Sunday, August 10, 2008
Two Americas - Conditions in the African community
Uhuru organizer speaks out on why the struggle with Obama
When Diop Olugbala, along with others from the Uhuru Movement, protested Barack Obama at a town hall meeting in St. Petersburg, FL on August 1, the movement’s bold challenge was heard around the world.
“What about the black community?” is rapidly becoming the new mantra, targeting not just Obama but all the candidates large and small who are vying to lead the United States of America.
While Obama counts much of the African community in this country among his most enthusiastic supporters he has had no problem avoiding the pressing issues and ever-worsening conditions facing African people in America today.
African men are being shot down by police and rounded up for life long sentences in the prison system in epidemic proportions. The high school where Obama was speaking in St. Petersburg was attended by 17 year old Javon Dawson who was murdered by the St. Petersburg police in early June. Officer and Iraq war veteran Terrence Nemeth shot the unarmed Dawson twice in the back during a graduation party.
Instead of standing with African people Obama has taken every opportunity to use his campaign to attack them. These attacks include his disowning of Rev. Jeremiah Wright as his pastor and Obama’s Father’s Day presentation slamming black men with children.
Behind his slogans for “hope and change” Obama represents the forefront of imperialism’s strategy for neocolonialism, defined by the Uhuru Movement as “white power in black face.” In the U.S. and around the world African and oppressed representatives are hand picked by imperialist powers to carry out their bidding.
Obama’s campaign is portrayed as “populist,” representing the interests of “Main Street” America. But as an August 6 New York Times article revealed, a third of Obama’s $340 million raised for his campaign so far has come from donations of $1,000 or over. Obama has more than 500 “bundlers,” professional fundraisers, most of whom are lobbyists for big corporations.
After 8 years representing the 13th District of Chicago, the most impoverished area of the city, living conditions there are reportedly far worse for black people than before. Obama’s district was home to the infamous Jon Burge, the Chicago police captain exposed for torturing African men, women and children for more than 20 years. Obama has yet to denounce Burge.
This country is built on the enslavement of African people, along with the genocide of the Indigenous people and theft of their land. The oppression of African people, as well as the theft of the labor, land and resources of oppressed peoples around the world make up the economic and political pedestal on which the white population of America and Europe sit.
The history of slavery, genocide and colonialism does not just go away or morph into a post racial America. This history is the basis for every contradiction festering in this country today, from the reality of two Americas – systemic poverty of African communities in the face of U.S. prosperity, to the fact that more young black men are sent to prison than go to college.
Some of us in the white population are beginning to feel pangs of the current U.S. economic crisis. But no one is talking about the long standing economic devastation of African communities where U.S. government imposed illegal drugs, foreclosed homes, gentrification, martial law and policies of police containment feed the multi billion dollar prison industry that has fed the failing U.S. economy for the past 35 years.
The Uhuru Movement understands that Africans are one people inside this country and around the world. The movement is working for the liberation of Africa and all its resources as the birthright of every African person anywhere in the world. This is only just.
The crisis of imperialism is deepening daily because of the resistance of African and oppressed peoples worldwide who are fighting to regain control of their resources, land and self-determination. They are determined to feed their children and build a future for themselves.
It has never been more obvious that the white world is in a crisis because it cannot function without oil, minerals and resources commandeered from others. Today the capitalist legacy of slavery, genocide and colonial extraction that fueled our world for hundreds of years is collapsing.
In the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, we are white people who believe that the future of the planet and the well-being of all peoples will be found in the movement to answer the question, “What about the black community?”
To really bring about hope and change we have to organize under the leadership of African workers struggling for liberation and justice. They are the ones transforming and changing the world from the ground up. Join us – be part of creating a future that all people can believe in. Uhuru!
Saturday, August 2, 2008
"What about the black community, Obama?" Uhuru Movement challenges Obama on unwillingness to speak to African community interests
ST. PETERSBURG, FL — On Friday, August 1, the Barack Obama presidential campaign hit a serious bump in a St. Petersburg, Florida town hall meeting as members of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) challenged Obama on his unwillingness to speak to the interests of the African community.
While demonstrators outside chanted “Obama, McCain, its the same game,” InPDUM members inside raised a banner that read “What about the black community, Obama?”
InPDUM International Organizer Diop Olugbala challenged Obama asking, “In the face of the numerous attacks that are made against the African community or the black community by the same U.S. government that you aspire to lead — and we are talking about attacks like the subprime mortgage that you spoke of that wasn't just a general ambiguous kind of phenomena, but a phenomena that targeted the African community and Latino community; attacks like the killing of Sean Bell by the New York police department and Javon Dawson right here in St. Petersburg by the St. Petersburg police, and Jena 6 and Hurricane Katrina, and the list goes on. In the face of all these attacks that are clearly being made on the African community, why is it that you have not had the ability to not one time speak to the interests and even speak on the behalf of the oppressed and exploited African community or black community in this country?”After stammering, Obama made the claim that he had addressed all of those issues with public statements, but that he just may not have spoken out in the way desired.
It is well known that he did make a statement after the acquittals of the police who pumped 50 bullets into Sean Bell’s car on his wedding day stating that the unjust verdict needed to be respected.
On the U.S. government’s leaving African people for days to die after Hurricane Katrina he stated on September 6, 2005, “I do not subscribe to the notion that the painfully slow response of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security was racially-based. The ineptitude was colorblind.”
Obama was right that he had not spoken to these issues as would be desired. While he may have conceded that the subprime loans were predatory, he has failed to condemn Penny Pritzker, his national finance advisor, for having made a fortune through the subprime mortgage scheme at the expense of Africans and Latinos.
In fact, Obama’s painting the U.S. as some place on the verge of a “post-racial” society with “race problems” being “90 percent” solved, his opposition to reparations for African people and his liquidating the colonial relationship that African people in the U.S. are held in are disarming. His role as a pied piper — leading African people who are disenchanted with the inability of the U.S. electoral process to provide any solution for them right back to the Democratic Party — is problematic for African people.
His role is one that works against African people’s struggle for self-determination — the loss of which was necessary for the building and maintaining of the United States of America.
The question for African people cannot be confined to whom to vote for in a bourgeois election where freedom and self-determination for African people will never be on the ballot. The question instead must be one of what must be done to win self-determination.