States of Amerikkka are rotten to the core. It would be unwise to think the system that creates our oppression can somehow give us liberation. Audre Lorde told us that the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. Freedom cannot be given; it must be taken. If we really want to take our freedom, then we must get organized. We cannot continue to focus on individual injustices and ignore the system which creates these injustices. The true justice for Mike Brown will come with the revolution, and the new society created from it. In the words of our dear brother Kwame Ture, we must ORGANIZE! ORGANIZE! ORGANIZE! Stay Woke.

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Jackson Rising: People Power and the New Cooperative Movement

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By Lamont Lilly

Durham, NC

 

Once home to some of the most violent racists in the U.S., Jackson, Mississippi is now a key training ground for self-determination and organized “people power” throughout the U.S. South. From May 2 through May 4, 2014 activists, organizers and fellow revolutionaries from all over the world gathered at the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference at Jackson State University. An estimated 500 people participated in some or all of the conference.

 

The primary objective of such an assembly was “to educate and mobilize the people of Jackson to meet the economic and sustainability needs of their community,” and to share with others how such strategies can help produce the radical change oppressed communities will need to survive within the current global capitalist crisis. The event was organized by the Jackson Rising Organizing Committee and was held at the Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center, where students and community members were welcomed alike. The spirit of resistance and self-reliance filled the air.

 

As an opening, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives provided a warm welcome and an insightful introduction to the local cooperative movement there in Jackson, Mississippi, outlining how their efforts have been a form of resistance and an assistance in providing the people’s needs. The Southern Grassroots Economies Project (SGEP) offered an intense overview on why the cooperative movement has begun to blossom and take form throughout the Southern Black Belt, highlighting how public policy can actually support and finance such grassroots efforts. Regional activists and organizers learned firsthand how the SGEP has been working diligently since 2011 to “build a Southern economy rooted in self-reliance, solidarity, community ownership and meeting human needs rather than maximizing profit.”

 

Black Workers for Justice and a host of union activists expressed the importance that strategies for worker’s rights coincide with burgeoning worker-owned cooperatives, and how in hindsight, such forces actually strengthen one another.

The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation sponsored a community workshop presenting four case studies inspired by Argentina’s cooperative movement. Omar Sierra, deputy consul general of Venezuela in Boston highlighted the redesigning of communal territories in Venezuela through participatory planning. Manuel Matos, representative of the Afro-Descendant Community Council of La Toma [Colombia], shared how Afro-Colombians are building ties for land autonomy and participatory governance. Mazibuko Jara, of Amanda! Magazine and Alternative Information Center introduced conference participants to how the cooperative movement is resisting the rise of neocolonialism in South Africa.

 

Black Arts Movement poet and pioneer, Askia Toure was in attendance, along with representatives from Black Left Unity Network. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement was also there, accompanied by world renowned Hip Hop emcee, Brother Ali. Guest speaker and long-time union organizer, Saladin Muhammad outlined how Black workers in the U.S. South are extremely underpaid, unprotected, and how their rights are completely ignored in a region that claims the “right to work” without union representation.

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A call for independent institutions

 

The main political orientation of this conference was that the working class should no longer depend on capitalism to provide for our basic needs. How can we, if it’s failing us from every angle? Speakers and cultural artists emphasized that freedom fighters have to assist the people in building institutions of liberation, and implementing practical strategies that promote autonomy from the capitalist system. Building cooperatives was stressed as an alternative to corporate grocery chains to supply oppressed communities with fresh fruits and vegetables. Educational cooperatives were presented as a working model to educate our children in a manner that enriches both them and society.

 

Organizers stressed that the task at hand now is working to construct economic and social networks that serve the oppressed rather than cater to the elite. The question is how do the people begin to provide themselves with adequate healthcare? How do low-income and marginalized communities create sustainable employment with living wages for themselves? How do underserved communities become their own solution to dilapidated housing, food deserts and waste management? How can communities affected by the school-to-prison pipeline combat such practices through participatory planning and self-reliance? How do communities protect themselves from police departments that terrorize rather than “protect and serve?” Fact is, the capitalist system and its various layers of control and exploitation will not stop until we make it stop! While issuing demands and raising voices is necessary, the harsh reality is the needs of the people have continued to be ignored.

 

Low-income oppressed communities need more than free newspapers, pamphlets and open access to political forums. In order to truly empower those who are marginalized, freedom fighters must be engaged in the work of providing basic survival needs including food, clothing, shelter and community safety. True, mass marches and political protests are very much so needed, but it will take another kind of mobilization to toil the soil and feed hungry children. It will take more than film screenings to help provide employment for those who have been incarcerated. Such developments require the collective application of practical skills, knowledge and community-based planning. Capitalism couldn’t care less about the needs of the oppressed. Hard work, creativity and revolutionary ingenuity can help lay groundwork for oppressed communities to begin meeting their own needs – creating their own modes of child care and transportation, manufacturing and apparel.

 

Within the capitalist structure, self-reliance among marginalized communities is a critical form of resistance. Limiting the power and impact capitalism and its corporatocracy possesses over our everyday lives is one of the first steps to building a “People’s Power” Movement. These points were recurring themes amongst organizers throughout the conference.       

 

The weekend session concluded with a rousing tribute to revolutionary and former mayor of Jackson, the late Chokwe Lumumba, as his son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba chanted: “Free the Land! Free the land! Free the land by any means necessary!” The spirit and legacy of former Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, who won the mayoral campaign promoting cooperatives as part of building people’s assemblies, resonated throughout the entire conference. What the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference informed and reminded the movement is that oppressed communities must liberate themselves. #JacksonRising was a reminder that most underserved communities already possess the skills, labor and resources needed to improve their quality of life, and that we as revolutionaries must not only believe that; we must also lead the charge.     

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Lamont Lilly is a contributing editor with the Triangle Free Press, Human Rights Delegate with Witness for Peace and organizer with Workers World Party. He was delegate at the “Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference.” Follow him on Twitter @LamontLilly.

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Hiding the Pain: The Emotional Repression of Men

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Men aren’t supposed to cry. Men aren’t supposed to hug. Men aren’t supposed to say how we truly feel. Men aren’t supposed to be afraid. Men aren’t supposed to be wrong. I could keep going on with the long list of things men aren’t supposed to do, as I’ve had “man-laws” drilled into my head for decades. The worst law I learned in the school of manhood, is the one saying that men aren’t supposed to feel.

As men we are taught that any emotions other than anger or lust are signs of weakness. Weakness is like kryptonite to patriarchal masculinity, so no man ever wants to show any indication of it. Whenever our emotions do come up, we do our best to hide them. We front, so we won’t be exposed and have our manhood challenged.

I often hear the conversation about how emotionally insecure women are. I find this surprising because I believe that men are more or just as emotionally insecure as women. My logic behind this statement is quite simple. The patriarchal definition of masculinity in this society does not allow men to express our emotions. Emotions such as fear, pain, and sadness are swept under the rug. They’re not to be seen by society, because a man’s (defined by patriarchal masculinity) greatest fear is to be perceived as weak or soft.

The emotional crippling of men is destructive to the mental and physical health of men and society in general. All men feel, because we are humans. Feelings of empathy, fear, anxiety, patience, love, and compassion are not just specific emotions that women express. The human spirit contains a wide variety of emotions. Patriarchal masculinity attempts to suppress these emotions, which in turn creates broken men. Men who cannot express the fullness of their emotions are broken.

One of the biggest coping mechanisms of this emotional repression is foolish pride. Foolish pride enables us to shield ourselves from personal insecurities, rather than dealing with them. Basically it is a process of deflection. When we are afraid, we deflect. When we are hurt, we deflect. When are unsure, we deflect. Any emotion or action that goes against the “guy code” gets deflected.

This front is something men do conscious and subconsciously. The conditioning of patriarchy is so deeply rooted that the emotional repression of men has become normalized. As long as men continue to use the front, we will never be able to heal from the wounds of this emotional paralysis. We can’t heal if we don’t feel. Men have to feel and own our pain. As a community we must create spaces where men can feel comfortable expressing their emotions without being shamed. We cannot build a powerful movement towards self-determination with broken men. Masculinity must be redefined in a way that uplifts our humanity, the humanity in men, women, and other genders. It’s time to stop fronting and start healing. Stay Woke.

Posted in Elevated Consciousness | 4 Comments

What is Prehistory?

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This summer I will be traveling to the beautiful island of St. Croix. I can’t wait to relax by the beach, soak in the atmosphere, and ease my spirit. I believe it is essential to get away and to get away often. But before I travel somewhere I think it is important to know the history of the land. This afternoon I started doing my basic research on the history of the island, and what I encountered in my search would send my Spidey sense into overdrive. 

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase, “Wikipedia is not a credible source,” and this is true. However it’s a useful tool when you want to get very basic info on a subject. When I scrolled down to the history section on the page for St. Croix, the first sentence made my stomach turn. It reads, “The island was inhabited by various indigenous groups during prehistory.”

Two thoughts came immediately into my mind after reading that statement. The first, “That’s such a dehumanizing statement.” The second, “What is prehistory?” Judging from how history is told in my country tis of thee, I concluded the definition of prehistory in this sentence quite rapidly.

Some will define prehistory as the time that existed prior to recorded history and writing systems. Personally I find the term quite subjective. In the case of the sentence mentioned earlier, prehistory meant that nothing existed prior to European contact. Every child in the U.S. has encountered that kind of prehistory when we were taught that Columbus discovered this landmass in 1492. If you ponder on this concept for a quick second you can really see how dehumanizing this definition of prehistory is.

White supremacy lives on the principle that anything other than the wealthy white male equals “less than.” In the eyes of white supremacy history does not begin until it shows up on the scene. The omission of the indigenous history is not some haphazard mistake or coincidental chance. It is a calculated act by the powers that be that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

The most important piece of the colonization process is for the oppressor to disconnect the oppressed from their history. It’s hard to convince someone that they’re nothing when they have a thorough and true understanding of their history. However, if you take away or reduce that history, it’s quite easy to colonize the mind of that individual.

It is essential that oppressed people of the world continue to speak truth to our histories. We have to tell our stories. We can’t allow white supremacy to define our existence on this Earth. Whenever we allow our oppressor to define us, the oppressor will always define us to its own benefit and not ours.  We have to define ourselves for ourselves. If we don’t, then we will be enslaved to someone else’s definition. I will not allow my ancestors or anyone else’s to be defined by prehistory. As far as I’m concerned there is no such as prehistory. History has no beginning or end, as none of us know when time began or when it will end. Stay Woke.

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Steady Frontin: Woman Shaming & the Self-Esteem of the Black male

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Hoe, thot, slut, etc., if you take stroll down any form of social media these days you will see those words jumping out from every corner. It’s quite amazing and scary just how normalized the dehumanization of women has become in today’s society. Though all genders and races engage in this sick game of woman shaming, I find brothers are often at the forefront of this sick renaissance. The question is why are we so invested in the shaming our sisters? And what insecurities are we Black men trying to shield ourselves from?

Before the awakening of my consciousness I existed in a state perpetual ignorance when it came to woman shaming. Daily without any effort or contemplation I would define several sisters as “hoes” or “sluts”. In conversations among others brothers, hoe was an acceptable term for any sister as long as she wasn’t a loved one or a girlfriend. We never felt the need to justify this labeling, and rarely if ever did we question it. Even when we did think we had some justification for calling a woman a hoe, it was always a hypocritical proclamation as we were probably more sexually promiscuous than the sister we were degrading.

Post my awakening; I’ve really tried gain understanding of our quick disposition to engage in this form of degradation. Once I got past the basic influences of popular culture, I began to see just how much self-esteem was connected to our engagement in this damaging shaming of humanity. People respond to low self-esteem in several different ways, but one of the classic reactions to low self-esteem is by making someone else feel lower in order to make yourself feel higher.

Growing up in Black in Amerikkka does a number on your self-esteem. For five hundred years, Amerikkka has told and shown Black people that we are “less than” in their eyes. After a while, we started believing it. Every thing that we have to be proud of, Amerikkka has tried to take. Our beautiful history, language, traditions, and overall culture were stolen by those who birthed the monsters that exist today.

In response to this great wounding of our souls, many Black people, particularly us Black men build a false sense of pride. Many of us think money, materials, and fear will foster us love and respect but it doesn’t. We often front to hide the hurt that we feel as Black men. We don’t express it because this patriarchal society tell us that it is weak and soft for men to feel anything other than anger and lust.

I believe that our attachment to woman shaming is a part of our front. I think we believe that if we can deflect our attention away from our own insecurities, maybe then we won’t have to deal with them. So we wound others, so we don’t have to heal ourselves.

We have to start building our pride on things that uplift each other and not degrade one another. This is why I believe it is so important for children of the Diaspora to learn their history. We also have to begin distance ourselves from patriarchal masculinity. We must redefine masculinity in a way that encourages Black men to feel.

If we are ever going to grow and heal as a people, we have to be prepared to deal with our wounds. Five hundred years of continual oppression is a lot to heal from, but we must do it in order to dismantle white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. We cannot build a movement towards self-determination with broken people, and we can’t heal if we don’t deal. Stay Woke.

 

 

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