of the Black Left:
A Major Task of
the Black Liberation Movement!
for Black Liberation
Initiated by the Black Left Unity Network
www.blackleftunity.org • www.jblun.org
deep crisis facing Black people requires bold radical action. We can
accept this challenge as individuals and as groups, but the strategic goal must
be the rebuilding of a national movement for Black liberation. There are
many groups, small and scattered even when organized on a national level.
We are in the hundreds of thousands on an individual level of people who see
the need for militant fight back. It is time for a great coming together
to rebuild our Black liberation movement on a national level. This
manifesto is being presented to you as a draft that we can all debate and make
whatever revisions are necessary. We need to be on the same page and
channel our efforts into one mighty fist that can strike decisive blows against
Our fight has always been for freedom.
The history of Black people involves every aspect of life but there has always been a central theme, how can we get free. This is a critical starting point for all education and self-consciousness in the Black community. It demonstrates the basic humanity of Black people, the will to live and find ways to improve the quality of our lives as a collective, a community, a nation. In order to be a revolutionary you have to know your history.
We have a Black Radical Tradition to build on.
Our tradition of militant fight back has been anchored in five ideological tendencies that are most often woven together in the thought and practice of any given individual, organization, or movement. These are: Black liberation theology, Pan-Africanism, Nationalism, Feminism, and Socialism. The most recent concentration of ideological discourse and debate has been in the 1960's represented in the thought, life and work of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. In order to be a revolutionary you must study this radical Black tradition.
We are rebuilding the Black Liberation Movement.
There are many ways to identify when we have had a national Black liberation movement. The main point is having a high level of unity of the militant forces actively organizing and mobilizing at local levels. Moreover, this goes beyond single issue movements and grasps the overall character of fighting on all fronts. When we have had a high level of our national Black liberation movement we have had policy formation by bodies of national representation, coordination of national campaigns of struggle, and major conferences in which ideological debate led to consensus and an intensification of resistance. This refers to the 1967 and 1968 Black Power Conferences, the 1970 Congress of African People, the 1970 revolutionary peoples convention of the Black Panther Party, the 1972 Gary National Black Assembly, the 1974 conference of the African Liberation Support Committee, and the 1998 Chicago launching of the Black Radical Congress. In order to be a revolutionary you must study these advanced stages of our national Black liberation movement.
We are the Black Left Unity Network (BLUN)
Based on the lessons of these major conferences and the intensification of the capitalist crisis it has become clear that the Black liberation movement has to be rebuilt on the basis of the fighting capacity of the masses of working and poor people who are the vast majority of people in the Black community. This manifesto is being developed by the BLUN in order to recruit people and organizations who understand that racism and national oppression can only be ended by waging a Black working-class led struggle in which the capitalist system is targeted as the main enemy of Black people, indeed all of humanity.
The BLUN has been in motion for the past seven years networking with individuals and organizations, building unity and joining every struggle that emerges. Our greatest advance in the last two years has been our journal, The Black Activist. This journal represents the kind of unity dialogue that we hope to spread. It begins the general theoretical work that can educate, motivate, and agitate for greater development of the national Black liberation movement that we need.
We are building the BLUN as the organizational framework for all Black revolutionary militants to come together to discuss our ideas, to coordinate our struggles, and to mobilize the vast majority of our people in the fight back that is necessary to oppose and defeat our enemies. To deepen the unity and context of revolutionary struggle, we must get the necessary criticisms from our comrades based on the principle of unity-struggle-unity.
Black History is the fight for freedom
The lessons of history are general summations of a process, and can be about individuals and social groups, from the local level to the entire world. This process includes social forces that represent different classes and nations, as well as many other aspects of humanity (gender, sexuality, religion, generations, etc.). The main dynamic of the African American experience, the theme that embraces all Black people, is the fight not only to survive but to resist and end capitalist exploitation in whatever form it has been developed, from the slave trade and colonialism in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora, through sharecropping, industrial wage slavery, and now being damned to excruciating forms of poverty. The system has been against us but we have always fought back, and the fight back is the great theme of our history.
Africa was invaded by Europeans. They gave Africa a double blow – they stole the people and forced them into the labor systems of slavery in the West, and they colonized African land and virtually enslaved the people who remained in Africa. In both instances they imposed European culture on African people, especially language, religion, legal systems, what little education that was provided, and cultural aesthetics. The famous colonization frenzy was legalized in the Berlin Conference of 1884-85.
After World War II African resistance movements expelled the invaders and created independent African countries beginning with Ghana in 1957. A rising African capitalist class who compromised the liberation struggles by aligning their policies with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund mainly guided these countries. Many African revolutionaries who represented the working class and struggles against capitalist neo-colonialism were murdered (e.g. Patrice Lumumba, Chris Hani, Amilcar Cabral, Edwardo Mondlane, Pierre Mulele, General China, Kimathi, Stephen Biko, Maurice Bishop, Walter Rodney, etc.). Today Africa is facing the need for a 21st century revolution led by the working class and its impoverished masses.
The European Slave Trade
The process of raping African of its population was to serve the labor needs of Europe, especially in the fields and mines of the Americas. As Eric Williams explains this was a triangular trade that served to link Europe (manufactured goods) to Africa (Labor) to the Americas (extraction of raw materials). This barbaric process spread Africans to every island in the Caribbean and to every region of North, Central, and South America creating the African Diaspora.
The freedom struggle raged against these crimes against humanity. Strong examples are Queen Nzinga Mbande of Angola, Joseph Cinque of the Amistad Revolt, the revolts led by Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser and the freeing of the slaves from the plantations by Harriet Tubman.
The Slave System
Slavery was a labor system that bread, sold and worked Africans to death, lasting about 400 years! Millions of Black people were spread throughout the south to produce tobacco, rice, and many other products, especially cotton. Black field hands were worked to death in a system from “Can’t see to can’t see.”
It was the economic process by which the wealth of the ruling class was created that continues through inheritance and corporate profits till the present day. The production of cotton pulled Black people into the deep-south creating the “Black belt.”
As result of the two labor system – slavery in the South and wage labor in the North – there was struggle over the control of the federal government. This struggle led to the Civil War. Slave labor threatened the wages of white workers, and, added with the moral imperative to oppose this vicious system advocated by the Abolitionist Movement, this motivated the masses of people in the north to support the war.
Black people were not given freedom by anybody. They rose up and fought in many ways to be their own liberators. DuBois in his master work Black Reconstruction discusses the general strike of slaves withholding their labor and undercutting the slave regime. Black people fought in the Union Army at numbers (per cent of total population) far higher than whites. Further during Reconstruction Black voters and elected officials played a dramatic role by democratizing the south including free public education for everybody that had not existed.
The African American Nation
Within the Black belt Black people began to create African American culture that was a continuation of but different from their original African cultures. They created new social institutions, forms of speech/language and collective community life that were demonstrated in the church, musical and other social and political venues. They were concentrated in counties that were majority African American, dominated by the plantation economy, repressive county and state governments and a system of apartheid.
The modern Civil Rights Movement developed in opposition to the barbaric oppression imposed on Black people in the Black Belt, from lynching to peonage.
Dispersal to Proletarianization
During the 20th century there was a push out of the south and pull into the North (West, Midwest and East) that dispersed Black people into the major cities of industrial development. Black people were forced out of the rural agricultural South into the urban industrial North.
Migration out of the South was forced through racist terror as well as an act of resistance in that people were rejecting old forms of oppression in search of a better life.
Racist segregationist practices dominated the cities and a real estate conspiracy forced Black people into the worst housing, areas that concentrated all of the worse social problems usually under tight police social control. The major transformation was based on Black people being employed in the industrial system and on that basis building from their southern roots into major bases of potential political power.
Crisis of Permanent Poverty
A technological revolution is reorganizing the basis for society, including dramatically reducing the demand for the labor of the old industrial system. The capitalist state is realigning and ending the social safety net brought about by the struggles of the 1930s and 1960s that force the FDR New Deal and the Great Society of Kennedy and Johnson.
A growing section of the Black community is being forced into permanent poverty, under the chemical assault of drugs both illegal and by prescription, and facing a new form of slavery in the prison system.
Our main fight is against the capitalist system
The Black left is fighting on all fronts against all forms of oppression. A central point of unity is that all of our struggles can advance only to the extent that we mount a full assault on the capitalist system. Capitalism is the basis for the 1% control of this society and the source of our misery.
What is Capitalism?
Capitalism is an economic system that exploits the labor of the working people and feeds the greed of the corporations and the rich who own the factories and machines. People work and create value turning raw materials into usable products and are paid much less than the value they create, only the minimum. Most of the rest is surplus taken by the corporations as their profit. There is a struggle between the workers and the owners over the allocation of this surplus – they live fat while we starve.
How is the origin of US capitalism based on slavery?
The wealth needed for the origin of the industrial system in the US was created out of the super profits taken from the sale and labor of the slaves, especially in the cotton fields. This slave based wealth has been used to fund many major corporations and banks, and the basis for wealthy families that maintain control over social and cultural institutions like the major private universities, especially in the Ivy League.
How does capitalism exploit us?
Today we live at a time when capitalism is transforming and increasingly replacing human labor with smart machines. If people are not working for a wage the market system is dysfunction for the circulation of goods and service – no money means people can’t buy what they need.
Capitalism has turned to making money on death, including the combination of bad food and bad health care, all varieties of drugs and alcohol, TV culture that kills the mind and the military industrial complex that produces major weapons for imperialist wars and all forms of military aggression including the violence in the cities throughout the U.S. All too often our churches become appendages to the capitalist system by preaching money over morality.
How does capitalism exploit the world?
Using global organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) among others, the global capitalists have invaded almost every country in the world to capture cheap labor and important raw materials. This continues the imperialist practice of moving wealth from the third world into the major European countries and the US.
The United Nations and NATO are used to justify imperialist military aggression.
Can we defeat the capitalist system?
Nothing lives forever – slavery ended, feudalism ended, and capitalism will end as well. More and more the majority of humanity has no stake in the capitalist system and is rapidly growing to hate it. Outside of the US the discourse of resistance is explicit in its rejection of capitalism, but inside we face the soft terror of media and government obsessed with putting a gag rule on any alternative discourse. A good indication of the rejection of capitalism was the “Occupy Movement” that exposed the evil exploits of the ruling 1%. The end of capitalism will only come with our militant unity of action.
Strategic Working-class Unity Starts With the Leadership of the Black Working-class
Why the working class?
The majority of people in the US are working people, all of whom are being exploited by the capitalist system and they hate it. The greatest allies of the Black Liberation Movement are the militants in the working class movement, especially from the oppressed nationalities and peoples. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Of course there is a racist national chauvinism that turns some white workers into enemies of Black people under the false notion amplified by the mainstream media that we are the cause of their misery. As people fight in their own interest against the bosses, the conditions are created to expose the role of white supremacy, offering opportunities to win significant numbers of white workers to an anti-racist working-class unity. This is meaning of the slogan solidarity in the workers movement.
What was the connection between Black slaves and white workers
When Black people were picking cotton in the slave system the capitalist bosses exploited white workers, including child labor on machines in the textile industry to work the cotton into thread and cloth. Slaves worked side by side with white workers, both exploited, but whites confused by their white skin privilege of a little more pay and the opportunity, joined in the oppression of Blacks.
Black workers organizations
The first Black worker organization, The Colored National Labor Union, was formed in 1866 and included Frederick Douglass as one of its early leaders. High points in the organization of Black works have been the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (1969), Black Workers Congress (1971), Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (1972), Black Workers for Justice (1981), and Black Workers Unity Movement (1985). There are also many rank and file Black caucus groups, workers centers, and now the Southern Workers Assembly.
Class unity with Latinos
National oppression and extreme capitalist exploitation of Latinos makes them close allies of Black people. This is especially true with the people who share a heritage from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and other countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America.
The capitalist strategy is to divide workers and play them against each other. The most desperate will take lower wages creating a conflict if people lose their jobs. Our class unity must take a strong position against this capitalist ploy and unite Black and Brown workers in a common cause.
Class struggle and Black liberation
The fight of workers is first and foremost a fight to make their working conditions better, higher wages, with benefits and retirement pension with which they can lead a decent quality of life. People fight as individuals, work teams, whole work places, and entire industries. All of this is necessary. We believe we must go further and link these reform struggles with the vision and preparation to fight to end the capitalist system once and for all. We are in an all-out war of the capitalists against us, the workers. They will always cheat us, because as capitalism dictates exploitation is how the game is played.
We fight on all fronts
The unity of the Black Liberation Movement and the workers movement under revolutionary leadership does not take place in the abstract. The class struggle against national oppression always takes place in a concrete context. It is our theory that keeps us focused on the underlying issues that unite us against the capitalist ruling class. The system of oppression and exploitation has set us against each other, propped up people are in between us and them, and employs the state and its police forces as their pawns of social control. While in the day to day struggle we confront many “in between” types it is important to keep our eye on the real enemy. On each battle front it is useful to maintain a focus on a strategic slogan to guide us.
Black women face the triple oppression of national oppression, patriarchy, and class exploitation because most Black women are working people in a racist country run mainly by white and male supremacists.
The movement we need requires gender equality! Mobilize the women and follow the leadership of women on all battle fronts!
The capitalist system is destroying the natural environment of the world by unleashing profit seekers to ravage eco-systems, pollute the air and water, unleash nuclear waste, create global warming, and rapidly decrease bio-diversity that has built up over millions of years.
The earth’s resources must be a commons for the use of all humanity to share! End fossil fuel use! Our future must be green!
Our society is growing older but lacks sufficient support and respect for senior members of our communities. This includes removing them from trans-generational households and forcing them to face the crisis of declining incomes, weakening welfare support, poor health care, and isolation from loved ones and friends. We must become a sharing and loving society from the cradle to the grave.
Full pension for all retired workers! Build social capital of the elderly to be lifelong contributors to society! All older people must be respected and cared for!
The capitalist system has spoiled our food, used advertising to seduce people to lust for sugar, salt, and fried foods, and turned health care into a factory system that keeps most of us running to the pharmacy dependent on the latest drug commodity hoping the insurance company will pay. Of course there are people with no insurance and have to choose between food, rent, and health care costs. Look around and see the obesity, bad teeth and poor vision and hearing. The capitalists have turned our neighborhoods into food deserts. This has to stop.
Fight for universal health care! Stop fast foods in our community! Forward to community gardens! Ban liquor sales in our community!
The education gains of the 1960’s have been wiped out. Our children are not learning to read and write and work with numbers in the public schools while the system takes money out of the public schools to finance the privatization of education. In many urban areas school boards are closing schools in the Black and Latino communities at an alarming rate. High stakes testing results places our youth on a path of failure with limited possibilities for good employment. College attendance and graduate rates are not increasing and with attacks on affirmative action and minority scholarship funding ethnic cleansing of the campus is taking place.
Free universal quality public education for all!
Police repression and prisons
Every 28 hours the police forces in the US gun down a Black person. The vast majority of Black youth are routinely rounded up and placed into the data bases of the police authorities. The prisons are overcrowded with Black men, and Black women are increasing being processed through the prisons camps as well. Many of the militant fighters have been incarcerated in solitary confinement for decades. Our communities are under constant surveillance, and when out of our segregated neighborhoods we are harassed and arrested for driving while Black or wearing a hoodies, just being ourselves. We are still not free in this country!
Release all political prisoners! Stop the surveillance and monitoring of all communication of the Black community! Stop police murder! Community control of police!
The last few economic crises that have ruined people’s lives in this country have targeted Black people most of all and many have been based on housing exploitation. Whether it is outrageous mortgage schemes, or loan programs that cheat the unsuspecting consumer, or the reservation camps of public housing, Black people are facing housing insecurity. And when housing is found it is usually the poorest in quality and highest in cost. We are faced with an increasing number of people who are homeless, including adults and children.
House everyone and eliminate homelessness! End loan practices that cheat the people!
One of the dangerous practices that undermine democracy is devaluing and punishing people who fit into a category that is defined as bad. This has all too often been applied to people with varying gender styles of life, sexual orientations. Everyone must be guaranteed fundamental rights of all people. Same sex relationships and other gender based behaviors must always be respected. It is crucial to link the fight against LGBT oppression to the cultural crisis of the capitalist system.
End homophobia now! Let marriage be a personal choice!
The capitalist system turns everything into a commodity to be bought and sold, and this includes the cultural production of the community. We all used to sing and now we buy CDs and pay to go hear other people sing. Furthermore they pay them to sing what they want not what we have been doing to serve ourselves and our community. Hip Hop – Rap was invented to serve our community and expression the political critique and aspirations of the youth and has been twisted into the abnormal gangster rap. Perhaps the greatest danger comes from TV and its renaissance of the old stereotypical images of Black people as clowns or gladiators.
On the other hand there is an unbroken history of cultural production that has inspired people to resistance and fight back. The poets and musicians lead the way. Our cultural revolution must re-link to our African origins and embrace the best in the history of our cultural developments as African Americans. Jazz is Black classical music.
Cultural production for Black liberation! Recruit cultural workers to every front of struggle!
The exploitation of Black labor and the brutal oppression of Black people is part of the international conditions create by the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and system of colonialism. This international system created a major part of the capital accumulation for the development of European and U.S. capitalism. Issues of underdevelopment, lack of opportunity, inequality in social status, and shorter life expectancy for the majority of Black people throughout the world, are some of the injuries built into the capitalist system with continuing impacts. The demand for reparations connects Africa and the African Diaspora to a common international demand for redress against the governments of colonialism and imperialism and the international economic institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization for crimes against humanity as outlined in the UN Declaration on Human Rights.
Reparations must be one of the major demands for self-determination!
The centrality of the South
The Black liberation movement takes place in every state, every city, and has tasks in many countries around the world. Special consideration must be given to the ancestral homeland of Black people in the US, the former slave states of the South. This is the largest concentration of Black people, the greatest levels of exploitation by US and global capital, and is leading the country in right wing initiatives.
Concentration of Black people
In 2010, 55 percent of the black population lived in the South, and 105 Southern counties had a black population of 50 percent or higher.
Concentration of class exploitation
Throughout the 11 states of the Southern Black Belt, there are 11,523,063 people living in poverty. A single parent of two children working a full-time minimum wage job will make $10,712 before taxes—more than $4,500 below the federal poverty line.
Because many Southern states have right-to-work anti-union laws the region has recruited global capital to take advantage of cheap labor.
Right wing political concentration
The most backward politicians with anti-democratic policies are based in the South. Their demand for state’s rights is a form of autonomy to keep the South as a region.
We are part of a global struggle
We all live on Planet Earth and increasingly our struggles involve issues that impact people all over the globe. We embrace the need to be internationalists and focus on freedom and quality of life for everyone in the world. Our approach is to link especially to the struggles in the African Diaspora.
The struggle in Africa
1960 was proclaimed by the United Nations as Africa Year because so many countries were gaining their independence from European colonization. However this led to neo-colonialism governed by the World Bank the IMF. Furthermore a class of bureaucratic tyrants took control of the state apparatus in most countries and looted the wealth and suppressed the people.
Rebuild the African struggle for independence, unity and freedom!
The struggle of Black people in the Caribbean
All of the Caribbean island countries are part of the African Diaspora. In their origin the difference for African people was only about where the slave trading boat stopped and which European colonial language one was going to be forced to speak. The fight continues in the Caribbean on many levels, from the trade union based Movement for Social Justice in Trinidad-Tobago, to the fight for sustaining socialism in Cuba.
Long live Caribbean unity! Oppose the domination of US and global capital!
The struggle of Black people in Latin America
In Central and South America, including Mexico which is in North America, their history of Spanish colonialism brought African labor and historic Black populations. This is notably in Brazil and Colombia, but there is some manifestation in most places. The impact of US imperialism has forced many of these peoples to migrate to the US creating Latin American Diasporas. We have the joint unity of the origins of the African Diaspora and the contemporary shared experiences of racism and class exploitation.
Long live African American and Latino unity! Build our movements of movements throughout the Americas!
The struggle of Black people in Europe
There are Black communities all over Europe. They have been informed by the militant struggles we have waged in the US and we must embrace their history of struggle as well. They face comparable forms of racism and class exploitation, those born there as well as the recent migrants from the African continent.
Long live the unity of African Americans and Black Europe!
Our fight for reform is linked to a revolutionary strategy
The idea of a revolution is abstract but the fight for one is not.
The day to day struggle
Peoples fight back in the context of their lives, at their place of work, at the unemployment office, at the grocery store, the school, the church, etc. Big political ideas take shape and form on the ground in practical circumstances. When the fight intensifies everybody can get educated, can get political, and can begin to think about the link between the reform struggle and the revolutionary leap that is necessary. It is mainly in this context that a Black left can be grounded in the roots of our people, in the very fight they wage themselves. We join them, embrace their leadership, link their fight with the fight of others, and help them to sum up and learn lessons from victories and defeats, and train militants to increase their ability to sustain the struggle.
Fight back every day! Link the fight for reform to revolutionary goals!
The response to racist attacks
Every racist attack must be opposed and mass resistance built to end it. Just as we raised the slogan “No More Trayvons” as part of the massive nationwide mass mobilization, so we continue that on higher and higher more coordinated levels. This is one of the key tasks of building a national Black liberation movement.
The electoral struggle
The capitalist state is a rigged game controlled by the ruling class. They don’t play fair and we can’t win by getting in it and trying to reform things. All too often we have been lured into local politics as mayors and city council officials only to try and fix a broken system that can’t be fixed with minimal reforms. However electoral politics is a terrain of struggle in which debate and discussion can be used to raise the consciousness of people and present them with an alternative to the hypocrisy and illusions of mainstream politicians. The movement must remain autonomous from the state and NGO control. On the other hand Black power at the local level can be used by the movement, especially if used to build the independent power of the forces in struggle – unionization, minimum wage, use of eminent domain to house the homeless, money for public schools not charter schools, etc.
Hold elected officials accountable to serve the community!
Our struggle will last for generations
Each of us lives a life and we hope to attain the goals we set during that time. It is important to think of struggle as a hand off through the generations in which each generation has a mission, a contribution to make, and then it is up to the next generation to take it from there. We all fight for freedom, but the fight towards freedom goes forward one step, one stage, one historic leap at a time.
The 1960’s generation
The last great upsurge was the 1960’sSee “How the 1960s’ Riots Hurt African-Americans,” National Bureau of Economic Research. The activists of the 1960’s are the current elders of the movement. They are walking living libraries of information. They are also the bearers not only of the experiences of victory and great mass mobilization but of past factional battles and splits within the movement. All of this experience is valuable, both what to emulate and what to avoid.
The 21st century
The 21st century is very different from the 1960’s. We are in the midst of a technological revolution that is being used to change all aspects of life and we have to adapt to that and learn how to use digital tools to make our struggle more effective. We don’t have the revolution of rising expectation that we had in the 1960’s, fueled by the revolutions in China and Cuba as well as the national liberation battles all over Africa, including Vietnam. Today we are fighting many forms of Afro-pessimism as well as the disease of drugs and a breakdown of many traditional institutions. Today we are being challenged to rebuild on a new basis to take our fight to the next level.
Building revolutionary institutions and rituals to sustain our movement
Our task is to build organization to struggle in every context – workers, students, church members, residents, health care patients, seniors, etc. People get reborn when engaged in struggle and we must engage as our people need a rebirth. Every organization must be built on the foundation of our own people and not based on hand outs from friendly foundations and NGOs.
Dual Power: A Strategic Revolutionary Objective of Self-determination and Workers Power
Altering the balance of power between the Black and multinational working-class and the U.S. ruling-class and its imperialist state in favor of positioning the oppressed and exploited masses for social revolution, must be a constant aim of revolutionary strategy.
A strategic program focuses mainly on the relationship between politics and economics. It must not only put forward demands for democracy, it must fight for transformative power to organize alternative social, economic and political models that begin to engage the masses in organizing and administering in a different way the places where they work, the communities where they live, the social institutions they rely on and positions in local government. This can be defined as a level of dual and contending power.
Our pledge is to fight for freedom by any means necessary
The BLUN is committed to building a national network of the most militant, most class conscious fighters for Black liberation. Our goal in drafting this manifesto is to create a national dialogue about what basic unity we can reach so that we have a context for coordinating our fight back. This Draft Manifesto will be discussed on conference calls, in face to face regional meetings, and at a National Assembly for Black Liberation. It is a draft so we welcome all comments, criticisms, and revised text.=========
Black social justice activists and revolutionaries must actively oppose and educate about the racist Arizona law SB 1070. The fact that such a law is being enacted during the tenure of the first African American U.S. President, makes clear, the fallacy of a so-called "post racial" America.
This draconian legislation should remind the Black community of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 which enabled and required law enforcement nation-wide to hunt down Black people, “whether slave or free” and “return them to slavery”. It should remind us of the racist Apartheid pass laws that segregated and restricted the mobility of Black people in South Africa.
It should also remind us of the massive police brutality suffered in our communities nation-wide everyday where racial profiling is routinely used by police to “stop and detain” any Black person (or other persons of color) under the pretext that they look “suspicious” of some criminal activity. Under the current racist and anti-immigrant climate harbored by many in this country, this is clearly an invitation for heightened abuse and brutality against all Latinos and ultimately all people of color.
This law promotes and relies on divisions among the working class. Amidst this severe economic crisis, the greatest challenge to corporate power is a anti racist, anti sexist, anti homophobic and internationally united working class.
African Americans and Latinos are the two largest nationally oppressed sectors of the U.S. working class. To divide them, is to weaken the basis for a critically needed alliance in the struggle for democracy, workers power and radical change. On Saturday, April 24th, in recognition of the importance of Black and Brow unity, the Black Worker Caucus at the Labor Notes Conference in Detroit, voted unanimously to support the call by the Latino Worker Caucus to fight the racist Arizona Law.
If Obama's response to this racist law, is lukewarm as it has been to the racist attacks on him and the Black masses from within the Democratic and Republic Parties and the growing Tea Party movement, it will encourage tensions and divisions between African Americans and Latinos .
This makes it ALL the more important for the voices of the Black masses to be heard opposing this unjust law. The Black masses must be mobilized to demand that the Obama administration use its powers to defeat this racist law. This speaks to the critical need for Black left unity to carry out the scope and depth of work needed to raise the voices of the national Black masses.
Black left unity in critical for shaping a Black working class and anti imperialist consciousness.
Join the Black Left Unity Network!
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.
We Charge Genocide!
Human Rights for All!
The Black Left Unity Network (BLUN) expresses our rage and refusal to accept the courtroom verdict of the murder of Trayvon Martin by white supremacist George Zimmerman and the failure of the Sanford, Florida police department and local government to immediately arrest and charge Zimmerman. We stand with the family of young Trayvon Martin in their continued grief over the unjust killing of their son and the prolonged injustice of a legal system that is unaccountable for the safety or justice for our communities.
We know that justice or answers to our many questions about this Verdict will not be found in the same criminal injustice system at the local, state or federal level. What we do know, is that this and other murders of many of our people are a crime against humanity and a violation of human rights that must be judge by the Black, oppressed and exploited masses in the U.S. and oppressed peoples throughout the world who are struggling against U.S. led Imperialism's injustices and for human rights.
Throughout U.S. history, Black life has never been fully protected by the legal, political or economic systems. US Imperialism at home has often meant the repression and violent social control of Black communities. The crisis of capitalism requires new forms of social control grounded in historic forms of oppression and the expansion of White Supremacy described by the 1857 Dred Scott Act - that Black people have no rights that whites are bound to respect.
Within one month after the U.S. Supreme Court declared open season for racist voting suppression symbolized by their verdict on the Voting Rights Act, the Sanford court declared open season for the whites to kill Black and Brown youth if they feel threatened by the way they dress, are in the wrong neighborhood, or play Hip Hop music.
As we saw at the time when Trayvon was murdered in 2012, we are again seeing the emergence of many networks as part of the spontaneous response of the outraged masses. There will be many mobilizations this time, involving and led by various class, political and ideological forces demanding justice from their various perspectives.
What was missing in the response to Trayvon's murder and the extrajudicial and white supremacist murders of Black and Brown mainly young brothers every 28 hours, that must be corrected this time, is a force united and strong enough and anchored by the unity of the Black left, to bring about the convergence of these mass actions and forces around a program of action.
The Black left must advance a program that fights for structural changes and for forms of people’s democracy and democratic governance, to restrain the repressive structures and policies of the state and capitalist elites as part of the struggle for radical social transformation of the system.
Part of what must define the Black left, must be a recognition that these atrocities are produced by the capitalist system where white supremacy, national oppression and patriarchy are its main pillars, and the willingness to find points of unity with others to fight against, and for the radical transformation of the capitalist system.
We call on forces within the Black Left to unite in our rage against this Verdict and stand together in our short term responses, and in longer term movement building strategies to mobilize the power of masses of Black and oppressed people... We refuse to accept or forget this injustice and the broader injustices it represents.
Our cry must be - Stop the War on Black America! We Charge Genocide!
Black Left Unity Network Continuations Committee
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Black Left Unity Network at the 2010 US Social Forum- Detroit, Michigan
ALSO VISIT OUR BLOG: http://blackleftunity.blogspot.com
The Black Left Must Do More
Than Oppose Obama
National oppression has necessitated that the struggle for democratic rights as understood by the Black masses take its course. The question for the Black left, has been how it provides leadership to the Black masses in this struggle to help lead to the exposure of the capitalist system and the building of the revolutionary Black working class anchored and led infrastructure that moves the struggle forward on a sharper and more conscious anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist trajectory.
The fragmentation of the Black left and the Black liberation movement has prevented us from working together to build this revolutionary infrastructure and the mass political work to raise sharper Black national and working class consciousness.
Black left forces have not for the most part struggled against the contradictions of the capitalist ruling class and system from a base within the Black masses. This includes how some wage the struggle against Obama.
Most of the critiques from the Black left about Obama are correct. However, most send a message that the principle contradiction is between Obama and the people; not capitalism/imperialism and the people.
Over the years, since the decline of the alignment of forces giving expression to a national Black liberation movement, the struggle for democracy has changed from a struggle for mass based Black power and control over institutions, to a struggle for access and policy changes. This has given the struggle more of a civil rights character than one for human rights and self-determination.
Self-determination must be based on the struggle for mass based power; not just for the right to have access. This understanding and reorientation is especially important at this stage of the crisis of capitalism when the demand for redistribution of wealth and power is critical to a transition that favors the oppressed and the working class.
This struggle is both independent of and also merges with the struggles of other oppressed peoples and the working class.
Without the struggle for mass based Black power as a struggle for self-determination, the Black left projects the role of the U.S. president as the principle contradiction. This liquidates the need for mass based Black power as essential for altering the balance of power between capitalism/imperialism and the people.
This can have the effect of promoting the system of bourgeois democracy, instead of tactically utilizing it to build areas of power as part of the struggle for mass based Black power, and bases of contending power challenging the rule of the capitalist/imperialist ruling class.
How does the Black left advance the struggle for mass based Black power in the Black masses relationship to all of the main institutions that impact our lives with a vision of restructuring and redefining their roles in society?
There is no question that the masses of Black people are disappointed to say the least, about the Obama presidency. They expected to see a stronger president calling on the Black, Latino and working class masses to speak truth to power on the issues impacting our lives, which he hasn’t. When he did in the case of the demand for national healthcare, he back off and compromised with the insurance and pharmaceuticals and the populist racist right.
Yes, the Black masses are concerned about the racist right. Should we expect otherwise? The Tea Party showed that it was able to build a national movement and mobilize aspects of mainly white power. There are contradictions among the right. Some are neo-fascists, but they form a united front.
The Black left will not be able to counter this pull on the Black masses toward the Democratic Party by simply pointing out that actions are co-opting the OWS. We must unite to build and promote a mass campaign to give voice to the Black masses that expresses our main issues and demands.
This does not mean that the various tendencies within the Black left must stop putting forth our views However, it would show united around a strategic focus that seeks to position the demands of the Black masses against the issues, policies and line of the Democratic and Republican Party, including forcing Obama to have to oppose or side with the demands of the people.
Saladin Muhammad- Co-Founder, Black Left Unity Network and Member of Black Workers for Justice- North Carolina
Dear BLUN Listserv Readers,
Several weeks ago there were a number of postings to the Black Left Unity Network (BLUN) listserv by a veteran Black activist that were not only blatantly wrong and untrue, they were also uncomradely and disrespectful in language and tone and took on the form of an attack against the BLUN.
While there was an initial decision by the BLUN Continuations Committee (BLUN CC) to respond to these false charges with criticisms of the Black activist posting them and with a statement clarifying our actual views on the subjects raised, we later felt that the BLUN listserv should not be used to legitimize or promote this type of exchange, as it goes against the principle of Unity-Struggle-Unity which the BLUN believes must be an essential part of a Black left unity process. As well, the BLUN CC wanted to take the time to objectively examine all of the implications and issues raised through these postings and forthrightly state our unified position.
We recognize that there are differences among Black left forces. There is a need to discuss and better understand the tactical, strategic and ideological nature of these differences as part of a unity process and a comradely struggle for clarity. Sectarianism however, a tendency that seeks to find fault with every difference, and to project them as counter revolutionary and antagonistic without proper investigation or communication with other comrades in struggle, has no place in a unity process.
The BLUN is also clear that the question of patriarchy must be taken up in a serious and principled way as a part of the ongoing efforts to forge Black left unity, including having the necessary structures and principles for the BLUN to address patriarchy in all areas of work, and to help deepen political, ideological and social consciousness on the question.
On the issue of being supporters of Obama which was raised in one or more of the postings, this is not and never has been the position of the BLUN. The BLUN has never made support or non-support for Obama a precondition for joining the BLUN. The Obama campaign issue was debated at the BLUN founding in North Carolina in May 2008 reflecting various positions. However, BLUN has never called for support for Obama. BLUN CC members also have many sharp criticisms of Obama and his administration.
The entire incident has prompted the BLUN to post a Code of Conduct for using the BLUN listserv. We ask that our readers please comply with this Code of Conduct.
The BLUN CC feels that the listserv should encourage frank, honest, comradely and free flowing posting and discussion and not be filtered by a moderator.
On behalf of the BLUN CC…..the Struggle Continues,
Ashaki Binta, Sam Anderson, Saladin Muhammad
This listserv is a service of the Black Left Unity Network (BLUN). Opinions expressed on this listserv represent individuals and organizations posting to this list and NOT the positions and opinions of BLUN as an organization unless designated as a Black Left Unity Statement.
We hope that users of this listserv treat each other with Brotherly and Sisterly respect and dignity that comes as Comrades-in-Struggle. This is especially important for BLUN in that we are struggling to bring about Black Left Unity in a nation and period of extreme antagonisms from the Capitalist Class and its Rightwing lieutenants of all hues.
The Black Left Unit Network listserv is a venue for frank, honest and comradely discussion and exchanges in the spirit of Unity-Struggle-Unity. As a component for building a broad Black left unity process, the BLUN Continuations Committee is posting the following BLUN Listserv Code of Conduct for using the listserv.
• Frank exchanges of different views are welcomed, but shall not be done in a disrespectful and uncomradely manner.
• Promoting male supremacy, homophobia or chauvinism against other oppressed peoples shall not be tolerated.
• Attacks on individuals and organizations that go beyond the scope of objective and principled criticism shall not be tolerated.
If any of these Code of Conduct Principles are violated, the poster violating them will be notified to make an immediate posted apology, and if violated a second time, will be removed from the listserv for a period of up to 6 months for the first violation. Appeals and requests for reconsideration can be made to the BLUN Continuations Committee who will make the final determination.
ALSO VISIT OUR BLOG: http://blackleftunity.blogspot.com