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Reflections on Cuba’s Black Radical History, Revolutionary Health, and Grassroots Media

Semassa Boko and Jeanette Charles

Reflections on Cuba’s Black Radical History, Revolutionary Health, and Grassroots Media

Reflections on Cuba’s Black Radical History, Revolutionary Health, and Grassroots Media

It is vitally necessary to bridge the gap in knowledge and dismantle US misinformation campaigns against Cuba’s realities for international English-speaking audiences.

We wanted to reach a young audience in the United States that is not typically exposed to engaging and in-depth stories about Latin America and US policy in the region.”

“Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” — Frantz Fanon[i]

Radicals, revolutionaries, and freedom fighters committed to imagining and building new societies must demonstrate a willingness to experiment with our strategies. Media, education, healthcare, and governance policies are important arenas where movements and masses materialize political visions. The Black Radical tradition on the continent and in the Diaspora provides strong references in this regard. Cuba is a critical example. 

In the case of Cuba, the roots of Pan-Africanist struggle are a primordial philosophical facet of the nation’s socialist and anti-imperialist praxis. African teachings and Black leadership have reverberated over the course of the Cuban Revolution from its independence and abolitionist movement, 20th century revolution, relationship to Harlem and US Black Power movements , role in anti-colonial Angola, and pivotal contribution to the end of apartheid in South Africa. Cuba’s strategic solidarity and internationalist approaches have proven decisive. 

“African teachings and Black leadership have reverberated over the course of the Cuban Revolution.”

Today, Cuban organizers, cultural workers, writers, journalists, artists, and more are working overtime structuring their new anti-colonial society and combating the insidious US propaganda machine. One of their fronts is by crafting innovative forms of media by holding the reins of their narratives and sharing their achievements with global audiences. 

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the need to divest from a white supremacist and colonial political-economic-cultural order. The global death rates from COVID-19 and the impact of its variant strains on the working classes and poor are testaments to this. As the US and other colonial powers allowed millions to perish and have hoarded COVID-19 vaccines, waging apartheid  in the name of healthcare, Cuba serves as a stand-alone example of justice and solidarity. 

Shortly after the world shut down, Cuban doctors took to the streets  in their own cities and abroad. Continuing a long tradition, Cuba’s international humanitarianism and medical brigades  are a beacon of hope and highlights what we must do to face a world wherepandemics and other global catastrophes become increasingly frequent  unless we make drastic structural shifts. As the ruling classes increase their investments in surveillance and militarization at the expense of public health; rebellion awaits clearly on the horizon. The time is ripe for transformation. Cuba’s people-first model has ensured an impressively low infection rate and will assure vaccines  for the entire island and millions more beyond its borders.  As such, Black and Brown-led international solidarity  continues to champion a multipolar and anti-imperialist world where processes like Cuba’s are honored.

“Cuba’s people-first model has ensured an impressively low infection rate.”

The Cuban struggle embodies a thorn in the side of the US empire due to its stringent defiance, all the while located 90 miles away and as a Black majority nation. And, there is a rightful viscerality to recognizing and understanding that Cuba – which is too often misrepresented by the US as non-Black – is culturally, politically, and spiritually Black, of African descent. As Maurice Bishop , the Grenadian revolutionary and leader of the New Jewel Movement, once said, “Washington fears that we [Grenada, Cuba, the Caribbean] could set an example for the rest of the region if our Revolution succeeds. ” This fear is what continues to fire US imperialism’s intervention. However, these efforts continue to have an adverse effect, inspiring generations of revolutionaries to fight for Cuban sovereignty. 

In December 2019, we travelled to Cuba part of a Black led and people of color solidarity delegation called Black Socialist Strategies for Healing and Healthcare  (see a virtual report back from the delegation here , and a personal reflection by Semassa here ). During our time, we exchanged with Cuban healers, African spiritual practitioners, farmers, war veterans (from the campaign in Angola), historians, artists, and activists. Our delegation coincided with the anniversary of Cuba and the US’s announcement of re-establishing diplomatic relations  under the Obama administration. Unfortunately, these conversations fell short of abolishing the blockade and under the Trump administration, major undertakings were steadily chipped away. 

“We exchanged with Cuban healers, African spiritual practitioners, farmers, war veterans (from the campaign in Angola), historians, artists, and activists.”

At the same time, our delegation also symbolized a celebration of the decades’-long solidarity between the Martin Luther King Center and Witness for Peace. All our gatherings emphasized the everyday struggles Cubans face under the unjust and genocidal US blockade costing the island nearly USD $6 billion in 2020  according to reports. At every meeting, Cubans expressed their hopes for a future free of the US blockade and US imperialism. 

For this reason, solidarity organizing, the media, and reporting on the truth about Cuba are necessary. Projects such as Belly of the Beast   are bridging the gap in knowledge and dismantling US misinformation campaigns about Cuba’s realities for international English-speaking audiences. 

Belly of the Beast (BoB), a “collaborative space” that produces media content and various forms of participatory journalism, speaks to a 21st century audience. BoB combines diverse and interesting content along with a “dynamic and fast-paced” video style. Furthermore, their  events  are in collaboration with an array of radical scholars, activists, and journalists in Cuba and internationally. 

In a world where movements and masses are mobilizing on the streets from Minneapolis to Lagos and Port-au-Prince, principled and incisive reporting is important for present-day struggles and annals of history.

Inspired by our time in Cuba and BoB’s on-the-ground reporting, the following is a brief exchange we shared with BoB. This is an initial conversation about media and movements in this time. U.S. Imperialism is a monster with an insatiable appetite (making Belly of the Beast a terrifically apt title). We are honored and grateful for their time, work, and contribution to the Black internationalist struggle today. 

Interview

What moment or events led to Belly of the Beast’s creation? 

Belly of the Beast was inspired out of the recognition of the dearth of responsible and impactful media coverage of Cuba and US-Cuba relations. Cuba is a fascinating country due to the unique experience of its revolution – it’s the only country in the Western Hemisphere to have openly defied U.S. hegemony for the last 60 years and as a result it continues to face the longest trade embargo in modern history. Cuba also has an outsized influence around the world and in the United States – in the recent US presidential election, Trump won Florida thanks to support he garnered with Cuban-Americans who favored his hardline Cuba policy.

Despite Cuba’s importance, media coverage is severely lacking. In our initial conversations about the possibility of starting our own media organization, we decided that we wanted to break with the model of parachute journalism, by which foreign journalists, typically North American or European, descend on countries in the Global South and report on events with a slanted perspective representing their own countries’ interests and with minimal if no input from journalists on the ground. From the beginning, we sought to create a collaborative space where Cuban journalists and filmmakers would work collaboratively with their foreign counterparts. We also wanted to reach a young audience in the United States that is not typically exposed to engaging and in-depth stories about Latin America and US policy in the region. As such, our primary medium is video and we have crafted a dynamic and fast-paced style to reach this audience.

“From the beginning, we sought to create a collaborative space where Cuban journalists and filmmakers would work with their foreign counterparts.”

Many of our initial conversations about the project revolved around the fact that what we were aspiring to create something that was both ambitious and completely new. We struggled to find examples to follow of successful video-focused independent progressive media aimed at a young audience anywhere in the world, and much less in Cuba. Our mission was exciting, but also daunting. How could we be able to build an audience online with minimal resources? How should we balance our commitment to adhering to the highest journalistic standards and providing meaningful context with the need to reach an audience with a relatively short attention span? How would we form a working environment that was participatory and collaborative while maintaining a unified and coherent vision and voice? How would we make Belly of the Beast sustainable? We continue to have discussions around these questions.

Tell us more about the media landscape in Cuba and what your work addresses.

The media landscape in Cuba is bleak. State-run outlets are predictably propagandistic while US-based journalism reinforces narratives propagated in Miami and DC. Some foreign media organizations try to find an “unbiased” happy medium, but the result is often a false balance that obscures the context necessary to understand a country where every aspect of life is shaped by six decades of economic war waged by the world’s most powerful government. 

Belly of the Beast is trying to fill the void left by media coverage of Cuba and US-Cuba relations by prioritizing the following:

  • Investigative journalism that exposes the political and economic interests driving US policy and the impact of that policy on people both in Cuba and the United States.
  • People-focused stories that are often misreported, underreported or ignored.
  • In-depth and nuanced reporting on a country that is typically romanticized or demonized.

One of our biggest challenges has been getting access to stories. Due to Cuba’s socialist system, many institutions are state-run and thus getting access requires authorization from the government. This is not always so easy. The Cuban authorities are wary of providing unfettered access to foreign journalists, an understandable concern given that the US government has been actively seeking regime change in Cuba for 60 years.

Another major challenge is convincing supporters and allies in the United States why our work covering Cuba and US-Cuba relations is so important. A year ago, in explaining why our War on Cuba series was relevant, we argued that Trump’s Cuba policy could have a decisive impact on the outcome of the presidential election in Florida. At the time, some people scoffed at this prediction. As it turns out, we were right. We don’t expect Cuba’s relevance in US politics and in the world will abate in the coming years. If anything, as Cuba continues to transform and its relations to the US government improve under Biden, Belly of the Beast’s role will become even more crucial.

We are interested in learning about your philosophy of journalism. What is the relationship between your organization and social movements in Cuba and internationally? Should journalists strive for “objectivity,” or something else? 

Belly of the Beast adheres to the highest journalistic standards. Our first obligation is to the truth. We strive to present information accurately and with meaningful context. We are committed to the discipline of verification. However, we recognize that while our journalistic methods may be objective, we are not. Belly of the Beast is made up of individuals who care deeply about social justice and fighting for a better world. Progressive values guide our work, from social media posts to long-form documentaries. 

We consider ourselves an ally to those fighting for a better world and we believe our work can be a powerful tool in that struggle. This past year, we supported the campaign to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Cuban doctors and participated in the US-Cuba Normalization Conference. In 2021, we plan on organizing screenings of The War on Cuba across the United States, including Washington, DC. In addition, we plan on strengthening our collaborations with organizations and individuals working to change US policy towards Cuba and to foster greater understanding between the two countries.

READ MORE AT: https://blackagendareport.com/reflections-cubas-black-radical-history-revolutionary-health-and-grassroots-media

Eighth Annual State of Africa town Address 2021

Eighth Annual State of Africatown

2021 State of Africatown Program

February 20th, 2021 @ 10am – 2pmPst / 1pm -4pm Est

10:10     Welcome – TraeAnna Holiday                                                                    

10:15     Opening Remarks – Hon. Dawn Mason                                                                                                  

10:25     Libations – Dr. Marcia Tate Arunga                                                                          

10:35     ELDERS OF DISTINCTION AWARD PRESENTATION – Hon. Gus Newport                                                   

10:45     Guest Presentations (7 mins.)                                                                 

                Girmay Zahilay, King County Council                                                                       

                Vanessa Smith Garrisson, Co-Founder GirlTrek                                                                 

                Erica Ford, Founder LifeCamp NYC                                                                          

                Katura Bryant, Zola Experience                                                                 

                Domnique Davis, Community Passageways                                                                        

                Majestic Lane, Deputy Chief of Staff, City of Pittsburgh                                                                 

                Emijah Smith, King County Equity Now                                                                  

                Inye Wokoma, Wa Na Wari                                                                         

                Yordanos Teferi, Eritrean Community Seattle/Multi Cultural Center                                                        

                Munira Mohamed, East African Community Services                                                                      

                Dr. Keisha Scarlett, Seattle Public Schools                                                                            

                Cashayla Rodgers                                                                            

                Elijah L. Lewis                                                                    

12:30     K. Wyking Garrett, State of Africatown                                                                                                                 

12:50     Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley – Response to the State of Africatown                                                                               

1:05        Breakout Session – Rooms                                                                         

  • Education and Youth – Hosts: Room #1 Dominique Davis, Community Passageways and Room #2 Dr. Kiesha Scarlett, Seattle Public Schools                                                                  
  • Community Peace & Safety – Host: Room #1 Erica, Founder LifeCamp NYC                                                                          
  • Business & Economic Development – Host: Room #1 Elijah Lewis                                                             
  • Arts and Culture – Hosts: Room #1 Inye Wokoma, Wa Na Wari and Room #2 Vanessa Smith Garrison, Co-Founder GirlTrek                                                                             
  • Housing and Community Development – Hosts Room #1 Munira Mohamed, E. African Community Services and Room #2 Yordanos Teferi, Eritrean Community Seattle/Multi Cultural Center and Room #3 Munira Mohamed, East African Community Services     
  • Policy and Advocacy – Hosts: Room #1 Emijah Smith, King County Equity Now and Room #2 Majestic Lane, Deputy Chief of Staff, City of Pittsburgh and Room #3 Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley
  • Health and Wellness – Hosts: Room #1 Vanessa Smith Garrison, Co-Founder GirlTrek and Room #2 Katura, Zola Experience                               

The Address and Program will air on Time for an Awakening Media 1:00pm -4:00 pm EST

Dirty Beaker- Breath Again Survival Pack in the Age of COVID-19

The Dirty Beaker Series is host by both Pharmacologist, Global Clinical Research Bio-technologist, Prof. Louis Jefferson and Bio Medical Research Scientist, Dr. Metasebya Solomon, giving out valuable information in this age of COVID-19

Women’s Empowerment In African Societies, Before Christianity and Islam

By Nareissa Smith

ancient egyptian women gender parity

Oftentimes when people learn of the status of women in ancient Egyptian society they are perplexed by the amount of human rights women enjoyed in a civilization that existed so far back in history.

On a reported visit to Egypt, fifth century BCE Greek historian Herodotus, surprised by the women’s position in the society, recorded. “Women attend market and are employed in trade, while men stay at home and do the weaving.” The Egyptians, he concluded, “in their manners and customs seem to have reversed the ordinary practices of mankind.”

In a recent CNN article, Egyptologist Valentina Santini said, “The women of ancient Egypt — the mighty and the modest — were considered equal to men” Santini added, “They could divorce. They could own property. They had many rights that women in subsequent civilizations didn’t have.”

The subsequent civilizations Santini is likely referring to are ancient Western civilizations such as Greece and Rome, where women were relegated to second-class status. Greek and Roman women were prohibited from owning or inheriting property. European women in the Middle Ages lived under similar restrictions. Although Santini did not address other ancient African civilizations, there’s a plethora of scholarly work that has tied ancient Egypt culturally to sub-Saharan Africa. Numerous historians have highlighted some of the ancient Egyptian customs that are seen in other pre-colonial/pre-Islamic cultures throughout the African continent.  The empowerment of women in domestic and in public domains is one such tradition.

n his book “The Cultural Unity of Black Africa” Senegalese scholar Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop argued that there exists a cultural continuity throughout sub-Saharan African cultures. He specifically points out the status of women, stating, “The African woman, even after marriage, retains all her individuality and her legal rights; she continues to bear the name of her family, in contrast to the Indo-European woman who loses hers to take on that of her husband.”

Aside from being empowered in marriage, precolonial African society had several avenues for women to exercise power. Throughout African history we have numerous examples of woman as queens who ruled, warriors who shed blood, and traders and merchants who built immense fortunes.

Vanderbilt professor Dr. Sandra Barnes, posits that “women in Africa were “one of history’s most politically viable female populations.” Queens such as Egypt’s Hatshepsut and Ethiopia’s Makeda (thought to be the biblical queen of Sheba) were known for using their leadership and wisdom to protect, expand, and enhance their nations.

ghanian queen mothers

Queen mothers were once very important political figures who commanded respect prior to the colonial era. In some instances, they were even considered to be autonomous rulers. In the Akan tradition, according to an article out of the journal Institute of African Studies: Research Review, queen mothers ruled alongside the chief or the king. They held veto power of the king or chief, appointed their own ministers, and presided over courts that dealt with cases brought by women. The authors of the book “The Swazi, a South African Kingdom,” describes the queen mother’s position in the kingdom of Swaziland as “essentially a diarchy.” In the book “Women in African Colonial Histories,” Holly Hanson writes, In precolonial Buganda, “the queen mother participated in a system of gendered political power in which the mother of the king had autonomous authority, which she used to check his excesses and protect the nation.”

Some African women were soldiers or held leadership roles in the military. Warrior queens such as Queen Yaa Asantewa of the Ashanti people, Queen Nzinga of the Matamba, and Queen Amina of the Hausa demonstrated military skills that rivaled their male contemporaries. These women led military campaigns that embarrassed empires.  Interestingly, the fictional Dora Milaje warriors who protect King T’Challa — The Black Panther — in comic books and on screen are based on the so-called

Dahomey Amazons,” properly known as the Ahosi (king’s wives) or Mino (our mothers) in the Fon language. The Fon were the people of the Kingdom of Dahomy (1600 until 1894), which was located in what is now the present-day Republic of Benin.

Certainly, not all African women were queens, chiefs, or warriors. Dr. Tarikhu Farrar, anthropology professor at Holy Names University in Oakland, California, says in his article The Queenmother, Matriarchy, and the Question of Female Political Authority in Precolonial West African Monarchy that “using the status of royal and aristocratic women as an indicator of the status of women in general could result in a relatively inaccurate portrayal of the overall status of women and of prevailing gender relations.” However, there is evidence that even common women had rights above any known in the Western world at the time.

In the book “African Women: A Modern History,” French author Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch explains that in West Africa, women were artisans who travelled far and wide to sell their goods. She notes that though East African women were not thought to be as active in trade, they were also involved in the trade of livestock and foodstuffs. In some parts of the region, the food could not be touched nor the livestock sold without a woman’s permission.

All this does not mean that Africa was an utopia of gender equality. Dr. Farrar noted that men and women did have different spheres of influence in African societies and that most leadership positions were held by older men, But it does suggest that African women were valued in ways not seen in most places outside of Africa.

Many modern-day African women are not enjoying the same level of freedom as their ancestors. This begs the question if ancient African societies valued women so much, what happened? Why did some communities in the diaspora reverse course and decided to subjugate women in a way that seems foreign to African traditions?

Many aspects of colonialism resulted in reduced public roles for African women. Dr. Ambe Njoh, professor of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of South Florida, wrote in his book “Tradition, Culture, and Development in Africa,” “Most of the socio-economic and political problems which African women face have their roots in European colonial development policies, which were designed to discriminate against women.” He notes that beginning in the colonial era, women were barred from trading, attending school, holding jobs, or participating in the economy in any way.

“Colonial rulers erased the balance that women provided in the political structures of African Societies by systematically preventing them from any participation in the new political order,” wrote Dr. Toyin Falola in the book “Women’s Roles in Sub-Sharan Africa.” European colonizers would avoid discussions of political matters with African women, even the queen mothers, who they often referred to in historical documents as “sisters” of the men in power. Post-colonial governments continued with policies that suppressed women’s traditional authority.

Furthermore, as Europeans took control of African land and agriculture, the perceived value of women’s contribution society was greatly reduced. In an article titled Women and Development in Africa: From Marginalization to Gender Inequality, the authors argue that the “establishment of commercialized agriculture also contributed to the loss of women’s economic power. In Africa, commercialization begun under colonialism, often led to the granting of government titles to the land. Consequently the effect was to transfer farmland that had been controlled by women to [white] male ownership.”

Adoption of foreign cultural and religious values may have also helped changed the way African women were valued. In a paper about the impact of religion on women in African society, Wenpanga Eric Segueda, a writer from Burkina Faso, wrote that in contrast to traditional African religions, Christianity and Islam demanded a lower status for women. He notes that “Islamic and Christian teachings led Africans to deny their own perceptions of things, viewing them as primitive, backwards, and worthless,” a perception that was encouraged by those touting the new religions.

“Arabs, hence Islam, found a lot wrong with indigenous African norms, traditional practices and beliefs,” write the authors of a 2001 paper “The Impact of Religion on Women Empowerment as a Millennium Development Goal in Africa,” published by Springer Science+Media B.V. The researchers specified that “this was especially true with respect to gender relations in both the domestic and public spheres. Consequently, disciples of Islam wasted no time in altering these relations in the areas of the continent they successfully penetrated.”

Christianity had a similar impact on the status of women in African cultures. University of South Africa theology professor Matsobane J Manala says in his paper “The Impact of Christianity on sub-Saharan Africa,” that the religion “led to the demise of African customs, which it viewed as pagan and evil; the religion also led to the implementation of apartheid (to which it gave its theological support), and undermined the leadership role of women.”

As stated before, Africa was not free from gender tensions, and gender equity had not been totally achieved. But as the world moves towards the direction of  gender equity, it’s important to know that the Western world was never a better example — despite how much it avows women’s equality and attempt to impose its conceptualization of it onto others. Though there may be specific Western concepts Africans can use to improve the status of women in relationship to men, traditional African cultures provide some great solutions for the world as well.

READ MORE AT: https://atlantablackstar.com/2018/03/23/womens-empowerment-big-deal-african-societies-christianity-islam/

Black Misleaders Back Susan Rice as Top Diplomat

Glen Ford, BAR Executive Editor 19 Nov 2020

Black Misleaders Back Susan Rice as Top Diplomat

Susan Rice with her great “friend,” the late Ethiopian warlord Meles Zenawi

Genocide in Congo and militarization of the African continent are Susan Rice’s specialties, but Black Democrats see her as a “role model.”

“Rice cultivated relations with every pro-U.S. warlord in Africa.”

No one in high levels of U.S. government has been more intimately complicit in the death of more than six million Africans in the Democratic Republic of Congo than Susan Rice, the bloodstained Democratic Party political operative who is actively seeking the job of secretary of state in the incoming Biden administration. If recent history is a guide, we can expect the entirety of the Black Democratic establishment to support this uber-criminal’s elevation as a fitting reward to Black voters for putting Joe Biden in the White House – thus implicating all of Black America in the largest genocide since World War Two.

Rice is a protégé of former secretary of state Madelaine Albright, who in 1996 infamously described the sanctions-induced death of half a million Iraqi children as “worth it ” to punish the Saddam Hussein regime. But Rice has bested her mass murderous mentor in total career body count. As President Bill Clinton’s national security advisor (1993 to 1997), senior director for African Affairs (1995 to 1997) and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1997 to 2001), Rice was the point person in Washington’s massive coverup of the invasion, pillage and depopulation of Congo by the armies of U.S. client states Rwanda and Uganda. In service to the Obama administration (ambassador to the United Nations, 2009-2013, national security advisor, 2013-2017), Rice smothered a United Nations Mapping Report  that documented Rwandan and Ugandan crimes against Congo, including potentially genocidal offenses, and protected Uganda from the International Court of Justice’s award of $10 billion in damages  to the Democratic Republic Congo. 

“Rice was the point person in Washington’s massive coverup of the invasion, pillage and depopulation of Congo.”

When the United Nation’s highest court issued its verdict in 2005, the death toll in Congo was estimated at 3 million. By 2010, with Ambassador Susan Rice at the United Nations, the uninterrupted genocide had claimed six million  lives, while the looting of Congo’s vast mineral resources financed the rise of a gleaming skyline over Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, a nation that has no significant mineral deposits. Multinational corporations are the biggest beneficiaries of the ”blood” minerals; it is these conglomerates whose interests Susan Rice protects. 

Today, Congolese speak of eight million dead, but nobody in the Congressional Black Caucus is listening. Half of the Black Caucus voted against a measure that would have halted President Obama’s bombing of Libya , in the summer of 2011. Obama claimed that the Euro-American air war in support of mainly jihadist opponents of Muammar Gaddafi’s secular government was not subject to the War Powers Act, because no Americans had died – a totally novel definition of war in which only American bodies matter. Rice was then ambassador to the United Nations, where she successfully pressed for a “no fly zone” as a cover for NATO’s war against Libya. “This resolution should send a strong message to Colonel Qadhafi and his regime that the violence must stop, the killing must stop and the people of Libya must be protected and have the opportunity to express themselves freely,” Rice told reporters . But the bulk of violence was committed by U.S.-backed “rebels” against Black Libyans and south Saharans working in the country. Tawergha , a Black Libyan town of almost 50,000 people, was utterly destroyed, its inhabitants killed, imprisoned or scattered – with not a peep of complaint from the Black American woman at the UN or the First Black President of the United States. The branded faces  of Black migrant workers sold into slave markets are Rice and Obama’s Libyan legacy. 

“Rice successfully pressed for a ‘no fly zone’ as a cover for NATO’s war against Libya.”

The unprovoked war against Libya, which removed a bulwark of African independent economic and political development, was heralded as AFRICOM’s “first major combat operation  on the African continent.” There would be many more, as a Black U.S. administration methodically occupied the continent, from the Atlantic to the Indian oceans. 

Rice cultivated relations with every pro-U.S. warlord in Africa. She was especially close  to Meles Zenawi, the deceased former leader of the dictatorial Ethiopian regime that invaded Somalia with the full support of U.S. air, ground and sea power in December of 2006, ousting a moderate Islamic Courts government that had brought a brief period of peace to the country. The Somali war, now effectively run by the CIA, has engulfed the Horn of Africa – another bloody feather in Susan Rice’s cap.

When Rice was a candidate for secretary of state under President Obama in 2012, the entirety of the Black Misleadership Class circled their wagons around her, to counter Republican claims that Rice was to blame for the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya by U.S.-backed jihadists. Ignoring Rice’s and Obama’s crimes against Africans, Black American politicos rallied to Rice’s defense  as a “a role model to all women” who “represents a rich and important legacy of strong women leaders in foreign policy.” Twelve female members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including anti-war icon Barbara Lee, offered Rice their sisterly support. “We will not allow a brilliant public servant’s record to be mugged to cut off her consideration to be secretary of state,” said DC congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.

The Black Misleadership Class circled their wagons around her.”

None of Rice’s Black boosters gave a thought to her culpability in the ongoing terror in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a 2011 study  estimated that “nearly two million women have been raped…with women victimized at a rate of nearly one every minute.” (See Black Agenda Report, “The Shameless Vacuity of Susan Rice’s Boosters,” Dec 5, 2012.)

Rice’s bid for the top State Department job was frustrated in 2012, but she’s once again shamelessly campaigning  for the office, reportedly with the backing of Obama . The Black Misleadership Class – eternally full of themselves – puts forth the worst possible image of Black America to the rest of the world, with not a iota of embarrassment. Having “arrived” at positions of influence in the belly of the beast, they strut about like any other variety of “ugly Americans” who want nothing more than to be full citizens of empire – humanity, including Africa, be damned.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com

READS MORE AT : https://www.blackagendareport.com/

Black Agenda Report: Bidens and Trumps, Foxes and Wolves

Glen Ford, BAR Executive Editor 08 Oct 2020

Bidens and Trumps, Foxes and Wolves

The fox and wolf parties – both corporate canines – debate how best to acclimate the masses to their deepening state of precarity.

“The white conservatives aren’t friends of the Negro either, but they at least don’t try to hide it. They are like wolves; they show their teeth in a snarl that keeps the Negro always aware of where he stands with them. But the white liberals are foxes, who also show their teeth to the Negro but pretend that they are smiling. The white liberals are more dangerous than the conservatives; they lure the Negro, and as the Negro runs from the growling wolf, he flees into the open jaws of the ‘smiling’ fox. One is a wolf, the other is a fox. No matter what, they’ll both eat you.” – Malcolm X

Malcolm’s analysis of the U.S. duopoly electoral system still holds true. Donald Trump is the wolf that put a mind-lock on a majority of American whites in 2016 by showing his teeth and snarling at Blacks, Muslims and non-white immigrants, stampeding Black folks deeper into the Democrats’ open fox-jaws. If Trump is defeated at the polls in November, much of Black America will thank Joe Biden for their salvation, just as African Americans credited President Bill Clinton for resisting Newt Gingrich’s racist Republican congressional hordes and their far-right Contract with America, back in 1994. Positioning himself as the only alternative to a Confederate revival – and with the help of Biden, then a young carnivore — Clinton abolished welfare as we knew it, vastly expanded the U.S. prison gulag, and deregulated the Wall Street banks, smiling through his teeth the whole time.

Clinton’s second term coincided with a hi-tech boom that briefly brought the Black-white wage gap to its narrowest point in decades — for which the fox from Arkansas took credit. But a President Joe Biden will have no such luck. The current Covid-initiated depression – the second U.S.-centered global breakdown of the young century — has set in motion a deep restructuring that is once again accelerating the hyper-concentration of wealth and power that has characterized capitalism since the late Seventies, under both the wolf and fox parties. As an Oxfam America study reported  in July:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the deep systemic inequalities and massive failures in our economic system, leaving tens of millions of people in the United States without jobs, devastating public services, and bankrupting countless small businesses. Yet as we face our deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, a subset of companies is experiencing dramatic, windfall profits. 

“Seventeen of the top 25 most profitable US corporations, including Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Facebook, Pfizer, and Visa, are expected to make almost $85 billion more in 2020 super-profits compared to previous years, new Oxfam estimates show.”

“A  subset of companies is experiencing dramatic, windfall profits.”

In truth, capitalism has always moved inexorably towards greater concentration of wealth. “Disaster capitalists” take advantage of the system’s periodic crises to restructure the economy to their further advantage. The fox and wolf parties – both corporate canines – debate how best to acclimate the masses to their deepening state of precarity, so as to avoid a popular revolt.  Appeals to white racism – the wolf’s howl –have always been effective in channeling the anger and pain of much of white America, although that diversion may not be sufficient to save Donald Trump from eviction, next month. The Democratic foxes, having beaten back a threat from their confused, captive and ineffectual left in the primary process, have assured the ruling oligarchy that, in Joe Biden’s words , “nothing would fundamentally change” when he is elected.

When the foxes promise to return the nation and world to stability after the tumultuous Trump years, they do not mean stability in domestic living standards or peace among nations, but a continuation of the neoliberal policies of endless war and austerity — the Global Race to the Bottom – minus Trump’s constant incitement of the “deplorable” half of the white population. For Black people, that augurs a bleak future of deepening immiseration tempered only by the rulers’ assurances that Black lives finally do matter. 

The job of the Black Misleadership Class –  who are the 21st century version of Malcolm’s “house Negroes,” only now holding high executive and elected positions — is to vouch for the sincerity of their white corporate overlords and to keep the Black masses in check.

However, Malcolm never despaired of our people’s will to resist:

“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.” – Malcolm X, from an extended interview  in the final weeks of his life, in March-April, 1965.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com

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Alprentice ‘Bunchy’ Carter ‘would have rode with Nat Turner

by Norman (Otis) Richmond, aka Jalali

“If Bunchy had been on the same plantation as Nat Turner, you can believe he would have rode with Nat Turner. That’s the type of person Bunchy was.” – Kumasi

Black Panther Party Deputy Minister of Defense Bunchy Carter
Black Panther Party Deputy Minister of Defense Bunchy Carter

Oct. 12 is the birthday of one of the most talented and promising young men martyred in the massive state repression against the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

NBC television has resurrected Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter with a series called “Aquarius.” The imperialist media has brought back both Carter and Charles Manson. Carter was an iconic Black revolutionary from Los Angeles. Manson was a cold-blooded serial killer who led the Manson Family that murdered many in California.

Somehow Hollyweird has united these two polar opposites for television. It is not that weird when we understand that these forces are part of the state whose job it is to keep Africa, Africans and all oppressed people confused.

Gerald Horne, who wrote the volume, “Confronting Black Jacobins: The U.S., the Haitian Revolution and the Origins of the Dominican Republic,” taught Carter’s daughter Danon at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has written extensively on Hollywood. Horne says Hollywood has done a number on Africans in America from “Birth of a Nation” to “Gone with the Wind,” depicting Black women as mammies, servants and sex objects.

Linden Beckford Jr., a graduate of Grambling University, is currently writing a biography of Carter.

Carter is almost forgotten

Unlike Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver and George Jackson, Carter has almost been forgotten from the history of Africans in America except for diehards.

Bunchy Carter was a leader of the very strong and influential Black Panther Party in Los Angeles.
Bunchy Carter was a leader of the very strong and influential Black Panther Party in Los Angeles.

Yes, the Fugees – Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill and Pras Michel – mention Carter on the 1996 soundtrack film “When We Were Kings” about the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight championship match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, which took place in 1974. And yes, M-1 and stic man of dead prez did “B.I.G. Respect,” a song on their mixtape, “Turn off the Radio,” that mentions Carter. But that is about it.

Who were Carter and John Huggins and why are they important for the 21st century? Carter, then 26 (born Oct. 12, 1942), was assassinated on Jan. 17, 1969, along with John Huggins, 23 (born Feb. 11, 1945), in a Campbell Hall classroom at UCLA in Los Angeles.

The team of Carter and Huggins are interesting for several reasons. Number one, Carter was born in Louisiana but was made in Los Angeles. Huggins was born on the other side of the country in New Haven, Connecticut. Number two, Carter was a product of the Black proletariat while Huggins was from the Black middle class.

One of Huggins’ aunts, Constance Baker Motley (Sept. 14, 1921 – Sept. 28, 2005) was an African born in America whose parents hailed from Nevis in the Caribbean. She was a lawyer, judge, state senator and borough president of Manhattan, New York City. Huggins committed class suicide and he and Carter had no problem working together.

Bunchy Carter, a loving and fearless leader
Bunchy Carter, a loving and fearless leader

It is a tragic coincidence in history that eight years before Carter and Huggins joined the ancestors, Patrice Emery Lumumba, the first democratically elected president of the Congo, Joseph Okito, vice president of the Senate, and Maurice Mpolo, sports and youth minister, were killed in the Congo by an unholy alliance of the CIA, Belgian imperialism and other agents of imperialism headed by Mobuto Sese Seko Ngbendu Wa Za Banga, aka Col. Joseph Mobuto, on Jan. 17, 1961.

Carter and Huggins were gunned down by members of the cultural nationalist US Organization. An FBI memo dated Nov. 29, 1968, described a letter that the Los Angeles FBI office intended to mail to the Black Panther Party office.

This letter, which was made to appear as if it had come from the US Organization, described fictitious plans by US to ambush BPP members. The FBI memo stated, “It is hoped this counterintelligence measure will result in an ‘US’ and BPP vendetta.”

Many feel that the leader of US, Ron Karenga, was working for the other side. An article in the Wall Street Journal described Karenga as a thriving businessman, specializing in gas stations, who maintained close ties to Eastern Rockefeller family and LA’s mayor.

Michael Newton pointed out in the volume, “Bitter Grain: Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party,” a Wall Street Journal article which reported: “A few weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King … Mr. Karenga slipped into Sacramento for a private chat with Gov. Reagan, at the governor’s request. The Black nationalist also met clandestinely with Los Angeles police chief Thomas Reddin after Mr. King was killed.”

We need some stronger stuff

At that moment in history, many cultural nationalists maintained that the cultural revolution must take place before a political one could proceed. Huey P. Newton, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, countered with the view: “We believe that culture itself will not liberate us. We’re going to need some stronger stuff.”

The Black Panther Party led by Newton and Bobby Seale was like the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC). It was an anti-imperialist alliance; many like Carter embraced revolutionary nationalism while others like Newton, George Jackson and Fred Hampton took a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (MLM) position. Hampton openly said he was fighting for socialism leading to communism.

Carter named Geronimo

In its Feb. 17, 1969, edition, The Black Panther newspaper pays tribute to assassinated leaders Bunchy Carter and John Huggins. Click to enlarge.
In its Feb. 17, 1969, edition, The Black Panther newspaper pays tribute to assassinated leaders Bunchy Carter and John Huggins. Click to enlarge.

Carter was a firm supporter of the Native American struggle. It was Carter who changed Elmer Pratt into Geronimo ji-Jaga Pratt (Sept. 13, 1947 – June 2, 2011) after the great Native American warrior Geronimo, “the one who yawns” (June 1829 – Feb. 17, 1909) was a prominent Apache leader who fought against Mexico and Arizona for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars.

Geronimo replaced Carter as the deputy minister of defense of the Southern California Chapter of the BPP after Carter was taken out. Carter left a memo saying his wish was for Geronimo to replace him.

Carter was never known as an anti-Communist. Before joining the Black Panther Party, Carter was recruited by Raymond “Maasi” Hewitt to a Maoist study group called the Red Guard. I was a part of the same group; however, Carter came in after I left Los Angeles.

Carter was influenced by Jean-Jacques Dessalines of Haiti and Dedan Kimathi of the Land and Freedom Army, the so-called Mau Mau. The Los Angeles Chapter under Bunchy’s leadership required that members take the Mau Mau Oath. Here is the Mau Mau Oath:

“I speak the truth and vow before God / And before this movement, / The movement of Unity, / The Unity which is put to the test, / The Unity that is mocked with the name of ‘Mau Mau,’ / That I shall go forward to fight for the land, / The lands of Kirinyaga that we cultivated, / The lands which were taken by the Europeans, / And if I fail to do this, / May this oath kill me, / May this seven kill me, / May this meat kill me.”

Days at Los Angeles City College

Carter and a small segment of people who lived in my area of Los Angeles had an international world view. He was a legendary figure in my neighborhood. After he was released from prison, he attended Los Angeles City College. Carter was my senior and I didn’t meet him until he was released from jail.

He and others, like Sigidi Abdullah and his S.O.S Band, “Take Your Time (Do It Right)”; Rhongea Southern, now Daar Malik El-Bey, who worked closely with Abdullah; Earl Randall, who went on to work with Willie Mitchell at Hi Records and wrote Al Green’s “God Bless Our Love”; Fred Goree, who became Masai Karega Kenyatta and a DJ on WCHB 1440AM in Detroit, went to LACC at the same time.

Sigidi told me that Carter asked him to organize a talent show at LACC. I remember singing the Spinners’ “I’ll Always Love You” at this event. El-Bey was my guitarist.

ltr-from-ericka-huggins-to-john-huggins-before-his-assassination-1969-cy-its-about-time-bpp-archives

Carter’s political consciousness was raised before he joined the Black Panther Party. Kumasi, who Huey P. Newton asked to replace Carter as the leader of the Southern California Chapter of the BPP, talked to me about the LA legend.

Says Kumasi: “When Malcolm X first came to Los Angeles, he built the first outpost right there in our neighborhood. The Mosque (Temple 27) itself was close to us and all of us had visited the Mosque. As a matter of fact, Bunchy and many of the Renegade Slausons (Bunchy had his own set of Slausons inside the Slausons) were the first youth Fruit of Islam (FOI) in LA. Carter was only 15 years old at that moment in history.

Carter was a 20th century renaissance man. He was great at many things and was a poet and a singer. Elaine Brown has written that many Panthers sang together: “John (Huggins) sang bass to my contralto and Bunchy’s falsetto.”

Brown pointed out in her autobiography, “A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story,” how the trio used to sing the Young Hearts’ “I’ve Got Love for My Baby.” He was also a great dancer. David Hilliard maintains that if it were not for racism, Carter may have become an Olympic swimmer.

Brown says while all this is true, Carter was first and foremost a revolutionary. This is extraordinary if you consider that Carter suffered a childhood bout of polio and moved to South Central LA, where his mother, Nola Carter, enrolled him in a “therapeutic” dance class.

Carter’s Louisiana-born mother is still in the land of the living at the time of this writing. She is almost a century old and has lost two sons: Arthur Morris, Carter’s older step brother, acted as Carter’s bodyguard and was the first member of the BPP to lose his life. He was killed in March of 1968. Little Bobby Hutton, who was influenced by Carter, was killed on April 6, 1968. Her youngest son, Kenneth Fati Carter, is currently locked down in Corcoran State Prison in California.

Caffee Greene, mother of Raymond Nat Turner, Black Agenda Report’s poet-in-residence, hired Carter to work at the Teen Post in Los Angeles. Greene first hired Raymond “Masai” Hewitt, who was replaced by Carter. It was at the Teen Post that I first heard Eldridge Cleaver speak. Cleaver and Carter were both Nation of Islam ministers in prison.

The Afrikan Students Union at UCLA keeps alive the memory of Black Panther leaders Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins with an annual commemorative gathering in Campbell Hall Classroom 1201, where they were gunned down, on the anniversary of their assassination on Jan. 17, 1969. At the 2014 gathering, panel member Ericka Huggins, also a leader in the Black Panther Party and widow of the late John Huggins, encouraged them to “make a portal for students way younger than you to be here … Use the skills the university has given you and turn them toward your community … We are all standing on someone’s shoulders; imagine someone is standing on yours.” – Photo: Afrikan Students Union
The Afrikan Students Union at UCLA keeps alive the memory of Black Panther leaders Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins with an annual commemorative gathering in Campbell Hall Classroom 1201, where they were gunned down, on the anniversary of their assassination on Jan. 17, 1969. At the 2014 gathering, panel member Ericka Huggins, also a leader in the Black Panther Party and widow of the late John Huggins, encouraged them to “make a portal for students way younger than you to be here … Use the skills the university has given you and turn them toward your community … We are all standing on someone’s shoulders; imagine someone is standing on yours.” – Photo: Afrikan Students Union

Turner saw the cultural side of Carter: “Yeah, I heard Bunchy sing Stevie’s ‘I’m Wondering’ and ‘I Was Made to Love Her,’ and I used to hear Tommy (Lewis) play piano at the Teen Post my mom directed. … It was also fun to watch Bunchy dance – Philly Dog, Jerk and Twine … a lil’ ‘Bitter Dog’ with the Philly Dog every once in a while … ‘Bebop Santa from the Cool North Pole’ and ‘Black Mother’ were also great to hear.” Tommy Lewis, Robert Lawrence and Steve Bartholomew were murdered by the Los Angeles police at a service station on Aug. 25, 1968.

Kumasi opines that Carter and George Jackson were like Henri Christophe and Jean-Jacques Dessalines. While they were well-versed in history, revolutionary theory and current events, both were soldiers ready to take to the battlefield. Carter made a contribution to Africa, Africans and oppressed humanity. We should remember him every Oct. 12.

Post script

In his Executive Order No. 1, “The Correct Handling of Differences Between Black Organizations,” issued in 1968, Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, then the deputy minister of defense of the Southern California Chapter at Los Angeles of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, wrote: “Let this be heard: The Black Panther Party must never be the enemy of the people. The Black Panther Party must never put itself in that other organizations can make them seem to be the enemy of Black People …

“History will show we have the correct analysis of the problem. The people will relate to the party that relates to them. Therefore, we must continue to relate to the people. Therefore, we do not get into squabbles with other Black organizations; we do not have time for this when engaging in revolution. Let this be done.”

Norman (Otis) Richmond, aka Jalali, was born in Arcadia, Louisiana, and grew up in Los Angeles. He left Los Angles after refusing to fight in Vietnam because he felt that, like the Vietnamese, Africans in the United States were colonial subjects. In the 1960s, Richmond moved to Toronto, where he co-founded the Afro American Progressive Association, one of the first Black Power organizations in that part of the world. Before moving to Toronto permanently, Richmond worked with the Detroit-based League of Revolutionary Black Workers. He was the youngest member of the central staff. When the League split, he joined the African People’s Party. In 1992, Richmond received the Toronto Arts Award. In front of an audience that included the mayor of Toronto, Richmond dedicated his award to Mumia Abu-Jamal, Assata Shakur, Geronimo Pratt, the African National Congress of South Africa and Fidel Castro and the people of Cuba. In 1984 he co-founded the Toronto Chapter of the Black Music Association with Milton Blake. Richmond began his career in journalism at the African Canadian weekly Contrast. He went on to be published in the Toronto Star, the Toronto Globe & Mail, the National Post, the Jackson Advocate, Share, the Islander, the Black American, Pan African News Wire, and Black Agenda Report. Internationally, he has written for the United Nations, the Jamaican Gleaner, the Nation (Barbados) and Pambazuka News. Currently, he produces Diasporic Music, a radio show for Uhuru Radio, and writes a column, Diasporic Music, for The Burning Spear newspaper. For more information, contact him at norman.o.richmond@gmail.com

Huey P. Newton, the Canadian Connection

By Norman (Otis) Richmond aka Jalali

Huey P. Newton was murdered 31 years ago in Oakland, California during the month of August. Because Black freedom fighters like George and Jonathan Jackson, Khatari Gaulden and others lost their lives during this month, revolutionaries inside the California prison system have deemed it Black August.
It is August 22, 1989 at about 8:30 a.m. the late Gwen Johnston, the co-owner of Third World Books and Crafts (Toronto’s first African Canadian owned bookstore) phones me. The news is shocking, dreadful even. Mrs.Johnston is in tears stating, “Otis they have killed Huey”.
Mrs. Johnston and her husband Lennie were huge supporters of Newton, the Black Panther Party and the struggle for African and human liberation.
When Newton returned to the United States after his exile inrevolutionary Cuba in 1977 he first landed in Toronto. He was detained in Brampton, Ontario and was represented by the progressive Euro-Canadian lawyer, Paul Copeland. Toronto’s African community supported Newton and the Panthers had several chapters in this county.
Toronto’s African community was represented by Owen Sankara Leach, Lennox Farrell, the late Sharona Hall, Mitch Holder, Bryan Hyman, Cikiah Thomas and others at the Brampton courthouse. It was covered by the Toronto dailies and even was discussed by Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News.
Spider Jones discusses his brief tenure with the Black Panther Party in his autobiography “Out of the Darkness: The Spider Jones Story”. Another African born in Canada Rocky Jone created a Black Panther Party chapter in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Whatever his shortcomings and there were many, Newton led many of us ideologically. For a brief moment in the history of Africans in America Newton was” the tallest tree in the forest”.
Malcolm X was the first national leader in the African community in the United States to oppose the war in Vietnam. Dr. Martin Luther King later followed Malcolm’s lead on this issue; Newton took it to the next limit. He offered troops to fight on the side of the North Vietnamese. In 1970, when was released from prison in California, his first act was to offer troops to fight in Vietnam on the side of the Vietnamese people.
On August 29, 1970 Newton wrote “In the spirit of internationalrevolutionary solidarity the Black Panther Party hereby offers to the National Liberation Front and Provisional revolutionary Government of South Vietnam an undetermined number of troops to assist you in your fight against American imperialism. It is appropriate for the Black Panther Party to take this action at this time in recognition of the fact that your struggle is also our struggle, for we recognize that our common enemy is the American imperialist who is the leader of international bourgeois domination.”
Newton also raised the questions of the liberation of women and even gays. At that time in our history this was not fashionable.
Nationalists, Pan-Africanist and even some socialist formations did not wish to touch the hot potato of gay rights. Newton did. He was the bold one. His speech given on August 15, 1970 created a firestorm in the African liberation movement. At that time I did not support Newton’s thoughts on the issue of gays and lesbians.
Newton said: “We should be careful about using those terms that might turn our friends off. The terms ‘faggot’ and ‘punk’ should be deleted from our vocabulary and, especially, we should not attach names normally designed for homosexuals to men who are enemies of the people. Homosexuals are not enemies of the people. We should try to form a working coalition with the gay liberation and women’s liberation groups. We must always handle social forces in the most appropriate manner.”
Newton was born in Oak Grove, Louisiana on February 17, 1942.
Louisiana has always been a problem for the ruling circle in the United States. Queen Mother Moore, Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, Raymond “Maasi” Hewitt, Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown), PaulMooney Richard Williams (father of Serena and Venus Willisms )and Newton all hail from Louisiana.
Queen Mother Moore from New Iberia, Carter and Hewiitt from Shreveport, Geronimo from Morgan City, Imam Al-Amin from Baton Rouge and Newton from Oak Grove.
There were 74 chapters of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) in Louisiana alone. Tony Martin pointed this out in his volume, “Race First: The Ideological and Organizational truggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association”.
In the 1950s and 1960s the militant Deacons for Defense sprang up in the pecan state. Jesse Jackson won the primaries for the Democratic Party in 1984 and 1988. Barack Hussein Obama, rode a wave of black support to victory in Louisiana.
The state has also produced its share of sell-outs, buffoons and idiots.
As we commemorate the 39th Anniversary of Black August and the 31th anniversary of Newton joining the ancestors we should remember the words of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Says Mumia: “Huey was, it must be said, no godling, no saint. He was, however, intensely human, curious, acutely brilliant, a lover of the world’s children, an implacable foe of all the world’s oppressors.”

Norman (Otis) Richmond, aka Jalali, was born in Arcadia, Louisiana, and grew up in Los Angeles. He left Los Angles after refusing to fight in Vietnam because he felt that, like the Vietnamese, Africans in the United States were colonial subjects. After leaving Los Angeles in the 1960s Richmond moved to Toronto, where he co-founded the Afro American Progressive Association, one of the first Black Power organizations in that part of the world. Before moving to Toronto permanently, Richmond worked with the Detroit-based League of Revolutionary Black Workers. He was the youngest member of the central staff. When the League split he joined the African People’s Party. In 1992, Richmond received the Toronto Arts Award. In front of an audience that included the mayor of Toronto, Richmond dedicated his award to Mumia Abu-Jamal, Assata Shakur, Geronimo Pratt, the African National Congress of South Africa, and Fidel Castro and the people of Cuba. In 1984 he co-founded the Toronto Chapter of the Black Music Association with Milton Blake. Richmond began his career in journalism at the African Canadian weekly Contrast which was owned by Al Hamilton. He went on to be published in the Toronto Star, the Toronto Globe & Mail, the National Post, the Jackson Advocate, Share, the Islander, the Black American, Pan African News Wire, and Black Agenda Report. Internationally he has written for the United Nations, the Jamaican Gleaner, the Nation (Barbados),the Nation (Sri Lanka), the Zimbabwe Herald and Pambazuka News. Currently, he produces Diasporic Music a radio show and writes a column, Diasporic Music for the Burning Spear Newspaper

Black August, George Jackson and Marcus Garvey

“Garvey was a race FIRST man, never a race ONLY person.”

by Norman (Otis) Richmond aka Jalali

Black August 2020 is here. Africa, Africans and our allies should commemorate this historical event which began in the dungeons of California in 1979.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940) appealed to the anti-capitalist and the pro-capitalist forces in the African world. While Garvey was respectful of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924) and other leaders of the 1917 Russian Revolution, he fought the U.S. Communist Party tooth and nail. Rupert Charles Lewis, the author of the book, Walter Rodney’s Intellectual and Political Thought, discusses this: Says Lewis “The Comintern out of Moscow had a resolution that the Garvey movement should be attacked and Communist Parties throughout the world including CPUSA and South African Communist Party were very hostile. They toned down their hostilities during Garvey’s imprisonment.”
Garvey supported a limited form of capitalism. However, I don’t think Bill Gates would be too fond of Garvey’s ideas. Garvey put a limit of how much profit an individual and a corporation could earn. He said an individual could earn two million dollars and a corporation only five. In 2020 this would be roughly ($60 million dollars). This would make the One Percenter bust out in laugher.
“Huey P. Newton (February 17, 1942 – August 22, 1989), who founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense with Bobby Seale, counted Garvey among his heroes.”
Garvey’s position on race was more complex than has been presented. He was a race FIRST man, never a race ONLY person. David Brundage, Professor and Graduate Program Director, History Department, University of California, Santa Cruz reveals:
“Most surprising of all in light of the deep currents of anti-black racism that ran through the history of the Irish in America was the enthusiasm of Marcus Garvey and other African-American protest leaders for the Irish cause.”
It may come as a surprise to many that Huey P. Newton (February 17, 1942 – August 22, 1989), who founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense with Bobby Seale, counted Garvey among his heroes. Also, the Field Marshal of the Black Panther Party, George Jackson (September 23, 1941 – August 21, 1971) was a student of Garvey, and at one point in his political development actually wanted to go fight in Africa. Newton and Jackson were among the anti-capitalist forces that admired Garvey.
Newton wrote about Garvey in his volume, To Die for the People. He wrote: “Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X were the two Black men of the 20th century who posed an implacable challenge to both the oppressor and the endorsed spokesmen.” Newton recognized and acknowledged that Garvey was a threat to the power structures in the USA and Western Europe. Jackson also shared Garvey’s hatred for Europe’s hand in the underdevelopment of Africa.
James Carr was one of Jackson’s allies in prison. Carr wrote in his autobiography Bad, about the political changes Jackson went through in prison:
“He (Jackson) had become convinced that there would never be any social change in this country, that everyone, Blacks included, had been too brainwashed. He believed that our only hope lay in going back to Africa to participate in the political struggles going on there. George had studied Pan-Africanism and thoroughly mastered African history while I was away. According to George, the new Black man was being formed in the struggles for national liberation going on in the Portuguese colonies of Angola, Guinea and Mozambique.”
“George Jackson also shared Garvey’s hatred for Europe’s hand in the underdevelopment of Africa.”
This was where the highest principles of justice and equality were being put into practice: “To promote his ideas, George had started giving political education classes to the Pack (a group of Black convicts joined together for survival inside Soledad prison); each dude had to read a certain amount of material by Garvey and other nationalists and different things from Pan-African magazines George had collected… Africa was on our minds, but we had plenty to worry about right where we were, too.”
Ironically, it was the African liberation movements in the Portuguese colonies plus Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) South West Africa (Namibia) and South Africa that helped turn many Africans in the West to anti-capitalist politics. Amilcar Cabral, the central leader of the struggle in Guinea-Bissau, told Africans in the West that the best thing they could do for Africans struggling against colonialism was fight their governments where they lived.
Jackson was one of many who decided to fight for Africa where they were. Walter Rodney was moved by Jackson’s politics. Rupert Charles Lewis’ book, Walter Rodney’s Intellectual and Political Thought, mentions how Rodney respected Jackson:
“Many of the lectures he gave in the US in the 1970s were concerned with the relevance of Marxism to Africa and the Third World. In his essay on George Jackson, written in Dar es Salaam, he demonstrated the merits of his approach which grasped both class and race dynamics of the Black experience in the US.”
African communities around the globe should find creative ways to commemorate all the historical events that take place in August. Emancipation Day, August 1 is an important day in the history of millions of Africa’s children. This is an important moment for those who fought against the Empire in Britain. The sun has forever set on the British Empire and U.S. Empire is declining every day. August 17 is the birthday of Garvey and it should be remembered. Also, August 7 and August 21 are important in the revolutionary calendar of African people. George Jackson’s younger brother, 17-year-old Jonathan, was killed by police gunfire on August 7, 1970 as he attempted to free James McClain, William Christmas and Ruchell Cinque Magee from a courthouse in Marin County, California. Magee was the only survivor of the Marin County slave rebellion, and is the longest serving political prisoner in the USA.
“Amilcar Cabral told Africans in the West that the best thing they could do for Africans struggling against colonialism was fight their governments where they lived.“
As we reflect on the lives of Garvey, Rodney, George and Jonathan Jackson we must also remember Magee. He can be contacted: Ruchell Magee, A-902051, CMC P.O. Box 8103, San Luis Obispo, and CA 93409. We cannot allow Ruchcell Magee to die in prison. Every effort should be made to free Magee and all political prisoners inside the United States.
In an unpublished commentary on an earlier version of this article, Richard Sutherland writes:
“Any discussion of Garvey must do so dialectically, in motion, looking at the strengths and weaknesses of Garvey and showing how subsequent generations promoted the strengths yet transcended the weaknesses.
“In the first paragraph, you pointed out the contradiction in Garvey but showed the two possibilities emanating from this contradiction (pro- or anti- capitalist) and (correctly) focused your attention on the revolutionary legacy that flowed from GARVEY. Objectively, this is the correct way of dealing with Garvey, especially if we call ourselves progressive which implies FORWARD MOVEMENT!
“As you point out, Huey and George represented the revolutionary aspects of what Garvey wasn’t, yet manifested the spiritual and emotional relevance of what Garvey was.
“Again, it was Garvey’s emphasis on Africa that stimulated future generation of revolutionary Africans to “look to Africa” for inspiration. And we did! As you’ve shown, Huey and George were inspired by revolutionaries in Africa who looked like GARVEY in the form of Amilcar Cabral and others. They adopted their Garveyism to Marxism and their Marxism to Garveyism, analysing their concrete conditions. Huey and George saw how revolutionary Africans on the Continent were struggling to realize one of Garvey’s dreams of a free and liberated Africa for Africans and incorporated some of the new and progressives ideas that were lacking in Garvey. Again, Garvey transcended. This is the dialectical negation!
“Dialectically, we start with Garvey and end with his revolutionary progeny! You did! You started with Garvey and ended with BLACK AUGUST! This is necessary to properly understand Garvey and his contribution to the further development of the PROGRESSIVE struggle of oppressed Africans and other oppressed people.”

Norman (Otis) Richmond, aka Jalali, was born in Arcadia, Louisiana, and grew up in Los Angeles. He left Los Angles after refusing to fight in Vietnam because he felt that, like the Vietnamese, Africans in the United States were colonial subjects. After leaving Los Angeles in the 1960s Richmond moved to Toronto, where he co-founded the Afro American Progressive Association, one of the first Black Power organizations in that part of the world. Before moving to Toronto permanently, Richmond worked with the Detroit-based League of Revolutionary Black Workers. He was the youngest member of the central staff. When the League split he joined the African People’s Party. In 1992, Richmond received the Toronto Arts Award. In front of an audience that included the mayor of Toronto, Richmond dedicated his award to Mumia Abu-Jamal, Assata Shakur, Geronimo Pratt, the African National Congress of South Africa, and Fidel Castro and the people of Cuba. In 1984 he co-founded the Toronto Chapter of the Black Music Association with Milton Blake. Richmond began his career in journalism at the African Canadian weekly Contrast which was owned by Al Hamilton. He went on to be published in the Toronto Star, the Toronto Globe & Mail, the National Post, the Jackson Advocate, Share, the Islander, the Black American, Pan African News Wire, and Black Agenda Report. Internationally he has written for the United Nations, the Jamaican Gleaner, the Nation (Barbados),the Nation (Sri Lanka), the Zimbabwe Herald and Pambazuka News. Currently, he produces Diasporic Music a radio show for http://blackpower96.org/http://www.theburningspear.com/uhuru-radio and Radio Regent http://www.radioregent.com/ and writes a column, Diasporic Music for the Burning Spear Newspaper.
For more informantion norman.o.richmond@gmail.com

Norman Richmond: on Afro-Canadian History

Remembering Garfield Belfon Fourteen Year –Old youth killed by Toronto Police in 1953


Norman (Otis) Richmond aka Jalali




“The police become necessary in human society only at that junction of human society when it is split between those who have and those who ain’t got.” — Omali Yeshitela, Chairman African People’s Socialist Party


Before Black Lives Matter Toronto there was the Black Action Defense Committee (BADC). Sherona Hall, Dudley Laws, Charles Roach, and Lennox Farrell founded BADC). These groups were created to deal with the question of police brutally in the Canadian context. 

Little or nothing has recently been written or discussed about the shooting of a 14 year- old Black youth in Toronto in the 1950s. The front page of the Nov. 30, 1953 edition of the Toronto Daily Star could have been written in 2018. The headline reads “Charge P.C. As Boy, 14 Shot Died.” This event took place in the basement of the S.S. White Co. dental building at 250 College Street. The officer had never fired his gun on duty before, told detectives that his gun went off when a pile of packing boxes toppled toward him. The bullet hit Belfon in the neck, killing him almost instantly. Press reports repeatedly said that the police officers’ gun went off accidentally. It is noteworthy that the Star reported, “Belfon was the second person killed in four months by police gunfire. George Hurst was shot jumping over a fence in an attempted burglary in the east end. Constable Earl Snyder charged with manslaughter was freed at the preliminary hearing.”
Three other youths were found in the building at the same time as Belfon. Frank Fuzz, George Marshall and Douglas Richardson all were 16 and were charged with shop breaking. Many will know Douglas as Dougie Richardson who went on to become one of Canada’s foremost jazz artists.

Dougie Richardson
The Toronto Star’s Ashante Infantry wrote in Richardson’s 2007 obituary: “A veteran who’d worked with stellar acts such as Freddie Hubbard and the O’Jays, Richardson was best known as co-leader of the award-winning hard bop group Kollage with boyhood pal drummer Archie Alleyne.” It should be remembered that Richardson also worked with the legendary Chicago comedian/actor Bernie Mac.

Dougie’s father Sam Richardson was a legendary Track and Field athlete. At 15, in London’s Commonwealth Games in 1934, he won his gold medal in the long jump with a leap of 23 feet 8 inches (7.21 metres), and silver in the triple jump. I wrote an article about Richardson for the Globe and Mail in 1983. The late Gwen Johnston reflected on this historical event. I wrote: “Gwen Johnston, a co-proprietor of Third World Books and Crafts and Richardson’s first cousin, remembers how Toronto’s small but enthusiastic black community reacted to Richardson’s victory when he returned. Says Johnston: “You couldn’t get to him, the crowd was so great at Union Station. The community welcomed their young son home. We had a big reception for him at a place called Belvin Hall, which was on College near Spadina. I’ll never forget it.”
A historical event took place on February 15th. A Street in downtown Toronto was named Sam Richardson Way. That day also happened to be Richardson’s oldest son Norman Richardson’s 80th birthday.
he killing of Belfon was headline news in the corporate press in Toronto. Nineteen Fifty-Three was a deplorable year for African people in Canada and the people of the world – period. The year of Belfon’s death was also the same year that the immortal James Baldwin’s award winning semi-autobiographical novel Go Tell It on the Mountain was published.
The Cold War was pretty hot. Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes President of the Empire. Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union dies. The Land and Freedom Army so-called Mau Mau were on the move in Kenya. General elections were held in “British Guyana” April 27, 1953. They were the first held under universal suffrage and resulted in a victory for the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which won 18 of the 24 seats in the new House of Assembly. Its leader, Cheddi Jagan, became Prime Minister.
In the US Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed. They were accused of conspiring to commit espionage and passing nuclear weapons secrets to Russian agents. In the United States the first color television sets go on sale, for around $1,175. The New York Yankees defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers who had Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella on their roster. The Yankees were white, on white, in white.

            Bromely Armstrong


Bromely Armstrong came to Canada from Jamaica in 1947. Armstrong remembers the merits and demerits of living in Canada. There were issues with the police when he came here. He talks about this in Bromley Memoirs of Bromley L. Armstrong by Sheldon Taylor. Says Armstrong: “Before the Buddy Evans shooting, some police officers allegedly would abuse and brutalize minorities and First Nation’ peoples. However, in such instances care seemed to have taken by those police officers to ensure that their somewhat racially motivated actions were not fatal. This was not the case with the 1950s Belfonshooting. 
James Belfon was a barber with a business located near Huron and Dundas streets in Toronto. His son Garfield was shot as it is alleged, when he and a number of other youths were caught in the act of breaking and entering a dental warehouse in Toronto.
A Toronto Chapter of Black Lives Matter was organized in 2013. BADC was founded in 1988 in response to the killing of Lester Donaldson a Jamaican born Canadian, which was the last straw in a series of police shootings of Black men in Toronto. B. Denham Jolly came to Toronto for the first time in 1956. Jolly reflected on how the shooting of Buddy Evans, a 24 year old Nova Scotia born man affected Toronto’s Black community.
Evans was shot dead by a police officer in 1978 during a fight at a Toronto disco. This event led to an 11-week inquest and mobilized African Canadians. The government responded by creating a civilian complaints commission pilot project in the 1980s. Jolly tells the story in his award winning memoir, In The Black: My Life.
The African People’s Socialist Party has declared February 21th as the Day of the African Martyr. El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) was killed inside the Audubon Ballroom in New York City on February 21, 1965. “The African People’s Socialist Party calls on all African revolutionaries of all countries to raise high, in a revolutionary manner, the heroic memory of all our fallen martyrs, of all those in every city, village, community and country where they fell as evidence of the determination of our people to fight every battle on every front until liberty has been won.”
During this time we should also remember Toronto’s Garfield Belfon and Sandra Bland. Bland was a 28-year-old black woman who was found hanged in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, on July 13, 2015, three days after being arrested during a traffic stop. 
Many maintain that African people are oppressed wherever we are. Some go so as far saying that black people are the footstools of humanity.
The great Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh wrote this in 1924: “It is well-known that the Black race is the most oppressed and the most exploited of the human family. It is well-known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery. What everyone does not perhaps know is that after sixty-five years of so-called emancipation, American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material sufferings, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching.”

Norman (Otis) Richmond, aka Jalali, was born in Arcadia, Louisiana, and grew up in Los Angeles. He left Los Angles after refusing to fight in Vietnam because he felt that, like the Vietnamese, Africans in the United States were colonial subjects. After leaving Los Angeles in the 1960s Richmond moved to Toronto, where he co-founded the Afro American Progressive Association, one of the first Black Power organizations in that part of the world. Before moving to Toronto permanently, Richmond worked with the Detroit-based League of Revolutionary Black Workers. He was the youngest member of the central staff. When the League split he joined the African People’s Party. In 1992, Richmond received the Toronto Arts Award. In front of an audience that included the mayor of Toronto, Richmond dedicated his award to Mumia Abu-Jamal, Assata Shakur, Geronimo Pratt, the African National Congress of South Africa, and Fidel Castro and the people of Cuba. In 1984 he co-founded the Toronto Chapter of the Black Music Association with Milton Blake. Richmond began his career in journalism at the African Canadian weekly Contrast which was owned by Al Hamilton. He went on to be published in the Toronto Star, the Toronto Globe & Mail, the National Post, the Jackson Advocate, Share, the Islander, the Black American, Pan African News Wire, and Black Agenda Report. Internationally he has written for the United Nations, the Jamaican Gleaner, the Nation (Barbados),the Nation (Sri Lanka), the Zimbabwe Herald and Pambazuka News. Currently, he produces Diasporic Music a radio show for http://blackpower96.org/http://www.theburningspear.com/uhuru-radio and Radio Regent http://www.radioregent.com/ and writes a column, Diasporic Music for the Burning Spear Newspaper.
For more informantion norman.o.richmond@gmail.com
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