Thursday, September 18, 2014

Black Autonomy Federation Women's Commission

Statement from the Black Autonomy Federation Women's Commission
By: Black Autonomy Federation Women's Commission
Black women must be ensured the autonomy to organize around and address issues of specific concern to them. The purpose of the Black Autonomy Federation (BAF) Women's Commission is to promote the full equality of women within the BAF and the leadership of women within the organization and any future society.
The BAF Women's Commission will organize around and address several issues, including:
1. Jobs: Full employment, job training, and livable incomes

2. Housing: Affordable and safe housing

3. Education: High-quality, community-controlled public schools

4. Health: Access to high-quality, affordable health care, including substance abuse and mental
health treatment

5. Pre-natal care and care for newborns; reproductive health care for women and teens that does not promote abstinence and is free of“slut shaming,”;treatment for domestic violence and rape

6. Programs to stop the mass imprisonment of women and criminalization of girls, such as the school to prison pipeline; the drug war's impact on women; state abduction of children into the foster care system and into non-Black households.

7. Programs to stop sexual harassment, violence and gender oppression: Street harassment and safety issues; the commodification of women's and girls' bodies; sexual assault and rape culture; the promotion of stereotypical roles that falsely assume all women want to be wives and mothers; government-funded programs that promote marriage as “the answer” to poverty and pressure women to marry in order to get assistance; the negative impact of homophobia and transphobia on LGBTQ people; and framing women's politics as less serious than those of men.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Racism At The North American Anarchist Black Cross Conference

Racism At The North American Anarchist Black Cross Conference
By: Lorenzo and JoNina Ervin
To: Denver Anarchist Black Cross
North American Anarchist Black Cross
Re: Racism at North American ABC Conference
Dear Comrades:
An ugly, racist incident happened at the September 11-14, 2014, conference of the North American Anarchist Black Cross (NA-ABC) which disrupted the meeting and created conflict among activists there, after a young activist read a letter from a white racist prison guard who opposed the parole of black political prisoner, Jalil Muntaqim. The letter was read at the instruction of Brother Jalil to show the racist and entrenched opposition to his parole by white cops and their fraternal and police associations. We do not blame Brother Jalil, who has been in prison for decades and had no way of knowing that black people would be sitting in the room when the letter was read, nor the young activist who read the letter, not knowing how it would impact the black people who heard it, and who later apologized for his error. We blame other activists on the panel and other listeners who sat by or said nothing. We also criticize the NA-ABC, which created a climate where this or another racist outrage was bound to occur because the organization has never dealt with its own internal racism.
We especially blame the National Jericho Movement, which put on the workshop where the letter was read and the Jericho representative at the conference, Paulette D'Auteuil. She not only refused to apologize or correct the young activist, but made racially inflammatory comments of her own, saying that blacks and other POC should “just leave the room,” rather than not reading such a letter in the first place, or even giving any warning of its contents. She thus encouraged other racist letters to be read to a room full of whites in the future, thereby advocating white radical racial segregation at NA-ABC annual meetings, which already have few black or POC participants. This is an absolute and utter outrage, and everyone should find this unacceptable. Then, Paulette took the posture that it was “all Jalil's fault,”and that we should take the matter up with him if we didn't like it. As we have pointed out already, we hold Brother Jalil blameless, and we do not believe he would intentionally attempt to embarrass or demean other black people by forcing them to listen to such a racist and inflammatory letter. The other Jericho representative at the conference, Kazi Toure, who is black, was not present in the room when the letter was read. But after learning what happened, he expressed embarrassment, chagrin, if not outright anger over the incident because he is black.
We therefore believe that Paulette should make a full public apology to the NAABC and to us as participants in the conference for her misbehavior, or she should not be allowed to attend further meetings of the NA-ABC. In addition, the entire panel where the racist letter was read should make a full public apology for not stopping the letter from being read, or failing in any way to rebuke the activist who read the letter. The panelists' silence just enabled the activist to repeat all this racist guard's drivel, in what the activist felt was a supportive environment of white people who “saw no problem” with the comments being repeated at a radical gathering, which included black people. Finally, the leadership of Jericho should make an apology for this entire matter: for allowing the racist letter to be read, failure to exercise control of the panelists, and the racist misbehavior of Paulette as Jericho representative to the event.
And yet, all of this is just a reflection of internal racism within the North American Anarchist Black Cross, and its organizational culture that is too white, too middle class, and closed off from urban communities of color. It has never been healthy to have privileged white people doling out support to black prisoners, while not building a support base in the black community from which those prisoners come, and not recruiting black and other activists of color. The fact that NAABC holds meetings on the side of a mountain removed from the city, instead of in an urban space in Denver, speaks volumes about your lack of black participation and community outreach. You are not making a welcoming environment for blacks to attend. So this incident is to be expected in this type of white environment, and it also explains how the majority of white people who heard the racist comments thought it was “no big deal,” that the speaker “meant no harm,” that black people who heard the racially offensive comment should not be disturbed, or were being “too thin-skinned,“ or that this was all just “racial agitation from Lorenzo and people he brought.” The fact is that this racist climate was already there inside the NA-ABC as a movement for a long time, and this was just the trigger for the latest incident. The ABC in North America is a Political Plantation, a white-led movement with serious internal racism, which it refuses to deal with, or even listen to peoples of color when we point it out. Some of you even blame us for raising it in the first place, and then refuse to make any changes. As one white person who did speak out from the audience said: listening to the letter from the prison guard was like listening to a “bragging letter” from a rapist. If you do not want women to apologize for their own rapes by demented men, why do you want black people to accept racist insults and then be faulted for speaking out?
Do not expect us to passively accept such racist indignities, even from our own white allies. On a personal level, the reading of the letter was the worst form of racist insult to Lorenzo. He was raised in the segregated South in the 1950's; had white racist vigilantes and cops put a gun to his head, then spit in his face and call him a nigger; tell him he had no right to speak up; that “niggers don't deserve civil rights,” and that only the rights of white people mattered. In those days, Lorenzo was restrained from speaking out because of the violent racism of the KKK and other white racists. Later, Lorenzo spoke out as a young civil rights protester. He also heard plenty of vile insults from racist prison guards during his 15 years as a political prisoner, including insults from guards who opposed his release on parole. What would make you think that Lorenzo wanted to hear these insults at an ABC meeting? He will never passively accept white supremacy or its insults, even if it comes from from the mouths of white radical socialists or anarchists, who feel that they are “sincerely motivated” and thus blameless in their own eyes.
We do not personally hold the Denver Anarchist Black Cross, which hosted the North America ABC conference, responsible for this incident, or think the Denver ABC had any intention for this incident to occur. However, we feel that the annual NA-ABC meeting is no longer a safe space for us as black activists, and we will not attend any future events. Nevertheless, because we care enough about ABC as a radical prison movement, and feel that positive changes should come out of this incident, we are proposing these solutions:
12 Point Racist Recovery Program for North American ABC:
1. The NA-ABC must create a permanent anti-racist/anti-oppression committee, which will be a semi-autonomous group able to challenge internal racism and call people out for offensive behavior. However, it must also train all ABC activists in anti-racist ideology, set new policies, and call for institutional change. This committee should also be in control of all anti-racist communications of the group.

2. Every year at the annual NA-ABC gatherings, there must be workshops to talk extensively about the dangers of internal racism within the ABC. Besides anti-racist workshops for white participants, black/POC conference attendees should have their own workshops to deal with the effects of white racism, and differences among ourselves. [For instance, at least two Hispanics made two anti-black comments at the conference. One said that he was not offended by the racist letter because he saw himself as a “white Mexican,” and another called Lorenzo a “token who should not be allowed to speak for all peoples of color”].

3. We are asking the Denver ABC and NA-ABC to join with the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality to create an online discussion list, “ABC-Anti-Racist” to discuss internal racism all during the period between ABC conferences.

4. We call upon the NA-ABC to provide a written disclaimer at the beginning of each workshop forbidding panel members to use racist or oppressive language against any racial group, nationality, or oppressed peoples. [NOTE: this rule cannot ever be used to stifle discussions of internal racism and white supremacy.]

5. We call upon the NA-ABC to use the book, “The Progressive Plantation: Racism Inside Radical Social Change Groups,” as a study guide for ABC chapters and activists. We ask P & L Press to print the book at no cost, and provide it to everyone, then hold consciousness raising study groups. We will provide the manuscript for you.

6. Join with us as we create a “Progressive Plantation” discussion page for activists on Facebook, inside and outside of the ABC.

7. We call upon you to create a permanent POC standing committee within NA-ABC to propose anti-racist internal politics for the entire group, challenge acts of racism, and involve more POC inside the ABC. Even though we will not attend any more NA-ABC meetings, we expect you to continue to work with us through this POC committee and other contacts.

8.There needs to be a process created and made part of the standing rules to expel persons or groups engaging in racist or oppressive behavior. This should come after giving them a warning.
9. When racist behavior takes place, the entire conference should shut down its workshops, and deal with it immediately, and the ABC should never cover up or ignore such incidents.

10. The ABC must make anti-fascist ideology and internal anti-racist training a central part of its politics.

11. We are not asking the North American ABC to completely divest itself` of political prisoner support work for black/POC political prisoners and POW's from the 1960's or 1970's, or those contemporary campaigns they have started in the animal liberation, radical environmental, and other such white radical campaigns. The NA-ABC, however, must change its white privilege model of selective support of black political prisoners to one of dealing with mass imprisonment of African/POC's, and the new generation of prisoners since the 1980's. Jericho is fully capable of dealing with its New African prisoners, and even those prisoners want the 20/50 plan applied to an overall campaign against mass imprisonment in this period. The NA-ABC must have its own politics on this, not just adopt Jericho's program. This will allow the NA-ABC to help build a new mass movement, work with black/communities of color, and build coalitions with activists of color, both inside and outside the prisons. [We had sent our mass imprisonment proposal prior to the conference, which was adopted by the Mass Imprisonment workshop].

12. Although we do not believe than any organization can deal with internal racism in isolation, we encourage the NA-ABC to try to deal with your problems internally if you can do so, but caution you not to cover up or defend yourself from charges of internal racism, but to implement or come up with viable plans to heal the group, rebuild unity, and show respect to all who attend your events in the future. We believe that this is the moment of truth for the North American-Anarchist Black Cross.
So this is our proposal dealing with anti-racist institutional change for the NA-ABC. We are open to discussing this matter further by a series of online conferences with the Denver ABC and others. This letter/proposal is not meant to be totally hostile or accusatory, and is made in good faith.
Love and struggle,
JoNina and Lorenzo Ervin, (on behalf of the Black Autonomy Prison Federation and the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality).

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Capitalism and Racism: An Analysis of White Supremacy and the Oppression of Peoples of Color

Capitalism and Racism: An Analysis of White Supremacy and the Oppression of Peoples of Color
By: Black Autonomy Federation

Originally Published on November 19, 2013

Race And Class:  The Combined Character of Black/POC Oppression

If an effective resistance is to be mounted against the current racist offensive of the Capitalist class, the utmost solidarity between the poor and workers of all races is essential, but especially among various peoples of color. My position has always been one that rather than the usual road of a white dominated path to “unity”, as laid out by the White left, I believe an alliance of oppressed peoples of color is really the way forward in this period. This does not mean that we do not have group differences or will always agree on individual issues between various non-white ethnic and racial groupings. But our shared history of oppression and desire for liberation equip us for a new type of unity and lays a path to unite with advanced elements of the white working class.

We must point out to those white people who say they oppose the system: that the way to defeat the Capitalist strategy is for white workers to defend the democratic rights won by Blacks and other oppressed peoples after decades of hard struggle and to fight to dismantle the system of white skin privilege. White workers should support and adopt the concrete demands of the Black/POC movement and should work to abolish the white identity entirely. These white workers should strive for multicultural unity and should work with Black/POC activists to build an anti-racist movement to challenge white supremacy. They should stand in absolute solidarity with the liberation movements in those communities that arise. (This must be done in tandem with any wage demands, but most white radicals dismiss this as “divisive”).

However, even though we call on white workers to support our struggle, it is also very important for them to recognize the right of the Black movement to take an independent road in its own interests. That is what self-determination means. It does not mean deferring our struggles to that of white radicals or other segments of the white community, with the hope of some mindless “unity” in the future. It has not yet even been proven that the most progressive or “radical” whites are up to the task and since racism is so deep, that they would be able to break away. But we offer them a way forward, in support of and as part of a new movement.

But if such a Black movement does become a social revolutionary movement, it must ultimately unite its forces with similar movements among Native Americans, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans and other oppressed peoples of color, who are in revolt against the system. Such a united movement of activist peoples of color could radicalize even broader sectors of the white society, such as students, youth, laborers and others, thus undermining the consensus upholding white support for the government across class lines.

This is what we believe has the most potential for happening again, radical autonomous movements acting as revolutionary “incubators” of broad-based struggles, although it is not enough to call for mindless "unity" as much of the white left does. Their “unity” just means white leftist control and leadership of the overall struggle.

So we cannot sit around waiting on white working people to join our movements, or running to join white-dominated organizations. White people are still not in the same desperate circumstances as Blacks, Latinos or Native Americans, nor want to see the system defeated now as long as it serves them.

Autonomy as a revolutionary tendency:

Because of the dual forms of oppression of non-white workers and the depth of social desperation it creates, Blacks and peoples of color must strike first, whether their potential white allies are available to do so or not. This is self-determination and that is why it is necessary for oppressed workers to build independent movements to unite their own peoples first. Malcolm X was the first one to really explain this. This self-activity of the oppressed masses of color when it reaches the radical stage is inherently a revolutionary force and is an essential part of the social revolutionary process of the entire working and poor class.

Anarchism + Black Revolution = New Black Autonomous Politics

Although Anarchists do not believe in vanguard political parties, the reality is that because of the peculiarities of the United States of America’s social development and especially racial slavery, Africans in America and other peoples of color with a shared history, are predisposed to lead at least the beginning states of a social revolution, thereafter enlisting or being joined by its potential allies in the white working class. African Americans constitute a “class vanguard”, a class capable of radicalizing society with its struggle against racism and capitalism. Most white radicals at least give lip service to understanding this, especially since the Black Power and Civil Rights struggles unfolded in the 1960s, although they still hang onto the “white working class hero” ideology of the past, to try to deflect these issues with a backward class argument. We cannot simply wait around for white people to “get it” and become active in our cause.

Even though Blacks and people of color are a “minority”of the total population, there can be no successful social revolution in the United States without Black and non-white people not just taking equal part in a white dominated movement, but in fact leading the way. The U.S. class system is based on racialized social, economic and political oppression. With such a race and class divided society, to ignore this basic fact is a sellout or capitulation to white supremacy. Rather than reducing all contradictions to class alone, like most white radicals continue to do, we must understand the workings of racism as part of the structure of overall oppression.

In fact, for white radicals to ignore this means that they themselves are engaging in white chauvinism of the worst sort and betraying the very idea of social revolution. Though they think they should lead everybody or have all the answers, United States social history has proven too many times that white middle class radicals cannot even lead working class whites, less known the captive nationalities to freedom. Because of their almost total ignorance about race and class issues, white Anarchist radicals don’t even know what questions to ask and therefore can’t come up with the right answers. So we organize in our own name and for our interests in a Black/POC Autonomous movement, rather than depend on them.

The new autonomous politics is made up of the Libertarian Socialist core of Anarchism and many of the tenets of revolutionary Black nationalism, such as was stated and practiced by the original Black Panther Party. This combination of elements makes up something so new that it has not been fully defined before now. We will attempt to more sharply define what it is that we have been talking about for so many years and also place it within an historical context so that it can no longer be dismissed as an eclectic mish-mash” or “corruption of (both ideals)” as the purists would claim. Yet, it should not alarm Anarchist ideological “purists” when we speak of an autonomous movement of Anarchists of color.

First, the early Anarchist movement in America always reflected the cultural, social and political ideals of the community that produced it. Thus, we had a Germanic-dominated Anarcho-Syndicalist tendency during the 1880’s called the International Working People’s Association, which was strong in Chicago, Pittsburgh and a few other industrial cities; a Jewish Anarchist movement in New York and other cities during the 1900’s-and lasted until the 1980s, wherein some whole newspapers were printed in Yiddish; an Italian movement also flourished in New York, New Jersey and other urban areas in the 1920-30’s and so on. One European ethnic group after another produced unique American Anarchist social movements, which culturally and politically reflected those communities.

So the question then becomes why should anyone be surprised to learn that there would be Anarchist movements of Pacific Islanders, African Americans or Latinos among other peoples of color? In talking about Anarchist ideals and autonomous movements, we are not talking about “orthodoxies” which cannot be revised, we are talking about ideas which will be picked up, used by millions of oppressed peoples and adapted to their purpose and circumstances. But many of the white Anarchists have shown nothing but fear and loathing.

Black Autonomy is not Black Nationalism.  We believe in self-determination, but not any form of racial superiority.  We do not negate class differences between rich and poor within any nationality, those among us who seek to be our neo-colonial masters, the “Negrosie,” are our enemies as much as the European racists. We do not seek to build a nation-state for our own separate peoples.  We subscribe to the major tenets of Anarchism and anti-authoritarian politics, although we redefine many of those to deal with our oppressed condition and ideas of liberation.

Interestingly, it was Fred Hampton and the Chicago branch of the Black Panther Party, which first conceived of a “Rainbow Alliance” of revolutionary organizations of various ethnic and racial groups way back in the late 1960s. Hampton was no integrationist and although he remained a strong Black revolutionary, Hampton began to unite white radicals, with progressive elements of the Black community, Latinos, Asians and others into a grassroots political movement to organize in their own communities, and then unite their local political associations into a citywide grassroots alliance. He openly referred to this as a dual power institution to challenge the established white power structure and empower the poor masses of the Daley political machine. However, he was assassinated in December 1969, before he could really put his program into play. And yet it is something that still needs to happen.

We go further now and say that there should be a movement built of autonomous peoples of color, linked to the Anarchist movement, but existing as an independent tendency. There have been short-term alliances between ethnic and racial groups, but there has never been a real attempt to actually create a revolutionary organization of peoples of color. But what is needed is a radical break from the narrow race nationalism of “our people first and only” to a new radical consciousness of race and class, which embraces those peoples of color and oppressed peoples of diverse ethnic backgrounds that share views of autonomous political action. Many Black nationalists and doctrinaire white radical groups alike would be opposed to this, for reasons of their own.

But the Anarchist purists and Black chauvinists both will just have to shudder, because a new movement is on the verge of happening now and there is nothing that anybody can do to stop it. There are anti-authoritarian activists of color of every ethnic group and hue, who are taking the first slow steps towards building a tendency within the Anarchist movement, or even venturing out as autonomous anti-authoritarians. They have taken those ideals which I and others have put out there and made them into a class weapon reflecting the African, Asian, or Latino experiences on this continent and thus taken the first steps to free their peoples and their class.

This great sector of oppressed colored humanity has said we have had enough: Enough racism! Enough poverty! Enough degradation! Enough oppression! They also know they will have to fight their own fight, if they want to be free. Nobody from the white world is coming to save them. Although they know the revolutionary project to defeat this system of capitalism and enslavement requires millions of other allies who will help them, it is people of color who will decide the agenda, the timetable and the tactics for obtaining our liberation. Too long have others spoken for us without our best interests at heart.

The new Black/POC autonomous politics differs from European Anarchism in that we know that we are oppressed as a distinct people and as workers. Currently, European-dominated Anarchism places its greatest contradictions with the State alone, with the state’s ability to hold back a free lifestyle and yet this is exactly what we cannot limit our critique to. This is a white world-view based on many members' privileged background in capitalist society. Some Anarchists and other white radicals argue that we should not “buy into” any race differentiation at all, less known ideals of autonomy. To them we say: yes, we realize that historically constructed “races” have been created under this system, which determines both manner of life and death under this system and that the State upholds this race/class system.

Yes, we know that it is no accident that it is this way. Yes, it is also true that individual white workers have not commissioned racism and we do not perceive all white people as enemies. However, we also know how this system really works for white supremacy, and that all classes of whites have been the beneficiaries of our oppression, and that white class collaboration-ism is part of the social control mechanism of the state. The fact is that it is the whites who should be the ones deconstructing whiteness and confronting white racism, while we fight for freedom and liberation in our own way!
Therefore, we vehemently disagree with the Socialists, Communists and those Anarchists who say that the oppression of all workers is identical under this system. This does not reflect reality at all.

We say that we are a class of super-oppressed people of color historically downtrodden equally because of our racial oppression under this system, not just our social class as workers. Even a cursory glance at history and everyday social reality proves that one’s place in this racist society rides on the outcome of their skin pigment or ethnic makeup.  So racism is a class doctrine, used by the state for social control of workers of color. In fact, racism is the actual class relationship in North American society.

I have pointed out before that so-called “white” people are a contrived super-nationality designed to help the capitalists keep workers of color in their place and safeguard the status quo. So rather than see the white industrial working class as a potentially revolutionary class, instead we see it as an opportunistic, collaborationist body which must be redefined and reorganized if is to constitute a reliable ally for workers of color and have any ability of fighting in the interests of a new working class. As it stands now, they are fighting for white rights, not for the rights of the entire class of the poor and workers.

As Autonomous workers of color, we of course disagree with Marxists and other so-called radicals who claim that an authoritarian political party and strong leadership cultism is necessary to produce a social revolution. But we go further and say that neither they nor the white Anarchists can lead us as a people of color (or even themselves) to our freedom, even though they have been conditioned as Europeans to command and rule over people of color and the lower classes. We vehemently reject their mis-leadership and authoritarian rule over us, or their old ideals of white industrial workers as a proletarian class of saviors
Black Autonomy is not separatist:

However, we also have differences with the Black (and other race) nationalists, although we may share many basic ideas with them on cultural autonomy. We also believe in and treasure many of the traditions and history of our peoples, but believe it must be demystified and made into a culture of resistance, rather than personality cults or escapism from the reality of fighting racism and the state. Further, we categorically do not believe in any “race nationalism”, which demonizes white people and advocates some sort of biological determinism. We are not xenophobic; so do not entertain any race mythology about European peoples as either a superior species or as devils. And although we recognize the necessity of autonomous struggles in this period, we can work with white workers and poor people around specific campaigns. Our major point of our differences is that we are not seeking to build a Black nation-state.

In fact, we believe the same class politics of “haves-and-have-nots” will show itself within any type of Black nation-state, whether it’s an Islamic, secular New African, or African Socialist state, and that this will produce an extreme class differential and economic/political injustice among those oppressed peoples of color. We can look at a succession of dictatorships and capitalist regimes in Africa to let us know this. We believe that a bourgeois class and political dictatorship is inevitable and that a people’s revolution will break out under such a Black Nationalist government.

Look at what is happening today under the former Apartheid government, now under Black rule, united with the White capitalist class. The Black bourgeoisie and business class have been elevated as the nominal ruling class, while the same economic forces are exploiting and oppressing the African working class and poor. Millions are homeless, unemployed, exploited at low wage, labor jobs, and are landless. Capitalist Black Power has not freed Black people even after apartheid has been defeated. Can the capitalist imperialist financial institutions take any less control of a Black nation-state in America? Sovereignty is not an option in such a world dominated by this system. A new Black nation-state on a North American land territory does not mean freedom anymore than do the ones in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

We also believe that under the capitalist system that now exists, most manifestations of Black nationalism have never been a truly revolutionary doctrine, but rather such movements have asserted themselves most forcefully as a defensive doctrine for the protection of the Black middle class. It is not even a movement to fight white racism, but rather an interest group politics which can battle for equal political power for Black business people or the professional class under this system, not to remove it.

So, a Black nation-state is not the answer to our problems as an oppressed people, in fact it leads us back to slavery, just as it has not led to freedom for any of the world’s people. Just flag independence. It replaces the white master for the Black master. We are not immune from the laws of social change; the state is an oppressive institution by its very nature.

In addition, those who argue for a Black state almost never tell how it will be obtained and many of their arguments that have been presented are intentionally vague and fanciful. Who really believes that America will just grant an Islamic state to the Nation of Islam, or give up five Southern states to the Republic of New Africa just because a small faction calling itself a “government in exile” exists and advocates for it? Who can even prove most people want it in the first place? Why, it would require years of a bloody struggle and a major organizing drive. And what are we to do until that great day comes (?); the Black Nationalist groups never tell us, but we can presume we are to blindly follow behind their leaders and pay our dues to their organizations. This is opportunism and treachery, leading us down a blind alley.

In addition, the only revolutionary nationalist group to even talk about conducting a plebiscite to find out what form African people in America believed our freedom should take was the Black Panther Party. They recognized that it was up to the masses to make such decisions, not vanguard organizations in their place. Like the Panthers, we believe that even before racism or capitalism are defeated, we can begin now to wage a protracted struggle against capitalism and its agents and that the only nation-state we should be concerned with is the corrupt American state still oppressing us and most of the peoples of the world.

In common with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the leading militant organization of the earlier civil rights period, Anarchists believe that the role of the organizer is not to lead people, but to empower them and let them take over their own local struggles. We also believe that such communities are virtual colonies or semi-colonies, which are under the military and political control of the state. But we do not believe that a national liberation movement alone can free us and that the real task is to dismantle capitalism itself. Our liberation struggle is part of a broader struggle for total social change.

Many middle class Black nationalist groups are tied to the Democratic Party or Ralph Nader’s Green Party and do not offer any real radical alternative. Firstly, we do not believe in conventional or electoral politics in any form and reject coalitions led by liberals and social democrats. Finally, like the Panthers of the 1960s and contrary to today’s Nation of Islam and the Afro-centric movement, we believe in a class analysis and understand that there were historical, socio-economic factors that accounted for both slavery and racism, not because whites are “ice people”, “devils” or other such nonsense. The main motive was money, the enrichment of Europe and the “New World”. This capitalist system produces racism/white supremacy. It is this capitalist system that must be destroyed to get rid of it.

Therefore, this is who we are, autonomous peoples of color, fighters for Anarchism, self-determination and freedom for our people and all oppressed people. The Panthers proved how dangerous Black revolutionaries can be to this system, now we will finish the job of putting capitalism in its grave. No freedom without a fight!

No Compromise, No Sellout

No Comprise, No Sellout
By: R. Munyiga S. A. Nosakhere

Originally Published on September 6, 2013

We within the Black Autonomy Federation strongly believe that without a revolutionary voice and practice, that there will be little opportunity for a revolutionary vision, alternative, as well as Social Revolution within this country. Coming from many of the most revolutionary/nationalist and militant Black movements of the past; we have tried to take the experiences and lessons learned from them, and apply it today within this period. These life lessons have been borne from decades and years of consistent struggle, which has lead us to our present anti-authoritarian African class-based position.

We have witnessed the pitfalls of command-ism and the old guard Stalinist modals within our movements. As well as the weaknesses of the old-guard petty-bourgeois nationalist, socialist and religious tendencies that are so quick to corrupt and compromise revolutionary ideas, and seek "negotiated settlements" and "reconciliation" with the capitalist/imperialist state. We find this within groups like the ANC of South Africa and now being played out within the professional-entrepreneurial, Academic/managerial and lawyer political class of the present New African Movement; specifically with the selection of Chokwe Lumumba as the Mayor of Jackson, Miss.

We are tired of left apologists trying to proclaim that we are just having "Sour Grapes" are that we are against Black Unity and other such nonsense. We stand on Revolutionary Principle and are committed to authentic Liberation and total Social Revolution and Autonomy in this period. This shows to us how We the Masses of the Black poor and working-class truly do stand alone and we are determined not to fall victim to the same mistakes and deceptions of the past, by the middle-class left,(Black or White) down the dead-end road of continued oppression and neocolonialism.  Radical Reform is not Social Revolution!

Onward To Social Revolution! Let's Organize The Hood!

We within the Black Autonomy Federation strongly believe that without a revolutionary voice and practice, that there will be little opportunity for a revolutionary vision, alternative, as well as Social Revolution within this country. Coming from many of the most revolutionary/nationalist and militant Black movements of the past; we have tried to take the experiences and lessons learned from them, and apply it today within this period. These life lessons have been borne from decades and years of consistent struggle, which has lead us to our present anti-authoritarian African class-based position.

We have witnessed the pitfalls of command-ism and the old guard Stalinist modals within our movements. As well as the weaknesses of the old-guard petty-bourgeois nationalist, socialist and religious tendencies that are so quick to corrupt and compromise revolutionary ideas, and seek "negotiated settlements" and "reconciliation" with the capitalist/imperialist state. We find this within groups like the ANC of South Africa and now being played out within the professional-entrepreneurial, Academic/managerial and lawyer political class of the present New African Movement; specifically with the selection of Chokwe Lumumba as the Mayor of Jackson, Miss.

We are tired of left apologists trying to proclaim that we are just having "Sour Grapes" are that we are against Black Unity and other such nonsense. We stand on Revolutionary Principle and are committed to authentic Liberation and total Social Revolution and Autonomy in this period. This shows to us how We the Masses of the Black poor and working-class truly do stand alone and we are determined not to fall victim to the same mistakes and deceptions of the past, by the middle-class left,(Black or White) down the dead-end road of continued oppression and neocolonialism.  Radical Reform is not Social Revolution!

Onward To Social Revolution! Let's Organize The Hood!

How We See The World In This Period

How We See The World In This Period
By: Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin

This is an excerpt from the book Anarchism and the Black Revolution (2013).

Here is how Anarchists of color (specifically we within Black Autonomy) see the world: It is a situation presently organized into competing nation-states, in military and political alliances. Through international institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, the Capitalist Western nations have been responsible for most of the world's famine, imperialism and exploitation of the economic resources of non-white peoples of the earth. But in fact, Anarchists hold all nation-states are instruments of oppression. Even though there are governments that claim to be "workers states,” "Socialist countries" or so-called "Revolutionary governments,” in essence they all have the same function as a fascist or capitalist regime: dictatorship and oppression of the many by the few.

The bankruptcy of the state is further proven when one looks at the millions of dead after two world wars, sparked by European Imperialism, (1914-1918 and 1939-1945) and hundreds of “brush wars" incited by the superpowers of the West or by Russia in the 1950s and continuing to this day. These include wars between not only the West, but between "workers' states" like China-Russia, Vietnam-China, Vietnam-Cambodia. Somalia-Ethiopia, Russia-Czechoslovakia and others over the last 40 years, who have gone to war over border disputes, political intrigue, invasion or other hostile action. As long as there are nation-states, there will be war, tension and national enmity. Shared political ideology, racial characteristics, or similar cultures will not prevent it.

In fact, the sad part about the decolonization of Africa in the 1960s was that the countries were eventually organized into the Euro-centric ideal of the nation-state, instead of some other formation more applicable to the continent, such as a continent-wide free federation. This, of course, was a reflection of the fact that although the Africans were obtaining "flag independence" and all the trappings of the sovereign European state, they in fact were not obtaining freedom. The Europeans still controlled the economies of the African continent and nationalist leaders who came to the fore were, for the most part, as pliable and conservative as possible.

Oh, there was an occasional radical like Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, who demanded full rights and freedom for African peoples, but he was quickly (and brutally) silenced in a CIA-Belgian colonial plot. The countries of Africa were like a dog with a leash around its neck; although the Europeans could no longer rule the continent directly thorough colonial power, it now did so through puppets it controlled and defended, like Mobutu in the Congo, Selassie in Ethiopia and Kenyatta in Kenya. Many of these men were dictators of the worst sort and their regimes existed strictly because of the support of European finance capital. In addition, there were white settler communities in the Portuguese colonies, South Africa and Zimbabwe, who oppressed the African peoples even worse than the old colonial system. This is why the national liberation movements made their appearances in the 1960s and 70s.

Anarchists support national liberation movements to the degree they struggle against a colonial or imperialist power; but also note that in almost every instance where such liberation fronts have assumed state power, they have become "State Communist" parties or new dictators over the masses of the people. These include some who had engaged in the mass epic struggles, but also include many based on the most obvious military dictatorship from the start. Their governments are not progressive and they tolerate no dissent.

For instance, no sooner had the MPLA (Movement for the Popular Liberation of Angola) government been in power in Angola, than it began to arrest all its left-wing ideological opponents (Maoists, Trotskyites, Anarchists and others)and to forcibly to quell strikes by workers for higher pay and better working conditions, calling such job actions “blackmail" and “economic sabotage.”And with the Nito Alves affair and his alleged coup attempt, (Alves was a hero of the revolution and a popular military leader), there was the first party purge of opponents in the new government. Something similar to this also took place when the Sandinista National Liberation movement took over in Nicaraguan the 1980s. None of this should seem strange or uncharacteristic to Anarchists, when we consider that the Bolshevik party did the same thing when it consolidated state power during the Russian Revolution (1917-1921). It provided the model for all such later regimes.

Countries such as Benin, Ethiopia, the People's Republic of the Congo and other “revolutionary" governments in Africa, are not in power as the result of a popular social revolution, but because of a military coup or being installed by one of the major world powers. In addition, one or another of the African States exploits some other country perceived weaker; for instance Sudan, an Arab-controlled country, still has African slaves, which are powerless Blacks from the Southern part of the country. Thus, they have been fighting a civil war for 20 years.

Further; contrary to many of the romantic reports which dominated Western news reports, many of the national liberation movements were not independent social movements, but were rather under the influence or control of Russia or China as part of their geopolitical struggle against Western imperialism and each other.(This is not to say that revolutionary movements should not accept weapons and other material support from an outside power, as long as they remain independent politically and determine their own policies, without such aid being conditional, on the political dictates and the "party line" of another country).

But even though we may differ with them politically and tactically in many areas and even with all their flaws after assuming State power, the revolutionary liberation fighters (the people in arms as opposed to the vanguard organization) are our comrades and allies in common struggle against the common enemy — the U.S. imperialist ruling class. Their struggle releases the death grip of U.S. and Western imperialism (as Anarchists more precisely call it “Capitalist world power”) and while the fight goes on we are bound together in comradeship and solidarity. The movement in Chiapas, Mexico, by the Indigenous people there who found the EZLN, a revolutionary liberation movement, is one that we and many Anarchists support.

Yet, in analyzing national liberation movements, we cannot overlook atrocities committed by movements like the Khmer Rouge, a Marxist-Leninist guerrilla movement in Cambodia, which just massacred millions of people to carry out rigid Stalinist political policies and to consolidate the country, when it took over in the 1980s. We must lay this butchery and other crimes committed by State Communism bare for all to see, right at the feet of world communism and state socialism. We do not favor this kind of revolution, which is just sheer power seeking and terrorism against the people to install a so-called Left-wing ruling class.

This is why Anarchism has always disagreed with how the Bolsheviks seized power in Soviet Russia. They created a police state and Stalin's butchery of the Russian people seems to have set a model for the State Communist movements all over the world to follow throughout the years. Now the Soviet state is gone, along with most of the Eastern European governments, but the legacy of authoritarian socialism lives on with their movements in a variety of disguises.

WE believe that the national liberation fronts make one basic mistake of many nationalist movements of oppressed peoples and that is to organize in a fashion where class distinctions are obliterated. This happened in America also, where in the fight for democratic rights, the civil rights movement included Black middle class preachers, teachers and others in the leadership and every Black person was a "brother" or “sister,” as long as they were Black. But this simplistic analysis and social reality did not hold for long, because when the Civil Rights phase of the American Black struggle had spent itself, class distinctions and class struggle came to the fore. They have been getting sharper ever since.

Poor people are demanding to organize in their own name and class interest, because although the rich Blacks and professional class may have prospered since the 1960s, the poor and oppressed have just sunk deeper into poverty and prisons are being used as a social tool to lock up millions.
Although there are Black mayors and other bureaucrats now holding positions in the government, they have no power to change things for their people, they merely serve as pacification agents of the State, what we call "Black faces in high places.” Their symbolic representation is supposed to inspire hope or keep the masses of people believing in the system. They are not even a serious concession to our struggle. They are put in office to co-opt the struggle and deaden the people to their pain.

This American neocolonial system is similar to the type of neocolonialism that took place in the 3rd World in the1950s-1980s, after many countries had obtained their "independence.” Europe still maintained control through puppet politicians, economic domination and a command structure of petty bourgeois agents, who were willing to barter the freedom of their people for personal gain. These people have no real power to improve the lives of the masses; they merely preside over their misery. In Africa, some of the most corrupt leaders are/were colonial subjects for the European countries and enjoy no local popularity at all; they just inspire fear through military control and passive acceptance by the masses of people.  

So while Black revolutionaries generally favor the ideas of African inter-communalism, they want principled revolutionary unity. Of course, the greatest service we can render the peoples of the so-called “Third World" of Africa, Asia and Latin America, is to make a revolution here in North America—in the belly of the beast. For in freeing ourselves, we get the U.S. imperialist ruling class off all our backs.

As Anarchists of color, we wish to build an international organization against Capitalism, racism, colonialism, imperialism and military dictatorship, which could more effectively fight the Capitalist powers and create a world federation of Black peoples, a commune. We want to unite a brother or sister in North America with the Black peoples of Australia and Oceania/S.W Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and South America, Asia, the Middle East and those millions of our people living in Britain and other Western European countries. We want to unite tribes, nations and cultures into an international body of grassroots and struggling forces.

Only a Social revolution will lead to Black unity and freedom. However this will only be possible when there exists an international Black revolutionary organization and social movement. An organization which can coordinate the resistance struggles everywhere of African peoples; actually a network of such organizations, resistance movements, which are spread all over the world based on a consensus for revolutionary struggle. This concept accepts any level of violence that will be necessary to enforce the demands of the people and workers.

In those countries where an open Black revolutionary movement would be subjected to fierce repression by the state, such as neocolonialist Black puppet dictatorships in other parts of Africa, the Caribbean and even parts of Asia, it would be necessary to wage an underground resistance struggle. Further, the state has grown more and more violent, with widespread torture and executions, maximum-security prisons and massive police controls, spying and deprivation of democratic rights, police brutality and murder. Clearly such governments-and all governments-must be overthrown. They will not fall due to internal economic or political problems, but must be defeated and dismantled. So we call for an international resistance movement to overthrow governments and the system of Capitalist world governments.

The military dictators and government bureaucrats have only proven that they know how to spend money on pomp and circumstance, but not how to dismantle the last vestiges of colonialism in South Africa or defeat Western neocolonialist intrigues. Africa is still the poorest of the World's continents, while materially the richest. The contrast is clear: millions of people are starving in much of Equatorial Africa, but the tribal chiefs, politicians and military dictators, are driving around in Mercedes and living in luxury villas, while they do the bidding of West European and American bankers through the International Monetary Fund. They are part of the problem, not part of the solution!

Our ideas about the importance of inter-communalism are based on a firm belief that only a federation of free peoples will bring true Black power to the masses."Power to the people" does not mean a government or political party to rule in their name, but social and political power in the hands of the people themselves. The only real "people's power" is the power to make their decisions on matters of importance and to merely elect someone else to do so in rigged elections, or to have a dictatorship forced down their throats, ain’t it. True freedom is to have full self-determination about one's social, economic and cultural development. The future is Anarchist Communism, not the nation-state, bloody dictators, Capitalism or wage slavery.

Building an Autonomous Peoples of Color Movement:

Building an autonomous movement of peoples of color, based on Anarchist principles is different than Pan-Africanism or concepts of La Raza, or even socialist internationalism. It means building a movement that goes beyond skin color, language, or even shared history of a people, to build the strongest movement of international solidarity. Most solidarity movements are built around identification with a particular struggle. But either giving useless statements about race unity, or vague statements of support, or subordinating one’s own struggle to that of another is not what autonomy is about. What we need is an international movement based on shared oppression and commitment to a common struggle.      
This has to take us past the primacy of narrow nationalism, or regional struggles and back to the idea of revolution as worldwide social change, an international civil war of poor and oppressed peoples against the capitalist system. I am not referring to just development of a socialist state in one country as happened with the old Soviet Union, regional struggles with African anti-colonialism, or the old 1960s concept of Black Power.

The old ideas of political socialism and Pan-Africanism have been lost with nation-statism and Stalin-ism. Even the ideals of joint forms of oppression have been lost so that many believe that only the United States of America has an internal Black population subjected to racist oppression and that forms of oppression based on caste, ethnicity, or other peoples of color are not racism in the same sense. This is a grave mistake and cuts us off from many allies around the world.

From Black Protest To Insurrection An Autonomous - Anti-authoritarian View

From Black Protest To Insurrection: An Autonomous, Anti-authoritarian View
By: Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin

Originally Published on July 24, 2013

We are coming upon the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, and there are some things which have a direct bearing on the present moment. We need to know that back then there had been two wings of the civil rights movement, that which emanated from the 1955-57 Montgomery Bus Boycott, which produced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national leader and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In the period of 1960-1963, the youth-based Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee had taken the early initiative away from King and SCLC, and were the ones who had called for and organized the 1963 March on Washington originally.

They envisioned a much more militant anti-government protest movement, which was coming for a long-term occupation, and to disrupt the city of Washington, D.C. to accuse the federal government of protecting the racist South, and upholding poverty and oppression. They even planned to get out on the runways of airports and prevent planes from landing at the airport, stop trains, and clogs highways, and other thoroughfares.

Malcolm X spoke approvingly of the original protest plans, as an advance past Dr. M.L. King's pacifism. However, the Kennedy Administration was able to maneuver and subvert the autonomous leadership, installing the old civil rights leadership, which was more conservative and willing to take orders directly from the government. They had been bought off by corporate and government grant money and they killed any militancy of the event at all. In fact, took it from a protest to a "celebration" of the collusion between the Kennedy Administration and those sellout leaders, claiming "victory now".

So, this tells us what is happening now with the Trayvon Martin protest movement, it has been usurped by Al Sharpton and more conservative elements. Those who want to shut down the system and protest in the streets, are usurped by those moderate and conservative elements emphasizing "peace", "calm", and "obeying the law". They are saying that "we should wait on Obama" to make up his mind as to whether he will prosecute Zimmerman, Trayvon's murderer. Listen, everyday, the feds prosecute cases that began in state courts; certainly they do it in drug cases against young Black men and teens. If he wants to do so, it should not be some extraordinary thing, but he is afraid of the right-wing fascists, and his corporate bosses have not given him the say-so yet. He must stay in his place and so what Wall Street tells him too.

This is why whatever protest there is in this period has to lead us to insurrection, long term resistance, known internationally as an "Intifada". It must maintain today's protest militancy as a stage of struggle, but escalate, first turn it into a month of resistance, and then into many months, even years of resistance, expanding our understanding every step of the way that we are actually fighting the government itself (and its corporate masters), which has sanctioned white supremacy, police terror, and vigilante violence as *some of their tools of counter-insurgency.

We are fighting fascism, and must not be neutralized or misled, just as Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the original Black Panther Party told us 59 years ago. They want to kill off Black surplus labor, homeless, and all those elements they consider as social vermin in their emerging corporate police state. The death of Trayvon Martin, and all those nameless Black/POC youth, must be united in the minds of the people, because they expose the empire's attack on the poor and low income workers.

We must have the maturity to build a United Front Against Racism and Police Brutality in this period, led by the poor, Black/POC, unemployed and low income workers.

Inquests Should Be Held in Deaths of People Killed by Memphis Police

Inquests Should Be Held in Deaths of People Killed by Memphis Police
By: Black Autonomy Federation

Originally Published on July 5, 2013

This is a statement by the Black Autonomy Federation that focuses on the George Golden case and argues that death inquests should be a standard for the Memphis Police Department.

Fatal Police Shooting in George Golden Case Shows Why Death Inquests
Should Be Standard in Shootings by Memphis Police Officers and
Deaths in Police Custody

The March 27, 2013, shooting and brutal beating of shoplifting suspect George Golden shows why there should be automatic court inquests into the use of deadly force against civilians by Memphis Police Department officers. It took the police and the Shelby County medical examiner's office almost three months to come up with an official cause of death in the case of Mr. Golden, who died April 5, 2013.

In the forensic autopsy report, the cops and the medical examiner's office claimed that “cocaine intoxication” was a major contributing factor in Mr. Golden's death, and that the gunshot wound to his head was not the primary cause of death. This conclusion was reached despite the fact that police officers beat and kicked Golden after shooting him.

The allegation of the use of cocaine was put in the autopsy report in favor of the cops, strictly to prejudice the case against Mr. Golden and to provide consistency with the police department's story that Mr. Golden was “out of control” and “resisting arrest.” This is an almost constant theme by MPD officers when they have used deadly force, the idea that they were being attacked and had “no choice” but to use deadly force, even against an unarmed person like Mr. Golden.

Mr. Golden's autopsy report and so many other dubious pro-police reports in cases of civilians fatally shot by MPD officers show that the ME's office cannot be trusted to make truthful and impartial rulings in any forensic case involving police deadly force. The families of the victims and citizens' groups will have to fight to have a court inquest into Mr. Golden's case, and ultimately, in the case of teenager Justin Thompson and many others killed by MPD officers, in which the facts have been covered up and the cops are being allowed to get away with murder. Twenty-one people have died at the hands of Memphis police officers since February 10, 2012, including eight who have died so far in 2013. Not one officer has been prosecuted for using deadly force.

The Memphis Black Autonomy Federation has been advised that on a routine basis, Dr. Karen Chancellor, the current Shelby County medical examiner, meets with the Memphis Police Department's “shooting team” to re-enact police shootings and to help the police concoct their stories. On the basis of these meetings, it is then decided which cases of deadly police force are justified. If it is true that the ME routinely confers with the MPD's “shooting team,” the ME apparently considers herself to be an advocate for the police and government authorities, not an impartial medical-legal professional with the duty to determine the truth no matter where it leads concerning culpability.

It is the ME who falsely and routinely gives a final report to the Shelby County district attorney general as to whether excessive police force has been committed or whether a “clean bill of health” is issued to the MPD. If Chancellor is having tea with the very police officials whom she should and must investigate under her oath of office, then she is merely part of the cover-up, and she alters her reports to suit the facts of cases in order to exonerate the police.

Final decisions in cases involving the use of deadly force by the police should be taken out of the hands of the Shelby County medical examiner, who is currently conspiring with Memphis police officers and government officials. There should be independent community control and civilian oversight of the MPD by an elected Police-Community Control Board. Otherwise, there will be more questionable acts of deadly police force while city and county authorities continue to show deliberate indifference to the loss of lives of civilians killed by Memphis police officers.