To Die for the People
“To die for the racists is lighter than a feather. But to die for the people is heavier than any mountain and deeper than any sea” — Huey Newton
All written, are my opinion, and personal viewpoints. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, I don’t care much about punctuation sometimes. I’ll be honest I don’t proofread these, these are for leisure.
My apologies if you’re a reading snob but I hope you learn something today.
Black history month is for the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and their communities who have done so much to take make Canada a culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous country.
This month should be a time for people to learn, listen and platform black voices. With that, I went to find books that are by black authors, to educate me and provide more information on the struggles of black people and struggles shared with people as a whole. This might come as a surprise to many, but really it shouldn’t: many Black revolutionaries were socialist and progressives, and had very anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist views. Western exceptionalism is unfortunately deeply imbedded in our society and only when we question this will we be able to radicalize and change society. Here today, I’ll be writing about three great Black revolutionaries that educated and empowered many with their principles and teachings.
I have 3 books to talk about. These books I recommend for anyone to read if they want to learn especially from a leftist viewpoint. These black authors are all great revolutionaries in their own rights. The first book is “The Radical King” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The next book is “To Die for the People” by Huey Newton. And the final book I’ll talk about is “Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement” by Angela Y. Davis.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is probably the biggest name known here. He is one of the biggest figures for advocacy for black people, and it’s unfortunate he was ultimately assassinated. He originally did not have the positive image he has today, back then, the US government worked overtime to defame his name and destroy his movement. There’s historical fact about this, people thought he was a Communist, when in fact he wasn’t but he did understand the communist viewpoint with social justice, King complained that with its “cold atheism wrapped in the garments of materialism, communism provides no place for God or Christ”. Back then, he was painted by his own government and FBI as the most dangerous man in America. Now in many American media outlets, he’s painted as a pacifist, theological, black rights advocate when he was more than that. And it’s disgusting whenever Black History month comes by, the performative action online happens. It’s worse when prominent Republicans and right-wing thinkers misquote his “I have a dream speech”. That’s for a different rant.
I want to talk about his book The Radical King. Overall, its a selection of works by Dr King, by the way, it is prefaced by Cornel West another great black leftist voice. It shows Dr King’s radical vision for revolution, a very leftist and socialist message. Anti-war, anti-imperialism, and anti-capitalism sentiments are well shown in his works. The entire book comes in four parts, “Radical Love” which mostly is about his commitment to non-violent sentiments. In one of his works here, he also talks about reading Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” and “The Communist Manifesto” and scrutinizes it on every bit to understand it. His work “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence” is probably one of my favourites. The second part of the book looks into the common plight of the Jewish people and Black people. He draws many comparisons to their duress and fight for self-determination. What is also included in the beginning of this part, which is especially important is the fact he isn’t alive today to see the unfortunate circumstance of the Israel occupation of Palestine. He would be against this — and rightly so. The third part talks specifically about his anti-white supremacy and anti-imperialist thoughts and how to fight it with non-violence. The final parts speak on tyranny of capitalism and empire and how it itself is a system connected to continuing the plight of black people. All these works are a great read.
Huey Newton was the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, he’s a more extreme revolutionary than Dr King but a great one, nonetheless. an advocate of self-defence and of Palestine statehood, and for his support of Communist-led governments around the world. Newton also used his position as a leader within the Black Panther Party to welcome women and LGBT people into the party, describing homosexuals as “the most oppressed people” in society.
The second book is To Die for the People. His book looks into the Party’s internal struggles, as there is many struggles in leftist spaces. It looks into important analysis of politics of race, black radicalism and democracy written under the civil rights era. The first part of the book is about the Black Panther Party, its Huey Newton’s writings on organization, the ten point program are the 10 core beliefs and platform of the party.
- We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.
- We want full employment for our people. Employment or guaranteed income.
- We want an end to the robbery by the CAPITALIST of our Black Community.
- We want decent housing fit for shelter of human beings.
- We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society.
- We want all Black men to be exempt fomr military service.
- We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people.
- We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county, and city prisons and jails.
- We want all Black People when brought to trial be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States.
- We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, and peace.
Some of these platforms, are present today and have yet to be implemented. Still four decades later, they are unfortunately seen as very radical platforms. UBI (universal basic income) is something I’ve always been a proponent of. That is essentially step 2. Critical race theory (CRT) is step 5. In the US today, there is much debate on teaching this in schools, I believe it is very important to highlight the negative atrocities done by imperialism, and capitalism to students. This is to curb the Western exceptionalism everyone nowadays experiences. Believe me I was an exceptionalist before, and quite literally defended American imperialism because simply I thought war and guns were cool. But I’ve matured and read up A LOT on the subject and realized how much Western propaganda (in movies, TV shows, news) has supremely brainwashed me. Police brutality is STILL to this day, an occurring atrocity in day-to-day lives of Black and even racialized groups. Step 9 and 8, deal with the justice system, and how historically, the system has been against the black struggle, and there is no compassion for them. The system needs to make amends by freeing these folks. Just remember, despite being a minority, Black people make a majority in the prison population in the US, for Canada, its Indigenous groups. The correlation here isn’t that they commit more crimes but looking into their socio-economic backgrounds which is enforced on them based on the system built by the white man, they are more likely to be jailed. That’s something people don’t get. People think its so easy to just get rich, earn money, and forget there are some privileges that they have compared to lower-income households. I wasn’t born into poverty, my family is somewhat well off, but I’ve seen and understand the needs and desperation due to money. As written by Engels:
This just the first chapter of the book. Overall, To Die for the People is a fantastic read, and a must read for all leftists to truly understand the fight for Black Lives.
Dr. Angela Y. Davis is a American black activist, philosopher, academic, scholar, and author. She is alive and well, and teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work involves race, feminist studies, anti-war rhetoric, abolition of prisons, Palestine solidarity, and socio-economic class examination. She has written and continues to write multiple great educational books all of which I would recommend.
Specifically, I want to talk about her book Freedom is a Constant Struggle. This book contains essays, interviews and speeches by Dr. Davis, which highlights the connections between struggles against government systems and oppression throughout history and around the world. She makes connections to previous liberation struggles like the Black freedom movement and South African anti-apartheid movement to today’s struggles like Ferguson and Palestine. This eight chapter book, is a great, small read but very powerful in making the connections to the negative sides of today’s capitalist systems and the struggles of the people. Systemic change is needed. She speaks on this on her fourth chapter, which was a interview in Paris from back in December, 2014. It highlights the numbers of police killings of Black lives, in a span of months while waiting on the Ferguson verdict. The interview highlights multiple deaths of Black lives in the hands of police, unnecessary deaths. She makes a point that individual verdicts and action is not enough, we need systemic change. Calling for the demilitarization of police. This is an absolute need in my opinion. Canada isn’t as militarized in its police force as Americans, though this issue still persists in some cases. Defunding police is a necessary action, and limiting their powers and criteria, and focusing on much more needed social policies greatly improves neighbourhoods. Funding social welfare programs devoid and reduce crimes overall, this is something a lot don’t realize. Policing is inherently reactive, not so much proactive in prevention of crime to happen in the first place. These social policies are EXACTLY that. A preventative measure to help stabilize and create opportunities for people in drastic or crime vulnerable circumstances. Again, the socio-economic situations of people are quite important in studying and understanding how the system operates against the lower class, which is again let me reiterate, connected to the system built by the white man.
There are many other great black authors, leaders, and revolutionaries that I unfortunately am unable to write about. I chose these three books as a great starting point to learn for others out there who might be liberal or left leaning but still yet to fully grasp the reason for the needs for change. If you’re centric or right leaning, I hope you learn some criticisms of the current system of Western imperialism, capitalism, and classism. The working class is not black or white, we all are put through the same struggles BUT must understand that our fellow Black, Brown, Indigenous or other racialized, men and women, are subject to a system that is against them. We must understand this and understand that class, race, and politics all are connected. Hopefully if you’ve read to this point that you also try to read these books. I’m a firm believer in reading theory and learning what leftism is about, and that aesthetically being a leftist is ultimately bad and divisive in the leftist cause. We need to unlearn and learn a lot. Today’s the day to do that.
Anyways, till the next time.