Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson reflects on the movement for the Movement for BlackLives after the Dallas shootings. Recorded at the Common Bound conference in Buffalo for The Laura Flanders Show and New Economy Coalition
September 4, 2015
Since the rebellion in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014, Black people throughout the United States have been grappling with a number of critical questions such as why are Black people being hunted and killed every 28 hours or more by various operatives of the law? Why don’t Black people seem to matter to this society? And what can and must we do to end these attacks and liberate ourselves? There are concrete answers to these questions. Answers that are firmly grounded in the capitalist dynamics that structure the brutal European settler-colonial project we live in and how Afrikan people have historically been positioned within it.
The Value of Black Life
There was a time in the United States Empire, when Afrikan people, aka, Black people, were deemed to be extremely valuable to the “American project”, when our lives as it is said, “mattered”. This “time” was the era of chattel slavery, when the labor provided by Afrikan people was indispensable to the settler-colonial enterprise, accounting for nearly half of the commodified value produced within its holdings and exchanged in “domestic” and international markets. Our ancestors were held and regarded as prize horses or bulls, something to be treated with a degree of “care” (i.e. enough to ensure that they were able to work and reproduce their labor, and produce value for their enslavers) because of their centrality to the processes of material production.
What mattered was Black labor power and how it could be harnessed and controlled, not Afrikan humanity. Afrikan humanity did not matter – it had to be denied in order create and sustain the social rationale and systemic dynamics that allowed for the commodification of human beings. These “dynamics” included armed militias and slave patrols, iron-clad non-exception social clauses like the “one-drop” rule, the slave codes, vagrancy laws, and a complex mix of laws and social customs all aimed at oppressing, controlling and scientifically exploiting Black life and labor to the maximum degree. This systemic need served the variants of white supremacy, colonial subjugation, and imperialism that capitalism built to govern social relations in the United States. All of the fundamental systems created to control Afrikan life and labor between the 17th and 19th centuries are still in operation today, despite a few surface moderations, and serve the same basic functions. Continue reading
29 June 2015
As Japanese Americans whose relatives were imprisoned as “national security threats” during World War II, we were shocked to learn that the Obama administration is contracting with private prison companies to imprison thousands of mothers and children from Central America in detention camps. This, after these families fled some of the most violent countries in the world to apply for asylum in the United States.
After visiting one of these family detention facilities, a descendant of incarcerated Japanese Americans described the place as feeling like “an updated version” of the World War II prison camps. The Japanese American Citizens League has stated that the organization is “deeply troubled by the chilling similarities between the confinement of women and children in places such as Dilley and Karnes, and the wartime treatment of Japanese Americans at places such as Manzanar, Heart Mountain and Tule Lake.” Continue reading
[Once, when a country attacked another by force of arms, it was called WAR, and human rights violations were identified as WAR CRIMES. Now, as the US shoots Mexicans in Mexico, it is called an approved, acceptable, police action. It is another obscenity of arrogance and impunity. Frontlines ed.]
A United States court has all but declared open season on Mexican nationals along the US-Mexico border. Border patrol agents may shoot foreign nationals in Mexico with impunity – provided that those at whom they aim are standing within feet of US territory.
According to a ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit last week, agents who shoot and kill people in Mexico while standing on US soil will never be held to account, except before their administrative agencies. No court will ever review these actions and the families of the victims will be left with no avenue for justice. An agent’s actions will not be governed or restrained by the constitution nor subject to review by US courts.
This isn’t a hypothetic situtation: all of this has already happened.
The group of detained mothers announced Tuesday that they had launched a hunger strike, and demanded that they be released along with their children while they pursued asylum claims outside of detention. The Karnes facility houses hundreds of Central American women who crossed the border illegally with their children during a surge of migration from the violence-plagued countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras last year.
Inmates at the Willacy County Correctional Center, about 200 miles south of San Antonio, started fires and had “kitchen knives and sharpened mops and brooms to be used as weapons,” Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence told local news station KGBT. The prison is “now uninhabitable due to damage caused by the inmate population,” read a statement released by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
It took two days for county and federal police agencies to control the protests, with authorities even resorting to tear gas.
The inmates were reportedly protesting medical care at the facility, which is part of a little-known network of 13 prisons designated for immigrants, many of whom reentered the United States after being deported.
“The revolution won’t be televised ya’ll know that.
And if it does get televised they gonna make it look as bad as possible.” – Shoota
The nationwide protests after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson have brought much needed attention to issues of institutional racism, police brutality and the killing of unarmed black men across the US. The #BlackLivesMatter protests have also brought people together and created unity in black communities throughout the country.
Mainstream media (MSM) broadcast images from Ferguson of stores being looted and buildings up in flames. The images shown in MSM succeeded in creating a massive media spectacle. MSM combined with some elements in social media also managed to push false narratives into the public discourse regarding who exactly was in the Ferguson streets and what they were doing there. The narrative that “thugs” were causing destruction and mayhem in Ferguson was amplified in MSM in attempts to smear and discredit the #BlackLivesMatter protests. But who are these so-called “thugs” running amok in Missouri? Continue reading
Weekly News Update on the Americas, December 9, 2014
Hundreds of Mexican immigrants and other activists held actions in at least 47 US towns and cities on Dec. 3 to protest the abduction of 43 teachers’ college students by police and gang members in Mexico’s Guerrero state in September; each of the 43 students had one of the actions dedicated to him.
The protests were organized by UStired2, a group taking its name from #YaMeCansé (“I’m tired now,” or “I’ve had it”), a Mexican hashtag used in response to the violence against the students, who attended the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in the Guerrero town of Ayotzinapa. The protesters focused on US government financing for the Mexican government—especially funding for the “war on drugs” through the 2008 Mérida Initiative—but they also expressed outrage over the US court system’s failure to indict US police agents in two recent police killings of unarmed African Americans. Continue reading
[We have received other reports that, while the numbers of protesters were much smaller than claimed in this AJA press release, the action clearly and prominently challenged the fascist Modi’s claim of universal embrace and acclaim. The views of AJA are offered here by Frontlines, to understand the growing and diverse opposition to the Imperialist’s Modi. — Frontlines ed.]
Massive protests send clear demands to Indian PM Modi: End suppression of minorities and desist from clamping down on civil society institutions
Alliance for Justice and Accountability — Press Release
New York, NY | September 28, 2104
Alliance for Justice and Accountability, a broad coalition of organizations and individuals, announced that the rally this morning in New York City during Prime Minister Modi’s event at Madison Square Garden, was a huge success. Hundreds of people, including human rights activists, professionals, students and people from all walks of life attended the rally. Protesters were a large and spirited group of Indian Americans comprising of people of all faiths and ideological persuasions, with one thing in common: they were demanding justice and accountability in the case of Mr. Modi, and an end to repression of minorities and crony capitalism in India.
“The protests have demonstrated the rejection of a leader who represents a hateful and divisive agenda, ” said Robindra Deb, a key AJA organizer of protest on September 28. “We represent the 70% of Indians that did not vote for Mr. Modi,” added Mr. Deb. Continue reading
Prisoner — Undocumented — Immigrants…
July 7, 2013 — CORCORN SHU
I would like to take this moment to possibly enlighten you to a situation we as Hispanic Mexican Nationals would like to share with all of you. Our hope is to create discussion and ultimately change this sad reality. Due to being such a small population in California prisons, the majority do not understand or even realize (much less consider). Hopefully with this essay I’m able to express correctly, sufficiently, and effectively these little known conditions and bring attention to this issue. We suffer and struggle daily in a foreign land, where many of us do not even write, understand, or speak English.
This struggle not only involves Mexican Nationals in California, but also all undocumented immigrants in prison around this nation. Some of us are here doing life terms with no family or friends support (mentally, emotionally, economically, physically, etc.), the most basic of human conditions to be social. Think about this for a minute. For family members to visit us from Mexico requires an incredible amount of patience and hard work, and huge obstacles at the US-MEXICO border. For example, on my situation I haven’t seen my father, brothers, and some of my sisters since 1996.
Why??-because my family couldn’t process the visas for them and couldn’t afford to pay the expenses to travel. In the past, I used to see my mother once a year. My family had to work and save money for my elderly mother to be able to come visit me just one time every year. Unfortunately, since 2007, my family couldn’t afford it anymore. So I haven’t seen the rest of my family since 1996, which is 14 years total and counting. This is just my example. Many more undocumented immigrants/Hispanics in prison suffer the same fate. Under life terms and some of us validated in the Security Housing Units (SHU), we may very well never see or hug our immediate family and friends. Imagine the suffering and heartache we endure??? Living life sentences inside ‘the grey box’ (SHU), under this daily struggle, under this psychological and physical torture 23 hours a day we wait to hear and receive news from our family back home.
Many of us came to the U.S. from very rural towns with little or no education and severely economically challenged areas in Mexico. As we can agree, many who come to the U.S. do so for the ‘American Dream’: Land of opportunity and a better way of life. A sacrifice for ourselves and our families back home. Due to having to put education on hold early in our youth to work and contribute to our family’s welfare, ultimately basic reading and writing much time is lost and thousands of us risk our lives and cross the border (breaking U.S. laws) and some of those thousands end up in prisons, detention centers, and jails across the nation. Fewer still get life terms that cuts off communication with family and limits it to phone calls (when rare monetary ability allows a phone call home) and letters (for those who can read and write). Continue reading
The Zimmerman Verdict is a Reflection of the Times. WE CHARGE GENOCIDE!
The People Must ORGANIZE!
Statement by Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, July 13, 2013
Trayvon Martin was never going to get justice from a courtroom of the United States government. Justice for Trayvon and for the hundreds of other Black women, men, and children executed by someone employed or protected by the US government on a daily basis will only come from our people and the power we are able to wield through the strength of our organization and the resolve of our will. Zimmerman was only put on trial because millions of our people took to the streets in early 2012 and threatened to disrupt the system. The trial was a means to divert our energies and return things to the status quo.
Obama’s statement that a “a jury has spoken” encouraging what he called, “calm reflection”, is just another effort to lure Black people to sleep and keep us accepting the status quo. The status quo of white supremacy has never and will never work for Black people. As W.E.B. DuBois stated, “a system cannot fail those who it was never meant to protect.” White supremacy and the systems that support and reinforce it like capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy must be defeated and dismantled. We must always keep this in mind and be prepared in concrete, organized ways to ensure that there will be no peace if there is no justice. Now is the time for direct action in the form of organized Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns that disrupt the status quo systems of the US government through massive non-compliant resistance.
We must also be clear that the Zimmerman verdict is a reflection of the times. 17-year old Trayvon Martin was the 31st Black person executed by someone employed or protected by the state in 2012. As we demonstrated in Operation Ghetto Storm, 313 Black women, men, and children were executed without trials by the police, security guards or certified “neighborhood watchmen” in 2012. These extrajudicial killings have by no means stopped or slowed down, as witnessed by the execution of Kimani Gray and dozens more Black people in the first six months of 2013. With the Zimmerman verdict justifying and setting new precedent for the disposal of Black life, we should expect the number of extrajudicial killings to increase. It is now more imperative than ever for us to strengthen the organization of our communities and defend ourselves. Continue reading
U.S. Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima has made his decision to uphold disparate treatment of Mexican Americans, and the constitutionality of HB 2281. The purpose of this law was to destroy Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies Program. In doing so, Tashima returned us to the times of Joseph McCarty.
The Arizona law broadly banned courses that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, foster racial resentment, were designed for students of a particular ethnic group or that advocated ethnic solidarity.
The penalty if Tucson did not comply was that the district would lose 10 percent of its annual funding — some $14 million over a fiscal year.
Tashima ruled that the plaintiffs “failed to show the law was too vague, broad or discriminatory, or that it violated students’ first amendment rights.” On the positive side, he held that courses made-to-serve students of a particular ethnic group were not unconstitutional, which seems to imply that it is alright to ban ethnic studies programs.
The ruling raised more questions than it answered. The judge’s legal reasoning and wording was not consistent with his previous decisions, and it left me with the feeling that it had been written by law clerks and that the decision was not properly vetted by Tashima who has been more precise in previous rulings. A survivor of the Japanese internment camps, he had been expected to be sensitive to the rampant racism in Arizona.
Tashima noted that Attorney General Tom Horne’s anti-Mexican American Studies ardor bordered on discriminatory conduct, saying that Horne’s “single-minded focus on terminating the MAS (Mexican-American Studies) program” raised concerns.
Then Tashima engaged in mental gymnastics: “Although some aspects of the record may be viewed to spark suspicion that the Latino population has been improperly targeted, on the whole, the evidence indicates that Defendants targeted the MAS program, not Latino students, teachers or community members who participated in the program.” This conclusion is mind boggling.
This wrongheaded logic would condone the bombing of a village as long as the villagers were not targeted. Continue reading
[We have received the following message from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, announcing and detailing the release of a new organizing manual for community self-defense. When many reform activists continue to appeal to oppressive institutions to solve the problems of repression and oppression, the manual charts a different path where matters are taken into the hands of the people, both in response to specific attacks they face from government and reactionary aggression, but also in building the struggle to end those oppressive powers once and for all. Well worthy of study and broad distribution and active organizing, Frontlines offers it here (see link at end of announcement), encouraging responses. — Frontlines ed.]
Oppressed peoples and communities can and will only be secure in this country when they are organized to defend themselves against the aggressions of the government and the forces of white supremacy and capitalist exploitation. “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: A Handbook on Organizing New Afrikan and Oppressed Communities for Self-Defense”, is the latest contribution of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) and the Every 36 Hours Campaign that seeks to strengthen organizing initiatives within Black or New Afrikan communities for self-defense, by presenting these initiatives with a comprehensive analytical framework and practical organizing tools to ground and unite them.
As the extrajudicial killing of Kimani Gray and the more than twenty other Black women and men by the police in the first two months of 2013 clearly illustrate, it is imperative that New Afrikan communities get organized and defend ourselves. As the real economy continues to contract, corporations become more vicious and exploitative, our communities are gentrified and displaced, public goods and services continue to be eliminated or privatized, and the national security state continues to grow and become ever more invasive, the attacks on New Afrikan and other oppressed and exploited people are only going to escalate. We must defend ourselves, and we have every right to do so by any means necessary.
“Let Your Motto Be Resistance” draws on the long history of New Afrikan peoples struggle to realize self-determination and defend our persons, our rights and our dignity from the assaults of the oppressive settler-colonial government and the forces of white supremacy. Building on this history “Let Your Motto Be Resistance” provides in summary form a vision of how we can (re)organize our communities from the ground up to defend ourselves and reassert our fundamental human rights to life, dignity, and self-determination. Continue reading
A McDonald’s store in the Philippines. (Flickr)
Alleging unpaid wages and repeated retaliation, McDonald’s workers in central Pennsylvania launched a surprise strike at 11 this morning. The strikers are student guest workers from Latin America and Asia, brought to the United States under the controversial J-1 cultural exchange visa program. Their employer is one of the thousands of McDonald’s franchisees with whom the company contracts to run its ubiquitous stores.
“We are afraid,” striker Jorge Victor Rios told The Nation prior to the work stoppage. “But we are trying to overcome our fear.”
The McDonald’s corporation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The J-1 visa program is officially intended to promote educational and cultural exchange. But advocates allege that J-1, like the other guest worker programs that collectively bring hundreds of thousands of workers in and out of the United States each year, is rife with abuse. The National Guestworker Alliance (NGA), the organization spearheading today’s strike, charges that such programs—whose future is intimately tied up with the fate of comprehensive immigration reform—offer ample opportunities for employers to intimidate workers, suppress organizing and drive down labor standards.
“McDonald’s is just the latest in a long line of corporations that have hijacked the US guest worker program to get cheap, exploitable labor, and that’s what the students are,” NGA Executive Director Saket Soni told The Nation. “The conditions are horrific, but have become the norm for guest workers.”
The workers are striking over what they charge are rampant abuses at their stores in Harrisburg and nearby Lemoyne and Camp Hill. According to NGA, the visiting students each paid $3,000 or more for the chance to come and work, and were promised full-time employment; most received only a handful of hours a week, while others worked shifts as long as twenty-five hours straight, without being paid overtime. “Their employer is also their landlord,” said Soni. “They’re earning sub-minimum wages, and then paying it back in rent” to share a room with up to seven co-workers. “Their weekly net pay is actually sometimes brought as low as zero.”
“We are living in [a] basement,” said Rios, “cramped together, with no divisions, in bunkbeds which are meant for children.” Continue reading