Kathleen Cleaver, Panama Alba, Soffiyah Elijah, Iyaluua Ferguson speak on the plight of political prisoners in the United States.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
–A Veteran Community Worker Shares Her Thoughts
By Iyaluua Ferguson
I am a Black Nationalist. A citizen of the Republic of New Africa, and I believe firmly that the only true liberation of African people in the united states is the establishment of an independent, sovereign nation in which Black people hold power.
But I was born in the united states, and, at present, I live not in an independent nation run by and for Black people, but I live in the united states. I must admit that the present national presidential election has caught my attention like no other has since the campaign to elect a Black mayor in New York City.
Black folks prevailed back then, and David Dinkins became the first Black mayor of NYC. Problem was Dinkins turned his back on those who elected him. I guess he took our vote for granted; and worked overtime trying to prove he was not a Black mayor, but a mayor who was Black, and held no allegiance to the Black folk in the city.
(Check out his snub of Mother Hale; his deliberate attempt to break the community boycott of a Korean grocery store in Brooklyn whose owner had been accused of assaulting a black customer; his referring to the Puerto Rican Independistas as murderers and terrorists even though they had been pardoned by the then President of the u.s. and Nelson Mandela had requested that they be a part of his celebratory visit to NYC.)
In my opinion, Dinkins’ mayoralty was a disaster for Black folks . It confirmed my belief that so-called Black politicians were indeed the ‘house niggers’ of this huge plantation called the united states.
Barack Obama is most certainly not a Black man running for president of the united states, but a man who is black running for the presidency of this country. But he is of African descent, and as people of African descent, we can only say ‘right on’ as he steamrolls over his opponent. Our experience as the underclass in this country ensures we are going to look up when someone who looks like us is in the position that Barack Obama now fills.
We remember Clarence Thomas, Condeleeza Rice, Roy Innis, and so many other sick Negroes. Barack Obama does not appear to be one of them. But neither is he a Malcolm X. I doubt that he is another Adam Clayton Powell Jr. He does not even appear to be a Charles Barron or a Cynthia McKinney. But most likely he will be the candidate running against John McCain and a third term of Bush and Cheney policies.
If we live in the united states, it would seem we have to vote for Obama. We do not want to continue the Bush policies, which have been so crippling to the poor and overly beneficial to the wealthy. We want jobs for us all so that our young folk do not feel the only choice for a productive life is joining the military. We do not want our young people to continue to be fodder in the cannons of imperialist wars.
We don’t know what Barack will do, but he has presented some thoughts which would mean some change in the ugliness of the policies of this country. He hasn’t spelled out an anti-poverty program like the one proposed by Martin Luther King, a program of full employment, guaranteed annual income, and 100,000 units of affordable housing each year.
But he has spoken out about Social Security reform that rejects privatization and raises the income cap for imposition of the FICA tax, a move that would secure Social Security for decades to come. Obama speaks of removing tax credits for those companies that send our jobs overseas.
He speaks of raising taxes on those who make more than $250,000 annually, and eliminating taxes for seniors who make less than $50,000 a year. Of course, he promises to end the war in Iraq, and bring the troops home by the end of 2009.
His foreign policy includes diplomatic overtures to Venezuela, Iran, and Cuba. Does this mean ending the rhetoric about bringing democracy to the world? This rhetoric is so hypocritical coming from a country that becomes more fascistic by the day, by the hour, by the minute.
Poverty is not confined solely to Black folks. So anything that addresses that evil does indeed have universal appeal. The belligerence of the united states causes pain to the majority of its citizens. Obama’s promise to bring the troops home reaches all corners of the u.s.
However, reparations for slavery is a particularly Black issue. We have not heard a whisper of this from Barack Obama, and I don’t expect we will. Illinois has a moratorium on the death penalty. I don’t know what role Obama played in bringing about the moratorium. I do know that ending the Death Penalty is high on our National Black Agenda.
I have looked to Barack’s web page to find information about his thoughts on the criminal justice system. Found nothing there, and of course the issue of Political Prisoners in the u.s. is a non-existent issue in this campaign, and seemingly a non-existent issue for Barack Obama.
He has been a civil rights attorney, so I can’t believe he is completely unaware of the issue, as so many of our so-called black politicians like to claim. No point talking to him about this now. But, hopefully, we will be all over him on this matter after he is elected.
What will he do? That might well be up to us. Certainly we should be able to get Congressional Hearings on the Counterintelligence Program of the FBI –- Its Impact and Continuing Legacy . The August 1967 FBI memorandum announcing the Black Nationalist Hate Groups program described its goals as:
1. Prevent a coalition of militant black nationalist groups. . .
2. Prevent the rise of a messiah who could unify and electrify the militant nationalist movement...
3. Prevent violence on the part of the black nationalist groups . . .
4. Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining respectability by discrediting them . . .
5. Prevent the long range growth of militant black nationalist organizations especially among youth.
Transparency in government, which Obama speaks about so often, demands that we investigate the vicious COINTELPRO program, which has wreaked such devastation to the Black Liberation Movement, and has resulted in so many unlawful cagings of the best and brightest of our men and women during the 1970s and 1980s.
Brilliant, brave and courageous Black men like Sundiata Acoli, Mutulu Shakur, Jalil Muntaqim, Marshall Eddie Conway, and Mondo we Langa have been imprisoned for twenty-five years or more as a result of COINTELPRO activity.
We are not a stupid people. We know better than to expect miracles, freedom, or liberation if Barack Obama becomes president of the united states. But the huge turnout of the so-called African-american vote will be a major factor in placing Barack in the Oval Office. Obama will do well to take a lesson from the David Dinkins saga.
Don’t take our vote for granted; it is what will get him to the White House, and if he turns it off, it will mean his ticket out of the White House – no second term.
Michelle Obama says she doesn’t want people to vote for her husband just because he is Black. She knows better, and saying it is only being prudent. Easily 90% of the so-called African-american vote for Obama will be because he is Black.
And because he is Black, a renewed hope will rise up in Black youth, the new constituency that Obama brings to the ballot box. If he crushes their hopes, plays ‘plantation politics’, he will leave millions in hopeless despair. That hopelessness can evolve into anger and rage, and Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, and the entire country may well face the reality of Brother Malcolm’s admonition, “the ballot or the bullet.”