“We have as far as possible, closed every avenue by which light may enter the slave’s mind. If we could extinguish the capacity to see the light, our work would be complete: they [enslaved Africans] would then be on a level with the beast of the field and we would be safe.”
~ Henry Brown, Virginia House of Delegates, 1832
[speaking in favor of a law against the education for slaves]
Supporting Politicized Prisoners
By Robert Saleem Holbrook
When I first entered the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and during many of my journeys throughout its Restrictive Housing Units (a.k.a. “hole”) in various maximum security prisons, I had the fortune to directly or indirectly come in contact with a couple of the Black Liberation Army and Black Panther Political Prisoners buried within the Department’s holes in isolation from the rest of the prisoner population. As a juvenile entering Pennsylvania’s state prison system in 1991, I was completely ignorant to the reality of Political Prisoners in the United States, much less in Pennsylvania. Upon coming into contact with them, either directly or indirectly, I quickly learned why the state isolated these men (and women) from the prison’s general population. It wasn’t the men that the prison administrators feared; it was their example on other prisoners and their ability to lead by virtue of that very example. Youth that were in rebellion against everyone and everything would stand at their doors in silence while in the hole, listening to Russell Maroon Shoats or Joseph Jojo Bowen (just to name a few of the many) articulate a language and example of rebellion that we could relate to and that not only caused us to question our own actions, which were self-destructive, but also caused us to question the government’s actions which turned out to be just as unjust and corrupt as we were.
by Robert Saleem Holbrook
In the 1950‘s and 60s the United States citizens were caught up in a political climate that was dominated by fears of internal communists working in concert, as fifth columnists, with Communist Bloc countries to undermine the American way of life and overthrow the government of the United States. This political climate, in part was generated by an ambitious and unscrupulous US. Senator named Joseph McCarthy who used his position as a Senator to launch dubious investigations and Senate Committee hearings to destroy the lives and reputations of countless U.S. citizens falsely labeled "communist infiltrators" or communist extremists and sympathizers. Today this dark period in the history of the United States is referred to as "The Red Scare“ and the Senator's name has entered the American political lexicon as synonymous with political repression (McCarthyism).
Some Ideas For inclusiveness
by Robert Saleem Holbrook
Twelve years ago, in the aftermath of the “Battle of Seattle" and the resurgence of the antiglobalization movement that followed it, commenting on the lack of participation by activists of color, longtime community activist Elizabeth Betita Martinez wrote an article entitled "Where Was The Color in Seattle: Looking For Reasons Why the Great Battle Was So White". It seems as though that same question can be asked today about the Occupation Movement that while capturing the attention and participation of white activists and people has failed thus far to generate more participation by activists and people of color. Many activists, of all races have asked the question why? Many activists have chosen to ignore it because race, especially in the "post-race America" of President Barak Obama, is always an uncomfortable issue to address and often serves as a stumbling block preventing coalitions around issues that on the surface are agreeable and important to all communities, ethnic groups and races. This is not an article of finger pointing or identifying responsibility for the lack of overall participation of activists and people of color in the Occupation Movement but rather is a primer, hoping to serve as a bridge that will help enlarge the coalition of people and ideas that represents the Occupation Movement. As Occupy Philly recharges itself for new movement in the sphere of protest and civil disobedience I share some thoughts on how more people of color may be added to its ranks and assemblies.
By Robert Saleem Holbrook
The assassinations of Anwar Al-Awlaki, his 16 year old son, and Samir Khan, all American citizens, by a CIA drone strike in Yemen in September has ignited a debate (albeit a small one) about the legality of the President ordering the assassination of American citizens in the age of the war on terror. In theory, extra judicial murder/assassination is prohibited by the constitution's due process clause that states no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Yet, when it comes to fighting terrorism and terrorists, the government has assumed for itself a place outside the law and reserves for itself the right to summarily execute American citizens it identifies as terrorists. Or perhaps I should say alleged terrorist because as it now stands Anwar Al-Awlaki, his 16 year old son and Samir Khan were not convicted of any crime. Al-Awlaki was identified as a threat in a top secret memo containing information from detained persons, themselves identified as terrorists, who were subjected to torture. Al-Awlaki's own statements supporting and praising attacks on the United States were also used against him, despite the fact that verbally supporting or praising attacks on the United States is not a capital offense. The government claims Al-Awlaki was operational as a terrorist but without any proof, besides statements by persons tortured or detained as terrorists, this is hardly convincing.
There is an old saying that when you shake hands with the devil you shouldn't be surprised when you lose your hand. For Moammar Qadhafi that saying has proven devastatingly true and as it now stands he is in danger of losing far more than his hand if the hodgepodge of rebels that, with the assistance of NATO, ran him from power have their way when and if they capture him. The Wests imperial intervention in Libya, under the guise of humanitarian assistance, closes the door on the West's rehabilitation of Moammar Qadhafi.
The assassinations of Anwar Al-Awlaki, his 16 year old son, and Samir Khan, all American citizens, by a CIA drone strike in Yemen in September has ignited a debate (albeit a small one) about the legality of the President ordering the assassination of American citizens in the age of the war on terror. In theory extra judicial murder/assassination is prohibited by the constitution's due process clause that states no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law yet in practice extra judicial murder and assassination has been a common feature in American history, particularly within communities of color. Whether it was the state sponsored terrorism of the Southern states government officials murdering civil rights activists or present day police departments routinely murdering unarmed civilians with impunity. In the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania police murdered 17 civilians within a one year span, many of those murdered were unarmed and under suspicious circumstances i.e. a gun mysteriously appears beside the body of the victim or the victim had a criminal record therefore he must have done something wrong to deserve being shot 20 times. Communities of color have struggled in vain to hold police accountable for these extra judicial murders but only suffer disappointment as Civilian Review Commissions, designed in theory to hold police accountable, condone these murders as justifiable homicide. When a police officer is finally prosecuted for murdering an unarmed civilian the community suffers more pain and humiliation as the accused cop is often acquitted or found guilty of a lesser degree of murder and given a slap on the wrist.
By Robert Saleem Holbrook
The state of Arizona has become Ground Zero in the national debate over the status of undocumented persons in the United States and more importantly, their contribution to the changing racial and ethnic demographics of the United States. The passage of SB 1070, the Arizona Bill that would legalize racial profiling and subject persons of color to invasions of their privacy and unconstitutional detention was the first shot in this battle. Fortunately this racist bill, which hearkens back to the days of Jim Crow laws, was essentially struck down and gutted by a federal judge on July 28, 2010 who found its provisions unconstitutional.
“The soldier has to be the baddest and strongest of our kind: calm, sure, self possessed and completely familiar with the fact that the only thing that stands between Blackmen and a violent death are the fast break, quick draw and snap shot.” – Comrade George L. Jackson, “Blood in My Eye”
I have never met Lovelle Mixon. I do not know if, while in prison, he read the works of the legendary George L. Jackson. I do not know if he considered himself a revolutionary, a rebel or an outlaw. I do not know if while imprisoned he resolved never again to allow himself to be taken alive by the police. I do not know if he viewed himself as a “soldier” in the street wars that dominate the inner city or if he just viewed himself a brotha trying to make it in the hood.
by Robert Saleem Holbrook
"The emancipation of women is not an act of charity, the result of a humanitarian , or compassionate attitude. The liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution, the guarantee of its continuity and the precondition for its victory. The main objective of the revolution is to destroy the system of exploitation and build a new society which releases the potentialities of human beings.
On the evening of January 25, 2011 in anticipation of a protest planned at Tahrir Square a 26 year old Egyptian women named Asmaa Mahfouz released an on-line video announcing "I, a girl, am going down to Tahrir Square, and l will stand alone. And I'll hold up a banner. Perhaps people will show some honor..." The following day on January 26 tens of thousands of Egyptians responded to her announcement by occupying Tahrir Square and in two weeks of protests, street battles and marches against government forces and thugs backed by the regime forced the ouster of the dictator Mubarak, the strongman of the Middle East. The world watched in awe as a people long oppressed by their own government took a stand against tyranny and brutality to assert their dignity and rights as free men and women. To quote Asmaa they "showed some honor" and for a moment inspired the world.