Help Us Develop an Independent, Black Political Party
Help Us Develop an Independent, Black Political Party
February 2021 / 6321 AFK
Two open letters to friends, republished by Kuumba Report
Happy New Year maybe. 2020 was terrible, particularly for black people in the US. I think that actually having a happy new year would require serious personal and collective growth. Growth requires a critical evaluation of the past in order to avoid repeating mistakes and [sic] one makes plans for the future. In that vein of reflecting on the past, I want to share with you a short video (9 min) of Michael B. Jordan reciting a famous speech by the Chicago Black Panthers’ Chairman, Fred Hampton. I pulled out these three statements to give you a sense of the speech.
“We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity.”
“We say you don’t fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.”
“I’m telling you that we’re living in a sick society. And anybody that endorses integrating into this sick society before it’s cleaned up is a man who’s committing a crime against the people. If you walk past a hospital room and see a sign that says “Contaminated” and then you try to lead people into that room, either those people are mighty dumb, you understand me… cause if they weren’t, they’d tell you that you are an unfair, unjust leader that does not have your followers’ interests in mind.”
-Chairman, Fred Hampton
Chairman Fred Hampton was assassinated in his bed by the Chicago PD at 21 years old. At that time in 1969, Chicago’s City Council and Mayoralty were controlled by the local, post-Civil Rights, Democratic Party as it is today. In my opinion, Hampton was right and still is today: Integrating into a sick society and its sick political values hasn’t paid off in fifty one years. Fifty one years later, we still don’t even have enough equality to be killed by police and hospitals at the same rate as white people. Fifty one years later, the median net wealth of black households is trending toward $0 dollars. Fifty one years later, the Democratic National Convention rejected the Movement for Black Lives’ proposal of the Breathe Act while the largest civil rights demonstrations in US history were in full swing. (Joe Biden and Kamala Harris don’t support the Breathe Act either.) I think that continuing to subordinate the political demands of black people, indigenous people and working class people to the priorities of capitalist, primarily white political parties is likely going to make 2021 as catastrophic for black people as was 2020. Asking Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi to support the Breathe Act (or anything that black people, poor people or the biosphere need) again is not a “strategy” that our leaders should have the audacity put forward in 2021.
Fortunately, this Kwanzaa, many of us spent some time reflecting on the principle of self-determination. Being self-determined would include coming to our own decisions about community safety, imperialism, capitalism, socialism, racism, ecology, etcetera and creating our own agendas. I’m part of an organization that’s working on this in our state. Ujima People’s Progress Party (UPP), a black, working class political party is planning a campaign to achieve ballot access in Maryland. If successful, UPP would become Maryland’s first, black, working class political party. (Roughly 30% of Maryland’s population is black.) No matter what state you’re in, any success that we have would probably produce positive spillover effects on independent, self-determining, black politics in your state. So I would be grateful for your involvement no matter where you live. If you’re not already connected to UPP and you support more choices for black voters, then hit me back and we’ll talk about the ways that you could consider supporting us.
…I hope that I’m communicating how imperative it is that black voters get greater ideological diversity on our ballots.
With the same old ideology in charge, 2021 is going to be as lethally anti-black as the last one. Black lives could matter, but they don’t because, fifty one years later, too many black leaders feel that a black political agenda is less important than the Democratic Party’s priorities. Too many black leaders feel that a back agenda is less important than the organized wealth of white liberals. Black lives will matter when black people link up, overcome our internalized racism enough to develop independent black power. Over 70 million voters just opted to re-elect the most overtly racist US President in recent history. And the incoming President won by trying to win over those same voters. If we don’t try something else, then in fifty one more years, my grandkids will have another lifetime of marching and asking America for equality to look forward to. Let’s try something else.
Happy new year “if you’re willing to fight for it”,
An update on the drive for a black, working class-led political party in Maryland
One of our party leaders, Nnamdi Lumumba was recently interviewed by Dr. Jared Ball, a media and journalism professor here in Baltimore. This is a very important, 18-minute excerpt from that interview. It includes Nnamdi explaining why our party needs ballot access and our theory of power (within and outside of electoral politics). If you’re not sure about why black/African people in Maryland and the US need independent, political power, then I urge you to take a listen. And please consider making a contribution to our effort for ballot access.
(Audio excerpted and republished by Black Agenda Radio)
I’ve been thinking that, ultimately, the success of this effort will come down to our own capacity to trust primarily black institutions as much as we trust primarily white institutions.
Can black people trust ourselves and other black people with independent, political leadership? Or is our internalized racism too deep for us to invest in a self-determined ideological vision?
Do we only trust a Colin Powell, a Barack Obama, a Kamala Harris or a Brandon Scott because their brown skin is backed up by the capitalist, imperialist, ecocidal politics of primarily white organizations?
Is our awareness of radical black politics so lacking and caricatured that we assume that a black-led party is just a bunch of “hoteps” who want revenge against white people?
From where does our endless confidence in the Democratic Party come – despite its persistent racism, over-policing, war and general shortcomings? And when will we start to keep that tireless energy for our own ideas and institutions?
I think that the answers to such questions are first answered on an individual basis. If, as individuals, we are going to wait until independent, black politics are embraced by the New York Times, CNN, Bernie Sanders, the NAACP, by mainstream America or by wealthier black people, then no, this initiative is going nowhere. But the reason why our organization even exists and why independent black power is even a possibility is because here in Maryland and around the world there have always been (and always will be) individuals who look to ourselves to affirm our own humanity and worth in spite of the violent exploitation that dominates the world. Many of those individuals got organized behind revolutionary ideas, despite the odds, which is what is happening right now in Maryland. If you’re one of those individuals, please make a contribution and let’s get organized!