Revolution #277, August 12, 2012
From the Road: Voices from the BAsics Bus Tour...
Interview with Ju, Bus Tour Volunteer, Middle-aged Black Woman
Revolution: Maybe you could just tell me to start with, about what brought you to this point and what made you come on this BAsics Bus Tour?
Ju: I've been doing work around the revolution since 2001. In 2001, I had a rude awakening to the system. My son was killed by the police. And so I've been involved ever since. And I wanted to come to the tour because I feel like I'm a part of making history. I know there's a lot of messed up stuff in this world and I'd like to be a part of trying to change it.
Revolution: Do you want to talk more about the circumstances with your son, or—?
Ju: If you would.
Revolution: OK, yeah. Anything that you'd like to share.
Ju: Well, first of all, my son was like so many others who was killed for no reason. And there was no justice to be gotten. We went through a lawsuit, but I never had any faith in the lawsuit because I already was understanding how the system is... I joined the October 22nd Coalition—and if you know about the Stolen Lives pledge, I vowed to fight to keep my son's memory alive as well as the memories of all the other people, all of the stolen lives. So that's what really got me into the fight, but once I got into the struggle—I was already aware of a lot of things that were wrong, but I became more and more aware of all the problems with this system that we live under. And I started to agree that it can't be fixed. There's no way to fix it. People have tried to fix it all the time that we've been here and nothing's changed. It's still the same. So I agree that it needs to be swept away, and a new system brought into being. And I want to be part of making that happen.
Revolution: Your son was killed in 2001 by the police?
Ju: Yes. Yes, he was killed in 2001. And there were cover-ups involved, there were all kinds of—it was typical of what they do, of what the system does: the lying, the no remorse that they always accuse people of having, but they're the ones with no remorse. None at all. And I've seen so many other lives stolen. In my area, when somebody's killed, which is all the time, I always make it a point to try to go visit the families. And you know, I could probably tell the stories, all I need is the name to put in, because it's always the same, they always do the same, they never change it up. It's always the same. And I'm sick and tired of it, and I'm hoping that everybody would be sick and tired of it.
Revolution: The murder of your son is another in a long line of crimes and outrages of this system—
Revolution:—and I'm very sorry to learn that your son was another victim of this system.
Ju: Thank you.
Revolution: Could you talk a little bit about how you were seeing, before this happened, what kind of society and system you were living in, and then as you got active around the struggle against what the police do to people?
Ju: I used to go to the polls. I used to vote. I felt like, as a Black person, I was happy to go vote because that was a right that had been denied us. And at the time, I thought that that could make a difference. I worked as a nurse. I went to school because I got tired of working in factories. We had a lot of textiles where I was from. And worked in a factory, felt kind of slavish to me. You go take a break, and you get 15 minutes for your break, and before you could use the bathroom again, [or get] something cold to drink, a man would blow a whistle, then you'd go back to work. And I didn't think I could tolerate that, so I went to school to try to better myself. And I enjoyed working as a nurse and everything, but even in working, it's still so much wrong. I was trying to just, you know, just survive really. But then when the system slapped me the way they did, when they just blatantly showed no respect for me or my family, that was my point of saying enough. You know, enough. I can't do this anymore [laughs].
Revolution: I'm assuming this is yet another case where there were not charges filed and they tried to say it was a quote-unquote "justifiable homicide."
Ju: Yes, that's exactly what happened. And we even sued, because we were going out on the streets—we had met with some revolutionaries and we thought we should take it to the streets. And they tried to punish us for that. They filed a $10,000 lawsuit against us, wanting us to stop saying the word "murderer." We were calling the pig a murderer. And they said we couldn't do that. So I ended up in the state court of appeals, all because the whole situation. They gonna kill him and then tell us that we can't call it what it is. And on the autopsy, when the autopsy came back—well I know now that this is on everybody's—it said "homicide." And I always thought homicide was a crime—"Yay, we got him." But no, it's different, it's a different homicide when the pigs do it [laughs]. So, you know, I found out a lot of things like that... and found out that there is no free speech. Because we were calling it what it was, and then we're gonna get sued and told not to say that no more. So the whole system's a set-up of lies and brutality.
Revolution: Maybe you could talk a little bit about over the years, as you got introduced to this revolution and its leadership, and you started to see the connections between the crime that happened to your son and the many different crimes of this system here and all around the world.
Ju: Well, during that time the war in Iraq was going on. I had a son that was involved in the first Iraq conflict. And I was already upset over that. And not just for my son, for everybody's son. So I guess I was already an anti-war activist. And I just started to clearly see more things wrong with the system, and then started getting revolutionary literature, and it tells you what you already know but what you kind of didn't see or what you tried to, I don't know—I guess I was settling for a few crumbs. And that's just not enough. It's just not enough. And the crimes of this system do need to be stopped, they need to be done away with. And that's when I shed a lot of my illusions about religion also [laughs]. I just started to see things a lot more clearly than I ever had. And even with my knowledge of a lot of the crimes and a little bit that I learned through going to school and stuff. I realized that wasn't even a drop in the bucket when I started realizing the real horror of what's going on out here.
Revolution: Maybe you could talk a little bit more about this question of religion and shedding your illusions around that. Because I know a lot of people in society take the view of, "Oh, we can't struggle with people about religion."
Ju: It was a long time before I would say the word "communist" in reference to myself. It was a long time before I could struggle with people about religion. I felt like I was disrespecting them. 'Cause it was deeply ingrained in me, religion was. And—
Revolution: You grew up in a very religious family?
Ju: Yes, yes I did. And I'm glad that's one chain that I lost. And for a little while I dropped out of the movement—for about a year. And my comrade stayed in touch, but I kind of dodged him a little bit. So after about six months, I decided to talk to one of them, and I realized that I needed to be back in the movement. And he said, "What have you been doing?" And I said, "You need to sit down for this, what I got to tell you." And he said, "What is it?" I said, "I joined the church." He said, "That's OK, we forgive you." [laughs]. But yeah, I tried going back to church after 2001. I mean, before my son was killed, I wasn't an avid churchgoer. But I had that religious root where I grew up going to church almost every Sunday and being active in church. But then, when I went back—after I had started to open my eyes and I went back—I just could see all the hypocrisy. I could just see all the hypocrisy. They said, "Come as you are, you don't have to have anything," but when I'd go, all they'd talk about is money. How much money they need and how much they're gonna get. And then the churches didn't support me in my struggle either. They tended to think that maybe the police knew something that they didn't, that maybe my son deserved it. And that's kind of the way they'd look at it... And then a city councilman that was a personal friend of my sister's, she said, "Oh, he can help you. He can help you." So I went and he said, "Bring me everything you got," so I took everything I had up to that point as far as paperwork. And then he said, "Well, let's wait and see what the investigation shows." So I realized the system—I don't care who's in the council seat or who's in the White House or presidency—it's all the same. It doesn't matter, the name or the color. It doesn't matter. The system is just working, and as long as that person is working for the system, they're gonna uphold that system. So, you know, I shed a whole lot of illusions. I shed a whole lot of them [laughs].
Revolution: And how did you come to see the role of religion in particular within that?
Ju: A lot of people would tell me things that I thought were cruel, like: "Just give it to the lord"; "You should get on with your life." As if my son was something that I could just get over. And something that the lord was gonna help me solve when the lord didn't preserve his life. I just, you know—where was god when my son was being brutalized, because he was not only killed, he was beaten before he was killed. So I mean, it just started helping me see that this stuff is not real. And when I first started thinking, saying there's no god, I was even afraid to think that way. That's how backwards I was. I was thinking: if I think like that, something's gonna happen. I know now there's no truth, but—
Revolution: You mean that god would punish you, you mean.
Ju: Yeah, yeah. But, you know, I got rid of all that [laughs].
Revolution: I want to move specifically to the bus tour in a second, but part of why I'm persisting on this question of religion a little bit is because it's such a big question that so many people just have this wrong attitude in society about, like: "You can't struggle with people over this." Or "People will never change on religion." So I wonder what you would say to people who say, "You can't take religion away from people," or "people who are oppressed need religion," or some shit like that.
Ju: I would say that maybe some people are better at it, but that is a hard contradiction. Just here during the tour, in the Brooklyn area, I met three different people that wouldn't talk to us because they found out that we were atheists. One lady said, "No, I don't want that stuff. Y'all are atheists. I want nothing to do with it because Jesus is real." And then one man was taking a card from another comrade, and he said, "What color do you think Jesus is?" And the comrade said, "I don't believe in Jesus." And the man just—he became belligerent and gave him his card back and said, "We have nothing else to talk about." So that's a hard contradiction, but I think it can be done, because it was done with me. But it was done with patience. It was done with patience. And sometimes, some people, like if they say, "I don't have anything else to talk to you about," then I would hesitate to continue to struggle with that person. Because some people just feel that way about it, and I remember a time that I felt that way—if somebody was an atheist, I didn't want to talk to them at all. I thought that they were the devil.
Revolution: But how do you see the importance of people transforming on this question? Like, here's maybe a way to go at it—what do you think it meant—
Ju: I think it may be a way if we let people know that religion is just a tactic to hold us back and to keep us down. If people be honest, I think it wouldn't be hard for them to come to that realization. And you go back to Nina Simone's song, "just go slow"—just stay on your knees and keep begging [laughs].
Revolution: You're talking about the lyric from "Mississippi Goddam," right?
Ju: Yeah, yeah. I can see religion now as a noose, as a tactic to keep people in line. But you know, I'm used to that, I'm used to hearing people talk that way, like: "Just give it to the lord," or "The lord will solve it for you." And sometimes I think we can just be open and say that that's not gonna work [laughs]. That's not working.
Revolution: To bring it up a little bit back to the bus tour itself. I know you were saying earlier that you feel like you really wanted to be part of history with this. Maybe you could talk a little bit more about specifically what made you feel like you had to be on this bus tour?
Ju: Because I think BA does need to be everywhere. I don't hear anybody else talking about revolution. Nobody. And with all the things that's going on, I just see things as basically—like I'm a product of the '50s, and I just see things as basically just like they were. We might go to the same schools or we might drink out of the same water fountain, or we can vote [laughs]. But vote for what? I just saw it as an important thing until analyzing the system and knowing that it doesn't work, it doesn't work for us, it doesn't work for anybody, except the 1 percent maybe.
Revolution: What has your own experience over the years been like getting into BA? Like, were there particular works of his that you first got into that were kind of your introduction to his work, or—
Ju: Well, no, a lot of it was the paper [Revolution newspaper], and my comrade—we just discussed, discussed, discussed and I read and read and read. And I like all his works. At first, it was hard for me getting into revolutionary reading, even the newspaper, because I thought you could read it like you would a regular newspaper, just read it and put it down. But it's reading that you have to read, get your dictionary out and read a little bit and then go back and read some more, 'cause it's not easy reading. It's not easy reading. But it's very—you learn a lot if you take time and read it. You learn a lot. And I appreciate the fact that Bob has studied and analyzed and dug in so deep and done stuff that nobody else has done. I was aware of the Panthers when they were around. I had no idea BA was part of that. I hadn't heard of revolutionaries until 2001, since back in the '70s.
Revolution: So what was that experience like, to find out that there's a movement for revolution in this country?
Ju: It felt great. It felt great. And I just like spreading the word. And I just wish that there were more of us, because there's so many people that need to be talked to and transformed. And there's just so few of us. But I think this campaign—spreading BA far and wide—and losing some of my inhibitions about going out on the street—and I'm sure other people have some too—but I think all that is going to help. And maybe one day we'll walk down the street and—we had a little chant in our group—and one day we gonna walk down the street and somebody's gonna be standing behind us, I mean besides us, doing that little chant. And then we'll know we're getting the word around [laughs].
Revolution: Maybe you could talk a little more about how you're seeing the critical importance of getting BA Everywhere and the difference that can make on the whole atmosphere.
Ju: Well, the neighborhoods we go in are oppressed neighborhoods. A lot of people I think don't know that there's a way out. A lot of people believe in that permanent necessity—I mean, I don't know if they believe in it, but a lot of people think that this is the best we can do. And I feel good helping people realize that there is something else and that we don't have to live this way. And then hearing speakers like Carl Dix, hearing all the revolutionary speakers... and getting the DVD [Revoltuion: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About] around and all that. I think there are some people that are open-minded and some people who will listen and struggle with you. And I guess we'll win them over. We'll win 'em over.
Revolution: I know the tour is a few days in now. Maybe you could talk a little bit about what some of your experiences have been like taking this out to people, including people in neighborhoods that have been completely abandoned and left to rot by this system.
Ju: I think for the most part people have been positive. This is different to me in that we talked to a lot more children, a lot more youth. We got a chance to go to a school and have children do posters and stuff—like a daycare-type school, all ages. And that was exciting to me. That was very exciting. And most of 'em were paying attention, so I'm sure they got something out of it. And with children, they will spread it.
Revolution: What kind of posters were they making?
Ju: Like: "Do you think American lives are more important than others?" That was the main question we put to them. But also: "No more generations..." [BAsics 1:13]. And kids were getting it. They were getting it. They really were. And you can tell by a lot of the responses that they were getting it. So we can do the same things with some adults and have them get it [laughs].
Revolution: What were some of the reactions kids were having?
Ju: They were saying, "No, American lives are not more important, and if you are mean to somebody because they are from another country, or because they don't look like you, that's racism." And a lot of them said they hear gunshots at night, and some of them in the daytime. One of the girls was concerned because people are dying from being alcoholics. So a lot of children are more worried than we probably would give them credit for being.
Revolution: Just to go back to something you said a second ago: I know you were saying at one point you were very nervous about using the word communist, or you never would have used it. How did you—
Ju: Well, when I was growing up, a communist was a bad thing. And I associated communist with Nazis. And I think I was meant to. I think that was the way we were meant to think about it. I mean we were taught to think about it, even in school. And that's what I thought. And it was through education that I learned that communists fought the Nazis, you know. And that there's a whole difference. And a lot of times when I talk to people in oppressed neighborhoods, that's one of the things that we get out of the way right away. Because I don't want that to be something in the way of us connecting with them. And so I find out what they think a communist is and then we get past that. And a lot of them do think "Nazi." So, at first, I wouldn't say it. But after awhile, and after going to different events and stuff, you start to feel more and more comfortable. And then you start feeling proud [laughs]. So I have no problem now saying it, because I think I can explain to people more what it is, or I definitely can explain to them what it's not.
Revolution: What are some of the ways that you go at that now or take that on?
Ju: Just ask them, I just tell them—one girl said, "I'm gonna march with y'all, y'all the NAACP." I said, "No ma'am, we're not" [laughs]. I asked her, "Do you know what a communist is?" And she said, "A Nazi." And I said, "No," so we talked about it. And I got her to understand that there's a big difference—I mean not difference, there's nothing similar at all in what a communist is. And once we get that out of the way, then we can move past it, because I don't want people to freeze up when I say we're communists and thinking we're bad like "Jehovah's Witness, I don't want to talk to you," you know, like that. So I like to go ahead and get it out of the way now. At first, I used to go all around it, talk to 'em about everything and avoid that word, but now I bring the word right on out so that there's no deception, but I make sure that they understand that a communist is somebody good and not a Nazi.
Revolution: And how did your own understanding of communism—what was that process like through which your own understanding developed and changed over the years?
Ju: Just some education, just reading, and being around communists. My buddy at home, he's not shy about telling people's that he's a communist, telling people he's an atheist. And this one guy said to him, "You can't be an atheist, you're too good." So I think it kind of speaks for itself. And that's one way me being—when the communists are the ones who came to my aid in my hour of despair, when they [the police] killed my son, the communists were the first ones who came to my aid. The only ones that came to my aid. So that told me then something about what kind of people they were. And then I told 'em what I thought, I said, "I thought communists were Nazis," and it was just a matter of him explaining and me reading, you know.
Revolution: When you say "him explaining," you're talking about—
Ju: Oh, my comrade. We read the thing in the paper about what communism is. It's always on page 3, maybe page 2. And just studying and doing history and stuff. And just getting into the movement, you know. And listening to BA speak, and reading. And a lot of it is just being around communists, just seeing their high character, the kind of people they are. They're better than Christians [laughs].
Revolution: There's also the fact that—the whole way that BA has re-envisioned revolution and communism, based on both principally upholding the actual past experience of the communist revolution as opposed to the lies you're talking about that people are told, but then also the ways in which he's carved out the basis for us to do even better next time—it kind of really flies in the face of what people's stereotypes or misconceptions are.
Ju: We tell people—because a lot of people say to us, "Communism, it's been tried and it failed," and we tell them about the new communism and the new synthesis.
Revolution: Maybe you could say a little bit more about what it's been like for you to be on this tour, taking BA out to the masses and to be organizing people into this movement for revolution.
Ju: The tour has been great. I've met a lot of people and I'm learning other ways to do the work. We do all we can at home. I've learned some other things that I can take back home. Like the idea of the pennies. 'Cause fundraising is always kind of difficult, especially when you're going in oppressed neighborhoods, a lot of times people just don't have it. And I like the 12 ways cards drawing everybody in, letting everybody know that they have a role, even if it's not money, or if it's not going on the street, there's still things that they can do. And I think that's a way of uniting the people too. But it's meant a lot. And I see a lot of differences in some things, and then I see a lot of similarities. Like, the people in housing, I see a lot of the same problems in these housing projects that I see in the ones back home, with the authority and everything. I met a lady that said they are not allowed to stand in the hallway. And we have a project at home where people are not allowed to sit on the front porch. So I see a lot of similarities in the brutality of it and the oppression and everything. And it's not a whole lot that's always different except here it's on a much, much larger scale. And I think a lot of people's attitudes are similar to these attitudes I see back home.
Revolution: Could you say a little more about that?
Ju: It makes me feel kinda like people are the same no matter where you go [laughs]. And the interest I think was probably about the same as what we experienced. Over here, you got more people—you got a whole lot more people. And you got more things going on here. You got a lot of things going on, like the day CD [Carl Dix] was over at the projects, there was an old-timers' festival going on on the next corner. So you know, the more you can find places where people get together, that helps in trying to get the work done. So it's a lot more going on here, a lot more opportunities. But we have to do it here, we also have to do it in small places too. We have to transform the people and we have to go where the people are.
Revolution: In terms of this bus tour really effecting a big leap in this movement for revolution: as has been pointed out in coverage in Revolution newspaper, there's objectively, like you were saying earlier, the leadership of BA represents a way out and represents a way that humanity can actually make revolution when the time is right, and get rid of all the horrors of this system and get to a whole different world. And objectively, that's what BA and this new synthesis of communism represents, but then the number of people right now who know about that and who are organized into this movement for revolution to make a revolution, to get to that world, the number of people is still way too small. So [what do you think about] this bus tour, in terms of changing that and actually making a big leap?
Ju: I think the bus has made a big difference. And with groups of people coming together from different places and we're all converging out on the streets, I think it made a huge difference. And I think it made a difference when the people see us as one, and then the shirts and everything. The shirt... connected all of us together and I think it made the movement look even bigger with all of us going out like that, you know. It looks better with a bunch of us getting off the bus than with two or three people getting up going down the street in the neighborhood. And I think it piqued people's interest more, I really do.
Revolution: Maybe you could share some experiences or stories that kind of bring out people who are living in these projects—you're saying you're seeing the connection between people's conditions in these projects here and what you're familiar with back home—for people in these areas who are completely beaten down by this system and don't know there's a way out to then learn about this revolution and its leadership, what has that been like?
Ju: It's been good 'cause I've talked to several people... they even said, "There's nothing you can do," and in talking to them, they're not thinking that way anymore. This one lady in particular... she was saying "If you raise your children right and if they do what you tell them, then nothing will happen to them." And after we talked and talked, she admitted that that's not the problem—raising children right is not the problem—and she realized the problem's the system and that her children can be affected as well as anybody else's even if she's doing the right thing. So I think it made a difference, and with there being a lot of us, it gave us a few more minutes to struggle with people. 'Cause sometimes I think it's just not enough time for just a little number of people going around. I liked that aspect of it—there being more of us. While I'm busy talking to this lady for 15 or 20 minutes, then somebody's talking to other people. So I think that part of it was exciting, versus there being two people going out and two people tied up for 20 minutes or so talking to somebody. Because some of these people are adamant about what they believe and you do have to struggle with them some and get them to look at another way and get them to be honest about—I don't think they're being dishonest, I think maybe that they just, they haven't heard about revolution, that's probably what it is.
Revolution: Are there any things that you feel like, as a result of being on this tour, you look at differently or your eyes have been opened to in a different way, or that you think about even more deeply?
Ju: Yeah, I've learned a lot of lessons, and I've learned a lot of stuff that I feel like I can benefit from at home. And one thing of that is in helping get BA's name out, I think the chant that we made up, I'm definitely taking that home. I think chants always get people's attention. I think the idea about collecting the pennies is good, the fundraising part of it and helping to get the books and stuff out. I think I've learned some stuff, some ideas that will help our area too, do even better.
Revolution: I guess the last question I would ask you for now, and then obviously feel free to add anything that you want to add, is: There's this metaphor that's been used—there's the people on the bus tour, right, but then there's the people all over the country who are pushing the bus to support it. I'm wondering, for those people who are pushing the bus supporting it, or those people who are not yet doing that but need to be, what would you say to them?
Ju: I'd say, "Thank you" to the ones that are pushing it already. The donations have been great—the food donations, I was amazed that so much stuff came in. And I think it's what's needed. And that's why I was liking the 12 ways cards, because everybody can be a part of this. Everybody can. And I think that card points it out that you might be able to make a big contribution or a little contribution, but all contributions are needed and appreciated. I'd say: Keep pushing the bus [laughs].
Revolution: How about people who are just finding out about this, who are new to finding out about this tour or to the people who have not yet been met by this bus tour but will be and are trying to figure out how they can plug in and relate to this?
Ju: I say we keep the tour for a year [laughter]. And just keep going from city to city and spreading BA far and wide. And picking up volunteers. I think this is an important way to get the word about revolution out, and to get BA out there, for people to find out the things that we already know about BA and about revolution. Things that we're still learning, actually.
Revolution: Did you have anything that you wanted to add? Anything I didn't ask you about that you wanted to speak about?
Ju: No, again I'm just glad to be a part of this tour and part of making history. And I would like to see the bus tour continue. I don't think two weeks or two months is enough. I think it needs to just keep going [laughs]
Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, available online or as a DVD set
BAsics 1:13: "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."—BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, RCP Publications. 2011
This new synthesis… See also BAsics 2:31.Twelve Ways That YOU Can Be Part of Building the Movement for Revolution—Right Now
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