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Wrestling with BA's vision of the "Potential" in today's situation... and what it will take to make it real

September 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


There is the potential...


Dear Revolution,

I wanted to share some of the responses I got showing people the quote from BA on the back page of this issue of Revolution in downtown Oakland.

A middle-age Black man who works in a rehab clinic read it and said:

“Yes. There's a helluva lot of ugly stuff Black people have been through all their lives. I work in a place where people have been broken down. They try to get out of the cycle of taking drugs and not having a real life. And then they get jacked up for having it on them and they just get deeper into it and some die way early in their lives. I see people, men and women and children, just going hungry—the pain that their faces show when they stretch out their hands just to ask for money. It makes me cry.

“So this is talking about something beautiful coming out of this. I guess I don't see that potential very clear. To take all the people as you say, around the world, out of this darkness?”

I brought out some of the changes going on now in people fighting back and resisting police brutality and asked him how he thought that fit into what is in this quote. He said:

“Yeah, people are fighting back against it now more than they used to—but hey, have you seen that movie Straight Outta Compton? Those young people are into a lot of gangster bling bling. How are THEY gonna be an example to others to get out of that shit… when they show it off themselves?

I pulled out a quote from BAsics:

People say: “You mean to tell me that these youth running around selling drugs and killing each other, and caught up in all kinds of other stuff, can be a backbone of this revolutionary state power in the future?” Yes—but not as they are now, and not without struggle. They weren’t always selling drugs and killing each other, and the rest of it—and they don’t have to be into all that in the future. Ask yourself: how does it happen that you go from beautiful children to supposedly “irredeemable monsters” in a few years? It’s because of the system, and what it does to people—not because of “unchanging and unchangeable human nature.”
(BAsics 3:17)

I emphasized that the quote from BA that we started out discussing actually starts out with the word "potential," which means that there is an unrealized capacity—it is not there yet—and in order for it to be realized, there is work to be done. His response to this was, it's going to be a tough job… good luck.

I challenged him—that's not what is needed. What we need is people like him to get involved in the process of understanding the world in a scientific way and to take up the most scientific theory of revolution as brought forward by BA (pointed to the BAsics book) and become a maker of revolution based on this advanced understanding, and spreading this advanced understanding everywhere he goes.

He shook his head, said that the gangster mentality is just too deep, pretty hard to change. I raised to him that human consciousness is not some gene that people are born with nor is there some kind of unchanging human nature, it is socially determined. Just take the 1960s—a great upheaval such as that changed people’s thinking, some going from siding with the U.S. government in the Vietnam War to being against it.

He ended by saying that he could see that there are some changes going on, that more Black people are not accepting the ugly shit, and yes, maybe that kind of thing will keep going. I added to this that this whole aspect of fighting the power has the effect of changing how people think. He said that he's not ready to get all the way into this but would check it out, bought a copy of Revolution newspaper and said he would share it. He took up some palm cards to get the message out (people will see this quote right away when they go to

Another person I showed the quote to is a Latino law student getting ready to take his bar exam and working in a law clinic. He read through the quote, said that yes, it sounded all good but doesn't really get what this "particular role" of Black people is, why Black people are playing this crucial role? Why not other people as well?

And also what about this part: "fighting to emancipate humanity… to put an end to the long night.” He said, “I don't get it. Sounds kind of nebulous to me.”

On the "particular role of Black people"—starting with slavery—I started by showing him the BAsics 1:1 quote. He laughed and said that, well, yeah, he didn 't know much about that, that he has studied some things about the world colonization of peoples, but not Black history in the U.S. And that I must be thinking—"what kind of law student is this that doesn't know the basics of the history of this country and how the Black people's experience is heavily involved in that?” I said no—I am not surprised nor do I look down on him for not knowing, because this has been negated/downgraded/lied about through the conventional wisdom spewed forth in society.

I gave him an example—about the misnomer that Lincoln "freed the slaves" in the way that he personally made that his mission—but if we dig into actually what happened, we would find out that he personally didn't have the compulsion out of some moral certitude that slavery was wrong, but wanted to save the union which after all is the role of a president. But the main thing I challenged him around is, are you wanting to get to the truth of things? Are you curious about the role Black people played and are playing today?

He said that yes… he wanted to find out. I said okay, then let's go on this journey together—and I laid out some ways he could get involved in the movement for revolution more or less on the spot. He said: “I got my head full of it right now—studying for the bar and all that.” I said that, yes, this will require doing some work but there is a way in for everyone who wants to get involved and we can work with your schedule. We made arrangements to hook up in the library of the place where he works as an intern.

Then, as we were just about to get into the project he wanted to work on, he raised again, what about "emancipating humanity" sounding kinda nebulous. Just then his bus came so we agreed to talk about this part when we meet.



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