Somebody asked me somewhere down the archive the other day something along the lines of “what can I do?” It’s gotten buried to the point where I can’t find it, or the person who asked, but I’ll try to explain by giving my own and other examples.
The first step I took was the revolutionaize my mind and unlearn the poisons the society has built into me. This is a criminal society (what some call a crimogenic society), that can corrupt you and turn you into a criminal unless you are careful. When you have a situation today where racial and other violence runs rampant and with impunity, it encourages others to commit these acts because they feel they can get away with it.
Education, or self-education, was the first and most important step for me. Books were the begining. I walked into a library and looked into a random aisle and bay. The first book I saw and grabbed was the autobiography of Malcolm X. After reading that, I was never the same. I looked more into who he was, and soon enough, I learned about the Panthers and began reading about others such as Huey Newton, Fred Hampton, Assata Shakur, George Jackson, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, H. Rap Brown (Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin), Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), and Robert F. Williams. Reading about them led to other people such as Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, and Thomas Sankara. From there, I would look up books and get my hands on any I could find on them. Because I was unemployed and not going to school at the time, I spent a whole year dedicating myself to this. At the same time, I used social networks and other means to communicate with my friends and share with them what I was learning. The essential point here is that we have to start by engaging in serious study. Youtube and other video websites can help you watch speeches and see the anger and passion these people had and what some still have. Watching them speak gave me confidence and inspiration.
Through Malcolm X and the others, I learned to be careful with the institutions of this country and how they share information. The best information is in that that is hard to get or not well known.
Second was to begin educating the community. Any chance I get, I spread the message with friends, with co-workers, family, and strangers on the street. We have to do this because the more you talk about an issue, the better you get at articulating and debating it. Of course, there were tensions, and some so-called friends, especially my rich so-called friends, branded me as some kind of racist demagogue. When you try to act sane in an insane society, the society will look at you as if you are insane.
Third is the question of finding out your skills. What are you good at? Are you good at writing? investigating? Drawing? Public speaking? In organization, everyone has a role to play, but it’s up to you to see what role suits you best.
Fourth is discipline. You can’t get involved with struggle if you aren’t disciplined. Video games, Television, movies, being out with friends; it’s all good once and a while, but if you are serious, you’ll have to dramatically cut the time you spend on these, sometimes all of it, to get involved. This includes being on this website and using it as an effective resource; not something you use for 8 hours every day where you joke around 90 percent of the time. You’re activism has to go beyond a blog. Organization is more than a job; it’s a day by day lifetime committment.
You have to remember that there is something more important than you; that is the movement. Don’t get involved thinking you are going to become some kind of popular celebrity where you’ll eventually get the “good life.” Struggle is what it is: you have to struggle. No such thing as easy struggle. Just a side note: realizing that this is what I want to do, it has given me a sense of belonging and a purpose. This give me a sort of high that makes me confident and never discouraged with myself and the people.
Fear is another obstacle and has to be overcome. It’s obvious that this country has a counter intelligence program set up to neutralize freedom fighters and revolutionary organizations. We know what the NSA, the police, the CIA, the FBI, and all those other gangs are doing, but we can never be afraid. Don’t censor yourself. Be cautious, but don’t let that turn you into a coward.
Fifth is organization. You have to join and organization or create one that’s fighting for the people. You have to attend local rallies and organizational meetings. Check out what local colleges are doing, as well as cultural centers and whatever else you hear from here on from other people.
There’s much more to cover, but I’ll stop here. Any longer and no one will read this.
Mar. 2 2014
If ever you needed proof that the system, from the institutional to the individual, is stacked against people of color, look no further than Marissa Alexander.
Florida state prosecutor Angela Corey is seeking to put Marissa Alexander behind bars for 60 years because she had the audacity to defend her life.
Alexander, a 33-year-old black mother of three and survivor of domestic violence, was initially sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into the wall of her home in 2012 with her legally owned gun to scare off her abusive husband, who’s violence is well documented. No one was harmed but Corey prosecuted anyway.
After nearly three years behind bars, Alexander was granted a new trial.
But Corey—the same prosecutor who failed to put Trayvon’s killer in prison, who refused to address race during the trial of Jordan Davis’ killer and who leads the state in prosecuting black children as adults—is now aiming for three 20 year sentences for Alexander, which amounts to a life sentence.
This is an outrage, for sure, but unfortunately it’s not at all surprising. I say that because the criminal justice system is working exactly as intended by the white racists who built it.
This is the same system that required massive public protests to even consider prosecuting the man who killed Renisha McBride.
This is the same system that sentenced John McNeil to life in prison for shooting a white man who was coming at him with a knife.
And the list goes on.
Yet we keep looking to this backwards system as the solution to securing justice for the countless people of color this nation has wronged. How much more proof do we need that the system is fucked before we stop trying to “reform” it and start trying to dismantle and rebuild it? I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s something to think about.
In the meantime, you can support Marissa Alexander by donating to her legal fund.
During the Church Committee investigation of the intelligence agencies in the mid 1970s, many of us were convinced that our work was being closely monitored. Of course, there was no Internet or email or even sophisticated computers in our offices in G-308 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. But we were careful about documents, about phone conversations and about meetings outside our secure enclave. Now, nearly 40 years later, we have learned that Sen. Frank Church and Sen. Howard Baker were put on a watch list and their communications monitored.
One phrase uttered to us many times by intelligence officials still sticks in my craw: “We will still be here long after you are gone.” In other words, we will wait you out, we will do what we think necessary, because we know best. In some cases they may know best, but not when it comes to violating U.S. law by spying on Americans, tapping their phones, planting bugs in their hotel rooms (see Martin Luther King) and by engaging in coups and foreign assassinations.
Now we see a pattern of behavior which indicates that the CIA did not learn its lesson. It has reverted back to the same tactics and “ends justifies the means” approach it was using in the mid-20th century.
Mar. 5 2014
In the wake of an explosive new allegation that the CIA spied on Senate intelligence committee staffers, one senator felt this morning that he needed to make something clear.
“The Senate Intelligence Committee oversees the CIA, not the other way around,” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M) said in a press release.
In normal circumstances, that would have been a statement of the obvious. Today, it was more a cry for help.
McClatchy News Service on Tuesday reported that the CIA’s inspector general has asked for a criminal investigation into CIA monitoring of computers used by Senate aides who were investigating the agency’s prominent role in the Bush-era torture of detainees.
Specifically, McClatchy reported: “The committee determined earlier this year that the CIA monitored computers – in possible violation of an agreement against doing so – that the agency had provided to intelligence committee staff in a secure room at CIA headquarters that the agency insisted they use to review millions of pages of top-secret reports, cables and other documents, according to people with knowledge.”
In a letter to President Obama on Tuesday, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) referred to what he called “unprecedented action against the Committee in relation to the internal CIA review,” and described it as “incredibly troubling for the Committee’s oversight responsibilities and for our democracy.”
The allegation comes on the heels of a fruitless quest by members of the House and Senate to get NSA officials to confirm or deny whether information on phone calls by members of Congress has been swept up in the agency’s metadata dragnet. (Since it’s so indiscriminate, presumably they have, but the NSA won’t say so.)
The Senate report at the heart of this confrontation took four years to complete, runs 6,000 pages, and was adopted by the committee in December 2012. It is said to be highly critical of both the CIA’s role in the torture regime and its public protestations of innocence. But the White House, under ferocious lobbying by the CIA, has refused to declassify it.
Most recently, controversy has arisen over an internal CIA report that was reportedly critical of the agency’s practices, but was withheld from Senate investigators.
Heinrich, in his statement, complained: “Since I joined the Committee, the CIA has refused to engage in good faith on the Committee’s study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. Instead, the CIA has consistently tried to cast doubt on the accuracy and quality of this report by publicly making false representations about what is and is not in it.”
Doctors appear to have cured a nine-month-old baby that was born with the HIV virus, marking the second time that medical professionals may have sent HIV into remission by starting treatment just hours after the child’s birth.
Scientists announced Wednesday that the young girl, whose identity has not been released, was born in Long Beach, California with HIV – which can lead to AIDS. That fate was apparently avoided, though, when doctors began administering antiretroviral drugs in the first hours of her life. Medical professionals used multiple drugs in an antiretroviral cocktail that seemed to act as an early inhibitor, according to Dr. Deborah Persaud, a pediatrics specialist.
“The child…has become HIV-negative,” Persaud said during a conference at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, as quoted by Reuters. “Really the only way we can prove that we have accomplished remission in these kinds of cases is by taking them off treatment and that’s not without risk. This is a call to action for us to mobilize and be able to learn from these cases.”
A US Army general accused of sexual assault will plead guilty to three lesser charges while maintaining innocence on the more serious charges related to claims of coerced oral sex, according to his lawyer.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair will enter his plea on Thursday ahead of opening statements for his court martial at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, AP reported. Sinclair’s accuser, a female captain, said he forced her to perform oral sex and threatened to kill her family if she divulged their three-year affair.
Sinclair was originally charged with forcible sodomy and adultery related to his extramarital relationship and inappropriate conduct with several women. Sinclair’s lawyer, Richard Scheff, said the general will plead guilty to improper relationships with two other female Army officers and to adultery with his mistress, which is a crime in the US military. Sinclair will also admit to possessing pornography in Afghanistan and conduct unbecoming of an officer.
Mar. 4 2014
The vast bulk of the commentary issuing from American commentators about the Russian military action in Ukraine involves condemning exactly that which they routinely advocate and which the U.S. itself routinely does. So suffocating is the resulting stench that those who played leading roles in selling the public the attack on Iraq and who are still unrepentant about it, such as David “Axis of Evil/The Right Man” Frum, have actually become the leading media voices condemning Russia on the ground that it is wrong to invade sovereign countries; Frum thus has no trouble saying things like this with an apparently straight face: “If Russia acts the outlaw nation, can it be expected to be treated as anything but an outlaw?”
Enthusiastic supporters of a wide range of other U.S. interventions in sovereign states, both past and present and in and out of government, are equally righteous in their newfound contempt for invasions – when done by Russia. Secretary of State John Kerry – who stood on the Senate floor in 2002 and voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq because “Saddam Hussein [is] sitting in Baghdad with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction” and there is “little doubt that Saddam Hussein wants to retain his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction” – told Face the Nation on Sunday: “You just don’t in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext.” The supremely sycophantic Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer – as he demanded to know how Russia would be punished – never once bothered Kerry (or his other Iraq-war-advocating guests, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius) by asking about any of that unpleasantness (is it hard at all for you to sermonize against invasions of sovereign countries given, you know, how often you yourself support them?)
American invasions and occupations of nations halfway around the world are perfectly noble, but Russian interference in a part of a country right on its border is the supreme act of lawless, imperial aggression. Few things are worse than watching America’s militarists, invasion-and-occupying-justifiers, regime-change enthusiasts, drone-lovers, and supporters of its various “kinetic military actions” self-righteously wrap themselves in the banner of non-intervention, international law and respect for sovereignty. Does anyone take those denunciations seriously outside of the class of western elites who disseminate them?
American media elites awash in an orgy of feel-good condemnation in particular love to mock Russian media, especially the government-funded English-language outlet RT, as being a source of shameless pro-Putin propaganda, where free expression is strictly barred (in contrast to the Free American Media). That that network has a strong pro-Russian bias is unquestionably true. But one of its leading hosts, Abby Martin, remarkably demonstrated last night what “journalistic independence” means by ending her Breaking the Set program with a clear and unapologetic denunciation of the Russian action in Ukraine.
For all the self-celebrating American journalists and political commentators: was there even a single U.S. television host who said anything comparable to this in the lead-up to, or the early stages of, the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Even now, how many American TV hosts on the major networks and cable outlets report on the types of American killings described in the first three paragraphs of this interview with Hamid Karzai, or the ongoing extinguishing of innocent human lives by President Obama’s drone attacks, or the pervasive chaos and suffering left in the wake of the NATO intervention in Libya that they almost universally cheered, or the endless brutality of the West Bank occupation and Gaza domination by the U.S.’s closest Middle East ally, or, for that matter, U.S./EU interference in the very same country that Russia is now condemned for invading?
RT-America anchor quits on air
The Daily Beast: An American anchor working for RT-America, a cable news network funded by the Russian government, announced her resignation on air Wednesday.
“As a reporter on this network I face many ethical and moral challenges especially me personally coming from a family whose grandparents came here as refugees during the Hungarian revolution, ironically to escape the Soviet forces,” she said, immediately following a report claiming that the new Ukrainian government, which ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, is composed mainly of fascists and neo-Nazis. “I’m very lucky to have grown up here in the United States. I’m the daughter of a veteran. My partner is a physician at a military base where he sees every day the first-hand accounts of the ultimate prices that people pay for this country. And that is why personally I cannot be part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin. I am proud to be an America and believe in disseminating the truth and that is why after this newscast I’m resigning.”
Earlier this week, RT host Abby Martin ended her program by denouncing Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. Martin remains an employee of the network.
Him: I don’t date black women. It’s just a preference.
Me: Based on what?
Him: Nothing, it’s just how I feel.
Me: Impossible, deliberate aversions come from somewhere.
Him: Its just a preference, that’s all.
Me: No, a preference is preferring broccoli to asparagus. You can say that because asparagus will always taste the same, even when prepared differently.
Me: And we’re not always the same at all. There are hundreds of millions of us and we’re each completely different from the next. If an employer said not hiring Black people was a preference would you agree?
Him: No, but that’s based on stereotypes.
Me: … And what is yours based on, facts?
Traces of coca and nicotine found in Egyptian mummies - WTF fun facts
well DUH. a lot of historians are still trying to process the fact that ancient egyptians knew how to build boats, which is ridiculous. why would they not be seafarers and explorers?
this is not new or surprising information at all. it pretty much day one of any african-american studies course.
the egyptians knew that if they put their boats in front of the summer storm winds it’d blow them right across the sea to the Americas and they shared that with the greeks.
It’s really hard for people to understand that everyone had boats, exploration, and trade interactions without the same level of murder, colonization, and violence that the Europeans did. It’s really hard for people to get that.
The Sea-Craft of Prehistory (book; Eurocentric as heck)
Scientific Evidence for Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Voyages (273 pages-for the hardcore only!):The only plausible explanation for these findings is that a considerable number of transoceanic voyages in both directions across both major oceans were completed between the 7th millennium BC and the European age of discovery. Our growing knowledge of early maritime technology and its accomplishments gives us confidence that vessels and nautical skills capable of these long-distance travels were developed by the times indicated. These voyages put a new complexion on the extensive Old World/New World cultural parallels that have long been controversial.
He has one of the most glittering resumes in the security business. The president of the United States said so himself when he tapped Bernard Kerik for one of the top posts in his administration.
Kerik never got the job. Revelations landed him in court and then in prison. And those 36 months on the other side of the bars have transformed Kerik’s views of America’s criminal justice system.
“If we continue to incarcerate black men at the same rate we have for the last 30 years, 30 years from now, probably 75 percent of every black man in this country is going to be incarcerated,” Kerik told America Tonight. “Is that what we want? Is that what the system was created for? The system is broken.”
In a Democracy Now! exclusive, former Black Panther Party leader Marshall “Eddie” Conway joins us less than 24 hours after his release from nearly 44 years in prison. Supporters describe Conway as one of the country’s longest-held political prisoners. He was convicted of killing a Baltimore police officer in 1970, for which he has always maintained his innocence. The shooting occurred at a time when federal and local authorities were infiltrating and disrupting the Black Panthers and other activist groups. At the time of the shooting, the FBI was also monitoring Conway’s actions as part of its counterintelligence program, COINTELPRO. Numerous groups have campaigned for years calling for his release, saying he never received a fair trial and was convicted largely on the basis of testimony from a jailhouse informant. Politically active in prison, Conway founded Friend of a Friend, a group that helps young men, often gang members, resolve conflicts, and published a memoir, “Marshall Law: The Life & Times of a Baltimore Black Panther.” In his first interview since being released, Marshall details his time behind bars and the government surveillance he faced as a prominent Black Panther.
A new report says Europe’s fleet of nuclear power plants pose an increasing risk to millions of Europeans as the facilities age, and as governments decide to extend the operation of plants beyond their originally intended lifetimes.
The nearly 150-page report, commissioned by Greenpeace, synthesizes the research of eight European nuclear energy experts. It concludes that because of Europe’s heavy dependence on nuclear energy, governments are likely to extend plant operations 20 years or more past their designed limits, and recommends that European Union policies be changed to incentivize repairs and discourage the construction of new plants.
(Photo: Phillippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)
Government Dismisses Key Charges Against Barrett Brown: Great News For Journalists Since It Preserves The Right To Hyperlink
Today the US Government moved to dismiss 11 of the 17 charges levied against Barrett Brown. Reducing Barrett’s potential sentence from 105 years to something significantly less. Kevin M. Gallagher and the whole team over at Free Barrett Brown has run a stellar solidarity effort and the public pressure may be impacting the US Attorney’s office. Everyone please keep the pressure up until Barrett is home with his loved ones! You can read the .pdf of the government’s motion here courtesy of Andrew Blake.
Assata: An Autobiography
Angela Davis: An Autobiography
Autobiography as Activism: Three Black Women of the Sixties
Ida B. Wells-Barnett and American Reform, 1880-1930
Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-And-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision