Burning Spear News
The unity of African and Mexican people in the struggle against the colonial State
Editor’s Note: The following is a transcription of a special episode of the Omali Taught Me Sunday Study, the first in a series discussing the unity of African and Mexican people in the struggle against the colonial state.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela and Unión del Barrio Under-Secretary General Benjamín Prado discuss community control of the police, and defunding the police.
#OmaliTaughtMe is broadcast LIVE Sundays at 8am U.S. Eastern Time. Watch on TheBurningSpear.com or listen on Black Power 96.3 FM Radio in St. Petersburg, FL (and streaming on the Black Power 96 Radio mobile app and BlackPower96.org)
AKILÉ: Uhuru comrades and welcome to today's Omali Taught Me Sunday study featuring Chairman Omali Yeshitela.
My name is Akilé Anai, director of Agitation and Propaganda for the African People’s Socialist Party as well as your MC for this morning.
Today’s study is highly important and we encourage you right now to invite your friends and family to it.
We're introducing a new series for the Omali Taught Me Sunday study series dealing with the unity of African and Mexican people in the struggle against the colonial State.
For this first week, we'll be discussing defunding the police versus initiatives such as black community control of the police.
For this discussion, I am joined by one of the leaders of the Mexican liberation organization, Unión del Barrio, the Under-Secretary General Benjamín Prado.
We will start with an overview from our Chairman followed by a presentation from Benjamín. After a thorough discussion among our panelists, we will open it up for live viewers to ask questions.
It's my honor now to introduce our leadership, the leader of the African nation and the worldwide African Revolution, Chairman Omali Yeshitela. Uhuru Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Uhuru. I’d really like to express my appreciation to you comrade Director Akilé and to compañero Benjamín Prado for being here with us today.
This is, as you have mentioned, a very important discussion that we want to have. It's extremely important given the current situation where subsequent to the colonial virus devastation of our communities, both the African and Mexican community, the brutal televised or much seen videoed murder of George Floyd and in combination with the murder of so many other African people recently: joggers and people sleeping at fast-food restaurants just being murdered by the State, by the police, by white people in general.
This is an important discussion.
There have been protests, demonstrations, and uprisings in every state in this country and in communities large and small. We've seen the masses of African people joined by others for whatever reason, engaged in serious struggle.
Police stations have been torched to the ground. Police have been shot at. We've seen police now bemoaning how they are disrespected and no longer loved by the masses of the people when just a few days ago, a few weeks ago, they were held up by the ruling class in this country.
Even the rulers and bourgeois media have now discovered that there's something wrong with how the police have treated African people. Just a few weeks ago, they were being hailed, the police that is, as these warriors, domestic warriors. They [the police] stand between the decent civilized people against the unwashed hordes, usually being Africans and Mexicans, and the so-called illegal immigrants who are storming the walls trying to come into this country or come into white communities someplace.
Today we see that has been changed. The thousands and perhaps millions of people who have been in motion inside this country, have been joined by masses of people around the world who are now able to call out the United States for what it is.
The U.S. foreign policy is being adversely affected by its loss of what was perceived by many to be some kind of moral statute that would allow the United States to travel the world and be able to initiate brutality and police terror. [To initiate] a military aggression for starvation against peoples because according to the United States, they [the peoples of the world] did not observe common democratic principles that the United States, and what they call the West [i.e.] the white world, so herald[ed] and were so responsible for.
That's increasingly difficult to do.
We see people who have expressed solidarity with the struggles of African people in this country [and] on battlefields in Syria. We see people in Iran, in Venezuela, all around the world expressing solidarity with African people and denouncing the U.S. treatment of African people.
Even the United Nations or the Secretary General of the United Nations has come out and challenged the United States to force treatment against African people and the European Union has cautiously stepped forward to say that the United States has had to be cautious in terms of how it is treating African people and people who are protesting.
So this moral high-ground that, at one juncture, the U.S. appeared to have to many people, [has changed] from the 1950s and 60s when the whole world recognized the United States [mistreating] Africans particularly because of the struggles we were involved in throughout the southern parts of the United States and other places. The people were able to see Armed Forces, military police forces in the South, who were attacking our people.
Their people saw and heard about our churches being bombed for simply trying to register to vote, to register to join the Democratic Party, which itself is a colonial capitalist organization. And now it seems to be that way again.
I remember the 1960s when the United States government because of the courage, the heroic struggles of the people of Vietnam who crushed the powerful U.S. military and who destroyed the notion that as they used to sing, when I was a child in school, that “the old flag never touches the ground.”
The Vietnamese crushed the U.S. military [and] destroyed that notion of the heroic white man who would overturn, overcome anything to be victorious against the rest of us.
And then because of their struggles and because of the incredible organizing political work they had done, that is to say the Vietnamese, the peoples inside the United States and around the world stood up in solidarity with the people of Vietnam. And the U.S. soldiers were seen for what they really are.
Of course the Africans in this country were among the first to refuse to go to war to fight against those colonized people. It was [the] Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; I was a member of that organization, that first came out in opposition to the Vietnam War and participation in the Vietnam War.
It was the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee that was saying, “Hell no we won't go!” It was that which actually influenced a young man who would become Muhammad Ali to say that, “ain't no Vietnamese ever called me nigger” and refused to go.
And then the U.S. military forces, your cousins and mine, and white people who were coming back from the war were spat upon and were treated in a disgusting way.
Even while in Vietnam, U.S. soldiers, many of them, were made conscious. Part of that was the work of the Vietnamese people, who would help Vietnamese troops raise the question of, “Why the hell are you here fighting against us in Vietnam when as badly as Africans are being treated in the U.S.?”
And we were reminded that Ho Chi Minh himself, who has been characterized as the father of the Vietnamese nation, certainly subsequent to the defeat of U.S. imperialism; [it was] Ho Chi Minh himself, when in the U.S. as a worker, had actually attended on a regular basis, the meetings held at Liberty Hall over Marcus Garvey there in New York.
So he understood quite well the contradictions that we were faced here in the United States as a colonized people.
And the Vietnamese were able to call on colonized people, Africans, who were fighting for the colonizer inside Vietnam against their right to be free.
And so when the U.S. troops would come back, they were treated with a tremendous amount of disrespect.
Except there was a difference because African soldiers invented a game that they called “fragging” where the U.S. African soldiers would actually take fragmentation grenades, as they were called, and sometimes throw them into the tents of their officers.
In Vietnam, African people represented something like 50 to 65 percent of the troops who were on the front line fighting against the colonized Vietnamese people.
So you had the colonized Africans who were fighting against colonized Vietnamese. And before the U.S. took up the mantle and before the Vietnamese people crushed the French in 1954, there was French colonialism that dominated that people.
Seventy-one percent of the so-called French troops were people who France had colonized in northern Africa and other places like that.
So the French were able to use colonial subjects who, in many instances, were recognized or characterized as French by the French. They would say that these were French citizens; these colonial subjects had been subjugated and dominated by France for hundreds of years and now they [the French] would deploy these forces to fight against the other colonized people in Vietnam.
And then in the case of the United States, it was Africans who constituted from 50 to 65 percent of the troops on the front lines fighting against the people in Vietnam.
We’re colonized in the United States and they’re colonized in Vietnam. And they're fighting like hell to get out of their colonial situation.
Of course, at the same time, revolutionary movement was happening inside the United States: Black Panther Party, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, [and] various other revolutionary organizations.
The Junta of Militant Organizations were making fierce struggle against the United States. [JOMO] forced the United States to have to fight on several different fronts and it [the U.S.] couldn't do it successfully.
The fact that the United States had to not only fight in Vietnam, but had to fight against us in the barrios in the western part of the United States [and] had to fight against us throughout the African colonies in this country that stretched their forces so thin that they had to find a way to get the hell out of Vietnam, and the Vietnamese were helping them to leave hurriedly.
So this was an incredible moment in history and it is something that contributes to an understanding of the significance of the unity of the African people and the Mexican people in the struggle that we’re involved in right now.
We see a high tide of resistance similar to what we saw in the 1960s and it is a place, a time where unlike the 60s however, we don't see as many organized forces [that] are contributing to the leadership of the revolutionary movement.
In the 1960s, you heard the cry, the demand for Black Power, black people in control of our own lives. We don't hear as clearly that kind of unity in articulation today.
And that's one of the reasons this relationship between the African People’s Socialist Party and Unión del Barrio is so important. From this relationship between Mexicans and Africans in this country and around the world is so important.
We want to be able to continue contributing to some coherent message that's coming from all of these people who are in motion. We are in motion; we have been participating in many of the mobilizations throughout the country and throughout the world.
In fact, we've had mobilizations against the U.S. Embassy in Johannesburg in South Africa [and] we have had mobilizations organized and participated in resistance in London, England.
So we are in various places but the thing is, we have been struggling, struggling, struggling to give some coherence because we must be able to say, “To what end?”
And while it's significant that police stations have been destroyed; that's a new level of resistance and occupied in some instances, and various other corporations have been attacked and occupied.
And in some instances and in thousands, millions of people have been in motion; the question still has to be asked, “To what end?”
Because what we're seeing is that the bourgeoisie is adapting in many instances to this. They have taken empty slogans like “Black Lives Matter” and we have a situation where any time a cop kills somebody or an injustice is done, we go to the streets and we say “Black Lives Matter” or people do that, and it doesn't inform us about anything.
In the U.S., the bourgeoisie can do that. And the so-called black Congressional Caucus can put on kente cloth and get on one knee and say, “Black Lives Matter.”
This is the same black Congressional Caucus that facilitate the passage of legislation that transferred arms, military arms, from the Pentagon to local police organizations around this country that they've been using to kill us with, to intimidate us with.
This is the same black Congressional Caucus that didn't have the audacity, the guts, to even demand reparations for African people. Now they can talk because they're trying to leverage the motion of the people to do that.
And if given the opportunity, they will come up with some conciliatory message that is supposed to be representative of the interests of the masses of our people because there does not appear to be any coherence.
Nothing informs the people about what to do when you say simply, “Black Lives Matter”. Nothing informs the people when you stand up and say, “Hands up, don't shoot,” to a government that will shoot because black life doesn't matter as far as they are concerned.
So the thing that we've been struggling for all along is to give some coherence to this movement and to show how what we are affected by in every instance is colonial domination.
There are colonizers, there's a white power, there's a foreign and alien entity that has imposed its will on black people, that has expropriated our ability and right to self-determination, self-reliance.
They have taken that from us by force of arms and they have placed us in situations where now we are reliant on the oppressor for everything that we get, everything that we have, and even for our ideas of what freedom is supposed to mean.
So now in many instances, Africans are fighting because they believe that we are oppressed by racism; and racism is nothing but the ideas in the heads of white people.
And because we've been saying this over and over and over again, many of them have come up now with this concept of institutionalized racism.
Okay, “It's not just ideas in the heads of white people,” they say, “it's the institutions also that oppress African people.”
Institutionalized racism is colonialism; every place around the world it’s referred to as colonialism. And it's something that many people are unwilling to [say] because they don't want to detach themselves from the colonizer. They want to be embraced in bed with the colonizer. They don't want to say that the enemy is the colonial State.
And so this is something that's really important for us. And we understood that, came to understand that in Vietnam.
That's what we were coming to understand when Muhammad Ali said, “Ain't no Vietnamese ever called me nigger,” because the same police that was killing us in Louisville, Kentucky where Muhammad Ali lived, were being called Marines. [They] were being called paratroopers and things like that when they were killing the Vietnamese in Vietnam on their own territory.
So many of us have come to understand this quite clearly and this is why it's so important for us to have this discussion and I just want to say that also we know what the U.S. government thinks about the Mexican people.
Some of us are aware that what they call California, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, and various other things were stolen from Mexico at gunpoint.
So we have a situation where Europeans came to this land, stole the land and killed, murdered many of the Indigenous people. [And] stuffed so many others in concentration camps that are euphemistically referred to as “Indian reservations.”
And of course, brought Africans here,against our will, and worked us for nothing and created this economy that they like to brag about.
And Donald Trump and the guy who's running against him, Joe Biden, pretend to be so sacred and representative of democracy for the peoples around the world.
This is an important discussion, brothers and sisters, and we have been played against each other too often.
We fought for the United States against the colonized people in Vietnam. We fought against the people in Vietnam for the French, and we have fought each other for white power over and over again.
Each of us is colonized as they say a Mexican and African people. Each of us is being starved of our own resources created by us, are stolen from us, and [we are] pitted against each other in pursuit of ability to try and live.
And that's one of the reasons it's so important to have this discussion and to consolidate an understanding among the oppressed.
Among the oppressed ourselves [we must speak] for ourselves [and say] that we are colonized and that we will make ideological and political struggle, as well as whatever else is necessary to win our freedom.
Some years ago, more than 30 years ago, more than 35 years ago if I'm not mistaken, an article was written that attracted our attention. I think the author was associated with something called The League of Revolutionary Struggle.
I think it was LRS; it was something like that, it was one of the manifestations of this white pursuit of new communist organization that emerged in a very serious way in the 1970s after the U.S. government had killed Malcolm, killed Martin, assassinated Panthers and destroyed the revolutionary movement for a while inside this country.
And so [now] there was this struggle of white people who “discovered” they knew everything “wrong” that Malcolm had done and said, and Garvey had done and said, and so they were “coming to the rescue.”
They left their libraries and other places and found like-minded Africans to begin to teach us what was the correct way to understand the world and how to pursue our freedom.
And so this person, who was [a] well known African activist, a poet and what have you, had written this piece that was part of a common narrative among these new communists and that declared that the Mexican people didn't have a right to a fight for national liberation.
That somehow, Mexicans fight for national liberation was destroying the unity of what they characterized as the “multi-national working class.”
And we had been fighting that same battle here among African people for ages against these white leftists who “discovered” that when we fought for Black Power, the liberation of African people, somehow we were “destroying” the unity, some imaginary unity, of some imaginary “multi-national working class.”
And so in response to that claim, I wrote an article challenging that because this was an attack on Unión del Barrio [this article] that I'm referring to that was written some time ago.
And that was the beginning of, if I remember correctly, how Unión and the African People’s Socialist Party began to work together.
And I know that comrade Omowale Kefing, who is a legendary organizer [and] figure in our movement, he's passed since, was the first party member to go into San Diego, which at the time was the headquarters of Unión del Barrio, and to begin the process of normalizing the relationship between our two parties.
And so I'm really happy to be here with compañero Benjamín Prado to have this discussion. I think it’s one that's long overdue.
We've talked about doing this for a while now, about initiating a series of public forums and discussions between our two parties. Not only as examples of a reflection of the unity that exists between our two parties, but also as reflection of the desired unity between our two peoples.
Generally speaking, that unity has been there although we've seen, as I mentioned earlier, [there is] this competition for resources that exists between us [and in] too many instances, the masses [don’t recognize] that it’s the colonizer that's controlling all our resources and playing us one against the other.
Today, we want to begin this righteous ideological and political struggle in public among our peoples to correct that view and to also provide some kind of coherence and leadership to the ongoing struggles that's been blazing throughout this country, [and] much of the world, since the May 25th murder of George Floyd.
I should mention, as an aside, that May 25th just happens to be African Liberation Day and also the anniversary of the founding of the African People’s Socialist Party.
So thank you comrade Akilé. I'm turning it back over to you. Uhuru.
AKILÉ: Uhuru Chairman, thank you for that overview. And now I’ll go ahead and introduce the Under-Secretary General of Unión del Barrio, Benjamín Prado. Uhuru Benjamín!
BENJAMIN: Uhuru comrades: Akilé, Omali and the African People's Socialist Party. First of all, on behalf of Unión del Barrio, we want to appreciate this space, this Sunday study to discuss this very urgent issue of community control of the police.
Our organization, as you have mentioned, you know the 35 year relationship, is really based on a principled ideological struggle of unity. A unity that is not just in passing, but we believe a unity, an ideological unity that will transform our society, [which] will transform this relationship that we have with our oppressors.
And so we appreciate this opportunity to come here in this space to discuss this urgent issue. And it's really important for us to really speak to African people, to the African community, based off of this principled unity that we've shared for so long.
And the reason why is because we share a relationship in our own neighborhoods, in our own barrios; we’re neighbors, we’re working-class people that are fighting to survive in this very hostile environment of parasitic capitalism.
We unite with the ideological view of African Internationalism and, in fact, the influence of the African People’s Socialist Party with Unión del Barrio, has helped us also ideologically define our understanding as Raza Internationalists.
We say from the tip of Alaska to the tip of Chile, we are one peoples because we recognize that these borders that have been manufactured and created are in fact settler colonial borders that attempt to divide our peoples from our lands, from our natural resources and the stolen labor that today defines this horrendous capitalist economic system that we live in.
So you know part of the historical unity that we saw and that we've built over the years has come about from understanding our peoples’ struggle for self-determination; our ability to ideologically define the content and character of our political movements, as you have been mentioning.
It's really important for us in this defining moment when this capitalist sick beast is literally dying. It's a dying colonialism but it's in its most vicious, violent form because it knows its own existence is in peril.
Just as the peoples of the world of the 1960s and 70s were rising up and creating revolution the world over, so is this moment today where people are rising up and showing resistance to this capitalist colonial system.
The war in Vietnam, an important contention of power for the Vietnamese people to be able to self-determine their future and their destiny, did come about as a consequence of U.S. imperialism in its continual pursuit to colonize peoples and nations, the world over.
And the struggle of the Chicano/Mexicano peoples for self-determination and the African peoples for African liberation during that period helped us understand that we are one struggle and that we are one peoples in contention for the right to have control over our own destiny.
And the slogan of Black Power, Chicano Power, as an important period in history that now then defined for ourselves what that future will look like.
And so we do share that unity of self-determination politic; that unity, the ideological unity that only an alternative economic political system must be built and we must build it because we, as working people, are the ones who transform nature, in our ability to feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, and put a roof over our heads, which is the most important characteristic of self-determination struggle.
So we can't emphasize enough why this unity is so important because we represent the great majority of people who have worked, who have built all the wealth that is currently being extracted and that is currently being transferred over to a very small minority that is super rich. You cannot be a billionaire and not have ripped off people anywhere on this planet.
There is a relationship of thievery and it's historically rooted in the nature and character of this society that we live in; this society that was born from a system of slavery that was born from a system of genocide against the Indigenous peoples of this land.
And it's really important because the colonial character of what we're dealing with today is manifested in every police agent that comes into our communities. It reinforces the history of slavery, of genocide, because it's practiced day in and day out, on a daily basis, on our peoples.
We do share a colonial relationship and it's important to also highlight, as Indigenous peoples, and we do consider ourselves Indigenous peoples to these lands, as Mexicans, as people who have lived on this continent for millennia before there were any political borders to speak of.
We've been on our land, we've worked our land and we've produced for our communities and this relationship now that we have with the United States was born from invasion, was born from war, [and] was born from occupation.
In fact, speaking of going to the halls of Montezuma or to the shores of Tripoli, it is a reflection of that same policy of colonialism, the same policy of war that continues to attack our people today in the form of the police.
In fact, that is how the relationship that we share as Mexican people came about.
It's really historically important that Africans know that in 1821 when Mexico had gained its independence from Spain, it had abolished all forms of slavery.
And that also included all the territory that you have mentioned, including Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, California; this vast territory that was part of Mexico, and because of this struggle of independence from Spanish colonialism, the United States government and its ambition to expand slavery, invaded Mexico, invaded our territories.
[The U.S. government] sent armies to even commit horrendous genocide on Indigenous communities that have been living in that territory and went all the way to Mexico City.
[The U.S.] surrounded Mexico City at gunpoint, and forced Mexico into a terrible, treacherous policy of giving up our land. And one of the things that’s important for us is that Mexico, when it did say that people can come to Texas, what was then known as Texas, that it would not tolerate and will not accept any form of slavery.
And that's important for us as Mexicans because as you know, the only reason why you know we’re even speaking English or even speaking Spanish was because of this settler colonialism that imposed itself at gunpoint.
And so we share that similar history of being subjected to colonial domination on our lands, to being subjected to the theft of our natural resources and our inability now, as a consequence of this invasion, of this occupation, being considered foreigners on our own land, and that is what we reject.
We do not accept these colonial laws that have been imposed on our peoples and slandered us for so many years.
To say that somehow we are foreigners, that we are immigrants; we are not immigrants, we are Indigenous peoples on our lands and that we are fighting for our national liberation that we are fighting to abolish those colonial borders that subject us to some form of condition of not being from this land.
And so for us we want to also redefine that colonial character between what is legal and what is illegal, these laws that have been passed over decades, even centuries. We define who we are as a people.
And the reason why it's important and relevant to this question of policing is that we know that the character and nature of policing is precisely to defend what has been stolen at gunpoint; that it would be because we represent the great majority of peoples, especially in the Southwest, as Indigenous, as Indigenous peoples.
Even in California, it's recognized that we are now, numerically speaking, the majority but yet they want to continue to subject us to the slanderous condition of being immigrants or being illegal.
And we want to completely change that because we know that in the consciousness, in the more popular consciousness, this terrible relationship that we have with this colonial State that they continue to promote, and fund these massive institutions of repression.
[Institutions] known as the Border Patrol, known as specialized forces like Immigration and Customs Enforcement or even Homeland Security Investigations, which are police entities that are specifically designed to hunt and capture our working-class families: the great majority of them Indigenous peoples who work whether it be in the fields, whether it be at grocery stores, whether it be in every sector of construction, of food processing, and are considered today, in this global pandemic, as essential workers.
And the specialized force which was born from, again, a policy of invasion, war, and occupation, is nothing new but it's becoming much more sophisticated in its ability to monitor and its ability to track and its ability to capture, as well as its ability to contain us in these concentration camps known as prisons or detention centers.
And then turn a profit off of it in the most grotesque, sick type of way. Holding our people under capture in these detention centers to turn a buck, to make a profit and that has been the historical relationship of that we've had with the United States government.
Even as far back as 1848, when the United States used its ideological concept of “manifest destiny,” the superiority that somehow white people spoke to God and said that they are now able to come and expand and take the land; it is that same concept that today expresses itself as this thing called “American Exceptionalism” and what does that mean?
It means that the laws do not apply to the United States government for all of its atrocities that it commits here in our own communities and the world over.
That it is not constrained by any form of legality, even in the international arena, that it can do whatever it wants because it has some kind of divine expression.
And we want to also challenge that idea and that concept, mystifying this whole American dream, because we know that even the nature and character of how it expands itself is done through violent means, it's done through a way of terrorizing not only our communities, but people around the world.
And it's meant to enforce a colonial relationship of extraction and ensure that the U.S. consumer population, specifically white society, can live in a very opulent lifestyle at the expense of everybody else around the world.
And this sick parasitic type of relationship is also expressed in the extraction of the resources around the world, which is what's happening today, specifically in Venezuela where they have stolen, literally stolen, the massive infrastructure of Citgo, which is the Venezuelan-owned refineries.
They just take it because they say so; undercutting and undermining international law, undermining and undercutting any kind of bilateral entities such as the UN, and it just does so with the force of a U.S. military that is capable of mass destruction.
So that's on a macro level and if we look at it in a micro level, in everyday relations that we have with the police department, it is the same situation, the same relationship that regardless of this quote, legality or illegality of people labeling our communities as colonial subjects with their laws, they terrorize our people.
Every single day, our families have to wake up, go to work and we have to condition ourselves to look out for immigration agents sitting outside our homes. We have to be able to try to stay away from capture every single day, even at work.
In fact, we've had to deal with raids happening at supermarkets where the grocer, where the butcher, where the baker have been detained, have been interrogated, have been processed and have been separated from their families for way too long.
And we're talking about millions of people that have been deported even under Obama, even under the president Obama who doubled down on this question of mass deportation and incarceration.
Why? Because the people who were funding him in all those massive corporations that fund both the Democrats and the Republicans were determined to make a profit off of the condition of our communities as working-class communities and try to turn a profit by incarcerating our people massively.
And so this is the type of relationship that we've shared for so long with this terrible colonial system that today, it's important to now redefine how we see this whole question of policing in this moment.
Not that we haven't addressed this issue historically, but in this particular moment, recognizing that the conditions are so unsustainable. The conditions of our communities have become so terribly dire for our people, especially during this pandemic where the capitalists are telling our people to go and die for capitalism.
[Telling them] go and work and be exposed to all forms of viruses without any type of protection, not even health care, access to health care, basic health care.
And for us, in this moment, is to redefine our society because there is a growing consciousness that requires our peoples to be organized. And that is one of the most critical pieces that we see in terms of transforming our society is that we cannot have liberation without organization.
And [those are] the lessons that were learned from the 60s and 70s, that the need for organization, the need for ideological development and ideological growth, as the Party has always said, towards what end.
What is it that we want to see? We want to see a whole different society.
In fact, we don't want to see any more of the United States of America because we feel that it has been a system that born from slavery and genocide that reproduces itself on a daily basis through the extraction of our wealth, through our labor, the exploitation of our labor, through the theft of our lands, through the destruction of our natural resources.
The only function that it has served is to make a very small, tiny minority of individuals super wealthy, super rich, to the point where eight individuals have more wealth than the 48 poorest countries on this planet.
That is a grotesque expression of the sick capitalist system that must be destroyed. There is no other way and Evo Morales said it very clearly, either capitalism dies or it will kill us, and it is killing us, it is killing us on a daily basis.
Just a couple days ago this young man Andrés Guardado, security guard at this mechanic shop, was shot dead on his knees by a LA County Sheriff and our comrades responded to that call and needed to express that these murders at the hands of police, these extrajudicial killings, these lynchings, what we would classify them as lynchings, continues on a daily basis and these lynchings have not only been exclusively for Africans but we've suffered those consequences as well.
And we've seen it in the form of the Texas Rangers. I know there is a baseball team that is even organized to create this popular concept of vigilante terrorism.
We see it every day manifest and express itself, not only by the formal State, by the police, but also settler vigilante terror in the form of these supremacist organizations, armed organizations.
We have the right to defend ourselves from any form of hostile entities that attempt to attack our communities. And that's why we believe in the concept of community level self-defense.
And in looking at the question of how is it that we defend our families from not only the State in the form of the police, the form of Border Patrol, ICE, and all these other specialized police forces, but also from all these other vigilante terror that wants to attack our human dignity.
Part of it is creating also the mechanism for us to defend ourselves that we have to be organized on a block-by-block basis; that we have to, in every workspace where we're at, in every school that we find ourselves, we need to be organized.
And part of that organization requires us to advocate in the best interest of all of our community, which includes the African community, which includes the Mexican community, which includes the Asian communities because we are all the targets of this vicious violent system that is bent on sacrificing us on the altar of their capitalist economic system.
So we need to overturn that system as a fundamental condition for us to be free and we do want to highlight that the call for community control of the police is also our banner of struggle.
And when we say community control of the police, we unite, obviously, with the call [for] black community control of police, brown community control of the police, but that means that we need to be organized so that in every block we have the ability to identify the hostile entities that come into our neighborhoods and as soon as we're able to identify them, to expose them.
On our end, we've set up the community patrols that we've done for several decades now but now it has a very specialized function to expose ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in particular but also any form of police terror that we see happening, taking place in our communities.
And so that's why it's important for our communities to be organized. That we also look out for one another whenever we see any type of hostile police activity in our neighborhoods. That we need to know who is patrolling our neighborhoods.
That in fact they should live in the communities because then they'll think twice before attacking our communities, before they shoot down our people because now we know where you live, at least.
And so I think that that's really important for us to take that responsibility, that when we say defund, yeah defund the police. But we need to be organized, to be able to have a security apparatus in our own neighborhoods, to defend ourselves from those hostile entities that come into our neighborhoods.
And we're not only talking about those that come in the form of these vigilante, armed terror groups, but we're also talking about the gentrifiers: the ones who want to take our resources like they've been doing for way too long[,] gentrify our communities[,] change the character of our communities and force many of our peoples to go to other areas. So we also need to challenge that front.
So community control of the police for us is a fundamental component of organizing the communities and the masses to defend the character of our working class families and transform the society that is so sick and vicious.
And I know I've already taken a little bit too much time but I wanted now, maybe we can open up this discussion and see, how do we advance this concept of community control of the police.
And just to close off my statements, I do think that it's really important for us to go beyond just the slogan of the “Black Lives Matter.”
We unite with the Black Power Matters and that for us, is really important because it upholds also the historical significance of the Black Power Movement which is alive today, which expresses itself through the African People's Socialist Party and which we unite with because we do believe, and we unite with African Internationalism and creating a new society that will actually help us thrive and create conditions of existence that are dignified for all people.
Thank you very much. Uhuru. Thank you for the opportunity to engage with you all comrades.
AKILÉ: Uhuru. Thank you, Benjamin. And we do have 30 minutes for you and Chairman to engage in discussion. So Chairman, I don't know if you wanted to respond to that.
CHAIRMAN: Well you know there's total unity with what compañero Benjamín has just addressed.
And I think it’s extremely important again for us to have this discussion because I think the most important thing we’ve done is to really push recognition that we are colonized people, that the Europeans who are here are settlers.
It's not like they're indigenous to this land. I mean, they've declared that the Mexicans and other people who are Indigenous to this land are somehow the interlopers, that somehow they’re “illegals.”
In fact, they are “illegal” and that's because the colonial State has the ability to legalize itself. That's what having State power does for you, [it] gives you the ability to legalize yourself.
And so, [in the same way] slavery was legal. We mustn't forget that and we mustn't confuse legality with legitimacy; that you can have something that is illegitimate that is legal.
It is legal to own human beings and to work human beings to death for nothing, and to steal their lands and resources. And in fact, you know, in this country there's this concept of, “Possession is 99 percent of ownership,” and that's a hell of a concept.
It means if I got it then I own it. It doesn't say anything about how you got it or where you got it from or anything to that effect.
And I think that to understand the question of colonialism is really important and that's one of the things that make this relationship so important.
Introducing and forcing the understanding of colonialism onto the agenda [is so important] because when you understand colonialism, when you understand you're talking about a social system that came into existence through stealing people's lands and stealing people and then stealing their labor; imposing horrendous conditions of existence upon them, it's a system of colonialism and that's how colonialism is everywhere on Earth.
It's the same everywhere on Earth whether you're looking at occupied Palestine, whether you are looking at the barrios in San Ysidro, some places like that, or in Houston, Texas; colonialism looks the same.
It extracts tremendous amounts of value from human beings. It takes life from human beings. That's the reason you see the difference in life expectancy with white people and Africans. It's ridiculous.
I mean there's obviously no biological basis for this difference. You know that every time you go to an Olympics you see that who should be living longer but the reality is that we have a shorter lifespan, that's colonialism.
It imposes these conditions and it can only prevail through extreme violence. Violence is the means by which this relationship is maintained.
The State itself is an organ of violence and coercion and the colonial capitalists demand a monopoly on violence. The violence that we experience [with] the police and ICE and all this stuff, is the monopoly of violence by the ruling class.
And what is also true is masses of white people participate in this and this is not a racial statement that I’m making. I’m talking about a relationship that exists because what people refer to as “racism,” we define [as] the ideological foundation of this colonial capitalist relationship.
It is the ideological foundation. It is what informs white people. This racism is what makes them willing participants in maintaining the colonial domination of Africans and other people.
They carry out a colonial mission. Every individual white person that we refer to as a “racist” is someone who is carrying out a colonial mission. And to confuse that with somebody just not liking us is to make a huge error.
That's why I think it’s so important, this relationship and this discussion about colonialism in helping us to understand what the police is.
In Tripoli, Libya, the police is Marines. In the fifth ward in Houston, Texas, Marines is the police. I mean, that's what they are called but they have the same function, that is State power that we're looking at and so I think this is a really important kind of discussion.
And also I just want to say while we’re in this arena that this whole concept of racism is really demeaning to us, to other people. It keeps white people in the center of this whole universe that the objective of all human beings, somehow the objective has to be to make white people like us, to satisfy their requirements of what is permissible and what is not permissible.
It's a powerful ideological weapon that's being used against the oppressed. It negates the reality that we have material interests as human beings.
To say that, “I'm against racism. I’m against the ideas in the heads of white people,” liquidates the reality that we have material interests as people. [It’s] not just something that’s in the heads of white people.
How do we go now looking at what's happening in this country in particular? Looking at how Russia and Iran and the United Nations and peoples all around the world are expressing some kind of solidarity.
Do we say, “Well, we want you to unite with us? We want you to support us make white people like us?” That's ridiculous.
And the thing is, [it’s] against colonialism. That's something that everybody understands and we cannot allow them to trap us in this place of being involved in some kind of struggle to make white people like us.
It's against colonialism! And the first line of defense of a colonial power is the police. It's the military occupation that they use.
Speaking of that whole line of colonial defense, this whole police that they use against us and you look at the various manifestations of police organizations, like with Mexicans.
I didn't quite understand this. I knew some things about it but going and visiting with Unión del Barrio years ago and to be in North County, San Diego and to see these Mexicans who, with their bags from the supermarket, plastic bags, going up into the hills and discovering that they were living in caves.
Their families were in caves and then they come down and work on these white-controlled farms, and what have you, all day. Then they leave and go back up into the cave, where they’re living.
And then to be in San Diego and to watch the news on television and see how they would show at this particular time I don't know why it was so important then but they had these places where white people would come.
And this is being televised. They bring their lawn chairs and things like that and they sit on the hills and they have their binoculars and they say they're there, they're watching the illegals cross the border.
It was nauseating! And I'm thinking you know, I'm experiencing this now, I had to experience this, because I assumed Mexicans are watching television. They are also seeing the same thing that I'm seeing, seeing the same thing [of] the white people [being] there, and seeing them [Mexicans] being represented as somehow the interlopers who are violating some law.
And it is a law that they created. They stole the land and then they made the law that says that the inhabitants, the traditional inhabitants and custodians of the land, can't come there without their permission.
So I just think this is an important discussion and this whole question of black community control the police, community control of the police for indigenous peoples and what have you, it's a struggle for state power.
As quietly as it's kept, what we're doing is struggling to negate the power of the colonial State and to create our own power to replace it.
And as compañero Benjamín has just mentioned, that means serious organizing that we have to do. And I'm really impressed with the level of organizing that I've seen that's happening with Unión del Barrio and has been happening for a number of years since I've known you.
I’ve seen you at some juncture control whole educational institutions, schools in the public system. I've seen Unión’s influence throughout those institutions and in the communities and barrios in San Diego in particular.
So I think it's an important discussion and I'm hoping that it proves illuminating for members of the Party, Uhuru Movement and others who may be watching this.
Compañero Benjamin, I don't know if there's anything that you wanted to add to this before Akilé takes it away from us.
BENJAMÍN: I think it's really important, again, that the struggle is not against racism. Our struggle is not just to challenge the notions, again, in white people's heads of their superiority, but it's really to build power because we produce all the wealth.
I mean we are the workers who produce tremendous amounts of wealth that is eventually extracted and sent off. I think that it's critical for us to know the character of our struggle against colonialism, against the power of the State to determine how we're gonna live, where we're gonna live, and what means we're gonna have for our existence.
And the urgent call that we need to organize our communities in this most historical defining moment because what we see happening for way too long is that the Democratic Party somehow is noted as somehow saving us from the situation when it was them who created this situation.
People ask, “Why aren’t you a part of the Democratic Party?”
Why would I want to unite with the party of slavery? Why would I want to unite with the party of manifest destiny or even the party of the Monroe doctrine, who has subjected our peoples to so much misery throughout this entire continent? Why would we want to unite with that?
We say it's the same damn beast. It's a two-headed monster: Democrats and Republicans. There is no difference in terms of their ideological objectives and ambitions and we need to be clear on that.
We need to organize and create an organized force that is able to politically contend. That is able to create the conditions for us to envision our future beyond this capitalist, extractive system.
And we have historical references in this continent. When we see this global pandemic manifesting itself and we see what the United States does as its response in imposing sanctions and, in the middle of pandemic, stealing people's resources, even sending a military to invade other countries.
And then you look at; well what’s the alternative? You see other countries much smaller than the United States, specifically Cuba, sending doctors, medical brigades, sending people to actually cure this and respond to this pandemic and this disease.
That here is an alternative, a very clear alternative. But if we rely on what we hear on the news, if we rely on what we see on TV, then we do ourselves a disfavor from imagining that another world is in fact not only possible but it's already being built.
It's already being created and we just have to find our ability to organize and create that consciousness here so that we can give another blow to this terrible, sick system that must end.
CHAIRMAN: This again is a really important kind of discussion. I think that the ideological aspect of this relationship is profoundly significant, as well.
It has all kinds of implications for what we see happening right now in this country and around the world, in terms of people achieving some kind of clarity about the nature of the United States government, of the whole system.
And stemming immediately from the murder of George Floyd; of course, that's just the blink of an eye in terms of the history that we've been experiencing, but the power of a unity of people here characterizing the United States as a settler colony. The United States is a settler colony.
And then that Africans in this land, what we characterize as a domestic colony in the sense that the rarity is that people are colonized on the same space that of the colonizer, and brought here against our will.
And when we say this, this is really I think powerfully significant because we're not just in an outright fight against the colonizer, against the police, but many of the white people who love us, as Sobukwe used to characterize them in South Africa, they end up supporting the same system in the same relationship because they don't talk about changing the relations of power.
When they're out there, even when they burn down a Target or whatever they do, it's not about changing the relations of power that Africans have with the colonizer. And sometimes because they can't distinguish a Target from a local community grocery store, in our community, [they say] we'll burn that too. When, at the same time, we're trying to create economic development in our communities to contend with the economy of the Targets and what have you.
So they burn Target. They can't make that distinction [because] they don’t have an interest in making that distinction, that's one aspect of it.
But beyond that, the reality is Mexicans and African people have a particular relationship to this country and to this economy based on the fact that it functions as a parasite; it sucks the resources, sucks the blood.
Capitalism [was] born from stealing black bodies, from stealing the land of peoples and their resources etc. That's where it comes from.
And over a period of time, it morphs so that the people, who are now call[ed] Europeans and white people etc., they benefit from it.
So there may be a so-called 1 percent at the top but there's 20 percent including the white people who benefit from this.
And so when we rise up and struggle and then grab the parasite by the throat so that it's not getting as much resources as it usually gets and it doesn't have as much resources to share with the white population, then the white population feels the squeeze.
It [the white population] begins to fight against the system, too, but it fights for the system to get what it was getting all along, before we started rising up.
And so some people get confused and say we’re fighting for the same thing. They're fighting to retrieve what they used to get, what they commonly get. And yes, they do feel economic pains and things like that as a consequence, but all of it rests upon the foundation of the enslavement, the colonization of Africans and other oppressed people.
Marx himself made the statement some time ago that, how did he characterize it, he said, “The wage slavery in Europe required as a pedestal, slavery pure and simple in” what he talked about, “the new world.”
And so all of it, all the capitalist activity, which is what he's talking about when he talks about “wage slavery,” required as a pedestal, slavery pure and simple and that is the colonial reality, colonial relationship that we enjoy today.
And that's what the police and the army - all of them are protecting that relationship of the oppressed, the existing relationship between the oppressed and the oppressor. That's something that we understand and that's something that we have to make this fierce struggle about. We have to make this struggle.
When I talked about how I was struggling with this attack on Unión because Unión had the audacity to talk about the liberation of the Mexican people and somehow that was seen as attacking the so-called multinational unity, of the unity of the multinational working class.
This assumption that somehow Africans, Mexicans, and other people cannot struggle for our own resources, our own right, because it's an attack on white people who don't work. And that's, of course, that's an exaggeration but the point is that it's fallacious.
I think this is going to be really important. This is one aspect of the relationship that's extremely important, this ideological, political question.
And the fact is that America, the whole social system, rests on the enslavement of Africa and stolen land, stolen resources; this is the foundation.
And our responsibility is to make that point and everybody who is in solidarity, unity, with us has to be able to unite with that reality.
That's not even something that we manufactured. You can go to a history book, even lying history books, and they show you that that's the reality. So that's the thing that we are demanding.
I think we have to demand that and I think that's the thing that's gonna escalate this struggle more than anything else; bust that up and, of course, the organizing that we have to do [and] the ideological clarity that we have to maintain.
I was in a meeting in Holland with two members of Unión del Barrio some years ago. It was a meeting of a lot of people from around the world, especially from the Philippines, [from Iraq and other places].
It was a Marxist-Communist meeting. And there were some struggles that happened. Unión and we [the Party] were on a part of the struggle because there were these white leftists that were there who were having the rostrum to speak for oppressed people in the United States.
And so I was really proud, there were two women from Unión del Barrio, I was so proud. There was no space for them, they picked up Unión’s flag, they picked up some chairs and pushed onto the platform and literally pushed the people, who were white people who were supposed to represent the colonized people here, off the thing.
But later in the discussion, I was having with one of the people, who perhaps it was a Filipino, about how this whole discussion was happening and he said that, well it was the white leftists in Germany or some places that funded the damn thing. He was clear and saying that their line had to reflect that reality.
And in this country, many Mexicans, Africans, Filipinos, Palestinians, and what have you, who want to make the struggle, are affected by the reality that our resources are coming from these white people with a different line.
And [that] we don’t have access to media; we don't have access to this and that except through them. And so in order to have these platforms, we found ourselves having to adopt the line that they found to be ok, which meant that it was the colonizer.
The colonizer was speaking through us even if from a “left position.” And that's why I think it's so important for us to take the ideological stance that we're taking now in this movement.
And also to encourage others who are colonized to be able to stand up and come into this different kind of relationship. That's a part of the struggle we involved in and I think that will help to redefine how struggle is recognized and understood in this country and around the world.
I've talked too much Comrade Akilé, Uhuru.
AKILÉ: Uhuru. You guys are doing great just say in terms of time but just really want to appreciate that discussion and if you're both ready we can open it up to our live audience.
So first and foremost, I just want to appreciate everybody for tuning in on Facebook and YouTube and encourage you to continue to invite your friends and family to this study.
As you can see it is incredibly dynamic and we have these brilliant panelists, the leader and founder of the Uhuru Movement, Omali Yeshitela and Benjamín Prado, the Secretary General of Unión del Barrio.
So we first like to acknowledge where people are watching from: and we have St. Petersburg, Florida; Spokane, Washington; San Diego, California; St. Louis, Missouri; Tampa, Florida; Pinellas Park, Florida; East Africa; Trinidad; Indianapolis, Indiana; New Mexico; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New Zealand; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Seattle, Washington; Chula Vista, California; Huntsville, Alabama; Brooklyn, New York; Newark, New Jersey; Delaware; Ohio; Kuwait; Virginia; Flint, Michigan; Elmina, Ghana; Maryland; Greenville, South Carolina; and Fort Myers, Florida all tuned in this morning.
So Uhuru to everyone watching everywhere you are. We have a couple of comments and so far one question.
And again, if you do have a question, you are really engaged in what's happening with this study, you can go ahead and ask your question: type it into the chat box in either the Facebook or the YouTube and we will try to address it live right here with our panelists.
So a couple of comments we had, “Uhuru comrade Benjamin Prado,” that comes from comrade Tafarie Mugeri who's the Chairman of APSP-Occupied Azania in South Africa, so Uhuru!
Comrade Kenya says, “Uhuru Chairman and Happy Father's Day. Thank you for loving me so much and you continue to fight for my freedom, Uhuru.”
Deputy Chair Ona Zené Yeshitela of the African People's Socialist Party says, “Uhuru Secretary General Benjamín Prado of Unión del Barrio. The African People’s Socialist Party stands with you.”
Lisa Davis who is the Vice Chair of the Black is Back Coalition says, “Black Power Matters.” Uhuru Lisa Davis!
And we have a question from Junior Thomas, this came in on YouTube, “Uhuru, how do we address the colonial sympathizers within our own black communities that help to oppress us?” And he is located in Lanham, Maryland, and I think that was directed toward the Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: The colonial sympathizers, yeah, they do exist and sometimes they’re in our families and they're next door and what have you. And sometimes they exist because of ignorance and because you get born into this situation.
You think you know all the answers because those are the answers that surrounded you all your life. But generally speaking, if we're not talking about the working class they have no material stakes in holding on to a lie, to something that's false.
We are materialists and we understand that the material world is dominant. And if we continue to struggle with them; reckon, that is to say, if there's any value [and] when I say value in struggling with them, I mean a particular individual.
Sometimes we find people who are argumentative and they have no interest really in changing, of learning, moving forward. But if there is value in that, I mean we continue to struggle with them because they're gonna be colonized until the victory’s won.
I think that general political education is really important. We won't win every individual but we can win our communities.
Our communities want answers and I think we can provide the answers, and I think especially when we provide these answers while in motion, struggling against the oppression of our people, the exploitation of our people, I think the people can be won.
And it's in that context, as sometimes individuals, if they can be won, they'll be won. And if they can’t be won, they'll be neutralized. If they can't be neutralized, they'll be exposed as the enemies of the people because we won't win everybody.
We win who we can, we neutralize those who can't be won, we expose those who are enemies of the people, and take it from there. Uhuru.
AKILÉ: Thank you, Chairman. We have a question from Terama Thomas Pen (sp?) says, “What are your views on groups like the St. Patrick's Battalion that they conscripted to the U.S. Army due to famine [and] were sent to fight Mexicans [but] ended up joining the Mexican people to fight the U.S. because they were both poor Catholics.”
BENJAMÍN: So during the invasion of Mexico by the United States, there were the San Patricio brigades that were recruited by the United States colonial army to come in and fight against Mexicans.
But as soon as they saw the relationship that the U.S. had with the Mexicans, the Indigenous peoples, they also saw that same colonial, the same oppression that they had suffered under British rule.
And instead of fighting on the side of the oppressive invading army, they turned around and said, “Oh we're going to fight against the U.S. settler colony.” So they fought on the correct side, on the Mexican side, against the U.S. occupation.
And so there is recognition of that righteous position of the San Patricio battalions that fought against U.S. settler colonialism in that war. And it's important and significant because we also do need to recognize those that are willing to turn against the oppressors.
And Mexico, for being a [relatively new nation], didn't have all the arms, didn't have all the weaponry that the United States had accumulated at that time. And so it's important to recognize those rebellions against that type of occupation in that war.
CHAIRMAN: I think it helps us to also understand the significance of identifying colonialism as the contradiction because [if] we stuck with just a race question then that would have been an impossible relationship.
When I was in Northern Ireland, at the time where the British still occupied it directly, and had fortress[es] all over Belfast and other places like that, small fortresses all over the place.
For the first time in my life, I saw white people who [were] living like African people in urban centers in the United States; I couldn't believe it. I mean, housing projects with the sewage flowing out of their lawns, in their yards.
The same criticisms that we find ourselves making against housing projects where we live, a wounded or crippled Irish Republican forces who fought against British [were also experiencing those conditions.]
I've seen them, I met them, and it was really hard, it was really an awakening thing for me to see them living under those same kinds of conditions and circumstances.
But they were living clearly under British colonialism and colonialism acts the same; however, the problem is that even though colonialism acts the same, what has happened is that racism, as we[‘ve] characterized it, has become like the ideological underpinning.
I mean the Irish, there are places in the United States and other places where they had these negative statements: Irish and dogs were not permitted because of their colonial relationship.
But then the Irish had adopted the same racial philosophy, even as they’re fighting against colonialism. There used to be a saying that, “We’re the only colonized white people left” or something to that effect.
But when I was with the Irish Republican Socialist Party in Belfast, they did a press conference where we sat together and they declared that they stood on the side of reparations. They declared that they didn't want any resources coming from any Irish in the United States who opposed the liberation for black people in the United States and made some other really powerful statements.
And the fact is, that the day after I left, the British burned down their headquarters, so that was potent. And that kind of solidarity can come based on recognition that we're struggling against colonialism. They understood it, we understood it and that was part of it.
And I'm thinking about how even the Haitian Revolution where, after achieving liberation, Haiti declared, first of all, that only black people could own land in Haiti, but there were people who were Polish and some other white people who had fought with us for liberation and they were declared black.
They could own land and they could have rights. It's a way of recognizing that we're fighting against this whole [system]. We gave definition to colonialism as something that was affecting black people.
You can be black for the purpose of having these rights and, in other words, you can become a part of what was identified as Haiti and have all the rights there.
So I mean, we've seen other kinds of examples. During the Spanish-American War, as it was characterized, Africans who went in with the U.S. military into the Philippines, there were whole companies who deserted and fought on the sides of the people in the Philippines against U.S. imperialism, which is what we’re supposed to do.
And I remember the consternation that Huey P. Newton caused for some black nationalists in this country when he offered to send members of the Black Panther Party to Vietnam to fight on the side of the Vietnamese, that was what was supposed to happen if that were possible.
Of course, that fight was still happening inside the United States and I guess there's some reason that some people were upset but I thought it was a very powerful statement of internationalism and recognition that we were fighting against the same colonial monster. Uhuru.
AKILÉ: Uhuru! Thank you both comrades.
We have questions rolling in, and this one is from Matsemela, [a] party member in San Diego, says, “Chairman and Benjamín, in California the establishment of real principled solidarity is dependent on organization of the people the State calls gang members and also incarcerated Africans and Mexicans. Can you all speak to that as it relates to black and brown community control of the police?”
BENJAMÍN: Yeah, definitely. I think that's a really important question because what we see in California, the prisons are packed with Africans and Mexicans.
In the past 20 years, they've been building prisons at an astronomical rate and there's no doubt that on the one hand, our communities have had to find ways to survive.
Unfortunately, we've had this horizontal violence against our communities because of manufactured differences that [are] propagated through the television, through the media.
The reality is that the lack of resources or actually the extraction of resources that have existed in our communities is such that we get into this petty fight over territory, if you will, that is fundamentally irrelevant.
That our struggle has to be against our common enemy who are the exploiters in the work place where the people who are attacking us in form of the police, who are strangling payments at astronomical rates for housing in our communities and really taking the resources out.
Those are the people that we have to struggle against, and part of that is building that unity and because of these manufactured divisions that have been imposed, the divide and conquer strategy, those tensions do exist between Africans and Mexicans.
But the goal here is to see beyond those manufactured differences. To find the unity of what's gonna create a better community is actually being in unity with one another.
Because in fact, we have family members who are sometimes black. So we have to again, articulate to our youngsters primarily, who don't have the historical context of our pasts, of our histories, to be able to say, no, we are brothers and sisters, we are comrades.
And we have to create that organizational consciousness so that we can act in unity and challenge all those false manufactured divisions.
On the other hand, also there is this question of the use of the colonial State by saying, “Well look at these gang members,” and create these gang injunctions and create attacks against our African and Mexican communities.
So these gang injunctions are designed really to gentrify our communities. That is the first phase of gentrification: when you create these redlining, these community zones, or hot zones or red zones, as they say, where there's violence and there's poverty but they know where they're at because they know where they extract the majority of the resources from.
And these gang injunctions have the objective of criminalizing our young people. Specifically profiling us, taking pictures of our young kids, already putting them in a system, in a database, to make sure that when, if they're walking with their cousin, if they're walking with their brother or sister, if they're just walking with their neighbor, that they get profiled in these gang databases with that objective of throwing them in jail because it's a profit-making entity.
These prisons have the goal of turning a profit for all those that are invested in this privatized incarceration system. So it's a money-making entity at the end of the day for, again, the colonial system.
These are false divisions, this false consciousness that is imposed on our young people to make us believe that somehow we are in competition, if you will, with one another over resources that have been extracted from us.
So that's the main struggle and that's what we have to organize our young people [around]. We have Escuela Aztlan for example, a political school for young people. It's an alternative to the colonial school system because this is a space where we can create that consciousness amongst young people to see ourselves.
In fact, we had Africans join Escuela Aztlan and they learn tremendously. In fact, some of them even joined our organization. Well you can join the Party, let's build and let's create an Uhuru Movement presence here as well.
So you know we provide that Saturday school so as a means to challenge the colonial presence, or the colonial domination, of the historical narrative of who we are and what we should be struggling for.
CHAIRMAN: Uhuru. I think that's important. I think what we know about each other, generally speaking, is what's taught to us by our colonizer, the one who colonizes both of us. They know us in some ways and what we know about each other, we think we know about each other, stems from what we've been told about each other by the colonizer.
And here we are, in a situation where we have to remember that we're talking about settlers who took this land, stole this land, responsible for my presence in this land and the condition of the Indigenous people on this land and got both of us in prison, in their prison.
It’s not like we created the prison; they created the prison. They created the laws to maintain this relationship between the oppressed and the oppressor. And then they use these military forces in our communities whether it’s ICE, the police, or what have you, to carry out, to enforce the laws [and] then they stick us into these prisons.
I think one thing that’s really important to remember is that we don't just see the police when they're beating us, or killing us, that's not the only thing, they're filling up the prisons with us, which is another form of concentration camps that they stick us in.
So here we are in these concentration camps, built by the settlers, who oppress and exploit all of us, and who defined for us who we are. And we’re fighting for space in these colonized communities against each other and never fighting against the colonizer responsible for putting us there.
And we have a responsibility to try to educate masses of people to understand that, that we have a common oppressor.
And that I am in California because after first being brought to Mississippi and terrorized and brutalized there, trying to escape Mississippi and what's happening to us there, I end up now California or I end up in Texas, where brutal kind of enslavement occurred as well.
And in California, where the Mexicans are fighting for their lives on their own land stolen from them and then [there’s] this false competition.
And in Mississippi, the niggers were the ones who had to be killed and oppressed. And I get to California, the Mexicans are the niggers, and the Indigenous people are the niggers.
And to some extent, some minimal extent, the immediate ideological enemy seems to be the Mexicans and the so-called Indians, the “skins” and the “wetbacks” and all these other forces etc.
So you know, here I am fighting against how they define the Mexicans. The Mexicans [are] fighting how we've been defined for the same crumbs that fall from their tables, which are overflowing with resources stolen from both of us.
This is something that we have to help our people understand and I think we can do that. I'm impressed with so many people who I know.
Comrade Benjamín talks about the schools they do. I've seen the work that they've done. I've seen the work they've done in the school system itself.
How many Africans I've seen who have the consciousness, have been raised and brought the revolution, anti-colonial consciousness. The consequence of that we have to generalize that. Uhuru.
BENJAMÍN: Uhuru Comrade, if I can also add it's like this false consciousness: that people in California, there's been some people who are complaining because California gave a $500 stimulus to undocumented workers.
People are complaining about those $500 that a worker, because of the pandemic, they couldn't go out and work for a couple months. And these are crumbs, $500.
Or even the $1,200 so-called stimulus when we look at, wait a minute, who's actually getting the trillions of dollars in the banks, who are actually the central beneficiaries of this massive transfer of wealth from our tax monies into the banks to rescue them, but nobody is criticizing that.
And so that's why we have to be direct like, “Hey man, we're not each other's enemies!” You look at who's actually getting all this massive stolen loot, massive stolen wealth transferred and it's gonna be put on our backs in order to repay whatever loans or whatever stimulus money is going to the banks.
And so part of the struggle is identifying who [are] the real thieves, who [is] the real welfare state that is living off of our resources.
And in this way when we say, “Defund the police and build economic development,” I think there has to be that question of building economic development. Not for gentrification, but for ensuring the capacity of our own communities to be able to house, feed, and clothe ourselves, and create an educational system that does speak to our histories.
We believe in Chicano Studies, African Studies, Asian Studies, but our comrades who work in the educational realm have struggled for Ethnic Studies. It sometimes is a question of well, what's acceptable to certain people in legislature?
They got upset because we had the audacity to include a section on Palestinians and the Palestinian struggle for their land. And all the Zionists got all upset and wanted to change the content of the educational system to erase the Palestinian struggle.
So those are some of the contentions that we have to struggle within the institutions of the colonial State. But outside of the colonial State, we have a capacity and an organization to build our own schools and create our own understanding.
A self-determination politic that centers those liberation struggles that are happening the world over. And those liberation struggles are also our struggles.
That's why as Raza Internationalists, we understand that our struggle goes beyond the political borders imposed on us; it goes beyond the specific barrio that we live in. But it goes into a global understanding that humanity is moving in the direction and must move in the direction that puts capitalism on its deathbed.
I mean literally, we have four percent of the world's population here in the United States, living with [and] extracting resources the world over and using 35 percent of the world's natural resources, [which is] completely unsustainable.
The only way that this system is able to survive is through violence, as part of its very character of existence is through violent means: extracting resources, stealing people's wealth to live this so-called American way of life.
And that's just completely unsustainable for all of humanity. So that's why we have to build that Internationalist consciousness.
CHAIRMAN: And that violence is the police is the military and that's why we say black community control of the police and raza community control of the police to replace the arm of the State. To destroy the monopoly on violence that's what we're talking about.
Destroy the monopoly on violence that’s in the possession of the settler ruling class. And those people who among the settlers can unite with the struggle by fighting against colonialism.
You don't unite with the African struggle or the struggle of the Mexican people by fighting against racism.
When you talk about racism, you're talking about yourself. When you talk about colonialism, you're talking about us.
When you’re talking about us, then you can't fight for me except under my leadership. I tell you what being uncolonized means. I tell you what the destruction of colonialism means.
That's what self-determination has to be about. And that's why I think it's an important discussion for us to take into this arena at this critical moment. Uhuru.
AKILÉ: Uhuru. So we probably have time for maybe one or two more questions so we'll go ahead.
First, I'll read this comment from Malika Alexander who's our Midwestern Regional Representative of the African People’s Socialist Party:
“Uhuru Chairman. I salute you and what is happening with Unión del Barrio. This collaboration is far-reaching and moves forward our quest for the liberation of African people worldwide. Thank you and Ben for sharing this important conversation with us.”
And the question comes from Nyndu in Fort Myers, Florida, says “Happy Juneteenth and Father's Day. Can chairman speak to the idea of the 13th amendment being a double-edged sword? Bring Africans on the one hand and imprisoning us on the other, with the phrase ‘neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.’ This was to appease southern former slave owners so they could re-imprison Africans back to the plantation.”
CHAIRMAN: He's already asked and answered the question but it was more than the southern so-called slave owners because in the north there was a serious distress about the ending of slavery and rights for African people who were enslaved.
The northern capitalists, the northern bankers and industrialists, were extremely concerned about where these workers were going to come from, which is one of the reasons why they used convict leasing to rebuild the South. In fact, the South economy was built to be much stronger, after slavery was over through the convict leasing.
So [there were] millions of Africans stuck in slavery. In fact, someone wrote a book called Slavery by Another Name, which was the convict leasing.
It was the re-imposition of slavery by another name. That’s what the Thirteenth Amendment was; no favors for us.
In fact, there's a book that people may be interested in, I think it's called Slavery's Constitution and it's an examination of the Constitution of the United States and shows how it was informed by the need to keep African people enslaved or everything about it was influenced by slavery and maintaining the status quo.
So yeah, that's absolutely right, [the] 13th amendment heralded all the time as this amendment that ended slavery; what it did was redefine slavery more than anything else.
And secondly, I just had to say this ‘cause he said something about Juneteenth and there's a bit of mild hysteria going on right now about this issue of Juneteenth.
People are so happy about Juneteenth and it's supposed to be something that[‘s] almost a criticism of slavery in that Juneteenth is those places where we learned too late that we were free, which is a noxious concept, [a] question of enslaving African people, that's the fundamental question.
There was no “too late.” There was the fact is that we were enslaved and that somebody was able to declare that we were free in a situation other than at gunpoint.
That Juneteenth thing, the hysteria, now everybody's for Juneteenth. You see it on TV, every TV thing, all the corporations, all of them, “Happy Juneteenth!
What the hell? It's almost like a Martin Luther King Boulevard and every community kill your leaders and then give you a holiday and a street name.
Or there's a Black Lives Matter street someplace. They give you that but there's substance to what we want. We want total absolute unconditional freedom.
We want it all. We want to be a self-governing people. That's our determination to do that. We won't be satisfied with anything short of that.
And we want black community control of the police as one step in that direction. Uhuru.
AKILÉ: Uhuru. Thank you, Chairman.
And one question that we got was from Artemis Church, says, “How can we get the funding that is given to the police department, the occupiers, that enforce and maintain…” they said “…white supremacy?” but I'll say colonial violence or colonialism.
Uhuru. That was the question.
CHAIRMAN: Let me just say that there are different ways of getting funding for a revolution; Stalin had a splendid way: just a bandana and a semi-automatic weapon served him, and I'm not suggesting that right now.
But I think that… Get you a group of people and go to your local bank and hold a demonstration demanding reparations for what your local bank is doing in your community. And if there's more than one branch, do it into other branches too.
Let them feel the heat of the wrath of the people for return of the resources that they've stolen from us, that's a good start. But in the final analysis, the enemy is not going to voluntarily fund our revolution.
We're going to have to do that. We're gonna have to win the cooperation of masses of African people to fund our revolution, to put in place what even our security forces look like.
You got remember when the Vietnamese people rose up against French, they had maybe one gun or something like that. They had rocks and bricks and stones and sticks and what have you but the oppressor has all the guns and things like that. A single brick is able to get the best weapon in the possession of the oppressor.
My real point here comrades is that they won't fund us. We're gonna have to do it ourselves and you don't need all that.
We see the people without any guns took that police station in Ferguson, took that police station in Minneapolis and other places as well. The organized masses can initiate the process of forging the security for our communities.
And I wouldn't spend that much time talking about how are we gonna get the funds to do it in that fashion. If the funds can be supplied by our people, and the bodies and resources, an educated mass of African people can make it happen. Uhuru.
AKILE: Uhuru. Thank you, Chairman.
The last question we’ll have, and this is directed towards comrade Benjamín. [It’s] another question from Kenya [that] says, “What is the relationship Unión del Barrio has with the struggle of the Native people in these reservations?” We know them as concentration camps called reservations.
BENJAMÍN: You know, I think that's an important question because when we look at the reservations, they're situated in areas that are completely destitute of any kind of conditions for real life.
Even the land, the prime land that[‘s] used usually along rivers, that are usually areas that are arable, where you can grow crops, these reservations are completely removed from those areas. And so the conditions are of extreme poverty.
Just this past week, we sent a delegation to provide resources to the Diné people on the Navajo Reservation. We raised resources; we made hand sanitizer, got some face shields, because that is the hot spot for COVID-19, properly labeled the colonial virus.
And the government's response to the Navajo Nation was sending them body bags. It shows and exposes the relationship of the U.S. government to these reservations by saying that they want to kill us off, they want to kill off our communities, our peoples, so they can begin mining because that's exactly what they want from the Navajo Nation in particular.
They want mining, they want to extract the resources and these Indigenous populations are an impediment to these corporations from going in and stealing more resources.
So our response was, no, we gotta be in solidarity, we gotta be in unity. We united with AIM, the American Indian Movement in Southern California, raised some funds, and raised some material resources.
We sent a delegation comrade from LA, or what were the main coordinators, sending this package of resources to help the Diné people be able to at least respond to this colonial virus in their communities.
And clearly it's not enough. We need to have a much deeper relationship, and much more consistent relationship, not only with the Navajo Nation, but also other reservations.
Here, locally in San Diego, we've been in unity with the Kumeyaay people of Southern California, here in San Diego, to remove the Columbus statue, for example, from this so-called Discovery Park; a park in Chula Vista, California where they have this terrible named Park, Discovery Park, with [a] Columbus statue on it and we demanded for it to be taken down.
It has been taken down since because once all the other statues have been coming down, we said, “Well, you need to remove that one too!” The Chula Vista decided to take it down so that they can preserve it somewhere. And we said that's fine, keep it, take it off, and that's how we've met our demand.
But now we’re in the process of renaming the park and having the city of Chula Vista recognize Indigenous Peoples Day, as opposed to Columbus Day.
So that's important for us as well, to demonstrate that we're not gonna silently sit by and have these horrendous monuments of colonialism continue to stand in 2020.
And so our relationship is one of unity, of solidarity, and of building our capacity to self-determine our futures and have self-determination for Indigenous sovereignty as well.
CHAIRMAN: Uhuru. I just wanted to say I really appreciate that, and we are in total absolute solidarity as some people in the Party and who would know that I seldom speak without addressing the question of Indigenous people living in these damn concentration camps.
We were on Big Mountain in solidarity with the Diné people, who were expecting an actual assault [by] federal government. I think this was in the 1980s and because they had discovered uranium or something like that, on that land, and they [the U.S. government] wanted to take that land.
And the people were geared up to really fight back, to engage in armed struggle if necessary, to keep possession of that land. I was on Big Mountain. I was there to be a part of that solidarity.
So the military assault certainly didn't happen at that time, but the unity is here. We've, in the past, tried to have events and forums and things like that, where we invited the Indigenous to be there as a statement of solidarity. So I really appreciate that.
And we're gonna be building for a November mobilization through the Black is Back Coalition and I'm hoping to see a very strong presence of all the Indigenous peoples in that mobilization with the coalition. I think it's going to be a strong statement of the unity of colonized peoples on this territory fighting for our freedom.
And so, I think that's an important question, [an] important issue, that the question of the Indigenous people and those people in these damned concentration camps called Indian Reservations, that they are totally forgotten in a general sense unless you're watching an old western movie or something to that effect.
Uhuru comrade, Akilé.
AKILÉ: Uhuru Chairman and Uhuru Benjamín. I just want to say we are at time. I don't know if Chairman, if you wanted to say any last thing before we go into our closing announcements.
CHAIRMAN: I just want really express again my appreciation for compañero Benjamín being here and the relationship that we've had for all these years with Unión del Barrio.
One of our most influential leaders was compañero Ernesto Bustillo, compa Neto Ernesto. He was an extraordinary leader, theoretician, organizer from Unión del Barrio responsible for the relationship that we enjoy today.
And I'm hoping that people will be here with us next Sunday to continue this discussion and to elaborate on other issues that's pertinent to understanding the moment, the history, the struggle we’re involved in.
AKILÉ: Uhuru. Thank you, Chairman. Again, thank Benjamín of Unión del Barrio.
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For history, articles and all the work that Unión del Barrio does, visit UnionDelBarrio.org.