[News] An Open Letter from Original Black Panther Party Members to Black (Hip-Hop) Artists Who Have an Interest in Our Community
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jun 12 10:15:21 EDT 2020
https://imixwhatilike.org/2020/06/10/bppopenlettertohiphop/ An Open Letter
from Original Black Panther Party Members to Black (Hip-Hop) Artists Who
Have an Interest in Our Community (T.I., KILLER MIKE, CARDI B, KANYE WEST,
BEYONCE’, JAY-Z, P-DIDDY, LUDACRIS, 50-CENT, and others)June 10, 2020
Greetings and Solidarity to each of you. In recognition of your individual
voice, influence, and cultural following among current generations of Black
people/Africans in the Diaspora and on the continent, we salute you.
While we only know you from the public domain, we know that many of you
come from backgrounds where you faced poverty, police brutality, lack of
healthcare and other forms of oppression like most Black people. We all
recognize that we are in a watershed period of economic and government
failure, a pandemic and now a resistance movement from which things will
never emerge the same.
What we all do in this period will directly impact the fortunes, survival
and freedom dreams of Black People, and others around the world who suffer
from the same oppression. Whether its South American Favelas, South African
Shanty Towns, Palestinian territories or the Black urban ghettoes of racist
America, capitalism and white supremacy has turned the entire world into a
ghetto for the profits of a few. So, we should pay attention to each other,
because here, in the heart of racist America we are all we have, and along
with our true allies, are truly all we need.
Individually we who write this letter are former members of the original Black
Panther Party <https://imixwhatilike.org/?s=black+panther+party>,
co-founded in 1966 by the late *Huey P. Newton
and *Bobby Seale* in Oakland, California. We were targets of the FBI’s
infamous Counter Intelligence Program (codename *COINTELPRO
<https://imixwhatilike.org/?s=cointelpro>*) which killed many of our
comrades, including *Fred Hampton
<https://imixwhatilike.org/2020/02/28/fredhamptonfilm/>, Mark Clark,* and
numerous other Panthers and revolutionary freedom fighters. We are veterans
of government search and destroy missions that forced our beloved Comrade
Assata Shakur into exile. We are former Black Political Prisoners who
spent decades in U.S. prisons, like our comrades Russell Maroon Shoatz
<https://imixwhatilike.org/?s=shoatz>, Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, *Sundiata
Acoli <https://imixwhatilike.org/?s=acoli>, Jalil Muntaqim
Abdul-Jamal <https://imixwhatilike.org/?s=mumia>* who are still locked down
today. In short, we were on the front line of government efforts to kill
and destroy the Black radical movements for civil/human rights including
the right to self-determination.
Some of us were also racist law enforcement’s worst nightmare, armed
combatants in the revolutionary Black underground, the *Black Liberation
Army (BLA) <https://imixwhatilike.org/2017/05/13/10736/?>*. Much of our
history in our people’s struggle has been kept away from you and seemingly
unavailable to your generation as you reinvent what was done in the past.
Our people’s enemies haven’t changed, circumstances and conditions have.
History never repeats itself – but it damn sure can rhyme.
The question is where do we, Black people, oppressed peoples, go from here?
What is to be done? Make no mistake, we are still at war. A war that began
when, as *Malcolm <https://imixwhatilike.org/?s=malcolm+x>* said, “Plymouth
Rock landed on us” and it has continued to this day unabated.
It is our duty as revolutionary freedom fighters to pass on lessons,
wisdom, knowledge and experiences to the next generation of freedom
fighters, cultural workers and activists. In that manner, an oppressed
people can resist domination from one generation to the next without
reinventing failures, pitfalls, or the mistakes of the previous generation.
It is our enemy’s job to prevent this, and isolate one generation from the
other. It is their duty to denigrate the history of militant and radical
traditions and burnish the history of integrationist who think we can
simply vote our way out of this problem. It is for this reason that we
have stepped forward at this neo-fascist moment in history driven by the
current crisis of capitalist culture, an ongoing pandemic and the now
renewed attention and massive demonstrations brought on by ongoing police
murders in our community.
We have chosen to focus this letter on you because our enemies constantly
target you to help “calm” the people down. They hope your new class status
will outweigh your racial and class analysis. You have a chance to prove
them wrong and with your resources and influence you can be crucial to the
collective survival of our people. Tattoos, expensive cars and private jets
don’t inoculate anyone from a disease and don’t render you bullet proof. We
have to collectively provide for our own human agency and not delude
ourselves into thinking it’s safer to integrate into a maligned system of
greed and dehumanization.
Some may say we as Panther veterans are not the Black people you should be
seen talking to. Niggas should know their place we’ve been told and this is
one reason that powerless Black folks have sports figures, actors,
musicians and bought-off politicians as their public opinion makers. The
voices of the disenfranchised is only heard when they rage against the
machine that has ground down their lives.
We have all been encouraged by the energy of the Black masses and our
allies in protesting the murder of George Floyd, but as each of you are
well aware the murder and brutality visited upon our people is nothing
aberrational or new. The butchering, torture, and dehumanization of Black
people extends back to the days of bullwhips, castrations and mass rape on
the plantations of America’s European “founding fathers” and continues to
this day. This is the legacy from which modern law enforcement in America
derived its overarching purpose, the protection of property and wealth, not
people — especially not Black people. No amount of training, social
sensitivity, counseling, or smaller police forces will change the current
impact of this history on law enforcement. Only our control of public
safety in our communities will break this historical context for modern law
enforcement. This begins with decentralization of the police, and community
control of public safety.
This season of political struggle is indeed about the “Ballot and the
Bullet.” To organize the former, (ballot) all progressive and radical
forces in America need to come together in a United Front Against Fascism
and the militarized police state. This is what the BPP did at the height of
the tumultuous sixties, resulting in delaying the outright consolidation of
right-wing racist takeover of American foreign and domestic policy.
We must also look beyond solutions that are strictly based on legislative
reform, voting, or individual capitalist enterprises. Black folks must
survive institutional racist paradigms of power and exercise political and
social self-determinant power. The public platforms each of you have can go
a long way in creating this tactical and strategic organizing vision. With
this in mind we ask you who have a certain sway over the attitudes and
minds of today’s Black youth to do the following.
- Let’s meet and talk through a strategy based on liberating Black
People and our respective roles.
- Let us create a Pan-African Refugee and Relief Agency where we become
our own first responders in times of natural or man-made
- Help create consortium so we can develop new a cooperative economic
system where ownership is shared and is directed towards the needs of our
people/workers, not consumerist enterprises.
- Support radical and revolutionary Black organizations that have a
history of accomplishment and institution building in our community that is
independent of major corporate donations, government grants or foundation
- Through your media reach support the current rebellion in the streets
and mass organizing for radical change.
- If you are opposed to property destruction then call for massive
demonstrations at key government and private instillations and give free
concerts to ensure large numbers of people come out.
- Work with us and others to create and fund an independent Black
political platform and candidates with radical demands for Black control
and redistribution of this country’s wealth and reparations.
- Fight for the demilitarization and the decentralization of the police
where the local community through local boards control the hiring, firing
and disciplining of police in their community.
- Let us create a system of not only a new policing paradigm but one
where we create a community restorative justice and end the prison
These are just some of the things you/we can do to create a united Black
Liberation Front to challenge our oppressive conditions in the united
states and erase the class divide between the overwhelming majority of our
people and those few like you who have some wealth and influence. This is
all our opportunity to do what’s best for our people and be on the right
side of history.
Original Black Panthers Members,
*KATHLEEN CLEAVER, SEKOU ODINGA, CLEO SILVERS, JAMAL JOSEPH, YASMEEN MAJID,
VICTOR HOUSTON, PAULA PEEBLES, BILAL SUNNI ALI, JIHAD MUMIT, DHORUBA
BIN-WAHAD, KIM HOLDER, HAROLD WELTON, HAROLD TAYLOR, ARTHUR LEAGUE, RASHAD
BYRDSONG, KHALID RAHEEM.*
Supported by Community Movement Builders
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