An Open Response Letter to the New Afrikan Black Panther Party with regard to it’s Position Paper titled: Black Liberation in the 21st Century: A Revolutionary Reassessment of Black Nationalism
(from The Amazons-August Third Collective; NAPLA)
We are aware of no less than ten (10) responses already written by various comrads across the board regarding this specific piece, & as far as We can tell, most points have been touched on & amplified to the extent of offering clarity with regard to the myriad of ideological & theoretical entanglement. Admittedly, some comrads have gone a bit further, We think, than necessary in criticizing some of the points made by the NABPP. We however, feel that those points have been well made & that is not the area this letter will center on. In fact, as another rad already pointed out:
“The NABPP has written itself into an ideo-theoretical quagmire, the likes of which We as a Movement should be long past since We have so much material at our disposal for study & struggle.” (2)
And this is true in more ways than one. Tho’ We are not suggesting We should or even can be, mistake free – that’s absurd since struggle is born & made into a weapon by ALL experiences that We engage in. In other words, there are no real bad examples or experiences since all go into the pot of developing struggle, i.e. theory & practice.
Our points regarding the NABPP center on it’s obvious display & dangerous adaptation of nostalgia. And We’d like to go through a few of these which We hope will bring your attention to bear on this unscientific adventure, which if not reigned in could be quite harmful to not only the cadres of the group, but comrads in the Movement & thus the People & struggle.
Why do you call yourselves New Afrikan if you don’t believe or struggle for the self- determination of the New Afrikan Nation? Our elders struggled hard to formulate this ideological line, this conscious understanding of ourselves as a New Afrikan people/nation. A lot of our elders in the Movement gave their lives, their time & their wealth (possessions) to birth this ideology – & to construct the roadmaps of our revolution. Have you ever read the Code of Umoja (Constitution) of the New Afrikan Nation? Do you consider yourselves conscious citizens of the Republic of New Afrika? It seem to us that you have just affixed ‘New Afrikan’ to the name of Black Panther Party to appear as if you are about New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism, but in essence you are not. Your position paper on Black Liberation shows this clearly. It’s almost as if you are opportunistically hopping on the bandwagon of an ideology already established & then, like a Trojan horse tactic, you all flood out with a totally different set of lines that serve to disrupt & distort the reality established. This is why your position paper has caused so much discord & so many responses from various orgs & collectives in the Movement.
If the Black Panther Party, as it existed from 1966 to 1980, was already a so-called Black organization (& We all know it was), why would you need to come along & call yourselves the New Afrikan Black Panther Party? Isn’t that redundant? We mean, like, doesn’t everyone know what the Panthers were about? See, this is where it comes across as opportunistic when you take an obvious, already well established, orgs names & then clothe it in another ideology to fit the times. You are being lazy. You are not starting from scratch. You are building on momentum that lost its energy, then trying to resurrect it by an ideological blood infusion, but the ideo-theoretical mismatch has caused scheiztsophrenia. And you publish this confusion as an “official line” which then blurs the vision of young potential cadres who have not learned better & are searching for answers. That’s foul.
By calling yourselves the New Afrikan Black Panther Party it, makes people (those who don’t know any better) think you are somehow a continuation of the old Black Liberation Movement into the current New Afrikan Independence Movement. But We know that’s not true don’t We? This is not hip hop, where you come into the cipher & battle as the youngest to out rap the oldest. This is Our lives – literally. We question the sincerity here in being revolutionary, let alone New Afrikan. Why not just call yourselves the New Black Panther Party? Oh, Khalid Muhammad started that org in the early 1990’s. Well, how bout The New Afrikan-Arnerican Panther Vanguard? Yes, excuse Us again, that group also already exists, right? So, here you all come calling yourselves the New Afrikan Black Panther Party … it’s all rather confusing. Confusing to anyone who doesn’t know better, but to Us it’s opportunism & distortion.
But if that’s not bad enough, it’s an org that began & to our knowledge, only exists in prison. It’s not a mass based org in the tradition of the Black Panther of renown, no it’s a prison group. And even ‘group’ & ‘org’ may be a stretch. Here’s the real danger that We hope to point out to you comrades: history is best qualified to instruct – if it’s analyzed correctly, and if it can be applied concretely. Look back at the history of Our struggle in koncentration kamps – look at the comrads We’ve lost in the kamps because they felt it expedient to affix a hierarchal title to their names, or to function out in the open, in a 100% hostile environment. The prison movement was given life by the dialectical flow of conscious people inside & out, outside & in.
The NABPP has its “minister of defense” in not only a kamp, but in the hole of the kamp. He has been indentified, tagged, & locked down. This is the “minister of defense.” How can he offer defense to the group, Movement, & the People from a kamp inside of a kamp? And, it’s Our understanding that this comrade was recently assaulted, which included pulling some of his hair out by the pigs. Yet, there was no response from the NABPP. If the “minister of defense” can’t defend himself, how can he be in a position to defend the Org, the Movement, the Masses? And, what of secure communication with the “Minister of Defense”? What about when the “Minister of Information” or “Minister of Justice” or any other Lofty titled “Official” needs to communicate sensitive info, or conduct strategy & tactics with the “Minister of Defense”?! Do you really believe his mail is secure coming thru a kamp? A kamp where he’s already been identified, tagged & locked down – & assaulted? Have We learned nothing from the death of Comrade George, Andaliwa Clark, L.D. Barkley, Sam Melville, Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof & not to mention all the New Afrikan P.O.W’s & political prisoners in California Pelican Bay & Corcoran. Khalfani Khaldun in Indian or Maroon in Pennsylvania??
What’s going to happen is, the NABPP is going to be pulled into a trap & encapsulated. The intelligence network is going to encircle you, manipulate your communications & play you out of pocket. And We know that the Comrads Sundiata & Maroon advised Us to “protect this one,” but We cannot do so when the traps set are being deliberately ignored & you all are walking headlong into them.
To us it seems that is’s a lot of macho posturing & nostalgia playing out in hopes of what – a reputation? A legacy, or place in the book of martyrs? The obligation of the revolutionary is to make the revolution. Not be a superstar or some macho-macho tough guy.
Let Us ask you this: who’s the Asian leader in amerika? Who’s the Mexicano leader? The Puerto Rican leader? Don’t know do you? You know why you don’t know? Cause their “leaders” are in their communities out front leading. They feel no real need to be or have some lofty ass title which serves only to expose & illuminate them to hostile transgressions from the enemy culture. This all comes off as amateur hour, really. Atavistic macho posturing.
We know that the BPP in its beginnings, in 1966, could not have been born, let alone grown & developed into the mass org it became by 1968-69, had Chairman Bobby Seale & Minister of Defense Huey Newton, been in a kamp – let alone a hole in the kamp. And although we know the Coordinating Committee of the Black Liberation Army was, by & Large, a Kamp based org, it also must be pointed out that the BLA-CC comrads were members of the Army & related formations before being captured. We can’t imagine the logistical problems likely to occur having to wait around for a Minister of Defense, who’s captured, sending tactical orders down the line!
Why not call yourself a mere “‘theoretician”? Or simply a cadre. What’s all the “Minister of Defense” posturing about? From what We’ve seen in various publications is that this Comrade is actually the only functioning theoretician of this group anyway. It seems he’s the Minister of Defense, the Chairman, the Minister of Information, Minister of Propaganda & the Resident Artist. While We admire the fire & obvious stamina of this multi-tasking Brother, We question the scientific ability of this approach. Not to mention the dangerous exposure.
Are there any women, gays, or transgendered members of this group? Do you all attend New Afrikan Nation Day Ceremonies? It is easy, We all know, to project an image. Film projectors do it all the time. They can throw up an image very life like, onto a wall or screen. Colors & sound, flashes of light, bells & whistles the whole thing – but it’s only a two dimensional projection, it’s not real. It only engages the sight & sound senses. But We all agree some of the movies are really good, right? But at the end of the film the movie’s over the screen fades to blank, the actors go on to the next job. The audience goes home – the sensation subsides. That’s what the NABPP is like in the sense that We see your writings everywhere – in publications from Quebecs Certain Days Calendar to Bing Hampton’s college publication OFF! From California Prison focus to the San Francisco Bay View & all areas in between. But We don’t see you on the ground. Theory is good & necessary – where would We be without it. But theory without practice is what’s called in Swahili: babaiko “meaningless talk.” And talk is a currency everyone can afford – it’s cheap. And here is where the NABPP falls flat on it’s face because both conscious New Afrikans & the real Black Panther Party are/were about practice.
It’s not just about explaining social phenomena it’s about changing it. And the fact your “Minister of Defense” is a prisoner starts you out with a strike. Cause aside from the stifling hierarchal structure that this entails – lofty titles manufacturing superior & inferior positions of leaders & followers – it also subjects you to dangerous security problems having to necessarily deal with strategy, tactics & logistics. Everything your Minister of Defense will know from you – the pigs will know. Everything your Minister of Defense sends to you – the pigs will know too. This will allow them to encapsulate you – surround & manipulate your actions until they are ready to swoop down on you & put you in the cage next to or down the tier from your Minister of Defense.
Revolution in amerikkk:a is against the law, it is illegal. If We’ve learned anything from the failed revolution of the late 60’s & early 70’s, is if We prematurely show Ourselves – the enemies are coming. They have to. No alternatives can be allowed to challenge or exist under oppression. They are reading everything We read. Why make it easy for them? Why offer your chest or head up to the snipers? Your spear is your intellect, your wit, your stamina, your ability to advance. Your shield is your strength to ward off, evade, defend & shelter yourself. In tandem they are your weapons of struggle. In every metaphor for life’s struggle, whether against the elements of nature, or oppression from humans on humans, the spear & the shield can be used. Your tactical knowledge at any given time will instruct you whether to thrust your spear, or raise your shield. Whether to go on the offensive or to retreat. In order to have this consciousness you’ll need to be in tune with objective reality. You can’t wait on orders from on-high when the shells are falling. When you are being subjected to the influence of oppressive lead. Let us share with you something a comrad said:
“‘Clandestiny’ must come to characterize the entire movement, i.e., a ‘mass-based underground’ is what We need; a resistance movement in territory occupied by settlers who regard all ‘anti’-struggles as threats to the continued existence of the empire. We want to build a New Afrikan movement where ‘leadership’ can’t be easily identified, because ‘leaders’ will be the owner of the comer grocery store, the secretary, the phone repair person, the physical education teacher, etc. & they’ll only ‘surface’ after We’ve liberated some territory!” (3)
We just don’t want to be unnecessarily having to attend funerals that could be avoided. Or, having to a mass all our energy marching to ‘free so & so.” These things can be avoided by better practice. We fail a lot of the time because of Our own weaknesses giving the pigs the opportunity for easy kills. And when we do this, what’s this called? Petty-bourgeois thinking. Why? Because somewhere in our minds We actually think, or still think, that the enemy is going to let us organize a revolution to end its empire on his front lawn! We somehow believe We have “constitutional rights” to bear arms, assemble & free speech – to be safe from unreasonable search & seizure; to be free, or to be without the hazards of cruel & unusual punishment. Get real. That’s petty-bourgeois thinking. That We have to the constitutional right to organize ourselves out front, naked to the world with titles like “minister of defense” or by combining two of amerikkkas worst nightmares together. New Afrikan & Black Panther Party. And We don’t think this combo was lost on those who brought this org into existence. We think a conscious effort at posturing was in effect, sprinkled with a dash of opportunism. Which is not to say you weren’t pushing from a true position, NO. You may have been sincere. Though clearly uniformed & historically challenged. Again to the rads words:
“Why do We need New (secure) lines of communication? Because We don’t want the enemy to know who We are, where We are, or what We’re thinking, planning, or doing. They may know We’re coming, but We don’t want to let them know from which direction We’re coming, at what rate of speed, what we’re bringing, with Us, or how much of a load We’re carrying. We need New, secure lines of communication because the old movement is passing away, & the old lines & methods of communication must pass away with it. We can’t “re-group” or revitalize a movement which is already in the latter stages of decomposition. We can’t build a new movement with lines & methods of communication (to say nothing of theory & other forms of practice) that are EFFECTIVELY detected, intercepted, disrupted & contaminated. Nor can We build a new, secure movement with people who are not only blind to this reality, but they’re also deaf & dense.” (4)
Again, this is not a battle rap – this is Our lives. And the lives of our future generations. We know that our people have a complex that feeds to the need to “do something” against the system or feel a loathing sense of inadequacy. Usually this complex surfaces in the petty bourgeois realm of “showing off,” “frontin” or “showboatin.” In this way, the loudest, most flamboyant individual usually gets the attention and is somewhat satiated by the admiration – even if the attention is negative. One comrad likened it to the “invisible man” syndrome after the characterization in Ralph Ellison’s novel of the same name. It stims, We think, from a colonial mentality. Or, as Frantz Fanon would say, Colonial War Mental Disorder. We, of course, are no psychiatrists; however, We know Our People. That’s our business. So, usually, the need to act out, in order to be made visible – from colonial obscurity – and enter what’s believed to be history, takes on petty-bourgeois characteristics. That is within the set parameters of the oppressor nation culture & laws.
The Amazons-August Third Collective
(3) Iyapo Tsukama, Study Notes on Secure Communication: So That We Don’t Fool Ourselves Again. Spear & Shield Publications
(4) Atiba Shanna, Ibid.
i published Defying the Tomb, by the NABPP’s Minister of Defense Kevin Rashid Johnson who is critiqued in this open letter, and i currently have plans to publish others of his writings. i also intend, if asked, to post on my blog or otherwise circulate criticisms of the NABPP. This is in line with my assumption that in order for successful revolutionary movements to emerge from the ongoing carnage which is patriarchal imperialist capitalism, comrades will need to be able to discuss, criticize, and at times overcome the political lines of yesterday, keeping what is valuable and discarding what is toxic. My intention is not to take a side but to facilitate communication while not artificially puffing up positions through my own lack of clarity.