BLACK POETRY | When Nat Turner Beheld the Eclipse

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On that day, the White angry sun

Was overcome for a short time

And all its glory came undone

As the black moon snuffed out its shine

 

And because heavenly affairs

Are congruent with Earthly ones

Black men on field dropped all other cares

And like the moon conquered white sons

 

Their leader was brighter than stars

In his right hand he clutched a gun

Despite its cover’s tears and scars

He held God’s Word with his left one

 

Emanating from the just Lord

The eclipse sparked a judgment day

Thus in the night, as bullets soared

Through arms, free men now had their say

 

Beads of sweat formed on brown hued skin

As rebels drank struggle’s sweet wine

They traveled to each plantation,

The Angel of Death close behind

 

The black ascetic-warriors,

Wounded, disadvantaged, untrained

Saw freedom locked behind white doors

And lost all fear of being hanged

 

So when they ran out of bullets

They thanked God for liberation

No longer cattle, or man-pets

Men had won emancipation

 

Head in noose, the leader divined

That fighting was the true freedom

Though victory was hard to find

He got to beat on freedom’s drum

 

Although the Sun escaped the moon

That short triumph was just as sweet

The leader smiled. His end, soon

The fearless corpse, his foes defeat

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Wakanda vs. Grenada: How The Black Panther Paints a VERY Incorrect Picture of U.S. Involvement in the Black Third World

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Yes, like most black people in the United States as of late, I have seen the newest Marvel movie, The Black Panther. This movie, for those who (somehow) do not know, is a very Afrocentric superhero film with an almost entirely black cast that for the most part takes place in a fictional African country called Wakanda that unlike most depictions of black countries in modern media, is NOT portrayed as a (as the U.S. president might call it) “shit hole”. The Black Panther himself was one of the first black superheroes, and shares his name with the famous  black radical political party, The Black Panther Party. Needless to say, the film became the center of a spectacular cultural phenomenon among black people in the United States, and droves of us, often wearing dashiki, lined up with our entire families to see the film became a common sight in theaters across the country. When I walked out of the movie theater (with my whole family) two major feelings about the movie dominated my mind. I thought that the movie looked really visually impressive, and I thought that the film had the most horrible political message I have ever seen directed towards a predominately black audience. I wondered: Why did one of the only white characters in the film, Everett K. Ross, a CIA agent that admitted that the CIA developed various techniques to destabilize Third World countries in the film itself, play a central role in helping the Black Panther defeat the main antagonist of the film. I wondered, of all the things this movie could have been about, why was the whole plot of the film centered around the quite literally CIA assisted overthrow of the terrible caricature of a black revolutionary that was the main antagonist? This movie is not a triumph for black people at all! This movie is simply a reflection of Hollywood’s racism, and by comparing the films imaginary ‘Wakanda narrative’ on U.S. involvement in black nations in the Third World, and the very real ‘Grenada’ narrative on U.S. involvement in some nations, I hope to help dispel the myth promoted by the film with actual facts.

The U.S. and Grenada

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Maurice Bishop (Man on the Left) during a discussion

Yesterday was the 39th anniversary of the revolutionary victory of the Grenadian people over the pro U.S. dictator, Eric Gairy’s, oppressive regime. Grenada’s revolution was lead by Maurice Bishop, an example of an actual black revolutionary, who, unlike the caricature that was Killmonger, did not want to ‘kill white people and their children’ or establish black supremacy throughout the world or anything crazy like that, but instead sought to satisfy the basic needs of the people in his country as reflected in this statement of his:

“People of Grenada, this revolution is for work, for food, for decent housing and health services, and for a bright future for our children and great grand-children.

The Grenadian revolution was noticeably non-violent, bloodless even, because Bishop’s New Jewel Movement ( New Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education, and Liberation) was able to come to power without conflict, due to the overwhelming support it enjoyed, and the absence of the country’s dictator who was, you guessed it, in the United States at the time. The New Jewel Movement set up worker’s and farmer’s councils to represent the country’s people, built miles of roads, sponsored education reform, and distributed necessities like milk for free! A crowning achievement of the revolution was the construction of an international airport (with the help of Cuba) which is now called the Maurice Bishop airport in honor of the revolution’s leader.

Unfortunately, all of the aforementioned change came to an abrupt end when Maurice Bishop was killed in a coup which was immediately followed by a United States invasion that destroyed the government of the country, and resulted in the installation of a pro U.S. regime. This is how interactions between black countries that wish to do well for themselves and the United States which only seeks to benefit itself really go.

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Image from the U.S. invasion of Grenada

The U.S. and Wakanda

While The Black Panther was visually appealing, the rise in popularity of this film is a tragedy. It is a tragedy that an agent of the CIA acting in a sovereign foreign country was depicted as some sort of hero. It is a tragedy that the man calling for the rising of black people around the world against imperialism was depicted as a villain. It is a tragedy that a hero that shares the same name as the revered black anti-imperialist Black Panthers, insists that it is important that black countries “break down barriers” with exploitative meddlers in their affairs. The most tragic part of this movie, however, is that it has somehow become a source of pride among black people in the United States.

What can we learn from this film and the experience of Grenada? It is that a revolutionary and anti-imperialist political program is a positive thing, but the United States (and by extension much of Hollywood) still follow an anti-revolutionary and pro-imperialist political program. Black people as a whole must be forward thinking, and instead of exalting backwards and racist media, hold in our hearts, as Maurice Bishop once did, the maxim:

Forward Ever, Backwards Never!

For further reading on the revolution in Grenada check out this article that inspired this post!

Reminding Black People in the U.S. to OPPOSE War in the DPRK

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For a good while now the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been preforming missile tests in which they launch powerful rockets into the ocean, usually near Japan. Recently however, the American media has been in hysterics over the DPRK’s launching of a missile over Japan instead of nearby it. This act by the DPRK is likely part of the escalation of tensions between the DPRK and the United States along with it’s East Asian allies (Japan included), after the DPRK successfully developed nuclear weaponry which sparked back and forth threats between the tiny country and the fully developed long time nuclear power that is the United States. One of the highlights of this conflict was Trump’s ridiculous, jingoistic “Fire and Fury” comment that made literally no effort to disguise his chauvinistic, imperialist attitude.  If one compares this to the DPRK’s cautious, ultra specific, and ultimately defensive “threats”, one can already clearly see the inherent imbalance in the potential conflict. It should already be clear that one tiny anti-imperialist country is not going to be able to fend off the world’s only superpower, and therefore the best case scenario for the Korean people of the North is to not get invaded by the United States in the first place. This is why I call on the whole of black activists in the United States to take a stand AGAINST war in the DPRK, and hold an attitude of solidarity towards our fellow people of color in the Global South. I will now proceed to address the specific reasons why this attitude is necessary.

1. The DPRK provided a great deal of support for the Black Liberation struggle in the U.S.

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The struggle against imperialism and for socialism is a worldwide struggle that can not be won just with nationalism. Only a complete solidarity with the struggles of oppressed people worldwide can overcome the global imperialist system, and this was a belief that the Worker’s Party of Korea had in mind when it made close connections with the Black Panther Party. The DPRK considered the struggle for freedom fought by Black people in the United States to be analogous to its own struggle against U.S. imperialism, and therefore formed a tight knit relationship with the BPP, a leading black liberation organization at the time. In their book Black Against Empire, writers Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr. describe one trip of the Panthers to the DPRK like so:

“The group arrived in Pyongyang, North Korea, on July 14, 1970, and was greeted at the airport by Kang Ryang Uk, vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and other dignitaries. The delegation traveled the country meeting with local officials to discuss ways that anti-imperialist movements in North Korea and the United States could help each other,” (319).

The Worker’s Party of Korea would also release statements declaring their firm allegiance with the Black Panther Party, the black liberation struggle, and the entire of the American anti-imperialist community. One such statement concluded with this declaration of solidarity:

“The Korean people send firm militant solidarity to the Black Panther Party of the U.S.A. and the American Negroes that have been shedding blood in their arduous but just struggle in the teeth of the brutal repression by the U.S. imperialists, the chieftain of world imperialism, the ring leader of world reaction and the common enemy of the world people, and they will give them active support and encouragement in the future too. The Black Panther Party of the U.S.A and the Negroes that are commanding the support and encouragement of the progressive American people and the revolutionary people of the whole world are bound to be crowned with a final victory in their just struggle.”

In addition to diplomatic support, the developments in national liberation related political theory made by the leading theoretician of the Korean revolution, Kim Il Sung were also very appealing to the Black Panthers. Eldridge Cleaver (before he transformed completely into a reactionary), had an especially huge affinity for Kim Il Sung’s theory known as Juche, liking it so much in fact, that he even wrote the preface to a collection of Kim Il Sung’s works! In his study about the relationship between the DPRK and the Black Panthers, Benjamin Young, a writer for the Asia-Pacific Journal, provides further details on Eldridge Cleaver’s attraction to Kim Il Sung’s thought.

“Eldridge Cleaver was particularly drawn to the North Korean leadership’s adaptation of Marxism-Leninism in the form of the Juche ideology (generally defined as self-reliance), the country’s economic success in the 1960s, and its opposition to U.S. imperialism around the world, a position honed in the Korean War.”

Often times, Black revolutionaries in the United States would prefer to read the works of third world Marxist-Leninist theorists of color (Kim Il Sung being a prominent thinker among this group), rather than European Marxists, because they could relate more to what these author’s had to say. In her Autobiography, Assata Shakur expresses such sentiment when she mentions Kim Il Sung among her preferred theoreticians.

“I preferred Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il Sung, Che or Fidel, but i ended up having to get into Marx and Lenin just to understand a lot of the speeches and stuff Huey Newton was putting out” (221).

As one can clearly see from what has been written here, there has been a very close connection between the struggle of the DPRK against imperialism across the ocean, and the black liberation struggle here at home. Because the DPRK was willing to offer help to us, we should return the favor.

2. Understanding the DPRK’s approach to socialism is key to understanding the nation’s great successes in battling imperialism and building an equitable society.

juche

 

The economy of the DPRK is not actually anywhere as bad as many assume.  Reports from South Korea’s central bank assert that the DPRK experienced rapid economic growth last year. The countries method of organization of production reflects socialist principles, and industry is democratically managed by representatives elected from various sections of the proletariat.

The DPRK’s state structure is also very democratic in nature. As one can easily see in the country’s constitution: democratically elected members of the various People’s Assemblies form the core of North Korea’s government .

So yes, the DPRK is a democratic, socialist, and prosperous society that deserves support from not only Black people who wish to build a society of our own like this, but for all who call themselves anti-imperialists right here in the “Belly of the Beast”.

 

3. U.S. Military invasion or change from the inside?

 

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Pablo Picasso’s Massacre in Korea, inspired by U.S. war crimes during the Korean War

This article has already went on for a very long time, so without rushing, I will attempt to  be brief in this segment. It is imperative for those who have previously supported the idea of war between the U.S. and the DPRK to recognize the fact that U.S. has already went to war with the DPRK before, and to look at the impact of the previous war on the North Korean people in order to get somewhat of an idea of what a second war would mean for them.

There are too many horrible atrocities committed by U.S. forces during the Korean war for all of them to be addressed here, so I will focus on what I found to be one of the most disturbing of them all. In his anti Korean War book, This Monstrous War, Wilfred G. Burchett describes the U.S. tactic of dropping insects on Korean villages:

“Chuk Dong is a village of two tiny hamlets, separated by a
hump-backed hill. At about 11 a.m. on March 9, a group of Volunteers
had seen a plane flying so low they thought it must have been
hit by anti-aircraft fire. It disappeared behind the hump-backed hill.
A patrol was sent to the other hamlet and found along a strip of land
about 200 yards long and 20 wide, in a direction corresponding to
the flight of the plane, hundreds of clumps of flies and mosquitoes,
swirling around on the ground in such a density that ‘if you put
your foot down,’ as the patrol leader expressed it, ‘you would kill a
hundred'” (239).

Why insects? Because the insects were infected beforehand with deadly diseases that could cause outbreaks of disease among the North Korean people. Burchett received confirmation of this from a captured U.S. Lieutenant who was able to describe America’s plan in detail.

“Other captured airmen helped fill in details. Lt. Floyd O’Neal’s
testimony was particularly interesting because having been trained
as a scientist, he absorbed much more of the preparatory germ warfare
lectures than the others. He was able to present a vivid and horrifying
picture of American scientists poring over their microscopes
and test-tubes, turning back the record of medical science to the
Middle Ages when the Black Death and cholera ravaged the populations
of Europe. He described in detail how these perverted men
worked to develop more virulent types of bacteria than those naturally
spread, of how they were developing bacteria – and insects to
carry them – which would flourish in cold, sub-zero climates where
diseases were formerly unknown” (243).

That’s right, the United States dropped insects on Korean villages as a way of utilizing biological warfare against the “communist threat”. For those who wonder why the DPRK harbors such hatred for the United States, that is one of the reasons why.

So obviously in the event of a war between the biggest empire in the world, and a small third world country, even if the DPRK somehow managed to win the war like Vietnam, or stave off the U.S. once more, the costs of the war for regular people in North Korea would be massive.

Once again, I call on the black activists of the United States to take a stand against U.S. invasion of the DPRK in a true display of anti-imperialism, just as the DPRK took a stand against the racist onslaughts that threatened us. We can, no we must answer Donald Trump’s war cries with a resounding:

HANDS OFF THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA!

 

Black Liberation Cinematic Study Guide

La Chinoise on theater and by extension, film. 

To start this off, I wish to clarify the title. No I am not suggesting that the Black Liberation Struggle can be understood just by watching a bunch of films. Obviously only constant study and investigation can bring one to really understand what is like for my people, after all, as Mao said, (and I am of course paraphrasing here) correct ideas do not fall from the sky, but instead come from social practice. That said, if one wishes to deepen their understanding about various aspects of the Black Liberation Struggle in their free time, (and have fun doing it too because these are not by any means boring films), then this Study Guide is a good list of movies to both enjoy and learn from.

An additional fact of importance is that this list is composed only of movies I, myself have seen. Because of this, there are sure to be fantastic films out there that are relevant to the subject that I have not seen, and therefore have not made it onto this list. It is important for readers of this list to also do their own search for other movies that may be of interest and can be learned from.

With all that out of the way, on with the list.

Part 1: Slavery, The Middle Passage, and Slave Rebellion. 

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Preface: Slavery is a phenomena that, (obviously) occurred in the United States a long time ago. This fact is the reason behind the ability of the Settler-Colonial mainstream social discourse to ignore and attempt to forget the pure barbarity and horrors of the genocidal crimes committed against black people by our oppressors. These movies help both to illustrate the severity of these crimes, but also depict some of the creative ways that black people resisted slavery, this resistance being an embryonic form of a black liberation struggle that continues to this day.

  1. Amistad

Why is it important?: Amistad is a movie that features the horrors of the trip of slaves across the Atlantic. Not only is the genocidal nature of the African Diaspora depicted in this film, but the struggle against such injustice through both legal (the court case), and illegal means (the initial revolt), was depicted as well.

2.  12 Years a Slave

Why is it important?: This film also depicts the brutality of slavery very well, but the most important aspect of the film is its focus on the unfairness of the Fugitive Slave Laws, which ultimately served only as a method by which more black people could be roped into the hardships of slavery.

3. Roots (2016)

Why is it important?: Roots is a very important miniseries to watch if one wants to understand slavery in full. Roots may just be the most important of these three films. The film also depicts the horrors of the middle passage, resistance to slavery, and the brutality of slavery itself, but it also manages to add certain elements that make it unique. Because Roots depicts the life of Kunta Kente up until his capture by white slavers, it illustrate the complex culture of the Africans prior to their transfer to the United States. This proves the fallacious nature of claims that Africa is a barbarian continent with no history that are prevalent in the minds of many Americans today. Roots also depicts aspects of reconstruction, and shows how white terrorism paved the way for the restoration of legally sanctioned white supremacy after the end of the Civil War.

Part 2: Civil Rights, Socialism, Black Power, and the rise of Black Nationalism.

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Preface: The rise of black nationalist leaders and the black power movement was a significant advance in the movement for black liberation. One of the most important aspects of this new revolutionary sentiment, was its devotion to socialism as a necessity for the black nation upon attaining national liberation. This fact is usually glossed over as the bourgeoisie’s attempts to rehabilitate these leaders and make them toothless. In this way, Lenin’s quote about such revolutionary heroes rings true:

“During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say…”

1.  Malcolm X 

Why is it important?: This biopic depicts the life of one of the greatest influences on the black nationalist movement there ever was. Malcolm X. The white supremacist mainstream discourse often tries to paint Malcolm as a “reverse-racist” who called for “senseless violence”, but this movie allows the viewers to understand his ideology in a more realistic light, and shows the legitimacy of his calls for self-defense and black separatism. This movie also implies that the United States may have been involved in Malcolm’s assassination, something that evidence suggests may very well be true.

2. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Why is it important?: In this collection of footage from the period written in the movie’s title, the views and aims of various black revolutionaries are depicted clearly and in their own words. This collection is a fantastic representation of the entirety of that period, featuring all sorts of black revolutionaries including Stokely Carmichael, George Jackson and Angela Davis.

3. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

Why is it important?: The Black Panthers, like Malcolm X are also often slandered as “the Black Ku Klux Klan” or “violent terrorists” by those supporting the white supremacist bourgeois narrative. This movie shows the real Black Panther party, and honestly depicts their Serve the People programs and ties to overseas anti-imperialist nations and movements, ultimately proving that the Black Panther Party was actually a radical movement for Black Liberation that was destroyed and discredit by the white supremacist American state with their COINTELPRO program.

Part 3: Black poverty, crime, and life in “The Ghetto”.

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Preface: It is easy for racism to persist when people outside of impoverished, predominantly black areas look inside. All such people see is violence and death, which to them, confirms the white supremacist narrative that blacks are barbarians, just as they thought we were when they stole us from Africa. The reality of the situation is very different from this narrative of course. The need for basic resources for survival forces black people into a vicious cycle of crime, imprisonment and poverty. Gangs keep people alive in the hellhole that is the “ghettos”. All such areas represent are the inefficiencies of capitalism, not the so called “barbarity of black people”.

1. Boyz N The Hood  

Why is it important?: This movie has several very important points. One of them is the comments on gentrification and the necessity of consciousness of black youth by the black nationalist father of the main character, “Furious” Styles. The second important aspect of the film is the emphasis on the ignorance of the rest of the American populace of the tragedies of the hood.

2.  Snow on Tha Bluff 

Why is it important?: This movie is a very realistic depiction of modern life in the ghetto. The realism of the film created by its style adds great emphasis to the tragedy of poverty and violence in the hood, making it into a must see for those who want to understand what life is like there.

3.  Crips and Bloods: Made in America 

Why is it important?: This movie draws a direct connection between the decline of the black revolutionary movement due to destructive tactics of the American state and the rise of gang culture and violence in predominantly black areas. It also, like the other films on this list, explains the nature of gang conflict, showing both its horrors and the reasons why many have no choice but to participate in it.

4. Straight Outta Compton

Why is it important?: A common belief among reactionaries who support white supremacist ideas is that the “violent rap music” that black people often listen to is a degenerate aspect of our culture that causes crime and violence. This film shows that in reality the opposite is true. The crime and violence present in the hood is actually due to poverty, and NWA the rap group that this film is about, were the first to start the trend of depicting the reality of hood life in music. That is certainly a positive thing.

Part 4: Mass incarceration and police violence.

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Preface: Mass incarceration and police violence are the two largest manifestations of the oppression of black people in the United States today. Because of this, these to phenomena are the most discussed in mainstream political discourse, and the films below help illustrate just why that is. The most important take away from these films is that neither the police or the prison system exist to help black people. Instead they exist to oppress injure, and re-enslave black people and to prevent them from ever achieving true liberation.

1. 13th

Why is it important?: The main point of this documentary is the assertion that the prison system has replaced the enslavement of black people because the titular 13th amendment allows it. This movie does a fantastic job depicting capitalism’s role in keeping things the way they are by explaining various corporations’ roles in making sure mass incarceration persists.

2. Fruitvale Station 

Why is it important?: Fruitvale Station is simply the story of a black man who, while going about his normal life and doing normal things, has his life ended quickly and unexpectedly by the police. It shows that police shootings can happen to any black person at anytime, which is really scary to think about.

3. 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story 

Why is it important?: This documentary explains the cruelty of the United States when dealing with black youth who commit crime. There is no sympathy for black youth in the prison system, and this film shows that through the perfect of a 15 year old sentenced to life in prison simply for a robbery.

 

And that’s the end of this cinema study guide! Feel free to comment and tell me what you’ve learned!