Chairman Omali Yeshitela
Chairman Omali speaks at the BIB Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination Preparatory Conference
The following is a transcribed speech which was made by Chairman of the Black is Back Coalition, Omali Yeshitela at the National Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination Preparatory conference. The conference was held by the Black in Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparation’s on August 17 and 18, 2016.
Here, Chairman Omali provides us with an in-depth political analysis of neocolonialism, its historical conception and how it works to uphold the oppressive system of parasitic capitalism today.
Neocolonialism: the indirect foreign domination of a nation or people through control of the economy and social system. Within neocolonialism, members of the dominated nation or people are used as administrators of white power.
One of the things, that I certainly tried to do on yesterday with this conference was not simply to lay out the fact that we are consolidating this National Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination. Not simply talking about what we’re going to be doing coming forward. But also struggling to place what it is that we’re doing, in some, political context, because obviously, everything that we’re talking about requires struggle against white power, imperialism. And that is important.
But sometimes, imperialism doesn’t come in its own face. In fact, increasingly, over the last two or three generations, it has been extremely difficult for imperialism to step forward in its own face. And because of this, we’ve seen the emergence of what Kwame Nkrumah characterized as neocolonialism.
This is when white power cannot easily govern masses of people directly. When the white man stands over us, we’ve always said, you know, the movement had developed to such a point, it was getting the white man. Getting the white man out of here, “kill whitey.”
You know, this had become a prominent slogan among oppressed peoples around the world. And, neocolonialism is something that we see emerge at that time in history where the masses are conscious of colonialism and have developed a state of resistance that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for white power to dominate us directly. And so, neocolonialism is that instance where direct white power, direct colonial rule, is indirect rule.
“Nigger-area” and neocolonialism
A man whose name was Frederick Lugard was British and he worked for some major corporations in England. And England, as most people know, up until 1945, controlled actually a quarter of the landmass of the world and a quarter of the world’s population dominated by England.
And, so England had a lot of territory that it controlled in Africa and a particular group of territories was something that it was paying, attention to. And it sent this man Lugard, to look at these two particular territories that it wanted to combine into one administrative entity.
He went there and with him went his mistress at the time, Flora Shaw. He later married Flora Shaw but Flora Shaw was, a well-known, prominently established journalist of her own, in her own right. And so England had given Lugard the responsibility of combining two territories in West Africa into one, one administrative whole. And while they were doing that, they were looking at what this thing could be called. They wanted to give it a name. And so Flora Shaw, Lugard’s mistress, said, “Why don’t we call it ‘nigger area’?” And that is what they named this territory. And, of course, ‘nigger area’ is what you now know as ‘Nigeria.’
That’s where ‘Nigeria’ comes from, ‘nigger area.’
Lugard was the one who really developed this whole concept of indirect rule. He decided that it was fruitless for the white man to continue to try to control these territories directly. And so he really developed this whole concept of indirect rule.
Let the oppressed administer the territories for us! And the oppressed, they ‘fou fou’ just like the rest of us. They know the dances, you know, they’re from the same ethnic groups and what have you. Let them become the rulers.
Neocolonial tools and the crisis of neocolonialism
Neocolonialism is something that’s been around for a while. And I wanna mention this because, despite the fact that its been around for a while, and a lot of intellectuals have discussed this question of neocolonialism, it still seems, to be relatively successful, although there is a crisis of neocolonialism that we can see happening around the world.
You look at Cuba, Batista was a neocolonial tool of the United States. He ran Cuba for the United States. So you saw the revolution overthrew him. Somoza of Nicaragua, a tool of the United States. They got rid of him.
They even successfully used Noriega as a tool up until the Nicaraguan Revolution created a certain kind of crisis and they made him useless.
Saddam Hussein, he was their guy. He, he functioned, for them and, they used him to start a war with Iran with the objective of, of destroying the power of both Iran and Iraq.
So neocolonialism is something that has been around for a while but we’ve seen a crisis because although they used Hussein in that fashion, the fact is, he became a problem.
You know why Saddam Hussein became a problem? He became a problem because he was trying to industrialize Iraq. And if you had an industrialized Iraq, where all this oil was coming from, that means that the people now have their own use for their own oil. They, they can now use their own oil, and there’s no basis for them thus exporting oil, to the corporations in the United States and other places like that.
So the imperialists require what they like to refer to as ‘underdevelopment’ which simply means, exploited.
They require that people do not have their own capacity because at the moment you have your own capacity, then that means that you’re not dependent on this parasite that’s sucking your blood.
Neocolonialism upholds parasitic capitalism
And there’s still people who actually believe that the slave master is the one who feeds us––feeds the slave––when it’s obviously the other way around. It’s the slaves who feed the slave master, his children, send his children to school.
It’s colonialism that’s keep England afloat.
If you look at a place like France, for example, where they control fourteen so-called Francophone so-called states, in West Africa, where they receive directly 65 percent of the foreign, investment resources. Sixty-five percent goes directly to the French treasury that Africans in these territories don’t see.
Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Cameroon, they never even see it, it goes directly to French treasury.
Then France charges them, 20 percent handling fees for stealing the sixty-five percent. So that’s eighty-five percent, of the gross domestic product that comes from these territories going directly to France which, obviously, the people cannot live off of.
Because that leaves them fifteen percent to live off, and then when a black petty bourgeoisie skims its off the top, then the people are lucky if they have five percent of the gross domestic product to try and survive.
They can’t live off of it so what do they do? They borrow from France. So they borrow their own money from France and they have to pay commercial fees to France for borrowing the money!
This is what neocolonialism does.
This is the kind of relationship that we have with white power all over the world! We feed them. We clothe them. We house them. And when you go to Africa, any place in Africa, with some minimum exceptions that you’ll find in South Africa and perhaps in Zimbabwe, is in a state of deterioration now.
There’s no infrastructure. There are no roads.
Those roads are not in Sierra Leone, those roads are not in Ghana, those roads are not in Sudan and all those other places, but you know where those roads are? Those roads are in Amsterdam. Those roads are here in the United States. Those roads are in France and other places.
Those are resources that came from those places that built and sustained Europe. This is the parasitic relationship that we have with white power today.
White power is a brutal social system which oppresses Africans and other colonized people
And this is one reason you’ll have to really, forgive me because I have no respect at all for the social system, I have no respect for white power in any way at all.
There’s nothing right that it does, it can’t tell me to stop sagging, it can’t tell me to do any damn thing! It’s a brutal social system that destroys the lives of millions of people everyday.
It’s no accident when they’re killing us. Capitalism itself established, its State as an enterprise for the purpose of exploiting and maintaining the control of oppressed peoples around the world.
And in this country, the specific features have been defined by taking this land from the Indigenous people here who are now on these damn concentration camps, stealing half of Mexico, and keeping African people in a state of slavery. This is how the State emerges here, this is what defines it. This is what gives it its role, what it does.
This is why in England, for years, there was no guns carried by police. Why were no guns carried by police? They didn’t need to carry guns in England. They were carrying guns in Nigeria. The English were!
They were carrying guns in India and all these other places where the British dominated people and that’s because the State has its role.
Capitalism was born from slavery
The State was born into society for the purpose of maintaining the status quo to protect the social system and the social system that came into existence in the world after feudalism was destroyed in Europe was capitalism.
And capitalism was born as a consequence of slavery and colonialism and imperial white domination of the world. And so the State is there to protect that. So they didn’t have to have the police in England at that time.
Now you see more armed police in England. Why? Because more of the Africans and other people are now in England. They have a domestic colony just like they do in this country. This is why they’re armed to the teeth in this country.
The Europeans have always feigned amazement at why there was so much violence and gun violence and so many guns in America when guns in America were here because the whole American enterprise was started by helping to kill people, to take their land and keep them enslaved, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So everybody was armed to the teeth.
And so it’s only recently that you and I got a gun. And now they wanna take it back. That’s the truth!
The reputations of Mexicans and black people always having knives and razors––that’s the only thing we could have because it was illegal for us to have guns. Right?
And, if they controlled us with sticks, it would be illegal to have a stick.
So this is what we’re looking at. This kind of relationship that we have…
So when they killed that twenty-three-year-old boy in Milwaukee last night, it wasn’t some mistake, any more than it was when that white man killed that child in Huntsville, Alabama.
Why did that white man kill the child? Why is there a George Zimmerman? Why do we have the Ku Klux Klan and all those other entities?
Because that is the way this whole entity was created. Because in England and France and European places where you had a movement from feudal control.
Feudalism was a mode of production too, you know? And where you had the kings, they had their troops that controlled the people. These people living under feudalism in England came to this land, this territory, seeking their fortunes and became very rich in the process of doing that.
There was no established State then. Who was the State? The British were the State in these territories, and the white people here fought the British to take the damn territory from that group of thieves, for themselves.
So there was no State like there was in France, like there was in Holland and other places. So you had these white people who developed and stole this land, first taking it from the Indigenous people.
This was not the government. These were ordinary white people they sent out. They actually gave white people land. “If you could take this land and hold this land, it’s yours.”
What were they called during this time? White settlers. The British did the same thing, by the way, in Rhodesia. They actually paid ordinary white people there to help kill the Indigenous people in Africa. They just gave them land!
And so the white people themselves became extensions of the insipient State as it was emerging. The Texan Rangers, for example, were initially just a group of white people. Did you know that?!
The Texas Rangers were not a government entity. They started off as a group of white people, who were killing Mexicans and killing the Indigenous people and taking their land. That’s the Texas Rangers! They later became a government entity.
But the point is that white people here and in places like South Africa, and in places like Israel, became instruments of State power initially and formally that’s what you look at, how the State consolidated itself.
So you have a history of vigilantism––the Ku Klux Klan, and other kinds of organizations whose primary responsibility is to maintain the status quo––to control the niggers! And to control the Indians and to control the Mexicans and all those whose lands and resources have been stolen from them.
There was no “police”––the white people were the police! The white people were the police in the south up until 1966.
I can tell you actually how it happened. When we overthrew that whole non-violent stuff and white people came out to attack these demonstrations, they said, it ain’t happening this way if Africans start kicking their butts, and it became unreliable.
White people became unreliable because they were only bold in killing us when we either didn’t have the confidence and organization to fight back, or when we were under some philosophy of not fighting back.
Now when you see this whole movement emerge, it was saying “black power” and saying that we ain’t going to jail like this no more then white people became more unreliable because people found out that they could run in the other direction. You understand? [laughter]
They became unreliable so they had to organize specialized teams of cops and military. That’s why in 1972 you see the SWAT team come about as a consequence of this confrontation they had in Los Angeles, California with the Black Panther Party.
You begin to see them develop more and more. It used to be that a cop would come to your house to do this and that. They don’t come to your house by themselves anymore. They come in teams now!
They have organized this system of oppression because they cannot rely on ordinary white people, generally speaking, to do it. But when white people do it––and most often, white people get away with it, because they’re extentions of the State, not because, “Ooh, look at bad George Zimmerman.”
George Zimmerman lives in the United States of America on stolen Indian land with resources created by stolen black labor. And the State facilitates that––the prison system, the courts, the police, the military––the military that goes all around the world and continue to steal people’s resources because the economy depends on it, relies on it.
There’s no foreign policy accident, “Ooh, this is a bad foreign policy guy” or “Trump is a bad…” I’ve heard so-called progressives who are upset with Trump, because he’s, “upsetting our allies,” quote-unquote, because he wants to remove of NATO, he doesn’t want to fund them.
What are they talking about?! These are the guys that are supposed to be progressives! These are the guys who are supposed to be on our side!
Neocolonialism then and now
Neocolonialism is a problem The only reason I started off on this rant was because neocolonialism comes in a lot of different faces.
When Jesse Jackson was carrying water for Clinton, becoming the U.S. ambassador or unofficial ambassador to Africa, that was neocolonialism.
Every time somebody is killed in our community, Al Sharpton would take them on a fruitless demonstration with thousands of people and exhaust them with ridiculous chants and then militantly get down on their knees and pray for a better day, that was neocolonialism at work.
Neocolonialism takes the shape that it is, that is required at the moment! And so, neocolonialism comes youthful and dynamic today. Al Sharpton is gone! He’s a split shell! Jesse Jackson is a split shell! Now it’s a youthful neocolonialism, a dynamic neocolonialism that we see in these streets.
I was in Ferguson! You should’ve seen the money that came into Ferguson––Soros’ money! I was there! [call out of “Yeah!”] I saw it! All of a sudden, Negroes had huge buildings that they were operating out of. They sent organizers, and these neocolonial forces who are connected to the SCIU, labor unions which are nothing but an arm of the Democratic party. That’s why these Negroes could not put out a demand!
Here, this Negro, supposed to be a militant Black Lives Matter guy, and Hillary Clinton says, “Well, what do you want? What’s your demands?” And they say, “Well, we don’t have any demands!” [pause] “We just wanna know what’s in your heart!”
Am I the only one that saw that?! [call out of “No!”] Hillary said, “What’s in my heart?!”
First of all, Hillary is a biological phenomenon because I’m sure that when she’s autopsied somebody is going to find an empty space right there where her heart’s supposed to be. But that’s a different question, you understand?
So Hillary gives them a quick lesson, and says that you can’t base your demands and struggles on me. You gotta say what your policy demands are. What do you want from us? And that became an embarrassment [for the Black Lives movement.]
And at the same time that they were being embarrassed, I’m kicking their asses for hijacking the movement of those young people who rose up. The damn young people, right there on Canfield Drive were more advanced than these stooges who came up with these hashtags and shit like that.
There was no hashtag, “Black Lives Matter” that came off of those streets at Canfield [applause] that took me to Ferguson. It was not Black Lives Matter. It was because those people rose up and they said, “Kill the police!” “Kill the police!” That’s exactly what they said. [applause] And don’t act like that’s strange because that was a popular chant in the 1960s, they just said it different: “Off the pigs!” You understand?
That’s what the people were saying there, and then these Negroes come, these militant, hip kids, with hashtags, and connections to monies from Soros and the Ford Foundation and training from labor unions and what-have-you that’s a part of the Democratic Party.
Now if you got president Barack Hussein Obama speaking up for Black Lives Matter, you know damn well that it cannot possibly be for you. [call outs of “Yes!” and “Right!”]
And that’s what he’s defending because he’s smart enough to know to let these militant sellouts work.
Militant sellout-ism is the only kind that works! That old time sellout-ism doesn’t work today. So make it computer literate, make it brand experts, make it hiphop sellout-ism. [calls out of “Yeah!”] And that’s exactly what they have done.
And that’s one of the struggles we’re involved in. And we’ve been struggling with them for a while now. When I say with them, I’m talking about, we’ve been struggling with this whole attempt to muddy the waters. [call out of “Yeah.”]
“Hands up, don’t shoot, please”
We’re today at a situation where people were running around with “Feel the Bern.” They weren’t all out for Hillary in the beginning, they were for Bernie Sanders. Now you got people all out for Hillary. I mean, what kind of damn slogans are those?
In 1963, you had Malcolm X talking about the difference in the black revolution and the Negro revolution, in 1963! We had, later on, Malcolm X speaking about elections, saying, “It’s the ballot or the bullet.” And then we had, in 1966, a demand for black power!
This is African people addressing our own situation. Those slogans sound more like what these Africans in Canfield Drive had to say than “Feel the Bern.” [laughter]
Or “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot, please.”
“Hands up, don’t shoot, I pray.”
“Hands up, don’t shoot, I hope.”
“Hands up don’t shoot, straight.” [laughter] I mean, it’s a whole ridiculous situation.
So we fight against that, tooth and nail, and people say, “Well y’all just nitpicking, because they’re just learning.” Learning my ass. Go learn on somebody else’s time.
We’ve endured too much bloodshed [call out of “Yes!”] and it doesn’t make sense. [applause] It just doesn’t make sense. [applause]
Why stay alive if you’re not going to learn the lessons of the past! Right?! [continued applause] Why stay here?! [applause]
It’s our responsibility to overturn our relationship with white power
This is why we engage in the struggle and this is why I spend so much time, on yesterday, going through the history of this coalition. We’ve been struggling over these demands, and look at what we said even in our founding documents. And now, you find this, in Soros and the Ford Foundation website.
They’ve rebranded themselves now because we messed with them on that whole “Black Lives Matter” thing. We say, “Black Power Matters!”
“Black Lives Matter?” Who are you saying that to? “Black Lives Matter.” Okay…and?
It’s really important for us to be able to contextualize this. I spend time talking like this because frankly, the coalition is comprised of a number of different organizations and institutions and we all bring our political views and understandings into this process.
When we are at our best, we make it clear on whether we’re speaking for the coalition, you know, as a Coalition, but I am here, in this Coalition, as Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party.
There is nothing that the Democrats or Republicans can do––absolutely nothing. They can have a Negro man as presidential candidate, a negro woman as a presidential candidate; they can have a white man, a white woman; they can have Mexicans; they can go to these cold places and you know, get people from these other territories, and ethnic and national, sources and make them president of the United States. I don’t give a damn!
I’m jealous of this whole question of power. We’ve experienced too many centuries of someone having power over our lives to be able to say that just ‘cause they call themselves a Democrat or a Republican, they can have the power.
I say that we have to come to the conclusion that nobody else will ever govern us again. That’s our responsibility. [applause] And it is an abdication of our responsibility as human beings to say, “Okay, we’ll live with this and let somebody else govern us. Let’s see if this person is going to treat us right, now.”
I mean they’re writing articles saying that it would take two hundred and twenty-eight years for the average black family to accumulate the wealth that an average white family has…two hundred and twenty-eight years! I don’t even know how somebody could write that. You see, this is your prediction for never having a future! And I say, that’s unacceptable!
I don’t give a damn what the constitution says; I don’t care what Obama says; I don’t care what the democrats or republicans say; I don’t care what the U.S. army, CIA, FBI say; I don’t give a damn what any of them say. I have a responsibility in my lifetime [applause] to overturn this relationship that we have with white power.