Tag Archives: institutionalized racism

Prisoners’ Agreement to End Hostilities as the basis for the abolition of ‘legal’ slavery

From: SF Bay View, Dec. 25, 2014

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

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” – George Berkeley


“Slavery is nearly as old as human civilization itself, but … (in) 1698 …the construct of ‘race’ was hardly formulated … This racialization of American slavery was rooted in economic calculation and psychological anxieties … In fact, the human family was carved into modern “racial” pigeonholes – white, black, red, brown, yellow – in order to control, confine, discipline and dishonor … Racialized persons and racist practices were systemized and canonized principally owing to the financial interests and psychic needs that sustained the slave trade and New World slavery.” – Dr. Cornel West


“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” – Amendment XIII, U.S. Constitution

Greetings, Sisters and Brothers. There are moments in human history when doors to genuine human freedom are opened. This does not mean we, as a species, always take advantage of the opportunity to walk through those doors – but every once in a while, the true potential for our liberation arises. Often, we fail to take advantage of those opportunities because we genuinely don’t know they exist; in such cases, a lesson in dialectics is learned.

However, more often than not, it’s because there is some social force standing in our way – be it unprogressive attitudes, backwards ideas, old style tendencies, or the very real fear of freedom that’s been deeply imbedded into so many of us. Something acts to bar us from entering that new world of unrealized promise.

On Oct. 10, 2012, the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective, men from various cultural groups and walks of life, put into effect the historic “Agreement to End Hostilities,” perhaps the single most significant “door to genuine freedom” opened in American society in recent human history. What makes it so significant is not simply its motive force but, more importantly, its true potential for our collective liberation as a society.

On this second anniversary of this historic agreement, we’d like to give you all a glimpse through the door the Agreement to End Hostilities has opened for us all. For us to appreciate the path the Agreement to End Hostilities has paved for our futures, we must look back at the “road” we traveled thus far and understand its interconnections to both those forces which have historically opposed progress and those which foster it.

Owing its origins to the primitive accumulation of capital within the chattel slave system and the extermination of the Native Americans, the very concept of race was manufactured by European colonial slavers and business interests to develop a “legal” and ideological foundation for establishing the socio-economic hierarchy and dehumanization of various cultural groups – an ideology of superiority and inferiority which reflected the European capitalist world view of economic, political and military domination and exploitation of the Earth.

This system of global white supremacy was forged on the dehumanization of the remainder of humanity by embedding the artificial ideology of “racism” in its every institution. The correlation between the chattel slave system and Native American genocide in the “New World,” the development of the “race” ideology and “racial” antagonisms in American society, the slavery provisions of the 13th Amendment for convicted felons, and the years of “race”-based hostilities among U.S. prisoners – and the communities they hail from – cannot be accounted for simply through the macrocosmic-microcosmic reflection of society and prisons.

No. It is much deeper and more disturbing than this, and it is why the Agreement to End Hostilities is so potentially devastating to the pillars of American capitalist exploitation.

“(We) always agree that “race” is invented, but are then required to defer to its embeddedness in the world.” – Paul Gilroy

The system of American capitalism has always used the fictitious construct of race as the central means to maintain the fluid functioning of the class system and in turn the dominance of the ruling class. It is woven into the base and superstructure of American Society.

As James Yaki Sayles observed, race has come to function on the superstructure; it’s become part of our distinct way of life and cultural existence. The interests of race – as a characteristic of the peculiar class and national social relations of capitalist and colonial exploitation – have become part of the group interests that we share and which stand as antagonistic to the interests of other groups of people, classes and nations.

It’s part of the collective consciousness which informs the creation of the organizations and institutions we use in pursuit of our aims. Now all this is really less about race than about class and national formation and consciousness. It’s not about race, since that’s a fiction.

As we’ve observed, racism developed as an ideological concept to sustain slavery and as a justification for the extermination of First Nations people. It was anchored in the economic deliberation, financial interests and the panic of Europeans of the age over their numeric inferiority in relation to the remaining human cultures of the world.

Conveniently, the same socio-economic and political motivations – slavery and population containment – which “codified” racism as an ideology and institution then are the same interests which maintain and maximize them in the prison industry today. These racial antagonisms, like so many other social ills, are magnified and concentrated in the socially hostile microcosm of prison.

The same socio-economic and political motivations – slavery and population containment – which “codified” racism as an ideology and institution then are the same interests which maintain and maximize them in the prison industry today.

This intentional warping of man’s social being – forcing the false construct of “race” to be manifested as a social force in U.S. capitalist economics – has been so thorough that it has allowed dehumanization to not only be codified in the supreme law of land, the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment, but “normalized” it. Now tens of millions of people in America accept dehumanization – disenfranchisement, third and fourth class citizenship, “civil death” and diminished constitutional and human rights – as a natural outgrowth of their economic position in relation to the productive system.

There was a time when questioning a people’s humanity was tantamount to a declaration of war. Yet millions so affected simply accept it – as does American society as a whole. EVERY PRISONER in the U.S., including parolees, regardless of cultural identity, religious or organizational affiliation, is considered by the state to be a slave and is viewed no differently from Afrikans in Amerika in the early 1800s.

“The slave went free, stood a brief moment in the sun, then moved back again towards slavery.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

The chattel slave system in the U.S. required Euro-Amerikans – and not simply those engaged in the slave trade – to dehumanize the subjects of the brutal practice: slaves. They went so far as to develop baseless, pseudo-scientific rationales for phenotypical human variation, a product of human evolutionary adaptation, and to connect these to a stratification of the human species.

Their rationale reflected the irrational world view of the European proto-capitalist: The European male was the only “true” human and the creator of civilization; the rest of humanity was reduced to various retrograde sub-human phenotypes with the Afrikan being the hindmost – a mere “three-fifths of a man.”

When the Prison Industrial Complex erected the “new Jim Crow” on the backs of the poor nationally, the “legal,” ideological and political structures already existed to extend this dehumanization to those who refused to accept the status quo of property relations and the dictates of the ruling elite: the felon, the outlaw, the prisoner.

When we speak of America being a locked, anti-poor society, we are speaking of the conscious dehumanization of the underclass and the lumpen. Just as a quack “science” sought, and failed miserably, to create some scientific justification for “racial” ideology and racist dehumanization so as to legitimize its material force in society, so has modern quack “science” sought to create justifications for criminalization ideology and “criminal” dehumanization to legitimize the disproportionate policing and imprisonment of “citizens” from poor, non-European and underclass communities.

“Doctors” like Stanton Samenow and Dr. Yochelson have produced a body of pseudo-science based on the eugenicist premise that “criminals” are “born bad” and “genetically different from other humans” and the “only solution is to separate them from society.” That every objective sociological, physiological and psychological study refutes such baseless claims as hokum is not what’s relevant.

What’s relevant is authoritarian powers want to believe them and penal institutions across the U.S. have latched on to this tripe and transformed it into a material force, building an entirely new sub-industry of the PIC: cognitive restructuring. Their hope is to brainwash hundreds of thousands of the imprisoned poor to absolve the nature and structure of capitalist society of all culpability in the lack of viable choices available to them and for the existence of social automation technology and instead accept their innate criminality and that they were born social degenerates.

Instead of moving away from the “Bell Curve” [a 1994 book by that name arguing that racial differences in intelligence are genetic and immutable], Samenow, Yochelson and their ilk have simply expanded it to encompass anyone convicted of a crime – almost exclusively non-Europeans, the poor and the underclass – an absurd notion in a nation where the average person violates several “laws” daily that they are unaware even exist. In the case of cognitive restructuring, it’s just the latest way to monetize social control and add an air of “scientific” legitimacy to dehumanization.

“For every system of state and law, and the capitalist system above all, exists in the last analysis because its survival, and the validity of its statutes, are simply accepted (by the colonized) … And these laws retain their validity even when personal motives or the force of circumstances have induced him to violate them.” – George Lukacs

The truly disturbing aspect of all this is so many of us for so long accepted this, even acted in accordance with it – much as slaves did in the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. The system of slavery was NOT maintained for so long because of the lash, the noose or the guns of the slavers. One can only be a slave master if the subjugated accept their roles as slaves.

No. It lasted so long due to the way slaves were orientated and divided. It was the science of “man breaking and slave making.” They pit the male slave against the female slave, the dark skinned slave against the light skinned slave, the young slave against the old slave, the field slave against the house slave – none would trust the other, yet ironically they all “trusted” the slave master.

Prisoners, parolees and those under other forms of social control are the only remaining “legal” slaves of the day and the new “slave master” is the state. The state is the primary tool and weapon of the ruling class. The state’s interests are the ruling class’s interests, period. It is their chief weapon of dominance over the remainder of society.

There was a time in American history when that weapon was always pointed at the Native American, the Afrikan slave, the unruly Mexican or the European indentured servant. Now that weapon is always aimed at us – the lumpen, the underclass, the convicted felon, the prisoner – because we, like the Native, slave or indentured before us have no interest in upholding and perpetuating a system which declares its imperative to dehumanize and repress us. Again, see the U.S. Constitution’s 13th Amendment.

Prisoners, parolees and those under other forms of social control are the only remaining “legal” slaves of the day and the new “slave master” is the state. The state is the primary tool and weapon of the ruling class. The state’s interests are the ruling class’s interests, period.

There is an entire body of law which articulates the “legitimacy” of the “civil death” of prisoners and the “appropriateness” of the absolute despotism of the state in their lives. We tacitly support it by accepting our dehumanization, though it runs contrary to our interests.

As a wise man once said, “The question I’ve asked myself over the years runs this way: Who has done most of the dying? Most of the work? Most of the time in prison (on max row)? Who is the hindmost in every aspect of social, political and economic life? Who has the least short term interest or no interest at all in the survival of the present state? In this condition, how could we believe in the possibility of a new generation of enlightened fascists who would dismantle the base of their hierarchy?”

The modern Prison Industrial Complex has picked up right where the “Peculiar Institution” [of slavery] left off, only substituting the long standing cultural divisions of “race” ideology for traditional slavery’s labor and social function-based divisions. They intentionally pit the New Afrikan prisoner against the Mexican prisoner, the prisoner from the North against the prisoner from the South, the European prisoner against the New Afrikan prisoner, the young prisoner against the old prisoner, the Kiwe against the Damu, the folks against the people, the European have-nots from one group against the European have-nots from another – and for decades WE ALLOWED them to do this to us.

They used our antagonisms, antagonisms born of this system they created, as a basis to erect torture units – Security Housing Units (SHUs) – and a system of mass incarceration which continues to devastate the working class and the poor. They broadcast our conflicts and contradictions to an uninformed public to secure ever larger portions of the social product (taxes), further enriching themselves, their industry and their labor aristocracy – as we were further dehumanized and despised.
Just like the slaves of the chattel era, many of us helped them out by embracing this fiction, these manufactured categorizations, and fought each other with delusional gusto, as they built a monolith of money and political power in pools of our blood … until the Agreement to End Hostilities was announced; and just like that – hundreds of years of capitalist institutional exploitation was immediately put in jeopardy.

“Only social practice can be the criterion of truth … Marxist philosophy holds that the most important problem does not lie in understanding laws of the objective world and thus being able to explain it, but in applying the knowledge of these laws actively to change the world.” – Mao Tse Tung

Correct ideas come only from social practice. In two short years since the Agreement to End Hostilities was enacted by a relatively small population of prisoners, it has manifested itself into a social force which has accomplished the liberation from SHU of some of the most severely tortured prisoners in the history of modern imprisonment.

There are few among the entire population of prisoners and their family members who, just five years ago, would have believed this possible. That in just two short years of social cooperation which defied the ideology of “race” antagonism and the “civil death” of the prisoner-slave status could produce such a result.

Though this victory, in actuality, simply exposed the fact that the state has housed hundreds of men in torture units who should have never been there, it does not mean the struggle has approached its logical conclusion. On the contrary, the struggle has only begun.

Just like the slaves of the chattel era, many of us helped them out by embracing this fiction, these manufactured categorizations, and fought each other with delusional gusto, as they built a monolith of money and political power in pools of our blood … until the Agreement to End Hostilities was announced; and just like that – hundreds of years of capitalist institutional exploitation was immediately put in jeopardy.


The next logical step is to move to reclaim our humanity and reorganize the social life of ourselves and our communities in such a way that it serves our interests. The Agreement to End Hostilities has provided us with the impetus to organize ourselves to abolish not only indefinite SHU torture, but the “slavery” provision of the 13th Amendment upon which the civil basis of our dehumanization rests.

Doing so would ensure we reclaim our humanity and become self-actualized human beings with the right to influence our world and participate in the social processes of life. To do this we must not only ensure the Agreement to End Hostilities succeeds here in the kamps, but we must extend the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets.

In just two short years social cooperation defied the ideology of “race” antagonism and the “civil death” of the prisoner-slave status.

It is within our communities where the “school to prison pipeline” opens its maw to consume our youth and subjugate our collective future to the role of slaves, powerless to do little more than poison, pimp and slaughter one another on our way to the concentration kamps of the state. The Agreement to End Hostilities offers our communities the opportunity to confront and overcome our own internal contradictions while forging new areas of social cooperation from which closer and more harmonious relationships many emerge.

We must not only ensure the Agreement to End Hostilities succeeds here in the kamps, but we must extend the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets.

“This new humanity cannot do otherwise than define a new humanism both for itself and for others. It is prefigured in the objectives and methods of the conflict. A struggle which mobilizes all classes of the people and which expresses their aims and their impatience, which is not afraid to count almost exclusively on the people’s support, will of necessity triumph.” – Frantz Fanon

When social cooperation is strengthened, state power and oppression is always weakened. Our capacity to manufacture and mobilize underclass political power – not to validate the bourgeois political process but to expose its contradictions, truly democratize its mechanisms and reclaim our human right to influence society – will determine if we are collectively capable of conquering our rights. Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment means the abolition of prisoner disenfranchisement, instantly transforming the prisoner class into a constituency.

A recent Pew poll showed how new authorization, right-wing backed voter registration and ID laws have reduced voter access to underclass, nationally oppressed and youth voters by 30 percent. Direct access to the political process for the prisoner class would push back against this trend of legislative disenfranchisement.

These “legal” attacks on the people’s democratic rights are designed to further marginalize the underclass into a solely labor and surplus labor role – to work, be chained by debt, submit to exploitation, accept criminalization and not be heard.

Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment means the abolition of prisoner disenfranchisement, instantly transforming the prisoner class into a constituency.


Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would mean the end of compulsory and uncompensated prison labor. Involuntary servitude is fundamentally inhumane and only serves to reinforce the essential condition of oppressed man as the laborer whose production is appropriated by his “masters.” It would create new spheres of social cooperation to de-criminalize prison unions and provide the underclass and other affected communities with the political will to defend and expand organized labor unions in their communities.

Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would mean the end of compulsory and uncompensated prison labor.


Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would reinforce our human right to peacefully protest torture and other state sponsored brutality without it being also branded a crime. Brothers and Sisters, do you not see the correlations?

Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would reinforce our human right to peacefully protest torture and other state sponsored brutality without it being also branded a crime.


As Michelle Alexander observed in the section of “The New Jim Crow” titled “The Birth of Mass Incarceration,” “conservatives systematically and strategically linked opposition to civil rights legislation to calls for law and order, arguing that Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of civil disobedience was a leading cause of crime.”

In classic irrational fascist reasoning, it was not the inhumanity of Jim Crow law which was criminal; it was protesting against that inhumanity which was criminalized. Identically, it is not the inhumanity of systematic torture in indefinite SHU confinement which is deemed criminal; it is our protesting against the inhumane practice which is criminalized.

“One function of the entire cultural apparatus at any given period has been to internalize in men of subordinate position the idea of a necessary domination of some men over others, as determined by the course of history… As a result and as a continually renewed condition of this cultural apparatus, the belief in authority is one of the driving forces, sometimes, productive, sometimes obstructive, of human history.” – Max Horkheimer

Restoration of our humanity by abolishing the basis for our dehumanization is the first step in us all reclaiming our rightful voice in social affairs. Intentional underdevelopment in the chattel slave epoch and intentional underdevelopment in the modern Prison Industrial Complex – enforced idleness, all-encompassing dependency, repression of political expression, retardation of socio-economic self-determination etc. – are both social control mechanisms reliant on legalized dehumanization to accomplish that end.

They point to our intra-cultural (“racial”) antagonisms and conflicts as “proof” of our sub-human nature, while simultaneously reinforcing the ideology of racism as a material force in every aspect of human activity – though not for the reasons many of you may believe.

“Race” serves the base by hiding its true nature and core contradictions, such as the contradiction between workers and the relations of production – specifically the trends of ownership of the means of production and the appropriation of labor’s surplus value. The ideology of race antagonisms obscures the origin, the source, of social contradictions and hinders the progressive development of humanity as a whole.

“Race” obscures “class,” so we cannot locate and understand the source of social contradictions or the foundation of social development, which are primarily the province of “class” relations. The Agreement to End Hostilities clears away this “fog” and provides a basis for broad class cooperation. Without the divisional dynamic of racial antagonism, the truth of our human suffering of both its source and our own unwitting participation in it is revealed – allowing us to move against it.

The Agreement to End Hostilities provides a basis for broad class cooperation.


To be sure, already the Agreement to End Hostilities eats away at two of the many pillars of modern solitary confinement: political and cultural isolation. Men whose ideas and ways of life once kept them from even talking to one another are now finding common cause, shared social and political aims, and realizing that they may not be so different after all. A more dangerous portent for the current nature and structure of capitalist society does not exist.

The Agreement to End Hostilities eats away at two of the many pillars of modern solitary confinement: political and cultural isolation. Men whose ideas and ways of life once kept them from even talking to one another are now finding common cause, shared social and political aims, and realizing that they may not be so different after all.


“Instead of the ritual indignation and despair at the cultural condition of ‘the masses,’ it is necessary to break through to the central fact that most of our cultural institutions are in the hands of speculators, interested not in the health and growth of society, but the quick profits that can be made … The real question is whether society can afford to leave its cultural apparatus in such irresponsible hands … We should be much clearer about these cultural questions if we saw them as a consequence of a basically capitalist organization, and I at least know no better reason for capitalism to end.” – Raymond Williams

We, ALL OF US, are under assault at every point of human activity. Even the food we eat is governed by industrial interests that intentionally structured the modes of production to maximize profits, minimize food safety, increase the intake of unhealthy corn based, genetically modified, sugary, sodium packed processed foods by the underclass – while ensuring healthy and/or organic produce is cost prohibitive. This in turn ensures a steady influx of chronically ill, low income patients whose health care costs and debt will ensure the profiteering of the pharmaceutical, health care and debt based industries.

All of these industries in turn legally bribe your “elected” officials by lobbying them into maintaining these modes of production. Meanwhile, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and ever increasing incidences of e coli contamination disproportionately ravage the underclass and threaten the entire food supply – turning workers not merely into paupers, but sick paupers.

By extending the Agreement to End Hostilities to our communities, we establish the foundation upon which we can build Sustainable Agricultural Communes, Closed Circuit Economic Initiatives, Health Care Co-ops and Community Clinics, Block-Vote Democratic Initiatives and Youth-Community Action Programs [described in “A discussion on strategy for the Occupy Movement from behind enemy lines.”] We can finally begin to re-organize social, political and economic life (transfer culture) so we can actually live and not simply exist.

Every one of you who are reading our words right now, regardless of culture, class or social standing, are by your inaction supporting the maintenance of slavery and dehumanization in America. All of us subject to social control institutions, by our failure to support the extension of the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets, are actually supporting our own slavery and dehumanization and enriching the very class which has organized and structured the apparatus of our collective human misery: the bourgeois authorization, the capitalist, the ruling class.

From Ferguson to destabilizing imperialist adventurism in the Middle East, from the e coli factories of the U.S. beef industry to the maintenance of the U.S. domestic torture program in supermax prisons across the U.S., the greed, hate and hypocrisy of the ruling class has demonstrated in every area of human activity – particularly in the codification of dehumanization for prisoners and the poor – that it is unfit to dictate social life.

All of us subject to social control institutions, by our failure to support the extension of the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets, are actually supporting our own slavery and dehumanization and enriching the ruling class.


At almost this same time of year in 1847, Karl Marx and Frederick Engles observed: “The modern laborer … becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law.  It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie; in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.”

“At the end of this massive collective struggle, we will uncover our new man (woman), the unpredictable culmination of the revolutionary process. He (She) will be better equipped to wage the real struggle, the permanent struggle after the revolution – the one for new relationships between men (women).” – A Wise Man

Finally it is here in this observation as relevant and accurate today as it was in 1847 wherein lies the great significance of the Agreement to End Hostilities. It has the potential to topple the Ruling Class by transforming the nature and structure of the human relationships upon which the capitalist system is based. The “race” caste system and economic class systems are interconnected and mutually reinforcing.

Without cultural antagonisms – especially within the underclasses of society – the system cannot function as designed. To end hostilities among cultural groups, to engage in social cooperation which serves our collective interests – in both society and prison – erodes the very purpose of the race caste system. It ceases to perform its function to bar broad class cooperation and uphold European male dominance. Thus the core contradictions, the “face(s)” of our true enemy, are revealed and together we have moved and can continue to move against it – until we win or don’t lose.

Our futures – and the future of humanity itself – is in our hands. Will we be equal to the demands of history, or will we buckle under the weight of our collective contradictions and descend once again into the miasma of the mass psychology of fascism?

Our confidence is as ever with YOU, the people. We would like to thank the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement for giving us all the opportunity the Agreement to End Hostilities represents.

We would like to thank the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement for giving us all the opportunity the Agreement to End Hostilities represents.

We would like to encourage you all to support the Agreement to End Hostilities in YOUR communities. Support the New Afrikan Prisoners Rights Coalition Movement and, most importantly, support one another. Our love and solidarity are with you all always. Until we win or don’t lose.

NCTT Corcoran SHU

For more information on the NCTT or its work product, go to NCTTCORSHU.org or contact:

  • Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP Cor SHU 4B1L-22, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212
  • J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP Cor SHU 4B1L-39, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212
  • Kambui Robinson, C-82830, CSP Cor SHU 4B1L-28, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212

NCTT mailed this to Kendra Castaneda Perez. She is a writer, a prisoner human rights advocate, and the wife of Raymond “Chavo” Perez, who is one of the 12 representatives responsible for the historic Agreement to End Hostilities and who spent 18 years in Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor until January 2014, when he was transferred to Sacramento State Prison (New Folsom) general population into Step 5 of the Step Down Program.

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On Racism, Resistance and State Violence – A Discussion on the Politics of Greed and Hate

By N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU

“We all agree that ‘race’ is invented, but are then required to defer to its embeddedness in the world.”-Paul Gilroy

“ ‘Racism’ is used to justify and facilitate the exploitation of peoples, and it’s based on the false belief that humanity is divided into a plurality of ‘races’ that stand in relation to each other as ‘inferior’ or ‘superior’ based on physical and/or cultural differences. There are no ‘races’ – only people(s), groups of people(s), united and distinguished by common history (social development), habits, interests etc. – sometimes we call all of this … ideology. 

To be ‘anti-racist’ is, first of all, not to hold the false belief in an alleged plurality of ‘races,’ to be ‘against racism’ is to combat all beliefs and practices that facilitate the exploitation of peoples, particularly when such exploitation is supported by the social construction of ‘race.’
 

Any attempt to destroy ‘racism’ without an explicit link to the struggle against capitalism ultimately serves only to reinforce ‘racist’ ideology and to shield capitalism from attack. On the other hand, an attempt to combat capitalism without an explicit link to anti-racist discourse and struggle allows capitalism to use belief in ‘race’ held by oppressed peoples, and appeal to the ‘racism’ of citizens of the oppressive state, thus undermining all revolutionary initiative.” – James Yaki Sayles (Meditations on Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings by James Yaki Sayles)

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

The events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri present us with yet another opportunity to address the inhumanity of racism. But the country will again not take advantage of it because we will continue to treat this act of inhumanity as though it is an isolated incident, and not an act that flows from the very structure of the nation.

 This is a system that, over hundreds of years, has indoctrinated people (particularly “law enforcement” elements) to look at people, and based on their physical characteristics, particularly their Black skin, determine whether they represent a threat and respond accordingly. Because Afrikan, Latino and Native American men (males) have – for hundreds of years – been considered to be the enemy, the “savage,” the “worst of the worst,” there is this kill-first mentality (and anytime you fire “a hail of bullets” at a person the intent is to kill), and that intent to kill is motivated, either consciously or unconsciously by fear and/or hate!

No one wants to think that they are under the influence of patriarchal authoritarianism / White male supremacy in how we think or conduct ourselves. We have been indoctrinated to believe that it’s not the system, it was a mistake, an over-reaction on the part of the individual officer–or Klansman–and all it takes is for that individual to be fired or prosecuted and the country is satisfied…until it happens again, and again, and again! We genuinely do believe that this is not the same country as it was 30, 40 or 50 years ago and we believe this in the face of so much racist / sexist / misogynistic / homophobic / religiously intolerant / anti-poor hate!

What we are facing in this nation, as it relates to the murders of New Afrikans (Blacks) by police is simply the ongoing legacy of socio-economic relations between the White ruling class and the New Afrikan underclass, a manifestation of patriarchal authoritarian White supremacy enforcing the dictates of the race caste system in Amerika. Institutional racism is a structural component of Amerikan culture and property relations. As such it cannot be “reformed.” It is irrational to assume you can legislate away hate in a society where every institution reproduces and reinforces it in the population’s core (and developmental) psychology.

The very nature and structure of American society preserves White male supremacy and hatred of New Afrikans (Blacks), it is only that within policing this power dynamic is most visible (it is the police who in the first line of defense for the ruling class and the police have the most frequent contact with the population). This power dynamic, as it relates to policing, gives its visibility primarily to the fact that the underlying basis of power upon which White male hegemony in Amerika rests is violence. It is a power which must be seen to be effective.

As consciousness of oppression metamorphoses into resistance, no matter how minute, fleeting or legitimate that resistance may be, the response of the state’s police forces is violence–lethal force…murder. It has always been thus, from the slave catcher to the “strange fruit” of the lynching trees, from the slaughter and raiding of  rosewood, to the slaughter and siege of Ferguson–the initial, the primary, the first response of the police to New Afrikan resistance is violence.

What should disturb us is the irrationality of people and pundits who condemn resistance to such overt force; the condemnation of those who seek to exert their own coercive force to end such hate-based violence. In Ferguson there is a great deal of talk of “outside agitators” who have come in and “hijacked” the protests [for instance here on the Daily Beast, 8/19/14, and echoing here], as though, somehow, no one outside of that community has an interest in abolishing hate. Every citizen who has an interest in creating and maintaining a society/world based on equalitarian principles should converge on Ferguson, and anywhere else in which the humanity of people and the planet is under assault.

When you look at the historical record, particular forms of protests have intensified, particularly over the last 30 years, only because the system that produces the inhumanities remains in place. Even people, particularly young people, who may not be knowledgeable about the country’s history, are immediately introduced to that history. Images from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, and beyond, are introduced to them. They look around and see citizens, neighbors and others within their own communities and towns rushing out to buy guns, symbols of hate and destruction, instead of joining the protest in fear off those whose humanity has been assaulted. This is the most definitive proof that among large segments of the population, nothing has changed in their thinking. Even among some segments of the New Afrikan (Black) population, it is felt that the officer/the system acted appropriately -and that represents the most definitive proof that, among large sections of the population, nothing has changed.

In a clear illustration of the institutional nature of racism in Amerika, the mass media instantly sought to tacitly defend the police by professing justifications for murdering this latest New Afrikan child, Michael Brown, while condemning direct action force by protesting as “criminals,” “looters,” “outside agitators,”  [see here and a later ‘analysis’ here ] and “thugs,” [see also this news on October 2nd] “seeking to capitalize off the latesttragedy,” as opposed to the rational, although disorganized, response to some 400 years of unbroken racist violence against New Afrikans (and Native people) in Amerika.

Yet, irrationally, New Afrikans continue to refer to themselves as “Afrikan Americans”– an oxymoron which consciously ignores the fact that “Americans” had killed “Afrikans” as a practice in Amerika since 1619… And therein lies the contradiction–the psychological cleavage of the New Afrikan mind when subject to Amerikan state violence: they unconsciously do know this, and act to move against it just as one would reflexively swat at flames on one’s flesh or a stinging bee on one’s skin, you meet the pain of force with force of your own, in order to make the pain stop. 


It is an act of intelligence with intent, yet many would have us accept such patently racist violence with nothing more profound or transformative than passive pleas of “hands up-don’t shoot!” to justify such irrationality. They point to Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi’s courageous examples of nonviolent resistance, while conveniently ignoring the fact that both were killed for their efforts and their aspirations have yet to be realized. The rabid poverty, gross inequality and brutalization of women, which dominates neo-colonial Indian society is not the “independence” Brother Mahatma gave his life for and the fact that we are even having this conversation with Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and countless others cold in the ground, is the best proof the dreamers’ dream remains Amerika’s nightmare. These mentacidal (mental suicide) contractions in social analysis render the prospect of solutions–effective solutions–all but impossible.

Many of the New Afrikans (Black), clerical,  political and community leaders we’ve heard speak thus far have, in the midst of the latest events in Ferguson called for a change in the way law enforcement officers police New Afrikan communities, in hopes of returning these state agents to their stated role of “serving and protecting” our communities. Because this starting premise is so incorrect, every other idea or effort that flows from it will prove equally flawed, a voyage into circular thought which will inevitably lead us back to the same problem repeatedly. The first thing we must understand is what the police is, and what is their purpose.

The police, at their core, are the enforcement mechanism of the state’s dictates on the populace. The state is a tool to ensure the dominance of the ruling class and its cultural imperative (capitalist White supremacy) over all other classes and cultural interests. This determines the policies’ purpose. The purpose of police in the capitalist state is to “serve and protect” the ruling class (and their constituents) while controlling, containing and repressing the remainder of the population, especially underclass and non-White communities. 

The core flaw in thinking by mainstream (state-approved) and clerical “leadership” in the New Afrikan and other concerned communities is it begins with the premise that police are in their communities to “serve and protect” them, when all objective observations and historical analyses reveal the police’s function is to control, contain and repress them… Until this is understood, accepted and acted upon, the development of viable solutions by New Afrikans to this scourge will be futile.

Consider this: within the bowels of the prison industrial complex’s Super Max (Secure Housing Unit or SHU) torture units in California, hundreds of New Afrikans have been consigned to “the hole” for the remainder of their lives (if they are not broken) for studying their culture, history, political ideas–and even current events if they are presented through a New Afrikan lens. 

In recent 128-B chronos authored by I.G.I. Officer T. Turmezei, the overly racist hostility of  the state is on full display. In the documents, the officer actually criminalizes New Afrikan cultural celebrations (like “Black August Memorial”), the terms “Black,” “Brother,” “Elder,” and “Comrade,” stating:

“[Subject] specifically identifies his B.G.F. allegiance with “Comrade,” ethnic race as Black through “Brother”… In so stating, [subject] identifies himself as a “comrade” of the B.G.F.”
He goes on to state:
“…[subject]’s B.G.F. allegiances is further supported [by]…the use of the word “elders” to identify the senior membership of the B.G.F. housed at Pelican Bay …Within the prison system a Black would not reference a White, Hispanic or other raced gang member as his “elder.” Members and associates of the B.G.F. show reverence and allegiance to senior B.G.F. membership of the B.G.F. housed at Pelican Bay State Prison.”

That the terms “brother” and “elders” is commonplace in most every underclass community, regardless of racial competition, and the term “comrade” is universally used in leftist circles of every hue and has been since the 1800’s, we can only assume he has another motivation for such baseless lies.

He goes on to criminalize progressive political parties like the B.R.L.P. (Black Riders Liberation Party), publishers like “Chicago Zine Distro” and legitimate newspapers like the “San Francisco Bay View” as “documented vehicles of dissemination for the training material and communications among members of the B.G.F. prison gang.” If this warped racist perspective was not so demonstrative of the institutional racism which is a structural aspect of the state, perhaps this officer could be laughed off as an ignorant, misinformed crackpot. However, the unfortunate truth of the matter is the one thing all of these things have in common is their connection to New Afrikan (Black) culture, thought and expression.

There are, as we speak, hundreds of crips, bloods, Muslims, Christians and non-affiliates validated as members or associates of the B.G.F. for no other reason than seeking to study, express or embrace their culture, history and political ideas. Though these New Afrikans (Blacks) have no relation to any revolutionary formation, what they do all have in common is their Black skin and their common historical experience with, and development in, capitalist Amerika. The state, unable to bring itself to just admit its hatred of New Afrikan (Black) males and their need to repress any expression or pursuit of self-realization, instead outlaws being “Black” itself–our very culture, history, expression and manner of relating to one another is reduced to a “gang” or “gang activity” and used by the state as a pretext to subject thousands of indefinite SHU torture.

Men who have no affiliation to the B.G.F. or any other progressive revolutionary formation are routinely validated and slammed in the SHU in hopes of breaking their minds. Unfortunately, reflecting many episodes in New Afrikan Liberation history, some New Afrikans (Black) prisoners who have been wrongly validated as freedom fighters have blamed not the state, but the freedom fighters for their being subjected to these torture units; a manifestation of their own under-development which unwittingly aids the state by destroying unity and promoting antagonisms between New Afrikans (Blacks)–all of whom are being subjected to the same racist repression.

Nevertheless, consciousness is directly proportional to oppression and as more of these New Afrikans (Blacks) are confronted with the intensification of these institutional racist practices, the greater their consciousness will become and lead to their turning their antagonism on their actual adversary–the authoritarian police state, as opposed to those who have spent their adult lives resisting the attacks of the capitalist order upon all New Afrikan (Black) people (and have-nots from all cultural groups).

It is possible to change all of this. People must remove, through the ballot box, on a state and federal level, those officials who support the maintaining of a system that produces, indeed encourages, hate and greed! We must replace them with officials who will not subordinate themselves to moneyed interests (who have a stake in maintaining the system that exploits humanity and the planet to enrich themselves). This is the same system that built the torture units called Supermax prisons and the same people who have amassed fortunes by creating and then exploiting human misery.

It is the institutions upon which the authoritarian state and its capitalist masters rely to maintain this hate and greed, that we must focus our efforts on transforming, until the process of progressive social change reaches its logical conclusion. This means we must act to install officials who will oppose the nature and structure of the authoritarian state, officials which will actively wage struggle against racist, sexist, classists homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic and anti-youth thinking and practice within those institutions.

This means restructuring these offices and the electoral process itself, which has been hijacked by moneyed interests. The numeric superiority of the underclass in the context of the democratic process counter-balances, and is capable of overcoming, the moneyed interests of the ruling elite. This will require us to overcome the irrational thinking which deludes many of us into believing our interests, and the interests of the ruling class, are one and the same. Such transformative consciousness is produced only in the crucible of progressive struggle, active participation in organized efforts to eradicate the manifestations of hate and greed demonstrated in such social atrocities as the murder of Michael Brown by Ferguson police, and the criminalization of culture inherent in CDCR’s approach to New Afrikan (Black) men (and others as well) in prison today.

We must begin to view and resist these social contradictions in their interconnections. Our failure to collectively resist actually contributes to the niggerdization of every non-White cultural group by the institutional racism inherent in the authoritarian state.

The current immigration crisis is a prime example of the expansion of this hate. The state, supported by significant swathes of the population is engaged in a blatant anti-Mexican, anti-South American campaign couched in the poorly veiled auspices of “the rule of law.” Indicative of the underlying authoritarian superiority complex of the settler mentality, “Americans” in these border states are holding dehumanizing, anti-immigrant rallies and hurling racial slurs at people (many women and children) whose land the U.S. took by force and violence or which was decimated through imperialist adventures.

Where California now stands is Northern Mexico, part of the traditional home of the Mexica people. Mexicans, who were attacked and driven south by the U.S. military in Amerika’s genocidal bid to fulfill its “manifest destiny”.

In the face of such historical crimes, how then are indigenous people “illegal immigrants”? This history is still being perpetuated in today’s xenophobic venom and congressional policy intent. There is no difference in these forms of hate and the U.S. continued financial and military support for Israeli imposition of Apartheid in Palestine. There is no different in CDCR criminalizing the SF Bay View and the U.S.-backed Egyptian military junta criminalizing journalists from Al Jazeera who were objective in their reporting on the “Muslim brotherhood”. Our failure to oppose these manifestations of hate embolden those who advance these values and ensure they are preserved and reproduced in the next generation.

Based on our society’s current level of development, the only hope we have is to relentlessly struggle against these manifestations of greed and hate in every institution in society, and in so doing, allow the series of illuminations which will flow from such a process of social evolution to reach its logical conclusion: the quantitative increase in the consciousness of the people, leading to a quantitative transformation of society. It is our sincerest hope that each of you challenge yourselves to make such a commitment and join us in forging a more free and just world.

Until we win or don’t lose.

Zaharibu Dorrough, D83611, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B-1L-22, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212;
Heshima Denham, J38283, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B-1L-39, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212;
Kambui Robinson, C82830, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B-1L-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212;
Jabari Scott, H30306, CCI, 4B-7C-209, P.O. Box 1906, Tehachapi CA 93581.

August-October 2014

Typed from handwritten letter by Adrian McKinney for the SF Bay View.
Edited by NCTT webmaster. Posted here on SF Bay View, Oct. 25th, 2014 

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