“In the Spirit ”
Longtime political prisoner and prisoner of war, member of the Black Panther Party and combatant of the Black Liberation Army, Mzee (Elder) Jalil Muntaqim has once again arisen to remind us of our gross negligence as a people in truly fighting for the freedom and very lives of our political prisoners and prisoners of war. The sustained effort of the United States Empire to imprison and enslave social revolutionaries (such as Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Cinque Magee, Sundial Acoli and scores of others) because of their actions against injustice in this country stands as one of our most important battlegrounds against deliberate human rights violations carried out by Departments of “Correction” throughout Amerika.
Countless men and women in state and federal gulags known as D.O.C.’s and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, sit voiceless as the state power psychologically and physically batters them for the crime of daring to unseat an unjust system which turned their very lives, and the lives of their people, into objects not recognizably belonging to human beings. These men and women saw fit to stand up for all of those individuals who could not and would not. And as the remnants of the scores who lost their lives in this struggle, they deserve every effort by those capable to work and contribute to rewarding their contributions to human society by bringing about a movement to secure their freedom.
As a marginally proud recipient of public education (said between clenched teeth and furrowed brow). I am called into remembrance of the mighty nation which was born in the sparks of rebellion for freedom, equality, and justice every 4th of July. Although this date has never truly moved my soul in the ways in which August 22nd, 1831/August 21st,1971 and the revolutionary commemoration of Agosti Weusi (Black August) have, one must be in awe as to the possibilities inherent in justice. However, the time comes when the question arises as to how we can reconcile the beauty of July 4th alongside the wretched conditions imposed upon New Afrikans in North Amerika since Jamestown, Virginia 1619, and The Native First Nations before us. Where one must question if the words… “The doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.” (1) Are in fact the rights of all women and men within the political confines of Amerikkka? In many ways the United States government has been successful in criminalizing the very principles, moral convictions, and political motivations which itself used to erect this constitutional republic. And has doubly become successful in convincing the vast citizenship of Amerikkka that the only political crimes are those which damage the international prestige of Amerikkkan moral authority and leadership (namely the crime of “whistle blowing”).
It is ironically disgusting that freedom fighters and political dissidents who challenged the United States brutish and oppressive modus operandi are forced to languish in various dungeons across the empire for engaging in acts whose moral foundations are immortalized in the Declaration of Independence, and whose legal foundations are incased in the U.S. Constitution. It is likewise a tragedy, however expected, that Amerikkkan officials and government agencies expect that these women and men will be forgotten and die in obscurity. Die as common criminals. Die without passing on their visions and beliefs of a freer and better world. Die without inspiring others with their examples. Die without so much as a peep from the people whom they loved more than their own survival. Well… I’m here to tell you in my best Lauryn Hill voice, “It all falls down”.
As National Prison Coordinator of the George Jackson University, a New Afrikan man who has been inspired by the personal examples of George Lester Jackson, Sundiate Acoli, Mzee Jalil A. Muntaqim, Mzee Sekou Odinga and Mze Dr. Mutulu Shakur, I am giving my voice support of the many activist and combatants who have for too long been denied the international and domestic designation of prisoners of politics and war. The deafening silence which has served to aid the United States government in the systematic assassination by incarceration of our best liberation fighters must itself be put to death.
Our future freedoms, whether real or conceptualized, may very well be secured and protected by the initiation of the struggle to free those who sought to free us. And in the spirit of Mama-Mzee Harriet Tubman, one can scarcely undertake the freeing of slaves before the realization that one is a slave.
To Mzee Muntaqim: They have failed to imprison your spirit, example and idea— which contuse to feed the New Afrikan Independence Movement, to which I belong. Pendo yote yangu, mjoli.
Kasim O. Gero
An inmate exposes a vicious system
Gay and trans prisoners plagued by bigotry
by Kasim Gero
Freedom Socialist newspaper, Vol. 36, No. 5, October-November 2015
Within the caged world of prison, out of sight and out of mind of LGBTQ activists on the other side of the bars, are gay prisoners. Without representation, without a voice, they suffer unthinkable cruelties, not only at the hands of bigoted or ignorant inmates, but also from prison authorities who have taken it upon themselves to spread lies and encourage brutish practices fueled by their homophobia and institutionalized bigotry.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), enacted in 2003, falls greatly short of the need to aggressively eradicate anti-gay oppression and aggression. Prison rape continues to take place, especially of suspected or open homosexuals and trans inmates, and continues to be ignored.
How it works.
The most damaging homophobia comes from the top — prison management. And its most powerful weapon is called Administrative Segregation (AdSeg) or Security Housing Unit (SHU) — official sounding words for solitary confinement. Prison bosses define AdSeg and SHU as administrative, not punitive measures. This just means they can legally isolate a human being based on a prisoner’s classification, rather than as punishment for breaking some institutional rule.
Straight prisoners are also put into AdSeg for unproved rule violations or for supposedly being involved in a gang. If they recant gang life and make a deal, they can get out of the dreaded solitary confinement. Gay and trans inmates have no way out. They’re permanently classified. And the purpose of segregating them is to prevent them from practicing their sexuality.
This is the practice at various prisons, the Maryland Department of Corrections (DOC) in general, and Prince George’s County Correctional Center in particular. Trans brothers and sisters are placed in segregation — punished for their gender and sexual orientation. That means 24 hours locked down, with only one hour for recreation and shower. They are also denied due process to the very bureaucratic and bigoted decision-makers, are deprived of their constitutional right to access the law library or legal material. This can mean solitary confinement for the rest of their lives in prison.
Fear and lies.
Being openly gay or trans is obviously dangerous. So trying to keep it secret is understandable, but nearly impossible.
Another weapon of the top DOC is gross misinformation. Guards tell inmates that AIDS comes from saliva and same-sex intercourse, or simply any physical contact, or that sexually transmitted diseases are automatic outgrowths of homosexuality, etc. Bigoted religious beliefs of some officers and inmates, whether Christian fundamentalist or Nation of Islam, teach that AIDS is sent by god to punish “deviants.” These types regularly seek to destroy reputations and families and job opportunities by pointing the finger at homosexual “sinners.”
Inmates can be outright fired if suspected of being gay. The level of backstabbing is a part of the general prison culture, but the degree of bigotry and hatred used by inmates to steal a job or through a stream of gossip is unbearable. When a gay inmate has one of the preferred jobs — like teaching and tutoring or kitchen work — the level of bigotry called upon to have that inmate removed is far more poisonous than any other.
The inability to escape this social damnation from fellow prisoners and guards alike creates an environment so agonizing that suicide pales in comparison to the social death from homophobia. Particularly stigmatized are trans and Black inmates. My close friendship with a Black gay comrade provides me with a window into that desperation to escape unrelenting attacks.
Prison practices of criminalizing single-sex activity and prohibiting contraceptives and ways of sexual protections while in prison feeds the system of baiting and oppression.
DOC divide and conquer.
Lies and ignorance continue to be the main driving force behind homophobic bigotry in prison. It’s a little like the way that, outside these walls, the news media equates political militancy with terrorism. Inside, behind bars, homosexuality is equated to a dread disease or perverse evil, both highly contagious. On top of that, some Black prisoners see it as a conspiracy to destroy the Black family. Fear is a mighty weapon in the hands of the DOC, which benefits, of course, from keeping inmates divided and suspicious of each other.
The prevailing idea in corrections is that prisoners are no longer human beings, especially not LGBTQ prisoners. But as sure as our humanity cannot be cut off, neither can our sexuality. A very few institutions still permit conjugal visits. In addition to hetero sex there is bi-sex, trans-sex, etc. Instead of making all options voluntary and safe, Departments of Corrections promote intolerance of LGBTQ people and comrades. In reality, DOC is the diseased deviant, for outlawing the desires, choices and preferences — the very humanity — of LGBTQ people.
Protest and solidarity.
The time is now for gay, lesbian, trans, bi-sexual and questioning brothers and sisters who’ve been cast into the depths of this country’s degrading corrections system to be seen and heard. To no longer be afraid. These voices have for too long been muffled by the pillow of oppression that is the U.S. judicial system and its Departments of Corrections. Two institutions that practice homosexual hatred and sexual intolerance within these dungeons with impunity.
The heart of workers in prison continues to beat in support of those fighting for $15 an hour minimum wage and much more. We stand with communities organizing against racist police brutality, and discrimination against desperate immigrants, with hunger strikers across the U.S. fighting for human rights. And we on the inside say firmly, in unison, an injury to one is an injury to all!
Kasim Gero is an activist with George Jackson University, which coordinates prison educational programs. Contact him at 343142/2410253, P.O. Box 700, Jessup, MD 20794.
The Poverty of Language by Gero Kasim
Oakland, Staten Island, S. Carolina, Ferguson, Balt. Md. And all across this nation; internationally particularly, Britain law enforcement is sending young and old black, brown, native, working class women and men a very close, clear, and open message: If we appear and you run you will be shot down. If we give you an unlawful order and you disobey you will be beaten, tased, or choked. If you pretend to know you rights you will be brutalized and terrorized. The commonality of cop brutality and excessive force has so become a part of our national existence, which we almost expect to see or hear of another incident of criminal misbehavior, murder, or assault by those hired to so call protect and serve. The frequency of these criminal acts have never been in-frequent. The historical record of this bourgeois democracy is one wrought with violence perpetuated against any and all who are of color. Beginning with the landing of those first ships in the Caribbean, the sorrow felt by natives, the resulting slavery of the Afrikans, the internship of Japanese people, oppression of Chinese peoples, the culture of racism, and xenophobia, as well as the entrenched jingoism of American bourgeois democracy and the United states has been a breakdown of fascist xenophobic chauvinism (now a days called exceptionalism).
So when it comes to the perspective of black, brown, and red/Native peoples concerning the recent murders and denials of justice to us, we must truly say that we have long past been surprised and that those who might actually be surprised must certainly be either blind peoples of color who listen to far too much conservative media outlets and are too far removed from the conditions existing in our projects and our ghettos or those whites/European Americans who are oblivious and wish to remain so to the continued legacy of racism and oppression being perpetuated by the mere existence of their white privilege and supremacy here in the western hemisphere and around the world.
Why does it seem so difficult to expose the existing legacy of American racism, contemporarily, its obvious manifestations in current events? Because there has been cultivated in this country a veil of not just ignorance of such issues as racist institutions and the way in which racism can be practiced individually and institutionally. The ability of media outlets, police agencies, and the federal government to tell its own stories and to sell its own narrative nationally and internationally is an active hindrance and outright denial of truth-telling in the historical American context.
When a black man is gunned down in Amerika, inside of our snug confines of internalized colonies called ghettos, there exist in law enforcement a culture a culture that reinforces the belief in American democracy. An Amerikan democracy that has lied cheated and exploited all victims with the intent to point a picture of American righteousness. In this practice we witness, as in our latest police/fascist murder in S. Carolina a propensity to plant and tamper with evidence and create a story conducive to the heroic officer confronting the black aggressive brute who threatens an officer and therefore forcing him to respond with deadly force to maintain his own life. I ask you, who does this sound like? It reminds myself of the claims advanced by officer. Darren Wilson, and of course decorated and respected officer of his community who has been confronted with an inhumanly strong black man. A black man who had a bright future ahead of him and his family must have surely deserved to die in cold blood due to the legacy of black social inferiority and the white perception of innate black aggression.
In this case, the historical record of black mammies, ninnies, sambos, and minstrel shows are the only images white society is willing to accept with a black face. As entertainers, performers, singers, sports aficionados, and jesters for American laughter and ridicule there remains a spot for blacks in the realm of acceptance, wealth, and praise. What can never be accepted in post racial Amerika is the image of an independent black men and women aware of his/her rights and a black family aware of its non-inclusion into America’s educational “superiority”; the black awareness of the existence of racism. In short there must never be an allowance to developing black uni-thoughts of black unity.
A post-racial Amerika, post only in its ability to effectively present itself as a society which has eradicated individual racist displays. The Jena 6 and Trayvon Martin serve to shatter these myths. And yet as true as these incidents are in demonstrating the continued racist legacy of Amerika, the ability to provide these incidents within are of exception is equal only to its ability to conceal its institutional racism.
In respect to institutional racism it is necessary to point out the deliberate disparities between officer (white) and victim (black), oppressor (white/capitalist or bourgeois) and oppressed (peoples of color/working class) character representation within the media of this beacon of democratic morality.
In New York City two cops are assassinated, “murdered in cold blood”. The attacker, a coward”. The act, “deplorable” and “cowardly.” In Ferguson two cops are wounded by gunfire. The shooting, “disgusting”. The suspect according to our dear Attorney General, Eric Holder, is a “punk”. However, police are commonly referred to as “officers”, former officers referred to as “Mr.” or “Ms.” So and so- particularly after they have gunned down, chocked, tased to death, or viciously beat a member of our community. Never are these killer cops called murderers, killers, criminals, predators, or obstructers of justice. Our young men and women are tried in the media before charges are filed and the public is injected with outrage from the news, pundits, we are implored to wait on the justice system; let the investigation be completed before jumping to conclusions; to take into account the difficult occupation of law enforcement.
The devaluation of black life in Amerikan society has been accepted, and at the same time so was understood that even black representatives of our community have adopted language that surely is of our oppressors perception.
The idea that we have a mistrust of police officers is so grossly negligent in its description of the problems facing our people and class in Amerika. Our democratic order of North Amerika has been one of refusal and repression. Our brothers of Palestine know this as Israel is bringing to fruition in its state power to suppress their rights to sovereignty.
This has been the reality of black people in the U.S. We have been not equal citizens under the law or in actual life. As detailed in our dear Sister Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, this nation has fashioned an intricate system that has been unrivaled in its ability of continuity. This continuity realizing itself in the continued oppression of black peoples of this land (and beyond).
What should be discussed is not our mistrust of armed forces of Amerikan state brutality and viciousness, but the undeserving forgiveness for a system that has consistently shown people of color its backside. And when we were so lucky to see the front, it came with a gun, a rope, a smile, and a promise, a promise that after this happened, “it wouldn’t happen again.”
I call fowl on the language of mistrust, and charge the U.S. with human rights, civil rights, and political rights violation and a blatant denial of reparations for one of the world’s most visibly oppressed nations: The Black/New Afrikan nation of the Americas.
To use the word “mistrust” is to imply that there was once trust. All that is left for black people to trust in is our own resolve to liberate ourselves from Amerikan capitalism and militarism. A liberation that we will come to know soon as being nothing short of the complete overthrow of Amerikan democracy and the lies it pedals as dreams.
Katika Shindano Kwa Na Ukombozi. Kasim O Gero Transcribed by Kilaika Baruti
Chief Consultant: Joka Heshima Jinsai
Joka Heshima Jinsai, is not only the co-author of this writing, but the Illustrator as well. Working alongside Abdul, he is the Chief Consultant for GJU. In prison since 1993, he spent 18 years and 8 months in solitary confinement. He has been a tireless advocate for black self-determination; revolutionary concepts of socialism; community development; prisoners' human rights; social equality; and abolition of indefinite solitary confinement, mass incarceration, and legal slavery in America." He is the Founder of “Amend The 13th: Abolish ‘Legal’ Slavery in Amerika Movement”. Joka Heshima Jinsai-Denham is a New Afrikan Revolutionary Scientific Socialist who has been drawing since he can remember. In 1993 Heshima was associated with a criminal syndicate that ultimately landed him in prison for a crime he did not commit - this experience not only was the catalyst for his political awakening, but also his artistic awakening. He loves portrait and tattoo art, and can draw anything he can see with his eyes or imagine in his mind. Heshima was the featured artist for the month of December 2016 at the Blue Heart Foundation. You can find his artworks and writings in progressive publications such as the San Francisco Bayview, Prison Focus, Mother Jones, Turning the Tide, 4 Struggle Magazine, and others. He is also co-founder of the State Raised Foundation and Co-author of the Ten Objectives for Social Progress and Transformation. He has designed a program for the Sustainable Agricultural Commune and Youth Committee Action Program along with Abdul Olugbala Shakur.
Heshima has been a social justice activist for well over a quarter century. In that time he has developed or contributed to numerous community development initiatives to leverage the collective work and responsibilities of our communities. Over a decade ago he developed a sustainable agricultural blueprint for community-scale food independence (go to http://www.sustainableagriculturalcommune.org/). When he saw Planting Justices’ programs, there were many parallels and points of mutual interest. Heshima envisioned a world of interconnected, community-based food systems, supported by collectively owned and operated farms in adjacent rural areas. By taking the responsibility of our own food production, we ensure quality control of sustainable agricultural practices, organic food production, and a collective interest in maintaining as many green spaces as possible in our communities. He wanted the piece to encompass this vision, a world that cannot be contained by handcuffs and prison cells. We will rise above these systems of oppression to usher in a new day of freedom, justice, and equality for all.
Abdul Olugbala Shakur has served 34 ½ years in prison. He is one of the Founders of George Jackson University. For more than 25 years, he has consistently served the New Afrikan (black) community and has been at the forefront in combatting gang violence criminality in the Black community. Abdul has discovered his true humanity, and this is reflected in his daily contributions to the Black community and the Human Rights Movement. Listed here is a brief list of some of his contributions as founder of George Jackson University. Abdul was the original author of the historic “Agreement to End Hostilities “adopted within the CDCR and many affected communities, and he continues to work tirelessly to end racial rivalries and group conflicts. He is also the author of one of the most effective blueprints to end Black-On-Black gang violence in U.S. society: “Operation Hip-Hop Rescue.” Following the systematic failures in governmental response during Hurricane Katrina, Brother Abdul authored one of the most comprehensive emergency response plans to ensure that such a tragedy never visits our communities again, which this and all his writings belong to GJU for the people’s consumption. He also authored “New Afrikan Criminology 101,” a textbook used not only in the classroom of Professor Dorothy B. Fardan at Bowie State University, but by activists and scholars in prison and society alike as a tool to combat the racist criminalization of the Black community.
National Spokesperson: Ajonaku
Chief of Personnel: Bomani Shakur
THE NATIONAL AFRIKAN AMERIKAN FAMILY REUNION ASSOCIATION
It is long past the time for New African Families to step up our action, and return to the mission assigned to the black man to take care of him, his family and this planet and all of God’s creations. January 1, 2017 is launch day for Black Families across our nation to begin coming together; for the purpose of establishing our National new infrastructure, creating unlimited numbers of new businesses, and enough new jobs to employ all family members in need of employment.
By creating enough jobs to put every able-bodied male/ female to work full time, will require our own resources, without which, we are stopped from moving forward. Making the first step is vital, to the success of coming together for positive change and the possibility of bringing change into the lifestyles of the needy, among many Amerikans that are living below the poverty line. They will be helped when our families begin registering in large numbers.
It will become apparent it never was the blessing of our Jesus, that we pray to Him on Sunday, and not work with all of our people on Monday; amassing the resources necessary to change our condition. Our divisive behavior has suppressed the ability to unite to solve our own problems, must not be permitted to continue, at the pleasure of the oppressor.
The Afrikan born in Amerika must challenge himself, to fine the courage within his spirit to evolve lasting change to his existence. To exist is to do, to do is to reject all the negativity injected into the Afrikan psyche, by those whose purpose has always been to oppress impoverished conditions on the descendents of slaves.
This time, these descendents are no longer receptive to the idea things will change for the better in due time. From January 1, 2017 forward into infinity, the Afrikan born in Amerika will continue to press forward until all families bonded by the middle passage are living inside of their own nation within the nation we own called Amerika.
As we begin January 1, 2017 to build our nation within our nation we shall simultaneously begin to build our ‘Perpetual 501(c) 3 tax exempt Treasury’ to provide the collective ability to develop our creation system, that will employ all family members able to work, will have a job at a livable wage; by assuring all who need training, will receive training; removing the need to sell drugs to make a living.
Kenneth W. Peterson, the Vice-President of NAAFRA, and CEO of Global Greenology Homes, will hold the contract to build these Enterprises, from plans activated January 1, 2017. Our ‘Franchising effect’ will move forward to engage all church families needed to participate in this plan calling for each family to invest $10, per month which will raise $120 per family annually, to defray the building cost of these businesses. As each family invests its $120, this family will receive a ‘Certificate of Payment’, from Ms. Jacque Gordon the Treasurer of NAAFRA.
To bring before our people phenomenal evidence, as proof of our power, once we are united; we are charged with building these first two ‘Franchise Enterprises’ immediately. It is of great value that we as a nation, within a nation, understand we are people who have been shaped by pain, put upon our people by the oppressor; and Love of ourselves put upon our people by our God. This we seek for ourselves is on the potter’s wheel of tomorrows’, awaiting the work of our hands; building a new future devoid of pain, fresh with ever expanding mounds of joyful Love, of our families, people, nation, and our God. We must continue to pray together on Sunday, but, we must add let us meet together on Monday at the potter’s wheel to get busy, across Black Church Amerika shaping the reality we want, working together to bring forward something better. If you Love yourself, now is the time to show it. If you Love Amerika, now is the time to show it. If you Love our God, now is the time to push hate aside, let our God prove to you we are truly a blessed people!