Search

LIBYA 360°

Category

IMPERIALISM

Libya, Racism and Anti-imperialism : Discussion with Gerald A. Perreira

Featured post

The Assassination of Sandra Bland and the Struggle against State Repression

‘Operation Ghetto Storm': The Enduring War on Black People in the US

Millennium Development Goals vs Imperialist Wars, World Capitalism

It is Cold in the US : No Heart in the Heartland of Empire

No ‘Je Suis Charleston’? : The De-Politicization of Black Oppression

Closing the Historical Circle : White Terrorism at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

By

“…It is time for you and me now to let the world know how peaceful we are, how well-meaning we are, how law-abiding we wish to be. But at the same time we have to let the same world know we’ll blow their world sky-high if we’re not respected and recognized and treated the same as other human beings are treated.”  ~Malcolm X

Two hundred years ago, it is quite likely that Denmark Vesey, an enslaved African who managed to purchase his freedom and co-found the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, met in the relative safe space of that church to plan the slave rebellion that marked his entry into history. Set for June 17 1822, his audacious plan was to free as many Africans as possible, commandeer a ship from the Charleston Harbor and set sail for the free territory of Haiti, which had defeated Napoleon’s army and established itself as the first African republic on the planet. After Vesey was betrayed and his plot uncovered, local whites burned the church to the ground, only to be rebuilt again by the Africans of Charleston.

In what can be seen as a metaphor for the African American experience in the U.S., almost two centuries later, Dylann Storm Roof, a militant white nationalist, stood up in the sacred space of Emanuel AME church on June 17, the anniversary of Vesey’s planned rebellion and unleashed a murderous attack on a small gathering of Black worshippers.

This latest outrage followed on the heels of the execution of Walter Scott by a Charleston police officer a few months ago. The video of the Scott murder and the constant images of brutal cops behaving with an air of impunity as they murder and beat Black men, woman and children across the country have generated a growing sense among African Americans, even the pro-American apologists, that Black people are under a racist siege.

Yet, for Dylann Storm Roof, the Black people in that church were the aggressors and he was the defender of white civilization, the “American” way of life and spirit that President Obama praised in his speech in Selma. Obama pushes the liberal version of the white nationalist narrative of inclusiveness and integration into the U.S. settler project by the subordinate racialized peoples., But Roof and many other white settlers are committed to upholding an unaltered view of the U.S. shared by the “founding fathers,” who established the U.S. as the first racist republic in history.

Roof is reported to have said that black people are rapists and are taking over HIS country. While it is easy for everyone to condemn and even pathologize Roof for his views, an honest assessment of the racialized discourse used to mobilize public support for U.S. military interventions would reveal an ideological consistency between Roof’s fear and loathing of the non-European “other” and the messages conveyed in recruitment posters for the U.S. military that depict soldiers waging war in far-off places to protect OUR freedoms in the U.S. Military propagandists know that the representation of the “non-white other” informs the imagination of most Americans when they think of foreign threats to the “homeland.”

A new generation of African Americans are slowing coming to the conclusion that it does not matter if it is the streets of Baghdad or Ferguson — they/we are the enemies, who, as Roof said, must be stopped. The irrational, violence-prone racialized “other” occupies a permanent space in the consciousness of so many in the U.S., which is why it has been so easy to mobilize public support for U.S. military interventions and campaigns of political subversion, from Iraq to Venezuela.

Sermons have already started condemning violence in the U.S., while the U.S. continues to send arms to known Islamic extremists in Syria, provide logistical and political support to the Saudi’s brutal and illegal war in Yemen, arm and train neo-Nazi fascists in Ukraine while militarily pivoting to Asia – and no one in the corporate media will call it hypocrisy.

Obama and the ruling class in the U.S. are not concerned with violence. Obama just wants to make sure that the violence is state-sanctioned. While he moralizes about gun violence and the availability of weapons, he continues to allow massive military arms to be passed from the federal government to police forces through the government’s 1033 program. And the fact that the U.S. is the biggest arms merchant in the world is information that Obama will never share with the public.

Quotes by Dr. King about the need for a non-violent response to the racist assault we are under in the U.S. are once again being pulled out. The Dr. King quotes they don’t repeat, however, are those about the U.S. being the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. And they certainly will not remind the people that Dr. King argued that the only way the U.S. might hope to cure itself of the maladies of racism, materialism and militarism is through a radical restructuring of society. No, we won’t hear that Dr. King, and few will know about Vesey and his connection to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

But we know Malcolm, and Malcolm’s words bring the clarity we need today to close the circle of struggle.



Malcolm X Message to the Grassroots

 Malcolm X, c. 1964 “Anyone who stands in the way of your freedom is your enemy”


Related:
The Strategy of Malcolm X
Malcolm X: Speeches and Interviews (1960-65)
Malcolm X: “Message To The Grass Roots” Speech, Detroit on November 10, 1963
The Vision of Malcolm X: The Program of the Organization of Afro-American Unity
Malcolm X: “Pan Africanism or Perish”
Malcolm X: Not Just an American Problem, But a World Problem
Malcolm X Returns In An Inspiring Exhibit
Famous Speeches of Malcolm X

Charleston Massacre and the Revolutionary Legacy of Denmark Vesey

South Carolina has a centuries-old legacy of racist violence and economic exploitation

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

A racist attack on the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston was a planned and premediated assault on the legacy of struggle waged by the African American people for two centuries in South Carolina.

Corporate media reports on the shooting seeks to minimize its significance featuring politicians and moderate elements within the community who express shock that such an incident would occur in a church in the state of South Carolina. The governor has said that South Carolina was a “loving community” and that the attack resulting in the assassination of a State Senator Clementa Pinckney and eight other African American church members who were workers playing a leading role in community affairs, was so somehow at variance with the social culture of the area.

Nonetheless, South Carolina has a long history of slavery, Jim Crow, racial capitalism and terrorist violence against African Americans. The former British colony and slave state reaped massive profits through the exploitation of Africans during colonial the antebellum period.

However, Africans have resisted their enslavement since the 18th century from West Africa all the way to the Carolinas in the southeast region of what become known as the United States.

“According to an article published in the South Carolina Gazette on July 7, 1759:

“A Sloop commanded by a brother of…Captain Ingledieu, slaving up the River Gambia, was attacked by a number of the natives, about the 27th of February last, and made a good defense; but the Captain finding himself desperately wounded, and likely to be overcome, rather than fall into the hands of merciless wretches, when about 80 Negroes had boarded vessel, discharged a pistol into his magazine and blew her up; himself and every soul on board perished.”

There was much at stake for the slavocracy in South Carolina. In a posting by the South Carolina Information Highway it notes of the history of the state that “The slave traders discovered that Carolina planters had very specific ideas concerning the ethnicity of the slaves they sought. No less a merchant than Henry Laurens wrote: The Slaves from the River Gambia are preferred to all others with us [here in Carolina] save the Gold Coast…. next to Them the Windward Coast are preferred to Angola.” (http://www.sciway.net/hist/chicora/slavery18-2.html)

The site goes on saying “In other words, slaves from the region of Senegambia and present-day Ghana were preferred. At the other end of the scale were the “Calabar” or Ibo or “Bite” slaves from the Niger Delta, who Carolina planters would purchase only if no others were available. In the middle were those from the Windward Coast and Angola.”

This same source continues stressing that “Carolina planters developed a vision of the ‘ideal’ slave – tall, healthy, male, between the ages of 14 and 18, ‘free of blemishes,’ and as dark as possible. For these ideal slaves Carolina planters in the eighteenth century paid, on average, between 100 and 200 sterling – in today’s money that is between $11,630 and $23,200! Many of these slaves were almost immediately put to work in South Carolina’s rice fields. Writers of the period remarked that there was no harder, or more unhealthy work possible: “[N]egroes, ankle and even mid-leg deep in water which floats in mud, and exposed all the while to a burning sun which makes the very air they breathe hotter than the human blood; these poor wretches are then in a furnace of stinking putrid effluvia: a more horrible employment can hardly be imagined.”

It is quite obvious from the web and social media posting of suspect Dylann Storm Roof that he was well aware of the long tradition of African people fighting their oppressors targeting the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) which was founded in the movement against slavery and for self-determination as early as 1818. Efforts by the federal and state officials have sought to ignore any possible links by Roof to white supremacist organizations which are in existence in South Carolina and neighboring North Carolina where he was captured.

Attacks on Emanuel AME Calculated and Ideologically Driven

Charleston Massacre: Yet another terrorist act against Blacks in America
Racist terrorist Dylan Storm Roof, wearing the flags of the apartheid regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia

The perpetrator was an ideological racist who championed the system of settler-colonialism in Southern Africa and the United States. In a posting over the web, Roof wore a jacket with the insignia of the former apartheid regime in South Africa and the overthrown settler-colony of Rhodesia, founded in the attempted genocide, forced displacement and virtual enslavement of the people of Zimbabwe during the 19th century, which won its independence in 1980.

The fact that this church with such a valiant history of resistance to slavery was targeted illustrated that this was an attempt to intimate the African American nation as a whole and its institutions. Despite the legacy of slavery and segregation, the people of South Carolina have engaged in political activity since antebellum and Reconstruction period.

History of Emanuel AME Church Rooted in Rebellion During Slavery

Emanuel grew out of the resistance to slavery during the early 19th century. A co-founder of the church was Telemaque, better known as Denmark Vesey.

His plans for a major slave revolt in Charleston in 1822 sent shockwaves throughout the antebellum South and other slaveholding areas of the U.S. Vesey and his comrades were hung after a secret trial while the church was destroyed by the slave masters. The church operated underground for decades only to resurface after the Civil War.

Vesey was first enslaved in the Danish colony of St. Thomas in the Caribbean in the late 18th century. He was reportedly taken to Haiti during the same period where a revolution against French colonialism and slavery was carried out during 1791-1803, becoming the first successful slave revolution against chattel bondage in history establishing an African republic in 1804.

He and his master re-located in South Carolina during the latter years of the 18th century. South Carolina was a profitable state for the slave system where due to the intensity of agricultural production, Africans far outnumbered whites in the 19th century.

It is reported that the Africans organized by Vesey had planned to burn down plantations and kill slave owners liberating the enslaved and taking people to Haiti to join the independent Black government there in 1822. The plot was revealed to the ruling slavocracy, resulting in the arrest of Vesey and dozens of others who were tried in secret hearings leading to the initial execution of 35 people and many others later.

The Emmanuel Church grew out of the movement for independent self-rule among Africans as represented by the Free Africa Society that created the conditions for the formal founding of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in Philadelphia during the period of 1787 and 1816. The founders of the Church included Richard Allen and Sara Allen along with Absalom Jones. Emanuel is reported to have been the third AME Church founded in the U.S. being the earliest of such institutions in the South during slavery and its aftermath.

This act of terrorism on June 17, just one day after the 193rd anniversary of the Denmark Vesey plot being revealed to the ruling class, represents a profound provocation to African Americans and progressive forces in general. The confederate flag which still flies on the grounds of the state capitol in Columbia must be taken down as demonstrators called for on Saturday June 20.

A ruthless campaign against racism and racist organizations must be waged by the African American people and their allies across the country. Until racism and national oppression is overthrown there can be no real transformation of U.S. society from capitalism to socialism.


Abayomi Azikiwe has written extensively on African affairs with specific reference to historical studies and political economy. He has done research on the origins and political ideology of the African National Congress, its leaders as well as other national liberation movements and regional organizations  in Southern Africa.


Related:
United States Foreign Policy a Reflection of the Legacy of Racism and National Oppression

United States Foreign Policy a Reflection of the Legacy of Racism and National Oppression

Charleston massacre represents a long line of crimes against humanity that expand the globe

Author’s Comment: This presentation was delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) which was held on Thurs. June 18, 2015 at the Our Lady of Fatima Church located in Oak Park, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Azikiwe serves as an executive board member of the organization having previously occupied the positions of both chairperson of the board of directors and president during 2007-2014. Also speaking at this event was Dr. Saaed Khan, a professor at Wayne State University and also a member of the MCHR Board of Directors.
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

We are here for our annual meeting in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR). Our yearly dinner was a resounding success in April with hundreds in attendance under the theme of the need to link various struggles against racism, economic exploitation and for social justice and self-determination for the majority of people who live within this society and the world.

The topic this evening focuses is on the relationship between United States foreign and domestic policy. Why is the government constantly at war with one enemy or another abroad and at the same time failing to foster peace and stability here inside the country?

Today we witnessed the arrest of a suspect in the gruesome massacre of nine African Americans in one of the leading historic churches in the U.S. Even those within law-enforcement and the corporate media have characterized this incident as a hate crime.

Obviously this mass killing was politically motivated. The most prominent person killed in the massacre was Pastor Clementa Pinckney who is also a State Senator in South Carolina. He was in a prayer meeting and bible study at the church when a white 21-year-old male entered and stayed for some time before declaring that he was there to kill Black people.
Charleston Massacre: Yet another terrorist act against Blacks in AmericaReports indicate that he had a criminal record for drugs and other offenses. His links to white supremacist organizations is being examined with each passing hour. He has been shown in a photograph wearing a jacket with the insignia of the former apartheid regime in South Africa and the previous settler-colony of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

Ongoing problems of racist violence and other hate crimes are consistently ignored or played down in the corporate media. The administration of President Barack Obama has been rightly criticized for not addressing the continuing, and many would say, escalating phenomenon of racist violence, hate speech and institutional racism.

History of Mother Emmanuel AME Church and Struggle Against National Oppression

This church where the shooting took place occupies a proud history in the legacy of African people in the U.S. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) was founded in Philadelphia by Richard Allen, Sara Allen, Absalom Jones and others in 1787 beginning as the Free Africa Society.

When the church was formed the United States was in its infancy as a nation. The country had inherited the institution of slavery as an economic system. Slavery existed in the Northeast as well as the South. Africans who had accepted Christianity were still subjected to racism and sought to set up their own independent places of worship.

In the Southeast during the later decades of the 18th Century an African Baptist Church was formed. Later in Philadelphia the AME Church went in the same direction. These places of worship did not just deal with the spiritual needs of the people but the desire for genuine freedom. The formation of the early African churches was in themselves acts of self-determination and defiance against slavery.

Perhaps the most famous co-founder of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church was Telemaque, better known as Denmark Vesey. He was born in the Denmark colony of St. Thomas in the Caribbean and later lived as a slave in Saint Domingo (Haiti). Reports of his life say that he was influenced by Africans in Haiti when the revolution erupted in 1791. He along with his master Vesey, had re-located to South Carolina by the late 1790s. He was able to win his freedom from slavery remaining in South Carolina and serving as a co-founder of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in 1818.

In 1822 Denmark Vesey was the engineer of an elaborate plot to liberate his people from slavery. He had tried for many years to purchase the freedom of his wife and children yet the white slave masters would not free his spouse or children who were automatically placed in bondage following the rules of the system where the offspring would inherit the status of the mother.

Vesey was influenced by developments in Haiti. The Charleston County revolt was scheduled to take place on July 14, Bastille Day in France. However, a decision was made by Vesey and his comrades at the Church to move the date forward to June 16.

Demographically as a result of the slave system of agricultural production in Charleston, Africans far outnumbered whites in the area. Such a slave revolt would have sent shockwaves throughout the South and shaken the system to its core. Nonetheless, the plans for the revolt were leaked to the slave masters and Vesey along with many others were arrested, tried in a secret court and hung.

Many others were deported to Caribbean islands and other U.S. states. Morris Brown, another early leader of the AME Church was forced out of the state. I do not believe that it was a coincidence that this horrendous act of hate last evening took place just one day after the 193rd anniversary of the plans for the Charleston Rebellion.

Later in August 1831, Nat Turner in South Hampton County, Virginia led another revolt which was not uncovered until the actual day of the uprising. Turner was also motivated by the Bible and notions of the fulfillment of prophecy.

The Nat Turner Revolt led to the deaths of numerous slaveholders. Turner and other were eventually apprehended and brutally executed. Nonetheless, this rebellion created a reaction on the part of the slavocracy in the South resulting in the Abolitionist Movement being born. The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act was a desperate measure to maintain what even many slave masters knew was a dying system of exploitation.

When John Brown attacked Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in 1859, it represented the initial skirmishes of the Civil War which began in earnest in 1861 extending to 1865, breaking the back of the antebellum slave system and ushering in Reconstruction. The failure to build democracy in the aftermath of the dissolution of slavery and the defeat of the Confederacy is still with us today. It would take another century for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act to be passed.

Nonetheless, today much of the turmoil inside the U.S. is related to the inability of the American system to eradicate institutional racism and national oppression.

Direct Relations of Domestic and Foreign Policy

How do these historical developments rooted in slavery provide insight into modern U.S. foreign policy? Is there a direct link between the ongoing racial oppression and the character of Washington’s relations to the former colonial, semi-colonial and socialist states?

All modern wars waged whether Cold or Hot have been directed against the states within the regions of the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the former socialist countries of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since the conclusion of World War II. Today we witness the re-emerge of another Cold War with the escalation of tensions between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Yemen and other geo-political areas.

In Yemen today, the Saudi Arabian monarchy is bombing the country, the most underdeveloped in the region. The Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alliance war against Yemen is in actuality a proxy war against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which had a popular revolution in 1979 in response to the U.S. support of a monarchy which repressed its people for decades. The nationalist government of Mohamed Mossadegh was overthrown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1953 simply because he sought to take control of Iran’s oil resources.

In Palestine, the U.S. has supported the State of Israel which maintains its occupation after 67 years. The people of Gaza and the West Bank are daily subjected to the armed might of the Israeli Defense Forces and the police.

These wars in Yemen and Palestine are supported through direct U.S. tax dollars and weapons. The F-16 fighter planes now bombing Yemeni residential, communications, transport and port facilities are produced in the U.S. The same is true of the Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME), phosphorous bombs and other ordinances utilized by the IDF against the people of Gaza in Operation Protective Edge during 2014 right through additional attacks in recent weeks.

U.S. Imperialism Escalates Its Interference in North Africa

In North Africa the situation is growing more desperate every week. Many of us have followed the tragedy of mass migrations where thousands have died just this year off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean in desperate attempts to reach Malta and Sicily.

The current situation in Libya is a direct result of the CIA-Pentagon and NATO war of regime-change in 2011. There were over 26,000 sorties flown over Libya in 2011 and some 10,000 bombs were dropped on the North African state, previously the most prosperous on the continent under the Gaddafi government.

In Libya today there are two contending regimes claiming legitimacy as the government. Human traffickers take advantage of the chaos to funnel migrants fleeing the impact of wars in Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Syria, and as far away as South Asia. The European Union and the U.S., which have initiated these wars, act now as if they have nothing to do with the current crisis. The EU response has been a military one which will only result in more deaths and displacement.

Also in the region, the militarized regime in Egypt is another case of failed U.S. foreign policy. Since the late 1970s, Washington and Wall Street have funded the Egyptian government under the former President Hosni Mubarak right through the present junta led by military-turned-civilian ruler Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. Thousands of Egyptians have been killed since the military coup in July 2013. The former elected President Mohamed Morsi has been sentenced to death by a court that makes a mockery of due process.

However, these failed policies continue unabated. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Sudan, the impact of U.S. foreign policy is still very much in evidence. Iraq is still at war and the administration of President Barack Obama is carrying out bombing operations against the Islamic State and re-deploying Pentagon forces ostensibly as advisers and trainers. This is the same president who ran for office in 2008 saying he would end the war in Iraq.

The U.S. support of the armed rebels in Syria led to the formation of the Islamic State which has spread into Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Despite the spending of hundreds of billions during the Iraq war by U.S. tax payers carrying out a campaign of regime-change that met popular opposition, the country is still in deep crisis.

The billions spent on weapons to arm the new Iraqi army which was crafted in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, have mainly been wasted through the capturing of these guns, tanks and other equipment by the Islamic State. At present U.S. warplanes are bombing their own weapons sent into the theater based upon untruths and psychological warfare against both the people of Iraq and the U.S.

Which Way Forward in Domestic and U.S. Policy?

Therefore, we have much work to carry out in the upcoming year. Our organization faces the challenge of both addressing the need to cherish both lives here in the U.S. as well as throughout the world.

Since August 2014 with the unrest in Ferguson, the incomplete revolution in racial equality has been further exposed for the world to see. The reluctance of the Obama administration to discuss race and to develop policies that specifically address the continuing disparate class and social divide in the U.S. has borne an ever worsening situation.

Comments by Obama at the White House on events in Charleston seemed to focus more on the need for gun control. Although gun control is important, the underlying racial hatred and hostility is not fully explored.

At the same time there is almost no debate over the redeployment of military forces in Iraq. There is almost no information about the ongoing war in Syria. Most people in the U.S. who watch the news originating from inside the country are barely aware of the war in Yemen and the role of Washington in this genocidal process.

Consequently, we need to intensify our activism aimed at ending racism domestically and imperialist militarism around the world. These two imperatives merge when we look at the growing militarization of the police in the U.S. and the vast prison industrial complex.

Many of the same weapons and tactics utilized in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia and Palestine are being unleashed against African Americans and others inside this country. Police kill African Americans and Latinos at an alarming rate and in most cases the authorities go unpunished.

The massive impending evictions by Wayne County due to property tax foreclosures and the renewed water shut-offs of thousands in Detroit indicate clearly that the rebuilding of Detroit is taking place in contravention to the majority of people who live there. We must continue our vocal opposition to these crimes against humanity.

We look forward to our new members of the board of directors. This is a working board that seeks to make a difference in the broader movement for social change in the U.S. and internationally. Let us move forward into the coming year with the necessary vigor and vision that will ensure the fundamental change that is needed in the present period.


Abayomi Azikiwe has written extensively on African affairs with specific reference to historical studies and political economy. He has done research on the origins and political ideology of the African National Congress, its leaders as well as other national liberation movements and regional organizations  in Southern Africa.


Related:
Charleston Massacre and the Revolutionary Legacy of Denmark Vesey

Lessons of Black Internationalism from Central America

In the USA “I Cannot Write!”

Imperialism and the Making of the Migration Crisis

The unprecedented scale of global migration and migrant deaths are deliberate, not coincidental.

By Harsha Walia

Leading up to World Refugee Day on Saturday, the United Nations unveiled a devastating and damning report on the scale of global displacement. The U.N.’s Refugee Agency data reveals a total of 59.5 million people are displaced around the world. With one in every 122 people being internally displaced or seeking asylum in a new country, this is the highest level of displaced people ever recorded. It is also the largest leap recorded within a single year, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres calls it “a staggering acceleration” that will only worsen.

This 56-page report illuminates the context for Angela Davis’ remarks in Germany last month, when she declared that the “refugee movement is the movement of the 21st century.” Patterns of displacement and migration reveal the unequal relations between rich and poor, between North and South, between whiteness and its racialized others.

Roots of the Migration Crisis

Aptly titled “World at War,” the U.N. report names wars and persecution as the drivers of forced displacement. Almost 14 million of the 59.5 million are newly displaced people over the past year, with an average of 42,500 people becoming refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced every single day primarily due to military conflicts.

The four-year civil war in Syria has created 11.6 million refugees, giving Syria the unfortunate honor of being the leading source country of refugees. Turkey, which neighbors Syria to the north, has become host to the world’s largest refugee population with almost 2 million refugees within its borders. Due to the ongoing occupation of Palestine by Israel, there are an estimated 5 million Palestinian refugees registered with a separate U.N. agency, UNRWA, in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

While militarization and persecution are typically understood as primary forces of migration, forces of economic violence, climate change and gendered violence are all also causing displacement. The forced privatization and neoliberalization of subsistence farming has resulted in the loss of rural land for millions, particularly women peasants, across Asia, Africa, and South and Central America.

Though the U.N. report does not tackle displacements due to corporate interests and free trade deals, a recent study by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Huffington Post found that over the last decade, World Bank-funded projects physically or economically displaced 3.4 million people, forcing them from their homes, taking their land or damaging their livelihoods.

According to statistics by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, by the year 2020 there will be 50 million climate refugees. A day after the U.N. report on displacement, Pope Francis released his encyclical on climate change in which he articulates the connection between the climate, capitalist, and migration crises. He writes:

“Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry … There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world.”

Border Militarization

“you broke the ocean in
half to be here.
only to meet nothing that wants you”
– Nayyirah Waheed

Despite the popular myth of First World benevolence toward refugees, 86 percent of refugees are actually in countries of the global South. Yet some of the most intense border enforcement policies – informed by long-standing racial fears of brown and Black migrants – are being undertaken by countries in the global North.

Immigration detention centers are the most visible sites of border enforcement policies, with migrant detainees forming one of the fastest growing prison populations around the Western world. In Canada, an immigration detainee being held in a maximum-security facility died June 11 in a local hospital after being restrained by officers. There have been at least 11 documented deaths in immigration detention custody in Canada since 2000. This week in Arizona over 200 migrant detainees at the Eloy Detention Center launched a hunger strike in response to the death of Jose de Jesus Deniz-Sahagun, who was beaten by guards. In the U.S., 106 people have died in immigration detention centers since 2003, and since 1998, more than 6,000 migrants have died trying to cross the U.S.–Mexico border.

Geographer Reece Jones documents how three countries alone, including the U.S. and Israel, have built over 3,500 miles of walls on their borders. An estimated half of all displaced people are children and a fraction of these children – around 50,000 children – traveling as unaccompanied minors primarily from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border last year.

Other countries, such as those in Western Europe, have pushed their border outwards to create  “Fortress Europe.” The EU spent about US$2.2 billion between 2007-2013 to fortify its external borders through naval surveillance. Such “prevention-by deterrence” strategies have received international condemnation, with Amnesty International declaring, “The human tragedies unfolding every day at Europe’s borders are neither inevitable, nor beyond the EU’s control. Many are of the EU’s making. EU member states must, at last, start putting people before borders.”

The International Organization for Migration has recorded 40,000 migration-related deaths around the world since 2000. Since that year, over 22,000 migrants have lost their lives trying to reach Europe. In the 2014 alone, over 3,000 migrants died in the Mediterranean, while this year over 800 died off the coast of Libya in a devastating boat wreck in April.

Recently, some European politicians suggested military operations to intercept and destroy boats transporting migrants and refugees off the coast of Libya. Perversely, these interventions were justified as humanitarian ones to target human smugglers, deemed modern-day slave-traders. Hundreds of academics immediately challenged this putatively progressive rhetoric, writing: “To attempt to crush [people-smuggling] with military force is not to take a noble stand against the evil of slavery, or even against ‘trafficking’. It is simply to continue a long tradition in which states, including slave states of the 18th and 19th century, use violence to prevent certain groups of human beings from moving freely.”

Indeed, border militarization policies make migrants’ journeys precarious and perilous. Bodies battering onto the shores and blistering in deserts may invoke sympathy and international discussions on how to “manage” the fatalities, but rarely do they invoke our collective sense of complicity and responsibility for migrant displacement and death. Geographer Mary Pat Brady describes migrant deaths as “a kind of passive capital punishment” where “immigrants have been effectively blamed for their own deaths.”

It is not a coincidence that migrant deaths are increasing every year, or that they happen at all. Migrants are dying at borders and in detention centers precisely because militarized borders and exclusionary immigration policies are intended to make their bodies, journeys and humanities vulnerable and expendable.

Harsha Walia (@HarshaWalia) is a South Asian activist and writer based in Vancouver, unceded Indigenous Coast Salish Territories in Canada. She has been involved in community-based grassroots migrant justice, feminist, anti-racist, Indigenous solidarity, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements for 15 years. She is the author of Undoing Border Imperialism.

Zero Tolerance for Racism


June 18, 2015

An historic Black church in Charleston, S.C., has been hit by an act of racist terrorism. The nine people killed on June 17 may not be victims of the systematic racism of the police and courts that the Black Lives Matter movement has been combating. They also may not be the victims of an organized conspiracy — that remains to be seen. But their deaths were not accidental.

The killings took place in a local atmosphere where it is normal for the state government to fly the flag of slavery on its lawn. Where the local cops have mingled with the Ku Klux Klan and recruited their members. And vice versa.

It’s a national atmosphere where capitalist corporate media hacks can call African-American youths “thugs” on network and cable television. An atmosphere where cops gather in demonstrations to demand their “right” to shoot Black and other people of color at will, without question or redress. A country where the airwaves and written words are still heavy with racism 150 years after slavery’s official end.

Those in power are already calling the suspect, Dylann Roof, a “lone, deranged individual.” If this individual is guilty of pulling the trigger, however, there is no doubt that his “derangement” was crafted in a society steeped in racism. Assuming the media reports are accurate, the suspect felt comfortable wearing the symbols of apartheid South Africa and racist, colonial Rhodesia — the country that is now independent and named Zimbabwe. And according to survivors, he repeated the vile lies racists have used for centuries to focus anger at Black men.

Those who fell from his bullets were women and men, churchgoers and political activists, union members and people who fought for their rights. Their church was the church of Denmark Vesey, whose name will live in the history of the fight for freedom because he made plans in 1822 for a massive slave uprising in the city of Charleston. Only torture and executions by the slave masters were able to prevent it.

As with all those who have died on the front lines of the struggles for rights, the cause of those just murdered in Denmark Vesey’s church should be taken up by all who want justice in this country and in the world.

Trade unions, rights organizations, progressive political organizations from all communities in the United States should rally together and bring this message to the streets across the country:

Zero tolerance for racism against Black people and any people of color! Solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and with all who are victims of racist police violence! Class solidarity of all working people, who must stand together to win rights for all!

International Action Center

The atrocity in Charleston: ‘Let this trauma drive the struggle for Black Liberation’

By Lamont Lilly
June 18, 2015

When nine defenseless people are killed in a church, it’s not a “shooting,” it’s a massacre. When a 21-year-old white male who wears racist hate badges on his jacket walks into a church and murders nine unarmed Black people, I don’t call that just a “hate crime” by a lone wolf. It’s a terrorist attack by a white supremacist.

Unfortunately, the following description is exactly what happened on June 17 in Charleston, S.C., between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.

According to witnesses and recent reports, the accused 21-year-old gunman, Dylann Roof, walked in to Emanuel A.M.E. Church around 8:00 p.m. Local police were called around 9:00 p.m. According to witnesses and on the scene survivors, Roof reloaded five times. Eight people died at the scene, including the church’s pastor, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney.

After a 14-hour hunt, Roof was finally arrested in Shelby, N.C., just a few miles west of Charlotte, N.C., which is the former home of police shooting victim Jonathan Ferrell.

Adding insult to painful injury, the flag on South Carolina’s Capitol lawn — the flag of the Confederacy — is now flying at half-staff to “commemorate” the nine Black lives, dead at the bloody hands of a racist terrorist. Such a gesture is nothing less than a slap in the face to human dignity — acid to an open wound of injustice and inequality.

We don’t need to have a conversation about race. We need to have a conversation about revolution and Black Liberation. There’s a difference, a political and very serious difference. Ironically, Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME Church has a deeply entrenched history in the struggle for Black Liberation and people’s resistance.

In 1822, Denmark Vesey, one of the church’s original founders, was investigated and captured by slave authorities for his plan of organizing a slave revolt there in Charleston. After being sold out by an informant, Vesey and 36 other enslaved African descendants were hanged.

For the church’s involvement in a plot to resist, it was burned to the ground by local authorities and vigilantes. Black Codes and Jim Crow laws were quickly enacted to restrict all forms of slave assembly, including churches statewide. Traveling passes became required, while the slave patrol became the first form of organized and paid U.S. policing. Black people were literally forced to worship underground in that church for over 30 years until 1865. Common sense says you don’t fly a “Confederate flag” at half mast to commemorate a history like this.

Anyone who knows the history of the U.S. South is well familiar with the ruthless legacy of the state of South Carolina. Charleston was at one point the largest and most important slave port in North America. This same city and local municipality is directly responsible for the brutal death of Walter Scott just a few months ago. Scott was shot eight times in the back by a Charleston police officer. Only because that killing was captured on live video was truth able to reach the masses.

When Black youth from the oppressed communities of Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and Oakland, Calif., decided to stand on courage and rebel against police brutality, racism and the capitalist system, they were called “thugs,” “rioters” and “hoodlums.” For some reason, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, a well-trained white supremacist, is being referred to by corporate media as a “lone wolf” who must have been “mentally ill.” That media completely fails to address the core issues, nor have they used the correct language.

Now is the time for the Black Church to return to its roots of organized resistance, of freedom fighting and liberation. As we also remember the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four little girls, let us channel this anger into movement building just as our ancestors did. Let this pain inspire us to rally our communities and organize every block. Let this trauma drive a new generation to pursue their freedom and complete liberation.

May the people rise above their oppressors.



Chairman Omali Yeshitela (African People’s Socialist Party), Rev. Bruce Wright (Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign) and Penny Hess (African People’s Solidarity Committee) point out the colonial relationship Africans in the U.S. and the nine Africans killed by a white American terrorist in Charleston, SC.

Empire of Bases : The Truth About Diego Garcia

African American and Palestine Liberation

A Response to Newsweek and Their Imperialist Masters
Opinion makers continue to apologize for Washington’s foreign policy in the Middle East

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

A series opinion articles have been published recently in Newsweek contradictorily condemning and praising the Obama administration’s efforts to reassure the State of Israel that United States imperialism is on their side all the way in suppressing and eliminating the Palestinian people.

The authors go as far as to caution Obama against drawing any comparison between the plight of African Americans and the Palestinian struggle for national liberation. Such an editorial slant reveals that the shapers of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East are concerned about growing support for Palestine in the U.S., especially among African Americans and their allies.

Israeli foreign policy is a by-product of the overall imperialist designs of Washington and Wall Street in the region. Not only is it necessary to maintain the settler-colonial state in Palestine as bulwark of the Pentagon and NATO military strategy but it is also important to continue the domination of Egypt and other states in North Africa and the Middle East.

Successive U.S. administrations have waged wars against the people of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Libya. Consequently, any notion of a lessening of support for Israel flies in the face of the continued multi-billion dollar subsidy to Tel Aviv annually along with the transferal of arms and other military technology which is tested on the Palestinian people in Gaza and the other occupied territories.

Efforts are underway to make the recent national elections in Israel as a representation of the uncertainty of the domination by the conservative forces centered-around Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu over the political future of the regime. Nonetheless, the uneasiness of the administration of President Barack Obama about Democratic and U.S. policy in general towards Israel is partly to blame for the appearance of differences of approach to the Palestinian Authority and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

According to a Newsweek magazine article written by Marc Shulman under the title “Tel Aviv Diary”, “The one person who seems unwilling to accept the results of the election here appears to be the current occupant of the White House and other members of his administration. President Barack Obama has been exceptionally harsh in his criticism, which is starting to create a backlash among Israelis.” (May 24)

The question is backlash against what? Obama has continued the same imperialist agenda throughout the region and is providing firm support to the current war against Yemen waged by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alliance.

Public opinion in the U.S. is increasingly in favor of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and statehood. Demonstrations during the summer of 2014 against the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) massive bombing and ground incursion into Gaza were the largest protests against these repeated genocidal acts in history.

African Americans and U.S. Foreign Policy

Both the African American and Palestinian peoples suffer from national oppression and efforts aimed at genocidal removal by the racist governmental structures operating in both states.

During 2014 when the U.S. witnessed the largest Palestine solidarity demonstrations ever in response to the bombing and ground invasion of Gaza, African American youth played a prominent role in these actions. Both Palestinians and African Americans spoke out clearly of their common struggle from Gaza and the West Bank to Ferguson and Baltimore.

In Detroit the demonstrations during “Operation Protective Edge” where the IDF pounded Gaza as well as escalated repressive measures against the Palestinians living in the West Bank, signs appeared demanding water for both the people of Gaza and Detroit. Weekly protests at the Detroit Water Sewerage Department (DWSD) known as “Freedom Fridays” during the summer of 2014 often joined rallies and marches taking place outside the Federal Court House in solidarity with Palestine. At this same time the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings were still being litigated at the federal court. This was the most significant municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Expressing concern about the more vocal opinion in support of Palestine among African Americans and its potential impact on electoral politics in the U.S. with a national election looming during 2016, the same author Marc Shulman wrote in the June 3 issue of News week that “Of course, if Obama wants to have any chance of swaying Israeli opinion, he needs to decouple his view of the ‘plight’ of the Palestinians from that of African-Americans in the United States. It is true that both groups have been, and are, discriminated against, and certainly both groups have suffered. However, the historic analogy between the two is very weak. African-Americans were taken as captives from their homes and kept as slaves until a civil war freed them. Many African-Americans endured a century or more of discrimination, even after the Civil War ended.”

Weren’t the Palestinians driven from their homes by the Israeli state with the full backing of the U.S. and the imperialist nations? Both Africans in the U.S. and the Palestinians have been subjected to national oppression involving mass killings and forced removal from urban and rural areas.

In a failed attempt to draw such a distinction between the history and conditions of Africans and Palestinians, the same author says “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a traditional nationalistic conflict, with two peoples claiming the same land. This conflict would have ended long ago if Palestinians had agreed to any of the previously offered compromise solutions.”

Such an argument is reminiscent of the racist newspaper editorials which blame Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray and others for their own deaths. Not to mention those reports which describe African Americans involved in militant demonstrations against police terrorism and judicial impunity as “thugs” for engaging in the destruction of property and self-defense tactics against law-enforcement agencies.

These victims of settler-colonialism and institutional racism are somehow expected to acquiesce to oppression in favor to the continuation and worsening of their social plight.

There is a firm political basis for the analogy between Apartheid, Jim Crow and Zionism in its present and historic forms. Israel has inflicted racist treatment on the Palestinians but also those from Africa who have migrated to the country.

In recent years attacks against African immigrants from Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia have gotten international media attention. Netanyahu recently met with an African IDF soldier who was attacked by police for racist reasons. Yet what Netanyahu and his cohorts do not mention is that his political coalition has deliberately exploited racist attitudes and social policies towards Palestinians and Africans in order to maintain control over a settler state that is losing support even within the U.S., and of course throughout the broader international community.

Both the U.S. and Israel are facing growing opposition internally and globally. These racist and national oppressive states can only rely on military might and the economic dominance of the imperialism to provide any semblance of a secured future.

Greater solidarity between Palestine and African Americans will be an important factor in the burgeoning struggle against imperialism. Whether the White House, Congress and Wall Street recognizes or accepts this shifting situation it is evitable and will change the course of history in support of the oppressed and working people of the world.


Abayomi Azikiwe has written extensively on African affairs with specific reference to historical studies and political economy. He has done research on the origins and political ideology of the African National Congress, its leaders as well as other national liberation movements and regional organizations  in Southern Africa.

War, Imperialism and the People’s Struggle in the Middle East and Africa

United States continues its occupation of the region

Author’s Comment: This paper was presented at the Left Forum held at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York (CUNY) during May 29-31, 2015. The panel was chaired by Bill Dores of the International Action Center. Kazem Azin of Solidarity Iran was also a participant.

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

Since March 26 the Saudi Arabian monarchy along with its neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has been waging war on the nation of Yemen. Daily bombing raids against residential areas and infrastructure are ostensibly designed to push back the Ansurallah (Houthis) movement which has taken over large sections of the country, one of the most underdeveloped in the region.

This war has been largely hidden from the view of people inside the United States. Nonetheless, this is a U.S. war aimed at maintaining Washington’s dominant position within the Arabian Peninsula extending to the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden.

Prior to the beginning of the airstrikes by the Saudi-GCC Coalition, the administration of President Barack Obama withdrew its diplomatic personnel along with Special Forces operating inside the country. For many years the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has viewed Yemen as a key area for its so-called “war on terrorism.”

Regular drone strikes have killed many Yemenis along with at least three of whom were U.S. citizens. Washington has said that the Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is major threat to American interests in an attempt to justify the drone attacks which have killed more civilians than supposed “armed combatants.”

However, in recent months the Islamic Republic of Iran has been designated by Washington and its allies as the principal threat in Yemen. The Ansurallah, which is a Shiite branch of Islam, is supported politically by Tehran. The Saudi monarchy views Iran as its major impediment in controlling the region on behalf of U.S. oil and financial interests.

The current hostilities in Yemen have been described as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and the GCC on one side and Iran and its allies on the other. The total war strategy against Yemen consists of the banning of humanitarian assistance from Iran and others who oppose the bombing and ground offensive by militias which are financed by Riyadh.

According to an article published by the Telegraph in Britain, it says that “As Saudi Arabia has maintained an air and naval blockade on Yemeni territory, gas supplies have run perilously low. Even a five day humanitarian pause was not enough to bring in the necessary aid. Fuel prices have spiked as the casualty count mounts, and some hospitals have been forced to close altogether because they are unable to keep medical supplies refrigerated or perform operations since they can’t run backup generators.”

Reports of the number of Yemenis killed in the fighting range from 2,000-4,000 with many more injured and displaced. Yemeni-Americans who have been attempting to leave the country since late March have been abandoned by Washington.

Many Yeminis have taken refuge across the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden into Djibouti where the U.S. has its largest military base in Africa. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is expanding its operations at Camp Lemonnier which is utilized as a staging ground for military strikes inside Somalia and other countries on the continent.

This same above-mentioned Telegraph article also notes that “The UNHCR says a total of 5,000 Yemeni refugees have made it to Djibouti, including 3,000 in the capital, Djibouti city, and 1,000 in Obock, 300 kilometers (187 miles) to the north — making it currently the biggest Yemeni refugee population. The influx has hiked up local prices, with markets, hotels, and drivers trying to make the most of the situation in an already struggling economy.”

Yemen and the Imperialist Regional War

The war in Yemen is part and parcel of a broader regional war that encompasses Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, occupied Palestine and Iran. In Iraq where the U.S. occupied the country for over eight years, the Pentagon has redeployed 3,100 troops to the area. These troops are purportedly training Iraqi military forces although the Defense Department cannot claim any real successes.

When Islamic State fighters confronted Iraqi units in Mosul and other cities they fled. A similar situation was reported in Ramadi in Anbar Province. The Obama administration played down these events in order to deflect the attention of the U.S. public away from its failures in Iraq.

The Kurdish fighters seem to have fought with far greater commitment and vigor yet they are not privy to the military assistance in their struggle against IS. Fierce battles in Kobane on the border with Turkey revealed that the Kurds were a force to be reckoned with in the regional war against IS.

In neighboring Syria, the U.S. is behind efforts to destabilize and overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Since 2011, an estimated 200,000 people have died and several million dislocated both inside and outside of Syria.

The U.S. is bombing both Iraq and Syria under the guise of degrading and destroying IS bases. However, the impact of this aerial war is to create broader avenues of operation for the IS forces which were built up during the initial years of the destabilization campaign against Syria. At present IS military units have seized large areas of territory within Syria and Iraq, while the strategy of the White House is to continue the bombing targeting Daesh but at the same time opposing the continued existence of the Assad government in Damascus.

A massive air assault on Syria was planned for August-September 2013. However, public outrage in Britain and the U.S. stopped the president in his tracks. The effect of recent wars waged by Washington through successive administrations has resulted in greater instability and dislocation.

In Lebanon Hezbollah has maintained its strength against the Zionist regime occupying Palestine. The party and mass movement have also intervened in solidarity with the people of Syria and may escalate its involvement based upon developments taking place inside the country.

The plight of Palestinians has been negatively impacted by the wars in Syria and Iraq. In Syria, many Palestinian refugees were divided over support for the Assad government. A major camp housing Palestinians has been the focal point of IS attacks seeking to gain control of the area.

Israel is supported to the tune of billions every year from the tax dollars of the American people. U.S. warplanes and other defense technology are given to Tel Aviv where it is tested against the people of Gaza and other occupied territories.

Although the U.S. administration has signed an agreement on Iran nuclear energy program, the Obama White House is continuing the 36 years of hostility towards Tehran since the popular revolution of 1979. Washington’s coordination of the Saudi-GCC war in Yemen is a clear testament to the ongoing war against Iran.

Africa and the Middle East

As we mentioned earlier, Djibouti, the pivotal staging ground for AFRICOM on the continent is located right across from Yemen. Somalia, Ethiopia, Egypt and Kenya are in close proximity. The artificial divisions between Africa and the so-called Middle East are merely constructs of colonialism and imperialism for the purpose dividing the regions in regard to spheres of influence for western powers.

Peoples who reside on either side of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden fundamentally want the U.S. out of their countries. They desire to live in peace and to determine their own destiny in the quest for development and unity. Washington and Wall Street dominate through their military prowess and economic machinations that bribe leaders making them dependent upon U.S. and European patronage and privilege.

The fueled hostility between various branches of Islam is indispensable in the imperialist strategy for the Middle East and Africa. Only when the peoples of Africa and the Middle East unite on an anti-imperialist basis will there be a genuine atmosphere of lasting peace and social stability.


Abayomi Azikiwe has written extensively on African affairs with specific reference to historical studies and political economy. He has done research on the origins and political ideology of the African National Congress, its leaders as well as other national liberation movements and regional organizations  in Southern Africa.

State Repression Continues After Ferguson and Baltimore

The Barbaric Police Bombing of MOVE

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal : May 13th at 30

This essay was recorded on 4/26/2015 and was released on 5/13/2015 on the 30th anniversary of the MOVE bombing.
1019373217



Let the Fire Burn
On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police dropped two pounds of military explosives onto a city row house occupied by the radical group MOVE. The resulting fire was not fought for over an ho
Directed by Jason Osder
Cast:Birdie Africa, John Africa, Ramona Africa
Country:United States


The Bombing of Osage Avenue, Philadelphia – May 13, 1985


When a Black Mayor Killed Black People

By Margaret Kimberley

If the purpose of Black electoral politics is to protect African American interests, the Black political class has been a colossal failure. “The disasters of mass incarceration, police murder, gentrification, privatized public schools, and austerity have all taken place on their watch.” Worse than useless, most Black elected officials are collaborators in an oppressive system.

Black politicians are as much for sale as their white counterparts.”

On May 13, 1985, Wilson Goode, the first black mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, burned down a neighborhood occupied by other black people. As mayor he had the power to start or stop actions undertaken by any city agency. He had the power to scuttle the police decision to bomb the house occupied by members of MOVE. He had the power to order the fire department to extinguish the flames. He had the power to order police to save lives that night.

The event may seem like a singular one, sparked by a series of police assaults on MOVE, one of which resulted in the death of one of their own officers. The desire of some in the community to have MOVE members leave their neighborhood also played a part in the chain of events. But one important issue can never be forgotten about this horrific episode.

The presence of a black face in a high place still provokes an almost hypnotic response from the masses of people. The deeply felt feelings of pride are based on the history of enslavement, Jim Crow humiliation and terror. While the sentiments have an historical basis and are understandable, they can also be very dangerous and create support for events just as dreadful as the destruction of Osage Avenue in Philadelphia.

Black Americans have moved from being the most consistently left wing constituency in this country to supporting actions they would otherwise oppose if a black person is elected to public office. Wilson Goode’s political career should have ended that day. Instead a group of black ministers publicly expressed their support for Goode while the fire still smoldered on the incinerated street. He was re-elected two years later and again won a majority of the black vote.

Black Americans have precious little to show for the thousands of black mayors, congress people, and city and state legislators elected to office since the 1960s. The disasters of mass incarceration, police murder, gentrification, privatized public schools, and austerity have all taken place on their watch.

A group of black ministers publicly expressed their support for Goode while the fire still smoldered on the incinerated street.”

The list of failure and dubious decision making is a long one indeed. In Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick gave the green light to the derivatives schemes which pushed that city into bankruptcy. Maynard Jackson, the first black mayor of Atlanta, fired striking city workers within months of gaining office. The Congressional Black Caucus was once the “conscience of the congress” but now acts only in support of Barack Obama, no matter how terrible the policy decisions in question.

Obama’s election was the nightmare scenario for black politics. Already teetering due to multiple treacheries from the misleadership class, black politics flat lined after the 2008 presidential campaign. When Barack Obama called for war against Syria in 2013, support was tepid at best, except in the black community. A group known for being vehemently anti-war and anti-empire suddenly turned into the largest cohort supporting a misadventure that no one else wanted.

Wilson Goode may be the only black politician responsible for killing his own people and destroying their property, but his actions have been seen in miniature across the country. Black politicians are as much for sale as their white counterparts and they will turn over public money for sports stadiums or anything else that wealthy, powerful people may demand. When developers decide to put big money back into the cities, black neighborhoods disappear and their residents are disbursed. If hedge fund captains want to destroy public schools in favor of privately funded charter schools, then black politicians will sing the praises of privatized education.

The Congressional Black Caucus now acts only in support of Barack Obama, no matter how terrible the policy decisions in question.”

The saddest part of this tale is that the masses of black people will put aside their long history of struggle against oppression if one of their own suddenly becomes the public face of bad policy. Black mayors will join in the chorus demanding more police for already over-policed communities. None of them demanded federal prosecution of the murders of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams, Michael Brown or Freddie Gray.

Goode should not be seen as the lone killer among the political class. The others should not be let off the hook so easily. Hundreds of lives taken by police violence might have been saved if black politicians established true community control or demanded that the black president who gets so much love actually did something to earn it.

Mass incarceration is also a killer. Mumia Abu Jamal’s medical crisis is not unique. Prison kills otherwise healthy people and the end of this awful system should be at the top of every black politician’s agenda.

Wilson Goode’s victims should be remembered in Philadelphia. But it would be a mistake if the night of terror in 1985 was regarded as a unique event and not as part of a larger and continuing problem. The mayors and congress people and, yes, the president owe their positions to the black liberation movement. One wouldn’t know that by looking at the state of black life today. We are all Osage Avenue.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

Baja’s Day Laborers Suffer Police Repression

Chiapas Support Committee

Police repression  in Baja
EZLN in solidarity

Baja California state police attacked farmworkers on strike in that state for better wages and working conditions. On May 9, twenty (20) patrol cars full of police agents entered the Triqui community of Nuevo San Juan Copala in the San Quintín Valley under the mistaken impression that members of the Alliance of Organizations for Social Justice were there to incite some of the community’s residents to set a farm on fire. The police started to detain one person; community members came out to defend him and a few threw stones and used sticks to repel the police. The police, in turn, used rubber bullets. Police originally detained 17 people, but 12 were released. Five remain in police custody. 70 people were injured, 7 of them in gravely injured. At the close of the Seminar on “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra,” the EZLN expressed solidarity with the day laborers. Below is a La Jornada article regarding the federal government’s handling of the strike.

A small tank is set on fire in the San Quintín Valley of Baja California

SAN QUINTÍN: IRRESPONSIBLE INDOLENCE

By Luis Hernández Navarro

From the exhaustion to the repression, from the indolence to the joke, that’s how the strategy that the federal government has traced for “resolving” the conflict of the San Quintín jornaleros [1] can be summarized.

Almost two months have passed since, last March 17, when thousands of farmworkers from this agro-exporting enclave broke out in a general strike to denounce the savage labor exploitation that they suffer and to demand a salary dignified increase. In place of resolving the movement’s demands, the government of Enrique Peña Nieto first gambled on its weakening and discouragement and, later, on violent contention.

Nevertheless, neither of those maneuvers has been effective for disarticulating the day laborer protest. Despite the eight weeks of struggle transpired, it maintains itself fed with the combination of moral indignation in the face of a savage model of exploitation and a cohesive and vigorous associative base community fabric.

The May 9 repression shows it. That day, using the pretext that they wanted to set fire to an agricultural, the state preventive police beat residents of the Triqui settlement Nuevo San Juan Copala when some of its residents were exhorting the farmworkers to maintain the strike. Residents responded by confronting the police with rage.

Nuevo San Juan Copala is a colonia of San Quintín, which in 2010 had a little more than 1,600 inhabitants, the majority Triquis. It took the name of the community of origin of its founders in Oaxaca. It was formally established in 1997 on lands occupied by jornaleros that were seeking dignified housing and that were fleeing from the oppressive agricultural camps. Since then, the collective action of its residents achieved obtaining services and basic infrastructure: orderly subdivision of land, public lighting, safe drinking water, schools and improvement of the streets. Simultaneously, it installed a figure of the Triquis’ political representation.

Its residents have developed –according to what Abbdel Camargo explains in Asentamiento y organización comunitaria– [2] a form of political and community organization that combines traditional organs of authority based on its places of origin with newly created institutions. This re-invention of tradition has permitted them to appropriate new spaces of residence, to develop collective practices that generate a strong cultural identity and to strengthen their management capacity.

The standard life of the settlement, explains Camargo, is organized around three traditional figures, natives of their communities of origin. These are: the traditional authority, the community’s political representative and mediator; the council of elders, which orients and gives its opinion on the settlement’s relevant issues, and the system of majordomos, in charge of the organization and realization of the fiestas in honor of the patron saint.

Thus, when last May 9 the state police repressed the residents of Nuevo San Juan Copala to discourage their struggle and send a signal to the striking San Quintín jornaleros about what awaited them, they butted heads with a vigorous community organization, constructed and forged from the heat of the struggle for almost two decades. The result of this maneuver was counter-productive.

The violence against residents of Nuevo San Juan Copala was the last link of a failed strategy. At first, the federal government gambled on confining the struggle to the state ambit, hoping that it would die out. When the conflict was nationalized and internationalized, it had to accede to installing a negotiating commission, headed by the assistant secretary of Governance, Luis Miranda.

Police fired rubber bullets on striking day laborers

Far from seeking solutions, the negotiating (dialogue) table between the jornaleros and the authorities last March 24 was a maneuver to gain time. The official retinue, which consisted of the governor of Baja California, Francisco Vega de la Madrid, and the heads of the IMSS, the STPS, senators and deputies, came without any proposal. First it impeded the press’ passage to the meeting. Then it behaved as if it knew nothing about the origin of the conflict. Mockingly, the governor –according to what Arturo Alcalde wrote– said to the jornaleros: “You have the word; we are here now. Tell us what your requests are.”

The public functionaries dedicated themselves to confusing the work. Finally, assistant secretary Miranda put into effect operation surprise attack: without having convened a meeting between the parties, he announced a future meeting on May 8, in which he would give an integral solution to the demands; he invented that an agreement had been reached, unilaterally closed the meeting and brought the journalists into the meeting. The jornaleros rejected that anything was agreed upon in that negotiation.

The official retinue abandoned San Quintín hurriedly. Even the representatives of the Legislative Power, who supposedly attended the session invited by the strikers, acted like employees of the government and shamefully added themselves to the Executive’s entourage.

Assistant Secretary Luis Miranda arrived on May 8 and left the agricultural workers in the lurch. More than 4,000 of them were waiting for him in order to hear his answer to their demands. When Fidel Sánchez Gabriel, the leader of the Alliance for Social Justice, warned him that they would stay in front of the state government offices, the functionary replied: “You don’t know me.” The next day they felt the clubs and rubber bullets of the police.

Despite the nearly two months that have transpired and the repression against them, the movement of the San Quintín day laborers doesn’t show signs of physical or spiritual tiredness. It resists, fed by the conviction that one must put an end to a barbaric model of exploitation and by decades of community struggles. For the time being, it is willing to confront official indolence by organizing the international boycott of the Valley’s vegetable and fruit production Valle.

Notes:

  1. Day laborers
  2. Settlement and community organization

Anti-Black Racism Exposed in Israel and the U.S.

By 

Just as the announcement was being made that military forces were being withdrawn and the curfew on the black community lifted in Baltimore, images of another black rebellion exploded in social media and the airwaves of the world, this time from “democratic” Israel.

Last Thursday in Jerusalem Ethiopian Israelis gathered in peaceful protest in reaction to the release of a video that showed Israeli police violently attacking an Ethiopian member of the Israeli army who was in full uniform. Ethiopian Israelis, long the victims of systematic racial discrimination in Israel, evoked the spirit of Baltimore and demanded an end to discrimination and police brutality.

However, on Sunday it was in the liberal bastion of Tel Aviv that the protests turned into a battle zone between the police and Ethiopian Israelis. Like the black middle-class liberals of Baltimore who were incensed that the black rabble would rise up to question their authority, liberal authorities in Tel Aviv decided to violently disperse the largely peaceful demonstrators in Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv. And similar to the black liberals charged with upholding elite white power in the Baltimore, liberals charged with upholding Ashkenazi elite power in Tel Aviv did not understand that the people had reached a point in which the awesome power of the state no longer generated fear.

Along with the ongoing issue of police brutality, Ethiopians suffer housing and employment discrimination and find themselves at the bottom of Israeli society suffering both race and class discrimination. They are also constantly reminded that despite their Jewishness they are still the “other” and not as valued as other Jewish populations. They saw quite clearly the obvious contradiction in the efforts of the Israeli Prime Minister to persuade the good white French Jews to immigrant to Israel while the “Jewish State” cut immigration of Ethiopia Jews from Africa.

They also saw that their Jewishness did not protect them when reacting to the issue of African migrants to Israel, Israeli right-wing organizations staged a series of demonstrations calling for the expulsion of all non-Jewish African migrants with vigilante groups also carrying out violent assaults against African migrants that did not differentiate between non-Jewish Africans and them.

With the open expressions of anti-black racism and systematic economic and social discrimination, it was only a matter of time before there was an eruption from that community.

As I have written on a number of occasions, it should not be a surprise that anti-black racism has been revealed as permanent feature of the collective consciousness of the populations of both Israel and the United States. As settler-colonial states that imposed themselves on indigenous populations, both projects required the development of a hierarchy of humanity in which the conquerors could justify land expropriation, displacement and dispersal, in the case of Israel, and genocide in the case of the U.S. In both experiences, as in all of the settler-colonial experiences during the era of European/Western colonization, the creation of race served as the basis for that stratification of humanity.

Ethiopians Israeli face a conundrum similar to what African-Americans face. They are demanding that Israeli society recognize that their “lives matter.” However, for a colonial project that has normalized racialism and exclusion as operative values, it is illogical to expect that Israeli society could be morally capable of recognizing and substantially correcting the cultural ideas and discriminatory social policies that black Israelis face in modern Israel.

Black lives don’t matter in Israel or in the U.S. because Palestinian lives don’t matter, Yemeni lives don’t matter, Iraqi lives don’t matter, Syrian lives don’t matter, and even white working class lives don’t really matter, because all of these lives – this humanity – will be and is being sacrificed to maintain the dominance of an avaricious, criminal corporate/ financial elite still centered in the capitals of the West. Israeli is just a colonial outpost in that continuum of global power.

What Ethiopians must come to terms with, like African Americans and all racially and nationally oppressed groups in the “still existing” colonial societies, is that a choice has to be made between continued collaboration with the Western colonial/capitalist projects, or with authentic decolonization.

Post-Modern Slave Patrols : The Rise of the African-American Police State

Blog at WordPress.com. | The Baskerville Theme.

Up ↑