The Only Chants We Need: Imperialism Must Go! Victory to African and Oppressed Peoples!
Penny hess, Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee, Author of “Overturning the Culture of Violence”
By Penny Hess, African People’s Solidarity Committee
At the rally before the march against the RNC in Tampa on August 27, 2012, Chairman Omali Yeshitela, leader of the African People’s Socialist Party and the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, electrified the (predominately white) crowd unlike any other speaker with his powerful presentation demanding that imperialism must go!
The rally and march were led by the Coalition to March on the RNC, which was mainly made up of white-led left groups that seemed to be influenced by the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Despite a small smattering of African, Asian and Indigenous faces, the march dealt with white issues with the chant leaders and the speakers reciting a tired litany of social democratic demands.
It was basically a pro-Democratic party rally that did not target the neocolonial Obama or the white ruling class, let alone parasitic capitalism and imperialism.
As Chairman Omali wrote of the Black is Back Coalition in the Political Report adopted at the First BIBC conference in 2010:
“The fact that Obama represents the latest, most desperate ploy of imperialism by allowing the oppressor to represent himself in the guise of the oppressed would have confused and paralyzed many opponents of imperialism if not for our intervention.”
Indeed, this is possibly why Chairman Omali was invited and even featured at this rally—he was perhaps designated as one of the few black voices to speak out against Obama who the march organizers would not challenge.
Omali Yeshitela, Chair of the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace, and Reparations
The BIBC report continues: “We have not simply called for ‘peace’ as much of the U.S. antiwar opposition has done. More importantly we have been able to express solidarity with those who resist U.S. imperialism, to the victims of imperialism.”
Addressing the “money for jobs, not for war”-type demand so popular with the white left and chanted repeatedly at the RNC march, the Chairman’s BIBC report makes clear:
“Our list of demands does not assume that peace and social justice can be conferred on the world by simply demanding the resources going to make imperialist war be diverted to ‘domestic’ use. We are opposed to imperialism itself.”
As a primarily white rights rally, the anti-RNC event made little mention of the Obama-led U.S. wars being waged openly and covertly throughout Africa, the Middle East, South America and Asia.
What about the war on the African community?
There was no mention of the very obvious war against the African community raging inside this country and certainly in the state of Florida where earlier in the year a white security guard blatantly shot and murdered a 17 year old unarmed African, Trayvon Martin.
There was no mention that this is the state where just a few months ago another 17-year-old African, Eric Oliver faced charges for defending himself and his family from a white mob attack just 3 hours north of Tampa.
Nobody demanded justice for the fact that nearly two thirds of children stuffed into Florida’s brutal and increasingly privatized children’s prisons are black or brown.
Stop the war on the African community!
There were no chants about a recent report exposing that an African is murdered by police every 36 hours in this country and that 1 in 8 prisoners in the entire world is an African in the U.S.
Nobody chanted against the SWAT forces blanketing African communities, Jim-Crow stop and frisk practices, discriminatory sentencing for African and Mexican people or the flood of daily YouTube videos recording graphic police violence towards African people of every walk of life.
One of the popular anti-RNC chants was, “Gay, straight, black white, same struggle, same fight.”
Huh? On what planet is this the reality?
According to a 2009 Community Marketing Inc, study, “Gay men and lesbians travel more, own more homes and cars, spend more on electronics, and have the largest amount of disposable income of any niche market.”
For gay men and women, the average household income is $81,500 per year, almost 80 percent above the average U.S. household income of $46,326, the report states, and 40 percent of gay men and 36 percent of lesbians reported household incomes in excess of $100,000 per year, the report states.
As Chairman Omali said in his presentation at the rally, we are opposed to the Republican Party’s attacks on gays, bisexuals, and transexuals. But we also recognize that all white people, gay or straight, sit on the pedestal of the enslavement and colonization of Africans and other colonized people.
How else do you explain the opportunism of the so-called “gay rights” movement that celebrated the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which simply meant that homosexuals can now have full participation in the colonial slaughter of the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries under US military occupation?
To say that “gay, straight, black, white” is the “same struggle, same fight” is to liquidate the massive gap between the conditions of poverty, exploitation, and oppression faced by the African community and the conditions of social wealth, luxury and opportunity enjoyed by white people of all sexual orientations.
Stand in solidarity with the 99 percent!
Of course there were the inevitable chants of “We are the 99 percent!” from a predominately white crowd that enjoys, according to the UN Human Development Index a standard of living that is among the top twenty in the world.
Take the Pledge of Solidarity with African People
With a median income in 2010 of nearly $50,000 a year (about $137 a day) for white America, the 99 percenters fail to acknowledge the reality that half the world subsists on less than $2.50 a day and 80 percent of the world lives on less than $10 day ($3,650 a year).
There is talk of the wealth gap between the top one percent and the rest of us, but no discussion of the fact that a 2011 Pew Research Center poll found that the median income of a white family is 20 times that of African households in the U.S.
So we want change but to change the world we have to look truthfully at reality.
The truth is this country is built on the stolen labor of African people who were the first and most lucrative commodity of capitalism, bringing in untold wealth on the stolen land of the indigenous people who were slaughtered in the process. We have been further enriched by centuries of U.S. colonial wars of plunder bringing social wealth to the majority of white people.
This is a parasitic system. It was born at the expense of the majority of the world—the African, Arab and other indigenous peoples.
Capitalism can’t live without sucking the blood, stealing and controlling the oil, gold, uranium, coltan, platinum and other precious metals and minerals of the majority of humanity who live under U.S. backed neocolonialism, the new form of colonialism manifesting as white power in black face.
It is the resistance of oppressed peoples here and around the world that is making it impossible for the U.S. and European imperialism to rule in the same old way and challenging imperialist hegemony.
In this imperialist crisis a lot of white people are finding life on the pedestal a little less cozy.
In some cases, as the banksters and ruling class are filling their pockets in the face of looming full-on economic collapse, some of us may be catching some hell.
But the fact is, as Chairman Omali Yeshitela and the Black as Back Coalition tell us, this parasitic social system can’t fix our student loan debt and broken economy without waging more wars and striking out against more oppressed peoples inside this country and around the world.
Historically we as white people have gleefully jumped up on the pedestal of success at the expense of the 99 percent, often turning the gun, the noose or the smallpox-infested blanket on African and Indigenous people.
Today it is certainly in our interests to stand on the side of the 99 percent, to join in solidarity with the African, Arab, Asian and Indigenous struggle to bring down this vicious, deadly, parasitic imperialism – humanity’s only shot a better world.
Despite the RNC protest organizers’ limited view, a lot of white people cheered at Chairman Omali’s statement, rushing over to shake his hand in unity with the call that imperialism must go.
It’s time to act now against imperialism. Words are not enough. Stand with the African Liberation Movement in unity with oppressed peoples the world over.
Build the Days in Solidarity with African People. Reparations and solidarity with the right of African people to liberate their people and their land is the powerful stand against imperialism and the vicious one percent. It puts us in good company on the side of the resisting and struggling peoples of the world.
Join the international campaign for Days in Solidarity with African People taking place in cities across the US and Europe. Take the Pledge of Solidarity with African People today as a concrete expression of your support for the worldwide struggle of African people for self-determination and liberation. Join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement today by taking the pledge with a donation of at least 25 dollars.