The Black Activist- Journal of the Black Left Unity Network

A Struggle & Analysis Journal for Black Liberation initiated by the Black Left Unity Network

OUR VOICE DOCUMENTS

01 Forging Unity of the Black Left: A Major Task of the Black Liberation Movement!

Elizabeth Catlett's Unity (front). 1970

The Black Liberation Movement must be more than the spontaneity of the Black masses. It must provide a national framework with an internationalist perspective and strategic organizing components that seek to unite the thinking and actions of the many struggles around a program for revolutionary change.

Thus the Black liberation movement must have conscious activists that work together to give the spontaneous struggles a conscious program and direction; an assessment of the balance of forces on the side of the oppressor and the oppressed; and provide a global context for understanding their struggles for a better world.

The fragmentation of the Black Liberation Movement resulting from the U.S. government attacks and the ideological errors during the late 1960s and 1970s, and further impacted by the demise of major zones of socialism as the main bases of support for the anti-imperialist struggles worldwide, has made it difficult to forge unity among enough Black left forces to effectively intervene in crucial struggles like the political disenfranchisement of Black people in Florida and Ohio that installed Bush Jr. as U.S. president in 2000 and 2004 and Katrina in 2005.

When the forces in the Black Liberation Movement who make big demands for redress on the system for its crimes against Black people, are unable to give direction to the Black people’s spontaneous responses to such blatant acts of national oppression, it does not build confidence among the Black masses that a Black Liberation Movement can help to bring about the liberation of Black people. This also weakens the confidence of the national and intentional anti-imperialist forces in the Black Liberation Movement.

The forging of a unity of the Black left, must therefore be a conscious, continuing and serious effort of the Black Liberation Movement, if it is to become more than the sum total of the spontaneous local struggles, and the loose national networks that form to try and influence election campaigns and win basic reforms.

The Black Left Unity Network (BLUN), while far from the scope and depth of the unity that is needed, represents a conscious and active commitment and mechanism toward forging this unity. Through BLUN working groups like the Cuba Working Group, we seek to unite Black left forces in practical mass work and educational activities, as we try to figure out ways of widening an deepening a unity process.

The BLUN salutes the work of Black Workers For Justice!

Black Left Unity Network

02 We Condemn the U.S. Refusal to Participate in the Durban Review Conference: African Americans and People Of Color Speak for Ourselves!

The election of Barack Obama as US president was an important development in the direction of democracy. It represented an ideological blow against the hold of racism and white supremacy on national political elections. Many Blacks and People of Color worldwide have great hopes that his election among other things, represents a leadership willing to take a strong stand against racist US and global policies, systems and governments.

The refusal of the Obama administration to participate in the Durban Review Conference on racism to be held in Geneva on April 20 – 24, 2009, without preconditions that restricts the conference from addressing the racist and genocidal nature of Israel’s oppression of Palestine, is truly a big disappointment. It not only departs from one of the important meanings of the Obama election – unifying a political majority in opposition to racism; it represents an act of complicity with violations of human rights as stated in the United Nation’s Charter.

While the United States and western governments boycott the Durban Review Conference, the impact of the international economic crisis continues to deepen the historic vestiges of centuries of racism, devastating poverty, and all forms of discrimination and injustice upon People of Color inside the US and throughout the world. It is a major cause of the ethnic cleansing which we have witnessed in parts of Africa, resulting in the deaths of millions.

Little attention has been given to the fact that in the U.S. alone, it was Black and Latino communities who were the targets of the unjust and discriminatory subprime loan schemes of Wall St. and the financial markets. These loans prayed upon the legitimate aspirations of millions of Black and Latino families for adequate housing and home ownership. Various analyses of the housing market crisis indicate that Black and Latino communities are disproportionately impacted and will “lose between $164 billion and $213 billion” as a result of predatory lending, thrusting thousands into economic crisis, homelessness, poverty, devastation.

The ILO reports that women will also be disproportionately impacted by the economic crisis, exacerbating the historic elements of gender based discrimination world-wide. Increases in unemployment world-wide will hit women workers the hardest. According to the ILO Bureau for Gender Equality, “women’s lower employment rates, weaker control over property and resources, concentration in informal and vulnerable forms of employment with lower earnings, and less social protection, all place women in a weaker position than men to weather the crisis”.

Increased racially motivated and gender based violence is being documented across the globe as the downturns from the economic crisis linger in developing as well as developed countries. Every continent has seen a rise in violence against women, gays, immigrants, and non majority nationalities. “Rising inequality can result in an increase in racial bias for scapegoating or advancing xenophobic and isolationist tendencies”, reports say.

The world-wide struggle against the concrete manifestations of racism and discrimination were the central focus of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in the first place. Without the US and other western governments correcting their egregious refusal to officially participate in WCAR and now the Durban Review process, the Obama Administration turns it’s back upon hundreds of millions of the oppressed and disadvantaged around the world who continue to suffer at the hands of the greed and misconduct of the racist, misogynist, rich and powerful. This is the true cost of the defense of Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people and all the oppressed sectors and communities around the world.

We have submitted petitions and made appeals to the US government to participate in this important conference, without success. Its participation in a preparatory meeting, gives a false impression that the US government is really committed to ending racism inside the US and around the globe. We see in the US refusal to attend this conference, a continuation of the policies of the previous administrations, magnified by the Bush administration of refusing to be accountable to democratic standards and decisions arrive at by the UN and other international bodies.

We therefore call on the Durban Review Conference to recognize the voices of African American and People of Color delegations and coalitions from organizations and social movements throughout the US in this important deliberation, to arrive at a report that frames, mandates, informs, reviews and reinforces accountability to international conventions and standards on human rights.

Black Left Unity Network

03 Victory to the Ongoing Bolivarian Revolution: U.S. Imperialism Hands Off Venezuela!

The Black Left Unity Network (BLUN) salutes the victory of Nicolas Maduro Moros as the new and democratically elected President of Venezuela.

We stand in revolutionary solidarity with the statement issued by the Afro-Venezuela movement that pledges its’ continued support to the objectives of the revolutionary process in Venezuela and the election of President Maduro.

The struggles and voices of Afro-Venezuelans represent the deepest sentiments for democracy and social transformation and were critical to this victory and the ongoing Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela that was led by Comrade President Hugo Chavez.

We will never forget the immediate response by the Venezuelan people led by President Chavez to the tragedy triggered by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast and the offer of major aid to assist the survivors remaining in the disaster area and those dispersed to all corners of the U.S. The U.S. government’s refusal of this aid and the aid offered by revolutionary Cuba, pointed out clearly how the U.S. government will sacrifice the lives of African descendants and poor people, before it will recognize the good deeds of governments that are anti-imperialist, truly democratic and building a society that benefits the needs of the majority, not the capitalist elites.

Even with the major changes and improvements made by the Venezuelan revolutionary process, the forces of counter-revolution are still part of the economic and racist elite in Venezuelan society. Their ties to U.S. imperialism make them a major threat to the revolutionary process. Combating and defeating their maneuvers remains part of the ongoing revolutionary process until this class is defeated.

African descendants in the U.S. know firsthand how elections are manipulated by the capitalist elites. They use their control of major media to try and place doubt in the minds of the people, trying to suggest voter fraud as has been the case so many times for candidates supported by Black people in the U.S. But in Venezuela, where the elections are structured in ways that safeguard and protect the democratic will of the majority, the capitalist elites have been combated in this arena.

The revolutionary struggle in Venezuela is critical to the revolutionary direction of building and expanding socialism throughout the Americas in the 21st Century. The organization and struggles of the Afro-Venezuelans as an identifiable and integral part of the Venezuela revolutionary process represents the further advance for socialism.

Sketch by Tom Feelings, from Liberator, November 1966, page 5.


Through our efforts to rebuild a revolutionary Black movement in the U.S. we will ensure that African descendants in this country understand the common historical and political ties that bound our peoples together. For us there is no question that African descendant’s in the U.S. must be part of the defense of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, as U.S. imperialism assumes its historical role as a central force supporting and or initiating counter-revolution in Venezuela.

The BLUN commits to educate the Black working-class and to call on the activists and organizations in our network, to mobilize in defense of the Venezuelan Revolution as it is connected to the struggles of All African descendants against the impacts of the colonial, neo-colonial and imperialist past and present, and to further shaping the direction for a revolutionary social transformation throughout the Americas.

Victory to the ongoing Bolivarian Revolution!

Black Left Unity Network

04 Justice For Trayvon Martin: Wear Your Hoodie, Protest This Racist Murder and Rebuild the National Black Liberation Movement

The senseless murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black youth in Sanford, Florida, who was shot by George Zimmerman, a white man driven by racism and protected by an unjust “Stand Your Ground” law, is a crime against humanity and violation of human rights.

The refusal of the Sanford police department to arrest Zimmerman, despite having evidence that he chased Trayvon after being told by the 911 operator not to do so, and his aired “fucking coon” comment showing that he wanted to kill this Black youth, along with the cover up actions by the heads of the Sanford police department, sends an age old racist message - that Black people have no rights that a white is bound to respect. The Sanford police did not drug test or do a criminal background check on killer Zimmerman, and allowed him to keep his gun permit enabling him to purchase and carry another instrument of death. Yet, they drug tested young Trayvon’s dead body, and did an extensive background check, trying to find reasons to justify this racist killing.

The economic crisis created by the capitalist system and its ruling 1%, that is protected by government policies and agencies, including major cuts in social programs in the billions to bailout the banks and corporations, has fostered a sharper racist political and social climate by scapegoating working class and poor Blacks and Latino’s and labor unions as the cause of the economic crisis.

The struggle against the racist aspects of the economic crisis that reflect the conditions of the most oppressed and exploited sectors of the 99%, must be brought forward by a more united Black left in alliance with other oppressed sectors, and a strategic campaign, that highlights the issues and demands and begins to mobilize a national resistance of working class Black and other oppressed peoples.

The immediate demands for the arrest of killer Zimmerman for a hate crime, the resignation of the Sanford police chief and the repeal of the “stand your ground” laws in all states throughout the U.S., must be linked to a struggle and movements to build mass based working class Black and oppressed people’s power.

The short lived struggle following the initial massive response to the racist jailing of the Jena six, in Jena, Louisiana in December 2006, shows that the immediate struggles that highlight the racist injustices of the system, must be linked to a long term struggle and organized national movement with a program of action that addresses the systemic causes of these injustices.

The coming forward of the demands and movements of the most oppressed sectors, is critical to a direction that begins to shape new power relations and a new consciousness toward uniting the larger U.S. working class to challenge the attacks.

The struggles to reform the capitalist system are not the answer. The reforms alone have not eliminated the conditions of human oppression and exploitation, despite what’s written in federal, state and local government constitutions and charters, or the forming of special commission and agencies.

The lack of mass based power by working class Black and other oppressed people has also allowed the reforms that have been won through struggles since the formation of the U.S., to be weakened and eliminated, to increase profits and power for the rich.

The history and depth of the oppression and exploitation of the Black masses, is part of the permanent structure of capitalism, sharpening during economic crises.

In addition to being a source of cheap labor that continuously allows the capitalists to lower the standard of living for all workers, the Black working class is a main sector of the larger working class of consumers, that the capitalist rely on to purchase the products made by oppressed and cheap labor mainly by workers of color in Africa, Asia and Latin America.This is a major reason for the Congress passing U.S. free trade agreements like NAFTA.

The struggles and movements of the Black, oppressed and working class masses must be to build mass based power and democracy over the economy, social institutions and all areas of government, as part of bringing about a revolutionary alternative to the capitalist system. An alternative that uses the massive wealth and resource of this country to address the suffering, disease, unemployment, homelessness, deaths, and the divisions caused by the greed and wars of a system that places profits over human needs and rights.

The murder of Trayvon Martin highlights one of the ways this racist and exploitive system sees addressing the problems of the economic crises to further divide the people and to try and extend the life of capitalism and the dominance of the 1% capitalist ruling class.

While there will be many responses to the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, the proposed solutions that promote a direction beyond basic reforms, will require a more united and conscious role of the Black left among the Black masses to help link immediate issues to a long term movement building, program, strategy and struggle.

Black left unity grounded in work among the Black working class masses must become a main task!

Black Left Unity Network

05 Assata is Not a Terrorist: She is a Freedom Fighter like Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King

The attack on Sister Assata Shakur is an attack on the right of the Black masses and the Black liberation movement to resist oppression. The U.S. government and all of its branches have always persecuted, jailed, exiled and murdered Black activists and revolutionaries no matter their philosophies or tactics-communism, Pan Africanism, separation, revolutionary nationalism, integration; nonviolence, armed self-defense, running for political office.

Assata, who was unarmed and shot 5 times with the intent to kill by the New Jersey state police, was part of the U.S. government COINTEL program, similar to its now so-called war on terrorism, to justify murderous attacks of Black activists and revolutionaries, that saw the assassinations of Malcolm X, Martin L. King, Black Panthers and the frame-ups, jailing and forced exile of many named and unnamed activists.

The labeling of Sister Assata as a “terrorist” is part of the U.S. strategy to further isolate Cuba as the most important political ally of the Black liberation movement over the past 50 years, and as a leading political and ideological force in the struggle against capitalism and U.S. imperialism throughout the Americas.

The jailing of the Cuban 5 as spies and the efforts to cast Cuba as a racist nation against Afro-Cubans are part of this strategy of isolation, seeking to foster internal strife and rebellion to set-back the growing anti-capitalist alignment and socialist direction of countries in this region. This is also why the U.S. is supporting the opposition in Venezuela trying to claim fraud in the recent election of Nicolas Maduro who is committed to continuing the Bolivarian Revolution led by Comrade Hugo Chavez.

The so-called war on terror has ushered in new military tactics and policies that try to justify invading the sovereign territories of other nations as was done with the invasion of Pakistan to kill Osama Ben Laden, and the use of drones to assassinate the two Americans labeled as terrorist in Yemen.

The political asylum granted by the U.S. to Luis Posada Carriles, a known terrorist involved in terrorist acts throughout the Americas, including the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 173 people. The U.S. government refuses to send Carriles back to Cuba for trail, claiming that he faces the threat of torture. Yet, the torture of years and decades in solitary confinement of Black and other political prisoners like Assata Shakur inside of the U.S. jails is acceptable punishment for challenging oppression.

What the U.S. is projecting by this bounty on Sister Assata is a threat to countries throughout the world, that providing political asylum to anyone challenging the policies and laws of the U.S. government and the system of capitalism, will be labeled has harboring terrorists and placed on the hit list. This is an attack on internationalism, which must be a main feature of the struggle against capitalist globalization and imperialism. It is also a message to the revolutionary and social movement organizations in the U.S. that our struggles for change must be kept within the limits of bourgeois democracy.

The capitalists support for Obama as U.S. president was clearly different from why the Black masses voted for him. Obama’s betrayal of the hopes of the Black masses further points out why the forces of the Black liberation movement must unite both to rebuild its national character, and to mobilize the Black masses against these attacks in order to expose and isolate the role of the Obama administration that has been used to disorient and hold back the resistance of the Black masses to the deep attacks on working-class Black and other oppressed peoples increased by the capitalist crisis. Let’s form a national Black united front to defend Assata and to put the U.S. government on trial for its War on Black America!

We must not allow them to come for us one-by-one! Hands-off Sister Assata Shakur!

Black Left Unity Network

 

06 Stop The War on Black America!

The impacts of the corporate driven capitalist crisis represent a War on Black America and have created many battlefronts. They include

·      The struggle for jobs

·      The struggle against housing foreclosures, evictions and gentrification

·      The struggle to defend, improve and for community control of public education

·      The struggle for worker rights and to defend, democratize and expand organized labor as a leader and power base of a working class social movement

·      The struggle against women’s oppression and all forms of sexual oppression

·      The struggle against police murders extrajudicial murders by police and racist vigilantes

·      The struggle against mass incarceration, political prisoners and the prison industrial complex

·      The struggle against environmental racism

These struggles must be connected by common slogans, a national program, and some coordinated actions in order to mobilize the breath and death of the power of the Black masses as a revolutionary social force.

The most glaring aspect of the War on Black America is the military assault and murders of unarmed Black and Brown young people across the country by the police.

The report issued by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement showing that every 36 hours during the first 6 months of 2012, a Black person was killed by the police, has helped to capture the rapidly growing militarization of Black communities throughout the U.S.

The criminalization of Black working class young people has been a key part of the U.S. domestic strategy to develop a police state under the auspices of protecting society from its internal crime and social erosion. The so called war on terrorism launched after September 11, 2001, elevated this criminalization to the level of being an internal threat to U.S. national stability and security.

Stand your ground laws, and a right-wing led 2nd Amendment campaign to defend gun ownership, play to the racist and chauvinist fears of white America.These campaigns are part of the unfolding of a racist and fascist social movement led by corporate financed right-wing forces like the Tea Party.

If these murders were brought before an international criminal court free of influence by U.S. imperialism, the perpetuators would be labeled as “death squads” and the U.S. would be tried for committing crimes against humanity.

If police speak out against the police department’s complicity with the brutality and murders of unarmed Black people, they are vilified, disciplined, often placed in dangerous situations without back-up and fired.

In cities across the U.S. Black people are holding meetings and forums, and forming coalitions to struggle against extrajudicial police brutality and killings of Black and Brown people. However, these important developments while reflecting the national scope of the U.S. police state have not yet formed a national coalition and campaign with a common program of action to unite these battlefronts.

The Black Left Unity Network (BLUN) through our National Dialogue Calls engaging Black activists across the country discussing the various attacks and struggles along with reports on the BLUN listserv, are hearing the desire to build a national unified fight-back.However, initiating a process for forging the unity remains the challenge.

The BLUN is calling for the building of a national Stop the War on Black America Campaign as a movement building framework for uniting the many efforts throughout the country fighting against various aspects of the attack on lives, communities, social institutions, economic survival, environmental protection and democratic and human rights of Black people throughout the U.S. and in solidarity with opposing U.S. wars on oppressed peoples throughout the world.

A first step in this direction is for the various efforts to adopt the slogan Stop the War on Black America to be included in their literature and public statements that begin project a united national sentiment defining the political nature of these police murders and the police state.

After a period of shaping a national sentiment by promoting a common slogan and united activities in the various locales, and reporting on these efforts, the BLUN is proposing that a national meeting be held to bring together representatives of the various coalitions throughout the country to develop a national program of action and national Stop the War on Black America Coalition.

Let’s take the first step Now and adopt Stop the War on Black America as a common slogan.The BLUN listserv can be used to report on the various struggles across the country, and the steps forces are taking to forge unity.The BLUN National Dialogue Call can be a connecting point to discuss moving forward toward building a national Stop the War on Black America Coalition and campaign.

Black Left Unity Network