Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, a former member of the Black Panther Party, and Black Liberation Army, penned this letter to his late comrade Abdul Majid, who died in 2017 while in prison. This letter although written over 8 years ago, vividly illustrates the political and social forces still at work in the USA to undermine significant and radical change.
On his way back to West Africa during the Obama Regime tenure, circa 2014, Dhoruba Bin-Wahad penned this letter to his Comrade, friend, Abdul Majid, a Political Prisoner and Prisoner of the Covert and racist War waged by the Government of the United States against people of African ancestry to contain and misdirect their centuries old struggle for Human and Civil Rights and economic prosperity. Abdul Majid was a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, who along with his cohort Bashir Hameed died in an American Prison. This letter is taken from Bin-Wahad’s unedited Memoirs, “The Future Past” and according to the author, “was written in response to several questions Abdul had raised with him regarding “Public support [at the time] for Black Political Prisoners in the U.S. despite Obama’s mass deception campaign of post racial equal opportunity Capitalism. Bin-Wahad explains: “The mantra ‘there’s no Black America, or White America – there is only United State’s Of America’ , was Obama’s pre-Trump era Democrat Party version of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” except the jingoist Nationalism came from the White Racist Far Right, in orange-face, not the neo-liberal White Right in Black face – the Black comprador Class enthralled with the achievement of Black fingers on the Nuclear Trigger of American Empire gave unwavering support to Obama’s domestic and foreign policies, including his militarization of the law enforcement at home, and policies of “humanitarian military intervention [regime change] in Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan”.
P.O. Box 500
Elmira, NY. 14902
As-salaamu alaikum Abdul:
I am in receipt of your letters. First let me say that it was good to hear from you directly. Second, I pray your health issues are being addressed. Many people have inquired at the prison regarding your health status and the treatment (or lack thereof) that is accorded to you. I am keeping a positive mind in this regard and hope that your condition is improving.
I think you know Abdul that the major issues you wanted to draw my attention to in both of your communications are not really part of any public narrative and debate addressing how do we actually survive the erosion and collapse of “empire” and rabid systematic repression and the control of the National-Security-State over our lives.
Key to projecting an analysis of the NSS and its political mitt-game of “democratic fascism” is a broad based principled abolitionist movement. I use the term “abolitionist” because the duty of revolutionary activists and their progressive allies (who are for the most part essentially “reformists”) who have an existential and political attachment to “American” exceptionality. This is a socio-cultural mindset with its basis in institutional and non-institutional “ racist white supremacy” and it’s a pathology of racial “white skin privilege” which operates on daily basis and informs white America’s long running monologue on Race with itself. Moreover, it is the power of racist reactionary elites, their financial influence over the major political parties that sets the parameters of debates, issues, and determines the relative effectiveness of reforms.
In short, Abdul, we have to transform this new “season of discontent” into a new abolitionist movement and challenge at each step, on every issue, the very concept of reformism as a means for bringing about significant changes in America’s domestic and foreign policies. To help deconstruct this “democratic fascism” we need to employ the paltry “democratic” means still available to our people to dismantle the fascist dichotomy of right-wing oriented and subsidized Police Power. It is the political power of the police that must be curtailed and supplanted by the political power of the people in marginalized and disenfranchised communities. The limited means available to achieve this are rapidly dwindling, by this I mean local mobilization campaigns to decentralize public safety. By “public safety” is meant Law Enforcement, Fire Services & Emergency 1st Responders, EMS – not just police. As you know we proposed a referendum on “community control of police” back in 68 – and it was this position of the BPP (and its class analysis the led also to calling for a United Front Against Fascism, formation of the NCCFs, and Conceive of the Rainbow Coalition, and held a People’s “Constitutional Convention” in Philly after the raid there on the office. That really endeared us to Hoover and his minions. We shot to the top of the list of COINTELPRO targets in less the 8 months because of these positions and attempted organization of the “New Left” behind radical Black leadership – not because of our Free Breakfast programs and Free Health Clinics. Quiet as its kept, our Free Breakfast and Health care programs could only be attacked by the armed agents of state through media manipulation and public denigration of our image, a process using their “Ghetto Snitch’” program to amplify the voices of anti-poverty pimps, clergy, Black professionals, and oddly enough, narrow Black “cultural” nationalists (for whom melanin content of one’s skin was of more significance than an individual’s politics) who assisted with alacrity. The net result was that the BPP’s transition from mere reactive self-defense posture to racist attack – to pro-active self-defense against racist repression. BLA, though initially an activist response to violent state repression and police terrorism was not principally supported because the class contradictions between the “Civil Rights” and the “Black Power (Liberation) Movement’s, ultimately moving toward a political center that exclusively pursued “reformism”, i.e. “Black faces in high places” within a racist system as preferable to the difficult task of establishing independent political control of the institutions that impact our lives – especially citizen’s control over the armed agents of the state.
It was the fears harbored by the comprador class of Black Race leaders that emerged from the repressive mayhem of the late sixties (mayhem bolstered by Liberal reforms and the “War on Poverty”) that caused what was left of a radical movements by 1970 to abandon even perfunctory recognition of our right to self-defense. Ultimately this would lead to the abandonment of the “armed front” and emergence of a newly minted Black elected officials and community activists, many of whom immediately embraced the bogus “War on Drugs” that concealed the militarization of Law Enforcement and institutionalized its racist approach to policing in America: stop & frisk, Sweeps through Poor Neighborhoods, unwarranted search and seizures, and of course police murder of Black people. Mass incarceration would follow like night follows the day. The current crop of political punks and messianic militants were on their Posts when the prisons and jails were filling up with Black and Latino flesh, and now, the same “leaders” who cheer led the “War on Drugs” act as though “mass incarceration” was achieved despite their opportunism, connivance, and distrust of the lower class poor. My point in raising all this to try and convey to you the sorry state of affairs out here and complete and utter subservience of African Americans to the agenda of empire, especially under a political stooge of a mixed-race President.
When we talk about “reparations” building institutions of community control, independent political empowerment, Freeing our Political Prisoners we are not really engaged in a political narrative within our community with those who may differ on methodology but not on strategic vision. The elements of the “deep state” constitute the fundamental opposition to radical change in America. They are stakeholders in the dichotomy of power in this country and not friends of advocates of radical overthrow of the anti-democratic Two Party electoral college system, least of all brave enough to call for the unconditional release of those “convicted” of cop shootings.
These elements, and they are considerably well entrenched, often express support for Police before they will exhibit solidarity toward PPs and their supporters. This sentiment is consistent across the spectrum of progressives and Liberal reformists, who will only bring themselves to support a PP because they believe in the PPs “innocence” thereby reducing the issue of political repression to a mistake, and transitive injustice. This misperception must be changed before any future campaigns can successfully proceed to the level of amnesty for all of our PPs. Building a ethical and moral consensus, (functional unity) across issue related struggles, among all supporters of justice for PPs, and within reformist movements that explicitly recognize our movement’s history and its deep roots in our people’s past resistance movements and organized campaigns for social justice, political power, and Human Rights (nationally and internationally) is far more immediate task than advocating Reparations in the abstract – that is to say, without a mass movement(critical)constituency (favoring radical institutional abolition rather than meaningless reforms) or without a Black populist basis ( Racial consciousness as Sovereign Thought, e.g., rejection of reform in favor of deconstructing exploitive, repressive, and political controls of white supremacy from the street up – not from top down).
Just mobilizing and forging alliances and building support networks sharing a singular strategic vision and agenda to oppose this system of “democratic fascism” seems beyond the capacity of most activists around the country and definitely beyond their funding capabilities. Indeed, Abdul, Popular rage over manifest injustices, from the Martin verdict to the assault on Black voter rights, to “racial profiling” has been, and continues to be, siphoned off into deceptive “legalistic” struggles against the straw dogs arrayed for the consumption of the Kool-Aid Drinkers by a “good-cop/bad-cop” Republican-Democrat narrative. Only the Deep-State players, E. Franklin Frazier’s professional “black bourgeoisie” and Moguls of Black pop Thugged-out counter-culture, along with those spooked bureaucrats sitting by the door, have access to BRs from Corporate sources and Political machine endorsement. We know they won’t throw no bricks – but some might pop up with enough heart to at least think “Gangster” for real . And don’t whisper condemnation of, or allude to, the racist American krypto-zionist “watchdogs” who quietly pressure, anoint and delegitimize Black leaders and misappropriate progressive politics, least you be labeled “anti-Semitic” or a “Black Nazis”. There’s no room at the feeding trough of Black opportunists for Revolutionary Pan-Africanism. This is what has to be changed.
Abdul, if you think the Hadith that said in the last days the Masjids would be full but devoid of leaders (guidance) has come true, then think about this: Never before has the illegal racist repression and police violence been so evident and provable and yet the victims and targets of that repression more powerless. A whole new crop of “gate-keepers”, bald head Cory Booker looking politicos with names like Jamel, and Malik, front for entrench business interests that have corralled ‘de Hood for decades; real estate gentrification to municipal and state contract allocations, all the while, these perhaps “misguided” responsible leaders have translated community frustration and disaffection into personal political capital – even stardom. This array of reactionary political forces are not unique to here. Having lived in Africa for the past 14 years I assure you the connections between the Diaspora, Africa and US policies, especially between expats and Empire is reflective to the state of Afro-centric consciousness.
Simply put, Black Capitalists – Elite philanthropic missions of compassion, evince a counter Pan-Africanism best described as “Trans-Africanism”. The latter more a reflection of the entrepreneurial politics of Leon Sullivan’s African-American/Africa bridge building efforts between African-American business community and Africa’s reactionary political elite and comprador class than an ideological position.
Trans-Africanism is a perspective the U.S. state department fully endorses and often facilitate because the “Trans-Africanism” of the Sullivan model blunted the influence of Black militancy, and Pan-Africanism on African youth caught up in the music and style of African-Americans. There is little appreciation of this dichotomy of class because its blurred by Afro-centric cultural identification. So few peep the game. Africa has been re-balkanized into ersatz regional economic/military alliances all under, but independent of the AU. Our struggle for dual citizenship has always been substantially side-tracked by the geopolitics of these “states” and their relationship to Empire.
The hypocrisy of the US and Europe asking Africa’s political elite to develop and democratize while cutting levels of non-military international aid and increasing weapons and military training to the continent’s Armies does not seem to have registered with African-Americans, neither those (Pan-Africans) who claim solidarity with the current crop of African leaders, or those elected to public office. This lack of outspoken opposition to US militarization of Africa, especially under the Obama administration is inexcusable and attributable to the uncritical and unprincipled support of the Obama regime by African-Americans, especially the new Gate-Keepers of Empire. Moreover, Obama’s policy of destabilization and “democratic regime change” of governments suggest that there is little real commitment to developing human resources and a new “partnership” with Africa.
But Black capitalists and Black Democrats are silent on US African policy while Pan-Africans and anti-imperialist, anti-war movements insist otherwise: they say the U.S. needs to redirect the focus away from strengthening Africa’s military capacity, coopting ethnic and national elites and more toward promoting development of human resources. Of course the U.S. government ignore this “marginalized” voice of dissent for the most part, but is nonetheless not adverse to persecuting and prosecuting those activists and groups it deems an existential threat to the “Garrison State” mentality (of White America) craftily manufactured in the wake of 911 and that conceals the predatory military diplomacy of the American Empire in the Sheep’s mantle of Peace maker and purveyor of democratic ideals.
Maybe you can appreciate my point of view Abdul. Until the political influence and power of Public Safety is taken under the control of the community, the ability to free you and others will remain elusive and self-hypnotic, delusional. We can succeed of course, but it will take resources, and clear principled politics and cogent analysis.
I hope that upon my next visit to NY I can get up there to see you.
I would never see or hear from Abdul’s again. This would be our last communication. He Died in Prison April 3rd 2017, after 47 years in Prison and inadequate Medical Treatment.