Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The State of the Movement


As 2009 begins, the United States Empire is undergoing a profound structural crisis that is detrimentally affecting the lives of Africans in the U.S. and all oppressed and colonized nations worldwide. This crisis is the result of several contradictions produced by transnational capitalism. These problems include, but are not limited to, the erosion of a domestic manufacturing base, the deregulation of financial markets, and the stagnation of workers’ wages. Furthermore, since the 1990’s communities and grassroots organizations in the so called Global South have organized against the imposition of neoliberal economic policies imposed on their countries by the IMF, World Bank, and WTO. The election of Barack Obama, the first negro president, and the emergence of anti-imperialist movements signals an excellent opportunity for African progressives and revolutionaries born AFTER the Civil Rights/Black Power era to develop an analysis of the state of the African Freedom Movement (AFM) in the United States. This essay is an analysis of the current and historical trends of the AFM and presents a brief outline of future steps to reenergize Our movement.

i have identified five reasons to explain the current disorganization of the AFM:

1) Military Assault. In the 1960’s and 70’s the AFM entered the Black Power Era. This period was characterized by Black Nationalist organizations that had strong support among poor and working class Africans. To counteract this mass-based insurgency the U.S. Empire established the Counterintelligence Program (Cointelpro). The purpose of Cointelpro was to “disrupt, discredit, and otherwise neutralize Black Nationalist ‘hate type’ organizations.” The actions of Cointelpro included illegal surveillance, infiltration of African organizations, false media reports, imprisonment, and even assassinations. Several organizers remain imprisoned from this period such as Sundiata Acoli, Jalil Muntaqim, Sekou Odinga, and Mutulu Shakur.

2) CIA-Crack Cocaine. Following the setbacks suffered by the Black Power insurgency, the African masses were without leadership and, virtually, locked out of the mainstream economy. Therefore, in the 1980’s many Africans resorted to the underground economy i.e. crack-cocaine. In April 1989, at the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Communications, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts acknowledged the complicity of the CIA in introducing crack into African communities in the U.S. Moreover, the U.S. instituted draconian drug laws that contributed to the expansion of the modern slave system i.e. the prison industrial complex.

3) Class divisions. Since at least the early 19th century, Africans have been stratified by social class. However, the African elite have been more progressive in comparison to their white counterparts. The success of the Civil Rights Movement to produce democratic reforms generated a rise in the number of the national and petty bourgeoisie. But unlike their progenitors, this groups class status did not come from providing goods and services to segregated African communities but through education at predominantly white institutions and employment at transnational corporations. For these reasons, a sector of the African elite has abdicated their leadership role in the AFM. Unlike previous generations, they contend the subordinate position of Africans is caused not by structural inequalities but is self-inflicted. Examples are the recent pronouncements of Bill Cosby at an NAACP conference and Barack Obama on Father’s Day at a local Chicago Church.

4) Ideological Warfare. Since the late 1960’s the U.S. Empire has pursued an intense propaganda campaign against the African community that has contributed to Our lack of ideological clarity. Scholars like James Anderson and Mwalimu Shujaa have documented the role of colonial education in the history of Africans in America. However, i contend, that media is just as instrumental in shaping public opinion as education in the era of mass communications. A case in point, reactionary hip-hop promoted by the white corporate media is transmitting Eurocentric values such as individualism, materialism, misogyny, and much more to the African masses, particularly African youth.

5) Lack of Institutions. A friend once correctly observed: institutions produce collective consciousness. Conversely, the African community in the U.S. has not sufficiently created enough viable and life-sustaining institutions. Unfortunately, institutions created during the Black Power era were limited to Africana Studies departments, artistic institutions, bookstores and a few independent schools. All of which are necessary, but have not reached the majority of Africans in America. The reason, in part, is that many organizers during this period were under thirty years of age and therefore lacked the long-term vision to create viable independent institutions. Also, due to the insurgent national liberation movements in Africa and Asia, anti-war movement, and American Indian/Chicano/Puerto Rican movements in the U.S., Africans believed that “the revolution” was right around the corner. Regrettably, they were incorrect.

All of the abovementioned attacks and missteps have contributed to the current disarray of the contemporary AFM. The generation born after 1975 has consistently suffered defeat after defeat such as the slow dismantling of democratic gains from the Civil Rights Movement, HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the deterioration of the African extended family. And because the Black Nationalist movement is weak at this time, the African community is excited about a negro Democratic president, Barack Obama, who virtually ignores Our concerns and appoints a cabinet almost identical to a previous conservative Democratic president, Bill “Slick Willie” Clinton.

The AFM must utilize a two pronged approach: internal and external. Internally, we must build for-profit institutions. A significant portion of organizers have become dependent upon 501(c3)’s and protest politics. For-profits will help to generate capital that can sustain full time organizers and become a true national liberation movement that can provide basic services to our community similar to organizations like the Black Panther Party or Hezbollah of Lebanon. An example is Soul Vegetarian restaurants operated by the Hebrew Israelite community which provide quality, healthy food to Our people while generating capital. Next, the creation of after-school programs that instill an African identity into our children is essential. And finally, a mass-based political education program conducted in churches and communities center’s across the country. Our people must understand that the root cause of our problems is imperialism and capitalism and that true liberation can only transpire when we achieve self-determination and national independence.

Externally, we must continue to fight the ongoing human rights abuses committed against Our people by the U.S. empire. The first struggle we must wage is for a constitutional amendment that ends slavery once and for all. Africans were brought to this country as tools of production to enrich a European settler state, the United States. At this time, almost two million Africans are enslaved behind prison walls. And finally, we should attempt to revitalize the community control of school movement. This movement should be coterminous with or, eventually, supplanted by an independent school movement. The majority of Our children will attend public schools for the foreseeable future; therefore they should be directly accountable to parents. An insurgent Black Nationalist Movement can provide Africans with leadership during this period of “neoliberal globalization” and economic instability.

Towards a Unified Africa and Liberated New Afrika…..

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