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Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
By the end of May, the BAsics Bus Tour will have made its way deep into the South... making BA and his leadership known to many thousands. Hundreds will have signed the BAsics 1:13 banners, sending messages, especially to the people of Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was murdered. Thousands of dollars still need to be raised to support the BAsics Bus Tour and, as we do this, let's prepare to get out this same message all over the country in the following weeks, building on the momentum of this bus tour and raising money and laying the basis for the next leg of the tour. And as we do this, let's draw people into getting into BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian and connect them to the whole movement to make this known everywhere.
Join with others and together go all-out to raise money to get BA Everywhere—and as a part of that, let's aim to get BAsics 1:13 into the hands of and debated by tens of thousands of people all over this country. We say No More! The world does not have to be this way—and we have in Bob Avakian the communist leadership we need to get to a whole new world.
June 5 will mark 100 days since George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. Across this country, the cry for Justice for Trayvon and an end to mass incarceration will reverberate as thousands take up the call for a mass hoodie day, a day of mass resistance. Three days later, more of the new Freedom Fighters in New York City will go on trial for resolutely standing up to and demanding an end to the NYPD's illegitimate and illegal stop-and-frisk program, which stops hundreds of thousands each year, mainly Black and Latino youth, and subjects them to humiliating and brutal harassment.
And more, the BAsics 1:13 quote speaks to and can open the door to a whole new future for youth. They will be getting out of school filled with enthusiasm for the summer break and a new beginning, but finding there is no work to be had—or that the only future for many of them is joining the military. At the same time, as the summer begins police departments across the country will be ratcheting up their attacks on the people... the start of a brutal and murderous season.
And let's not forget, the summer will also witness countless numbers of young people and people of all ages around the world dying from starvation or U.S. drone attacks or in a thousand other horrific ways.
For millions of youth, here and around the world, this system of capitalism-imperialism offers a horrific future. This is a system that exists—and can only exist—by perpetrating such crimes. For millions of youth the world over, life is over before it has begun. But we say NO MORE. This system has no future for our youth, but the revolution does.
Picture this: building on the momentum created by the BAsics Bus Tour in the South, in cities and communities from Seattle and San Francisco to Chicago, New York and Houston and beyond, posters go up in local bookstores, barber shops, restaurants and bodegas...groups of students get together in inner city high schools to raise money and work out the ways to get the palm cards out all over, including on every seat in some classrooms...or at the college campuses that are still in session, up on the walls in dorm rooms. Students who are out for the summer take stacks of cards to get out to people wherever they go. Posters go up in the projects and neighborhoods as palm cards are gotten to every apartment and then passed along to others. Copies of BAsics are being sold and the quotes are provoking discussion and debate. A buzz about BA is developing, and this opens up new ways for a diverse number of people to join in the work of distributing these cards, in the parks after school and at sporting events and graduation ceremonies, at community centers and local libraries and hospitals. Groups of people go into the 'hoods and set up big displays of quotes from BAsics as others go out to cultural scenes and movie lines to spread the word. Raising money everywhere. And all these different initiatives begin to work together to have a dramatic impact throughout each city.
And take pictures and send them to email@example.com!!
To spread BA Everywhere—and, right now to get BAsics 1:13 all over—means fundraising! People can get together now and find the ways to raise money to print posters to go up and tens of thousands of these cards to go out all over the country in the coming weeks.
A challenge to all: Commit now to getting this quote out. Where do you want to take this quote? How many? And how can we raise the funds to support that effort? This will be one important way anyone can join this campaign and become part of the nationwide community that is moved to project BA, and his vision and works, throughout society. Knowing that, as we do that, we will be joining with others who will be spreading the word from coast to coast.
The card layout is posted now at revcom.us. A full-color poster is posted at revcom.us, together with a black-and-white 11x17 version that can be easily reproduced at any copy shop. Local Revolution Books stores will be collecting funds to print posters and palm cards. So, turn in the funds you have raised and sign up to receive your allotment of palm cards and posters.
If you live some distance from a Revolution Books store, email or call RCP Publications at firstname.lastname@example.org / (773) 227-4066 to let them know about the funds raised and to request a shipment of the palm cards to your area.
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
This photo collage was delivered by the BAsics Bus Tour to people in Sanford, Florida, in late May. The photos in the collage represent hundreds of people across the country coming together to send a message to the people of Sanford by signing banners with BA’s BAsics 1:13 quote: “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.”
Sunsara Taylor, writing from the bus tour, described the reaction of people in Sanford to the collage: “When they not only heard, but particularly when they saw, through the form of a beautiful collage that was made of all the banners with BAsics 1:13 that had been signed by hundreds and hundreds of people throughout the country, their faces lit up with amazement. ‘Chicago! Los Angeles! Wow... Cleveland? Honolulu? Holy shit, I can’t believe that!’ The photos on the collage, which showed people from across the country—many, many Black people, but also white people and others—joining together with them and with Bob Avakian to declare ‘NO MORE!,’ the whole thing became more real, more possible, and more hopeful.”
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
This is an article from Sunsara Taylor about the beginning of the BAsics Bus Tour in Atlanta, Georgia, posted at basicsbustour.tumblr.com on May 27.
The neighborhood has been completely abandoned. Expanses of lumpy shrubs and deep grass surround it on three sides. On the fourth side, the sun glints off razor wire, row after row of it surrounding a federal prison; men inside are forced to live in captivity, routinely brutalized, insulted and humiliated and forced to do backbreaking labor, often on chain gangs in the Georgia sun. Across a busy street from the lone apartment complex, a tiny parking lot hosts three little shops. No fresh fruits or vegetables are available, but liquor is in abundant supply. Despite the luscious green that surrounds almost everything down here in the South, many of the courtyards of the apartment are filled only with brown dirt. This is where the children play.
The first time we visited this neighborhood, I didn't make it fifteen feet out of our car before a young Black man who had been sitting in the shade on the curb pointed at the poster I carried "That was me," he said. The first time he was beaten by police he was just 15 years old. They held him up against a wall by his neck, hanging and choking him before they worked his whole body over with their fists and batons. "Over there," a slightly older man added as he pointed toward one of the nearby fields. Someone had been killed by police over there just a few months ago.
I told them that I was part of the BAsics Bus Tour, a group of revolutionaries who had come together from across the country to live and travel on an RV through the South to connect people up with Bob Avakian, the leader who has re-envisioned revolution and communism, and to bring people like them into the movement for revolution.
The poster I was holding featured the quotation from Bob Avakian which reads, in part:
"This system, in this country, in the whole history of its treatment of Black people, what has it been?
"First, Slavery... Then, Jim Crow—segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror... And now, The New Jim Crow—police brutality and murder, wholesale criminalization and mass incarceration, and legalized discrimination yet again.
"That's it for this system:
Three strikes and you're out!"
Alongside those words are three pictures. One has an enslaved Black man whose back is welted with thick scars from the slave whip. One shows a Black man hanging by his neck from a tree, surrounded by a mob of white men. The final photo, the one that this man—and many, many others before and since him—pointed to as mirroring his experience, shows a Black man grimacing in pain under the boot of two beefy cops. We walked through this history briefly: how this system was built on the wealth created by slavery; how even after the Civil War, Black people were betrayed by this system and forced back into neo-slavery, share-cropping and KKK terror; and how even after the heroic struggle of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black liberation struggles this system has betrayed Black people once more. Today, we have the New Jim Crow, the slow genocide of mass incarceration, no jobs, no future, and massive police violence.
"This has to end," I said, "and that is what this revolution is about. Things don't have to be this way. We have a way out. The reason we got on this bus to come down to places like this is that all of you, people who need this revolution, have to get into it and be part of it in order for it to succeed."
It wasn't hard to get people talking. Beyond that, they were extremely open to hearing about any kind of revolution that could put an end to all this. After a while, I pointed over to the picnic tables where Clyde Young, a veteran revolutionary communist, was and the group of us walked over to join him.
There were a lot of folks out in the picnic area at the edge of the apartment complex. On my way to Clyde I noticed knots of people grouped up around several other volunteers from this BAsics Bus Tour. This was our first day out. Most of the volunteers on the tour had been at least a little nervous about how we would be received. But immediately people were opening up and talking, sharing stories and listening.
One native Spanish speaker who had joined us for the day and who struggles to fully understand English and to be understood in it, talked about how what we were talking about connected despite the language barrier: "At first, when I was talking, I was worried that the people were not fully listening. Or that they were listening to wait until I was done talking. But then I realized, they were really trying to understand what I was saying. And if they didn't understand me they listened when I tried again. Then, they would tell me what they think. If they didn't say anything at all, I would ask them why they didn't have anything to say."
Back where I was, after we joined Clyde, one of the men who had been quiet earlier opened up. He told of having been locked down for ten years in the Georgia prisons and having worked on the chain gang. He described forms of torture in the prisons that none of us had heard of. He was not the first man we spoke to that day who, after describing beatings and oppression, added, "There is no way to win." Clyde posed back to him, movingly and firmly, that when people act alone the system is too strong, but if we get organized with the leadership we have and fight the power together that can change. He described the Revolutionary Communist Party and Bob Avakian, stressing that, "This is not an immature Party. This Party has learned from the Black Panther Party and from other revolutionaries, but also gone way beyond them." But, he insisted, people who want to get free have to take responsibility for coming into and building this revolution, "Even if it is in really basic ways."
After a while, I turned to a younger man sitting at my end of the table who had also shared his stories of police brutality and terror with me and asked him, "If there was something you could do that would strengthen this revolution, would you do it?" He lowered his voice and spoke very slowly, looking me dead in the eye, "Yes, ma'am... Yes, ma'am... Yes, ma'am." Each time he said it, he sounded more sure. At this point, the former prisoner asked Clyde, "If we get involved in this revolution, will y'all come around and teach us? Will you be with us?" Clyde made clear that this Party will stand with them when they stand up, but we also posed that this revolution is not as strong as it needs to be and this is precisely why people like them need to get involved. From there we explored how to go as far as possible towards this during the three days we were all still in town.
The man suggested a picnic with hotdogs and chips for the children. I'll be honest, Clyde and I both waited to hear his full vision before responding. We don't have the resources, nor is it our mission, to simply bring food to people. Nor are we trying to "lure" people into the revolution with material incentives. But, as we listened to him, it became clear that this guy was serious about learning more and about opening up the space for other people to learn about and relate to this revolution.
One of the deepest lessons on our first day out was the importance of really listening to people and finding the ways for them to contribute to the movement for revolution that they know how to do.
A curious little three-year-old girl wandered over to us. As I was saying hello to her and listening to what she wanted to share, I noticed her mother watching all of us from the next picnic table over all by herself. I waved to her, "Do you want to come over and join us?" She got bashful and made the excuse that there weren't any seats left. This wasn't really the problem and we quickly found room for her; more the problem was that all of this was unfamiliar she needed to be invited. We talked a little, off and on, between the other conversations. Mostly, however, she answered my questions with just a word or two and got quiet again. Rather than trying to push the conversation, I pulled out Revolution newspaper and I told her about the people in the pictures: an eight-year-old girl working at a battery recycling plant in Bangladesh, a Guatemalan man foraging for food in a garbage dump, victims of police brutality, and then Chinese people putting up big character posters during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China during the 1970s, and a photo of Bob Avakian during a speaking tour years ago.
At one point, I told her that a big part of this revolution is winning full liberation of women. I talked about the harm of women being sold to men for sex and prostitution or degraded through pornography, of being denied the right to abortion and being beaten by the men in their lives. She responded with her longest statement to me yet, "Women get beat on a lot around here." After that, she stayed quiet for a long time.
Several times we were interrupted as other volunteers came by to find the portable DVD player and copies of BA's Revolution talk and other materials. They fanned out and shared all this with other knots of people gathered in the park. When the BAsics bus drove by with its banners unfurled, one man's voice filled with excitement, "Is that your bus?" It felt good to be able to say "Yes" and to be able to explain that many hundreds of people around the country had contributed money and effort to making sure this BAsics bus came down to reach them and bring them into the revolution.
Conversations continued to range throughout the afternoon but before it was time for us to go we firmed up our plans for a picnic. Just before I stood up to leave, the young woman who was still sitting quietly next to me said softly, "You need people to bring anything?" It felt good to be able to say "Yes" to that question too. Talking about this revolution with us was clearly something very new to her, something she wasn't sure yet how to do. But it was clear—as she offered to bring hotdogs for the kids—that based on what she had heard so far about this revolution, she wanted to be part of it by doing something that she knew how to do. After that, she saw two volunteers passing a contact sheet between them that other people had signed up on and asked, "Do you want me to put my number on that page?"
The next couple of days were extremely busy getting the bus tour underway—out to a high school several times, to a town hall meeting, to a dinner hosted by a local Caribbean restaurant, together for discussions of BA's works with Clyde Young at Revolution Books, and many hours of sorting materials, making displays, and packing the RV so we'd be ready to hit the road soon.
When we showed up on Friday, we brought hotdogs and potato chips and drinks for the kids. Once we had arrived, we called all of the contacts we had made the two days before. The former prisoner who had come up with the idea of the picnic came out to greet us. When he saw that we had actually arrived, he went around the park and talked to others to let them know we were cool and were having a revolution picnic. Then, he and another man went to get charcoal and lighter fluid and spent the next couple hours grilling hotdogs for all.
Another person we called was a woman, Mikaya, who had read sections of BAsics two days before. The volunteer told her we could only stick around for about an hour, so when she came to join us she was literally running to be sure that she didn't miss us. She pulled money out of her pockets and her shoe and counted up ten dollars, insisting—out of breath—that she wanted "that book."
There were a lot of things Mikaya didn't know about the world, things that have been kept from her and from people like her. One thing she had a very deep sense of is that all of us are trained to think certain ways because of the way we are brought up. She had a very deep and basic sense that people could be different if they could be taught a different way.
She told a story to one of our volunteers as part of explaining what she finds so disturbing about the way people act. The story was from her experience riding the city bus just a few days before. An older woman had been getting on the bus when a group of young guys ran past her and knocked her over. Mikaya caught the older woman and helped her to her seat. But then she called the police on the young guys, "And the police caught them and they got what they deserved."
Our volunteer told her, "I liked everything about that story, except for when you called the police." Our volunteer pulled out BAsics 1:24 about how the role of the police is not to protect and serve the people, but to protect and serve the system that rules over the people. Our volunteer spoke about how people shouldn't call on the police to further oppress and brutalize anyone. "Okay," this volunteer later told me, "'Now we are going to have to have some kind of struggle,' I thought to myself."
But instead, Mikaya looked at our volunteer and said, "See, this is why we need people like you to come out here and talk to us. I learned something from you just now. In the future I am not going to do that anymore." The volunteer and Mikaya talked for over an hour. Among other things, they went through the Twelve Ways That YOU Can Be Part of Building the Movement for Revolution—Right Now. The woman took a big stack of palm cards with the BA quote 1:13 and explained her plans to "Leave them on the bus, in the washroom, in the library," and other places. She also got the Bob Avakian DVD sampler and gave our volunteer a big hug before leaving at the end.
I spent my time for a while with a big group of kids and three teenagers who seemed to be watching them. The young woman dressed and carried herself with a lot of defiance and was the most vocal. She said they had already been saying among themselves that one of the kids looked a lot like Trayvon Martin. "It could've been him," she said, with her arm around a seven-year-old. Another teenager took off his hat and showed scars across his entire skull from when a group of police beat him with handcuffs as well as a bullet wound from them just above his temple.
At the other side of the table, a young Black man named Kamau (the brother of the young woman who was the first to greet us) chimed in that he knew about Emmett Till. He wouldn't say much more than that, so I went around and sat next to him. "We need a revolution to put an end to this," I posed. "I know, I'm already with you." He didn't mean he was actually with us. The way he said it came off more like he was telling me he already knew anything I could bring to him. I encouraged his sentiment, but then got into what it would actually take to go up against and defeat the system that rules over us, the significance of BA's leadership and the need to get organized into the revolution. I opened up to the section in BAsics on strategy, the three conditions that come together for a revolutionary crisis and the dimensions of hastening and preparing for that time. In particular I emphasized the importance of fighting the power and transforming the people for revolution. He seemed to get more interested and open so I handed him the book and said, "Look it over for a while," and gave him some space.
About half an hour later, I returned and Kamau had read most of the first chapter. When I asked what he thought of it, he said his favorite was quote 1:11: "Determination decides who makes it out of the ghetto—now there is a tired old cliché, at its worst, on every level. This is like looking at the millions of people being put through a meatgrinder and instead of focusing on the fact that the great majority are chewed to pieces, concentrating instead on the few who slip through in one piece and then on top of it all, using this to say that 'the meatgrinder works'!"
As he had read a good portion of the first chapter, I thought it would be important to show him a little of the later chapters. First, I wanted to give him a sense of not only what we are condemning but also what we are envisioning for the future. I read him BAsics 2:8 about creating a whole different art and culture. The part he most responded to was when BA said, "...enough of this 'bitches and ho's' and SWAT teams kicking down doors. Enough of this 'get low' bullshit. And how come it's always the women that have to get low?..." He looked over at his sister and said he knows that a lot of times women don't get treated with respect.
I flipped to BAsics 5:5 where BA says, "The 'Bible Belt' in the U.S. is also the Lynching Belt." He nodded in agreement and cracked a little bit of a smile. When I asked if he believed in god he mumbled something unintelligible about church and god and nodded his head half-heartedly. I said that we, as communist revolutionaries, recognize that god doesn't exist. We don't believe in him. "Yeah," he said much louder and more clearly, "Me neither."
We looked at BAsics 4:20, "Every religion in the world believes that every other religion is superstition. And they're all correct." This brought an actual laugh out of Kamau. Next, I turned to BAsics 4:18, "Let's call this what it is—it is a slave mentality, with which people are being indoctrinated. All this 'thank you Jesus!' is a slave mentality." Kamau got quiet, so I said, "Those are very strong words. What do you think of them?" He thought for a minute and then responded, "Yeah, I think that is true, too. People are always praying to Jesus and thanking Jesus but I don't see Jesus doing anything to help us out."
It was at this point that the kids on the other side of the picnic table came tumbling over to our side. One of them had a copy of BAsics and all of them were crowding around, vying for the chance to read some of the words out loud to me or to Kamau. Kamau called one of them over, turned the page to BAsics 1:11 (about the meatgrinder) and put his arm around a younger child, encouraging and correcting him as he read. "It's important to keep reading," Kamau told the child as he struggled through his words, "Plus, this stuff is true."
Over at another picnic table I saw two teenage Black women sitting by themselves taking in the words of Bob Avakian that were playing over the BAsics bus loudspeakers, so I left Kamau with the kids reading again and went to visit.
Kayden had shiny nearly fluorescent green eyeliner on her top lids. When I asked what she thought of BA's words so far she snapped back, "He offended me." When I inquired why that was she responded, "He said that we just don't have any future like we don't have any choice in the matter. That offends me." First, I asked, "Well, is it true or not true that many, many people are destined for lives of oppression and struggle just because of where they are born?" She didn't like that question and wouldn't respond. Her friend, Krystal, remained quiet as well.
I read BAsics 1:10 about the way that women are condemned to lives of brutality and oppression, degradation and objectification, denial of reproductive rights and so much more throughout the world but including here in the U.S. At first, neither of them would respond at all. "I realize that is a lot," I said, "so let's take it one part at a time." I went back to the part about "and all too often brutalized by those who are supposed to be their most intimate lovers." Both friends burst out laughing. For a long time, the more questions I asked the harder they laughed.
Finally, Krystal said, "We're laughing because her boyfriend beat her."
Kayden snapped back, "Yeah, he beat me. I don't mind. It just makes me stronger." She said it with defiance; as if complaining about being beaten was a sign of weakness (nowhere did she seem to consider the option of NOT being beaten).
I explained that a big part of the revolution is the fight for women to be treated as full human beings, equal in every way to men: women shouldn't be raped, they shouldn't be beaten, they shouldn't be forced into prostitution or pornography to be used and degraded by men Women should have the right to get an abortion or use birth control or have sex without being judged.
The more I said, the more infectiously Krystal and Kayden laughed. I persevered, though, insisting that women can think just like men, can do any kind of work men can do and deserve to be treated the same as men. Also, men can be—and ought to be—just as sensitive as women can be, they can take care of kids just like women and they should never hit or rape a woman. This time, though, they both began to get more serious. They didn't speak yet, but they did quiet down and were clearly listening closely.
"Okay," I said, "What about this part? What about where BA talks about how women should be able to get abortions and use birth control? Part of this revolution is making sure that women can get abortions if they want and that they are never forced to have children when they don't want to have a kid."
This got them talking again. Kayden started lecturing me about how its "wrong for a woman to kill her baby." She said abortion was a "sin" and a few things about how only bad women get abortions. Before I had a chance to respond, Krystal shot back at her, "If I don't want a baby I am going to kill it. I don't care, that is my choice. Why I'm gonna have a kid when I can't take care of a kid. What about women who don't have no job or no man? What about women who don't have no home? She can't have a baby."
The three of us explored this topic quite deeply. I united with what Krystal said, but also explained the fact that fetuses are different than babies. A fetus is a part of a woman's body; it is not yet a person. It has the potential to become a person, but until it is born it is just part of a woman and it is up to her what she wants to do with it. Krystal continued to fight with her friend, insisting ferociously that women should be able to get abortions. At one point, Krystal got Kayden to agree that if the man won't stick around the woman shouldn't be forced to raise a baby by herself.
Throughout it all, while I struggled with them both, I repeatedly felt the need to struggle most against what Kayden was saying, particularly a lot of the judgment she was heaping on women and a lot of the religious views of women needing to submit to men. The debate got quite ferocious until, at one point, Kayden sort of shut down and stopped talking. Finally she looked at me and accused, "How come you are agreeing with everything she says but when I talk you are never agreeing."
At this point, I took a step back. Kayden was laying out a lot of extremely backwards thinking, but she was just 16 years old and she was hearing a lot of stuff for the first time that was challenging a lot of what she had been raised to believe her entire life. "That's not true," I responded, "I agreed with you when you said women shouldn't have to have a baby if the daddy isn't around." I waited until she acknowledged this to make sure she understood I wasn't just picking on her, but then I continued by explaining that there were actually a lot of things she said which I not only disagree with but which I think are harmful. "Disagreeing with you is different than disrespecting you," I explained. "I wouldn't take the time to listen to you or to tell you what I think of what you are saying—not only when I agree but also when I disagree—if I didn't respect you. I respect that you are speaking your mind and I respect that you are talking with me and listening to me even though you disagree with a lot of what I am saying. We need more of this. But then we also have to look at what happens to real people based on the ideas we are saying." She remained tense through the discussion that followed, but did relax a little and open up again as we got further into what happens to women who are forced to have children against their will.
As if it would settle the argument, Kayden invoked her own experience, saying, "I was a mistake, but my momma had me. If she had an abortion I wouldn't be here right now." Once again, Krystal responded first, "I was a mistake, too. That's why I would get an abortion. I would never put a child through what I went through." While she never elaborated fully, later I got a sense of what she was getting at when she explained, "I hate my name, its not unique to me. My sister gave it to me. My mother didn't even name me."
At a certain point, probably to change the subject and because she did feel on the defensive, she began making fun of me a little. Implying that I was foolish and hadn't realized what kind of neighborhood we had come to, she said, "You came to the worst neighborhood of the worst area in all of Atlanta. Nobody comes down here!" "Actually, that's exactly why we came here. Because people here need revolution and need to get into this revolution. You have a very big role you can play in all this," I responded.
Kayden wasn't ready for all that. She said goodbye and wandered to a far away table. Krystal, however, responded differently, by asking what exactly she could do. We went over the Twelve Things You Can Do, circling the website to revolutiontalk.net for her to go watch more and giving her a stack of palm cards to leave everywhere she thinks people will see them. When I asked if she would speak on camera about what she thought of this revolution so far, she smiled ear to ear, jumped out of her seat and asked where she should stand. After that, she repeated for the camera much of what she had told me about why she thought abortion was so important for women and how she felt men shouldn't get more stuff or rights than women. She ended by taking up my suggestion to say into the camera, "I'm one of the thousands working on the revolution."
* * * * *
This is how the afternoon wound on. Lots of people mixing it up with the revolutionaries, listening to and reading the words of Bob Avakian (more than once, I was told, people walking by asked the folks who were stationed in the RV who it was they were listening to and left with stacks of palm cards), and filling up on hotdogs and other picnic food. Volunteers of the bus tour and people from the neighborhood both got a chance to get into things deeply with Clyde Young as well.
Not all of us made it back to the park for the picnic; some of us were out at a local high school and others were busy packing for the days ahead on the road. But one of the people who met us the first day made a point of asking after the Spanish speaker who had first introduced him to Bob Avakian. Before leaving a few volunteers and Clyde wrapped up with the men from the neighborhood who'd been doing all the cooking, revisiting the question of staying connected to, and deepening their involvement in, the movement for revolution and thanked them for doing all the cooking. For their part, the men expressed a commitment to be part of working on the revolution and insisted that cooking for this barbeque had been "a privilege."
A "PS": In all of our reporting from the BAsics Bus Tour, we have changed people's names so as to protect their privacy. In this case, I was especially pleased to have caught up with Krystal and Kayden on the final day of our Tour after we returned to Atlanta from our broader travels. They were even more bubbly and laughing as the first time, but this time it was with warmth and not with nervousness. We greeted each other with big hugs. This time, Kayden was wearing bright pink eye shadow with matching bright pink highlights in her hair. I told them that I had written about them and that, especially since Krystal hated her given name so deeply, I wanted them to pick their own names for this article. Krystal loved the idea, but couldn't come up with anything. Her best friend, despite the fierce arguments they have continued to hold over the abortion and revolution since the time I saw them, looked over at her with love and said, "Krystal." With great satisfaction and wide grins, they took a new stack of palm-cards (Krystal had used the first stack up completely in the last week) and made plans to join us at this afternoon's culmination celebration in Little Five Points.
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
This report was posted at basicsbustour.tumblr.com on May 26:
Sweltering afternoon sun beats down through towering oaks and Spanish moss on the streets of a Black community in Sanford, Florida. A community that has witnessed a very different scene for the past two days. The BAsics Bus Tour has been rolling through bringing the BAsics of revolution and building for a special speak-out right there in Sanford. For two days fliers went out with a picture of Trayvon Martin, "We Say 'No More' Speak-out at the Sanford Police Station at 4 pm," the news spread by word of mouth from friend to friend and on the radio with Carl Dix and Sunsara Taylor making appearances on local stations to announce that the BAsics Bus Tour came to Sanford with a purpose and a message.
We came to Sanford because this is the place where Trayvon Martin was gunned down by the racist wanna-be-cop George Zimmerman. The place where the killer of a young Black man went free and police refused to arrest him for six weeks, and only arrested him and charged him because people stood up and protested in the streets for weeks all around the country. We came here not because this is the only place that this kind of thing happens, but because this kind of thing happens all the time in cities and neighborhoods, to Black youth everywhere. The killing of Trayvon Martin concentrates the reality for oppressed youth throughout this country every hour of every single day, and that's why this resonated so deeply and people declared, "We are all Trayvon Martin." Now people are being told to sit back, get out of the streets and allow the courts to "do their job" as the media goes into motion creating public opinion for Zimmerman's acquittal, painting him as the victim and dragging Trayvon Martin's reputation through the mud, all this working to lay the basis for this system to do what we've seen it does again and again—let the killer of a Black man go free.
"NOT THIS TIME" wrote Carl Dix from the Revolutionary Communist Party when he announced earlier in the week that he would be coming down to Sanford to meet up with the BAsics Bus Tour and deliver a message to people in Sanford, across the country and around the world: "Too many times we have seen Black youth gunned down by cops or wanna-be-cops, too many times we have seen these killers get away scot free." Carl and the BAsics Bus Tour would be bringing a message that's part of standing up against this AND a message that points to the way out of this, to a different future for generations of youth here and all around the world.
This message came in the form of a banner, with a declaration from Bob Avakian, leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party: "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."
This banner has been signed by 100s of people throughout the region as we've been taking it to people in housing projects, immigrant neighborhoods, at high schools and other places from Athens, Gainesville, and Atlanta, while across the country people have made similar banners as a message to the people of Sanford. All the comments will be forthcoming, but some of the messages are: "On the road for humanity," "Freedom from oppression for everyone," "Never give up," "Standing for youth is our mission, but standing for humanity is a duty," "Where's my mule and 40 acres of land?" "Don't let the world stop you, continue your journey." All this was brought to the Sanford Police Station to denounce what they did the night of the murder of Trayvon Martin.
Marching up to the police station—with the decorated BAsics bus trailing behind—people waved and cheered, and circled back around on their bikes two or three times to get another look at the scene. Cars honked as the speak-out began, people were driving by to see what was going on, some pulled over to look, snap photos and get fliers. Others—a small but determined group—got out of their cars to join in. One woman was videotaping at first, but soon stepped up to be the first to speak out and when she did, she roared. Anger came pouring out. She had lived up North and spoke of what it was like when she came down to the South: "I have never seen so much racism in my life... I have never seen so many people that will put their hands on you." She described the degrading ways that people are treated and the injustice carried out by the Sanford police. A couple came from out of town to join the speak-out. Both of them spoke about the need for justice and one of them read a poem. Another Black couple came with pain still fresh to tell the story of their son who was wrongly convicted the day before of a crime they attest he did not commit. It was like their whole family was put on trial. "Do you love your son?" the prosecutor asked. They had another son who was killed at the hands of this system in another way—through the violence amongst the people as this system pits them against each other. When this son was killed, the police refused to investigate.
At this speak-out, and in going out in the neighborhood, we've heard story after story of brutality, abuse and murder of Black youth. One person told us at least five or six Black men have been killed by the Sanford police in the last few years. One woman showed us a poster with pictures of those who had been killed. Others told us through tears the painful stories. On top of the unbelievable loss was the fact that in every case we heard recounted, none of the police responsible were ever charged and little to no investigation took place.
What emerged on the steps of the police station was a defiant and spirited core of revolutionaries that gave real hope to those watching, and a small core of people from the area that stepped forward to speak bitterness—they themselves representing many more—who were watching and knew about this speak-out and supported it. One woman who came said her friend had called her up and said, "They're protesting down on 14th street. Get down there!!" After telling the story of her son being convicted she commented, "I want to be heard. I didn't know I was gonna be heard like this but I appreciate it. It feels good to be heard it really does. You have to be heard. If you don't be heard you stay hiding, and they do what they want. If I don't say nothing that means they won, and they're not gonna win, because I'm not gonna lay down."
Talking about the BAsics Bus Tour, she said "I met the revolution, I came down and I spoke to them, and they're very nice people and they're for you. Everybody needs to come out and support them." Before leaving, she scrounged through her bag to collect $10 to leave with a copy of BAsics and an organizing kit so she could be connected up with the revolution after the tour leaves town.
Another woman said she had heard about it on the local news. She described how her son had been convicted for a robbery, that he honestly confessed and said the reason he did it was because "we were bored." Then his mother fought and fought for him to have the lightest sentence possible knowing that something like this can actually lead to harsh sentencing of years in prison even for a 17-year-old with no record. She described how her son was harassed and brutalized in the custody of the police and how terrified he was.
A couple people came in Trayvon Martin T-shirts. People talked about wanting to see the struggle for justice for Trayvon Martin continue and were glad to see people stepping out and calling on others to stay in the streets.
And there was also an openness and appreciation for what the revolutionaries were bringing. Even in the speak-out there was tremendous unity and honest struggle with both people from religious views expressing their support and the communists, who are atheists, speaking from their point of view about why it's up to us to change things and keep the fight for justice going as we talk about how to get rid of all this. Right on the spot there was deep engagement with people reading quotes from BAsics, especially the one on how the role of the police is not to serve and protect the people but to serve and protect the system that rules over the people.
We'll write more about this soon, but there have also been people who have stepped up to join in any way they could. One woman brought us three tomatoes from her garden saying it was all she had, but she wanted to support this bus tour. Another person said they couldn't contribute funds, but offered to cook dinner for everyone if we brought them the food to cook with.
The speak-out continued for over an hour and a half. After emphasizing the importance of how people stepped out in protest against the murder of Trayvon Martin, the determination of his parents and tens of thousands of others to fight for justice, Carl Dix brought it to a close with the following: "We have to firm up our determination. Right now, people are being told 'it's time to get out of the streets, it's time to step back and let the system work.' Well, look, we've been looking at this system work. We've been seeing how it's worked for centuries. We've been seeing it stealing generations of our youth. NOT THIS TIME and NO MORE. We have to deliver this message now—we are not getting out of the streets. We are not stepping back to see how your system works. In fact, we're gonna try to stop the way your system works by stopping your system once and for all through revolution... when the time is right. Bringing this quote and the voice of Bob Avakian out to people throughout the South... and it will be going on and going to other places... spreading that voice and that work and opening up hope for the future, hope that this declaration of 'no more of that' can be made real by making revolution and getting this system off the face of the earth once and for all. So that's what we were contributing here today, and that's what we're going to take back to the neighborhood of Sanford tomorrow."
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
This was posted at basicsbustour.tumblr.com on May 23:
Tomorrow morning, I'm traveling to Sanford, FL. The scene of the crime where Trayvon Martin was gunned down by a wanna-be-cop. The place where police refused to arrest Trayvon's killer, George Zimmerman, for six weeks. The place where thousands and thousands of people stood up and fought until the arrest was made. And the place where—despite all of this—public opinion is being created for Zimmerman's acquittal.
I'll be meeting up with the BAsics Bus Tour to deliver a message to the people of Sanford, to people across the country and to the people of the world: NOT THIS TIME! (See my video announcement about this HERE). Too many times we have seen Black youth gunned down by cops or wanna-be-cops, too many times we have seen these killers get away scot free.
As Bob Avakian, leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has declared: "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."
This quote from Avakian is written on a banner that the BAsics Bus Tour has been taking out to oppressed communities as it rolled through Atlanta and headed south. Hundreds of people from housing projects, in immigrant neighborhoods, at high schools and others places have added their names to this banner. While signing, people told their own stories of abuse and vicious brutality by the police, of years of hard labor in the Georgia sun while incarcerated, of sons lost to police bullets. The BAsics Bus Tour is carrying with it all this—the defiance and the hopes of those hundreds of people, of hundreds more who signed similar banners in places like Chicago and Los Angeles and New York and beyond, and the thousands and millions more who feel the same way—as we meet up in Sanford.
To those in the media and others who are working to contain the righteous anger that has burst forth against the murder of Trayvon who are now saying, "It's time to get out of the streets and let the legal system work!" I say this: The system was working when the Sanford Police let Trayvon's killer walk the night of his murder. The system was working when the Sanford Police ran a drug test on Trayvon's dead body but not on the still-living man who pulled the trigger. The system is working now as stories turn up in the news portraying Zimmerman as the victim. The system is working now as Trayvon's reputation [is dragged] through the mud.
The only way justice will be won is if people stay in the streets.
On FRIDAY at 4 pm, we will take this banner in protest to the front of the Sanford Police Department.
We are NOT going to the Sanford Police Department because this is the only police station filled with racist and brutal cops. People across the country took up the slogan, "We are all Trayvon" because police and vigilante violence against oppressed youth is so common it is pretty much a "right of passage" for Blacks and Latinos. As such, we are going to Sanford to draw a line. NO MORE!
This is not an issue for Black people alone. If you care about justice, you need to be there with us. Come down and stand with us physically or send a message of support to be delivered with us, you can write to email@example.com
On Saturday, I will be joining with the BAsics Bus Tour to formally deliver this banner and its messages from people throughout the region to the people of Sanford.
This message from Bob Avakian, which has been signed by hundreds of others, is directly relevant to the case of Trayvon Martin—but it is also much bigger than that.
As everyone knows, but very few like to talk about, the USA's terror against Black people didn't begin with Trayvon Martin—or even with the nation-wide epidemic of police brutality and murder. It began with kidnappings from Africa, continued on the auction blocks, includes those experimented on by medical science after slavery was formally abolished, includes those chained to the land as share-croppers and terrorized and lynched by nightriding KKK after that, and is going on today through the slow genocide of mass incarceration.
Further, when we join with Bob Avakian in this statement we are not even only talking about Black people. We are talking about the women and young girls throughout the world sold into sexual slavery in the millions, about the children toiling in the fields and the sweatshops around the world to make our clothes and our iPhones, about the children torn from their parents who risk their lives to cross the US/Mexican border in a desperate search for work, about the children whose lives are stolen under US bombs from Afghanistan to Pakistan and beyond.
It is ALL THIS—and so much more—to which we are saying, NO MORE!
Further, by joining with Bob Avakian in making this statement, people throughout the region have not only found a way to give expression to their deeply felt demand for justice, they have been learning about and joining with the revolutionary leader whose work opens the door to putting an end to all this madness once and for all.
This statement of "no more" is a quote from Bob Avakian's BAsics. This bus tour has been spreading his works to people as it rolled thru the South, introducing people to a leader who has dug into the experience of previous revolutionary societies, highlighting their great achievements, fearlessly examining their errors and shortcomings and thru that developing a new approach to revolution and communism that gives us a very real basis to make good on our declaration of NO MORE.
At this moment, when—in broad daylight and before the eyes of millions—the system prepares to sweep the murder of another Black youth under the rug, two things are imperative to all those with eyes and a conscience.
First, don't stand on the sidelines at this moment when history is pivoting. Will this case be remembered as one more nail in the coffin of a whole generation, a green light to murder and profile and destroy... and the demoralization and feeling of defeat for millions who just began to lift their heads and fight for an end to this... or will this represent a win, and an advance in the fight to go even further—the strengthening and the opening up of possibilities both in what can be achieved and in what people dare for and dream of. A young supporter of the revolution recently put it this way, "There are no do-overs when it comes to times like this. You don't get a second chance to do what is needed... we only get one, people choose to either fight back or stand aside while lives are stolen."
Second, while we stand in this fight together, dig into the work of Bob Avakian and be part of spreading his work and leadership. A good place to start with this is by viewing his talk, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About. Because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.
This weekend, the place to be is Sanford with the BAsics Bus Tour. I'm joining it, and I encourage you to do the same. If you can't make it down to Sanford, then get on the bus in spirit—go to: basicsbustour.tumblr.com. Follow the bus tour on line, spread the word on it to everyone you know, and support it. And follow me on Twitter @carl_dix to get reports on the BAsics Bus Tour rolling thru Sanford.
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
This is from a May 24 posting at basicsbustour.tumblr.com:
We've arrived in Sanford, Florida where it truly feels like ground zero. I did not have to look, it did not take investigation or research or really any effort at all to connect with and learn about the very raw very traumatic reality of what it means to be Black in the deep South in the United States in 2012. On the porch in a Black community on a stifling hot Florida afternoon the very first person I talked to opened up about growing up in Sanford, going to an all-Black high school in the Jim Crow South, about the white-only and Black only bathrooms, about a movie theater where Black people had to go downstairs to a separate theater. Then they talked about more recent history, how the Black kids get chased out of the parking lots when they gather and socialize at night like at a fast food place, while the white kids do the same all the time. One time a group of white and Black people went into a store together and they came out and the white kids had stolen all this stuff and didn't get caught and the group asked how they could do this and they said, "It's easy when you're around because they always go after you all." A young woman maybe 12 years old explained how in school the dress code doesn't get enforced for the white kids, but for Black students if your shorts are too high or your shirt is too short, you'll get an in-school suspension because it's much more strictly enforced.
The stories came out one after another of three deaths of young Black men at the hands of the authorities in very recent history. The second woman I talked to listened to me tell the story of this bus tour traveling to the South bringing this banner and I read to her the "No more generations of our youth..." quote from Bob Avakian and talked about how the youth all around this world are suffering and have no future, and the tears rolled down her face before we could even introduce ourselves. I wasn't sure she wanted to talk then, but we stood next to one another for a moment with tears in our eyes and I said we could talk about whatever she wants. "I'll talk, I'll tell you," she said with bitterness spilling over in the sound of her voice, and she opened up about a very painful experience of a loved one having been killed by the police. She let us know she would be a part of the "We say no more" speak out this Friday right here in Sanford, in her Trayvon Martin T-shirt.
Bus riders, this tour has touched down in Sanford where we travel and we work with you in our hearts and minds... all those who have made this bus tour possible and in doing so have themselves become not just a supporter but a part of something that truly matters... all those who have signed this banner that we plan to deliver to the people of Sanford... all those who yearn for a better world. We look out to the world and the great mass of humanity grinding under the exploitation and oppression of this system, and we look to Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA building a movement for revolution that can make good on the declaration that another generation need not suffer in this way. We carry this with us, and with great joy and determination we get to work in connecting this up with the people as we prepare to join Carl Dix to speak out at the Sanford Police Station tomorrow at 4 pm. Stay tuned.
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
The following is the transcript of an audio statement posted at basicsbustour.tumblr.com on May 24:
This is Joe Veale. I'm a former member of the original Black Panther Party. I'm a present member of the Revolutionary Communist Party.
Revolutionary greetings to the BAsics Bus Tour! I truly wish I could be there with you all. It is very inspiring, what you are doing. In a real sense it is a life-and-death question. Life and death for revolution, and the struggle to emancipate all of humanity. Whether there is real hope and inspiration for that – this depends on BA being everywhere. It depends on what the BAsics Bus Tour is doing. It depends on people knowing who is BA and what he stands for.
This reminds me of stories I heard about revolutionary China when I was first being introduced to revolution as a youngster. Why Mao and the revolutionaries had to launch the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution—a revolution within the revolution. Mao, the revolution, and the socialist road leading to communism—to what Marx called the "four alls"—was under attack, was in danger of losing and suffering a terrible defeat. And it was happening at a time when most people in China did not know what Mao stood for, was preventing them from getting on the revolutionary road and finding ways to strengthening this road. Well the youth, the Red Guards, took the Red Book of Quotations of Mao Tsetung all over, to the far reaches of China. Now the masses began to know that the communist ideology, representing their hopes and inspiration for emancipation and began to understand how, in those circumstances, it was decisive for them to take up this ideology and fit themselves to rule society along this path. Though in the end we lost socialist China, and it still hurts, it is mainly because of what was accomplished in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, it booming out all over China, and out into the world, that we have a leader like BA today.
BA has developed and done more in strengthening the human emancipating communist ideology than what Mao was able to do. It is all right there in BAsics, on the bus tour. Similar to Mao's situation at that time, the masses in this country do not know BA, what he stands for, what he means for revolution and human emancipation. The BAsics Bus Tour is changing all that. What an inspiration! I send my deepest love. How fitting, how appropriate, the BAsics bus is now in the South, the birthplace of all the wealth and prosperity of the USA, of dehumanizing of Africans, violently turning them into slaves and to people considered not human, along with their near genocide of Native Americans, all in the pursuit of the freedom to accumulate private wealth. How appropriate to go to Florida, where there is mass outrage against the racially targeted murder of Trayvon Martin, where with their typical ways the ruling authorities and their flunkies and talking heads in the media are trying to blame the victim like they always have done and always do for their white racist brutality and murder that is embedded in all social interactions that the masses have with this society. Uniting with that outrage, with the grief and anger, bringing it together with BA, with his revolutionary understanding and vision. To the BAsics Bus Tour, I salute you. What you are doing by taking BA everywhere, gives me hope and inspiration. Hope and inspiration for the possibility of a whole new society and a whole new world.
Again, with revolutionary embrace, Joe Veale.
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
This was posted at basicsbustour.tumblr.com on May 31:
Over the past few weeks, many hundreds of people across the country have stepped forward to make something very important happen... the second leg of the BAsics Bus Tour, which went through parts of the South and delivered a message from those hundreds to the people of Sanford, Florida. In accomplishing this, people around the country, the volunteers on the bus and those the bus tour met in the South have been part of cohering a national movement around the mass fundraising campaign to project Bob Avakian's vision and works into every corner of society: BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make! More than $30,000 has been raised to pay for this leg of the tour and for materials and initial seed money for the next leg.
Attend the report-back in your area or write us so we can put you in touch with events in your area or nearby. And find out other ways, wherever you are and whether you only have a couple of hours a week or the whole summer (!) to build on the momentum created by the BAscis Bus Tour in the South. Write firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer to work with press, social networking, developing a web site and much more! And let us know of other events.
Saturday, June 2, 2 pm-6 pm
Join the picnic celebration with report-back from the BAsics Bus Tour.
Marcus Garvey Park Enter at Madison & 120th Street, Harlem. (By train from 116 or 125 stops of #2/3 or #6 /125th Street stop of #4/5)
(In case of rain: go to Revolution Books, 146 W. 26th Street 212-691-3345 for indoor potluck and report-back.)
Invite your friends and relatives to share delicious food, hear a report back from volunteers who just returned, and learn about what this BAsics tour has accomplished. We will make plans together—for the next leg of the BAsics Bus Tour, to go all out to raise money for BA Everywhere, and as a key part of that in June, to get BAsics 1:13 into the hands of and debated by tens of thousands of people all over this country. For info: email@example.com or call 718-664-4164.
June 3, Sunday, 6 pm
2425 Channing Way (near Telegraph Avenue)
Report-back from the BAsics Bus Tour in the South. Joey Johnson reports back. Be there to welcome him back!
Join us on Sunday, June 3rd from 2 to 4 PM at Revolution Books, 5726 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles for a "Report-back Celebration" for BAsics Bus Tour volunteers from L.A. Hear their first-hand accounts and reports about what was accomplished by this leg of the BAsics Bus Tour into the deep South, including to Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was murdered, and where people have begun to stand up. We'll celebrate and make plans together for the next leg of the BAsics Bus Tour, to go all out to raise money for BA Everywhere, and as a key part of that in June, to get BAsics 1:13 into the hands of tens of thousands of people all over this country. For more information contact BAeverywhere_la1@yahoo.com, or call 213-304-9864.
June 7, Thursday, 8:30 pm
A Celebration to raise money for the BAsics Bus Tour @ the Grog Shop, 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd, Cleveland Heights
$10 in advance, $15 at the door. Get tickets at Revolution Books (2804 Mayfield Rd, Cleveland Heights). With performers: Al Porter Jr. (Hip Hop); Art Blakey II (Jazz/R&B); R the Czar (Hip Hop); E Maxx (R&B); D-Gambit (Hip Hop);; D-Roof (Hip Hop); Ras Gato (Reggae); Ronnie B of 10-08 vision (Hip Hop); Solo Poet (African Drums); Sister Seven (Singer); Suave Goddi (Rap); Timothy Cox (Rock); Ukulele Man (Folk); Bill Arthrell (Poet); and more to come... For info, including being part of making it happen, call 216-396-8151.
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
Over the last 14 days, many hundreds of people across the country have stepped forward to make something very important happen... this leg of the BAsics Bus Tour, which went through parts of the South and delivered a message from those hundreds to the people of Sanford, Florida. And in doing so, those people around the country and those that the bus tour met in the South have been part of beginning to cohere a national movement around the mass fundraising campaign to project Bob Avakian's vision and works into every corner of society, BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make!
More than $30,000 has been raised over the last month to make this BAsics Bus Tour possible... coming from a whole range of smaller contributions—through raffles, fundraising events, people making tamales and other efforts—as well as some larger individual contributions... to get volunteers to Atlanta, to pay for materials like palm cards with quotes from BA, to sustain the BAsics Bus Tour on the road.
And these funds enabled the bus tour to deliver a very important message in Sanford. The volunteers distributed copies of a collage of banners that were signed by people across the country with a declaration from Bob Avakian:
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 1:13
These were signed in housing projects, at high schools, in immigrant neighborhoods... all over. People wrote things like, "I'm hurt, seeing no future for our youth," "I'm disgusted of the system," "No more violence among the people," "All races should come together, young and old too, and make revolution!" They wrote, "We are with you" and "Let's make a better world."
Across the country, people were following this tour—sharing videos, articles, and audio that were being posted at basicsbustour.tumblr.com and beginning to spread this via Twitter. People also began to get deeper into the BAsics 1:13 quote themselves. Through all this, many more found out about who Bob Avakian is, the significance of his work... and what it means that there is someone who has developed a strategy for revolution, and a new synthesis of communism that has opened up the possibility for the Party and the movement he is leading to make good on that pledge of "no more."
We have much more to learn about the response to all this: how the bus tour was taken out to people, how they responded to what the revolutionaries were doing with this tour, the substance of people's responses to this quote... and through this, what ways people began to get organized into the movement for revolution as a whole. We look forward to receiving more first-hand reports from across the country (send to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com), and will be reporting more fully on the tour itself.
At the same time, we need to be getting back to everyone who's been part of this in the last couple of weeks and let them know the significance of their contributions. People need to see the collage of the banners and understand what they were part of, and hear about the responses to this message from the people of Sanford. They need to continue to follow the BAsics Bus Tour blog for ongoing reports and videos from the tour.
And we should be talking with people about building on the momentum of this leg of the Tour to get the BAsics 1:13 quote from BA out all over across the country. Bring people copies of the editorial in Revolution newspaper: "Building on the Momentum of the BAsics Bus Tour." Make plans together—to go all-out to raise money to get BA Everywhere, and as a key part of that in June, to get BAsics 1:13 into the hands of and debated by tens of thousands of people all over this country. Raise funds to get stacks of BAsics 1:13 palm cards into people's hands now, and find out their ideas about where they would want to distribute them.
As we've been learning, this quote taps into and draws forward something very deep from people—their outrage at things as they are, and the hopes and aspirations for a world where generations of youth aren't crushed down in the way BA describes. It captures a defiance and a refusal to lie down and accept these outrages, and it provides a form for people to come together and have a very big impact, changing the terms in society and spreading the voice and works of Bob Avakian, the leadership we have for the revolution we need.
An important upcoming date is June 5, which will mark 100 days since George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. Across the country, the cry for Justice for Trayvon and an end to mass incarceration needs to reverberate as thousands take up the call for a mass hoodie day, a day of mass resistance. BAsics 1:13, which speaks to and can open the door to a whole new future for youth, should be a crucial element of that day... part of fighting the power.
All this, while getting ready for the next leg of the BAsics Bus Tour... further plans to be announced soon.
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
Down in Sanford, Black people are still seething over the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26 on his way home from a 7/11 convenience store. It is NOT "old news." Neither is the fact that the police refused—for 45 days—to arrest his killer, George Zimmerman. More, they are following the case closely and recognize the preparations underway to exonerate Zimmerman.
When we rolled in on the BAsics bus, projecting the leadership of Bob Avakian and calling on people to get into the movement for revolution to put an end to the system that has foreclosed the lives of so many generations of Black youth through the entire history of the USA and of millions more throughout the world, it didn't take any work to get people to open up with their outrage or their own bitter experience at the hands of the police, in the prison system, or in their dealings with the thick white supremacy which permeates the entire country but is more openly trumpeted in this part of the confederate-flag-waving South.
Black mothers told of having had to bury their teenage sons due to violence the police didn't even bother to investigate, of having lost their sons to police murder where there was never even a case opened up, of struggling to be strong for other sons as they were sentenced by racist judges for crimes they didn't commit or which were too petty to merit years of hard prison time, and of fearing for the indignities and brutality that was destined for the grandbabies they were now raising whose fathers had been stolen.
Everywhere we went, outrage poured forth. Bitterness. Anger. Heartbreak. Fear for the future. What took work—in many cases it took repeated and sharp struggle—was for people to really hear and get the meaning behind the word REVOLUTION. Not just protest. Not just "marching till our feet bleed" or "screaming until our voices are hoarse," which is what many people told us was good but would never change things. But REVOLUTION. An actual victorious struggle for power and the defeat and dismantling of the oppression institutions of the old state power, when the time for that is on the agenda—when the system is deep in crisis, when millions of people are ready to put everything on the line to bring the system down and with the necessary leadership and strategy.
This was what was new to people—and getting into BAsics with them opened up not just outrage, but also their hopes and, with struggle, their beginning serious involvement in this movement for revolution. One young Black man had watched the DVD sampler of BA's Revolution Talk more than ten times since he first met the revolution during the protests over a month ago. A woman who came to the protest we held at the Sanford Police Department had spent the whole evening reading and by the next day spoke with passion about how the book was changing her life.
All of this is why we came down here. Because people in Sanford have lifted their heads and stood up. This really mattered and must go forward. We MUST fight to win justice for Trayvon. "The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be." (from the statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party, The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have)
But even more, we must do this in a way that is building up the strength, spreading the leadership, transforming people's consciousness, forging the organization that can go forward to hasten and prepare for winning in the biggest sense.
We put this challenge to people and we fought throughout this entire tour to find the forms that people can come into taking up this challenge—having an impact of spreading BA's leadership and growing the movement for revolution even as they are digging in more deeply themselves.
One thing that is critical to sum up in this leg of the BAsics Bus Tour is the incredible impact it had on people down here to not only connect up with this leadership and this revolution, but to do so in a context where they could see and feel that others were standing with them and taking this up too.
By the time we made it down to Sanford, the banner that we had taken through the South on our tour to deliver to Sanford had been signed by hundreds of people, writing their names and comments. The banner featured this quote from Bob Avakian, which has been the focal point on this Tour:
"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."—Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:13
We also received pictures of similar banners being signed by people and sent down to Sanford by people from Honolulu to Cleveland to Los Angeles and beyond.
Along the way, everywhere we took this banner on our tour, people would open up with similar stories of brutality and nightmare. But, the other side of that was that everywhere we went, when we asked people to sign the banner and let them know we would be sending this down to Sanford, people got happy. They were happy—and I mean truly and deeply joyful about this—because they were being given a way to join together with others to express something that millions feel. They wouldn't have put the words together that way, they wouldn't have linked it up necessarily to all the generations not only in this country but throughout the world, many of them wouldn't have identified the system as the guilty party on their own, and no one but Bob Avakian has developed the vision, strategy and method for the kind of revolution that can really follow through on making all this "No More" but all of this resonated with people and they wanted to join with it and they were able to join with it.
Because of the leadership of BA and because of the Revolutionary Communist Party and because of those who have taken up this leadership and fought to get on the BAsics bus and those across the country who donated and raised money for and in other ways supported and strengthened the BAsics Bus Tour, all of these people had a way to give expression to something which they deeply feel and to begin a process of learning more and coming more deeply into the movement for revolution to bring about a whole new world.
This was our experience throughout the tour and this was mirrored and magnified in the responses of the people of Sanford. When they not only heard, but particularly when they saw, through the form of a beautiful collage that was made of all the banners with BAsics 1:13 that had been signed by hundreds and hundreds of people throughout the country, their faces lit up with amazement. "Chicago! Los Angeles! Wow... Cleveland? Honolulu? Holy shit, I can't believe that!"
The photos on the collage, which showed people from across the country—many, many Black people, but also white people and others—joining together with them and with Bob Avakian to declare "NO MORE!," the whole thing became more real, more possible, and more hopeful.
After the protest we held at the Sanford Police Department, one of the women from Sanford who had stepped forward to speak bitterness went down to a nearby Black barber shop. When a couple of our volunteers stepped in she was holding court—talking about the protest and where everyone had come down from. The next day, when the volunteers stopped back in, the collage had been posted up and new folks who came in were leaning in close to read the quote and to take note of the captions of all of the cities who had joined in sending this message. The feeling was one not only of outrage, but also of real uplift and hope at being joined by so many others.
The forces arrayed against the people are strong, horrifically brutal, and very powerful. But they are COMPLETELY ILLEGITIMATE and they are NOT all powerful. The revolution is still weak. But we have the leadership we need, we are fighting to grow, and people are starting to feel and respond. And all this is taking place in a situation that is politically charged with even greater storms to come.
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
BAsics Bus Tour
"I was once ignorant of the society that has surrounded me. Not long after getting out of the service, I became an Occupier. I had the experience of having many of the world's problems laid out in front of me, and for the first time having a voice to speak out against them. This was very exciting and uplifting. I was also out looking for so many answers to why the world is the way it is. Then I met the revolution. Listening to Bob Avakian for the first time in the midst of sleeping in a park, and spending my days searching for answers, asking why we live with rising poverty, people in other countries working their fingers to the bone, or why are people, Black and brown, still being oppressed, was in itself inspiring.
Very soon after I found out that BA was not just a good speaker but over a period of 30 years had been working on answering the questions that I was now asking and many more, and had developed a strategy and a party that can get us out of this mess that we are currently wallowing in.
When I first heard about the BAsics Bus Tour, I immediately wanted to be on it, spreading the message of revolution and the new synthesis of communism. Now in light of everything that has taken place in the last few weeks with the death of Trayvon Martin by some wannabe cop, it has further increased my desire to be on this bus tour, so that in the future, we don't have a world filled with Trayvon Martins, cops, or wannabe cops that can only see the color of someone's skin, but instead we can have a world filled with emancipators of all humanity."
"Greetings from New York City. When I first heard about the BAsics Bus Tour I was immediately reminded of the Freedom Riders who traveled boldly and courageously into the belly of the beast, the Deep South, some forty years ago. Their mission was to desegregate interstate bus travel. Today, 40+ years later, the bus tour's goals are more far-reaching – to question and to confront the existing system of capitalism and imperialism. The good news is that the tour is providing the answers and solutions to all of this through the works of Bob Avakian."
Professor at an inner-city school, NYC
"[I am giving to the BAsics Bus Tour] because you have to start with the youth and because numbers count. It matters that many youth from many backgrounds, especially Black youth, learn about and participate in the bus tour. In 1970, when I was in the fourth grade, my brother was sent off to Vietnam; a kid, barely 10 years old, in my class was using heroin; and I just refused to say the pledge of allegiance. The whole class refused... The school said, 'Ok, this kid is going against the grain' and they took me out of class. This revolution can inspire youth to go against the grain, to go against the conventional wisdom, and not just accept everything and never speak out – thinking this is just the way life is. I want the bus tour to be a success. Even Malcolm X needed this kind of inspiration. I look forward to hearing reports about the bus tour and strongly encourage others to donate as I am."
A barber in Harlem
"A bus tour through the South bringing revolution and communism? Do you realize how historic this is? I hope to fuck you are filming this, and if you're not, you are depriving generations of chronicling an historic event... Taking it to the people. This is such a great idea. The imagery of a BAsics bus in the parking lot of a shopping mall or a school or neighborhood or any area of congregation or just motoring along a highway to spread the word is visionary."
A media studies professor
"Capitalism has proven itself not only to fail people in the U.S., but to fail people EVERYWHERE! The system has failed us, from poor families struggling to survive in the ghettos, to LGBT adolescents struggling with basic acceptance and equality, to workers trying to keep their right to a fair wage and collective bargaining, to ordinary citizens struggling for human rights. If a system fails and doesn't govern or work for the good of the people, then it needs to be replaced. It has lost its legitimacy by not working for the common good. There is a better way, and it is coming."
A young man who came into a Revolution Books
to contribute $50 after receiving a phone call
about the BAsics Bus Tour
"The world today aches for change, real change, and there are literally billions of people who want to see a different world than this, but who do not know how or even that such a change is even possible. Because of authorities' tyranny over us collectively, both over our minds and our very physical beings, even imagining a different world is hard for most people. Avakian's thorough reading of the experience of people trying to understand and change the world throughout history and specifically his close study of past revolutionary movements are an extraordinary tool in the fight to change the world. I urge you to dig deeply into his works. When you do you will see what I mean."
Dr. Dennis Loo
"The BAsics Bus Tour adds an important dimension to the national and international mobilization that the Occupy Movement has inspired. In these times of increasing and outrageous disparities of wealth and power, it is vital that all progressive voices are heard. This tour represents a crucial part of the continuing dialogue about the need for truly structural change in America and throughout the world."
Paul Von Blum, Senior Lecturer, African American Studies, UCLA
"I wanna put in my strong endorsement of this freedom bus... Courageous brothers and sisters going down to the gut-bucket South. The old Jim Crow senior, still the Jim Crow junior, of course. Whole lot of lynching used be going on in the past, still police brutality taking place, unemployment and underemployment taking place. Dilapidated housing in place, disgraceful school system's in place... Revolutionary Communist Party bearing witness in a serious kind of way. And I just want to let folk know... I'm behind what they're doing... keeping track of the injustice here in the state. Keep track of the freedom bus—the Avakian bus!"
"First thing, I am only not part of this BAsics Bus Tour because my health issues will not allow it. Otherwise, I would have my seat reserved on the bus. I hate that I am going to miss this, because when I think about it, it reminds me about the beginning of the Black Panther Party: the enthusiasm and determination of being a significant part of a great movement to change things in this country. Participating in and being a significant part of change is addictive—once you have experienced it, you'll do anything to get that feeling again—because it is not an irrelevant act. It is being part of a conscious movement to make change—and when you do that it develops you as a human being and a true fighter for the rights of all people. I won't be there physically but my revolutionary spirit travels with the tour.
"All Power to the People!
"And, Fuck the Police!"
Former Black Panther
"I have pledged $100 to the BA Everywhere Bus Tour because....well, because we need BA's voice everywhere. In a society so deprived of critical voices, Bob Avakian has the ability to break down the biggest questions facing humanity in a way that is scientific, deep, understandable, and damn funny. How many political thinkers are offering an actual solution to the horrors facing millions and can lay it out by drawing on Mao, basketball, and a Richard Pryor routine? Millions are literally dying for a way out this mess, so millions need to know about Bob Avakian. This bus tour should be the begining of a movement for a way out."
From a public school teacher in Atlanta
"The citizens of the United States need to be disturbed. Bob Avakian will certainly do that. He has the ability to provide the criticisms and alternatives that Americans need to hear about and decide for themselves whether they will accept or reject the solutions being offered. Mainstream media will not provide Bob Avakian with the vehicle to do this; therefore, the bus tour needs to come to the country."
From a radio show host in Atlanta
"Face-to-face conversation with people in their own communities offers a pathway to radicalization like no other. I salute the RCP efforts to organize the South, where the labor movement and others failed."
Andrew Ross, NYU professor
"I feel invested in making this BAsics Bus Tour a reality by selling raffles to raise money for it. It's second best to being able to go myself, and the reason I can't go is because of health issues and various family crises as one of the most marginalized groups of people in the United States of America—a Black woman. My people—who have been stolen from Africa and who mainly settled in the South—the fact that this tour is bringing revolution to this area of the country is great. The analogy I like to use is the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, and he ran out of digits with the capitalist dam busting and this BAsics Bus Tour giving people a chance to have a face-to-face dialogue with revolution and an alternative to this system where they otherwise would not."
Black woman from Harlem
"I am cautiously optimistic [about revolution and communism]. More than good news is needed. There is resistance to communism. Getting people to listen with an open mind is hard. The propaganda has been around too long. It stigmatizes socialism and communism. But this one [bus tour] is worth fighting for. Again, I am cautiously optimistic. I appreciate the energy [the bus tour conveys]."
Man who spent time at Occupy Wall Street making buttons
and a supporter of World Can't Wait
"As prospects for working people shrink, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the capitalist-imperialist system cannot deliver decent jobs with dignity and security to those left unemployed, underemployed, and, most critically, the misemployed, who are paid to destroy wealth and the environment. The more poorly and cruelly the system functions, the more support grows for alternatives, especially humane, rational systems.
"The ruling class has long had a campaign to convince us that although human society has gone through many stages, capitalism is the final stage—this is the end of the line. There is no alternative ('TINA')... Considering contemporary horrors of malnutrition, war, and environmental despoilment, it is obvious that a far better world is possible. I can't tell you what the best of all possible worlds is, but I see potential for enormous improvement.
"Occupy gained attention. This tour is part of the next step—provoking discussion about that better world—and how to get there. There is much on the table. Let the discussion begin!"
Roger Dittmann, Ph.D., Scientists without Borders
"I am a retired sociologist. Having grown up and spent most of my life in the South, I've seen starkly the need for a radically different kind of society. And Bob Avakian has and continues to speak not only to that great need, but with passion and scientific thoroughness, to what it will take to bring about the kind of revolutionary society that people would truly want to live in. His voice and his vision needs to be heard, ever more broadly. As a southerner, I applaud the kickoff of the new BAsics tour from Atlanta."
Hayne Dyches, St. Simons, Georgia
"The BAsics Bus Tour is the right thing for the times we are in. I give my support to the BAsics Bus Tour that has stepped right into the fight for Justice, equality, and freedom for all. What the Bus Tour is doing is vital to the struggle that seeks to bring to light the disparities of the criminal justice system and its criminalization of young men of color. Those who are on this tour are courageous men and women who will not settle for anything less than a Free and Just government system. All power to the BAsics Bus Tour, We Say No More!!!"
from Oscar Grant's uncle, Cephus Uncle Bobby Johnson.
Oscar Grant was a 22-year-old Black man
who was killed by transit police in Oakland. Calif., on January 1, 2009.
He was handcuffed and face down when the pigs shot him in the back in cold blood.
"The BAsics Bus Tour is a part of the revolution in a big way—spreading the word of revolution. You can't change society if you can't change people's minds, and BAsics gives people a deep understanding about the different aspects of revolution. With what's going on in the world, religious fundamentalists and imperialists both trying to convince people they are the only alternative—Bob Avakian puts out a radically different way to change the world, internationally, not just for the US. He has been leading a vanguard party since almost 40 years ago. From back then to now, the leadership of Bob Avakian has been crucial. He was the only one after 1976 going deeply into grasping the positive and negative of the communist experience, analyzing what went wrong in China when everyone was confused. Bob Avakian is not only a leader for the U.S., his leadership goes beyond that, internationally. No communist in the world can truly call himself a communist if he hasn't been touched by Bob Avakian's writings. Look at what's happening in Greece right now—the revolutionary situation is there, people are ready. But there is no party to lead the revolution. Here it is the opposite—the situation is not ready, but there is a vanguard party equipped with the most advanced communist theory. When a revolutionary situation comes, there is a possibility for big changes. But as Bob Avakian says, if you don't fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution, you'll never get to that possibility."
An Iranian living in the U.S.
"To the new freedom fighters;
"Greetings. I would like to let you all know that I think that what you are aiming to do and the messages that you are conveying is very important and very much needed and you are all on a great journey in the troubled areas in the South, or the lynching belt dubbed as the bible belt. I only wish that I could've been there with all of you, but I am here helping to raise monies and awareness to the cause, and hopefully the message will be heard and there will be more freedom caravans in the future in all areas of the South and all other places where the 'Stand your ground' law exists, which is a law that is made from biased politicians and is the reason that the murder of Trayvon is allowing his murderer to be free on bond, and is possible he won't see the inside of a courtroom.
"Anyway, as I said, what you all are doing is very important, much needed, and hopefully more people will open up and be in the mindset to think critically to what is happening in our society and not no longer turn a blind eye to the way this nation is at the present time, with injustice, oppression, racism, and a government that is set on instilling fear and telling lies to the people. I sincerely hope that you will find more people to join the cause for revolution and instill the hopes that we can all change things in this society and rid us from all the digressions of this government that is motivated by greed and instills fear and control upon the people with their so-called law enforcement that incarcerates and kills millions without provocation for Uncle Thomas Sam for many decades. The time has come to stand up and count ourselves...a revolution is needed and the machine and regime must be broken.
"Here's wishing you all on the tour a safe journey, and I am with you all in spirit. Blessing to you all!
"Power to the people,"
A jazz musician in Cleveland
From members of Black on Black Crime Inc., a Black community organization in Cleveland, OH.
"BAsics. The future of revolution has evolved through Bob Avakian and the BAsics Tour. Come our way and onto Sanford for Justice."
"BAsics—This is not only a local movement but an international movement and this bus tour is going to all the hot spots as injustice is burning out of control and we are smoldering for real change. Thank you Bob Avakian for real courage and the courage of the Bus Tour for going to Sanford. Thank you again 4 this Bus Tour."
—Alfred Porter Jr., Vice President of Black on Black Crime Inc.
"This is the front line corruption, wickedness in high places. The lighter you are the righter you are as long as it stay on the agenda of wiping out the Black race one way or the other be it locking the Black men up in jail or filling our inner city streets with drugs. It's good revolution is going to Sanford, letting them know the world is watching and standing with the Martins. They are not alone. There will be no sweeping this under the rug. You are being WATCHED!"
"Greetings from Art McCoy. No Truth, No Justice, No Peace! Congratulations RCP on your notable, very important Bus Tour. It is important that you get your message out to the people in many cities, cities such as Atlanta, Albany, GA, and on this route what better city to stop in than Sanford. What better city to get the word out and touch the people than that city where Trayvon Martin was murdered. The upcoming month will be trying times in the cities in America, particularly Sanford. Spread the word, RCP on your BA Everywhere Bus Tour."
—Art McCoy, founding member and leader of Black on Black Crime Inc.
Trayvon Martin was a young Black youth . Just because he was suspended from school or supposedly had traces of weed in his locker doesn't mean that his murder is justified in any way. Why not kill innocent children playing at the park. Our youth are judged by their color and their level of education, their neighborhood, and income. Just because of a lack of resources does not mean murder is ok. I think this tour is just what we need. We as a people should stand together and fight for the defenseless. A people united can never be defeated. The Tour to Sanford is a great idea to be the voice for the voiceless. Trayvon is our sons and our daughters. I feel strongly that action need to be took on his death and to prevent future racial genocide.
—An 18-year-old Black girl at the Black on Black meeting
"As one who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., both in support of civil rights and in opposition to the war in Vietnam, I want to go on record in support of the BA Bus Tour into the southern USA and in my strong admiration for the courage of those who are making this witness to the deepest values of this great country and all its people."
Dr. S. Scott Bartchy,
Professor of Christian Origins and the History of Religion, UCLA;
former Director of the Center for the Study of Religion
Be Part of Taking It Higher
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
Something has begun in Atlanta, Georgia. This week, the BAsics Bus Tour spent several days all over Atlanta before heading farther south. And all across the country, people are watching and acting together with this tour.
|BAsics e-book wins
first place in the
2011 eLit Awards
in the category of Current Events I
Annual eLit Awards is a global awards program committed to illuminating and honoring the very best of English language digital publishing entertainment.
The volunteers on the tour are reaching out to people in the aftermath of the murder of Troy Davis, in the aftermath of the murder of Trayvon Martin, and in the midst of a situation where, according to one youth the tour spoke with, "The police don't care, they'll kill anybody, that's real." While that's true all over America, there is a particular and painful history in the South where public lynchings are in people's lived memory. There is what is concentrated in Bob Avakian's point, "The 'Bible Belt' in the U.S. is also the Lynching Belt."
BAsics 1:13, one focal point of this leg of the BAsics Bus Tour, has gotten a powerful response from people wherever they go... garnering hundreds of signatures on a banner that they've taken out to oppressed neighborhoods, high schools, a homeless shelter... all over.
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.
The centuries-old oppression of Black people—in its historical and modern forms—is a deep wound but it's also a raw nerve. "Simmering" is how one volunteer described it. The BAsics 1:13 quote expresses a powerful sentiment that connects this oppression with oppressed people all over the world... and it's spoken by the revolutionary leader, Bob Avakian, whose work and ongoing leadership represent the actual way to make good on this pledge of "no more"... the leadership whose work provides the ability to get out from under this system once and for all, a viable vision and strategy for a radically different way the world could be and a movement for revolution being built today.
Along with this, the tour volunteers have brought out the serious questions from people that arise when they actually begin to consider a legitimate alternative to the horrors of this world. "But aren't they too powerful? Is all this just talk? Why communism?"
The volunteers have been getting into the answers with people... playing clips of Avakian's Revolution talk, getting into debate and discussion. And giving people ways to be part of this movement for revolution, taking up the campaign to get BA Everywhere. They've talked with people about which of the 12 ways to be involved they could see themselves taking up, they've left small stacks of palm cards with the above quote and talked with people about ways they could get it out... to be part of getting this message known throughout society, and to leave behind networks of people who are part of this revolution, in beginning but powerful ways.
Clyde Young, a revolutionary communist leader and former prisoner who joined the tour while in Atlanta, spoke to someone in a neighborhood about this. This was someone who told Clyde about the time he himself spent in prison and the routine forms of torture he experienced, being tied to a board, immobile, for hours at a time. Clyde said, "What if we get together and it's not just me going up against them by myself, or not just you going up against them by yourself, but what if we get organized and say gone are the days when this system can just keep doing this to people, and we resist that and are prepared to go down together over that... it's a whole different ball game when people stand up together." (You can hear the audio of this exchange at basicsbustour.tumblr.com.)
A new kind of coming together is also what this bus tour is opening up across the country. Kick-off events were held in several cities May 18 where people watched videos from the tour, gave statements of support, talked about how this is hitting them. People are heading out to neighborhoods with banners emblazoned with BAsics 1:13, coming together to make them, and taking them out for people to sign—in support of the tour and acting together with them to actually make a leap in building this movement for revolution. Coming together, and getting organized together.
Stay tuned to basicsbustour.tumblr.com to find out how people are being reached and impacted by the BAsics Bus Tour, in the places the tour is going and across the country to find out ways people are responding... to find out how through this, YOU and many others can become involved in the campaign to project BA Everywhere and in the movement for revolution.
Tuesday night. A special video statement from the tour will be released online along with a special announcement about the tour! (These will be online Tuesday morning and available for download.) You'll hear first-hand and in some depth about the progress of the tour thus far, what the volunteers are learning and what the response has been up to that point. Gather in neighborhoods, Revolution Books, all over—in a multitude of collective and informal gatherings across the country.
Memorial Day Weekend. Have a picnic or join with others at their picnics to raise funds in creative ways throughout the weekend... hear from the crew on the tour as this leg of the tour comes to a close. For those already planning family picnics, ask if the revolutionaries can come through and do a fund pitch or sell raffle tickets... be out among people in a big way, letting them in on the accomplishments of this tour and the role they can be playing in all this.
From a young volunteer on the tour: "I am going down South, to join with others on this BAsics Bus Tour. We ride to connect people with Avakian, whose life work and mission has been human emancipation. We ride with the hopes and dreams of a better world. Not just our own hopes and dreams, but of many who are watching what we do, many who have supported in various ways, and the many more who do not yet know who I am or that I am joining with others to do this. We ride with you."
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
Editors' note: The following has been slightly edited for publication.
Bus riders, it's only been two days and it feels like the BAsics Bus Tour has swept through Atlanta with the leadership of Bob Avakian and the revolution we need. A lot has happened that's new for everyone who has become a part of it. This bus has stopped at a high school twice, housing projects, an immigrant community, a radio show, a forum on the murder of Black men, and an excellent Caribbean restaurant that donated a meal to the volunteers.
The first night volunteers were in Atlanta, a supporter of the bus tour brought us to a neighborhood where the bus would touch down for the first time the next day. This is a Black neighborhood with run-down housing complexes lined with stark black iron fences. All the public housing in Atlanta has been torn down recently and some people who were pushed out live here.
On a hot sunny afternoon in Atlanta, Georgia, with a federal penitentiary barely a stone's throw away, the BAsics Bus Tour marched into the neighborhood. Soon the bright palm cards with 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," and Revolution newspaper were in people's hands, from the four- and eight-year-old kids, to the adults with babies in their arms, and their grandmothers. These were read with seriousness by older people and some guys in their early twenties who were just chilling out before we got there, but took some time with us and got into things in a serious way. Also connections were made and people were smiling and laughing and talking.
Some of the laughter comes because people are nervous. One young woman who was giggling at a volunteer today said it was because he sounded so serious, but later, when she heard more about Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, she turned to her friend quietly confiding in her, "This is cool." Another type of laughter is when people are shocked and amused and agree to hear people speaking some truth about the world and calling out the system and those that enforce it with total contempt and clarity about the illegitimacy of this system.
So many were drawn to the "Three Strikes" quote by Bob Avakian (Revolution #247, October 9, 2011), reading it, shaking their heads, giving themselves permission to join the conversations going on, or pointing at the picture on the bottom with the police pressing the face of a young Black man to the pavement saying to us, "I've been there." People opened up and spoke about being harassed and criminalized, tortured in the prisons, women being brutalized... "Yeah. That goes on here. All the time," one woman quickly responded.
Day one: the BAsics Bus Tour had started bright and early when a crew rolled up at 7:30 am sharp, starting off on time! This is a high school with a lot of different nationalities, but mainly Black; a hoodie day for Trayvon Martin had been organized there weeks ago. The kids were coming up to our banner and wanted to know what we were talking about. The administration at the school didn't like that this was going on and asked us to move across the street. After that, students crossed the street to come over and talk.
The banner has BAsics 1:13 in English and Spanish and will be signed by people throughout the tour.
The first day at the school was very concentrated, but with a lot enthusiasm. The second day we went back and got deeper in with people and spread the word that people can meet us on Friday to take a group photo. Thinking about how they can be a part of this, one person said, "I can't quit my day job to be a part of this, but I can donate!" People took stacks of postcards and had ideas about where they could get them out in school, like the political action bulletin.
The second day a parent came out to meet the revolution, saying "My daughter saw you out here and came home with the postcard. That's why I came, I wanted to see if you guys were out here today, I wanted to come just to see what you guys are about." He was coming from a standpoint of personal responsibility being the answer, but we got into that and talked for a while, he wants to bring his wife and daughter to the bus tour kick-off party.
It was mainly Black people who came to sign the banner; there was one young white woman who signed the banner whose brother was incarcerated for eight years for drugs, and then a young white guy who had kind of a punk style, he heard the word "communism" and he was taken aback, we asked, "What do you think about communism?" he said, "What I heard doesn't faze me." Which a volunteer explained means what he heard about it doesn't mean shit to him, and he's open.
The first night came to a close watching the section from BA's Revolution talk on reparations under socialism and getting way deep into the question of national oppression and real liberation with Clyde Young. People wrangled with the relationship of a visceral hatred for the oppression of Black people and a theoretical understanding of where this comes from and how it can be done away with. There was struggle to understand why overcoming this centuries-long oppression must be a part of going all the way to communism, and at the same time how just winning the right of self-determination for Black people, as righteous as that is, does not get you all the way to emancipating all humanity, and we got to be about that.
More will be written about the outing in the immigrant community, but one thing that struck me from the stories today is that one, the volunteers were remarking on how in contrast to the Black community, there wasn't really anyone around in the area, and we realized that this was because people were working in this community where as in Black communities there tends to be higher unemployment so they are around during the day which was explicitly why our tour guide recommended we go in the afternoon. The other thing was in both communities I heard about conversations where people came to understand that if you want to change the world, not just be angry and express frustrations, or find a way to get along within it, you can't do it alone, people have to get together. This is not unrelated to the new postcard we're getting out on this bus tour with "12 things you can do" to be part of the revolution, and the fact that people are beginning to get some sense of this has a lot to do with the fact that the revolutionaries are beginning to tell them about how much they are needed and how they can be part of a whole movement that's about getting to a better world. All this, both the immigrant community, and the new ways in which people are getting organized and taking up the revolution will be part of future posts.
Right now we write from a town hall meeting entitled "Race and Justice: Empowering Mothers to Preserve the Life of African-American Men," hosted by a local radio station. People came because they don't want their sons to continue dying unnecessarily, but what they got was not a serious discussion about the problem and the solution but a program that was more trying to cool people out and settle them back into the deadly status quo than organize and mobilize them to be part of changing things. A predominantly Black audience of all ages gathered in the auditorium of a high school in Atlanta, Georgia, to hear a panel of speakers and families of Ariston Waiters, Robert Champion, Canard Arnold, Erving Jefferson, and Trayvon Martin, all victims of unjust violence, were part of the discussion. The BAsics bus crew was invited into the auditorium where people stopped by to check out the revolution and get a copy of BAsics. There was a whole scene at the table of people looking at a poster with BAsics 1:1 "There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth," and opening up the book to read more, getting the "No More Generations..." card, talking with volunteers, signing up, signing the banner, getting involved in a lot of ways. People told stories of police violence, and stories of being part of the uprisings of the 1960s. We've sold six BAsics, including to a young white guy from an activist group here in Atlanta, who bought the book and has been reading for almost an hour now. The BAsics Bus Tour banner is on display. From what I hear about the forum, there was far too much blaming the youth for the situation the system has put them in and way too much religion, but many people wanted more than what they heard and there was a lot of openness and eagerness to connect with the movement for revolution; one woman after hearing Sunsara Taylor speak inside came out to talk saying "I agree with what she's saying, because I'm FED UP!"
One person came out and said, "I love this word." The volunteer couldn't hear her so asked, "What word?" "Revolution." She was dismayed at the discussion inside the auditorium. "I don't know what's going on in there."
A few people when they heard about the BAsics bus asked us, "Can I get on the bus?"
I can understand the feeling.
So bus riders, all of you out there, whether you're literally on the bus, or one of those "pushing behind it" with support and with your hopes for a better world, and the many ways, big and small, people are contributing, today the BAsics Bus Tour prepares to get on the road.
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
Revcom.us recently posted a correspondence from a reader who wrote about going out to some professors and others for donations to the BAsics Bus Tour, and raising $1,200 in a concentrated period of time (“Going All Out to Raise Funds for the BAsics Bus Tour Through the South”). Revolution felt it was important talk to this person about how they approached people in taking out the Bus Tour and BA, how people then found their way to expressing their support, what was found out about people’s thinking—AND how a significant amount of money was collected. There’s a lot for everyone to learn from this experience as people go out to take the BA Everywhere campaign even higher and raise big money to project BA’s voice and work into every corner of society.
Q: What was your approach in doing this fundraising?
A: First off, I realized that we had to go raise money for this—it was so critical for this bus tour to happen. When I asked for money, I asked for big money, especially from people who can afford it. I asked several people for $1,000—I didn’t get that, but I got some donations and pledges that were large.
Q: The people you talked to were coming from different perspectives, but they were responding to how this tour, and the whole BA Everywhere campaign, is about getting BA’s voice and leadership out in a much bigger way in society.
A: There were different sections of BAsics that I cited in talking with them, including 1:13, “No more generations of our youth...,” which I understand is really going to be used in this bus tour. I’ve also had discussions with people on the essay at the end of Chapter 1 of BAsics, “Reform or Revolution: Questions of Orientation, Questions of Morality.” This has drawn the most interest from professors who would like to see the system “do the right thing”—but from reading Avakian, they are questioning their own beliefs about that, and saying: gee, maybe this Avakian guy has a point; I don’t believe what he’s arguing for yet, but I think he should be heard, he should be read by young people.
The essay makes very clear the two approaches: Avakian’s approach that says the system is unreformable and can only be dealt with through revolution, with the goal of a communist world, versus trying to make this system work. So we’ve grappled over that essay, as well as other things from BAsics. And people see, “So this is what you’re bringing down there, this is what you’re going on the tour with.”
Q: Talk about the breadth of the response you got.
A: There’s this back and forth with the people I’m approaching, and I’m learning from their perspective, about their insights on what difference it’s going to make, that this tour goes to this section of the country. The Freedom Riders of the 1960s came up. The fact that people felt this bus tour is going to reach a lot of alienated youth, a lot of people who have a lot of rage and anger—this got translated into people saying, “I want to support this.” Only one of the people I talked to would say their proclivity is toward communism. Each of them have different areas of agreement and disagreement with Bob Avakian and the RCP. They feel like they’re a part of this effort, in a very real way—and seeing the money they donated is sponsoring the volunteers, to buy the food, etc. They’re hoping the bus tour reaches many, many people who need to hear the message it’s bringing.
Q: Can you talk about the word of the bus tour going out more broadly?
A: Painting a picture of what’s envisioned for the tour, and using support statements from people for the tour, is part of not only building anticipation for the tour but also building a community. Since I wrote the letter I’ve taken it out much wider, from the few dozen I spoke to at first. Some of the professors have put links to the bus tour Tumblr blog (http://basicsbustour.tumblr.com) on their blogs. The other day, a law professor came up to me and said, very angrily, “The fucking Democratic Party is not speaking to these people [in the South]. You guys are. I tip my hat off to you, even though I disagree with most of what you say.”
We’d also been taking out a fundraising raffle, which was a way to reach a lot of students. Just in the last five days of the raffle, we increased the money we raised ten-fold, to $1,000. And a large part of that was going to the classes, speaking to students, setting up a table—and the students themselves taking this up, and feeling very proud to support this. I’ve also been taking out “An Invitation” from Bob Avakian, about “Let’s take a crucial journey together...”. It has moved people to the point of rethinking their lives, like at a Puerto Rican Culture class where the professor has been encouraging his students to think about what kind of world they’d like to live in and work to make it so.
Q: Your experiences point to the potential for breaking through on a whole different level with this bus tour and in getting BA out there in society.
A: There’s a real visceral feeling people I talk to are getting of the difference the bus tour is going to make. And this is exactly what has to be conveyed across the country. Somebody said that it sounds like “a rolling revolutionary organizing machine.” I said, you got something there. We can make the needed breakthroughs, if we take this out in the way it needs to be. There’s nothing magical about it—it’s concentrated in BAsics. For example, the two slogans used on May 1st, which we’ve been bringing to many professors—“Internationalism: The Whole World Comes First” and “American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives”—people hear that, and they start dreaming: Could we really change the culture in this country that’s so hateful and mean-spirited? Is a different world, a communist world, possible? Yes! You do see the potential for that to flower. But it’s not going to happen by itself. You have to sit down with people, grab them by the shoulders and say, you have to check this out. It’s incumbent upon you as someone who thinks and cares about the world, to see that this movement is being built.
Q: Checking out BA and the movement for revolution, yes, but also becoming a part of this movement in concrete ways, and giving money is a crucial way.
A: A lot of times we go to people and say, “Become emancipators of humanity.” We should be no less first string in asking people to donate money. That is part of building the movement for revolution, which is not going to be built without millions and millions of dollars being raised. Like the 1,100 copies of BAsics that have so far gone out to prisoners, the only reason that happened was money was raised from many people for this. The same for this bus tour—and others to come. We should tell people what difference it’s going to make if the bus tour has, say, 5,000 of the palm cards with the “No more generations of our youth...” quote to get out, or 50,000. People should never be bashful about asking for money. The worst that can happen is you’ll get a no. Actually, asking for money tends to bring out people’s deepest questions—which we welcome.
We’re not asking people for their “help.” This is people taking up and becoming participants in the movement for revolution in a very real way. Be part of changing the world with us—that’s what we’re asking people to do. We have our ideas about how this can happen, and you may not agree with all of it. But we are taking responsibility for leading the fight to change the world. People respect that, and respond to that. It’s made a big difference in people donating, and becoming part of this effort themselves. In a couple of cases, people have said they want to be part of future BAsics bus tours. One professor said, “I’m going, and I’ll pay my own way.”
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
Editors' note: This was originally posted on basicsbustour.tumblr.com May 20, 2012. It has been lightly edited for publication here.
It's been two days now on the BAsics Bus Tour. The volunteers are an impressive bunch. What hit me first is our obvious diversity. Younger and older, Black, white and Latino, male and female, with a tremendous range of different life experiences and depth of experience in the revolution. What hits me just as hard, though, is our common enthusiasm for Bob Avakian and the real revolution.
The first day's orientation began with a showing of the first segment of Bob Avakian's Revolution talk, "They're Selling Postcards of the Hanging," where he gets into the founding of this country in slavery and the hundreds of years of white supremacist terror which was inflicted on Black people as part of enforcing the "American way." BA describes not only the lynchings, but how white people would gather in a festive atmosphere to witness the lynchings of Black people and to snap pictures and make postcards of the hangings.
All of us had watched this segment of the video before. All of us have been moved by it many times. But there was something different as we sat in the darkened room and watched it together on the first day of the BAsics Bus Tour. We were just meeting each other, the full daring crew of revolutionaries who came to the South in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin, in the wake of the state-sponsored execution of Troy Davis, in the midst of the slow genocide of mass incarceration, to spread the only revolution that can put an end to these hundreds of years of bitter oppression and terror against Black people.
Following the video, the leadership of the tour laid out our mission and our orientation for the two weeks we will be together. We stepped back and got into many of the biggest questions that we confront as we fight to initiate a new stage of communist revolution some 35 years after the last revolutionary bastion in the world was defeated (here I am speaking of revolutionary China before capitalism was restored in 1976). We got into the role BA has played over the years, deeply summing up the experience of that first wave of communist revolution—both the tremendous achievements and the shortcomings—as well as broader human experience. How, through all of this, he has forged a new synthesis of revolution and communism and how this means there really is a viable and liberating alternative to the way the world is today. And we got into what it means that he has led a party, the Revolutionary Communist Party, to forge a strategy for making revolution in a country like this, and which has published a Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) for how a revolutionary society would be set up and function starting on Day 1 after the revolution and going forward.
From there, we dived into how we see this historic moment and what we are stepping into. One young volunteer recalled the stories he heard growing up from his great grandmother about picking cotton on a white-owned plantation not so far from where we were. He recalled the period after the election of Barack Obama and how Black people, in particular, across the country allowed themselves to celebrate and be deceived by the notion that his election marked the end to their oppressed status. Today, however, after the murder of Trayvon and the policies of stop-and-frisk and the continued rates of mass incarceration and the torture in the prisons and so much more that happens each day, it is becoming painfully obvious to millions of Black people that nothing fundamental has changed. "It is a good time to be bringing this revolution to people down here," this volunteer concluded.
Another volunteer took longer to enter into the discussion. She began by laying out how, four years ago, when Obama was elected she was sitting in her home watching the news and thinking, "This is good. Black people are finally being treated better." She admitted she had always thought that the oppression of Black people was something much more historic and mostly over with. But, since really coming into the movement for revolution, she had learned a great deal—both about the history of slavery and of lynchings and KKK terror, but also of the current epidemic of police brutality, mass incarceration, and many forms of racist humiliation. Even on the trip to Georgia with a few other volunteers, she explained, she learned a great deal just listening to the stories of the lives of those she was traveling with. More than once she would interrupt her comments to exclaim, "I just can't believe this is real. It is so crazy. It doesn't make sense."
Other volunteers brought in their fears and their excitement about taking on a challenge that was bigger—and different—than any they'd been part of before. Living together for two weeks carrying out an extremely intense and very high-stakes mission to spread this revolution and the leadership of BA throughout the South and throughout the country. We discussed how we will be forging new social relations among ourselves—how we interact, how we get to know each other deeply on the level of what we think about the world and philosophy and politics and music and culture, but not on the level of gossip or even too many personal details about everyone's lives and history that could make us more vulnerable to counter-revolution.
In our orientation packets we have some principles for how we conduct ourselves and there is a plan that we will discuss further in the days to come. But, even short of getting into them more fully, it struck me that several of the volunteers expressed genuine enthusiasm and eagerness to begin living in close quarters with others, and to start taking up the principles and plan and applying them. These principles include things like, "no hitting on women" but instead interacting with women as full human beings and potential revolutionaries and comrades. Also principles about not stealing from the masses or making racist, homophobic or anti-immigrant jokes. The enthusiasm expressed was both about how it will feel to embody the new liberated culture of the revolution we are making as well as about being able to project this in all the work we do and how this itself is a statement about the character of BA's leadership (after all, it is rather breathtaking that BAsics includes a whole chapter on communist morality) and the future we are fighting for.
At this point, Clyde Young, a veteran revolutionary leader, interjected that while this is an extremely important point—about how we are modeling these new social relations for the masses—one of the most urgent things the masses need to see is that this revolution is taking hold, that people like them are coming into it, that it is gaining strength. This is important NOT because we want to feel approbation and approval, but because humanity needs revolution and communism and for that to happen people must be getting organized into this revolution in growing numbers, particularly those who are most under the gun.
Another older volunteer spoke up and posed the challenge this way: "We have to leave organization in our wake, real organization where people are hooked into this movement for revolution in a lasting and sustained way. But we are not going to leave Revolution Books stores in our wake, so we have to envision a different way this will look." This is a key contradiction we have to spend a lot of time on this tour developing the answers to—both in theory and concretely in practice. As this volunteer put it, "This is a paradigm shift."
A theme of this leg of the BAsics Bus Tour is the quote from BA, "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." This quote speaks to what is going on with young people all over the world, but has a specific resonance down here in the South and in speaking to the conditions of Black people, as well as to Latinos and many of the immigrants we will be interacting with.
One way we are making this a theme of our tour is that we printed up a 9-foot by 5-foot banner that has this quote written on it in English and Spanish, and which we are taking out at every stop to have hundreds of people sign. This statement gives expression to the aspirations of millions and it is from the revolutionary leader, Bob Avakian, whose work and leadership mean that it is possible to make good on that statement, to really put an end to this madness once and for all.
Everywhere we have been with this banner, it has struck a deep chord. People have been happy to be given a way to come together with others and make this feeling known publicly.
After our orientation, we gathered at the local Atlanta Revolution Books to hang out a bit and interact with some people locally who wanted to welcome us and meet all of us. One of the people who showed up was a middle-aged Black woman who had heard Carl Dix on the radio and decided to contribute $45 to the BAsics Bus Tour. Since most of us are not from around here, we asked her if she knew about the neighborhood we were planning on heading out to the next day.
Immediately she responded with appreciation and enthusiasm: "Yes, people over there are really oppressed. They definitely need to hear about the revolution." She explained that there used to be housing projects over there, but they were torn down. There aren't any housing projects in the entire city of Atlanta anymore. She explained that awhile back, they had a fair for people to apply for housing assistance and it was mobbed by thousands of Black and other poor people, way more people than they possibly had housing for. It's not just that they tore down the public housing, they left the demolished area vacant. So the masses who still live in the area—pretty much entirely Black—are left in dilapidated apartment buildings surrounded by open unkept fields and right next to a huge federal penitentiary.
This woman was so pleased to hear that we were going over there that she piled a crew of volunteers into her car right then and drove out to show them around the neighborhood. By the time they returned, most of us at the "Meet and Greet" were engrossed in a conversation with Charles Person.
Charles strode in and took a seat, quietly observing the gathering. On my way to the food table (if I find the time, I promise to make the food we have been eating the subject of a whole other blog entry—there have been so many good cooks, food growers, restaurants and others who have kept us well fed!), I stopped to introduce myself. It took me a minute, and some patient help from those around me, to realize that this was the Charles Person that I (and thousands of others) had recently watched in the new documentary on the Freedom Riders. He was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders who set off a tidal wave of struggle that changed the course of millions of people's lives in the early days of the civil rights movement.
Obviously, from there it didn't take long until the whole room grouped around and sat and listened to an extremely deep exchange between Person and Clyde Young, with myself and other volunteers joining in. Clyde and Charles shared memories of the 1960s and '70s and the height of the Black liberation movement. They went back and forth over how to sum up the experience of the Black Panther Party and other revolutionaries and liberation fighters. They wrestled with the big question of whether and how it could ever be possible for the masses of people to make and win a revolution up against a power as great as the system that currently rules over us. Many of us joined in at different points, particularly when questions came up about whether the youth could get out of their situations through persevering in their education, being responsible, and working hard.
At the height of this engagement, the crew of people returned from their neighborhood investigation. One of them entered in, having to pause to stop himself from breaking down with the outrage and the pain of it, as he described the conditions of the masses of Black people he had just witnessed. "They live right next to this federal penitentiary. There are all these beautiful children there, just running around and playing. But every day they have to look at this penitentiary and be reminded that this is where you are going to end up. Even the bus stop, the only people who take the bus are from the apartments. But the bus is not in front of their apartments, it is in front of the penitentiary. So at the end of the day, before they even get home they have to go by that and be reminded of it." He described the lives of many of the kids who struggled to get good grades and be responsible and even "pull up their pants" and how still so many of these kids are brutalized and harassed, gunned down or incarcerated.
The longer the discussion went, the more intense and passionate the engagement got. It was invigorating for all. We ranged over many differences, some of them we struggled over, some of them more got laid on the table and we listened and learned from each other. But what stood out the most was the common determination to see the long and bitter years of oppression of Black people ended, as well as liberation for everyone more broadly. "I've still got the fire in my belly," said Charles, "and I wish you success."
It is hard to capture what it meant to all of us to have Charles Person come out to meet us, to spend an evening communing with us, listening to us, counseling us, struggling with us and joining with our spirit and aspirations for a better world. It's true, despite the brutal beatings he took back on the Freedom Rides so many years ago, despite the fact that he walked in with a cane and carried with him many years of struggle and experience, he does have a fire in his belly.
Several times during our exchange, he stressed that people are fed up and there will be many who respond to what we are bringing. Some of them will want to shout it out like we are, getting on a bus and building the movement for revolution across the country or taking action in other bold and defiant ways. But, he stressed, "Don't step over those people who may not want to be out there the way that you are, but may want to make the signs or bring you food or just show up or be with you in some other way." This was a precious insight and piece of advice that overlaps significantly with the challenge we wrangled with earlier in the day. It is something that we have been returning to in our time since then.
By now, it is a couple days after I began writing this blog entry. So much has happened that I am dying to share with you all. We have been out among the people and overwhelmed by the depth of their openness and hunger for this revolution. We have been up against some of the grossest betrayals of the masses and attempts to contain their righteous anger and outrage. We have heard story after story after story after story of raw brutality from the state. We've seen people lift up their shirts or take off their hats or point to their arms or their necks to show us scars and more scars and more scars from the multiple times they have been beat down by police or prison guards.
We have learned so much and laughed so much and cried and yelled and searched for words and stretched our minds and leaned on each other and confronted more deeply, repeatedly, the urgency and the potential and the great stakes of this revolution we are fighting for. We have seen people come running out of breath to pull money out of their pockets and their shoes to buy "that book" (BAsics) when we've returned to a neighborhood after a day away. We've been reading "that book" (BAsics) with people and watching clips of Bob Avakian's Revolution talk with people we've just met and been diving into some of BA's works, method and significance among ourselves. We have been wrestling with, and taking some steps to answer, the challenge of how to bring all these people into the revolution in a lasting and sustained way.
We have seen so much that I told Alice Woodward, who has been taking pictures and blogging about much of what the tour has done so far, that I thought this blog might be out of date by now and not worth posting. "It's a little passé," I told her an hour ago in all seriousness. "So much has happened since then, I feel like I need to write something new."
Alice, with a great deal of patience, looked at me and said very plainly, "For us, this morning feels like it was two weeks ago. So, yes, the orientation day seems like it might be old news. But for the world out there, who has no idea all of what we've been up to and experienced and tasted, I think all of this is not only going to be new, but even cutting edge."
So, as advised by Alice, I am posting this. Stay tuned as she and others will keep you up on what is being uncovered and transformed...
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
from Chapter Four: High School
At that time, the basketball coach at Berkeley High, Sid Scott, was a Christian fundamentalist. He was always lecturing the players about religion. He was also a big racist. Every year when I was in high school, and even before I got there, the starting team would always be three Black players and two white. My friends and I used to always talk and argue about why this was, because while sometimes there were white guys who should have been on the starting five, a lot of times you could easily see there were five Black players who should have started, or at least four. I thought that this coach’s thinking went along the lines that if he had four Black players and one white on the floor, the four Black players would freeze out the white guy, so then they wouldn’t all play together—even though, of course, this was ridiculous. And if he had five Black guys out there, he figured all the discipline on the team would break and it would just be an undisciplined mess—also ridiculous. And he couldn’t have less than three Black players because it would be so outrageous, given who was on the team and how good different players were. This is how I used to analyze this.
But when I would discuss this with a lot of my Black friends, including ones on the basketball team, they would explain to me very patiently, “Look, man, it’s not just Sid Scott, it’s the alumni and all that kind of shit from the school, people who have more authority around the school, they don’t want an all-Black team out there. So this coach, yeah, he’s a racist dog and all that, but it’s not just him.” And then I would argue, “No it’s him, he’s a racist dog.” And, of course, they were much more right than I was.
My friends and I would go to each other’s houses, stay overnight at each other’s houses, and we’d talk about this kind of stuff all the time—especially the more the civil rights movement was picking up and the more this carried over into all kinds of ways in which people were saying what had been on their minds for a long time but were now expressing much more openly and assertively. One time, when I was a senior in high school, our school got to play in a night football game. Now, we didn’t get to play many night games. They would always be afraid there’d be a riot at the game, because of the “nature of our student body.” I think this was the only night game we ever played. We went on a bus trip to Vallejo, which is maybe 20, 25 miles from Berkeley, and the bus ride took about an hour.
During that time and on the way back after the game I was sitting with some Black friends of mine on the football team, and we got into this whole deep conversation about why is there so much racism in this country, why is there so much prejudice and where does it come from, and can it ever change, and how could it change? This was mainly them talking and me listening. And I remember that very, very deeply—I learned a lot more in that one hour than I learned in hours of classroom time, even from some of the better teachers. Things like that discussion went on all the time, on one level or another, but this bus ride was kind of a concentrated opportunity to get into all this. A lot of times when we were riding to games we’d just talk about bullshit, the way kids do. But sometimes, it would get into heavy things like this, and there was something about this being a special occasion, this night game—we were traveling through the dark, and somehow this lent itself to more serious conversation.
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
The following news report was filed late Sunday night, as we went to press. Check revcom.us and future issues of Revolution for more coverage.
NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, held its summit this year in Chicago on May 20-21. NATO, the largest military alliance in the world, is dominated by U.S. imperialism. Its 28 countries account for 65 percent of the world’s military spending, the largest being the United States. NATO’s so-called “peacekeeping” is aimed at maintaining a world of Western, especially U.S., imperialist domination over the people of the world, and at blocking any potential great power rivals. And the fundamental purpose of NATO’s so-called “humanitarianism” is to devote massive weaponry to protect, defend, and extend a system that inflicts great suffering on the vast majority of humanity and enriches a handful—this is the “world order” of capitalism-imperialism. (see “NATO in Chicago May 20-21: War Criminals Summit,” Revolution #269)
This summit was indeed a War Criminals Summit. Thousands of people gathered in Chicago, from all over, to protest these war criminals. And on the other side, for weeks leading up to the summit, and then as the meeting got underway, the state’s forces of repression kicked way into high gear. As people have been chanting in the street: “This is what a police state looks like!” (See “Chicago Gears Up for NATO Summit: This is What a Police State Looks Like,” Revolution #269)
The Occupy movement, antiwar activists, and others worked for months to organize protests and other activities for the days leading up to and during the NATO Summit. Occupy called for 10 Days of Action which began on May 12-13 with the People’s Summit, which included panels and workshops dedicated to the struggle for a better world. The workshops, which Revolution Books and World Can’t Wait participated in, covered a broad range of topics, from “Perspectives on Socialism, Communism, and Anarchism” to “Impacts of Climate Change: From Migration to Our Local Water Supply,” to “NATO and Afghanistan: What’s Wrong with the ‘Good War’?” and many others. The four plenary sessions included Malalai Joya (former member of Afghan parliament and opponent of NATO occupation); Kathy Kelly (Voices for Creative Nonviolence); Mumia Abu-Jamal (via speakerphone); Col. Ann Wright, antiwar activists, and others.
During the week there were protests around education, immigration, housing foreclosures and evictions, the environment, and health care leading up to the Summit.
The week began with a demonstration organized by the Catholic Worker movement. According to a Chicago Tribune report, “Dozens of demonstrators dashed into the Loop building housing President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters this morning, slipping past security guards and running up escalators as they kicked off what they called a ‘Week Without Capitalism.’ Eight protesters were led out in handcuffs about half an hour later.”
A powerful protest was organized by Code Pink, World Can’t Wait and Vets for Peace against drone attacks and the war in Afghanistan. Protesters carried mock drones and some had signs representing individuals killed in drone attacks. 75-100 people started at Obama’s campaign headquarters and went to the British, Canadian and German consulates. A moving statement was made by an Afghanistani woman from Canada.
On Friday thousands of people rallied at Daley Plaza in a mobilization called by the National Nurses Union demanding the Robin Hood Tax (a tax on financial transactions to offset cuts affecting health care and social services). Hundreds of nurses along with protesters from around the country as well as office workers came together. Tom Morello and Rise Against played an angry rendition of “Ghost of Tom Joad.” That evening World Can’t Wait hosted a program of culture and statements titled, “International Voices for Humanity and the Planet: An Evening of Arts to Oppose NATO.”
On Saturday a multinational crowd of around 1,000 people marched through the downtown area from midday until almost 11 pm. All day there were repeated standoffs with the police. One protester was hospitalized after being hit by a police vehicle and a number of people were brutalized by the police. People went up in the face of the climate of fear created by the authorities.
On Sunday, May 20, approximately 5,000 people poured into the streets of Chicago after rallying in Grant Park. Chanting “N-A-T-O—NATO has got to go!,” rows of veterans marching in formation led the march. The crowd was very diverse, young and old and all nationalities. One of the most prominent banners was HUGE, covering almost four lanes of the street demanding “Free Bradley Manning” (a U.S. soldier arrested and tortured, accused of releasing confidential files, including video footage of a massacre carried out by the U.S. military in Iraq). Stickers about Bradley Manning were everywhere. One very artistic painted banner carried by a contingent of Latino youth showed a skeleton pilot raining bombs with the names of many countries that have been assaulted by NATO forces.
There was a lot of sentiment among people denouncing NATO and their wars—expressed in chants, signs and different banners. People from World Can’t Wait carried a series of banners in languages of NATO countries and those targeted by NATO saying “Humanity and the Planet Comes First.” An Internationalist contingent followed behind the World Can’t Wait contingent with a very large painted banner of the world breaking through chains and the words “Internationalism, The Whole World Comes First” in English and Spanish. Behind this was another, smaller banner that said “Humanity Needs Revolution.”
There was a massive police presence and as the demonstration turned a corner they were met by Illinois State Police lining both sides of the street, all displaying clubs almost the size of baseball bats in front of their chests. At least 10 city buses displaying “Welcome to Chicago” blinking signs were lined up at the ready for any mass arrests.
The Iraq Vets Against the War organized a march of veterans who then threw medals they had received from the military into the street near where NATO was meeting in a dramatic display of defiance. Many dedicated their medals to the children of Afghanistan and Iraq. One vet expressed his apologies to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan for what the U.S. military had done to their countries. Joshua Shephard, who spent six years in the Navy, yelled to the crowd, “These are not mine, they never were. They are instruments of control from this government. I will not continue to trade my humanity for false heroism.”
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
The following letter from a reader is translated from the original Spanish:
...Imagine what a difference it would make if one day, after thinking that your world and what you understand about what's around you is a nightmare... and on that day you were surprised by a bus which is decorated all over with a message in big letters that says, You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics!
While you try to take in what you are just seeing and trying to understand what it's all about, one of the people who gets off the bus hands you a book, while encouraging you to open it up to any page in order to read a quote from it. Suddenly you feel struck by the moment and have the impression of having known something new and outside of your daily life and finding yourself with a whole different world and people talking to you about a whole vision of a world which has no comparison to what you know as the best that you have...
Well, this is not a story of science fiction, this is not outside of reality, this is the impression that many people express when they bump into the BAsics Bus Tour, which has already traveled and left footprints wherever it has gone, contrasting and spreading a liberatory vision that this is not the best of all possibilities, it is a vision which has been forged by Bob Avakian.
There is simply not enough space in my chest for the emotion generated by this inspiring tour, which is happening now to promote the vision and works of BA, which is being taken up by several revolutionaries (and non-revolutionaries), and which is very important and many more people should be joining in. We need to cross over to the other side and challenge the established order, taking part in this movement, which needs to grow in waves of masses and take a leap for really repolarizing this society, which continues to be weighed down by this system that oppresses us, by fighting the power, and by transforming the people, for revolution. In this spirit, we need to uphold the richest concentration of the work of BA, Lo BAsico/BAsics, and take it all over the country, meeting different groups of people, challenging them and encouraging them to engage this very rare leader who has inspired a lot of people, giving them more hope and a tool to understand the world from the revolutionary and liberatory perspective, of how the world could be and how to get to that future through a revolution, and developed a strategy and a whole method and understanding, how to get to the truth and understand the world as it is, in order to change it.
Knowing that implies a responsibility. The responsibility of taking this vision to every corner of society in this country and outside its borders—why not?—letting the world know that here in the belly of the beast a movement for Revolution is being built and we have a living leader, Yes!, he is alive and is actively leading a vanguard, the RCP, this party which is the most precious thing that the people have and is the only way to get out of the nightmare of a system, in which there no longer exists a permanent necessity to continue enduring its existence. As is said in the statement of the campaign The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have, "The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be."
Being part of this movement for revolution is the greatest thing you can do in your whole life, by developing as a revolutionary communist, and promoting the new synthesis, the work of BA, on a whole new level. And the fact is that we need more people who commit themselves and act with conviction, becoming emancipators of humanity.
Saying all that is not to say that the above is the only way of contributing to the campaign, or even less is it the only way of being part of the movement for revolution. The fact is that there needs to be much more, beginning by encouraging others to grab their bags and be part of the tour. We must raise the spirit and desire to change the world and be part of the process, not forgetting to raise a whole pile of funds. That is fundamental and this tour depends a lot on that, on the money raised and how it's gonna be raised and how more people are gonna get into this movement, at the same time as contributing to it.
So we need people on all fronts, whether on the bus or in the neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, etc., so the masses all over the country can welcome it and support it, so it can keep going, taking the Revolution and BA EVERYWHERE!
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
We Are All Trayvon—The Whole Damned System Is Guilty!
After the murder of Trayvon Martin people all around the country were outraged and took to the streets in protest. As the Stop Mass Incarceration Network said in its statement,“June 5: A Day of Justice for Trayvon!” (Revolution #269, May 20, 2012): “The fight for justice for Trayvon must be linked to fighting against how the criminal ‘injustice’ system in this country comes down on people. His murder concentrated the outrage so many feel about racially targeted mass incarceration. 2.4 million people in prisons across the U.S., Blacks and Latinos treated like criminals; guilty until proven innocent, if they survive their encounters with cops to prove their innocence; torture-like conditions faced by those in prison and former prisoners forced to wear badges of shame and dishonor after they’ve served their sentences. It is way past time to say NO MORE to all of this.”
The following letter was written by a reader who is down with the movement for revolution:
June 5 will be 100 days since the murder of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman, his murderer, is out on bail—while Marissa Alexander, a Black woman who fired warning shots to chase off an abusive former boyfriend who was threatening to kill her, got 20 years in prison. No stand your ground protection for her.
We are being told it’s time to get out of the streets and let the system work. The system was working when Florida cops found Zimmerman standing over Trayvon’s dead body and let him walk free. It’s working now, as news stories appear backing up Zimmerman’s claim he was defending himself and slandering Trayvon’s name. What are they telling us—that traces of marijuana in your blood is a reason to kill you?
They want us to think our job is done, and now we should step back and let the gears of justice turn. I say no to that! It is only because masses of people poured into the streets that Zimmerman now faces charges. This is part of the workings of a system that continues to quietly grind away warehousing more than 2.4 million mostly Black and Latino people in prison and victimizing millions more with racial profiling.
On June 5, we have to stay on the case for justice for Trayvon. Wear your hoodie, and get others to wear theirs too. Do this in your high school, in your neighborhood, wherever you are. Spread the word on doing this online, thru flyers, by word of mouth. Take pictures of what you do and spread them too. Deliver the message, We are all Trayvon, the whole damn system is guilty! In NYC, we plan to saturate high schools up in Harlem—to encourage youth who get targeted by cops all the damn time and who have been attacked for coming out in support of Trayvon to take action. In the days leading up to this, we will be collecting stories of those with experiences living under the system of mass incarceration, and contributing them to the Bear Witness Project. Here’s what you can do:
Wear your hoodies and encourage others to do the same. Take pictures and spread them.
Organize speakouts, spread the message We Are All Trayvon Martin, The Whole Damn System is Guilty!
Collect testimonies, and contribute your stories to Bearwitnessproject@gmail.com, go to the site www.bearwitnessproject.tumblr.com for more info.
Most importantly, stay connected! Tell us what you did—or are planning to do at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The massive response to the vigilante murder of Trayvon pushed some of the truth about the way this system heaps abuse on Black and Latino youth out there for all to see. Let’s keep on pushing and fight for justice for Trayvon, bring to light all the crimes this system has perpetrated and condoned and thru that change the way people look at racial profiling and mass incarceration.
For more information contact
Stop Mass Incarceration Network at:
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
This was posted at the Carl Dix blog on May 29.
I just got back from Sanford, Florida, where I spent the weekend standing together with people there, speaking bitterness about Trayvon's murder, and about all the other Trayvon's; and taking to them a message of No More—"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 1:13]
I'll write more about that trip soon. Right now I'm writing you about June 5, which is 100 days since the vigilante murder of Trayvon, and the call to make that day a day of Justice for Trayvon; a day to wear hoodies and say defiantly "We Are All Trayvon."
Whether or not people act on June 5 matters. Right now the mouthpieces of the system are telling us that protest has done its part now that Zimmerman has been indicted and that it's time to get out of the streets and let the courts work. The truth is that the system was working when it let Zimmerman walk free the night he murdered Trayvon and when it drug tested Trayvon's dead body but didn't drug test his killer. And it's still working as story after story turns up in the media portraying Zimmerman as the victim and dragging Trayvon's reputation thru the mud.
IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE ACT WITH DETERMINATION TO DECLARE THAT WE WILL NOT SIT BACK IN SILENCE WHILE THE SKIDS ARE GREASED TO EXONERATE TRAYVON'S KILLER AGAIN!
June 5, 2012—Wear your hoodies, and encourage others to wear theirs too. Organize others to get involved thru Facebook and on Twitter. Create posters that say, "We Are All Trayvon!" and spread them to others. Take this message into your schools; bring it out at rallies after school, in your communities and in every way possible.
And take pictures of whatever you do and send them in to the Stop Mass Incarceration Network at email@example.com so people everywhere know that this is happening all across the country. Make sure there are no secret actions on June 5.
People in Sanford were very heartened to hear that people around the country haven't given up on fighting for justice for Trayvon. Some of them are talking about what they could do there to be a part of this nationwide action. Join with them and others all across the country.
June 5: WE ARE ALL TRAYVON; THE WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GUILTY!
May 29, 2012
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
On April 19, in cities around the country, people took to the streets to BREAK THE SILENCE in response to the reality that "Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide." Revolution received the following correspondence from a reader in an area outside of the city.
Some comrades and I felt compelled to have some show of concern and solidarity with our brothers and sisters behind the prison walls and show our general dissatisfaction with the system. We decided to organize a march down a busy street and hold a rally at a public plaza across from the police station. We put out a call on Facebook, sent mass texts and emails, and posted and handed out fliers. We felt sure to get a major turnout. Time for the march ticked closer and closer until the time had passed and there was only about ten of us. We decided to drive down to the rally location and set up anyway. Perhaps people may be assembling there. The place was vacant when we arrived. In a last attempt we decided to walk down to the farmer's market. We set up on a busy corner, hung signs and beat drums. As the people passed we engaged with them around the issues of mass incarceration, police brutality, and possibility of revolution. It became evident after a short time that I had misjudged the political sensibilities of the residents in our small town. Our message was well received. People asked questions, engaged in debate or just listened to the drums. My brother was so shocked as to turn to me and comment, the white people are coming over and talking with us. What initially seemed like a disappointment turned out to be quite productive. People out here rarely get a chance to engage with anything going against the grain. Aside from a vendor that called security and a couple unkind stares, the radical message of revolution seemed to be a breath of fresh air, even to those that didn't completely agree.
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
The “3 Ds” of why Obama has been worse than Bush
The presidential elections are gearing up for real... and there is the rising chorus yet again of those who say that whatever problems there are with Obama and the Democrats, the “alternative”—the Republicans—is unthinkable and much, much worse. But the reality is that Obama as president has been even worse than Bush in some key ways for the masses of people in the U.S. and around the world. Here are three of the ways that Obama has outdone Bush in fascistic, brutal, reactionary moves in service of the U.S. capitalist-imperialist system.
Obama has overseen a huge leap in the use of pilotless drones by the U.S. military and CIA to kill people in a growing number of countries. When Obama took office, the war by drones was confined to Pakistan, where Bush had authorized 44 strikes over the previous five years. Under Obama, there have been 260 drone strikes in Pakistan alone as of early 2012—almost six times the number ordered by Bush. Obama has expanded the drone war, including to Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and Iran. The drones are deployed from dozens of secret facilities in the Middle East, Africa, and Southwest Asia—with the operational hubs within the U.S., thousands of miles away from where the drones actually kill people.
While the whole drone program is veiled in secrecy, Obama defended it by saying that the drone attacks are “precision strikes against al Qaeda and their affiliates” and that “drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.” This is either an outright lie, or a cold-blooded expression of utter disregard for human lives, especially in a Third World country. According to a report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in England this February, “since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children. A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners.”
Obama is now expanding the war in Yemen with loosened-up rules on drone strikes. According to the Washington Post, the “new authority approved by President Obama ... allows the CIA and the military to fire even when the identity of those who could be killed is not known....” This can only mean more civilians murdered in what Obama calls “precision strikes.”
The Gestapo-like targeting of immigrants within the U.S. and the intense militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border started before Obama—but he has escalated this offensive to new levels. Statistics released last October revealed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had deported almost 400,000 people in fiscal year 2011—the highest number of deportations in a single year since ICE was formed 10 years ago. More than a million people—mostly Latinos—have been forced out of the U.S. since Obama became president.
A key part of Obama’s anti-immigrant offensive is a federal program called Secure Communities, under which local police send the fingerprints of every person they arrest to the Department of Homeland Security. Secure Communities has expanded to about 1,600 local police forces, and Obama plans to spread it to all local jurisdictions by 2013.
Those suspected of being undocumented are sent to ICE detention centers. There is a network of 250 such detention centers around the country. Exposés about these ICE prisons have revealed widespread brutality, sexual abuse, and racist treatment against vulnerable detainees who have no access to lawyers or other help.
Secure Communities is supposedly targeted at people who have committed serious felonies. But in reality, it has led to mass deportations of people whose only “crime” is to cross the border without official papers in search of work so they and their families can survive. People have been suddenly separated—perhaps forever—from their kids and spouses, after being stopped for things like minor traffic violations. ICE says such deportees are “collateral”—bringing to mind how the U.S. justifies civilians killed in drone strikes as “collateral damage.”
Medical marijuana is widely recognized as a substance that can be very helpful to cancer patients and others in relieving pain, promoting appetite, and helping them sleep. But while medical pot is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia, it remains illegal under federal law. As a presidential candidate, Obama promised to end Bush’s war on medical marijuana. But according to a recent Rolling Stone magazine piece, “over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multiagency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush. The feds are busting growers who operate in full compliance with state laws, vowing to seize the property of anyone who dares to even rent to legal pot dispensaries, and threatening to imprison state employees responsible for regulating medical marijuana. With more than 100 raids on pot dispensaries during his first three years, Obama is now on pace to exceed Bush’s record for medical-marijuana busts.”
In Northern California, for example, the U.S. Attorney, according to Rolling Stone, “recently shuttered one of the oldest dispensaries in the state, a nonprofit that serves a high percentage of female patients in Marin County, which has the nation’s highest rate of breast cancer. She has threatened to seize the properties that landlords rent to legal pot dispensaries. And in San Francisco, she targeted Divinity Tree, a cooperative run by a quadriplegic who himself relies on prescribed cannabis for relief from near-constant muscle spasms.”
There are an estimated 730,000 patients in the U.S. who rely on medical marijuana recommended by their doctors—Obama’s crackdown is imperiling their lives and causing tremendous and needless suffering.
Sources (in alphabetical order by name of article)
"Drone War Exposed—the complete picture of CIA strikes in Pakistan," Chris Woods, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, August 10, 2011
"'Lost in Detention': As Obama Admin Deports Record 400,000, Film Explores What Immigrants Face Behind Bars," October 20, 2011, Democracy Now!
"Obama administration reports record number of deportations," Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times, October 18, 2011
“The Obama Doctrine: How the president’s drone war is backfiring,” David Rohde, www.foreignpolicy.com, March/April 2012
“Obama terror drones: CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals,” Chris Woods and Christina Lamb, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com, February 4, 2012
“Obama’s War on Pot,” Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone, February 16, 2012
"Under Obama, an emerging global apparatus for drone killing," Greg Miller, Washington Post, December 27, 2011
“White House approves broader Yemen drone campaign,” Greg Miller, Washington Post, April 25, 2012
"The Year of the Drone: An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2010," Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, New American Foundation," February 24, 2010
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
The U.S. Constitution and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)
Part 1: A Slaveholders' Union
The U.S. Constitution was drafted, debated, and approved by slave owners and exploiters. Despite this profound truth about the historical birth of the United States, many people argue that the Constitution has protected and expanded the political and civil rights of the people; and that it continues to provide the legal foundation and political vision for overcoming existing inequalities and injustices. But this message—that the U.S. Constitution establishes a vision and basis for achieving a society where “everyone is equal”—is profoundly UNTRUE and actually does great harm. From the very beginning this Constitution has provided the legal framework and justifications for a society torn by deep inequalities, and the preservation of a whole economic and social setup in which a relatively small number of people rule over an exploitative society and maintain that dominance.
In 2010 the Revolutionary Communist Party published the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) (CNSRNA). This visionary document, based on the new synthesis of communism developed over decades by Bob Avakian, provides the framework for a whole new society, a framework to advance to a communist world—a world no longer divided into antagonistic social groups, where people will instead live and work together as a freely associating community of human beings, all over the planet.
This series will compare and contrast the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)—in relation to the enslavement, oppression and emancipation of African-American people. We encourage readers to discuss and study this series, spread and share it among your friends; get it into the classrooms, communities and prisons; and send us your comments. The first half of Part One of this series was run in Revolution #265; here we are running it in its entirety. See Revolution #264 for the introduction to this series.
American enslavement of African people and their descendents was a never-ending hell of work, abuse, torture, rape, and degradation. It was enforced by whips, chains, shotguns, and vicious bloodhounds. The culture and outlook of white supremacy penetrated every aspect of life in the U.S., South and North alike. And all this was enshrined in the “law of the land,” starting with the U.S. Constitution—the binding legal document of the new country.
The U.S. Constitution was, and is, dedicated to the defense of “private property rights” based on exploitation, and for eight decades that included the enslavement of Black people. James Madison, the main author of the U.S. Constitution, wrote that the law in the U.S. regarded slaves as “inhabitants, but debased by servitude below the equal level of free inhabitants.... The true state of the case is that they partake of both these qualities: being considered by our laws, in some respects, as persons, and in other respects as property.... This is in fact their true character. It is the character bestowed on them by the laws under which they live; and it will not be denied that these are the proper criterion.”1
Here Madison was arguing for and defending a legal principle that established Black people as a form of property in U.S. law.
“Inhabitants, but debased by servitude below the equal level of free inhabitants”—which meant slaves had no rights whatsoever under the law.
“Being considered by our laws, in some respects, as persons, and in other respects as property”—which meant they could be put on an auction block to be bought and sold, and witness their loved ones taken from them as someone else’s purchase.
“It is the character bestowed on them by the laws under which they live”—which meant they could be forced to work like animals under the whip, chained up and hounded by dogs if they dared to escape; subjected to subhuman conditions of life, and the constant knowledge that the slave master could end their lives on even the slightest whim.
During more than the first 70 years of the United States, constitutionally sanctioned and court approved cruelty towards enslaved Black people knew no limits. The system of “justice” developed under the U.S. Constitution was dedicated to providing the legal basis for complete control of the slave master over their human property. For example: “In one case, a Missouri court considered the ‘crime’ of Celia, a slave who had killed her master while resisting a sexual assault. State law deemed ‘any woman’ in such circumstances to be acting in self-defense. But Celia, the court ruled, was not, legally speaking, ‘a woman’. She was a slave, whose master had complete power over her person. The court sentenced her to death. However, since Celia was pregnant, her execution was postponed until the child was born, so as not to deprive Celia’s owner’s heirs of their property rights.”2
The enslavement of African people and their descendents was integral to the development of what Europeans called the “new world” beginning in 1502. By the time the U.S. declared its independence from England in 1776, slavery existed in all 13 colonies, but it was most concentrated in the southern colonies—Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Georgia, especially in the cotton and tobacco plantation regions.
In May 1787, 55 delegates gathered in Philadelphia to write a constitution for a nation formed from the 13 newly independent British colonies. Since winning their war of independence, the former colonies had until this time been held together tenuously, by a weak and largely ineffective central power.
Whether these delegates could compose and agree upon a document capable of uniting the colonies into a coherent national state was not a settled question. Sharp, contentious debate expressing the conflicting interests of representatives from different states, in particular the slave owners of the South and the merchant capitalists of the North, continued for over four months before a complete document was drafted and approved by the delegates.
Much of their contention was shaped and driven by the question of slavery. George William Van Cleve writes in A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, that by 1770 slavery in the American colonies “had become a central economic institution ... slaves had become a major economic asset, with a conservatively estimated collective market value of about 14 million pounds sterling (about $2.4 billion today). Slaves constituted nearly 20% of total private wealth in the 13 colonies in 1774.”3
Two convention delegates delivered speeches denouncing slavery. But the debate here was not about the morality of slavery at the Constitutional Convention. There were no passionate speeches condemning this barbaric atrocity inherited from a colonial empire. There were no demands for its immediate abolition. The arguments concerning slavery centered on several inter-related issues: whether property or population would be the main factor determining representation in the new government’s congress, and the power of the new central government to control trade, commerce, and treaties—and most specifically, the international slave trade.
Defenders of the U.S. Constitution often note that it doesn’t contain the word “slavery.” There are several possible reasons for this, including that at least some of its writers and signers recognized the contradiction in overtly recognizing slavery in a document that proclaims to be based on and represent “the people.”
But the fact is that this Constitution—the highest, binding political/legal document of the United States—acknowledged and defended the outright ownership as “property” of an entire category of human beings: Africans and their descendents. Building upon this constitutional foundation, the U.S., through both its political apparatus and its system of courts and laws, continued in its first 70 years to uphold this status of human “property” as a legal category.
The newly formed U.S. included two co-existing economic systems—capitalism and slavery, two ways of organizing society on a foundation of exploitation. These two systems were mutually dependent on each other. The merchants, lawyers, slave traders and slave owners, bankers, ship owners and other prosperous men who debated and wrote the U.S. Constitution needed to create a framework in which both capitalism and slavery could continue to develop. They needed a central state structure capable of protecting their sometimes clashing interests, while at the same time holding them within a unified federal state. They needed a constitution—a document that established the legal and political “rules” of the new country.
From the beginning, the U.S. was formed with the understanding that such a unified state was needed to forge a powerful new country in the Western hemisphere, one capable of resisting domination or interference by European powers, and with a central government strong enough to work out differences between northern capitalists and southern slave owners, especially as it expanded into its western territories. The Constitution’s “pro-slavery character” was the result of efforts to deal with this contradiction. Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution declared the slaves to be three-fifths human beings. In this way, the property of the slave owners, i.e. human slaves, were counted in the system of political representation—giving the South an advantage in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College—while denying slaves legal rights as persons.
Slavery was concentrated in the southern states. But it existed in a mutually reliant economic structure with the mercantile capitalism then dominant in the northern states and within a common political framework. Slavery was decisive to the growth, expansion, and prosperity of the entire country. The economic well-being of both southern slave owners and northern capitalists depended on each other’s activities. Cotton and other agricultural products from the slave plantations were processed in northern factories and shipped from northern ports, which also dominated most of the trade coming into the new country.
The Constitution that emerged from the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia protected both the capitalist and slave forms of exploitation and enrichment for a small number of people and established a means for their often intense differences to be worked through. The framework that the U.S. Constitution provided for the coherence and development of the new country enabled the U.S., as a whole, and in both its slave and non-slave components, to expand dramatically in the decades after independence was won.
The years after the U.S. Constitution was written and adopted were years of rapid westward expansion, into areas that are now states, like Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana in the North, and Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee in the South. Genocidal campaigns against the Native Americans who lived in areas coveted by white Americans made this expansion possible. And agreements made in Congress, under the provisions of this Constitution, established the legal basis for areas south of the Ohio River to be developed as slave territories, soon to be slave states.
Missouri, which lies mostly north of the Ohio River, became a battleground—as both pro- and anti-slavery forces were moving into Missouri in large numbers by 1815. The question of what the character of that state would be was up for grabs. As Van Cleve notes, “the Missouri controversy of 1819-1821 was a titanic economic and political struggle between America’s sections over their westward expansion. The dispute placed slavery in a clash with an emerging free-labor ideology.”4
The resolution of these “disputes” firmly upheld the legal, constitutional basis for slavery as a long-term social institution in the United States. Missouri was admitted to the union as a slave state. In exchange the non-slave state of Maine entered the union so that Congressional “equilibrium” between the two sections of the country would be maintained.
The equilibrium proved to be fragile. For the next 40 years disputes between northern and southern states erupted repeatedly as the country continued to push westward. The key point of ongoing, unsettled contention—whether the territories being opened up to American expansion would be slave or non-slave—was argued and fought over repeatedly. But the outcome of the Missouri Compromise further strengthened and emboldened pro-slavery forces, and led them to push for further expansion of slave territories. It also further solidified the constitutionality of slavery in newly formed states or territories, not just the states that had originally been part of the union.
From the time the Constitution was approved in 1788, up until 1821, when the Missouri Compromise had been finalized, the number of slave states and the total number of enslaved people had both more than doubled. A huge proportion of the national wealth—in the North as well as the South—had been amassed from the backbreaking, never-ending labor of slaves—people who had no rights and no legal ability to resist their oppression; who were routinely worked to the point of death, sold away from families and loved ones, cruelly maimed and tortured, and systematically denied any education. The growth and expansion of slavery, as well as the enshrined right of slave masters and overseers to mete out any punishment they desired to their “property,” were built into the U.S. Constitution and were constitutionally protected.
As bargains and compromises were made in the halls of Congress, and as rulings came down in the U.S. Supreme Court, millions of human beings continued to have the legal, constitutional status of “property” without the rights of citizens. The blood of countless slaves was a mortar that bound together the increasingly clashing northern and southern sections of the country.
“No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.” Constitution of the United States, Article 4, Section 2
Put in plain English, this section of the U.S. Constitution said that a slave would remain the property of his or her “owner” wherever the slave may go, even into areas where slavery was not recognized. It further stipulated that officials in non-slave states who came upon escaped slaves were obliged to deliver the “property” to the “rightful owner.” To make things perfectly clear, Congress in 1793 passed the “Fugitive Slave Law” to require the return of “runaway” slaves.
But by the late 1840s, runaway slaves were becoming a major problem for slave owners, especially in areas on the perimeter of the slave states. A network of safe houses and secret trails called the Underground Railroad was operated by Black people and white abolitionists to help escaped slaves get to non-slave territory in the North and in Canada, and by the 1840s and 1850s thousands of Black people were escaping from slavery through the railroad.
Further, several northern states had enacted measures called “personal liberty laws” which were aimed at nullifying the Fugitive Slave Act and preventing bounty hunters from snatching Black people off the streets in northern cities and sending them to slavery. In several instances crowds of white abolitionists forced the release of slaves who had been arrested. Well-known intellectuals and writers such as John Greenleaf Whittier and Ralph Waldo Emerson condemned the law and called for people to defy it.
Around the same time, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850—called the “Bloodhound Law” by abolitionists because of the bloodhounds used to track slaves—was passed as yet another “compromise.” But it in fact went even further than the original Fugitive Slave Act—it required that citizens of non-slave states capture and return slaves to their “rightful owners,” under severe penalty of law.
A ruling concerning a slave named Dred Scott was a stark and concentrated example of the logic of the constitutionality of slavery. Dred Scott was a Black man who had been born into slavery, and served as a slave to a U.S. Army officer who had been stationed throughout the U.S. After the officer was transferred from Minnesota to the slave state of Missouri, Scott and his wife filed a suit in federal court seeking their freedom, which he said had been established because they had lived in non-slave states.
In 1857, the United States Supreme Court ruled that neither Dred Scott nor any person of “African descent” could file a lawsuit in a U.S. court, since they could not be citizens of the U.S. The Supreme Court further ruled that simply living outside an area where slavery was established did not establish Scott’s freedom, since this would “deprive his owner of his property.”
Roger B. Taney, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, summarized his ruling with these infamous words: saying that the authors of the Constitution—the “founders”—regarded and legally institutionalized Black people as “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
The Supreme Court’s decision emboldened the southern slave owners, and infuriated many anti-slavery forces throughout the North. The slave owners argued that the Supreme Court’s decision in effect negated the Missouri Compromise, and would restore to them their constitutional right to bring their slaves anywhere in the United States. Many northerners regarded the Dred Scott decision as a culmination of a decades-long drive to expand slavery, and vowed to defy and oppose it. The differences between the two sides could no longer be reconciled.
Four years after the Dred Scott ruling, the U.S. Civil War began.
To be continued
1. Cited in The U.S. Constitution: An Exploiters' Vision of Freedom, by Bob Avakian [back]
2. Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction, by Eric Foner and Joshua Brown [back]
3. A Slaveholders' Union: Slavery Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, by George William Van Cleve, p 6 [back]
4. Van Cleve, p. 225 [back]
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
In the category of Current Events I
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Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
An Open Letter on Sexual Subjugation and Intellectual Rationalization
Some people say that it is wrong to call for the abolition of pornography, prostitution and the entire global sex industry. They claim that doing so only further stigmatizes the women—and very young girls—who are bought and sold and denies these women—and these very young girls—their "agency." Instead of abolishing the sex industry, these people insist, we should be "empowering" women and girls to "reclaim sex work" and we should be fighting the sense of shame that is imposed on these women and girls for the "work" that they do.
Outrageously, a great many of those making this argument are concentrated in the "Gender Studies" departments at universities and colleges throughout this country and therefore have disproportionate influence over the thinking of young people who are concerned about the oppressed conditions of women throughout the world.
To those who make this argument, and to all those influenced by it, I pose the following:
During the many long and bitter years of outright chattel slavery in the history of the United States, did Black people suffer not only physical brutality, cruelty and disfigurement on a mass scale, but also tremendous psychological trauma, shame, and humiliation as a major part of that experience?
But, does that mean that those generations of enslaved people needed to be "empowered" to make the most of their situation within the confines of slavery? Did they need to be counseled and told not to feel so ashamed or devalued just because they were enslaved?
Or did they need people, millions and millions of people, to fight and to sacrifice to put an end to the back-breaking, spirit-crushing crime against humanity of slavery and, in that process, to repudiate the ideology and culture of white supremacy and Black inferiority which was not only promoted by the U.S. ruling class but which also inflicted deep scars on the psyches of the oppressed themselves?
For anyone with any sense of history and a conscience, the question answers itself.
Applying the same basic standard today, it is simply immoral to refuse to stand up against and demand the abolition of the global sex industry which dehumanizes, degrades, tortures, exploits, traumatizes and brutalizes millions of women and very young girls each year—and which fosters a culture where all women are demeaned, degraded, devalued and endangered. Beyond that, it is impossible to conceive of putting an end to the stigma and the shame that is heaped on women who are used and degraded in the sex industry while simultaneously rationalizing and defending this very industry as it daily treats these women (and very young girls) as nothing more than human chattel.
End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women!
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
At my job more than 25 people have BAsics, and over the past few months the beginnings of networks have developed between some of these co-workers. Over the four "defiant days" around May Day we made a good start toward fund raising and spreading awareness and support for the BAsics Bus Tour as it prepares to head into the South with its powerful revolutionary message. Co-workers bought $110.00 in tickets for our local BA Everywhere fundraising dinner on April 29, and donated an additional $635.00 toward the bus tour.
In preparation I went to Revolution Books and bought 10 issues of Revolution #265 with the "We are all Trayvon Martin: The Whole Damn System is Guilty" centerfold, 10 copies of #266 with the beautiful BAsics Bus Tour centerfold and 30 copies of the May 1st issue with Bob Avakian's quotes. I also bought a portable DVD player so that I could show DVDs at work and elsewhere. I downloaded the "Video Fundraising Kit," with three clips—the clip of BA speaking, the interview with Joe Veale, and "Next Stop Revolution" from Los Angeles. (We need many, many copies of these DVDs in the Revolution Books stores for others to see and use—this is really essential.) And I am never without copies of BAsics.
I went out to my co-workers over the course of four days, talking about how, in the wake of the savage murder of Trayvon Martin, tens of thousands of youth and other around the U.S. have stood up, boldly raised their heads and are searching for answers. Millions are suffering and in great turmoil because of the workings of this whole system where for the youth in the hood crime becomes a rational choice.
Most of my co-workers, including the lowest paid workers and professionals, are very down on and judgmental of these youth and the "choices they make." I posed that it's been 60 years since the murder of Emmett Till to the murder of Trayvon Martin and asked what has really changed for Black people? Doesn't this situation cry out for revolution? I showed them the clip on the DVD of Joe Veale and BA speaking—there is a powerful message to these youth and others to pull back the lens and look at the whole world, so "you are not regulating this corner or controlling this hood—you are being regulated" was one of my major themes. The LA Bus Tour clip shows many youth who stop to give their views after seeing the side panel on a public bus: Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About rolling through their neighborhoods day after day for weeks. Most of these youths had apparently not engaged this revolution before, or met its supporters. Yet their views are alive with hope of a better world and revolutionary future and the pain and suffering of their lives under the present system. For the masses in this clip, just seeing this message was very transformative in a beginning sense.
When my co-workers viewed this I would point out that people themselves really needed to check out this talk on the internet but that we also now have BAsics with all that it represents and a bus representing for this revolution and its leader, which contains not commuters like in LA but a core of revolutionaries of varying ages and experience who will be boldly plunging into the South to find tens of thousands who are searching for a way out of this madness. Also that Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution is offering a profoundly "better choice" out of the horrible lives that people are forced into under this system.
Five of my co-workers who are professionals contributed $635.00. Many co-workers bought the 11 tickets to the fundraising dinner. Some of the maintenance workers and I distributed all of the 50 copies of Revolution I had bought, in the course of these few days. I sold five copies of BAsics as well—one of these copies was to someone who did not support the bus tour but wanted to check out BA and then decide what he thinks.
We were able on lunch break or other creative ways to show quick 15-minute viewings of one or two pieces from the DVD on several occasions. Comments of those who supported this effort: An African-born professional who works in the ghetto—"I had no idea anything like this existed in the U.S. I applaud your efforts at educating the youth." He bought BAsics and asked me for a copy of the DVD he could take home. A Black professional—"I used to listen to the Black Panthers when I was young—BA's presence and message is inspiring." A white co-worker who already has BAsics and also Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy—"I don't know if I really agree with BA's message but a bus like this going into the South is still a very good start." A Black co-worker who has BAsics gave $15.00—"Getting this book into the South into the hands of these youth would be really good." A prominent retired professional took BAsics to think about this but then gave it back saying "We both really agree that change on the earth is desperately needed, but communism will never be the answer." She then asked if we could meet for lunch next month and plans to bring a friend who "will probably agree more with you than with me about all of this."
Really this was a great way to celebrate May 1st. Think what it will mean to the people of the earth if we begin to connect thousands with BA and our revolution through the BAsics Bus Tour and all it represents. So this is just a beginning and was a lot of fun!
Revolution #270 May 27, 2012
We received the following correspondence from Houston:
On May 16, a Houston jury acquitted Houston Police Department cop Andrew Blomberg of "official oppression" in the savage beating of Chad Holley, a Black youth who was 15 at the time two years ago when he was knocked to the ground by a patrol car that tried to run him down and pin him against a chain-link fence. Holley was then brutally stomped, kicked, and hit for several minutes by six Houston pigs.
The courtroom was packed with Holley's supporters—and also with HPD cops in uniform who were there to try to intimidate people. Dozens of people in and outside the courtroom erupted in outrage and anger at the verdict, and that anger spilled into the streets in front of the Harris County Courthouse. One man shouted, "Where is the justice? Where is the justice? There is no justice in this place. This place has been a path to the oppression of my people, and it continues, right now."
The next day, hundreds of people rallied and marched in downtown Houston, demanding justice for Chad, and the conviction of his assailants. People linked the savage beating of Holley with the murder of Trayvon Martin and the persecution of Black youth generally. Most of the people who protested were not longtime activists, but came out because they felt they had to express their outrage at this verdict. Some came with their own homemade signs. On May 17, three people were arrested for blocking entry to the District Attorney's office—lying face down, with hands on their heads, like Chad Holley when he was assaulted by HPD. The protesters were mainly Black. There were also some white and Latino people who came to express their anger.
Fury at this verdict is pulsing throughout the city, and further protests and meetings are planned. James Dixon, a prominent Black minister, said the verdict "... is pathetic. It is unacceptable. This kind of expression says to me, to my children and to every Black child in the city, 'Your life is not worth manure.'"
Holley was arrested in March 2010. He was accused and later convicted and sentenced to probation for burglary. His arrest was caught on the cell phone of a woman who lived near the incident. For months the video was suppressed and not allowed to be shown anywhere outside of the police and prosecutor's offices because it was regarded as too "incendiary."
But a copy of it began showing on local TV and YouTube in late January 2011. It shows that after Chad Holley was knocked to the ground by a police car, he quickly lay face down on the grass and put his hands on the back of his head. And it shows that he was then immediately attacked by a swarm of cops, including Blomberg, who pummeled him over his entire body for several minutes.
The middle-aged white woman who recorded the beating told local media she had lost her job and her home because she gave the video to a local Black activist, who then made it public. She said, "I had to do it and I'd do it again ... That tape is really, really bad. It was inhumane the way they treated him—stomped him, punched him over and over and over again, kicked him in the face. I just hope that every sacrifice that I've made will keep other people from doing what they did and make police officers more accountable for what they do."
The entire court case and so-called "prosecution" of Blomberg was a sick joke from beginning to end, with the entire affair crafted to use the power of the District Attorney's office to acquit him. The prosecutor, Clint Greenwood, is the same man responsible for trying the case against the cops who shot and paralyzed Robbie Tolan, another Black youth, in the driveway of his middle-class parent's home after they assaulted his mother. Those cops were also acquitted. Immediately after the verdict was announced, Greenwood shook the hands of Blomberg and his attorney. Blomberg was tried in front of an all-white jury, in a city which a recent study by Rice University determined to be the most ethnically diverse in the country.
The all-white jury and the verdict in this case reminds many people of the days, not all that long ago, when the Ku Klux Klan openly recruited in HPD locker rooms and Black people never served on Harris County juries. But for many people, the anger that simmers throughout the city is also raising big questions about how this whole ongoing system of racist oppression can actually be brought to an end. People were very receptive to the message of revolution brought to the rallies by a small team of revolutionaries. More rallies and mass meetings are being planned.