Tuesday, November 28, 2006

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: MALIK RAHIM and the aftermath of Katrina

The 2005 destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina revealed a very important fact about the United States--the incapacity or unwillingness of its government to deal with major catastrophes so long as they threatened only the poor, and especially impoverished African Americans.

Disaster management was insufficient or non-existent; devastation disproportionately affected the poor; no provisions were made to evacuate people without vehicles or to protect those who were too sick or infirm to leave. The death toll surged past a thousand, with tens of thousands turned into the internally displaced in the richest country on the planet.

Many were warehoused in the barbaric conditions of a Texan sports arena. Amid millions of litres of water, some died of dehydration. And with so many National Guard troops overseas enforcing the US occupation of Iraq, the US government chose to deploy, among others, mercenaries in the streets of New Orleans, mercenaries whose corporate name, ironically enough, is Black Water.

Many Americans learned for the first time that they could not rely on their various levels of their government. Others had known that for decades. One of those men was Malik Rahim, a former member of the Black Panther Party, a recent Green Party candidate for New Orleans city council and a long time public housing activist. He’s a co-founder of the COMMON GROUND collective, an agency born from the post-Katrina devastation with the motto "SOLIDARITY NOT CHARITY."

Since its inception, the group has dispensed food, water, clothing and other basic necessities to the poorest people of New Orleans. Malik Rahim spoke about the work and vision of Common Ground on October 6 at the First Churches, Northampton, Massachusetts. His speech was recorded by Active Ingredients Media.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tonight on The Terrordome: COINTELPRO's War Against Afrikamerica

On March 4, 1968, the head of the US-based Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover, sent a communiqué to the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge at Albany. The communiqué was entitled “COUNTERINTELLIGENCE PROGRAM, BLACK NATIONALIST~HATE GROUPS.” It read in part:

“For maximum effectiveness of the Counterintelligence Program, and to prevent wasted effort, long-range goals are being set.

“1. Prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups. In unity there is strength; a truism that is no less valid for all its triteness. An effective coalition of black nationalist groups might be the first step toward a real ‘Mau Mau’ in America, the beginning of a true black revolution.

“2. Prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement. DELETED NAME might have been such a ‘messiah;’ he is the martyr of the movement today. DELETED NAME, DELETED NAME, and DELETED NAME all aspired to this position. DELETED NAME is less of a threat because of his age. DELETED NAME could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed ‘obedience’ to ‘white, liberal doctrines’ (nonviolence) and embrace black nationalism. DELETED NAME has the necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way.”

In the above passage, the original text is in the typewriter font COURIER. I’ll read the second part of the text again, but with names which precisely fit the deleted spaces.

“Prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement. Malcolm X might have been such a ‘messiah;’ he is the martyr of the movement today. Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael and Elijah Muhammed all aspire to this position. Elijah Muhammed is less of a threat because of his age. King could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed ‘obedience’ to ‘white, liberal doctrines’ (nonviolence) and embrace black nationalism. Carmichael has the necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way.”

Within four months of this communiqué, the FBI dispatched a memorandum which called for Stokely Carmichael to be framed--or in Bureau parlance, “badjacketted,” as a CIA informant. Shortly after that, Carmichael, who had been named honorary Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party, would be purged from the organisation. One month after the first communiqué was sent, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in circumstances bearing numerous hallmarks of a US intelligence operation.

COINTELPRO, the FBI’s so-called Counter Intelligence Programme, was actually a programme of disinformation, disruption, infiltration, intimidation, and occasionally outright murder, directed against radical and even moderate dissident groups of American citizens. Even the existence of the programme was secret, and would remain so until a break-in at an FBI office brought the name and illegal activities of the programme to light. While COINTELPRO was officially discontinued in the 1970s, its functions and means have passed into the hands of other US agencies, including now into those of the Department of Homeland Security.

Tonight on THE TERRORDOME, we’ll hear excerpts from a documentary by Dennis Mueller and Deb Ellis on the FBI COINTELPRO assault on civil rights, human rights, and human life. Along the way you’ll hear the voices of many key figures in the African-American liberation struggle of the 1960s and 70s, including Kwame Toure (formerly known as Stokely Carmichael), Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton (the chair of the BPP of Chicago), Eldridge Cleaver (the national Minister of Information of the BPP), his wife and high ranking party official Kathleen Cleaver, Flint Taylor of the People’s Law Office (Chicago), and Congressman Reverend Adam Clayton Powell. The film is called Cointelpro - The FBI's War on Black America.

To purchase the film, click here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Michael Richards, the N-Word, and the real villains

So Michael Richards messed up. Big deal. He's one actor--a superb comic actor, mind you--whose career has fallen far from where, on merit, it deserves to be. And he's apologised. Well, good. From what he said (and yes, I saw the original sickening diatribe), he certainly sounds sincere.

And really, can
you read minds? If you think he's sincere, maybe he's not. If you think he's insincere, maybe he isn't. None of that matters.

The only thing that does matter is what Richards
does. That's the main part of his apology with which I disagree, in which he says (in answer to Letterman's question) that his job now is to work on himself. I mean, sure, fine, that's good--but it would be better if he could work with others, especially fellow Whitefolks (Tim Wise is a great example of how to do that).

But what's infinitely more important than the fate of this (excellent) actor is the structure of Hollywood itself. Hollywood is in the heart of Native American land (i.e., what they call "Hispanic" in order to suggest foreign squatters rather than original owners). Yet the TV and movie output of Hollywood would have one believe that First Nations and "Hispanic" people hardly exist in the US, minus one or two tokens.

While Africans (i.e., Americanised ones) fare better than do our cousins, we have been Hollywood's victim since its inception, earning millions of dollars for our "masters" through their racist depictions of us. Today, the related music (and now video game tie-in) industry is a plantation full of the most self-hating House Slaves whose names (Li'l Kim, the late Biggie Smalls, 50 Cent) are testimony to a self-image of racial worthlessness. We're told "It's Hard to Be a Pimp"--who's really getting paid for this filth? Who's getting the big money? And don't even get me started on the abuse of Arab and Muslim images.

Br. Earl Ofari Hutchison writes: "Former Seinfeld star Michael Richards quickly bowed to public pressure and apologized for his boneheaded N word laced diatribe against black customers who allegedly heckled him during his appearance at the Laugh Factory. But Richards was a soft target. He's a white man that sprinted way over the line of racial etiquette.

"It was a no brainer that blacks [sic] would rage against him. They have done the same against the legion of other white celebrities, politicians and public figures that have gotten caught with their racial pants hanging down. When the predictable firestorm hits, they back peddle fast, do their mea culpas and declare they're not racist. The same can't be said for the legion of black [sic] comedians and rappers that have virtually canonized the word. They sprinkle the word throughout their rap lyrics and comedy lines, and black [sic] writers, and filmmakers go through lengthy gyrations to justify using the word."

Murray Dobbins: US Republican defeat bodes ill for Stephen Harper reactionaries

The excellent Murray Dobbin writes: "Americans--despite being shamelessly lied to by the Republicans and abandoned by their media -- came through in the end. They said enough is enough. Bless them.

"Canadians are apparently not going to give Stephen Harper six years before they say enough. A poll released by Environics for the CBC on the day after the U.S. election showed the Harper Conservatives and the Liberals virtually tied (33 per cent versus 32 per cent), with the NDP up to 19 per cent and the Greens, notwithstanding their shiny new leader, at five per cent -- barely more than their showing in the last election.

"Bush's humiliation will make things more difficult for Stephen Harper. For his core supporters, Harper's apparently 'good' relationship with Bush was a positive. It gave him the aura of a winner--a player on the world stage.

"But Bush and his party will now be totally preoccupied with how to salvage something in the 2008 election. To them, Canada and Mr. Harper will be even more irrelevant than they are now. Harper has received nothing from Bush for all his sycophantic pandering. If you can get less than nothing--and in Canada-U.S. relations you can-- then this is what Harper can expect.

"Harper will have to deal with a lame-duck president and one who might even have to compromise with the evil U.S. liberals to devise anything resembling a saving strategy. In other words, Harper's soulmate will be found straying from the path of the true believer and Harper will look like the anachronism he is. He can't deal with the Democrats because they believe (or say they do) in all the things Harper hates. For the months leading up to a possible spring election, the America Harper loves will be in change mode.

Even Tucker Carlson finds Ann Coulter too much

Thanks to Fish Griwkowsky for this video clip, which features an MSNBC commentator denouncing the mephistophelian Ann Coulter in stunningly strong terms. Bravo.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Poet Supreme Amir Sulaiman WEDNESDAY ON THE TERRORDOME, Thu-Fri in E-TOWN!

Check out my exclusive conversation with poet supreme AMIR SULAIMAN on Wednesday's The Terrordome at 6 pm!

Last March, a poet and MC came to the University of Alberta and rocked the box. African American and Muslim poet Amir Sulaiman is that dynamo, and tomorrow night he’s returning to E-Town to present a poetry and consciousness workshop and Friday he’s going to rip the mic again.

28 year old Amir Sulaiman is a stunning performance poet originally from Rochester, New York who’s been performing since age 12. A graduate of North Carolina A&T, in his sophomore year, he released his debut poetry collection Words of Love, Life, and Death.

Sulaiman’s work is refined, intellectually and culturally broad, and as powerful and necessary as a vaccine during a pandemic. It combines the intelligence of a Claude McKay with the modern urban lyricality of a Rakim or a Chuck D. Sulaiman has performed on HBO’s Def Poetry, and has released four albums, including the brand-new Broad Daylight.

Sulaiman spoke with me via telephone on Tuesday night while on tour. I began by asking him, given his identity as an Afrikan and a Muslim and a poet in the United States, what misconceptions, stupid questions and presumptions he faced.

On Thursday night, Sulaiman is presenting an intimate and interactive session on the art of communication, argument & spoken word poetry. Space is limited to the FIRST 40 PEOPLE WHO REGISTER! The cost is only $10, and the event will be held Thursday night at 7 pm in the Education Building of the U of A campus. On Friday night, he’ll be performing at Convocation Hall on the U of A campus. To register or to get tickets, call FAROOQ at 604-0149.

The event is sponsored by the M.A.C. Youth of Edmonton, in cooperation with Al-Ikhwan Youth Club, Ar-Rashid Youth Club & Muslim Students Association of the University of Alberta.

To purchase CDs, click here, and for more information visit Amir Sulaiman.com.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The new attacks on the Reparations movement: BLAME AFRIKANS for the European Holocaust in Afrika

Sister Suzette Gardner writes: "As the movement for Trans-Atlantic slavery reparations gathers steam, the opposition is busy waging a strategic battle for the sub-consciousness of slavery's victims.

"Reels of film are being thrown into production to depict Africa's part in the slave trade. Beautifully shot, their point is clear and simplistic: Africans sold Africans in slavery. There is no discussion of European guilt or responsibility, instead their plots go straight to the point and blame the victims.

"The latest film inflicting this 'blame the victim syndrome' on our collective consciousness is the Swiss produced 'Adanggaman " distributed in the U.S. by New York Films. Frankly, this film has no relevance outside of being a conduit for an idea which, left un-discussed will 'guilt trip' slavery's victims into renouncing their due reparations.

"The question then is not whether Africans are responsible for their own slavery, but who were these alleged Africans who sold other Africans in slavery, and how can we understand their identities today?

"Psychoanalysts agree that in order to inflict misfortune upon another, it is essential to see oneself as separate and different from one's victim. This also rang true in 17th century Africa-and Africa today. If Africans were caught and sold in slavery, it was not by people who regarded themselves as the same Africans. The Swiss production and others like it deliberately omit the presence of cultural ascendancies and politics at play in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. By oversimplifying the African context, they fall into that racist mold which denies Africans a history of society, commerce and imperfect humanity at work.

"As Englishmen enslaved their own and fellow Europeans to achieve the aims of their Christian crusade in the 11th century, so too did the 'African' under the aegis of Islam. As Italy's liaison with Nazi Germany bloodied its history for the sake of commerce and political power, so too did the kings of Dahomey with the Portuguese in the 17th century. Africans who craftily speared themselves the middle passage are no different from their political and social counterparts elsewhere in the world or history. All are given to exchange and discourse leading to selfish survival and domination as opportunity and circumstances may arise.

"These Africans that supposedly sold Africans in slavery can be further understood in the modern context by shaking open almost any daily newspaper. If silence is still consent, then the world has sanctioned the new 'slave-catchers' in the form of 'recruiters', free-zone bosses, multi-national agents and our own black Third World politicians. All are engaged in rounding up our best and brightest and employing them in the pursuit of other nation's pleasures and prosperity-without a living wage, a.k.a. 'pay'."