Uniting the Black Left Everywhere

Black Radicalism for the 21st Century

 

 

The US Black Left

and

The Durban Declaration

Program of Action

A Black Left Unity Network Discussion Paper-

 Sept 2011

       This document is presented as discussion paper by the Black Left Unity Network in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism, popularly known as the Durban Conference. The analysis and programmatic recommendations of the paper is being advanced to provoke discussion among members and non-members of the BLUN and in no way reflects settled political positions.  Our only intent is to make a positive contribution to understanding the historical and contemporary importance of WCAR within the context of an evolving Black Radical agency. That understanding and the informed struggle that flows from it can only be achieved through intensive ideological engagement

The US Black Left and the Durban Declaration Program of Action

A Black Left Unity Network Discussion Paper- Sept 2011

As we commemorate the tenth anniversary of the WCAR, it is important for the U.S. Black left to have a perspective on how to strategically use the Durban Declaration Programme of Action (DDPA) for Africans and African descendants that forge unity with the struggles of Indigenous and people of color oppressed nations and movements.

The main strategic question for all of the Black liberation tendencies continues to be, how to organize and mobilize mass based Black power to realize self-determination and a form of dual power that weakens U.S. imperialism, and that alters the balance of power in favor of the U.S. and international struggles for democracy, national and women’s liberation and socialism.

As the American hemisphere constitutes the historical and main region of U.S. capitalist globalization and economic integration, the oppression and exploitation of African descendants throughout the Americas becomes more interconnected.  Thus the Black liberation movement’s program of struggle against U.S. imperialism must include an inter-American focus as part of its global strategy.

The World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) held in Durban, South Africa in 2001, was a critical and historical juncture in the convergence of international forces struggling against historical and current conditions and impacts of slavery, colonialism and imperialism that has created structural racism as a fundamental pillar and essential part of the social fabric of global capitalism/imperialism.

The content of the DDPA coming out of the WCAR was greatly influenced by the preparatory work by U.S. Black liberation movement forces and their international alliance building and mobilization activities at the WCAR.  While not perfect, it is an important core document as part of a human rights framework addressing basic needs of African, African descendant, Indigenous and people of color working class and poor nations and communities.

This convergence that brought together African, African descendants, indigenous and people of color movements from throughout the world, was timely and important in helping to shape a direction and international framework for the struggles against imperialist domination and capitalist globalization after nearly a decade of political and ideological splits, confusion and fragmentation among anti-imperialist and revolutionary forces following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The Bandung Conference held in 1955 (a decade following World War II, and during the cold war period), offers some lessons for helping Black left forces assess the historic and strategic importance of the WCAR, its possible limitations, and how to apply the DDPA in the current period of capitalist globalization.

The Bandung brought together heads of state of 29 African and Asian countries and representatives of African and Asian liberation movements that represented nearly half of the world’s population.  They discussed forging alliances to support one another economically and politically against the forces of colonialism and imperialism and called for world peace, as the nuclear arms race between U.S. and the Soviet Union became a major concern during the Cold War.

The Bandung condemned colonialism and all of its manifestations, emphasizing that it deplored the policies of racial oppression, which formed the basis of government, economic and human relations in large regions of Africa and in other parts of the world. It stated that “racialism” is not only a gross violation of human rights but also a denial of the fundamental values of civilisation and the dignity of man.1

While they were all anti-imperialists, they were not all anti-capitalist.  However, they understood that colonialism was stealing and controlling the resources and wealth of their countries, causing them further under-development.  They recognized that colonialism was the main economic basis of the competition and rivalry between the imperialist countries in their direction toward global empire; what that meant in assessing the balance of forces; and how this positioned the anti-colonial forces.

Conference delegates adopted a 10-point program that called for, among other things, the settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations and recognition of the equality of all races and the equality of all nations large and small.  The Bandung represented the most significant expression of the resurgence of Asia and Africa, and it was with this resurgence that new nations came forward as a new set of actors in the international arena. 2

In the so-called post-colonial stage of capitalist globalization, when the question of formal independence has occurred for the majority of the world’s peoples, and the structural racism continues and even deepens, the WCAR has made this a fundamental structural component of imperialism, demanding that the victims have rights and powers in the international arena.  This provides an aspect of the international recognition with conventions and laws which they can use to appeal for international support for their struggles.  

This is especially important in the struggles for self-determination for African nations, African descendant oppressed nations and nationalities and Indigenous peoples inside of the imperialist countries and in their regional and global empires. 

However, this recognition is not a given, as we have seen by the U.S. governments refusal to abide by international laws throughout history, including violations of the Geneva Conventions, and other laws regarding the invasion of other countries, sanctions, you name it.

Accountability to this recognition will require the mobilization of U.S. and global Black power or it will have little meaning. For African Americans, this recognition should be seen as part of the struggle for self-determination, pointed out by Malcolm X who said the Black liberation struggle needed to be taken to the world court.  

The Black masses inside of the U.S. whose structural racism and national oppression constitutes a main pillar of the U.S. global capitalist economy and its imperialist state, must therefore be organized and mobilized as a major revolutionary social force against U.S. imperialism.

The responses by the Black liberation movement to major atrocities against Black people inside the U.S. by the corporations and the government at all levels, highlighted by the continuing saga and impacts of Hurricane Katrina, the mass incarceration of Black people, and the cold blooded executions by the police, show that no single Black or multi-racial organization has a broad or deep enough base among the Black masses to mobilize an impacting mass based Black power that can force the U.S. to honor the DDPA.

This shows the serious political, ideological and organizational fragmentation that exists within the Black liberation movement.  The Black left must play a conscious and untiring role in working to end this fragmentation as a main task, if the Black liberation movement is to be positioned to utilize the DDPA to help advance the struggle against structural racism and for African American self-determination as a vital part of the global struggle of African and other oppressed peoples. 

What are some of the main conditions of oppression facing Africans, African descendants, Indigenous and peoples of color throughout the world? What are the demands, make-up and state of the movements responding to the U.S. and global capitalist crisis? Recognizing that the DDPA and the human rights framework may not address all of the questions related to our various understandings and demands for radical change; can it be a basis for building strategic unity of Africans, African descendants, Indigenous and people of color movements into a global anti-imperialist force? 

Capitalist Globalization & Neo-liberalism

Capitalist globalization as an economic trend toward global economic integration has been growing for centuries.  However, many believe the current phase referred to as neo-liberalism is of a fundamentally different order to what has gone before. Its impacts on the conditions of life for Africans and African descendants throughout the globe, and has created the need for new understandings of various organizational forms, movement alignments, political frameworks and strategic demands for waging the African and African descendant anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggles.

Throughout the 1980s initiated under President Ronald Reagan, the U.S. government gave U.S. capital free range and mobility to expand domestically and globally without government regulations, no matter how much social damage this causes. It promoted smaller government and made cuts in public expenditures for social services and human needs like healthcare, education and jobs; and began the sale of state and public owned enterprises and goods and services to private corporations.  It was often referred to as Reaganomics. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher instituted neo-liberalism in Britain during the same period.

Neo-liberalism has further entrenched structural racism, as it has narrowed the options for progressive development.  It creates more dependency on, if not subjugation to, the mainstream economy [dominated by US and Western imperialism].  This dependency and subjugation tends to reproduce the class, national and gender patterns of inequality characteristic in many ways of the colonial and [Jim Crow] era.3

African and African descendant women are thus the first victims of increasing job insecurity, to the point where their right to work is being challenged even in countries where it had been won through head on struggles. 4 Cuts in vital social programs like healthcare, preschool, child care and Aid to Families with Dependent Children, have force many women to be dependent on males for basic issues like rent, food and the welfare of the children.  This has increased patriarchal attitudes and practices in many men in their views about, and treatment of women.

Up until the early 1990’s the socialist camp including the Soviet Union acted somewhat as a brake on imperialism and on capitalist globalization. In addition to checking military domination and adventures, as trading partners the socialist bloc also provided the means for many developing countries to resist and/or minimize unfair trade and the penetration of foreign capital. 5

The dismantling of the Soviet Union and the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe caused a major set-back for socialism and thereby opened the floodgates for widespread capitalist globalization as the main trend shaping the direction of the global economy and world politics.  This is not to suggest that there were not serious problems in the Soviet Union holding back the further advances of socialism.

With increased economic interconnection and domination by the imperialist countries, has come deep-seated political changes within the imperialist countries and globally– the basic democratic rights of the working class, oppressed nationalities and working class women inside of the imperialist countries are under attack and being eliminated; independent countries that were former colonies are becoming poorer; and countries have become even more dependent on activities in the imperialist economies such as the USA where finance capital and technical expertise tend to be located and controlled.The U.S. government uses its powers, resources and laws to protect and help to expand capital.  Inside of the U.S. we witnessed the bailouts of the Savings and Loan Companies in the 1980s and 1990s, and the bank, investment houses and corporations in the current period.

U.S. imperialism’s declaration of the so-called war on terrorism, led to the establishment of imposing international policies and practices that violate human rights, international conventions and treaties established by the UN.

 Financing the maintenance and expansion of the U.S. imperialist military industrial complex, is a major role of the U.S. imperialist state to expand U.S. capitalist globalization. It has 737 military bases in 147 countries with more than 2.5 million U.S. personnel spread across each continent. 6 Between 2001 and 2011 the Department of Defense's base budget, which excludes war and nuclear weapons funding, grew from $390 billion to $540 billion, an increase of 38 percent. In 2010 with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. defense budget was just close to $700 billion. Conservatively estimated, the war bills already paid and those obligated to be paid are $3.2 trillion in constant dollars. 7

The (at least) $1.3 trillion of Department of Defense war spending in the past decade averages out to $130 billion per year. While these funds create jobs in the military and in related sectors…. $130 billion per year could have created a net increase of jobs in other sectors: for example, more than 300,000 jobs in construction, or 900,000 jobs in education or about 780,000 jobs in healthcare, assuming here that the education funds are distributed to state and local governments to fund public education in primary, secondary, and higher education.8

In human terms, 224,000 to 258,000 people have died directly from warfare, including 125,000 civilians in Iraq. Many more have died indirectly, from the loss of clean drinking water, healthcare, and nutrition. An additional 365,000 have been wounded and 7.8 million people -- equal to the combined population of Connecticut and Kentucky -- have been displaced. 9 The U.S. police state and prison industrial complex also gets its lion's share of government finances. Working class African Descendants and Latinos and their communities are their main targets and victims.

The number of people in U.S. prisons and jails tripled between 1980 and 1996 to more than 1.7 million. The number of women quadrupled. 10 This increase in mass incarcerations corresponds with the capitalist restructuring and cuts in social programs accelerated by neo-liberalism. This has also contributed to Black political disenfranchisement. In addition to the 2.3 million currently incarcerated, there are over 4 million formerly incarcerated people who are denied their voting rights, and many find themselves among the permanently unemployed because they are denied employment. Because the U.S. military and prison industrial complexes provide jobs for millions of workers in the U.S., the struggle against them must be linked to the demand for jobs and social programs. We must apply and nationally and globally expand on the mantra of – A 1000 more buses, a 1000 less police. 11

The WCAR, DDPA and the U.S. Black Liberation Movement                                             

Within the US, many Black activists recognizing the serious weaknesses of the Black liberation movement because of its fragmentation, saw the WCAR and DDPA as an historic opportunity and broad set of demands that could inspire forces to work for the realignment and rebuilding of the Black liberation movement; bringing if forward as a conscious and leading part of a global African, African descendant, Indigenous and people of color driven anti-imperialist movement.

Over the past ten years since the WCAR, a global African and African descendant’s movement has emerged demanding reparations.  However, the repressive global climate created by the US and Western imperialism following the events of September 11, 2001, greatly affected the pace, character and energy in the development of the reparations movement. 

Like other social movements affected by this repression, it impacted the reparations movement, particularly inside of the U.S. The main work has focused on using arenas of international diplomacy, presenting legislative bills and holding conferences.  While this was important for helping to popularize the demand for reparations; it did not place any pressures on U.S. capital or the state.

Because of the fragmentation and lack of a clear political line of struggle for the Black liberation movement, reparations began to replace or be seen as synonymous with African American self-determination, instead of being one of its main demands.  The mainly legal and legislative appeals has given many Black people the wrong impression about where the main struggle for African American self-determination must be carried out, and what kind of Black power is needed.

In some ways there has been a dis-connect in the demands for reparations from the demands raised by the social movements challenging the continuing negative structural and social impacts of capitalist globalization. This reflected a weakness within the Black liberation movement’s analysis of capitalist globalization and thus a serious weakness in the Black liberation movements understanding of the contemporary realities of the U.S. Black National Question.

Two among many major weaknesses of the Black liberation and social movements in challenging of U.S. capitalist globalization have been – 1) the failures to see the attacks on the trade unions where millions of Black workers were organized at the point of capitalist production and services as a vital part of the attack on Black people; and 2) the failure to recognize the strategic role of the U.S. South that helped to facilitate capital’s attack on the trade unions, Black communities in the rust belt and the larger U.S. working class. 

The corporate threat of plant closings in the unionized industries in the North and Midwest and their relocation to the South forced billions in concessions from the unionized workers, the broader working class and huge tax rebates from their cities throughout the 1970s and 80s. This ushered in an era of labor-management partnership and business unionism that restricted rank-and-file democracy and placed labor resources into supporting the Democratic Party.

The South’s lingering and divisive effects of Jim Crow, and its concentration of anti-labor right-to-work laws, also attract large amounts of foreign direct investments and provided U.S. capital an internal advantage over other imperialist countries, as the South became a global region for international capital directly controlled and protected by the U.S. imperialist state.

The urban inner-cities where the Black working class has been most concentrated, was the most impacted by the unemployment and from the deteriorating tax base caused by capital’s restructuring.

The housing foreclosures heavily impacted the Black masses.  The subprime lending debacle has caused the greatest loss of wealth to people of color in modern U.S. history…between $164 billion and $213 billion for loans taken during the past eight years. 12 Thus, the exploitation of workers in the South anchored by the super-exploitation of the South’s Black working class and their communities constitute a main pillar of the U.S. wide system of Black national oppression and of U.S. imperialism.

The U.S. trade unions and the labor movement, and organizing labor in the South, must become an important point of concentration for the Black liberation movement in organizing and mobilizing the power of the Black working class.

Building a Hemispheric-wide Struggle

Judith Hilton from Costa Rica speaks to the conference on racism in Latin America and the Caribbean
 
For sure, the struggles in Africa where the poorest billion people of the world’s total seven billion population live, but where major raw materials exploited by global capitalism exist, must be a core part of a global anti-imperialist strategy.

However, a global strategy must have main strategic targets that enable the struggles to exploit imperialism contradictions, and to alter the balance of power in favor of a more coordinated global anti-imperialist offensive. This requires a greater consolidation and realignment of the revolutionary political forces in each country and globally.

The Black liberation movement must see the Americas as a strategic zone of the struggle against U.S. imperialism and of global anti-imperialist struggle.  It is important to understand the history of the oppression and resistance of African descendants and Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas, to help identify strategic questions, demands, campaigns and alignments in formulating a strategy.

The peoples of the [American] hemisphere are tied together by a long history of genocide of Indigenous peoples, enslavement of African-descent peoples, and exploitation and oppression of the working classes and the women of these classes and peoples. 13 This history reflects successive waves of ever deepening integration into U.S. and global capitalism. 

Throughout the Americas, US imperialism has been the major obstacle to the social advance and transformation for African descendants, indigenous peoples and the working class in the former European colonies. 

There are more than 200 million African descendants throughout the Americas, 150 million in Latin America and the Caribbean and 50 plus million in the US and Canada. While the numbers vary in different countries, recent demographic studies estimate that there are approximately 34 million indigenous people in Latin America and the Caribbean. 14       

The development of capitalism throughout the Americas shows a colonial history of societies whose exploitation of enslaved and oppression of enslave Africans and Indigenous peoples served as a basis of primitive accumulation of European and U.S. capitalism.  The plantations provided super-profits to the merchants in England and the U.S.  These two main commodities of super-exploited Black labor and theft of the lands and natural resources of the Indigenous peoples continue to be inseparable to the expansion of U.S. and global capitalism. 

During the period of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Maroon societies began to form in the Atlantic coastal areas from Brazil to Virginia, and in the Caribbean. They represented forms of liberated zones that began forging multi-ethnic unity, solidarity and multi-national alliances that built survival institutions and communities as they struggled against European colonialism throughout the Americas. Maroon played a major role in the Haitian Revolution.

The anti-colonial struggles did not begin with the colonial settlers demanding independence from their developing imperialist mother countries.  They started with the struggles of the Indigenous peoples and the enslaved Africans. The bourgeois revolutions despite their demands for liberty were not fighting for the liberation of the enslaved Africans and Indigenous peoples. They remained oppressed in the new republics.

Not long after achieving its independence from England, the U.S. set out to become an empire throughout the Americas.  However, about 30 years after the American Revolution, enslaved Africans and maroons in Haiti defeated France and established an independent republic, providing a base of state power that supported the struggles against slavery throughout the hemisphere.

On the condition that he would adopt measures that would abolish slavery, Haiti gave Simon Bolivar asylum, and provided him essential material aid and Haiti troops to mount the invasion that ultimately defeated the Spanish Empire in the Americas.  However, by the time of Bolivar’s death in 1831, not even his own Venezuela had achieved de facto freedom for all of its slaves.

The Haitian Revolution helped to foster the importance of African and African descendant solidarity as a critical component in struggling against U.S. imperialist domination and expansion in the Americas. At the time of the victory of the Haitian Revolution in January 1804, eighty percent of the Africans and African descendants were considered chattel. The Haiti Revolution smashed the myth of white supremacy, which also labeled Africans and African descendants as being inferior and incapable of nation building.  It sent shock waves to the colonial governments throughout the region and in the US and Europe.

Despite the capitalist rivalry and wars between Britain, Spain, France and the U.S. for control of Haiti, they were united in their refusal to recognize Haiti as a republic for close to 50 years, and instituted a blockade preventing Haiti from trade and exporting its crops and natural resources to aid the development of the country.

The imperialist defeat of Haiti set back the conditions for development not only of Haiti, but for other parts of Latin America that eventually abolished slavery.  In 1806 as Dessalines began the nationalization and democratic distribution of Haiti land, he was assassinated by a developing Black and mulatto ruling class that was emerging out of the ranks of the Haitian generals. 15

The recolonization of Haiti is a major part of the structural racist infrastructure throughout the Americas dominated by U.S. Haiti’s recolonization also stands out as a symbol to threaten to other nations in the region against trying to act independently of the direction and controls of U.S. imperialism.

The imperialist countries also used the defeat of Haiti to continue to promote white supremacy.  Their mantra was that Haiti’s problems with economic growth and social development was testament that Blacks cannot build and run an independent nation. 

This racist view continues today in the positions by the imperialist countries and the World Trade Organization, that underdeveloped countries especially in Africa and the Americas have no alternative but to rely on capitalist globalization.

Colombia has the second largest African descendant population in Latin America to Brazil. It is key component of U.S. imperialism’s economic and military strategy in the region. Similar to Israel in the Middle East; the US strategy is to make Colombia a kind of client state in the region to help the U.S.

The U.S. has spent $6.5 billion dollars, mostly on military aid through Plan Colombia, and looks to install seven more military bases in Colombia, with hundreds of US military personnel and military contractors providing aid to the Colombian military, who in collusion with paramilitary forces, has claimed the lives of some 40,000 people. It has also contributed to the internal displacement of 5.2 million persons, the majority of which are African-descendants and Indigenous peoples.  Published documents show that the U.S. intends to use these bases as launching pads for operations in neighboring countries. 16

Countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba will be some of the immediate targets. These are some of the countries in Latin America which have begun to forge alliances around trade and development that represent emerging alternatives to capitalist globalization. What they have figured out is that these emerging alternatives must part of a wider and expanding anti-capitalist framework throughout the Americas to resist the power of global capitalism.  This framework must include an infrastructure of popular resistance within the imperialist and pro-capitalist countries.

Crucial to the shaping of the emerging alternatives challenging capitalist globalization throughout the Americas, is their conscious inclusion of the demands, social movements and leadership of the struggles of African descendants and indigenous peoples. 

Aligned with these frameworks, the African descendant and Indigenous movements and structures for working class control of communities, labor and natural resources, new forms of economic development and people’s democracy, would represent growing parallel societies and forms of dual power contending with the corrupt governments and ruling classes aligned with U.S. imperialism.

It is important that African descendants in Cuba be an active part of an hemispheric alignment both to contribute lessons about Cuba’s socialist experience in dealing with the special questions faced by African descendants, but also to help prevent efforts to further isolate Cuba, which we saw attempts at with the “Open letter of Carlos Moore.”

Like Israel in the Middle-East and the former Apartheid Republic of South Africa, Colombia must be seen as a developing U.S. imperialist client state in Latin America.  The Black liberation movement must promote Colombia and Haiti as strategic anti-racist and anti-imperialist targets. 

Using the DDPA

The DDPA is not explicitly an anti-capitalist program, and can be used to serve the agendas of pro-capitalist classes and tendencies. This is especially true if the movements that drive its application are not grounded in majority African descendant and Indigenous peoples mass movements, and led by forces actively engaged in and accountable to these mass movements.

The main social movements challenging capitalist globalization throughout the Americas are being led by African descendants, indigenous peoples and the labor movements.  Inside of the U.S., Black activists are in the leadership of many of the social movements dealing with issues facing African descendants and other oppressed people.  Many are connected to global networks, especially throughout Americas.

While promoting anti-racist slogans and demands, many U.S. based social movements seem to be unclear and possibly grappling with how the demand for self-determination and reparations fit into the strategies and political frameworks of these social movements. 

For example, it appears that some social movements see transforming capitalist social relations and overcoming dynamics of domination and structural racism, without being engaged in the political movements struggling for self-determination and new forms of state power.  They see civil society with international recognition as the essence of the human rights framework. This is especially the case for many NGO’s that have emerged since the WCAR.

It is important for the Black left to understand these questions and the possible limitations of the various tendencies in using the DDPA, as we engage and work in a non-sectarian way to help move the Black liberation movement along a revolutionary path.

Reparations are a unifying demand for Africans and African descendants that’s included in the DDPA. The U.S. Black liberation movement has an important opportunity to use the demand for reparations as a transitional demand to help raise mass Black and working class anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist consciousness and to mobilize Black and working class power for major changes.

With the global capitalist crisis, the Black liberation movement must show Africans, African descendants and the working class throughout the U.S. and internationally, that African American self-determination is committed to social transformation. 

The Black liberation movement in demanding self-determination must call for the U.S. government to pay reparations so that the Black masses can become a force to address social needs like national healthcare, free public education, housing for all, as some examples. At the same time, it is important to demand land ownership for Black farmers and historical Black communities, the restoring and upgrading historical Black colleges and universities, and to creation of jobs controlled by African American public authorities and worker cooperatives.

It is important for the Black liberation movement to be a force in defending against the capitalist attacks on the public sector – the jobs and the public services and vital social programs.  More than 20 percent of the Black working class is in the public sector, including employing the largest percentage of women. The attacks on pensions, increased healthcare costs, public education and the lay-offs disproportionately impact the Black masses.

The Black liberation movement should promote the public sector as being one aspect of public control over vital resources, and a necessary part of building a democratic and alternative economy and society.

Because of the special pressures placed on African Descendant women by neo-liberalism, the history of the development of capitalism and patriarchal weaknesses within some Black liberation organizations, the Black left must promote and struggle for the development of strong and active U.S. based national, inter-American and global organizations and networks of working class Black women and women of color, including in the leadership of all social and revolutionary movements.  The DDPA must be used as much as possible to address issues of women’s oppression and to fight for conventions, laws and special bodies that give voice and power to women internationally.

In using the DDPA, it is important that the Black liberation movement learn from its experiences of building the African Liberation Support Movement, including the African Liberation Support Movement Committee during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

There have been various efforts among Black activists in the U.S. throughout the 20th Century to support struggles of African peoples worldwide.  In the 1960s, despite the reluctance of national trade union leaders to mobilize support for the anti-colonial African liberation movements and struggles partly because of their anti-communism shaped by the Cold War, and the infection of white supremacy in the white working class, rank and file members in local unions led by Black workers, often adopted a more militant anti-apartheid attitude than the leadership. 

Direct actions were carried out by groups like the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement which later became united into the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, operating in the auto industry in Detroit…In 1972 Black longshoremen, in an alliance with black students [from the ALSC], held demonstrations at ports in Burnside, Louisiana, aimed at preventing ships from unloading Rhodesian chrome. Similar actions were held at ports in Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia. 17

In late 1971, following a visit to Mozambique by some U.S. bases Black liberation movement activists, a national meeting was held in Greensboro, NC involving leaders of various political and ideological tendencies, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, leaders of mainstream civil rights organizations, and those from the Black liberation movement that formed the African Liberation Day Coordinating Committee (ALDCC). 18 The main goal of the ALDCC was to organize a national demonstration to call attention to the anti-colonial liberation struggles in Africa.

This ALDCC began an important national organizing framework for building a mass movement in Black communities across North America and parts of the Caribbean in support of the anti-colonial African liberation movements.  The first African Liberation Day demonstrations were held on May 27, 1972, in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Toronto, Grenada, Dominica, and Antigua.  Some estimate the turnout of between 25,000 and 50,000 people.

Following what many saw as a successful mobilization of Black masses, elements of the ALDCC held a meeting in July 1972 to form the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC).  They felt that a permanent organization was needed with a capacity and roots enabling it to do more than mobilize for a national demonstration. By 1973, the ALSC had developed a Statement Of Principles and laid out seven basic objectives. 

The ALSC‘s objectives were to:

·      raise money for liberation groups in southern Africa and Guinea-Bissau;

·      conduct educational seminars and programs on racism, feudalism, imperialism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism, and its effect on the continent of Africa, especially southern Africa and Guinea Bissau;

·      develop and distribute literature, films, and other educational materials on racism, feudalism, imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism and its effects on the continent of Africa;

·      participate in and aid Afro-American community and Afro-American workers in the struggles against oppression in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean;

·      engage in efforts to influence and transform U.S. policy as regards its imperialist role in the world;

·      engage in mass actions against governments, products, and companies that are involved in or are supportive of racist, illegitimate regimes in southern Africa and Guinea Bissau; support and spearhead ALD demonstration in conjunction with the International African Solidarity Day.

Beyond the borders of the USA, the ALSC also represented the international links with similar groups in Canada, Antigua, Jamaica, Dominica, and Trinidad, and built an international network of people. This connection of African descendants throughout the Americas was also important in building solidarity and momentum with the liberation and workers movements in the Caribbean that came forward during the 1970s. Grenada, Guyana, Trinidad -Tobago and Jamaica developed strong movements.

The Black left must discuss what such realignment today would mean for the Black liberation movement and strengthening the struggle against the various conditions of structural racism as a major challenge to U.S. capitalist globalization and imperialism worldwide. The Black left and progressive forces in the social movements must be an integral part of this discussion and efforts to rebuild the U.S. National Black liberation movement and a hemispheric framework.  

The BLUN must struggle against the types of ultra-left and sectarian errors that led to the destruction of the ALSC as a united front.  We should urge critical but comradely discussions and debates and help to create forums to conduct them.

As the Black Left Unity Network continues its direction toward forging unity and acting together to help realign and rebuild the Black liberation movement, we must seek opportunities to organize discussions, to participate in coalitions efforts like the Durban + 10, and to engage in campaigns that help to end the fragmentation of the Black liberation movement and to help to shape a conscious revolutionary process and direction for the struggle for African American self-determination to play a role in the struggles of all oppressed and working people.

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References:

1 Bandung Conference of 1955 and the resurgence of Asia and Africa by Prof. Wiswa Warnapala,   Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

2 Ibid

3 The African Communist, First Quarter 2001

4 Resistances to capitalist globalization: Opening for a new internationalism IV Online magazine: IV351-2 - Summer 2003

5 Labor in the Era of Globalization by: Scott Marshall July 29 2005, PA

6 Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, Metropolitan Books, by Chalmers Johnson

7 The world’s 10 costliest militaries April 18, 2011, Wall Street Journal – Online)

8 Cost of War, by The Eisenhower Study Group

9 Ibid

10 Cost of war at least $3.7 trillion and counting, Daniel Trotta, NEW YORK June 29, 2011

11 Abuses in American, Frontline-India’s National Magazine, Oct 24 – Nov 6, 1998

12 State of the Dream 2008: FORECLOSED, by United for a Fair Economy

13 Labor Community Strategy Center’s Bus Riders Union slogan

14 Building hemispheric unity from below and from the left in a moment of deep global economic crisis, by Jerome Scott & Walda Katz-Fishman

15 Promoting the Development of Indigenous Peoples in Latin America - Shelton Davis and William Partridge 199

16 Haiti's Agonies and Exaltations, by Ramsey Clark, 7/15/10

17 Based Out in Latin America, by Grace Livingstone, June 2010

18 No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists over a Half Century, 1950-2000, Chapter 4, The 1970s: Expanding Networks, by Joseph F. Jordan

19 The African-American Contribution to the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa: The Case of the African Liberation Support Committee, 1972-1979 by Edward O. Erhagbe, Ph.D

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Black Left Unity Network

P.O. Box 934

Rocky Mount, North Carolina 27802

[email protected]

www.blackleftunity.org

 

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 Carta de los Pueblos y de la Sociedad Civil a los Estados miembros de las Naciones Unidas llamando a la Asamblea General de la ONU a que declare 2012-2022 como el Decenio Internacional para Personas de Ascendencia Africana  

    Los pueblos y las organizaciones abajo firmantes de la sociedad civil, incluidas las que representan a personas de ascendencia africana, desean expresar su agradecimiento a los países miembros de la ONU que introdujeron y cooperaron en el proceso de adopción de la decisión de conmemorar el 2011 como el Año Internacional de las Personas de Ascendencia Africana.
    
    Somos conscientes de que el Año Internacional de las Personas de Ascendencia Africana --con el tema ampliamente aceptado de "Personas de Ascendencia Africana: Reconocimiento, Justicia y Desarrollo"-- ha atraído gran atención internacional a la situación de las personas de ascendencia africana que sufren de siglos de racismo y negación de sus derechos humanos. Sin embargo, el objetivo trazado no se ha logrado en un año.
    
    Hacemos un llamado a la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas a que declare 2012 a 2022 como el Decenio Internacional de las Personas de Ascendencia Africana con el tema "Personas de Ascendencia Africana: Reconocimiento, Justicia, Desarrollo".
    
    Dado que el llamado a la ONU a declarar un Año Internacional de las Personas de Ascendencia Africana fue lanzado inicialmente por el Grupo de Trabajo de Expertos sobre Personas de Ascendencia Africana creada para promover los derechos de las personas de ascendencia africana que figuran en la Declaración de Durban de 2001 y el Programa de Acción (DPAD), pensamos que es obligatorio que la Asamblea General coloque la aprobación del Decenio Internacional en la agenda y en el marco de la aplicación de la Declaración y Programa de Acción de Durban.
    
    Insistimos en que la Asamblea General en esta sesión debe adoptar oficialmente "Personas de Ascendencia Africana: Reconocimiento, Justicia, Desarrollo" como el tema de este decenio. Este tema --que emana de organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONGs) y que fue propuesto por el Grupo de Trabajo de Expertos sobre Personas de Ascendencia Africana-- fue ampliamente aceptado durante el Año Internacional y adoptado oficialmente por la Oficina del Alto Comisionado para los Derechos Humanos como tema para sus actividades durante el Año Internacional.
    
    Llamamos además a que el Decenio Internacional se desarrolle con la participación plena de las personas de ascendencia africana y el apoyo de la sociedad civil y que un Programa de Actividades plenamente financiado se apruebe el próximo año por la Asamblea General teniendo en cuenta las propuestas del Grupo de Trabajo de la ONU de Expertos sobre Personas de Ascendencia Africana, las Personas de Ascendencia Africana y las organizaciones de la sociedad civil.
   
Atentamente,
    
 (Su organización)

 

 

 

 

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