Often times when the phrases „the revolution“ or “the struggle“ are talked about it seems to be said in the form of past tense or in a way that is nostalgic only where the names of ones like Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton and Angela Davis are floated off the edge of tongues and forever lost in a haze of clouds. Does this signify that my people (people of African culture) have accepted that “the revolution” or “the struggle” is over, that perhaps today there are no revolutionaries and strugglers, or maybe there’s nothing to revolt or struggle about? I can’t help but to feel so.
During the 60s and the 70s (when black organized movements were at their peak) slogans like “Power to the people” and “Free all political prisoners” were chanted with militant fervency and meaning, but today these seem to be slogans of a faded civilization and void of seriousness. Have the people received the power? Are all (or at least some) of the political prisoners free? We all know the answer is NO!
What has happened to our peoples’ minds to where we feel we could let our guard down and stop fighting? The black liberation movements were not a marching/rallying movement in the sense of how we see those things today, but they were a movement of actions. They knew that if you talked the talk you had to walk the walk. Extreme sacrifices were made for the progress of a people. When I ask what happened I don’t mean the 2 answers we know:
1)Our strongest black leaders were assassinated and unjustly incarcerated
2)The civil rights movement integraded us, knowingly, into a bias system (eventhough the intentions were good- feeling we would eventually excell) and the system’s willingness to pop that pacifier in this screaming, raging mouth.
I mean – when the Equality and Justice still didn’t come as it was supposed to be why didn’t we crank it back up? I’m definitely not saying progress has not been made (infact we’ve been able to make it and continuously make it on the most devious and nefarious land), but just think where we would be today if we had never settled for the few crumb tokens they offered. The truth is we were pacified, subdued and distracted while the system designed a new and improved plan. Nothing has changed!
Today our movement seems to be headed by old groups trying to preserve their past revolutionary teaching and new groups forming with the mix of old inspirations but new cultural influences (Hip –Hop rappers activities being one example). Both are needed and Assata Shakur coined it perfectly when she said:
“To win any struggle for liberation you have to have the way as well as the will, an overall ideology and strategy that stems from a scientific analysis of history and present conditions.”
I set this scenario up to bring testiment to:
1) the revolution is not over, it’s still needed and still living and
2) the political prisoners of today (the revolutions future) need to be liberated but are apparently being waved off as fads or hoax.
I was born in the 70s, raised in the 80s and sentenced to die in the 90s. Now in 2003 I stand as a young Black struggler trying to prove his innocence.
Am I a political prisoner? The old school might say NO, while the new school might say yes. What do I say? You damn right I am!
Political prisoners are defined as persons that were attacked and incarcerated and/or attacked which led to their incarceration simply because of their political views and affiliations. In the 60s and 70s with Black liberation and organization, communism and anarchism flying around these became prime targets for racist capitalist Amerika. While time has brought certain change one thing has not changed and that is people of color are still prime targets with some of the assault weapons being: poverty, ghettos, bombardments of drugs and guns in the community, improper education in the schools, unequal opportunity and an active prison circuit system.
What do I define a political prisoner as today? While the term still retains its original definition let it now encompass (any) who have been falsely and unjustly incarcerated and are being held captive under frivolous sentences with bias politics affirming it. No matter if these brothers and sisters are Activists, Communists, Muslims or Panthers – they are OUR people and worthy of defense and the opportunity to have a just life and treatment. When we face a system that subjugates, oppresses and murders by politics justifying that regimen (in society or jail) we are political prisoners.
Prisons have become a morbid design to punish and conform people to a regimen far worse than society realizes. It has been purposely made a breeding ground for violence, ignorance and death. But what about those that have not given in? What about those of us who have decided to utilize our time and consciously build our mind and soul? Are we being neglected because we have no revolutionary background or did not come to prison for a political cause? As a people I think we are forgetting to cultivate each other and that we can’t give up on each other. Gwendolyn Brooks said it best: “We are each others bonds, business and magnitude.”
It’s understood that our people are tired of the madness and onslaught that has been inflicted by our own. It does need to cease immediately! However, it will not cease by condemning ourselves to the arms of those that simply wish to eradicate us. Keep in mind that while today your family member may not be here, tomorrow, for no reason at all, they could be. We have to be careful of the system we’re supporting simply because we’re not in the heat of conflict at that moment. Our inability to speak out against such a system is to virtually support it through our inactivity.
Let me enlighten you to this and allow it to stand as a constant reminder of the process that can unfold when you think to yourself if that person going to jail deserves time taken out for them, love, support and a 2nd chance. If Malcolm Little had never gone to prison he would have never became Malcolm X. If George Lester Jackson had never gone to prison he would have never became the most inspiring revolutionary Comrade George.
Within these walls transformation processes begin. They sometimes begin with a brother offering a book – a Bible, Koran or a “Revolutionary Suicide”, “Black Power”, “Isis Paper”. As for myself, I underwent this process – raised by brothers who had taken this same path before me and now I stand with social/political/revolutionary/cultural consciousness in my heart. But does that (along with my limited abilities to produce conscious writings, poetry and out reach to ones in prison and society) count for anything? Would I have to remake Attica for recognition? Not saying that Texas concentration camps don’t deserve such a resistance, or that I am not willing to give it, but is it these types of things only that have to be done to receive revolutionary status?
For those of us brothers struggling within this beast whom have come into this light we have found love and vision for our people we are no longer destroyers, but cultivators – no longer lost, but idea givers. We see only a hand full of political prisoners today being supported in a paramount ways, however progress in the movement doesn’t come by way of individual success only group success.
Today we strive under the same bias, racism and oppression as always just in a covert guise. We resist too! The value of the struggle that took place before (and for) us is now imprinted in our spirits and we now stand never to fall back into those pits of darkness. From within these depths we see the same attacks going on against our people today as back then and we realize the revolution and struggle is far from over. Thus we have become the revolutions/struggles future. We still need to have action taken behind the slogans “Power to the people” and “ free all political prisoners”.
This system recognizes the power we wield as a people so sentences have gotten longer and death sentences more rampant because it doesn’t want these strong, conscious black men and women returning to society to uplift and liberate our people so they breed a prison environment of pure hell to either corrupt or kill them. The system remains rigged with crooked laws and white supremacist judges who will prevent a Huey Newton/Angela Davis/Erica Huggins acquittal at all cost (just ask Mumia, H. Rap and if you could Shaka Sankofa).
If I told my supporters and the people to “take up arms” like Shaka did, they’d probably try to set me an execution date tomorrow. If I radically politiced my ideology as a revolutionary socialist I’d probably become the centre of multiple subjugative attacks. For those of us who have found the ability to mobilize and cultivate – the people should support their rights to receive fair trials, receive humane treatment and for those who can – return to society. We need newly formed radical bases to support us, this revolutionary future, so that we can keep alive the struggle our elders told us to. We can’t keep it alive without your support.
I often think to if I was born in the 50s and raised in the 60s and 70s would I have been a revolutionary then, imprisoned or killed. Well, I’m alive right now and I will never lose faith in my people. As Sojourner Truth said, “ These colored people are going to be a people… do you think God has had them robbed, scourged all the days of their life for nothing?” This toil, loss and rejuvination of revolutionary education must not be for nothing! Until capitalism ceases to oppress us – the revolution is not completed. Untill we have the power to control our destinies – the struggle is not over. And until the oppressed and unjustly convicted are released – All political prisoners are not free. I stand as the body of resistance for US, the war is not won and the revolution and struggle lives daily within me and within the revolutionary future behind these walls.
We strive on… without cease. Let’s seize the time.