“Who Are We, those of us who would build a national ‘black’ prisoners organization? There is much hard evidence to show that as each day passes, more and more ‘black’ prisoners identify themselves as New Afrikans and work on behalf of the New Afrikan Independence Movement.” (emphasis in original)
– Atiba Shanna, Notes from a New Afrikan P.O.W., Journal, Book Three
Across the expanse of a couple of decades, We’ve seen the political consciousness of prisoners grow in proportion with their overstanding of what it actually means to be a prisoner in amerikkka, but also as nationals of captive nations held in partial paralysis by u.s. imperialism. Prisoners have slowly begun to take an objective view of the matrix of u.s. colonialism from a dialectical perspective that informs Us that the settler government holds, dominates and exploits both external/internal colonies. And that the old facade of “disadvantaged minorities” is giving way to the stark reality of submerged nations here under the blurry veneer of a so-called “united states.”
This developing consciousness springs from a Revolutionary Nationalist overstanding of social development. Informed by even the most rudimentary application of dialectical materialism, one is easily drawn to the reality of New Afrika, Aztlan, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Alaska and the Indigenous People being submerged and colonized – whole nations existing under the false patina of amerikkkanism.
The greater Our overstanding of this reality, the less We are believing in, or relying on, the old obviously false social construct of “race” to define Ourselves and other oppressed people. Color, or “race” as a binary term to describe the shallow differences between humans – which has no scientific basis in reality – is not a deep enough, not sound, or reasonable enough, overstanding We can see to explain, confront and resolve Our problems. It’s been said that “the color of freedom in amerikkka is green.” This tells Us something about the false construct of “race,” no? It hints at the fact that under the rubble of “race” is bedrock. And that bedrock, that solid foundation, is economics. Is capitalism. We can’t even discuss, or We shouldn’t even discuss, “racism” without mentioning and combining it with capitalism. For capitalism built around it the social construct of “race” as a motto, a defense and a justification for prolonged activity. Capitalism is the material manifestation; “race” is the shadow, or immaterial reality of what’s casted – as a consequence of the original form. It’s not that it’s wholly unreal. We can see it. The shadow, i mean. We can even feel it, but it is but a reflection. We’ll exhaust Ourselves to the point of madness trying to combat it alone without applying destructive force to the material thing that it reflects. To be “anti-racist” is to be anti-capitalist. We become anti-racists by not using binary terms constructed to promote and sustain “race.”
“Any attempt to destroy ‘racism’ without an explicit link to the struggle against capitalism ultimately serves only to reinforce ‘racist’ ideology and to shield capitalism from attack. On the other hand, an attempt to combat capitalism without an explicit link to anti-racist discourse and struggle allows capitalism to use the belief in ‘race’ held by oppressed peoples and appeal to the ‘racism’ of citizens of the oppressive state, thus undermining all revolutionary initiative. This combat also requires that we begin to de-link ourselves from the use of language that reinforces and reproduces racial ideology, e.g. the terms ‘white’ and ‘black’ in references to the identity of peoples.”
– Comrade Owusu Yaki Yakubu, Meditations on Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth.
In Our developing consciousness, which is necessarily New Afrikan, Revolutionary and Nationalist, We are needing new tools, new language, new ideas, means and ways to re-build Ourselves into a coherent whole for movement and struggle. We are talking about cadre development. This will come about only through arduous study and struggle.
See, here’s the basic thing: if you are calling yourself a New Afrikan, then you are at once saying that you are not an amerikkkan (of any stripe). You are rejecting the reactionary/colonial identity placed arbitrarily on you by the enemy culture. You are implying that you are a citizen of the Republic of New Afrika. Further, this means that you overstand that a New Afrikan Nation exists and has existed, in north amerikkka, at least since 1660. Now, “nation” here is not to be confused with a state or government. A nation is a cultural/custom/linguistic social development that is consolidated and evolves on a particular land mass and shares a definite collective awareness of itself. New Afrika, as a distinct entity, a total working-class nation, has existed since 1660 here. The nation was given shape, name, general laws and a creed in 1968, with the founding of the Provisional Government by over 500 New Afrikan nationalists. Established at this historical convention was, The New Afrikan Declaration of Independence, Code of Umoja (New Afrikan Constitution) and The New Afrikan Creed. A President, Vice-Presidents, People’s Center Councils and a People’s Revolutionary Leadership Council were elected to designate New Afrikan Population Districts, set up registration for a New Afrikan census, etc. This was the forming of a state, an organized body designed to coherently give shape and form to the already long existing New Afrikan nation. So, We are not trying to “create” a nation – the nation exists. We are trying to agitate, educate and organize the nation for land, independence and socialism. This can only be realized through revolution. And despite what We’ve recently seen in North Africa with their “Arab Spring,” We are under no illusions about Our struggle here being a protracted, long drawn out, revolutionary war. And, truthfully, necessarily so. We have a lot of cleansing to do after having been existing so close to the seat of world power for so long. We overstand Our level of contamination.
We are talking about being ideologically consistent. About pushing a particular line. Again, i want to go to the Comrade Yaki because his instructions are profound:
“Angolan, Russian, Algerian, Chinese, French, Vietnamese, Cuban, Korean, Tanzanian – these are nationalities. Our nationality is New Afrikan. We don’t refer to ourselves as ‘black’ because We don’t base our nationality (nor our politics) on ‘race’ or color or a biological element of our being. Social factors are the primary determinations of our national identity (and Our politics)”.
For the same reason, We don’t call ourselves “black” is also why We don’t call ourselves “African-American,” or “Negro,” “colored,” etc. These are chains, which tie us to the plantation, to the colonial system. These are terms that substantiate, promote and sustain the colonial mentality and thus our oppression. Again, Comrade Yaki’s words instruct:
“The ‘Native,’ the ‘Negro,’ the ‘colored,’ the ‘black’ and the ‘African-American’ have no identity apart from that given them by the colonizer – that is, not unless they RESIST colonialism, which entails: 1) their maintenance of an identity that is separate and distinct from that of the colonizer; 2) they begin to develop a NEW identity, through the process of ‘decolonization’ – through having remained separate and distinct, colonized people aren’t who they were prior to colonization and they can’t return to the past. Colonization has arrested their independent development, distorted who they are, and now they must become a NEW people during the process by which they regain their independence.” (emphasis in original)
Let’s go a bit into this. Those who are calling themselves “African-Americans” are doing so for two real reasons. First, of course, there is an inherent overstanding that runs thoroughly through the New Afrikan nation that We are not really amerikkkans. That We are in fact a people/nation unto Ourselves. This used to be widely overstood with little notion of anything to the contrary. Neo-colonialism has worked obsessively to change this awareness. The rapid de-colonization (“de-segregation”) of the nation, beginning in the late 50s, ushered in a new (neo) more thoroughly, and dare i say, revolutionary, form of control and exploitation: neo-colonialism. “Blacks” took over from “Negroes” to lead the masses into an integrated lockstep with capitalism, while they (the misleaders) were awarded nominal positions in local and regional government posts. Because the bourgeois media postulated these class enemies as being “successful,” in a new and improved amerikkka, it fostered an image (crafted by Madison Avenue) that anybody could make it. “Now that segregation is over, you can grow up to be anything you want.” Except free, of course.
The more integration (which was supposed to mean “freedom and equality”) We got, the worst Our predicament became. The more bourgeois “freedom and equality” We struggled to obtain, the more critical our existence became, the stronger the “black” bourgeoisie got – compounded a hundred times by the u.s. ruling class. The stronger the “black” bourgeoisie became, the more Our revolutionary leadership was attacked, assassinated, imprisoned, or exiled. The more this became so, the worse the hoods got. The worse the hoods got, the more street orgs began to proliferate. More dope, more guns, more pigs – more prisons. This is what the losing of a sense of self brings. Integration is neo-colonialism. And it’s reactionary nationalism. But it would be unfair to say it’s not progress. It is progress – it’s just not progress in Our interest. We are moving forward, but it is towards Our annihilation.
The “black” bourgeoisie worked in tandem with its masters to keep the chains on New Afrika. They overstood the strong Nationalist sentiment that ran through the nation. So in order to placate this sentiment and please their masters, the “black” bourgeoisie introduced the term “African-American.” A split personality that straddled an ocean and a colonial existence. But because our “leaders” said it was right and “after all” the masses said, “We are Africans” – Voila! This, of course, is not scientific or a reflection of any real reality. It is a term used to maintain a colonial relationship with New Afrika – now being run by remote control through the antics and colorful animation of the “African-American” bourgeoisie. You see them in the Congressional Black Caucus, the higher echelons of the Prince Hall Masons, in the persons of Oprah, Jesse, Al Sharpton, Robert Johnson, etc. etc. They’ve been appointed by the u.s. ruling class to lead the masses – into a neo-colonial marriage with amerikkka. The “African American” bourgeoisie is conjoined (face to ass) with the u.s. ruling class and no surgery short of protracted people’s war will lose them and free Us.
The masses, by and large, are innocently confused – they can be redeemed. It is Our job as cadres to do that. Which is why it is so important to study and struggle – to build up your revolutionary ideological, philosophical and theoretical overstanding so as to be able to distinguish the real from the false. The righteous from the reactionary.
“Our vision must be emphasized in opposition to the imperialist and neo-colonialist perspectives. Our vision demands that We stress the need to establish New Afrikan state power as the PREREQUISITE for the long term resolution of colonial violence, bad housing, miseducation, poor health, no jobs, etc. At present, the orientation underlying mass struggle is primarily neo-colonialist. We ask the u.s. government to do things for Us. Our struggle is AGAINST the u.s. government, to secure the power to prevent it from doing things to us and so that We can do things for ourselves, under our own government. Each issue that the masses struggle around must be infused (by the people’s vanguard) with the idea than none of our problems can be solved until We achieve national independence.”
– Atiba Shanna, Vita Wa Watu: A New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book 12.
In closing then, i’d like to simply emphasize the need to study and struggle. Study Revolutionary Nationalism and struggle around the issues that are affecting Us. And, too, it’s a beautiful thing to see more prisoners becoming conscious of themselves as New Afrikans. This too is a prerequisite to getting free. Change your mind and you can change your conditions. Overstanding and appreciating the reality of one’s situation gives one a greater sense of appreciation for other oppressed nationals in the same or similar predicaments. I’m gonna fall out with a quote by Comrade Yaki that pretty much sums it all up – Though first, I’d like to send a clenched fisted salute to all the comrades in Canada that make 4SM possible, as well as to Comrade Jaan Laaman, for his outstanding editorial work and his continuous revolutionary commitment. We feel you!
“Anyone claiming to attack racism while claiming that racism is the only thing wrong with this system, is either terribly confused or an outright enemy of the people and their interests. If We truly wanna get rid of racism, We have to overthrow capitalism … first.”
– Comrad Yaki, Meditations
Pelican Bay SHU – 47ADM*
*47 years after the death of Malik (Malcolm)