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Burning Spear News

The Ballot and the Bullet: Elections, war and peace in the era of Donald Trump

Jul 10, 2017
Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition

The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations (BIB) is holding our Annual Conference at Chicago State University on August 12 and 13, 2017. The theme of the conference is “The Ballot and the Bullet: Elections, War and peace in the era of Donald Trump.”

The theme of our Conference contains within it the critical matters of this period that must be addressed to move our struggle for black liberation forward.

U.S. military forces are not only occupying countries in the Middle East such as Afghanistan and Iraq. They are also supporting the genocidal Saudi attack on Yemen along with the cruel slaughter of nearly half a million Syrian civilians and the displacement of 10 million more.

The U.S. is threatening China in the Asian Pacific region and attempting to foment hostile confrontations between China and its neighbors, especially Viet Nam, the Philippines and South Korea.

In addition, the U.S. is busily destabilizing the government of Venezuela, causing political unrest through economic pressures that have resulted in mass unemployment, starvation and social dislocation.

In the meantime, the U.S. rulers are fighting to extricate themselves from the outcome of the electoral mess stemming from the capture of the U.S. presidency by Donald Trump, the billionaire political outlier who came to power by trouncing candidates who represented the establishment white bourgeoisie.

The US. ruling class has supported or initiated protests of Trump policies in airports and in the streets as well as Congressional hearings.

Trump’s election and the bourgeois reaction to it have helped to expose the crisis of white power and undermine the electoral process in the U.S. as well.

The ongoing attack on Trump by white ruling class media that challenges the legitimacy of his presidency with claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin manipulated the election outcome to guarantee Trump’s victory is the primary method being used to cripple his presidency.

All of this is helping to clarify the fact that the electoral system was contrived by the white ruling class as a process for generally non-violent struggle among the rulers for control of the U.S. State for their profit-making benefit.

Trump’s promise to put more U.S. occupation troops in Afghanistan and his threats to initiate economic sanctions against Iran and return to a hostile posture against Cuba undermine the credibility of the U.S. throughout the world as a reliable treaty or diplomatic signatory.

The U.S. has no regard for agreements or elections if they do not favor the white ruling class and support the colonialist capitalist status quo.

Nevertheless, the Black is Back Coalition continues to move forward during this period of imperialist crisis and decline of white power.

We are utilizing the electoral process to mobilize Africans and others with a revolutionary platform that demands reparations and black self-determination.

We are promoting referendums and ballot initiatives for reparations and black community control of the police at a time when great dissatisfaction is being demonstrated by the millions of people in the U.S,

Many people believe that the electoral process is the only legitimate method of challenging the status quo for political power in the U.S. and have been therefore politically immobilized by the absence of candidates or platforms that address the critical issues of our times.

Until now.

Now, the Black is Back Coalition is calling on Africans from every corner of the U.S. to join us in our Annual Conference where we will continue developing a general strategy for advancing our liberation agenda through the electoral process.

Shortly after his split with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X made a speech titled “The Ballot or the Bullet.” The definitive version of that speech was made in Detroit, Michigan in 1964 at a time when, partially because of Malcolm X’s ideological influence, the struggle of Africans in the U.S. was transitioning from a defensive civil rights posture to an anti-colonial offensive position that would reject philosophical non-violence and integration as its ultimate aim.

Malcolm’s words resonate today as we move toward the Black is Back Annual Conference. They sound prophetic because the nature of the U.S. imperialist social system requires it to sow war and terror as a condition for its survival as a parasitic system—all the time, every year for long as it exists.

Hence, Malcolm X’s 1964 presentation addresses some of the same issues and players we are confronted with in 2017:

“… Nineteen sixty-four looks like it might be the year of the ballot or the bullet.

“Why does it look like it might be the year of the ballot or the bullet? Because Negroes have listened to the trickery, and the lies, and the false promises of the white man now for too long.

“And they’re fed up. They’ve become disenchanted. They’ve become disillusioned. They’ve become dissatisfied, and all of this has built up frustrations in the black community that makes the black community throughout America today more explosive than all of the atomic bombs the Russians can ever invent.”

In 1964 when Malcolm X made this incredible speech in Detroit, Africans were being murdered throughout the U.S., especially in the U.S. south where the struggle was mostly led by black adherents of philosophical non-violence that prohibited Africans from resisting white terror.

Today, as the U.S. is waging parasitic colonial wars without end throughout the world—even threatening nuclear conflagration that could destroy life on the planet—African children are being murdered, like 7-year-old Aiyana Jones in Detroit or 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland.

Ordinary white people are also waging murderous assaults on our people. Dylann Roof who murdered nine unarmed Africans in a Charleston, South Carolina church continues the anti–black terror of 1963 when whites bombed the 16th St. Baptist Church and murdered four African girls in Birmingham, Alabama.

In his 1964 speech, Malcolm X would continue with these words:

“This is why I say it’s the ballot or the bullet. It’s liberty or it’s death. It’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody. America today finds herself in a unique situation.

“Historically, revolutions are bloody. Oh, yes, they are. They haven’t never had a bloodless revolution, or a nonviolent revolution. That don’t happen even in Hollywood.

“You don’t have a revolution in which you love your enemy, and you don’t have a revolution in which you are begging the system of exploitation to integrate you into it. Revolutions overturn systems. Revolutions destroy systems.”

In 2017 the oppressed and colonized peoples of the world are clear: It is not a matter of the ballot or the bullet. The U.S. has no respect for the ballot when the results do not favor the status quo, even when the ballot is cast for one of their white billionaire cohorts.

The Black is Back Coalition advocates utilization of the electoral process and every democratic avenue open to our people. However, we do not consider the electoral process the only option open for struggle.

Indeed, we recognize that in an anti-colonial struggle for national liberation every act of resistance is an act of self-defense and we must utilize every possible form of struggle.

We are calling on every African or black patriot in the U.S. to join us in our historic Annual Conference. Unity and organization are more important now than ever.

This is the period of the ballot and the bullet. It is the era of war and peace and Donald Trump, who symbolizes the crisis of imperialism in bold relief.

Forward to Chicago!

Join the Black Is Back Coalition!

 

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