Category Archives: Kambui Robinson

On Self-Defense against Racist Murder

A discussion on the culture of hate and violence in US society and the rationality of securing New Afrikan communities

by the NCTT: Zaharibu Dorrough, Heshima Denham, Jabari Scott and Kambui Robinson

Published in: SF Bayview, April 26, 2016

Part 1

It is well known that the Black race is the most oppressed and most exploited of the human family. It is well known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery, which was for centuries … a bitter disgrace on mankind. What everyone does not perhaps know is that after … years of so called “emancipation,” American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material suffering, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching … Imagine a furious horde, fists clenched, eyes bloodshot, mouths foaming, yells, insults, curses … They are armed with sticks, torches, revolvers, ropes, knives, scissors, vitriol, daggers – in a word, with all that can be used to kill or wound … In a wave of hatred and bestiality, the lynchers drag the Black to … a public place … When everyone has had enough, the corpse is brought down … While on the ground stinking of fat and smoke, a black head, mutilated, roasted, deformed, grins horribly and seems to ask the setting sun, ‘Is this civilization?’” – Chairman Ho Chi Minh, 1924

Instead of trying to avoid conflict or whining about the injustice of it all, consider an option developed over the centuries by … strategists to deal with violent and acquisitive neighbors; reverse intimidation. The art of deterrence rests on three basic facts about war and human nature: First, people are more likely to attack you if they see you are weak and vulnerable; second, they depend on the signs you give out, through your behavior both past and present; third, they are after easy victories, quick and bloodless. That is why they prey on the vulnerable and weak.” – Robert Greene

The need to not mistake enemies for friends is especially great for us. Part of the reason for us being issue oriented is that we don’t yet see the need to assume responsibility in the development of the strategies affecting our lives. Those who are misgoverned and oppressed merely respond to the oppressive issues and conditions as they arise, and as the suffering triggers our awareness.” – Yaki Sayles

For two or more centuries, America has marched proudly in the van of human hatred – making bonfires of human flesh and laughing at them hideously, and making the insulting of millions more than a matter of dislike – rather, a great religion, a world war-cry.” – W.E.B. DuBois

Greetings, Sisters and Brothers. Amerikkka is a sick state – its social ills the product of the malignant sickness of ruling class morality. For us to make sense of the relentless, 400-year-long onslaught of racist violence against New Afrikans and other nationally oppressed people in Amerika and the absence of a collective program of comprehensive self-defense and secure communities among the majority of the New Afrikan population in the U.S., it’s important we first grasp the origin of this contradiction, as all other points of contradiction and irrationality flow from it.

There is a direct correlation between the origin of U.S. society, the relationship of New Afrikans in its development, the racist murder of nine women, men and youth in Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the ongoing wave of Euro-Amerikan police slaughtering New Afrikans in their communities, and our failure to develop a national policy of self-defense. To understand that correlation, we must trace its etiology.

The mode of production and appropriation is what determines the composition of a society and which class will rule it. When the Euro-Amerikan bourgeois settlers overthrew colonial British socio-economic organization in North Amerika, it retained for itself the same privileges of usurpation that the aristocracy had so long enjoyed; they simply replaced, through the restructuring of the modes of production and appropriation, the layers of illusion used by the nobility – mysticism of symbols, politico-religious illusions like the divine right of kings, etc. – with naked self-interest, direct exploitation, pseudo-scientific justifications for racialization and inhuman brutality and open, unashamed oppression. Human worth was reduced to mere exchange value, and all of the social life was commoditized for efficient valuation, barter and disposal.

These values made up the basis of “morality” for the U.S. ruling class, and they imposed their values on the whole of society through their enforcement apparatus, “the state.” The institutions of U.S. society were structured to orient the population in these notions of “morality” and “law” as well as their underlying basis: PROFIT AND VIOLENCE.

In doing so, the U.S. ruling class embedded the illusion into the whole of society that the ruling class’s interests and the people’s interests were one and the same, thus developing a slavery of the willing. Hierarchical and authoritarian in nature, the function of these institutions was to reproduce these warped values in society as a whole – based on one’s class, cultural group and resultant social function – as the supreme rules of social life.

This process of assimilation to the ruling class took its own unique form for each culture and class subject to its domination. For New Afrikans, it took the form of Jim Crow apartheid lynch law, COINTELPRO, the deliberate application of poverty, the intentional introduction of narcotics, criminalization, “legal” re-enslavement (in mass incarceration) and “civil death.”

Throughout each of these eras, we saw racist violence and murder being visited upon us at the hands of the state and aspects of its majority Euro-Amerikan population. Though New Afrikan resistance to the assimilation process has been consistent over the course of our 400-year domestic colonization – including organized self-defense at different periods throughout that history – we have yet to develop and implement a consistent and comprehensive secure communities strategy across the New Afrikan collective in Amerika. Our failure to do so has both maintained our vulnerability to racist violence in the U.S. and emboldened those who perpetuate such attacks upon us to continue to do so.

(W)hile the economic conditions of an ideology give us an insight into its material base, they offer us no immediate knowledge of its irrational core. Subject to the specific economic conditions of a society, man reproduces the historical economic process in his ideology. By forming ideologies, man re-shapes himself; man’s core is to be sought in the process by which he forms ideologies. Thus it is clear that the irrational formation of an ideology also makes man’s structure irrational.” – Wilhelm Reich

We watched along with the world the images of Dylann Storm Roof calmly walking into historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church. He sat in fellowship with nine of our sistas and brothas for an hour, then pulled out a gun and slaughtered them like sheep. Moments later he calmly exited the church, completely unmolested, got in his car, and drove away, leaving Rev. C. Pickney, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. D. Simmons Sr., Uzia Jackson, Tywana Sanders, Myra Thompson, Rev. Sharonda G. Singleton, Rev. Depayne M. Doctor and Ethel Lance dead.

This immediately conjured images of another New Arikan church in another time … of four little New Afrikan girls in an Alabama church murdered by a klansman’s bomb. Our minds moved to Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Omar Abrego, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant and so many more, stretching in an unbroken line of corpses all the way back to the Middle Passage. Actions and organization of the broad masses of New Afrikans seemed to reflect a collective irrationality, which could not analyze the core contradictions accurately, and as a result were incapable of developing viable solutions to these contradictions.

Before we can speak of a genuine anti-racist agenda in the U.S., it must be understood that racism and its underlying basis, reactionary racial violence, are ideologies, and these ideologies are structural components of U.S. society. They cannot be “reformed” away. They are woven into the superstructure and base of capitalist Amerikka and are foundational components of its culture.

Racism itself, an ideological component of the system of global white supremacy, owes its very existence to New World slavery and the genocide of Native Americans during the U.S. ruling class’s primitive accumulation of capital. Racism is a uniquely Amerikan creation, and it is wholly irrational for us to seek to “reform away” the cultural fiber and ideological foundations of society.

It is even more irrational to seek to affect such change through identifying with its state and looking to its institutions – judicial, legislative, academic, socio-economic etc. – for such reform, when it’s the function of the state and these institutions to preserve the Amerikan cultural fiber and defend its ideological foundation – which includes the race-caste system and its underlying basis: racist violence.

It’s as though a large swath of the New Afrikan population has been so thoroughly assimilated to the ruling class that they have lost their capacity for rational thought. It is as though they’re incapable of thinking outside the dominant power system.

Consider the response of a significant number of our people in the immediate aftermath of Dylan Roof’s attack: They clamored for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the South Carolina State Capitol, instead of clamoring to secure our communities and their institutions from further attacks.

We watched the entire proceedings, as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a longtime and staunch defender of maintaining the Confederate flag “as a symbol of (their) heritage,” shook the hands of the families of those slain as the flag lowering ceremony commenced. We looked upon this sea of humanity outside the South Carolina Capitol begin to cheer as an “honor guard” marched out to respectfully remove this symbol of death, torture, exploitation and hatred of New Afrikans and were amazed at the depth of irrationality in the U.S. mass psychology.

The state’s obsession with pomp and pageantry was clearly designed to deepen the delusion that the removal of this flag had any significance whatsoever in the structural racial hatred and institutional white supremacy imbedded – consciously or unconsciously – in the hearts and minds of millions upon millions of Euro-Amerikans.

We noted, as the flag was removed, New Afrikans were shouting, “USA! USA! USA!” and waving tiny U.S. flags, while only a few yards away, over half the crowd – all Euro-Amerikans, all clearly less than joyful – were hoisting Confederate battle flags in every size, while at the front of their crowd, one fellow was hoisting a large U.S. flag in one hand and the Confederate battle flag in the other. As if mirroring our thoughts, the camera panned back to the mixed half of the crowd still blithely shouting “USA! USA!” as if the contradiction only feet away wasn’t underscoring the irrationality of both their chant and their celebration.

Between 2005 and 2012, according to a study by USA Today, New Afrikans were murdered by Euro-Amerikan police officers at a rate of twice a week. Every one of those officers had a central commonality: Each of them had a U.S. flag sewn to their uniform. It was almost as though we were looking upon a physical manifestation of the U.S. fascist mass psychology.

We often view the ideology of racism as something separate from us, while failing to analyze how our core psychology has been affected by it. At the same time they were removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol, it was being erected in millions of homes across the U.S. Amazon.com reported a 3,260 percent increase in sales of “Old Dixie” the day it was removed.

It would have been more rational to leave that flag right where it was, as a constant reminder of just what type of sick society we live in and our need to organize ourselves for self-defense and social transformation. The Confederate battle flag is just that – a symbol of Amerikan’s willingness to fight to preserve institutional racism as a structural component of U.S. capitalist society … just like the U.S. flag.

Consider this: In response to the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E., “Black Lives Matter” was spraypainted on the statue of a Confederate general. The response of Klansmen to this was to burn down six New Afrikan churches in five states. U.S. mass media mentioned a NAIM formation was holding a rally in South Carolina; the Ku Klux Klan’s response was to hold a march and rally through downtown Charleston, complete with national media coverage and police escorts to ensure their security.

The same way the U.S. government views ISIS or Al Qaeda as terrorist groups bent on the destruction of their nation and interests, the New Afrikan people in Amerikka view the KKK. There is nothing ISIS has done that the KKK hasn’t done to New Afrikans in Amerika – only the Klan carried these atrocities out with much more frequency over a much longer period of time.

However, if ISIS were to march and rally in downtown Charleston, S.C., they would be subject to immediate arrest and imprisonment under the U.S. Freedom Act, National Security Act and other “anti-terrorism” laws. But if the KKK does the same, they’re provided the full protection of the U.S. Constitution – armed police escorts and national media exposure.

Amazingly – or perhaps NOT so amazingly – the local NAACP president asserted, “They have a First Amendment right to do so,” and he supports their right to exercise it. What is the difference between ISIS and the KKK? One is all Euro-Amerikan, Christian, kills New Afrikans and is protected by the U.S. state; the other is primarily Arabic Muslim, targets Amerikans and Europeans, and is summarily killed by the U.S. state.

In the face of such gross contradictions, do you truly believe “Black Lives Matter” to the U.S. state? Racism and racist violence will continue to re-invent itself as long as the ruling class and state in power remain in power.

Part 2

Racism will continue to exist so long as the belief in the concept of ‘race’ and the material reality underlying it exists. It’s this belief which allows racism to appear as totally autonomous (independent) of the economic relations it serves: capitalism. Unless and until it is uprooted, its forms will change, and its practices will ebb and flow, following the needs of its base, the political requirements of the oppressive state, and the forms and levels of struggle engaged by the people.

Must racism be challenged? Yes. Does ‘race’ have a certain kind of ‘reality’? Yes, but, what we fail to focus on is that ‘race’ is only as ‘real’ as our consciousness and our practices will allow it to be.” – Atiba

Understanding the primary purpose of “racism” – to prevent broad class cooperation across cultural lines and to destroy unity amongst oppressed cultural groups with common interests – ensures that we develop strategies which protect our communities from the effects of this psychosis, without compromising our class unity or prospects of social cooperation. “Understanding that racism is a manufactured concept aids us in fighting it from the proper perspective – rationally and scientifically.”

“Combatting racism” is the conscious engagement of a fiction which has been granted material force in the world through its ideological structure. We are struggling against an illusion which only exists in the minds of man and woman. But much like superstition and the supernatural, it imposes itself on reality solely through our belief. Though irrational and unscientific, racism is nevertheless like the ghosts and ghouls that haunt our dreams, very lethal – and as such, it must be defended against … rationally.

Rationality is a hallmark of resistance to fascist assimilation. It is an indication of the peoples’ capacity to see its relationship to the productive system and social life as it actually is – and respond to it accordingly. It is not the existence of racist murder, violent atrocities, state sponsored terror and national indifference to the plight of New Afrikans in Amerika which should shock the conscience – that is all fairly standard in the U.S. It is the suicidal irrationality of our collective response to it which should concern us all.

A cursory analysis of the New Afrikan experience in Amerika from 1619 to the present clearly reveals Amerikans socially control, exploit, contain and kill New Afrikans as a matter of national policy. It is a policy that has evolved to maintain its function through every change in mode of production – from manual labor to industrialization, mechanization and computerization to financialization – pursued invariably through each, ever emerging, ever resilient.

Yet, in the face of tragedy after tragedy, be it racist police murdering us or psychopathic wannabe “Rhodesians” massacring us, we have yet to collectively commit to self-defense and securing our communities.

A primary question asked on tests measuring human intelligence is “If a faucet is running and a sink is overflowing, what do you do first?” (a) Get a mop and clean up the water, or (b) Turn off the faucet”? Of course you secure the faucet first. Otherwise you will be mopping indefinitely.

Similarly, what should we as a people do first? Organize ourselves so that our communities are no longer vulnerable to racist violence, or, continue to plead and organize within the same system that is responsible for the preservation and perpetuation of that racist violence?

The answer would seem obvious – yet it is not reflected in our social practice. Great effort has gone into organizing efforts like The Black Youth Project (BYP100), Dream Defenders, and reorganizing the NAACP, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of our people to hold elected officials accountable, organize rallies and direct action campaigns to raise the peoples’ consciousness, garner media attention, holding voter registration drives, organizing on social networks, and developing legislation in hopes of ending collective oppression. All very good and very important work … the same work that we have been doing since “Reconstruction” … mopping the floor.

It’s important that no one misunderstand our point here: The floor does need to be mopped … just not while the faucet’s still running. Yes, prayer and faith are vital aspects of our culture and solidarity in such times of tribulation – but they are a poor defense against bullets. And a reliance on the benevolence of those citizens who are either responsible for the national oppression or who benefit and have historically benefited from it is simply irrational.

New Afrikans, communities of color and poor people have always been willing to engage in dialogue with the state to create a just and humane society. Because it has always involved protest – the only time the state has ever been willing to engage in any kind of dialogue with us has been as a result of protest – the state’s response has always been exactly what it is now. The state really does hate us.

We overestimate the power of conversation and the benevolence of the state and those who benefit from our oppression, because, on this very basic level, we will not call this what it really is: hate!

We must defend ourselves against their hate. We must secure our communities – now! Any other course is irrational adventurism … just more floor mopping.

Even more irrational is the response of many of the warriors among us. As if to rub salt in the wounds of our own contradictions, the story the news ran immediately following that of the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. was of the epidemic of New Afrikan on New Afrikan gang violence plaguing Chicago.

As we watch these images of our brothas, sistas and children murdering one another across Chitown, we realized that it could have been Watts, Cleveland, Oakland, Baltimore or Southeast San Diego that they were talking about. In the face of unprecedented racist attacks on our communities from agents of the state, self-styled vigilantes or run of the mill racist psychopaths, our response is to help them out by murdering one other over hood, set, turf or (drug) sack.

We can’t be serious!? Actively participating in our own genocide, in the face of non-stop assault on our humanity, is a classic example of the hate that hate has produced. Our inability to be able to look at each other and see a reflection of ourselves – the absence of a cultural kinship – is a consequence of our being under the influence of white supremacy.

It represents how much under the influence we are of – and how much we have been and continue to be damaged psychologically by – slavery. Indeed, the nation does still suffer from this pathology of hate.

There is nothing fly about wanting to be like forces who are committed to our destruction. The system of slavery is understandably viewed initially as a Black and White master-slave issue: racism. But slavery, the process by which one group or gender is made subordinate to a more powerful, stronger group, involves us all.

We are up against a united and powerful force and system. And the only chance that we have at defeating it is by coming together.

Division and disunity is weakness and vulnerability, but unlike a weak buffalo on a savannah that has become weak through illness, age or injury, ours is a willful weakness, a deliberate vulnerability and, as such, it is reversible.

The solution is to create a qualitative transformation in one social extreme – in this case, disunity-born weakness – by quantitatively increasing its opposite: UNITY.

It should never be easy to harm us – any of us. We must put our collective survival before our petty self-interests.

Part 3

When someone attacks you or threatens you, you make it clear that they will suffer in return. He may be able to win battles, but you will make him pay for each victory … You make him understand that every time he bothers you, he can expect damage, even if it is small. The only way to make you stop … is for him to stop attacking you. You are like a wasp on his skin: Most people leave wasps alone.” – Robert Greene

We must protect ourselves and our communities from these attacks by securing our communities. And that includes developing self-defense groups within our communities, safe zones that encompass public spaces for our children and grandchildren to play in, where our mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers, wives and lovers, friends and neighbors can engage in other areas of social life without fear of violent death by the hands of those of whose responsibility it is to protect them and our communities. We must also work diligently to overcome the mentality that has us held captive.

It will only be as result of our changing the way that we think – being under the influence of the hate that hate produced – in order to be able to develop strategies and tactics that will make it possible for us to not simply be left alone, but to create and maintain a just and humane society. And we honestly do not have a lot of time left to do so.

Our communities, like much of the planet, have already become giant cemeteries and mental health facilities. Citizens here and abroad are being displaced by wars and deprived of the things that we need to live routinely: water, food, housing, decent wages, employment, education, life!

At some point it is going to become clearer and clearer to more and more people that we are in fact in a fight for our very survival and that we are really dealing with people, an ideology – fascism – and white supremacy that has no interest whatsoever in the creation and maintaining of a just and humane society. And when that happens, people are going to start fighting back. You just cannot expect people to continue to allow themselves to be massacred, stepped on and herded off into prisons. At some point it is going to become clearer and clearer to more and more people that this is happening because we are subordinating ourselves to tyranny.

And tyranny is not a greater good. Fighting against tyranny does, at some point, involve violence. Whether we want it or not, whether we consider it to be acceptable or not, it is a natural response to tyranny.

One of the chief psychological factors which have long undermined a collective policy of self-defense within the New Afrikan community, communities of color and poor communities is the state’s insistence that violence is their sole province. Non-violence and passive acceptance of brutality is popularized in the media, revered in discourse and monuments by the state.

This is not by happenstance.

It is the historic continuation of the deliberate imposition of psychological weakness and submission to white supremacy begun in the “man-breaking, slave-making” process centuries ago. To reverse this process requires struggle – constant, non-stop struggle.

Constant struggle and protest is the only rational response to the non-stop assault on our humanity and the planet that is occurring. We must love freedom, ourselves and the humanity of our fellow citizens.

And that love is what we must subordinate ourselves to. That must be the greater good.

The act of securing our communities and reclaiming our humanity has a dialectically progressive effect on our people and on us all as well.

We begin to shed the capitalist delusions and colonial psychosis which have been imposed on us through the assimilation process. We begin to see the true nature of hate – racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty etc. We see past the shadow, which it is, on to the unequal social and economic relationships of the capitalist system which is actually casting it.

We begin to see our manufactured animosities and sub-culture divisions as aspects of our national oppression and, through this realization, glimpse the prospect of a new form of social life. This is what FUNCTIONAL UNITY looks like.

Functional unity is both a psychological state and social act; it is the conscious determination that one’s subjective animosities or active hostilities within our collective are subordinate to the survival of our people and humanity. It is consciously acting on a daily basis to ensure the welfare and survival of each other.

If our national oppression has taught us anything, it’s that the only “rights” we have are those that we can enforce. Our rights can only be enforced through self-defense.

Attacks upon poor communities, both physical and socio-political, are not abating but increasing. In the months of October, November and December 2015, just around the St. Louis area, seven New Afrikan churches were burned to the ground and, in the previous August, Yogi was assassinated. There is no area of social life in Amerika where New Afrikan mortality is not under threat, no place in this land where New Afrikan life is not undervalued, no other rational conclusion we can reach than we must educate, organize and mobilize our communities and ourselves for self-defense and our own security.

We think it appropriate to end this statement with “Freedom” by Frederick Douglass:

Those who profess to favor freedom
and yet deprecate agitation,
Are men who want crops without
Plowing the ground;
They want rain without thunder and lightning.
They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one,
And it may be a physical one,
Or it may be both moral and physical,
But it must be a struggle.

Power concedes nothing without a demand.
It never did and it never will.

Find out just what any people will submit to
and you have found out the exact amount of injustice
and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and
these will continue till they are resisted
with either words or blows, or with both.
The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the
endurance of those whom they oppress.”
– Frederick Douglass, Aug. 4, 1857

Let’s come together! Love, and struggling with you,

NCTT (NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism) Collective Think Tank):

  • Zaharibu Dorrough (s/n Michael Dorrough), D-83611, CSP Solano B7-131L Level III, P.O. Box 4000, Vacaville CA 95696
  • Heshima Denham (s/n S. Denham #J38283), KVSP B2-117U, P.O. Box 5102, Delano CA 93216
  • Jabari Scott (Aaron Scott), H-30536, CSP Cor 3A-02-143, P.O. Box 3461, Corcoran CA 93212
  • Kambui Robinson (Tyrone Robinson), C-82830, HDSP D8-113, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127

Editor’s note: This was written when all of the NCTT brothers except Kambui were still in solitary confinement in the Corcoran SHU. Since then, as a result of the hunger strikes, which they all participated in, and the Ashker settlement, all of them have been transferred out of solitary to “general population” yards. Visit NCTT’s new website for more wisdom from the think tank: https://narncollectivethinktank.org/.

 

 

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Creating broken men? A discussion on the U.S. domestic torture program

December 4, 2012: SF Bay View

by Zaharibu Dorrough, J. Heshima Denham, Kambui Robinson and Jabari Scott, NCTT Corcoran SHU

“Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing a third person.” – United Convention Against Torture, Art. 1, Sec. 2

We extend our heartfelt greetings to you, brothers and sisters.

Many discussions are taking place on the nature of the indefinite solitary confinement program in the U.S. prisons and whether or not it constitutes torture. The debate on what to do about the program itself is being held at every level of social organization, from the U.S. Senate to the United Nations, from the California Legislature to the short corridors of Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs.

[Corcoran State Prison – Photo: Ben Margot, AP]

Academics from multiple disciplines, from psychologists to sociologists, have all weighed in with the objective, scientific analysis that indefinite SHU confinement is not only torture, but even limited SHU confinement results in irreparable psychological damage. Yet, as with the Bush era “torture papers,” the socio-economic and political interests of the capitalist tend to supersede and supplant objective evidence, moral reason and human decency.

Such debate, which only continues in the presence of arguments contrary to the obvious reality of the U.S. domestic torture program in SHUs across the U.S., is not only ludicrous, it’s reality, and it is this lethal component to the debate which forces us to share a perspective which should end the debate definitively, leaving behind only the inescapable truth: Amerika maintains the largest domestic torture program on earth. The state of California runs the largest torture program in Amerika, and it continues to exist in your name, with your tax dollars, because you allow it to.

A recent incident here in Corcoran SHU’s short corridor compels us to give voice to the outrage we should all feel at the continued maintenance of the indeterminate SHU debriefing process of the U.S. domestic torture program: Another suicide, Armando Morales (Baby Paya), a validated Mexican prisoner from Los Angeles who had been confined to SHU for almost a decade, hanged himself after the IGI moved him from the 4B-1L-C-Section short corridor, to 4A-1R.

The reason(s) that Armando was moved are the typical ones associated with the coercive tactics employed to break men’s minds: After his girlfriend had been compromised by IGI and other state and federal law enforcement, those same agencies mounted an effort to put pressure on Armando, who was actually a baby in terms of what he did and did not know, as it relates to the enormous pressure that law enforcement will apply to coerce information from persons they’ve targeted.

In response to that pressure, he took his own life. Naturally, IGI and the state will seek to escape any culpability, and their response to this is that each person is responsible for his own conduct. We should all recognize the illegitimacy of such a position – that this is nothing more than an excuse to try and separate themselves from a situation that they are responsible for by their reckless and barbaric disregard for our humanity.

Amerika maintains the largest domestic torture program on earth. The state of California runs the largest torture program in Amerika. 

We know this primarily because the vast majority of us have been in these tortuous madhouses for decades. One day is too long and not a single illegal act or rules violation has been committed by us to justify this, which is, by international law, unjustifiable.
But we also know this because our research into the origins of the torture program reveals that this type of systematic psychological degradation to coerce information and create broken men is its purpose. The domestic U.S. torture program carried out in SHU (aka SMU, control unit etc.) style prisons finds its origins at a meeting of social scientists and prison wardens held in Washington, D.C., in 1962, recruiting the findings of Dr. Edgar Schein, which he delivered to them in his man-against-man brainwashing. In addressing the group Dr. Schein stated:

“I would like you to think of brainwashing not in terms of politics, ethics or morals, but in terms of the deliberate changing of human behavior and attitudes by a group of men who have relatively complete control over the environment in which the captive populace lives.” 

The techniques he espoused would also require, to be effective, a new type of environment conducive to altering the very foundations of one’s perception of reality. For this the state took Dr. Levinson’s sensory deprivation prison unit design and a form of Skinnerian operant conditioning called “learned helplessness.”

This last technique is a key factor of both validation based indeterminate SHU confinement and the debriefing process. “Learned helplessness” is a systematic process of conditioning to crystalize in the imprisoned victim’s mind that he has no control over the regulation of his existence, that he is completely dependent on the state and its guards for the necessities of “life,” that he is helpless and must submit to the state’s power and control.

Our research into the origins of the torture program reveals that this type of systematic psychological degradation to coerce information and create broken men is its purpose.

This is, of course, contrary to core human consciousness and a linear thought divergence into two options, “resistance or escape.” The program is designed to apply maximum punitive coercion against “resistance” from the outset – from physical removal from the general (prison) population to sensory deprivation, using informants, collaborators and agent provocateurs to erode trust amongst those of like circumstances, punishing uncooperative attitudes, prohibiting collective thought or expression while simultaneously employing group punishment, arbitrary punishment and property restrictions etc.

At the same time, those who are capable of prolonged or indefinite resistance through ideological consistency, political development or force of will – like victims of crucifixion left to rot on crosses during the Roman Empire – they serve as powerful deterrents to those of lesser psychological resilience or those in general population to not resist and instead explore the second option: escape.

The state of California has made its escape option clear since taking the Schein-Skinnerian-Levinson system to its heights in erecting the torture units at Pelican Bay SHU. There are only three escape options available to you: parole, debrief or die. Due to the successful corporate influences of the prison industrial complex on the legislative, political and, to a degree, cultural processes in the nation over the past quarter century, most validated SHU prisoners are serving mandatory minimum, enhanced or BPT (Board of Prison Terms) based sentences and their very confinement to SHU is prohibitive to their parole.

A cell in the Corcoran SHU

The Board of Prison Terms has repeatedly stated to validated prisoners seeking parole:

 “If you want a parole date, you probably want to think about debriefing.” 

This reinforces the psychological pressure on those already weakened by the enforced conviction that they have been abandoned by and isolated from society – and only through submission and subserviency can they be socially accepted as human beings.

This form of “escape” – debriefing – is consistent with points 7, 8 and 9 of Dr. Schein’s behavior modification techniques: (7) exploitation of opportunities and informers; (8) convincing prisoners they can trust no one; (9) treating those who are willing to collaborate in far more lenient ways than those who are not.

Again, our personal experience with the state and its use of such opportunistic broken men against those of us who are committed to resistance has been demonstrated here at Corcoran-SHU on a number of occasions in which agents posing as revolutionary progressives have tried to undermine the efforts of the NCTT (New Afrikan Collective Think Tank), and when those efforts failed, they locked up and debriefed.

It was only through our collective education and insight and experience with these periodic Cointelpro-style attacks on progressives which allowed us to identify and resist the attack and mitigate its political disorder. But this does not negate the damage done by the broken males to the unity and progress of resistance in the SHU population.

Though political immaturity by some elements played a role in the mistrust and disunity that resulted from it, in the broader population, it is the nature of the domestic torture program itself to create such broken males that we must understand is prohibited by the international community – and the U.S. knows this in analyzing the effects of such broken males on the psychology of certain elements in SHU. Other such examples of torture being put to such use against those who resist in Pelican Bay, here and across the U.S. is legion.

The state of California has made its escape option clear since taking the Schein-Skinnerian-Levinson system to its heights in erecting the torture units at Pelican Bay SHU. There are only three escape options available to you: parole, debrief or die. The Board of Prison Terms has repeatedly stated to validated prisoners seeking parole: “If you want a parole date, you probably want to think about debriefing.”

In the etiology of the U.S. domestic torture program, Marion Control Unit was the first. When former Marion Warden Ralph Aron was asked why the torture unit was built, he replied, “The purpose of the Marion (and all) controls unit(s) is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and society at large.” These broken males thus serve to not only damage or destroy progressives in prison but the attitudes and ideas of progressives in society at large.

It was always meant to be this way. To be sure, Dr. Broder, the psychotherapist who implemented Dr. Schein’s brainwashing program at Marion envisions those paroled broken men as “therapeutic technicians” who will take these techniques and warped views back into the community. Some 30 years later we have a snitch culture that derides objective facts in favor of a corporate media-created fantasy, and it owes some of its existence to the disastrous effects of isolation, which leads to the inevitable final “escape”: Death! Suicide rates in these sensory deprivation torture units are magnitudes higher than those in general population.

Speaking these words simply does not convey the reality of what we all know intimately: the transient appeal of the void as an alternative to endless isolation. We all know of the disastrous effects of isolation because we have seen what it does, along with the pressures that the state brings to bear on us all daily in its efforts to break us, efforts that include compelling the taking of one’s own life.

“The purpose of the Marion (and all) controls unit(s) is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and society at large.”

If this domestic torture program did not exist, Armando and so many others would still be alive today. But his is only the “escape” view of death. There is also a “resistance”-based view of death – that all of us who will never be counted amongst the broken men not only understand, but have demonstrated twice before, and may well be compelled to do again: peaceful protest in the form of hunger strikes, mass single cell, work stoppage etc.

Christian Gomez died [a year ago], not “escaping” these torture units but “resisting” these torture units, and it is this dialectical view of this final option – that death is an active and practiced form of both escape from and resistance to indefinite SHU confinement – is the final and definitive proof that it is, undebatably, torture.

During an assembly hearing on solitary confinement on August 24, 2011, a former Corcoran-SHU prisoner testified, “For someone to be willing to lie down and die just for someone to hear the situation … in the SHU program, they must be serious.” His assessment was correct. We are serious. The question is, are we as a society serious about upholding basic tenets of humanity. People are dying who could be saved while you are reading these words.

A former Corcoran-SHU prisoner testified, “For someone to be willing to lie down and die just for someone to hear the situation … in the SHU program, they must be serious.” His assessment was correct. We are serious. The question is, are we as a society serious about upholding basic tenets of humanity.

And now you know. This is a system that must be abolished. It is a system that has robbed us all of some part of our humanity and has caused us to lose our way as a nation. So many of us have stood idly by as the U.S. has strode the world stage criticizing other nations for systematic human rights abuses and demanding that others meet their obligations to the world community, while they maintain the single largest domestic torture program and the single largest prison population on earth. If the U.S. is going to continue to insist that other nations meet their international obligations under U.N. treaty resolutions, they must do the same and adhere to the U.N. Convention against Torture.

They have proven that they will not do so without compulsion. We must ensure that they do so, as a nation of the people, for the people and by the people. If we are doing anything less, we are complicit in the state’s hypocrisy.

The Pelican Bay D Short Corridor has given us the proper onus for unity in their historic “agreement to end hostilities” issued for Oct. 10, 2012. We call upon all of you brothers and sisters across the nation in prison yards and hood blocks, in SHUs and barrios: Take up this call also. Turn your attention not toward one another, but to those who have condemned us all to languish at the lowest rungs of this locked anti-poor society: the ruling 1 percent.

Many of us have stood idly by as the U.S. has strode the world stage criticizing other nations for systematic human rights abuses and demanding that others meet their obligations to the world community, while they maintain the single largest domestic torture program and the single largest prison population on earth. If the U.S. is going to continue to insist that other nations meet their international obligations under U.N. treaty resolutions, they must do the same and adhere to the U.N. Convention against Torture.

Join the movement – embrace, support, join or form your own local Occupy or anti-prison industrial complex formation. Build coalitions. And in doing so, change this world. Come, let us make peace.
Our love and solidarity,
Corcoran SHU NCTT:

  • Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, 4B-1L-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212 [53?]
  • J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, 4B-1L-43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
  • Kambui Robinson, C-82830, 4B-1L-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
  • Jabari Scott, H-30536, 4B-1L-63, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212

NCTT stands for NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism) Collective Think Tank. All are held in solitary confinement, an internationally recognized form of torture, in the SHU (Security Housing Unit) at Corcoran State Prison.

Published in: SF Bay View, Dec. 4th 2012

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