This presentation was given by Comrade Ticharwa Masimba in St. Louis, MO at the O’Fallon Neighborhood Association meeting on June 8, 2019.
He is a member of the African People’s Socialist Party and works in the Office of the Deputy Chair as Economic Development Director, organizing as a critical part of the Black Power Blueprint projects.
Today, we have heard a whole barrage of contradictions presented to us.
One contradiction was around the question of whether this international spy center—the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA)—that is scheduled to be planted inside the African community, will help or hurt the African working class.
It’s important to know the origins of this spy center.
In the St. Louis area, it began as a fortress that was utilized by Lewis and Clark to hunt Indigenous people while using enslaved Africans as their servants.
Lewis and Clark were among the earliest British colonizers to invade this area.
In history class we were told that they were explorers.
But they were not explorers; they were both members of the U.S. military who were sent out on a reconnaissance mission, which is a mission to survey land so that colonizers can report back to the military, the topography of the land to be invaded.
With an understanding of the terrain, the military would then know how to attack the Indigenous population people refer to as Native Americans.
They would also know how to survive on the land and how to divide the territory.
Years later, when hot air balloons were developed that could go up in the air and when photography technology was developed, those things eventually became today’s mapping technology.
This is the technology used by the NGA to map out targets so that the U.S. military can send drones to drop bombs on innocent populations whose resources they rely on for exploitation.
Eventually this fortress for colonizers would become an international spy agency.
This is the origin of this agency that recently pushed over a hundred families out of their homes and neighborhoods.
$1.75 billion was given by the federal government to plant this agency here.
It’s an agency where the average salary will be $80,000.
There was a question about whether it will drive up home values and/or property taxes.
It will drive up our property taxes and will drive them up beyond the capacity of the people to afford.
This is happening in every majority black city across the U.S. and is happening in the name of development.
The white ruling class initiates the process, then we see average white workers move into our neighborhoods with four, five and six times the income of the African population living there.
We see that the disparity in the income of white workers alone causes property taxes to skyrocket beyond the capacity of the African population to afford.
So we are pushed out of our homes and out of our communities.
“Don’t blame the victim, blame the oppressor!”
When the Black Power Blueprint talks of development, we don’t mean “giving poison meat to a starving people” and calling it development.
We don’t mean holding $1.75 billion in your coffers and the people only have access to it under the condition that one or two of them can participate in a spy agency.
We have this economic and military aggression.
But then we also have this whole political structure.
We heard the alderman say how he has to trade votes with other alderpersons who craft bills designed to exploit our communities.
He said that the mayor punishes him and other black elected officials if they don’t do what she wants.
Yet, he also said that he will not go door-to-door to organize the people to fight the very things he identified.
He will not go door-to-door because he has no faith in the African working class.
He cannot go door-to-door because ultimately he wants to ease in subtle and incremental changes that do not jeopardize his ability to get elected again.
Instead he brags to us about giving us speed bumps and more police.
The question of police is also important.
The question of funding more police to deal with horizontal violence—or black on black violence—is also an important.
The African working class, and especially the young African working class, is slandered and blamed for most of the contradictions we see in our communities.
You can’t blame the contradictions you see on 16-24 year old black youth who have no power in society—they are young, they are black, and they are poor.
Clearly they do not wield any political power in society and are not the cause of the contradictions we see generation after generation in our communities.
They exist in a community that since it was brought in slave ships to the U.S. has never not been starved economically and dominated politically.
This starvation has been fed by a drug economy imposed on it by the U.S. government, who then imposed a prison economy on it as a justification for addressing the drug economy that it created.
Those who are engaged in horizontal violence commit some horrible acts.
But the Black Power Blueprint is saying that we must confront the people who make these conditions a perpetual fact in our lives.
We must confront the origin of the contradiction.
You see horizontal violence everywhere you see colonialism.
You see it [horizontal violence] everywhere you see a foreign power imposing itself politically and economically on a whole people.
We are saying that politicians and administrators of social programs cannot pretend they are addressing horizontal violence at the expense of confronting the white ruling class simply so they can hold on to their careers.
The bourgeoisie won’t offer real solutions; the Black Power Blueprint does
We see all of these contradictions that confuse the masses of people who do not have the ability to make sense of it all.
While this is happening, we see a sector of people who pretend to provide an alternative solution to police.
They offer us so-called violence prevention programs.
This is problematic too.
This approach is something that was implemented in this country by various U.S. presidents, including John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who recognized that the U.S. could not continue to stretch its military all over the world fighting brush fire wars on every continent.
He recognized that the U.S. could not continue to simply rely on obvious force, rely on direct rule of the oppressed populations and rely on targeting the visible insurgents after those insurgents have already been organized.
He believed that if the U.S. were to successfully suppress colonized people who were in constant resistance, that the U.S. would have to take a different approach.
Instead of military forces aimed at revolutionaries, the U.S. would rely first on continuous active policing of the entire civilian population.
Police would become the front line.
That’s why police make up this city’s number one expense.
That is why your city council passed Proposition S, giving more funding to the police even in the wake of the murder of Mike Brown and of the Jason Stockly acquital for the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith—a case where the police went to the streets chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!”
Police containment represents the pro-active stick approach.
The U.S. State also uses a carrot approach to achieve the same outcome.
They offer what they refer to as violence prevention programs.
These programs take the onus off struggling against the exploiters of the people and instead, focus all attention on the victims, supposedly in the name of reforming the victim.
The other thing it does is create a paid population of collaborators who look like the people who are being oppressed and who occupy these jobs and serve as administrators for these programs.
This creates a class of petty bourgeoisie overseers who are always willing to compromise with the colonizer so that their careers are never in jeopardy.
Every contradiction we see is a result of a system designed to exploit us.
It’s not necessarily designed that way primarily because white people just don’t like us or because they have some kind of genetic predisposition to treat us like this.
It is designed like this because we live in an entire social system that has its origins in slavery and colonialism.
For example, the Board of Alderman recently gave $30 million to Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
Enterprise made an average of $660 million a day last year and they get $30 million for a soccer stadium?
At the state level, politicians were contemplating giving General Motors a $50 million payout in the form of tax breaks.
General Motors made $500 million a day in 2018! And look at us: we are starving.
So yes we have horizontal violence in our communities and yes we have contradictions of all types.
Despite the contradictions, none of us possess the structural capacity to solve our own problems.
We don’t have power, so the white ruling class bleeds us dry while the African petty bourgeoisie politicians pretend to help us solve our problems by providing additional speed bumps and more police.
The important thing the Black Power Blueprint understands is that electoral politics cannot save us.
The Black Power Blueprint also understands that outside development is not development at all— it’s extraction, exploitation. It will not work.
Others pretend that white capitalists, who they call “developers”, will benefit us if we just make sure the black community has so-called wrap-around-services and take a “holistic approach,” or some other absurdity.
The Black Power Blueprint understands that we must have community, grassroots, self-determination economic development that is designed to overturn direct and indirect foreign domination.
Black Power to the African Community!