Tag Archives: Liberation

True Liberation Requires

I think most people miss the point of what is truly implied by the statement “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I believe that most people miss the duty that is presupposed by this statement that we all have to rout out injustice, exploitation, and oppression from whence it emerges, wherever and whenever. Whether that be from KKK members, racist presidents, teachers, or friends. When our homeboys are being sexist, when our fellow revolutionaries are screaming and fighting to be treated and valued as human beings and are dehumanizing women. To the people we pass on the streets whatever the case may be.

The statement means that I can not experience liberation if someone else is being oppressed or exploited. Our system, as it exists, cannot permit liberation, will not permit liberation, because it requires exploitation and oppression to sustain its existence. To achieve liberation, we have to achieve an entire psychic change, experience a complete overhauling of our collective system of values, completely revolutionize our entire economic structure, and most important our own personal perceptions about ourselves each other and our world must be radically altered and compelled to evolve.

Only then, when injustice in all of its ugly forms is shunned and rebuked, by everyone, will we ever begin to achieve liberation. This is what I understand this statement to mean.

Reflections from My Time at Standing Rock

I did not journey across the country to learn anything, I ventured to stand in solidarity with our Native relatives, but while I was at Standing Rock in the Oceti Sakowin Camp, I was taught and learned much. One of the first things I learned was how vast the camp is. I do not know what I thought I would see, but I was not expecting to see an entire valley filled with tents, tepees, campers, vehicles and people. I have been part of many demonstrations in opposition to unjust exploitation of peoples and planet, but I have never been part of anything like Standing Rock. There were thousands of people from all over the world, many of whom were represented on Flag Road, which seemed to go on forever identifying all the nations and peoples in solidarity with Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires), which is the “proper name for the people commonly known as Sioux.” What I witnessed is that a shift is underway the likes of which we have not experienced since the time of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) and the American Indian Movement (AIM), when the oppressed peoples from all over the world are uniting in a common cause: to end the harmful exploitation of our peoples and planet, and caring for our world and peoples in such a way that ten generations from now our descendants will inherit a healthy and vibrant world to share. And yet however much a shift in culture is neither without opposition or complications, it is nonetheless beautiful to see coming into fruition.

This level of unity among the oppressed peoples must be terrifying to the repressive state regime because it is losing its legitimacy and control, and people are losing faith in this state’s ability to manage our world. This is evinced by the harmful and repressive actions the state has engaged in to retain its control of the people and the situation. The state has enacted counterinsurgency tactics and technology against its own people in the worst of ways. From the targeted arresting of people, to the excessive use of lethal force, to the eviction of peoples from their lands, to the complete disregard of humanity of indigenous peoples and people of color; the entire operation is laden with human rights violations. The right to peaceably assemble and to the freedom of religion are not only guaranteed by the US Constitution (First Amendment), but also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 18; Article 19; Article 20). Furthermore, Article 9, of the UNDHR states that “no one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile.” Article 5, of the UNDHR, says that no one shall be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment; which should entail being sprayed with water from fire hoses when it is twenty degrees outside, or shot in the head with rubber bullets for praying on your own lands. Not that it needs to be mentioned, but in case people have forgotten, cruel and unusual punishment is also protected against by the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Using intimidation and legalized terrorism is not managing, it is tyranny and it is out of control. The problem lies in the reality that this sort of behavior has been normalized in the United States when the state is interacting with indigenous peoples, people of color, and active political dissent from the harmful practices of this state and its agents. However, the oppressed peoples are uniting as the legitimacy of the state is faultering and we are being joined by those who are also losing faith in the motivations the state and the results of its decisions.

Oceti Sakowin Camp is a prayer ceremony on treaty land (Treaty of Fort Laramie 1868), that is, the land the camp is on and where Energy Transfer Partners LP is constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) belongs to Oceti Sakowin. First, if someone were to come into your or my home and start destroying things, especially that which our ancestors or predecessors left to us, we would most likely stand in physical opposition to the intrusion and destruction, and we would be well within our rights to do so. It is a twisted way of thinking about development and progress—the doctrine of Manifest Destiny—that informs people’s perception that the manner in which our Native relatives have chosen to be stewards of the land is neither efficient nor correct. Notwithstanding that false perception, this land belongs to Oceti Sakowin and the infringement into their land is no different than an intrusion into our homes. Thus, when physical opposition has occurred, the people who engaged in these acts have been completely and entirely justified in doing such. In fact, the actual motivation and justification for the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution was to protect against the arbitrary and tyrannical abuses of power by the state over the people. The fact that it mentions weapons only provides one of the means by which this may or should be accomplished. The spirit of the amendment is that state repression of free and equal peoples is not to be tolerated when the repression is unjust. Yet, while that is not only the law and the right of the people, the state, the corporations, and the media has sought to villainize and make illegitimate the actions of Water Protectors, as if they believe something else, or would have behaved differently should this have happened to their homes and their families. Painting with a broad stroke the entire camp and opposition movement as riotous villains in an attempt to discredit Oceti Sakowin and gain legitimacy for state tyranny, is wrong and unaccountable to the Amerikan people and the people of the world. And yet however justified physical opposition is, the majority of the opposition, and the vast majority of the people at Standing Rock are in prayer, and have been for most of the time the camp has existed.

Every morning before sunrise, a water ceremony occurs that is usually led by elders who are women. The people at Oceti Sakowin Camp are called to the Sacred Fire to participate in the ceremony as the people first ask to commune with the Creator, before asking the Creator to protect the headwaters of the Midwest. Many people from Amerika are not familiar with prayer in the form of song and dance because many of us come from a Judeo-Christian background, and so, it may not be immediately recognized that a prayer ceremony is occurring, but that does not alter the immense power that is felt participating after being invited into one of the ceremonies. From the Sacred Fire after the initial prayers are completed, the people are led to the water (Cannon Ball River) to bless and pray for the water that heals our bodies and our souls. As the sun rises we are standing on the shores of the waters giving thanks for the resource and element that provides so much for us and all that lives on the planet we share. Starting the day in a thankful spirit of gratitude for a precious and limited resource has the impact of directing our whole day and shifted my thoughts from what I need to take for myself and instead focused them on what I have to offer.

The time I spent at Oceti Sakowin Camp led me to re-conceptualize my perception of direct action, even as a seasoned activist. Often direct action is referred to as a demonstration. For example, when a Black Lives Matter protest occurs on Black Friday, in any city, challenging the very institutions of capitalistic economy that buttresses and profits from the prison industrial complex and by extension the brutality of police, and the school to prison pipeline; the objective is to interrupt. Wherein there may be lockdowns, blocked traffic, or interruptions of broadcasts. However, at Oceti Sakowin, when the people leave camp to any location, it is in prayer just like the morning Water Ceremony. The prayers are not discriminatory, but universal, which means that the people are praying for the health of the water not only for Oceti Sakowin, but also those part of the repressive state regime spraying Water Protectors with water from fire hoses in twenty degree weather. Behaviors with these motivations in other settings have often been referred to as acts of unconditional love and brings to mind the Civil Rights Movement of the Black Liberation Era. I know many of the stories, but have not exactly been able to bring myself to love those I have seen and felt as my enemies as they continued to harm me and my peoples.

Growing up, I was racially profiled by police more times than I can count or even remember, but a few situations stand out. I was pulled over for nothing besides driving while Black and when the cop could find nothing else to charge me with, not a tail light, not a failed signal, not an invalid license, he placed some sort of light detector on my tinted windows to try to find anything to justify his harassment of me. Another account was when my father called the police because some of our neighbors were threatening to kill my brother and I when we were eight and nine, respectively, and when the police came they arrested my father. I can remember walking home from high school with my book bag, only to have a cop car jump the curb and come to a screeching halt in front of me, before slamming me against a wall and searching through my school books, only to find school books. And one night when I was walking down the sidewalk, two plain clothes cops simply decided not to identify themselves, and instead to beat me almost to death before hauling me off to jail for absolutely nothing. I was never even apologized to or given bus fare home, but was released from their custody to walk miles home at three-thirty in the morning in the middle of winter. I recount these personal experiences now only to evince that my hatred for the institution of police is not only systemic, but also personal. When we arrived at the camp we were asked to set these feelings aside and to pray for the police, the army, the militias, and the mercenaries suppressing the people at Standing Rock. This was difficult for me, as it was for many others, too. Then I heard a report about one of the leaders of the International Indigenous Youth Council, speaking directly to how the people interact with the police during a prayer ceremony;

It is our duty not to dehumanize others, as we seek to establish our own humanity.

What I learned from this is that I am no better if I create the same trauma that I am seeking to overcome. I cannot become my enemy and still expect to overcome the oppression I suffer from my enemy. The means must be consistent with the ends, if the ends are to be just.

So, while the people at Standing Rock are completely justified in mounting an armed resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the suppressive agents using counterinsurgency tactics against the people, they are in fact, praying for all of us. I have never experienced this amount of love and forgiveness. I have read about and studied it, I have heard stories from the Foot Soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement, but I have never felt it. This is the spirit of the people that our government has permitted helicopters and planes to fly over the camp surveilling and is suspected of spraying chemicals on, all day and night. This is the spirit of the people that the government is utilizing cell phone suppression and corruption technology upon. This is the spirit of the people that the government is throwing concussion grenades at, shooting in the head with rubber bullets, unleashing the Long Range Sound Device, the LRAD sound cannon—the same technology used in Ferguson after the execution of Michael Brown—on, and spraying with water from fire hoses in twenty degree weather at; all of which are prefaced as non-lethal instruments, but when applied together and in the conditions they were used, are all individually lethal and are especially so in conjunction with one another. The state has been arresting, imprisoning, and nearly killing people for praying, and on their own lands no less.

The state is a force to be reckoned with, many of us now this acutely and personally well from first or second-hand experiences, and it must be confronted and challenged. There are also other complications that can and do often emerge when people who have been oppressed unite among themselves, and when the oppressed people unite with people who are from privileged classes. It is not the issues so much as how they are addressed that is truly important. At Oceti Sakowin Camp there was a lot of very positive and encouraging work being done to overcome much of this while simultaneously challenging neo-liberalism, capitalism, and state repression.

During orientation at Oceti Sakowin Camp on my first morning there we were told that we should not have come to learn, or to take anything because that is a continuation of the colonial apparatus. Yet, still, because so many people flooded into the camp over ‘Thanksgiving’ week, who were honestly concerned about what is and has been happening at Standing Rock, who were by no means prepared enough in a socially conscious manner for the work ahead, some instruction was necessary. I am a photographer and this has been a major component of the liberation work I have engaged in over the years. I am also a historian and a philosopher, and the three of these skills combined help me tell stories as objectively as possible.

(My cameras were stolen from me by the police in Bismarck when I participated in a prayer circle and was unjustly abducted and duhumanized, so I do not have images to share at this time.)

During the orientation, the proctors mentioned that the act of taking a picture “take, take, take” is an act of colonization, which is all about the extraction of people, land, and resources. This was used as an analogy to expecting to have time with Native elders who could “tell the history correctly” because people had “come to learn the truth” from the people most impacted. Not realizing that the imposition of time, from primarily white folx, was another act of colonization playing itself out, many had rushed to the elders. Many people had also been walking through camp with their cameras out, snapping shots of people in front of their teepees, which is no different than standing on someone’s lawn and pointing a camera into their home; taking, extracting, and feeling ‘entitled’ to do so. This colonialist imperative of take all you can for yourself, this capitalist motif is precisely what the people at Oceti Sakowin Camp are opposed to. It is this colonialist imperative and capitalist motif that Energy Transfer Partners are operating under; and they are precisely what underlies the exploitation and degradation of the planet through the burning of fossil fuels. Cultural appropriation, is stealing, it is taking without permission or understanding. We were informed that this was a camp of giving and of self-sacrifice for the common good, for the rest of humanity and all the creatures we share the world with. Thus, many of our beliefs and practices that people came to camp with needed to be unlearned and ceased because they are components of the very things that brought us to Oceti Sakowin in the first place and what we are working to overcome and evolve beyond.

Oceti Sakowin camp embodies the way of life that many of us are aspiring towards. A world in which the first thought is how I can fulfill the needs of others around me, instead of the first thought being how I can take care of my own needs by extracting things from others.

Living among the people at Standing Rock I learned that I do not need everything I think I need in order to not only survive, but to thrive healthily and to be happy.

When everyone is giving, then there is no lack. There is no need to be fearful that the things we actually ‘need’ will not be provided. This social organization is so completely contradictory to anything that most of us within the borders of Amerika are familiar with that it almost seems impossible because of how we have been indoctrinated to think and feel, but it works well. Not only is it liberating, but it is efficient and limits the amount of waste our society tends to produce and accumulate.

Many of our people suffer from forms of historical trauma, especially people of color, or are the beneficiaries of a long line of privileges gained from historical traumas, such as men and white folx, or both, and so the work to unpack, unlearn, and heal continues. These are deep emotional and intellectual processes. As such, they are not easily overcome. In fact, we tend to bring these things with us even when we are working to remedy human rights violations and to alter harmful practices. Unfortunately, there were more than a handful of events and occurrences from which to draw examples from at Oceti Sakowin camp. Notwithstanding that, and although it was problematic that a lot of misinformed, or uninformed, well-intentioned white folx poured into the camp during the week of Thanksgiving; it was nonetheless inspiring, to see so many people who are beginning to wake up and see our state of affairs for what it truly is. That being said, there is no doubt that a lot of emotional labor was unduly placed upon our hosts and other people of color to inform, correct, and instruct a lot of the people who simply did not understand things like, it is not cool just to walk up and touch someone else’s hair because you think it is fascinating. That is entitlement plain and simple, and it is an extension and an expression of colonization, one of the very things the people in the camp and elsewhere are working diligently to overcome.

Entering into another person’s personal space, and especially touching their body without prior consent because of either an implicit or explicit belief that you are entitled to do so (and this includes rape and rape culture) is a colonial and patriarchal act. Consent is vitally important to healthy relationships. Firstly, consent signifies that there is respect between two parties and an acknowledgement of both their humanity and their agency.

The Dakota Access Pipeline that Energy Transfer Partners is placing in the ground without the consent of Oceti Sakowin, is an act of colonization.

They have come into Oceti Sakowin lands, desecrated their ancestral burial grounds, and threaten to poison both the land and the headwaters with faulty technology that in addition, will also promote the distribution of CO2 from the burning of the oil, thus exacerbating the rate of climate change and the destruction of our environment. None of these outcomes are desirable to Oceti Sakowin, which is why they have gathered in opposition and put the call out for many forms of support. The Army Corps of Engineers, and Energy Transfer Partners have failed to respect the humanity and the agency of the peoples from Standing Rock, and by corollary the rest of us. The reason that so many in our society, and even among those who journeyed to Standing Rock to stand and work in solidarity, embodied and acted through this colonial lens is because that is what we have been indoctrinated with. Most do not understand that these every day, seemingly minor expressions are what permit the larger, more broadly impacting expressions to exist and persist.  Although, it is true that these things will not be overcome in a day, and that it should not be the responsibility of those who have already been harmed so much by this system and society of injustice to emotionally labor with those who still harbor, whether knowingly or not, colonial and patriarchal prejudices, ideologies, and beliefs, they must be continuously worked on; simultaneously within the system and within ourselves.

More than anything else, what I felt most while I was at Oceti Sakowin Camp, from the people at the camp, was love. What I felt from the people in North Dakota who opposed the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline was sheer hatred and anathema. When I was abducted by the police in a most violent and unjust manner while the people were praying for protection of our water, the bystanders denied our humanity in a manner of which I have never felt in my life. I was accosted by a woman who stared me directly in my eyes as I lay hog-tied on the ground in agonizing pain, when she proclaimed;

“Prison food is horrible. The way they treat you in prison is horrible. I hope you enjoy it there. You are getting everything you deserve.”

This was said moments before a chant for “blue lives matter,” then a chant stating “oil is life” began.  At this very moment, without restraint or regard for the welfare of people, the police were chasing unarmed, unthreatening, escaping, and innocent people tackling them like linebackers from the San Francisco 49ers, slamming them into walls and doors indiscriminately; merely selecting people of color they thought might have been involved in the prayer.

In stark opposition, as was mentioned above, much of the spirit of the people in the camp was along the lines of not dehumanizing as we all sought to establish and assert our own humanity. There was much forgiveness and grace, but more importantly, there was love. Criticism, when it is done constructively, and with the intention of improving the relations between relatives, is an act of kindness and love. I suppose that is why when that woman looked at me with such disdain, and spoke to me as if I was not a human being, that I did not become angry at her or her actions, but instead, I felt pity and sadness, and began to pray for her. Ironically, and quite contradictory to my previous sentiment, I also prayed for the police officers as I prayed for our water, our people, and our collective future.

I am still not a fan of and am starkly in opposition to the police institution as it exists, the militarization of local law enforcement all over the country, the prison industrial complex, the school to prison pipeline, the counterinsurgency against social movements to achieve justice and equity, but something definitely shifted in me during my time at Standing Rock.

Although, most of us who made the journey did not do so to learn or take anything home with us, I do not think it is possible for a person whose heart is open to spend time at Oceti Sakowin camp and not return home affected in some positive manner.

Many know that we need a new and redesigned legal and political system, which includes a new economic structure. However, more and more are coming to believe that the actual shift must occur on a spiritual level and must spread naturally among us as if it were a scent on the breeze that we all become aware of. A spiritual transition is not something that can or will be motivated by force, it is more about attraction than promotion or proselytizing. It is slower, but much longer lasting.

When this manifests, then many of the officers, militias, and military personnel who, because of the authoritative structure and plausible deniability who feel secure in participating in human rights violations, may begin not to silence their consciences and moral aptitudes any longer, and may begin to question the unchallenged consent to execute unjust orders against innocent human beings. If it truly manifested, then those institutions would no longer be necessary. The state will continue to issue orders, but the people will cease to follow them or step down all together. To be balanced, it has often been argued that the people in these positions lack consciences and that appealing to them is doom to failure, disillusionment, and further repression. That has more often than not been the case, so this perspective is completely rational. I have stood with my people in front of a line of cops screaming until we had no voices left dropping facts about the institution’s dehumanizing and brutal actions only to be beaten and unjustly arrested; and nothing seemed to change afterward. So, I have seen it with my own eyes. Yet, there are cops leaving the force all over the country because the brutal suppression of innocent people is not what they signed up for, and police departments have made public statements in direct opposition to the Trump policy of racially profiling people to inspect their citizenship documentation. Small steps to be certain, but it is evidence that a shift is also beginning to occur there as well. Like the Veterans who also journeyed to Standing Rock and participated in a major apology ceremony for their participation in the brutal suppression of indigenous peoples and made the declaration to oppose the practice. The indoctrination of lies and division that has sprung forth from Amerikan capitalism and imperialism is being torn apart and delegitimized.

Bernard LaFayette, the organizer from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who went to Selma Alabama and began the voter registration campaign there, also believed in and practiced seeing the humanity of our oppressors. There is a certain healing power in it, and it is also pointing toward a future when we see and feel more points of unity than division and difference among us. It is my belief that this shift in cultural understanding is well under way and is spreading. I felt more than the embers of this at Standing Rock, with people from all over the world, from many different backgrounds, with all kinds of stories all standing in unity under the leadership of the most impacted by this system, our Indigenous relatives. We all have much healing and growth ahead of us, and the state is ramping up its repressive regime, but it is inspiring to have witnessed and been party to the cultural shift of resistance that is underway, not only at Standing Rock, but all over the world.

#WaterIsLife

“Trump Card” by Renaissance

 

 

Many of the things that we as warriors for justice have fought for over generations are in jeopardy because of the President Elect. Labor unions, People of Color, LGBTQ Rights, Reproductive Rights, Immigration Rights, Human Rights, Civil Rights, Environmental Sustainability and Justice; this new administration is targeting nearly everything we as a people need to protect just to live day-to-day. Not that this isn’t true on any other day, just more so today, now is a time that we must act in unison to ensure or liberties and immunities are not destroyed.

Many will wonder about the choice of the title “Trump Card.” It is a saying that predates Donald Trump by over a century and means an unexpected and unforeseen condition or factor that overcomes all opposition. We the People and the Social Movement are the unexpected and unforeseen factor that will emerge victorious, which is precisely what I wrote to this song to report and encourage.

#GOPHANDSOFFME

As an American Citizen I am disgusted and appalled by whom this society has selected as potential formal leaders of our country.

As a Black Man I am insulted and angered because there could be no more flagrant a display of rampant hatred for the people who have been minoritized, marginalized, and pushed to the side in this society, than the so-called ‘leaders’ we are now presented with.

As a Human Being I am ashamed and infuriated that a man who blatantly and openly disregards and dehumanizes half of our species could even be mentioned in the same statement as a person who represents the people.

I stand in solidarity with our sisters, mothers, daughters, aunties, and grandmothers.

To be certain, I am not with the Clinton camp, there has been far too much harm done to Black and Brown communities to ever forgive; families disparaged and torn apart; trade agreements that have led impoverished people of color worldwide to suffer; the prison industrial complex…

However, I am diametrically opposed to Trump becoming president of the United States! It sickens me to my stomach and wrenches my soul that there are enough people in this society who have espoused and endorsed his views and behaviors to even permit him a chance at the presidency. America has not come quite so far as it likes to pride itself on.

What I and you both know is that the office of president is not synonymous with leader, and certainly not leader of the people. The people are the government. The people are the leaders. Nothing happens without our say-so. This is why, all of us, whether we have the right to vote or not, must stand in opposition against this tyranny and declare

#NotOneMore
#BlackLivesMatter
#BlackPower #BrownPride
#Liberation
#gopHandsOffMe

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

https://www.facebook.com/events/630232453828500/

Vacant Predictions

Lots of people want to make claims about how good or bad some event, statement, person, or action is and the impact they think it or they will have on the movement for justice and achieving freedom from oppression, but I am not so sure that anyone truly knows the impact of any one particular thing. It sure does lead to a lot of energy spent bickering with each other and not being focused on the major problems at hand. For better or worse, it does seem that everything comes together for a reason. I think that as long as we keep our eyes on the prize of achieving liberation, then liberation is what we will have.

We Will Have Our Victory

Answering the call of war we ran into the streets

Blood had spilled, the cops had killed, revenge was looking sweet

Didn’t matter who you were, or what neighborhood you from

All that mattered, was that, with this system, you were done!

The horns and the drums, fire poundin in our hearts

Raging through our veins, was an anger off the charts

Black, White, Asian, Native, Mexican, we all

Knew this racist, white supremist system had to fall

Downtown to Westlake, where all of us converged

Hands Up! Don’t Shoot! Was the war-cry that emerged

As we took over the streets, people steady flooding in

Bringing traffic to a halt, the movement had began

A fight for Human Rights, for Dignity and Life

A fight for Respect, Liberty the Right

To go to the store and to make it home alive

Cuz it’s nearly, impossible, to be Black, and to survive

The gauntlet of the school system not going to jail

a prisoner, a slave, told we can do naught but to fail

While a system of laws, written to, protect, us all

We wanted to know that cops were not above the law

Due Process, that precious 5th Amendment clause

They are neither judge nor jury, but they’re acting without pause

And while none of this is new to a people who’ve seen the worst

Daren Wilson’s, non-indictment, is what pushed us to subverse!

We will have struggle

Won’t be defeated

We will have justice

Won’t be defeated

We will have freedom

Won’t be defeated

Working Together we will have our Victory

We will have struggle

Won’t be defeated

We will have justice

Won’t be defeated

We will have freedom

Won’t be defeated

Working Together we will have our Victory

Marching through the streets, was simply not enough

Police came gassed up, turtle suits, and billy clubs

Seattle Mayor Murray, Chief O’Toole, and Bruce Harrell,

Our supposed ‘Civil Rights, City Hall Official’ failed

To recognize and respect, our Right, to assemble

To petition our government, for grievances, rendered

And instead authorized paramilitary troops

To stifle Free Speech, and Suppress the People whose

Intent was to acquire equal unbiased treatment

Guaranteed, in the 14th, Amendment achievement

In 1868, and over a hundred years later

Still waiting, hence my reason for being an Agitator

The people grew complacent, felt comfort in their ignorance

So, there was nothing left but Civil Disobedience

They disregarded us at city hall and public meetings

Labeled hooligans thugs, with anarchist leanings

Negotiation failed, and out gunned and out strategized

We recognized, to mobilize, we had to organize ourselves

If we meant to win against a system generations fixed

& that, is why, we created OA206

We will have struggle

Won’t be defeated

We will have justice

Won’t be defeated

We will have freedom

Won’t be defeated

Working Together we will have our Victory

We will have struggle

Won’t be defeated

We will have justice

Won’t be defeated

We will have freedom

Won’t be defeated

Working Together we will have our Victory

We hit the streets, we had to, people were dying

All were upset, the government was conspiring

State Sanctioned Violence, was claiming our people’s lives

Impunity ubiquitous, getting off left and right

Martin, Brown, Garner, Rice, and Boyd

Their killers walked free, everyone was annoyed

Darren Wilson made half a mil with network ABC

Adding insult to injury, we just couldn’t believe

Being Black, was not, a precondition, for anger

But in the protracted struggle, color became a hang-up

First there was a split between the Brown and the White

Which, made perfect sense given the White Supremist plight

Then Black only spaces formed, to lead the struggle

Cuz One, should, rumble for their freedom, un-muzzled

But to deny, the vital intellect and the skills

Of a person, based on race, is a practice that kills

Black people suffering from internalized oppression

A festering pestilence, ushered death from within

& From the depths of deception, character assassination

Followed the path of this nation, down to the heart of black hatred;

This is where O.A. Split, and though, now it is clear

that the spiritual harms we came with left us unprepared

to truly unify against this Totalitarian Regime

We’re healing wounds and righting wrongs, that go back centuries

We will have struggle

Won’t be defeated

We will have justice

Won’t be defeated

We will have freedom

Won’t be defeated

Working Together we will have our Victory

We will have struggle

Won’t be defeated

We will have justice

Won’t be defeated

We will have freedom

Won’t be defeated

Working Together we will have our Victory

The Struggle Within

Setting out for justice, challenged at every turn
Only been centuries, I’d hoped, that we’d learned
But we still hate each other, just, want the world to burn
like here is your mother, cremated in an urn
Created in a flash can never be replicated
but the human intellect, selective and sedated
The individual over-weighted,
slated to be evaluated,
personal gain delineated
Look at the ones who finally made it
Sellin out they people to fatten they pockets lint
think they gettin somthin, but they souls have been spent
forgotten who they are, and what the movement meant
So, it is no wonder, that we’ve barely made a dent

Liberation from these chains, those were the calls that rang
Up and Down the streets, of a country so deranged
Estranged from its people, Hatred spewing from its steeples
Addicted to the havoc, like, the poison in a needle
Fear to be without, Hunger causes doubt
Will change what we’re about, till we purge the poison out
Taught to stand alone, we have to make our own
Buildin Brick by Brick, until, we can call it home
But, these are the chains that bind us
The gears, of the machine that grinds us
denies us the vital relations
Marx called it alienation, I call it constipation
Yet, Either way, it is the clot, that clogs the heart of our nation

So we stand at odds, casting lots and throwing rocks
Killing those who stand beside us, fearing plots
Co-Intel insidious, but something much more hideous
the pity is, we are worse than cops
Because our skin grants us in
we think an ally, even friend
But programmed by the system
opponent where it ends
We think of us, we think of me
We think of all our family needs
We think of all the harm been done
We think of all the treacherous deeds
And we come again to see
that beyond all the rhetoric
Alone is how we came, and alone is how we’ll leave
Till it shatters the meridians
And fills our hearts with greed
We assassinate and take, cuz we failed to believe
In us.

“Letter to the Men” by Renaissance the Poet: New HipHop Song & Explanatory Essay

How the hell is a man going to jump up and scream for Liberation and Justice, Equality and to be treated fairly, to have greater bargaining power, and to be treated like a human being; then turn around to promote Misogyny and Patriarchy which are mechanisms of Colonization and the Exploitation of the bodies and minds of women?

There is a manifest contradiction when these two opposite ends of the spectrum—justice vs. injustice—coalesce into one individual, wherein the latter completely disqualifies the former to the point that the man promotes a system of injustice instead of justice. Any ideology or societal organization principle that systematically relegates a particular group of people to a position of inferiority in a hierarchical structure, simply because of their affiliation or identity with the group is discriminatory, bigoted, and unjust to its core. Patriarchy is one of those unjust ideologies because it systematically seeks to relegate all women to positions of inferiority simply for being women. Ideologies that generalize and discriminate based on qualities beyond the will and volition of the individual is ignorant, short-sighted, and unjust.

Capability, merit, previous accomplishment, and potential future contributions are by far a more efficient and just means of distributing power and respect among and between people. Some men are promoted to positions of prestige and power, but lack the integrity, the intelligence, the character, and the communication skills necessary to perform the role they are selected for because they were selected solely on the basis of gender. This is a detrimental and foolhardy practice. Likewise, denying a position of prestige and power to a woman because the very same vital qualities that are necessary to fulfill the role are ignored for men and discounted in women, that is, they have not been considered in the cases of many women, qualities that they in fact possess. This is also a detrimental and foolhardy practice. If people were evaluated, both male and female, in terms of their capability; their merit, their previous accomplishments and their potential future contributions instead of their genders, sexes, ages, or ethnicity then the roles they are selected for would actually be fulfilled and the outcomes would be much more productive and achieved more efficiently.

A person should be judged by the contents of their character; not by their gender, sex, color, creed, or religion.

Adding Sexism to this discussion of the unjust hierarchical social structure of patriarchy, wherein the bodies of women are objectified and commodified, denying their humanity and instead attributing value to women only in sexual or monetary terms; the dehumanization of women is a glaring and unacceptable problem. It is also a dangerous and harmful combination.

Patriarchy is insidious because it has been the norm for thousands of years, and as a result the many ways it crops up could seem to many of the cisgendered men to be benign. For instance, the oldest reference to women as bitches I have found was in Homer’sThe Odyssey” from Ancient Greece. The term and the hatred of women, misogyny itself, is old, very old. Furthermore, contemporary women may be subjected to continuous unwanted sexual advances from men; men who feel entitled to do this because they are men and feel we must be macho and promiscuous to fulfill our roles as men. Patriarchy also denies women the same sexual freedoms granted to men and instead they are condemned and shamed by men and other women—who have been indoctrinated with patriarchy—for expressing themselves sexually, or dressing in a revealing manner. For thousands of years women have been thought of as being naturally ‘incompetent’ in some fields or activities, and their opinions in leadership roles have often been viewed as less credible. Women have rarely been given the same space to express their thoughts as men, regardless of how correct and astute they are and have been. Of course this denies the very real truth that women have been present and have been powerful decision makers in many of the biggest decisions that have shaped our world; the Julio-Claudian blood-line of the 12 Caesars of Rome in the era of Jesus was controlled by women; the shaping of the United States was heavily influenced by Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, one of the revolutionaries; Sojourner Truth the African American abolitionists; Harriet Tubman, an African American abolitionist and freedom fighter; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the suffragist; Eleanor Roosevelt, the first chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights; Madam C.J. Walker, the first Black Woman millionaire who created a line of black hair products; the list can go on. Patriarchy also shows up when a woman justly and intelligently asserts herself and her autonomy and she is referred to as a bitch, which is an attempt to discredit her and her assertions. Patriarchy is ugly and ubiquitous and the list can go on, but the point is that patriarchy seeks to deny women their humanity and relegate them to positions of inferiority wherein they are only perceived as minor partners, partial contributors, sexual objects, and needing a man’s guidance and protection (paternalism); none of which is true.

Here are three interrelated points:

1. In a sense, culture is a living entity. It does and must evolve. To claim that subordination of women must be “be natural and correct” because “that is how it has always been” is wrong. It is a cop-out, it is recklessly conservative, it is unjust, and it is childish.

2. That a man may feel ‘entitled’ to a woman’s body is a continuation of exploitation and slavery; slavery simply being the ownership of another’s body. It is the refusal to recognize the autonomy of another. Entitlement can only emerge when one ‘feels’ they have the right to ownership over something or someone.

3. For a man to clamor for his rights and equity, and deny women similar rights and equity is a manifest contradiction to the concept of justice, equality, and world free from oppression.

Furthermore, that men are afraid of women and their inherent potential to shape our world; much the same as racism is about managing the fear of Black people coming to social, political and economic power because white people fear that the same harms they have visited on Black People will be visited upon them. This fear is driven by greed, the most fundamental components of colonialism and exploitation. It is about power, which is expressed in terms of control of the external world and, most often control of resources or other people. This fear is a plague that has led men to attempt to silence women and to hold them in bondage because of a fear of a loss of control, but this behavior is stifling our ability to develop as a people into a more mature society and culture. Since all living things must grow, this pestilent nostalgia is actually choking our culture and killing us: Reverse Racism.

I am calling on the men to be more; to do less; and to acknowledge, accept and respect the leadership of women. I am calling on the men to end our subordination of women; to end our abuse of women; and to stand up to those who continue to hate and abuse women. I am calling on the men to see and acknowledge the true value inherent in each and every woman; to treasure that value; and to disregard the antiquated valuation of women that has been instilled in us by the oppressive and colonizing culture of conquest and sexual exploitation. I am calling on the men to recognize the harm we are doing to us all by holding half of our population hostage, in bondage, attempting to silence the best within us. I am calling on the men to be Men, and in particular Black Men, to do away with this ideology of dualism and competition so that we can move forward as a people and achieve the liberation we so desperately desire.

i.Written by Renaissance the Poet

ii. Edited by Sharon Welensky & Tim Sage

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Backing Track & Mix by Scott Paul Johnson

www.facebook.com/spjohnson

Written & Recorded by Renaissance the Poet

www.facebook.com/renaissancethepoet.official

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Lyrics:

Verse 1

There’s a very real problem that needs to be addressed

And I hope my words offend, cause you to question your intents

As a man, a male, privileged, to live without regrets

This letter is for you, from a man who finally gets

That Oppression of women is the sickest form there is

there is nothing that epitomizes hatred more than this

Weakness, feeling the need to express dominance

Prominently, by suppressing a woman’s right to live

& to live un-assailed by male hostility

In the streets, on the job and in our families

Sexual harassment an infectious demon,

Spreading because men feel entitled to bodies bein

Perceived as property, a fallacy Contradicting we

The liberty we scream for we constantly recede

Cuz our greed makes us think we can take all that we see

We’d never tolerate being another man’s property

Chorus

Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives, Friends

The Women of the World combine to be the best there is

I just can’t take the hate no more, I’m calling out the men

You have a duty to us all to be the best you can

Verse 2

Walking down the street women have to risk the cat calling

Being asked for numbers, getting groped, raped and can’t stop it

& when they Stand Their Ground, flipping around the situation

Denying a man has the Right to incur this inflammation

She is insulted, threatened and in the worst cases

Women have been killed for denying men to their faces

& if that is not entitlement then I don’t know what is

Because who has a claim to another’s life

Let alone to a smile or even her mind

If she graces you the privilege, it is a gift, not a right

And she has the Right, like us, to be left alone

On her way home, to school, work or talking on the phone

& She has the Right to associate with you or not

Without fear of reprisal or the way being blocked

It’s not for you to decide, this is her choice

Infringement is Wrong, man, so cease all the noise

Chorus

Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives, Friends

The Women of the World combine to be the best there is

I just can’t take the hate no more, I’m calling out the men

You have a duty to us all to be the best you can

Verse 3

Women should be valued and cherished not disrespected

They’re Amazing, Intelligent, Partners, and they’re Finished

They do not need anything added or taken from them

There is nothing a man has that a woman needs from him

Not even semen, if that’s what you’re thinking

You can Check a sperm bank if you think that I am beefin

Paternalism a joke, they’re as capable as men

Neither need concealing nor protection, because they’re Women

They’re Human and were born with all they will ever need

Save respect and to be loved, just like you and me

And humans deserve to be treated with dignity

That means treated with equity, honor and esteem

Fail in any of these and you’ll see that she up and leaves

And finds one who can provide all the things that she needs

But I see that so many out get this wrong

& that’s why I wrote you a letter in the form of a song

Chorus

Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives, Friends

The Women of the World combine to be the best there is

I just can’t take the hate no more, I’m calling out the men

You have a duty to us all to be the best you can