Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dr. Jared Ball on the Fourth of July, the Birthday of Patrice Lumumba, the State of Black America and Black Buying Power

Imixwhatilike Logo 2For this year’s Fourth of July observation (“celebration” would not be the appropriate word), we at KUUMBAReport Online are going to correct an oversight for which we have been responsible over the past several years.  We have long been impressed by the intellect, commitment and Pan-Afrikan activism of Dr. Jared Ball, and his WPFW-FM Radio Show and his iMiXWHATiLiKE website (https://imixwhatilike.org/) have provided a service to people of Afrikan descent, as well as those who are committed to Truth and Justice, that cannot be overestimated.  Earlier this year, we finally asked for permission to repost some of his commentaries and to link to his site.  Below, we have reposted or linked to five commentaries on the Fourth of July, Black Buying Power, the Urban League’s State of Black America Report and, perhaps most importantly, the commemoration of the 92nd Birthday of Patrice Lumumba, the first elected President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo who was assassinated by Col. Joseph Mobutu and the US CIA on January 17, 1961, barely a year after his inauguration. 

These are just five of the many analyses that can be found on the website https://imixwhatilike.org/.

Independence For Whom? Critical Responses from the Colony

Dr. Hate, the crew from Voices with Vision (Tuesdays 10a WPFW 89.3 FM, wpfw.org), The Black Power Ranger and Ateya Ball-Lacey were all on hand for critical reflections on the 4th of July and efforts to restore lost humanity and histories.  We also sneak previewed our forthcoming documentary George Jackson: Releasing the Dragon by airing an exclusive interview clip from one of Jackson’s comrades David Johnson about The Dragon and Jackson being the consummate soldier. Please also check out Ball-Lacey’s project, Hood Smart: The Urban STEMulus Project for more!For the hour-long program “Independence for Whom?”, visit the iMiXWHATiLiKE website, https://imixwhatilike.org/2015/07/03/independence-for-whom-critical-responses-from-the-colony/ 

Patrice Lumumba 2The Birth of Patrice Lumumba and the Assassination of a Free Africa

Congolese human rights advocate and Student Coordinator and National Spokesperson for the Friends of the Congo Kambale Musavuli talks about the 90th birthday of slain revolutionary Patrice Lumumba and the continuing negative impact of that assassination on all of Africa.

The Myth of Black Buying Power

myth – a widely held but false belief or idea.

Myth Basics:

  1. The claim that African America has roughly $1 trillion in “buying power” is popularly repeated mythology with no basis in sound economic logic or data.  While the myth has a longer history it is today largely propelled by misreadings and poor (false) interpretations of Nielsen surveys and marketing reports produced by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the Terry College of Business housed in the Bank of America Financial Center in Athens, GA.
  2. “Buying Power” is a marketing phrase that refers only to the “power” of consumers to purchase what are strictly available goods and is used as a measurement for corporations to better market their products. “Power” here has nothing to do with actual economic strength and there is no collective $1+ trillion that Black people have and just foolishly spend ignorantly to their economic detriment.
  3. The myth of “buying power” functions as propaganda working to deny the reality of structural, intentional and necessary economic inequality required to maintain society as it is, one that benefits an increasingly decreasing number of people.  To do this the myth functions to falsely blame the poor for being poor.  Poverty, the myth encourages, is the result of the poor having little to no “financial literacy”, or as resulting from their bad spending habits, when in reality poverty is an intended result of an economic and social system.

For the full analysis, visit the iMiXWHATiLiKE website, https://imixwhatilike.org/2017/04/28/the-myth-of-black-buying-power/

Assessing The Urban League’s State of Black America

Eugene Puryear and Jared Ball discuss the recent State of Black America report from The Urban League. Can the analyses included in the report and those the rest of us derive move beyond potential limitations imposed by its partners/sponsors Well Fargo, Bank of America, Wal-Mart and AT&T?

Hear the rest of the show and find Puryear’s By Any Means Necessary archives HERE.

Dr Jared Ball 1The 4th of July, Hip-Hop and National “Inattentional Blindness”

Say what you want about the level of resistance to this country’s wonderfully constructed image and mythology, that which it creates about itself or those it holds in check; but hip-hop is a leading force in that fight.  In fact, without hip-hop very little of the symbolism or artistic expression of radical resistance to the brutality this country can impose on its own would be known or felt.  Without hip-hop so much of what I heard described recently as “inattentional blindness” would pass without recognition. So as another celebration of the 4th of July passes for some of us it is hip-hop that best represents in this moment the sickeningly still-relevant question of Frederick Douglass: “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?”

National Public Radio (NPR) again recently demonstrated that the real national pastime is not baseball, nor is it football.  In fact, it is no game at all; it is the collective disavowal of racism’s origin, function and impact.  White supremacy remains so powerfully unnamed in its relationship to power that its complete removal from even its most obvious displays is almost laughable.  NPR’s story was the retelling of the 1995 case where Michael Cox, a Black Boston police officer, was mistaken for a criminal and viciously beaten by his White colleagues.  But NPR’s focus was not the continuing cycle of police violence against Black people, no.  In an almost ironic twist NPR’s focus was research into a condition known as “inattentional blindness” or the inability to see even the most shocking events around you due to intense focus on something else.

Instead of investigating the routine abuse of Black people by the police NPR chose to recast this story with a focus on the fact that one officer is said to have run right past a group of his fellow White cops beating a defenseless Black man without seeing a thing as a case of “inattentional blindness.”  He was so keyed in on a subject he was chasing that he was momentarily incapable of seeing the beating.  What makes the NPR piece nearly ironic is that were this story told by The Onion or had it once been a sketch on the Chappelle Show the humor in the framing of the story would be obvious.  But it is indicative of the national need to have as its national pastime a national “inattentional blindness” to the ways in which its oppressed communities suffer.

The framing of this story by NPR is indicative of the national blindness to the treatment of its colonized inhabitants.  It is the oft-described invisibility of Black suffering which is a political necessity to the stability of social order that demands non-sight of the unsightly, of the wretched.  And it is often hip-hop, the maligned, misrepresented angry — yet poetic — responses that reminds the world of the fakery in the stars and stripes.  Skipp Coon said, he’d “rather see it ablaze” than salute it. Killer Mike, a la Michelle Alexander, is reminding us that prisons are “new age slavery” and a la Malcolm X suggests we all get a “shotgun” and that, a la the misrepresented Magnificent one, says he will “burn this muthaf**ka down!”

And like Mike is Jasiri X denying the blindness by retelling the story of Jordan Miles, another of the more recent innocent victims of police violence; another national pastime to which Pharoahe Monch suggests the response be to Clap … and [he] don’t mean applause.”  It is also the journalistic work in hip-hop, from DaveyD to FreeMix Radio where such artistry is reported in connection to the political activism that also seeks to deny the imposed blindness to as, Kwasi Seitu reports, the continued “coon hunting” by police in cities like the nation’s capital. No room for inattention here.  In fact, quite the opposite.

As we go to press artists and activists are gathering in New York City to raise further protest to this past week’s police violence against people gathered at the Pete Rock/Smif-n-Wessun album release party.  The press release for the event calls for the police to stop seeing hip-hop gatherings as “a crime waiting to happen.” But in the eyes of a country whose national pastime is the “inattentional blindness” to Black suffering gathering crowds of Black people are indeed potentially threatening criminal acts.

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NYC Jericho and Universal Zulu Nation on Surviving Encounters with the Police

Editor’s Note: The following is both an announcement for a free public event (Wednesday, July 5, 2017 in New York City) and also a public service from the New York Jericho Movement and the Universal Zulu Nation.  For this reason, the event is announced in our Community Calendar as well as in this section, and this blog post will remain after the event because of the advice given below on surviving encounters with police.  The suggestions below are designed to ensure that your rights in such an encounter are legally asserted while also minimizing the likelihood of being harmed by police officers.  It is unfortunate, given the recent incidents of police brutality, and the subsequent refusal, even by “juries of our peers”, to convict officers who were clearly incriminated by visual evidence, that this kind of advice is necessary, but it is an important service to help ensure that all of us, in the event of such an encounter, will at least survive long enough to answer charges of criminality as well as post claims of police misconduct or abuse in court.

New York City Jericho Movement
SAVE THE DATE!
The “Universal Zulu Nation” In Association With The NYC “Stop The Raids Coalition” Presents…

A Basic Introduction To Surviving Encounters With The Police
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm   (doors open at 6:30 pm)
@ The National Black Theater
2031 Fifth Avenue  (between 125th/126th streets)
Harlem, New York 10035 

*Free Admission – All Are Welcome! 

Last week was a devastating moment for our communities with THREE painful not guilty verdicts in the police murders of Philando Castile, Samuel Dubose and Sylville Smith. The horrible reality is that cops can kill Black, Brown and oppressed people and get away with it.

First prepare by reading & studying the below “What To Do If You’re Stopped By The Police”  and then; Join us next week at Harlem’s National Black Theater for a “Free” introductory mini-workshop to learn some basic information that could very well save your life and the lives of your loved ones. 

Featuring:

– A Short Film Screening of “Every Mothers Son”
– Know Your Rights & Legal First Aid at Home, your Car and In The Streets
– Cop Watch, Self Defense & Survival Against Physical Police Attacks
– People’s Security and Anti-Police Terror Tactics at Marches & Demonstrations
– People’s Cyber Security & Countering Police Intelligence 

Information:  Panthershepcat@aol.com  – and/or –  big_zulu@yahoo.com

____________________________________

 What to Do If You’re Stopped by the Police

We all recognize the need for effective law enforcement, but we should also understand our own rights and responsibilities — especially in our interactions with the police. This card tells you what to do if you are stopped, questioned, arrested, or injured in your encounter with the police, and how to file a complaint. IF YOU HAVE A POLICE ENCOUNTER, YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF.

What you say to the police is always important. Everything you say can be used against you.

You have the right not to speak. To exercise this right, you should tell the police, “I would like to remain silent.”

You never have to consent to a search of yourself, your belongings, your car or your house. If you do consent to a search, it can affect your rights later in court. If the police say they have a search warrant, ask to see it. If they don’t, say “I do not consent to this search.” Police cannot arrest you simply for refusing to consent
to a search. This may not stop the search from happening, but it will protect your rights if you have to go to court.

Do not interfere with or obstruct the police—you can be arrested for it.

IF YOU ARE STOPPED, QUESTIONED AND/OR FRISKED:

Police may stop and briefly detain you only if there is reasonable suspicion that you committed, are committing or are about to commit a crime.

You should ask if you are under arrest or free to leave.

In New York, you are not required to carry ID, and you don’t have to show ID to a police officer. If you are issued a summons or arrested, however, and you refuse to produce ID or tell officers who you are, the police may detain you until you can be positively identified.

Don’t bad-mouth a police officer or run away, even if you believe what is happening is unreasonable. That could lead to your arrest.

IF YOU ARE STOPPED IN YOUR CAR:

Upon request, show the police your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant. To protect yourself later, you should state that you do not consent to a search.

If you’re suspected of drunk driving (DWI), you will be asked to take a breath-alcohol and coordination test. If you fail the tests, or if you refuse to take them, you will be arrested, your driver’s license may be suspended and your car may be taken away.

If you are arrested, your car will be subject to a search.

IF POLICE COME TO YOUR HOME:

The police can enter your home without your permission if they have a warrant or if it is an emergency. If the police say they have a warrant, ask to see it. Check to make sure the warrant has the correct address.

If you are arrested in your home or office, the police can search you and the area immediately surrounding you or where evidence of criminal activity is in plain view.

IF YOU ARE ARRESTED OR TAKEN TO A POLICE STATION:

You have the right to remain silent and the right to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. Don’t tell the police anything except your name and address. Don’t give any explanations, excuses or stories. You can make your defense later, in court, based on what you and your lawyer decide is best.

If you have a lawyer, ask to see your lawyer immediately. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you have the right to a free one once your case goes to court. You can ask the police how to contact a lawyer. Don’t say anything to police without speaking to a lawyer first.

Within a reasonable time after your arrest or booking, you should ask the police to contact a family member or friend. If you are permitted to make a phone call, anything you say at the precinct may be recorded or listened to. Never talk about the facts of your case over the telephone.

Do not make any decisions in your case or sign any statements until you have talked with a lawyer.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE STOPPED BY THE POLICE

  • Stay calm and in control of your words, body language and emotions.
  • Don’t get into an argument with the police.
  • Never bad-mouth a police officer.
  • Remember, anything you say or do can be used against you.
  • Keep your hands where the police can see them.
  • Don’t run.
  • Don’t touch any police officer.
  • Don’t resist even if you believe you are innocent.
  • If you complain at the scene, or tell the police they’re wrong, do so in a non-confrontational way that will not intensify the scene.
  • Do not make any statements regarding the incident.
  • If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer immediately.
  • Remember officers’ badge numbers, patrol car numbers and physical descriptions.
  • Write down everything you remember ASAP.
  • Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers.
  • If you are injured, take photos of the injuries as soon as possible, but make sure you get medical attention first. Ask for copies of your medical treatment files.

To File A Police Misconduct Complaint: Contact the Civilian Complaint Review Board by calling 311 or by visiting www.nyc.gov/html/ccrb.

Our mailing address is:

New York City Jericho Movement
P.O. Box 670927
Bronx, NY 10467

www.jerichony.org

Synopsis of the June 22 “No More Excuses” Rally in Baltimore, Maryland

The organization BlackMen Unifying BlackMen held its second “No More Excuses” Rally at the historic Arch Social Club on Thursday, June 22.  The next Rally is scheduled for July 27 at Arch Social Club.

At the “No More Excuses” Rallies, Black men come together to speak frankly but respectfully to each other about the ills that impact our Community and the degree to which our own actions, and inactions, have created or aggravated some of the crises we face.

Spearheaded by community activists Bill Goodin, Renny Bass, David Murphy, George Mitchell and Dr. Andrey Bundley, these rallies, which are really open, honest and frank meetings among Black men, provide an opportunity for us to challenge each other but also to make constructive suggestions to each other in a safe space.  Service providers offering employment, training, community mediation, substance abuse treatment, parenting assistance and other essential services are invited to apply for opportunities to make presentations.

BlackMen Unifying BlackMen was initiated nineteen months ago when Bill Goodin put out a call, largely on Facebook, calling on Black men to come together to simply “break bread” with one another at breakfast meetings held on the first Saturday of every month.  As he explains it, Renny Bass once said to him, “If I know you, I’m less likely to pull the trigger on you.”  This simple thought helped spark a year and a half of breakfast meetings, mostly at Terra Café on St. Paul and 25th Streets, but also at the Downtown Cultural Arts Center on Howard Street downtown and the Arch Social Club in the Penn-North Community.

The work of BlackMen Unifying BlackMen has the potential to help spark many other programs, including the Pan-Afrikan Town Halls and Cooperative Coalitions we have promoted on this site, because of the basic fellowship these meetings and rallies have engendered.  Some critics have questioned the organization’s political focus, but they have remained patient about taking sides in many of the political debates that embroil our Community, save one: the need for Black men to take responsibility and to take leadership in the healing of our Communities.  Central to that goal is for us to learn how to treat each other, our families, and our Communities with respect.  The fact is, we cannot build together, struggle together and heal our Community together if we haven’t gotten the “together” part of that equation down first.

This is an example of Black Men standing up and taking responsibility for healing our community, and these committed community activists are to be greatly commended for their efforts.

The following is the synopsis of the June 22 “No More Excuses” Rally, as composed by NaNo Tech Analytics & Consulting and distributed by Minister Glenn Smith of BlackMen Unifying BlackMen.

Synopsis of the last “No Excuses Rally” June 22nd:
Identified problems, needs and discussion points

Culture
1.  Image of self- Who and what we see when we look around our environment or in the media affects us.  Our self-image influences our self-respect and esteem, communication, character, and habits. What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do we see who we actually are or who they programmed us to see?

2. Cultural mind frame- We have no singular mind frame to operate from. We are a very diverse group of people as the decedents of the Diasporan African. Though there are advantages in regards to creativity, we tend to be segmented and have no basic cultural ideal to hold us together.

3. We need a Hub/Headquarters- The ARCH Social Club was suggested because the building has tremendous potential and tons of history.

Business
4. Business development/Business thinking- We have to develop the quality of our businesses. We have to support local black business primarily. Business is an amazing tool for revenue accumulation, tax advantages and a way to service and support your community. As a people we need multi-streams of income, multi-platforms and organized leadership to address our socio-economic needs.

5. Demand from those you support- if I support your business and social interest economically than I expect for my business and social interest to be supported by you economically. If reciprocity is not offered then we will demand it. If the demand is not met the support will stop.

6. Infrastructure and breaking into markets- Other cultures have a monopoly on capital, raw material and other resources. We need to break into and acquire control of markets which influence our livelihood through. It was suggested we pursue Liquor, Marijuana, and Pharmaceutical licensure. Develop a Real Estate Investment Trust and understand wealth transfer.

Community
7. Community needs assessment vs. blanket approach- An army going into neighborhoods gathering information on the needs of a particular community and the varying degrees of assistance required; instead of a handful of people making decisions, implementing policies and enforcing laws for people they do not understand. Policy and the methods of implementation have to represent the true need of the community.

8. Community Accountability/Community Policing- We have to look at and take responsibility for what goes on in our community without fear or apology. Churches and businesses within specific areas can begin to address specific needs of those areas.

Youth/Education
9. There is a huge need for additional black (male) educators/curriculum focused on Black culture- We need to teach our children the truth about this world as it relates to them and how to navigate for success.

10. Alumni supported schools- Former students are a strong resource to every school. Alumni, current students and parents are a strong force that once unified can make serious demands. Realistically, there are always more alumni than there are current students which lends to numerical power.

11. Mentorship- Necessary guidance and specialized training for our future generations.

12. Understanding the generational impact- The next 5-8 generations will be affected by our actions or inactions.

Real Talk
13. Radical response when necessary- Requires preparation and strategic execution (there is a time for everything, even a time to fight).

14. We are a puzzle within ourselves, where other groups see us as a whole. Our strategies are scattered and our efforts of fragmented; while the efforts against us are organized, calculated, and intentional.

15. We have to decide how to address the collateral damage in our community- We will fail if we attempt to save everyone, especially without proper positioning.

16. We are our own worst enemy- History will reveal we have constantly been destabilized from within by those who were ill-informed and persuaded by material possessions and pseudo-power from outsiders.

17. Struggle- is enjoyable/break down and break through our insecurities and tap into the love. Where love exists fear cannot survive, but where fear resides love cannot thrive.

Mental
18. Mental health issues/drug abuse- We cannot run from the fact that our people are hurting, traumatized, stressed, and overwhelmed with social pressure. To deny this fact and leave it unaddressed is a set up for failure.

19. Collaborative mindset vs. competitive mindset- The centipede or the three headed dragon approach. 

20. Serious vetting- We have to be more than careful about how we treat our women, children and the mentality of the people we allow  to influence our core efforts.

Composed by: NaNO Tech Know Analytics & Consulting, LLC                                                                                                                           June 2017

Maryland Pan Afrikan Town Hall 2 Scheduled for Saturday, August 12

Pan Afrikan Town Hall 2 August 12 2017aThe work that was begun on June 24 with the Pan-Afrikan Town Hall Meeting at Baltimore’s historic Arch Social Club continues on Saturday, August 12 with the Maryland Pan-Afrikan Town Hall 2, a cooperative project of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus, Souls of Life Society, Teaching Artist Institute, Organization of All Afrikan Unity-Black Panther Cadre and the Arch Social Club.

The event will continue the building of a Pan Afrikan Agenda for the Maryland Afrikan-Descendant Community, followed by the nomination of a Community Council of Elders and potential State Representatives who would promote the Maryland Pan Afrikan Agenda at national meetings such as the SRDC National Summit (which will be held this October in Nashville, Tennessee) and international gatherings such as Pan Afrikan Congresses, United Nations hearings, African Union meetings and other similar events when the Diaspora is invited to share its global perspectives.

The entire Pan-Afrikan Community is invited to come out to this Town Hall.  For more information, please feel free to contact Bro. Cliff at cliff@kuumbareport.com.

Maryland Holds Successful Pan-Afrikan Town Hall on June 24

Arch Social Club 2On Saturday, June 24, the Maryland Pan-Afrikan Town Hall was held at the historic Arch Social Club in the Penn-North neighborhood of Baltimore City, Maryland.  Located at the intersection of Pennsylvania and North Avenues, Arch Social Club, the second-oldest Black social club in the country at over 105 years of age, has been a cultural and social fixture in the Penn-North neighborhood.

Penn-North became famous after the April 2015 rebellions that immediately followed the death in police custody of Freddie Gray.  That incident had become this  city’s symbol of the people’s anger in response to police abuse, much as the protests, rebellions and even riotous behavior on Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown, and the massive street protests in New York City following the death of Eric Garner.

It was important to hold a Town Hall in Penn-North precisely because of the multiple ills that have afflicted this neighborhood: a lack of economic opportunity as demonstrated by the lack of fresh grocery stores (much of West Baltimore has been designated a food desert) and an increasing number of empty buildings that had once housed small businesses, a level of street crime that reflects that lack of economic opportunity and a populace desperate for some means of subsistence, a dearth of community centers and educational opportunities, a police force that sometimes behaves as colonial overlords and a populace that continues to search for answers to the age-old question, “Why are we catching hell?”

But Penn-North is not without its bright spots.  A local branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library sits across Pennsylvania Avenue from Arch Social Club, and a block to the east on North Avenue sits Everyone’s Place, a Black-owned bookstore that has often been a hub of Pan-Afrikan positivity.  These beacons of hope in the community, along with Arch Social Club and several other Black-owned businesses, went largely unscathed during the unrest of April and May 2015, even as the CVS pharmacy across the street was burned to the ground during the rebellion.  There are community members in Penn-North who are working diligently to make positive change in their neighborhood.  And even the so-called “criminal element” generally shows some respect for Arch Social Club, the Library and Everyone’s Place, as well as other Black businesses and public services that bring a degree of relief and healing to the community.

The Pan-Afrikan Town Hall that was held on June 24 was sponsored by the Arch Social Club and the Maryland Organizing Committee of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC), a Pan-Afrikan Diaspora organization that was founded in 2006 to organize the voice of the grassroots Afrikan Diaspora (those people of Afrikan descent who live outside the Afrikan Continent around the world) and to create a means by which that voice, which often goes unheard by the political, economic and intellectual elites, can be expressed on the World Stage.  This generally means conferences held by the United Nations (such as occasional events held in New York by the UN’s Human Rights Commission to discuss police brutality), civil society bodies under the African Union (the AU has issued a standing invitation to the Diaspora to establish representatives on its Economic, Social and Cultural Council or ECOSOCC, though it has yet to finalize the acceptance of the plan to accomplish this that SRDC has submitted), or conferences and congresses established by Afrikan descendants in the Diaspora ourselves, such as Pan Afrikan Congresses and national or international conferences or panels by various Afrikan Diaspora organizations.

About the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus and Its Mission

SRDC Logo Official 2013SRDC gets its name from the fact that, in 2003, the African Union first designated the Diaspora as the Sixth Region of the Afrikan World, since the Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western and Central Regions of the Afrikan Continent had already been designated as Regions 1 through 5.  Thus, the Diaspora, since it does not exist in any of those Regions of Afrika, would be the Sixth Region.  It was the African Union (AU) which had initially inspired the founding of SRDC, though the AU’s often-maddening bureaucratic nature has caused enough suspicion among many of our people that it was necessary to widen SRDC’s focus, to not only include the AU as an objective, but also other international bodies, in the event the AU fails to open its doors completely to the Diaspora.  In this way, SRDC has become a more independent Pan-Afrikan  organization, ready to take the case of people of Afrikan descent wherever we need to in order to make our voices heard.  It is not unlike the urging of Ancestor Malcolm X in 1964 for Afrikan-Americans to stop “taking our case from the wolf to the fox” and instead “take Uncle Sam before the world.”

What makes SRDC’s approach different from many others is the fact that it does not impose an Agenda on the grassroots communities from imminent professors, high-powered businessmen, powerful politicians, media personalities or intellectuals who “know” what our people need.  Indeed, there are the occasional professors, business persons, members of the Black Media, and intellectuals involved, but there are also hardcore grassroots organizers, creative artists, spiritual leaders, revolutionary activists and “just plain folks” involved.  In other words, everybody.  This is not designed to be a “top-down” organization where the “leaders” tell the people what we are going to do.  Instead, the Town Hall is the means by which the Community tells the organizers what issues are important to them, in the states or cities where they live, and the organizers must then take that information and develop a local Pan Afrikan Agenda from what the Community tells them.  Local Pan-Afrikan organizers and activists, as well as the “average man or woman on the ground”, are all invited to participate and help build the Pan Afrikan Agenda, together.

Local organizing is important not just because SRDC believes every Community has the right to make its voice heard, but also because different local communities in different parts of the US and around the world often face different challenges.  Though there are certainly issues we all have in common, from institutional racism and systemic discrimination, lack of economic opportunity, and even violence at the hands of repressive law enforcement, militia and vigilantes, certain localities still face problems that are, to a degree, unique.  The Black Farmers of North Carolina face institutionalized rural Black land loss and the threat of industrial farming.  Black communities in New Orleans live under the constant threat of hurricanes and other natural disasters, and the man-made disasters they often bring with them in the forms of redistricting, gentrification, police brutality, political disenfranchisement, environmental racism and urban Black land loss.  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is still reeling, to a degree, from the legacy of the violence imposed upon the Black Panthers in the 1960s and the MOVE Organization from the 1970s to today.  Flint, Michigan is a glaring example of political disenfranchisement, official police abuse and environmental racism at their worst.  And across the South and certain areas of the Midwest where Black people live in large enough numbers to make White people nervous, there is still much vigilante violence and official voter suppression, as well as violation of other civil and human rights.  Thus, it’s important that localities across the United States and throughout the Global Diaspora meet and hold Town Hall Meetings such as these, so the concerns and solutions of the people who live in these places can be organized, expressed and acted upon, led by the people in a “bottom-up”, not “top-down”, fashion.

Another important objective of the Town Hall is the nomination and, ultimately, election of a Representative Team that would then present the local Pan Afrikan Agenda at SRDC’s annual National Summit, as well as at international meetings as the opportunity arises.  That Team would consist of two (2) Representatives from each state (in the US; other countries and sub-regions of the Diaspora would determine their own systems for establishing their local and national spokespeople), along with up to six (6) Observers (“backups” to the Representatives who would assume those duties if a Representative were unable to continue), and a Council of Elders (whose primary tasks would be to advise the Representatives, correct mistakes and misdeeds by activists, organizers and Community members, and mediate disputes).  All of these positions would work with the State Facilitator (a volunteer who usually is the person who started the organization in that state and essentially manages the process and helps ensure that the objectives are met) to bring the voice of the grassroots Community together and express that voice at the National Summit and international gatherings.

The June 24 Town Hall in Baltimore

The Arch Social Club, "Back In The Day".

The Arch Social Club, “Back In The Day”.

After several years of reaching out to other Pan-Afrikan organizations, searching for viable locations at which to hold Town Hall Meetings, and using various means to try to inform the greater Community, the June 24 Town Hall actually looked like a Town Hall.  Most of the Community members in attendance were from the Penn-North Community, which, although the objective was to bring people from across the city at least, was encouraging in that it was important to hear from people in this area about their concerns and also their suggestions on how to move forward.  There were also a number of community activists and organizations present.  Special mention must go, among others who I almost certainly will forget (my apologies in advance), to the Organization of All Afrikan Unity-Black Panther Cadre (OAAU-BPC), the Souls of Life Society, the Pan-Afrikan Liberation Movement (PLM), the Teaching Artist Institute (TAI, led by Sis. Kim Poole, who also provided a wonderful sample of vegan food from the Grub Factory, a Black-owned eatery connected with and officially endorsed by PLM), the Ujima Peoples Progress Party (UPP), the Maryland Chapter of Release Aging People in Prison (MD RAPP), BlackMen Unifying BlackMen (BMUBM), the National Black Unity News (a new publication that Elder David Murphy will be taking national), Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS), UmojaKhwest, and, of course, the Arch Social Club.  There were also independent Pan-Afrikan activists, scholars and members of the Penn-North Community present, from teachers to business people to concerned residents, and all had constructive ideas to offer as to what our concerns were and what needed to be done to make the Community stronger.  Education, reaching out to the youth, mass communication, economic opportunity, the need for community security, the need for political action and pressure on officials, the importance of consulting history and historical models of liberation, and strategies for building Community unity and Cooperative Coalitions among Pan-Afrikan and other Black organizations were all discussed.

The Follow-Up

One of the most frustrating things I have found when attending meetings is the following statement, usually uttered at the end of the gathering: “This isn’t the end.  We will continue this work.  Our effort will not stop here!”  This was usually the conclusive indicator that that particular organization would never meet again, and that it would quietly disappear from the people’s view.  In this case, however, there will be a follow-up.  Not just because SRDC has been at this for over ten (10) years now and many of us still have no desire to quit, but also because, at the June 24 meeting, the specific date and location of the next meeting was officially announced.  The next meeting, which is currently being referred to as “Town Hall 2”, will be held on Saturday, August 12, 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, again at the historic Arch Social Club.  There, the Pan-Afrikan Agenda which was started at the June 24 meeting will be refined, additions will certainly be made, and some strategies for making some of the Agenda items a reality will be discussed, from organizing political pressure to building business cooperatives to creating community education programs.  Nominations for Representatives, Observers and Elders will be taken.  And further discussion on how to bring our many and varied Pan-Afrikan organizations and activists together in a Cooperative Coalition will be held.  Not only is it nonsensical to call for unity when our organizations themselves have not effectively come together, but our communities will certainly be inspired to come together more constructively when they are inspired by seeing our organizations and activists doing the same.

By the time of that meeting, the next Town Hall, which may be called “Town Hall 3”, should also be scheduled.  The plan is to hold several Town Hall Meetings at different locations around Baltimore City, from libraries to community centers to organizations and businesses with affordable rental spaces, and, if locations can be secured and the communities outside the city can be effectively reached, more Town Hall Meetings must be scheduled outside of Baltimore City.  Since SRDC is entirely run by a group of Pan-Afrikan volunteers who do not get paid and have no operating budget, the progress of the Town Halls outside Baltimore City will depend on how our Communities in places such as Frederick, Cambridge, Columbia, and even Silver Spring, Maryland can be reached.

If you are aware of a location or community, in Baltimore City, elsewhere in the state of Maryland or anyplace where people of Afrikan descent can be found and are in need of an organizing tool such as this, do not hesitate to contact Bro. Cliff, Maryland State Facilitator of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (and also the Editor of KUUMBAReport Online) by email at cliff@kuumbareport.com.

On The Road To Watergate?

Trump 2One thing that can be said for the presidency of Donald J. Trump: it has not been boring.  The 45th president’s tendency to exaggerate (crowd size at his inauguration), to spread obvious falsehoods (millions of illegal voters who all voted for Clinton), to make promises he apparently has no intention of keeping (releasing tax returns, passing a health care bill that will provide health care for all, bringing back record numbers of jobs, especially in the coal and steel industries), and just general creepiness (the rough handshakes, the holding hands–no, not holding hands–with his wife Melania, the excessive personal phone calls and meetings with legal and law enforcement officials) and so many other unfortunate and even outrageous behaviors, combined with the “failed” Travel Ban, Tax Cut Bill and Health Don’t-Care Act, would be enough in the opinion of many of our associates to merit impeachment on the basis of incompetence and mendacity alone.  But this president seems intent on adding historical, political and legal precedent as another log on the fire that may consume his presidency.  He seems to have “checked” practically every “box” on the Classic Nixonian Watergate Scandal Checklist.

We have attempted to cover as many of the similarities between the Trump presidency and the ultimate demise of the Nixon administration as we could.  More than likely, there will be more before long that we may not have considered, perhaps a re-enactment of some of the scenes detailed in The Final Days, which was written to chronicle the end of Nixon.

For those of you who get off on political theater, hang onto your hats.

“I Am A Friend to the Blacks … We Are A Law-and-Order Presidency”

Trump, like Nixon, has attempted to curry favor with Afrikan-Americans with high-profile events such as visits to Trump Tower from Steve Harvey, Ray Lewis and Kanye West; by appointing a few Black “representatives” in his circle like Omarosa Manigault (whose most visible act as director of “African-American outreach” has been to denounce Blacks for failing to give Trump a chance to win them over) and Dr. Ben Carson (who has yet to show any aptitude at all for housing, Omarosa 2despite being tabbed to run that agency); and for his grand but empty proclamations of being the “least racist person you will ever meet” in press conferences, but little else.  Meanwhile, Trump has taken on a disturbingly Nixonian “law-and-order” stance, as he has made one public statement after another that he will be the best friend of “the Blacks” and that he will also end the “carnage” that inflicts the inner cities, but his policies indicate that his “solution” is to further empower police and insist that we give them our respect instead of regulating their actions to build respect in the communities they patrol.  One of the most detestable actions Trump has taken in this vein is his policy of encouraging Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to rescind consent decrees with cities that still reel from the after-effects of police violence against unarmed Afrikan-Americans. 

President Richard Milhous Nixon signed the Voting Rights Act extension on June 22, 1970, which to some is an indication of the “progressive side” of Nixon’s policies, even though some critics state that Nixon was practically forced to sign the Civil Rights Act extension due to political and legal pressure.  At the same time, however, Nixon preached a “law and order” mantra that was seen by progressive and Pan-Afrikan activists as a not-so-covert campaign to bolster the White Supremacist institutions that held power in the Deep South since before the Civil War.  Nixon’s “law-and-order” stance provided great power to racist police departments across the country, a move that was replicated by Ronald Reagan when he took power in 1980 and, now, apparently, by Trump in 2017 as he works to “make America great again”.

Leah Mickens wrote about how “law-and-order” politics served White Supremacist interests more than true law and true order in the August 8, 2014 edition of Salon, R.I.P. “Law and Order” conservatives: Why Nixon’s party abandoned his obsession (http://www.salon.com/2014/08/08/r_i_p_law_and_order_conservatives_why_nixons_party_abandoned_his_obsession/).  The whole article is instructive, but we include some excerpts here:

Richard Nixon’s long quest for the White House resulted in a 1968 triumph, due in part to a stated commitment to reestablishing “law and order.” Nixon famously claimed that he represented the “silent majority” of middle-class white Americans who were tired of the protests, riots and youth militancy that had come to dominate the cultural landscape in the late 1960s. Key to the “law and order” rhetoric was his promise to restore respect for traditional authority, especially toward the police, who were called “pigs” and worse by young adults in the antiwar, hippie and black power movements. 

In the 46 years since the 1968 election, American conservatism has undergone a radical transformation with regard to its relationship to authority. Rather than encourage deference to lawful authorities, modern-day conservatives, particularly those in the Tea Party movement, regularly boast of their refusal to respect what they believe to be the illegitimacy of the federal government. Conservative media outlets, from Fox News to talk radio to blogs, regularly provide their audiences with breathless accounts of how the government is planning to imprison conservative activists, how the Affordable Care Act is “destroying religious liberty,” or how President Obama is secretly allied with the Muslim Brotherhood or the Communist Party. …

Given this background, it should be obvious that the so-called silent majority was only in favor of “law and order” when the legal system was rigged to favor white supremacy. When the legislation was passed to end de jure segregation and attempt to redress some of the injustices it caused (e.g., affirmative action, school desegregation orders, SNAP), conservatives suddenly decided that the government was illegitimate. The rise of the Tea Party after the election of Barack Obama is not coincidental.

The bulk of conservative violence has never been committed by lynch mobs or Klansmen, but by the silent majority who preferred to maintain their “way of life” at the expense of civil rights and basic human decency … The very silence of the silent majority shows that they ultimately cared little about law or order, but about maintaining their exalted position in American society.

Trump 1Trump’s “law-and-order” pronouncements sound like the same dog-whistle.  His inaugural speech made graphic reference to the “carnage” that he seems to think has saturated the inner cities, that “previous administrations” (apparently referencing Obama’s) had neglected, and which, under a Trump White House, “ends right here and ends right now.”  Of course, he didn’t wait until the inauguration to blow that whistle, and blow it loudly.

A July 18, 2016 Huffington Post article by Howard Fineman, Trump’s Campaign Manager Says He’ll Channel ‘Law And Order’ Richard Nixon, at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-richard-nixon-rnc_us_578cda12e4b0fa896c3f2b2e, reported on Trump’s plan for his acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention as follows:

As Donald Trump searched for a template for his acceptance speech, the model he chose was Richard Nixon’s infamous 1968 “law and order” speech on behalf of a silent and sullen middle class.

At a somewhat similar time of stress and struggle in America and the world, Trump chose that speech as a starting point, his campaign chief told reporters at a Bloomberg breakfast Monday morning.

“We started on the speech a couple of weeks ago,” said Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. “We looked at previous conventions speeches; the one he focused on, though, was Nixon in 1968.”

In that speech, given only months after the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy and amid rioting in many U.S. cities, Nixon cited the fears and resentments of “forgotten Americans” and vowed to return “order” to the streets and country.

The aim was not to “unite” America, as Nixon claimed, but to target enough white middle-class support (as well as support from a smattering of other groups) to win.

Another article on July 18, 2016 by Josh Zeitz in Politico, How Trump is Recycling Nixon’s Law-And-Order Playbook  (http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/07/donald-trump-law-and-order-richard-nixon-crime-race-214066) made a similar point:

In the wake of recent tragedies in Dallas and Baton Rouge, where eight police officers have been gunned down in the space of just one week, and with clear reference to terrorist attacks in Europe and the Middle East, Donald Trump’s campaign has signaled his determination to make the GOP the “law-and-order party.” Indeed, the theme for the opening night of the Republican National Convention is “Make Our Country Safe Again.”

Safe from what? By almost any measure, the United States is safer than it has been in decades. Notwithstanding localized spikes in urban homicides, for the past decade the crime and violent crime rates have hovered at near-50 year lows. And despite the recent tragedies in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the same is true of the number of police officers killed in the line of duty.

If the country is calm by comparison, why would Trump sound a cry for “law and order” once again? The answer may lie with the first successful soothsayer of the “Silent Majority,” Richard Nixon, who in 1968 created the very playbook that Trump seems to be recycling. Nixon came to power in an era of profound discord, marked by urban riots, anti-war protests (some, violent), and an unraveling of longstanding social and cultural mores. Then as now, crime was a powerful proxy for other concerns. But even with all that to worry about, Nixon’s appeal wasn’t just about crime. His political insight was that crime was a powerful proxy for other anxieties.

For a quarter-decade, Republican candidates adopted Nixon’s subtle but discernable brand of backlash politics. As crime rates plummeted in the 1990s, and as America became a more racially and culturally diverse country, the old politics no longer worked. Yet Trump has reactivated them—and to what effect, we don’t yet know.

The Company You Keep

Barely 150 days into his presidency, Trump has seen his staff’s human resources operation begin to resemble a revolving door.  Gone are campaign strategists Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort, Communications Director Mike Dubke and National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.  Some 440 top staff positions in the Trump administration remained unfilled as of mid-June.  Several potential candidates for positions such as FBI director have removed themselves from consideration, some Mike Flynn 1before they were even asked.  And those who remain have often been referred to as “extremists” (such as Steve Bannon) or as extremely naïve for allowing their generally good reputations to be potentially damaged by association with them (such as Defense Secretary James Mattis).

Meanwhile, what Trump has called a “witch hunt” has apparently taken on some steam, with speculation that former National Security Adviser Flynn could be potentially charged with felonies for his having served as an unreported foreign agent for Turkey and his repeated contacts with Russian officials.  In addition, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has been found to have engaged in more frequent contacts with Russian diplomats and other officials that was previously reported.  Combined with Manafort’s already known connections with Russian oligarchs, and the “witch hunt” complaints seem less credible by the day.

The parallels to Nixon’s administration most famously include the corruption investigation of his vice president, Spiro Agnew, for bribery and tax issues while Agnew had been Baltimore County (Maryland) Executive, Governor of the State of Maryland and Vice President, which forced Agnew to plead “no contest” to the criminal charges and resign the vice presidency in 1973.  Such corruption, so close to a president and administration that had loudly proclaimed itself as an advocate of “law and order”, should have occurred to Trump as he was making similar claims while closely associating with political operatives who appear to have multiple skeletons in their closets.

Do I Have Your Loyalty?

The allegations that Trump was attempting to manipulate the investigation into the Russian “hacking” of the November 2016 elections and the possible collusion of Americans, including those in the Trump campaign, gained a bit of steam when now-former FBI director James Comey made the claim that Trump had, in one of what Comey would call several “uncomfortable” meetings, asked for Comey’s “loyalty”.  (Justice Department lawyer Preet Bahrara would mention his refusal to take a personal call from Trump as a possible reason behind his abrupt firing the next day.)  Comey’s response, according to his statement, was that he answered that Trump had his “loyal honesty”, which Trump allegedly tried to rephrase as “honest loyalty”.  In the days immediately after Comey’s June 8 testimony before the Senate Intelligence James Comey 2Committee, Trump mocked the very idea that he would ask for a “loyalty oath” from the members of his Cabinet or other high-level employees.  Questions regarding loyalty oaths would be asked of Department of National Intelligence head Dan Coats, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and NSA Director Michael Rogers.  These questions, however, apparently delved into areas of national security, for the witnesses refused to answer the questions in open session.

Trump’s apparent need for “loyalty oaths” would seem to be an expression of his paranoia.  The recently-popular suspicion of the existence of a “Deep State”, which is often used by right-wing pundits to describe a “shadow government” through which the intelligence agencies (and former president Barack Obama, supposedly hiding in some secure bunker near the White House, ready to pounce and reassert his “regime”) would attempt to overrule the Trump administration, was actually inspired at least as far back as 1960, when Nixon was defeated in the 1960 presidential election, and which Nixon had described as “an Ivy League, liberal bastion of counter-reaction against the right”.  This would explain why, with all the evidence that Russia had been working to influence and disrupt the November 2016 elections, Trump has not commented on the seriousness of this situation, instead preferring to emphasize that the most important issue is that of “the leaks” being perpetrated by political opponents, and even accusing Comey of being the “Leaker in Chief” after it was disclosed that Comey had written memos about his personal discussions with Trump.

White House Plumbers 1Nixon’s paranoia was not specifically demonstrated by loyalty oaths, but as the political pressure on him mounted, he began recording conversations in the White House, he increasingly railed against the “leakers” of information in his administration, he allowed the development of an “Enemies List”, and he suggested the creation of a team that would be responsible not so much for his physical safety but for protecting him politically from his enemies.  This group would ultimately morph into the “Plumbers” (apparently because they would “plug leaks in the aDaniel Ellsberg 1973dministration”), the group that would break into the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg in 1971 after Ellsberg had published The Pentagon Papers, which exposed multiple examples of corruption in the prosecution of the Vietnam War.  The Plumbers would be used once more, in the 1972 Watergate break-in that would ultimately end Nixon’s presidency.

The Press is the Enemy

“Never forget, the press is the enemy, the press is the enemy,” Nixon is reported to have said in one of the White House tapes, according to the Guardian.  Does it sound familiar?  “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people!”

Rob Samuelson created an informative slide show entitled How Nixon’s paranoia, obsession with enemies and leaks led to his downfall, available at http://latimes-politics-chatter.latimes.com/politics-talk/slideshow/how-nixons-paranoia-obsession-enemies-leaks-downfall/, which explains much of the Nixon paranoia, a lens through which we can examine the increasingly paranoid statements and actions by Trump.

Tapes, or No Tapes?

After Trump fired Comey as FBI director, on May 12 the president went to Twitter, appearing to issue a threat that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”  This, of course, led to two further developments in this case which Trump, perhaps, did not anticipate: (1) Robert Mueller 2Comey immediately wrote a report, or “contemporaneous notes”, as media analysts called them, describing the most recent meeting he had held with Trump, and began making arrangements to have the report and previous similar ones released to the public if needed; and (2) the Senate Intelligence Subcommittee itself made preparations to seek out these “tapes” themselves.  Meanwhile, media outlets took to obsessing over the topic, and it’ became likely that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would attempt to obtain any “tapes” that actually do exist through the subpoena process.

The reference to “tapes” sounds disturbingly like the “Nixon tapes”, which the then-president chose not to destroy because, for some reason, he thought they might benefit his cause were he to come under political or legal attack.  They did not.  A half-hearted attempt to erase 27 minutes of what he may have deemed the most incriminating portions of those tapes only led to the conclusion that Nixon was attempting to cover up the crimes of his presidency.  Nixon would be impeached by Congress, and he would resign the presidency in disgrace scantly a year after his resounding re-election victory. 

Now, of course, after the Senate Intelligence Committee has stated their intent to obtain any recordings that may have been made, the Secret Service has stated that there were no recordings made of any conversations in the Trump White House.  This does not mean that Trump could not have made recordings without even notifying the Secret Service, given his penchant for uttering outbursts against the certain advice of his lawyers and staff, and for contradicting the official public statements of his Secretary of State and other administration officials.  Was Trump lucky, was his tweet at Comey about “better hope there are no ‘tapes'” truly just blowing smoke, or have whatever tapes that may have been created already been destroyed?

Stonewalling

During the Senate hearings on June 6, Department of National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, Acting Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, NSA Director Michael Rogers and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe consistently dodged questions from Senate Intel Committee Gearing Coats Rosenstein Etc 1the Senate panel, claiming that the questions could not be answered in “public session” because they touched on classified information or on issues of national security. 

This clearly irritated several of the senators, who repeatedly grilled all four of the expert “witnesses” in an effort to elicit some answers from them regarding the nature of the surveillance that is routinely collected, the information available on Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election, the possible involvement of American citizens in the Russian “hacking” of the 2016 election, and any attempts made by the Trump administration to convince, cajole, or order them to slow down, redirect or stop their investigative work.

Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) became particularly agitated at Coats for his failure to answer several intelligence-related questions, specifically regarding the collection of surveillance information on American citizens under Section 702 0f the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  The website https://cdt.org/insight/section-702-what-it-is-how-it-works/ gives a brief discussion of how Section 702 is used, while a 2014 article on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/05/way-nsa-uses-section-702-deeply-troubling-heres-why, discusses what it considers some of Section 702’s more “troubling” aspects.

In a June 7 article by John Aravosis (Twitter: @aravosis), the website American Blog (http://americablog.com/2017/06/nsa-chief-rogers-dni-coats-stonewall-senate-intel-hearing-trump.html) gave a few details on the specific contortions engaged in by Rogers and Coats:

Senators are trying to find out what Donald Trump asked Rogers and Coats about the Russia probe. Specifically, Trump reportedly asked both men to publicly deny that there was evidence showing the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, and Coats was further asked to ask the FBI to drop its probe of Michael Flynn.

When asked about this today, Rogers responded that he never felt “pressured” by Trump, and that he doesn’t believe he was ever asked to do anything “illegal.” Which wasn’t the question. The question is “what did Trump ask you to do,” not “did you feel pressured or did you feel it was illegal.”

When Rogers was pressed on what Trump actually asked him to do, Rogers responded that he’d already answered the question, which he hadn’t.

Coats gave the same non-answer, nearly verbatim, which makes one wonder whether they were coached and/or colluded on their testimony.

Their behavior in this session led this writer to wonder if they had consulted the order Nixon had given to Attorney General John Mitchell on March 22, 1973, as the Watergate investigation was picking up steam: “stonewall it … plead the Fifth Amendment, cover up or anything else, if it’ll save it—save the plan.”  On October 21, 1974, the jury in the Watergate case would listen to the White House tape in which Nixon made this statement.  Nixon would not last long in the presidency after this.

“I Am Not A Crook”

As Trump held a news conference on Friday, June 9, he decided to rebut the testimony Comey had given to the Senate Intelligence Committee the previous day.  On Comey’s claim that Trump had asked him to pledge loyalty to him, Trump insisted, “I hardly know the man. I’m not going to say, ‘I want you to pledge Nixon 5allegiance.’ Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I mean think of it, I hardly know the man. It doesn’t make sense.”  Because so few commentators found credibility with this statement, we wonder whether or not this was actually planned as a fake news conference.  And Trump tweeted that same day: “Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication.” 

In any case, this seems to be the closest Trump has come so far to Nixon’s infamous “I’m not a crook” defense on November 17, 1973.  That did not work out well for Nixon.

What Remains?

So far, Trump has not cited “Executive Privilege” in any attempt to block the examination of evidence.  This could be because he truly believes (rightly or wrongly) he has done nothing wrong, or because someone in his inner circle has given him advice that he actually listened to, or because he believes other measures (such as attacking the integrity of Comey and other potential adversaries) will suffice to keep him safe from, at least, criminal prosecution.  It is also possible that others in the administration are prepared to fall on their swords to protect him.  Flynn had at one point offered to testify to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about his connection to Russians in exchange for immunity, but then cited the Fifth Amendment when he either changed his mind or determined that the immunity deal was insufficient.  It remains to be unearthed by the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, when he begins to hold hearings for which he will be able to issue subpoenas.  At that point, we would not be surprised to see the Trump administration reaching for Executive Privilege a la Nixon.

Nixon had attempted to use Executive Privilege to block further investigations into Watergate.  As everyone knows by now, he failed.

Trump also has not, as of yet, made any moves toward trying to undermine or outright eliminate Robert Mueller from his position as Special Counsel.  Despite occasional comments by news analysts that the president has the right to fire a Special Counsel, it was considered highly unlikely that Trump would attempt such a thing.  Then, on Monday, June 12, former Republican congressman Newt Gingrich began insisting that Mueller was a partisan actor (in spite of Mueller having served as FBI chief under George W. Bush, and Gingrich’s own endorsement of Mueller at the time he was named Special Counsel by Assistant Attorney General Rosenstein).  MSNBC was reporting on June 12 that Trump was “considering perhaps terminating” Mueller.  Will Gingrich’s bombast make such an impression on the increasingly-insecure Trump that he will decide to take this final step toward fulfilling Nixon’s legacy?

Archibald Cox 1Nixon had used this tactic in 1973 to get rid of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.  Nixon had attempted to order Cox to cease his pursuit of the White House Tapes, which, as it turned out, held information on White House discussions that would incriminate Nixon and several of his staff.  Cox refused to call off his pursuit of the tapes.  On Saturday, October 20, 1973, Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliott L. Richardson to fire Cox.  Richardson refused and resigned.  Nixon then ordered Assistant Attorney General William Ruckleshaus to fire Cox.  Ruckleshaus also refused and was either fired or resigned, depending on who one asks.  Finally, Nixon turned to the next Nixon Saturday Night Massacre 1official in line, Solicitor General Robert H. Bork (the future failed Reagan Supreme Court nominee).  Bork followed Nixon’s order and fired Cox.  The whole affair would come to be known as the “Saturday Night Massacre”.  Within a week, polls showed a plurality of Americans supported impeaching Nixon.  On November 14, District Judge Gearhard Gessell ruled that the firing of Cox was illegal.  Congress became infuriated at what it saw as an abuse of power.  And nine months later, on July 27, 1974, the first article of impeachment, charging Nixon with obstruction of justice, was approved by the House Judiciary Committee.

As for Trump, Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler said on MSNBC June 12 that this would amount to “Watergate on steroids”, and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-California) was quoted as saying, “Don’t waste our time,” as it was speculated that if Trump were to fire Mueller, Congress might simply re-hire him.

There are not many “boxes” left for Trump to “check” before he has completed the process of following the Nixon Watergate recipe.  The news tends to move rather quickly with this president.  By the time you read these words, the die on the Trump presidency may have already been cast.

Nixon Resigns Newspaper

 

Increasing Corporate Control of Afrikan Farmers

I’m sort of working this out in my mind and trying to reconcile it with what I’ve already read about industrial farming, GMO seeds, international agribusiness giants Monsanto, Syngenta, and the claim by the agribusiness sector that Afrika is hungry because of insufficient inputs (fertilizer, pesticides and high-yield seeds) and not because the corporate-dominated agriculture industry maintains control over food and thus restricts access for poorer, famine-stricken areas of the world (as human rights and food-sovereignty activists insist).  What am I talking about?  Well, here goes:

The Mondiaal Nieuws article “Tanzanian farmers are facing heavy prison sentences if they continue their traditional seed exchange” (http://www.mo.be/en/analysis/tanzanian-farmers-are-facing-heavy-prison-sentences-if-they-continue-their-traditional-seed, December 7, 2016) certainly seems to raise a number of alarms about the next wave of efforts to subject Afrika’s food supply to corporate control.  Allowing private investment for the purpose of helping stop hunger and famine is one thing, but the purveyors (“pushers”) of these efforts almost never let us see all the strings they’ve attached.

The first question I have is about this New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, or NAFSN (https://feedthefuture.gov/lp/new-alliance-food-security-and-nutrition).  This is apparently a project from the minds of the people who brought us Feed the Future, a program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which makes lofty statements and sounds benevolent but which does have its detractors and skeptics (count me among them) because of what appears to be an overly corporate-friendly, industrial-farming-oriented, anti-organic-and-natural-farmer, undemocratic top-down approach reminiscent of Bwana Complex.  A 2013 article in The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/jun/07/g8-new-alliance-flawed-project) states that “The new alliance prioritises unprecedented access for multinational companies to resources in Africa. To access cash under the initiative, African governments have to make far-reaching changes to their land, seed and farming policies.”  The article then gives several examples, linked to the Feed the Future website, which in turn links to PDF documents on NAFSN’s agreements with several countries.  The Ghana document includes under the heading “Key Policy Commitments”:

The Government of Ghana intends to pursue the policy goals set out below in order to build domestic and international private sector confidence to increase agricultural investment significantly, with the overall goal of reducing poverty and ending hunger.

The Government of Ghana intends to improve incentives for private sector investment in agriculture, in particular, taking actions to facilitate inclusive access to and productive use of land; developing and implementing domestic seed regulations that encourage increased private sector involvement in this area; and supporting transparent inclusive, evidence-based policy formulation.

The Tanzania agreement contains similar language, as I suspect the others do as well.  While these statements may not be damning in and of themselves, the statements referring to the agreement to “improve incentives for private sector investment in agriculture”, promote “productive use of land” and set about “implementing domestic seed regulations” seem to set the stage for just the type of requirements that would strip small, organic, natural farmers of their rights to share, recycle and use their own seed to the benefit of “unprecedented access for multinational companies to resources in Africa” (from the Guardian article).

One cannot help but notice is that the “S” in NAFSN stands for “security” and not “sovereignty”, which I think is more important because food sovereignty speaks to the right of the people of the country to determine how they will grow their own food and who controls it.  Does NAFSN actually force farmers to accept the patented GMO seeds, does it give farmers a real choice, or does it impose requirements on farmers who want to stick with traditional seed-sharing methods that would make it nearly impossible for them to go without the patented GMO seeds?  Is there a written law or statute, or is the Tanzanian government depending on the belief among farmers that they “can’t fight City Hall” which would stifle resistance to the corporatization of farming in Tanzania?

Syngenta appears to be the primary agribusiness that stands to benefit from this arrangement.  Frankly, the public claims contradict the private statements (and the admissions that sometimes leak out under questioning) they make concerning their support for the right of farmers to choose to either accept or reject the patented GMO seeds.  As the (apparently) Afrikan spokesperson for Syngenta’s effort to infiltrate the Tanzanian food supply, Kinyua M’Mbijjewe, head of Corporate Affairs in Africa for Syngenta, admitted later in the article: “We are a commercial company and therefore we invest in Africa. We believe that Africa is done with development aid and that it is now all about trade. The small-scale farmers are not our target. We focus on small-scale farmers trying to grow businesses and we are happy to work with NGOs that have a commercial approach. Farmers who merely try to survive or operate in an unfavorable climate are left out.”  This in spite of the public claim that Syngenta does support farmers who choose the (less favorable) seed-sharing system: “African farmers have been sharing, bartering and trading their seeds as a form of tradition. For farmers who want to continue to do so, it is important that they have that choice.”

This sort of corporate double-talk sounds a lot like what Monsanto did with the Indian cotton farmers.  Farming in India has apparently been a challenge since before the 20th Century, especially cotton.  Farmer suicides have occurred for over a century, due to climate and debt associated with the combination of the difficulties of farming and the actions of unscrupulous money-lenders.  While discussions of the Indian farmer suicides on websites such as Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farmers%27_suicides_in_India) insist that there are several reasons for this, and that the imposition of GMO crops cannot be blamed for the suicide rate overall, the actions of Monsanto at the start of the 21st Century apparently did not help matters.  Dr. Vandana Shiva, a prominent Indian advocate for food sovereignty, has been a longtime opponent of agribusiness, GMO seeds, patents on seed (“patenting life”), and the actions of Monsanto and Syngenta in particular.  She and other anti-GMO advocates such as Mr. P. Sainath explain the farmer suicides since 2002 this way: Cotton farmers, many of whom did not read, were told by a compliant government in their province or town that they needed to increase their crop yields in order to be successful and for the people of India to escape starvation, and the new Monsanto GMO “Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton” seeds would increase the crop yields without requiring as much water or pesticide.  Most of the farmers trusted their government officials, who had themselves already been convinced, bamboozled or simply bought off, and signed agreements to buy the Monsanto Bt cotton seed, despite the added expense of the seed and the legal requirement that they abandon 12,000 years of tradition in which they regularly recycled seed from one planting to the next (to protect Monsanto’s “intellectual property”, the seeds).  Ultimately however, their cotton yields collapsed, mainly because it turned out they actually needed more water than the seeds they had been using (which, in the regions they farmed in, was a real problem because the rains were not consistent) and the pesticides, which they also bought from Monsanto, actually developed resistance in the pests which mutated into “super-pests” which were now immune to that pesticide.  In the end, the farmers went bankrupt, and with their farms ruined and their future in shambles, many of them took the pesticides they had bought from Monsanto … and drank them, committing suicide.  Tens of thousands of Indian farmers committed suicide in this way (5,650 in 2014 according to the National Crime Records Bureau of India; other estimates are that a farmer commits suicide every 30 minutes according to Think Progress, https://thinkprogress.org/behind-indias-epidemic-of-farmer-suicides-fa820ad674f3).

The question here amounts to whether the people of Tanzania will have a real choice as to whether or not to purchase the GMO seed, whether the NAFSN will force them to purchase from Syngenta, or whether a new round of “dirty tricks” will be employed similar to what has already happened to wheat farmers in the Midwest United States, such as a truck loaded with GMO patented seed driving past an organically-grown farm, some seeds “just happening” to blow onto the property, and later, inspectors arrive to check out the organic crops and find the patented GMO seed there, at which point the farmer is forced to either pay the agribusiness for the seeds or burn the entire crop.  Will this become the new state of affairs in Tanzania under NAFSN?

Finally, the question arises: Why did these countries agree to these requirements if they do indeed disempower small-holder, natural and organic Afrikan farmers?  Did the good people at USAID promise them the moon?  Did they baffle them with double-talk?  Did they appeal to political corruption with a bribe?  Did they threaten them with political or other consequences in the event of non-compliance?  Or did they somehow show these leaders that the agreements, if followed carefully, actually would empower independent Afrikan farmers and allow them to use their traditional methods without penalty (If that last one is correct, then where is the evidence, and why hide it under all the regulations)?

After taking a closer look at the various NAFSN agreements, I hope to have a better understanding of just what the extent of corporate control of these Afrikan countries’ agricultural markets will be.  But at the moment, I’m not particularly filled with confidence that this is not another, more convoluted form of a land grab.

Come to the Maryland Pan-Afrikan Community Town Hall Meeting! June 24, 2017

SRDC Pan Afrikan Town Hall June 24 2017aCome to the Maryland Pan-Afrikan Community Town Hall Meeting!

Join us as we discuss the issues that impact us in the State of Maryland, as we explore the connection between our local struggle and those of People of Afrikan Descent across the United States and around the world, as we build a Local Pan-Afrikan Agenda of important issues and ideas, and as we make plans to join with the Global Community of People of Afrikan Descent to take our message out of Uncle Sam’s courts to the World Stage.

Afrika Arch Social Club Montage 1

We will meet at the historic Arch Social Club, located on 2426 Pennsylvania Avenue in the Penn-North Community in Baltimore, Maryland.  Penn-North has a storied place in history as a cultural nerve center in the 1950’s and 1960’s, anchored by the committed members of the Arch Social Club, and the neighborhood also gained a degree of national notoriety two years ago, as the focus of the rebellion that followed the brutal death of Freddie Gray on April 19, 2015.  The committed members of Arch Social Club continue to hold social and community events at the Club to this day to help strengthen the Afrikan-American community in Baltimore, affectionately known as “Harriet Tubman City” to Pan-Afrikan activists.

The Community Town Hall Event will be held on Saturday, June 24, 2017 from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

What is the Purpose of the Pan-Afrikan Town Hall?

We will work together to build a local Pan-Afrikan grassroots organization that will:

  1. Build a Local Pan-Afrikan Agenda: Issues that are of importance to Black People here in Baltimore and across the State of Maryland.  These could include concerns about economic development, police brutality, mass incarceration, environmental sacrifice zones, the lack of a true sense of community and Black love, and the need to build an education system that not only better educates our children in math, science and reading but also on our Afrikan roots and the real history of our struggle in the United States.  Any or all of the above concerns could be part of the Pan-Afrikan Agenda, and no doubt there are many more that should be considered.  But it’s important that the community determine what these issues will be, and not just someone in a position of electoral power or self-appointed leadership.
  2. Nominate and elect a local organizing leadership team: Afrikan tradition requires that a Community Council of Elders be established.  If we already have one, then let us meet them and acknowledge them, and let them take the position of Elder Leadership for which they are so desperately needed by our community.  If we do not have one, let us nominate people from our community who have the experience, the wisdom and the demonstrated body of work to show that they are prepared to guide us through the struggle that lies ahead.  We also must nominate and elect Representatives, energetic, knowledgeable and committed members of our community who can and will take the decisions that our community makes on this day and at future Pan-Afrikan Town Hall Meetings and represent them at national and international gatherings, from the African Union (AU) to the United Nations (UN) to various Pan-Afrikan Conferences (PACs).
  3. Discuss how we will grow this effort and move forward: How we will ensure that more members of our community are informed about the effort we’re launching this day.  How we will take our Pan-Afrikan Agenda to the people who can best help us carry it out.  Some of the items of our Pan-Afrikan Agenda will be initiatives that we can build on ourselves, by finally bringing our various organizations, activists and service providers together in a Cooperative Coalition.  Some are issues that can be dealt with by combining our efforts with those of communities in other states, or even other countries, that are building their organizations the same way that we are.  Some items will be expressed as demands that must be made to local City officials, to State political leaders, to national bodies, or to international groups such as the African Union or the United Nations.  But none of the issues in our Pan-Afrikan Agenda will bear any fruit unless we are ready to formulate a plan to see that they are done.

We invite the members of the Pan-Afrikan Diaspora to finally join together in the spirit of Black Unity which we have been calling for over these many decades.

Background on the Pan-Afrikan Town Hall Process

There are many activists and organizations that have ideas and plans to propose to help people of Afrikan descent unify, organize and mobilize ourselves.  We would like to talk a bit about the organization we belong to, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus, or SRDC.  Put simply, our mission is to establish the voice of the grassroots
Pan-Afrikan Diaspora on the world stage, primarily through the African Union but also through other global organizations and avenues, such as the United Nations or independent Pan-Afrikan Congresses, that would be helpful in the development and uplift of Afrikan people.  We want to do this in a well-informed, diplomatic and helpful way, and we realize that this effort will only succeed if we all participate together.  No one organization can do this alone.

The African Union Initiative for the Diaspora

We were inspired to this mission by the African Union Initiative, which issued an invitation of sorts to the Diaspora in 2003 to become involved in the effort to build the African Union.  The AU proposal currently involves members of the grassroots Afrikan Diaspora establishing a small delegation (say, 20) of elected representatives who would join a much larger number of Afrikans from the Continent as voting members in its Economic, Social and Cultural Council, or ECOSOCC, which is a group of community activists, businesses, and regular citizens who would advise the Heads of State on how to best serve the people of Afrika and the Afrikan Diaspora.  This is the civil society advisory group within the African Union.  While ECOSOCC does not craft legislation or take an official hand in establishing the AU’s organizational priorities, it does provide important input into the affairs of state from the perspective of what is often referred to as “civil society”, that is, private citizens, non-governmental organizations, businesses and community groups.  This would be the first organization within the AU where the Diaspora would seek to establish a voting presence in the form of representatives.  The prospects here are that, if all goes well with the Diaspora’s contribution to ECOSOCC, the Diaspora could be granted an opportunity to seek membership in the Pan-African Parliament, which does assist in the crafting of legislation and participates in the decision-making processes of the AU on a more official level.

Just What Is The “Diaspora”?

One early step in advancing the Initiative was settling on a definition of the Diaspora, which was proposed by the African Union in 2006 and accepted at a Pan Afrikan Roundtable that was held in April 2006 in Los Angeles, California in the United States.  The key aspects of the definition are that one be of African descent, that one lives outside the Continent, regardless of their country of citizenship, and that they be “willing to contribute to the development of the Continent and the building of the African Union.”  At this time, the AU also began promoting the concept of the Diaspora as the Sixth Region of Afrika, to go along with the current five regions (North, South, East, West and Central Afrika).  It is from this designation of the Sixth Region that SRDC derives its name.

Perhaps the first thing that needs to be clarified is the fact that the Afrikan Diaspora does not just mean Afrikan-Americans, as some of us unfortunately seem to believe.  There are just over 40 million of us in the United States, but there are over 300 million Black people total between the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, and the last thing we need is for these different communities engaging in a free-for-all to claim for themselves the presumed right to speak for all 300 million-plus people around the world of Afrikan descent.

Why are We Doing This?

Two questions which are often asked at this point are: Why did the AU invite the Diaspora? and Why should the Diaspora accept the invitation?  The African Union has several incentives to include the Diaspora as voting members.  One is the reversal of a trend of Africans leaving the Continent, gaining education in the West and never returning home.  This was called the “Brain Drain” or the “Exodus”.  Involving the Diaspora increases the likelihood of the return of many of Afrika’s brightest minds and the resources that they carry with them.  Another incentive is the enlist-
ment of members of the Diaspora, especially the descendants of Africans who were enslaved centuries ago, in the development and establishment of the United States of Africa, or Union of Afrikan States, from provision of material and technical assistance to influencing their countries of citizenship to support and endorse a Union Government for the Afrikan Continent.  Our incentives for accepting the invitation include the developing and strengthening of our cultural and ancestral ties with our Mother Continent and the opportunity to take our grievances with America and the West to the international arena, through the African Union.  This is, in fact, akin to what Ancestor Malcolm X told us to do back in 1964, to stop “taking our case from the wolf to the fox” by seeking redress from Uncle Sam’s crimes against us in Uncle Sam’s own courts.

One more point needs to be made here.  While our effort was inspired by the African Union and our primary goal is to establish a presence in the AU, we realize that the AU is a very bureaucratic institution that many Pan-Afrikan activists do not entirely trust.  The African Union was modeled after the European Union, and it does often depend on assistance from the outside international community to maintain its operations.  Sometimes, the snail’s pace of progress in pursuing our goals has been as a result of a lack of communication with the AU, and this has frustrated many of us.  Others in the Pan-Afrikan Diaspora look at the AU, rightly or wrongly, as a neoliberal puppet of the West.  Finally, there remains the possibility that the AU could decide that this “experiment” in Diaspora representation was not worth pursuing after all, and withdraw the invitation.  This does not mean we would pack up our work and go home.  In that case, the exact same plan of local, national and global Afrikan Diaspora organization will still work, only in this case the final goal would be the establishment of an international delegation of elected Diaspora representatives who would meet in the United Nations, the World Social Forum, the next Climate Change Conference, or an independent Pan-Afrikan Conference of our own design and planning.  Either way, we would be taking our argument and our collective voice outside the courts of the United States or the country in which we happen to reside, and we would go to the International Arena, where, if we do this right, we will achieve a level of organization and strength that international groups would have no choice but to listen to what we say.

The SRDC Plan to Organize and Mobilize the Diaspora

So, how does SRDC propose that 300 million African Descendants and Continental Africans living in the Diaspora will be able to effectively elect 20 Representatives to speak for us on the World Stage?  How would we determine an elected delegation that could take the people’s concerns to the African Union’s ECOSOCC, or the United Nations, or to Pan-Afrikan Conferences?

The general idea can be briefly summarized in the cliché, “Think Globally, Act Locally”, for that is exactly what our plan involves.  Everything starts with the establishment and development of local organizations that bring people together at the grassroots level.  These local organizations then come together in national caucuses (in the United States, for example), or in the case of areas of the world where there are many small countries (like the Caribbean or Central America), Sub-Regional caucuses.  These national or Sub-Regional groups then come together for a Global gathering to establish, from the work of the local and Sub-Regional groups,
a Pan-Afrikan Diaspora Delegation that would, pending approval from the AU, represent the combined voice of the Global Pan-Afrikan Diaspora in ECOSOCC for that term.  This Delegation would present and support a Combined and Comprehensive Pan-Afrikan Agenda at the following ECOSOCC Meeting, UN Conference or Pan-Afrikan Conference.

This would represent the first truly significant effort at not only repairing the fractured state of the global Afrikan Diaspora, but also initiate the process of bringing the Diaspora “back home” to our long-separated relatives in the Mother Continent.

As we stated, the process begins with the establishment of local grassroots organization.  This would be done by forming an Organizing Committee, or a “Chapter” as some would call it, at the local level.  In the United States, for example, this would mean at the state level, specifically, 50 states plus Washington, DC.  In other parts of the world, perhaps in Central America, South America, Europe and the Caribbean, where our population is more scattered across several relatively small countries, this organization would occur at the country level, while in Canada, organization might occur by province. 

Each local organization would begin when a committed volunteer hears of this plan and takes the initiative to begin such an organization where they live (if one does not already exist).  That person becomes the Facilitator of that local organization and now must assemble a team of volunteers who will assist in planning, scheduling, promoting and holding a public Community Town Hall Meeting, at which the Afrikan-Descendant public is given information about the SRDC Mission and Plan, and the further steps which must be taken to make that happen. 

The community begins to formulate a list of the issues that they feel need to be addressed that impact upon their community or Pan-Afrikan Agenda, and then they commence the process of nominating people who would become the leadership team that would help to take that Agenda to the national and international level.  That leadership team includes a Council of Elders, two Representatives and five Observers.  The community nominates people for these positions and then, at a later date, a Candidates’ Forum is held where the community votes to formally elect those who will fill these positions for a two-year term.

SRDC Plan At A Glance 1

Once a year, all of the local committees gather together in a National or Sub-Regional Summit.  In the United States, National Summits are used, so we will refer to them as such here.  At these Summits, the local groups share news, information and ideas, they encourage each other, they discuss issues that impact the community at the local and national level, and they discuss and vote on decisions that must be made between the local organizations, including deciding which of the
local Representatives would be best to include in the Delegation that would go to, for example, the next AU Summit and take a seat in ECOSOCC.  Information
sessions about the African Union and the process would be held, as well as training sessions in building organizations, diplomacy and conflict resolution.  Plans and projects for the upcoming year of local and national organizing would also be discussed and decided.  Similar local and national or Sub-Regional organizing work would be done in other parts of the world where Afrikans live in the Diaspora, usually through the efforts of one or more of our global organizational allies, such as the African Union-African Diaspora Sixth Region (AUADS) in The Netherlands or the Central American Black Organization (CABO/ONECA in Spanish) in Central America.

After the National and Sub-Regional Summits have been held, a Full Diaspora Summit would take place.  The AU has already sponsored several of these Summits, even though the local and Sub-Regional process has not been fully implemented yet.  These Summits bring together activists in the Afrikan Diaspora who are recognized by the AU as playing an important role in the process of “Building the
African Union”.  When the local and Sub-Regional process has been fully implemented, these Representatives who were chosen at their respective
National or Sub-Regional Summits will participate in that Full Diaspora Summit.  There, they would gather with other Representatives from throughout the Diaspora and they would also prepare to join the 130 Representatives from the African Countries at the ECOSOCC Meeting of the AU Summit.

SRDC Plan Flow Chart 1

As we mentioned earlier, this same process can be used to develop an international Diaspora delegation to take our combined voice to the United Nations, the World Social Forum, environmental summits such as the Climate Change Conventions, or independent Pan-Afrikan Conferences that we might organize ourselves.  The point here is really for the Pan-Afrikan Diaspora to take the responsibility, and with it the authority, to organize ourselves on the local, national and international level.  At this point our influence and voice on the World Stage will increase dramatically, and our power to control our own destiny will finally be placed within our grasp.

“No More Excuses” Rally Planned for May 25 in Baltimore’s Park Heights Neighborhood

No Excuses Rally FlyerThe No More Excuses Rally will be held Thursday, May 25 at 3939 Reisterstown Road, in the First Floor Community Room, in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Rally is an effort to reach out to our community, specifically to Black Men, to convince us to stop making excuses for the self-destructive behaviors we seem so addicted to.  Whether it’s drug abuse, abuse of our women and children, a lack of personal ambition, or simple willful ignorance of the need for us to stand up and be men, a number of committed veteran community activists have determined that they have had and seen enough.

Elder George Mitchell has dedicated much of his time, effort and resources to lifting up the Park Heights-Pimlico community.  The C.C. Jackson Recreation Center at Garrison and Park Heights Avenues sponsors local community job fairs, children’s softball leagues and adult basketball leagues, among other programs, and much of this comes as a result of his tireless dedication.

Veteran community activist Bill Goodin worked alongside East Baltimore community activist and now Honored Ancestor Eric Easton for years in the community organization Unity for Action.  Brother Bill also wrote a community newsletter, Fighting Back, for several years.  He was the initial driving force behind the Saturday morning breakfast meetings at Terra Café and Arch Social Club that gave birth to the organization BlackMen Unifying BlackMen, which seeks to bring Afrikan-American men together in a collegial atmosphere so we will not only cease doing harm to each other but will also start cooperating with each other instead of seeing each other as rivals.

Elder David Murphy was the publisher of the Informer newspapers in Baltimore and Washington, DC.  He is now the Chief Publisher of the National Black Unity News (http://www.thenationalblackunitynews.com/), a cooperative venture with several Baltimore-area media personalities who have agreed to work together to bring information and healing to our community.

Rev. Glenn Smith is another veteran member of the group that is sponsoring the No More Excuses Rally.  Like the other members of the group, he has expressed his outrage at the level of violence that has engulfed the community.

The No More Excuses Rally will feature service providers for those seeking employment opportunities and those who seek a path towards a more positive role for themselves in life.

The group’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=no%20more%20excuses.

 

 

 

FREE THE LAND FILES: Justice Initiative on NAFTA and Trump’s Hypocricy

This article comes courtesy of Ms. Heather Gray and the Atlanta-based Justice Initiative.

Trump’s Hypocrisy: An Understatement
Blaming Mexican Migrants Is Beyond the Pale

By Heather Gray
May 4, 2017
Justice Initiative International

For Mexicans, maize is not a crop but a deep cultural symbol intrinsic to daily life. Corn was domesticated from a grass called teocintle by the peoples of Meso-America approximately 10,000 years ago. (Cultural Survival)

Source: US Census Bureau, USDA (CNN

 

Yes, corn originated in Mexico some 10,000 years ago and it eventually moved into North America. And now, in a rather strange reversal of it all, those of us in North America are attempting to destroy this special Mexican crop and cultural symbolism. And it’s all for greed.

I have a radio program on WRFG-FM in Atlanta. In the mid-1990’s while NAFTA was being debated in Congress, I interviewed representatives of the Sierra Club about the likely disastrous consequences of NAFTA on Mexico’s small sustainable farmers. It had to do with U.S. corporate agribusiness that would dump millions of dollars of subsidized corn on the Mexican market. We appropriately could see the doom and gloom of this “unfair” trade agreement. After my show that day, someone from CNN called me and asked why I didn’t have a pro-NAFTA person on the show as well. My response was, “You want pro-NAFTA? Just listen to CNN!”

Our predictions were correct! The small farmers in Mexico simply could not compete with the American subsidized agriculture products that were dumped on the Mexican market.

The hypocrisy? Trump chooses to act against Canadian “subsidized” lumber without even considering America’s own devastating subsidy complicity in the NAFTA scenario against the Mexican people? Regarding the Canadian lumber issue, in April 2017 the following was reported in the New York Times:

The Commerce Department determined that Canada had been improperly subsidizing the sale of softwood lumber products to the United States, and after failed negotiations, Washington decided to retaliate with tariffs of 3 percent to 24 percent. The penalties will be collected retroactively on imports dating back 90 days. (New York Times)

Subsidized lumber? Again, what about U.S. subsidized agribusiness and its impact on Mexicans and actually American farmers as well? Herein lies the hypocrisy of it all. As was noted in a Huffington Post article by Susana G. Baumann in 2014, the impact of NAFTA on the farmers has been immense:

For all products, Mexican producers’ prices fell from 44 to 67 percent from early 1990’s levels, declining local production and increasing import dependency. Mexican crop production also fell except for corn and meats, which at lower prices, was rapidly adopted for consumption in the Mexican families’ diet.

“An estimated 2.3 million people have left agriculture in a country desperate for livelihoods,” said Wise (see note below). The study estimated that the cost to Mexican producers was around $12.8 billion in the nine-year period, more than 10 percent of the U.S.-Mexico agricultural trade value annually.

The other cost, the one that we, north of the border pay, is the constant migration of these displaced rural workers into the United States.

(Huffington Post)

Note: Timothy A. Wise referred to above is the Director of the Research and Policy Program at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University.

So thanks to U.S. policy, 2.3 million Mexicans were forced off the land. And then Donald Trump rails against Mexicans coming across the border as if the consequences, devastation and loss of their livelihoods was their fault?

And, yes, Trump points his finger at migrants now in the U.S. as well and makes their lives all the more vulnerable and difficult.

And Trump wants to build a wall as if to again point his finger at these victims?

The immorality here is breathtaking.

And rather then building a wall, Trump needs to get rid of the real problem which is, for one, these huge agriculture subsidies that benefit his millionaire/billionaire buddies in corporate agribusiness who clearly care less about the “real” farmers of the world, or the well-being of those, such as, the Mexican farmers they’ve managed to destroy. Nor do they care about the important “diversity” of the corn production and respect for the long and important tradition of small and informed producers who we all should honor and support.

Regardless, also, of the role of the Mexican government might have played in early NAFTA negotiations in the 1990s vis-a-vis their powerful northern neighbors – Canada and the U.S. – it is likely the American government and its corporate supporters knew in advance that the exploitation of Mexico’s markets and cheap labor would satisfy their greed.

Thankfully, the Mexican government presently has a ban against Monsanto’s GMO corn crops and hopefully the Mexican court will continue to uphold this. As reported on February 9, 2017 by Natural News:

Just last week, a Mexican court chose to uphold a 2013 ruling that followed a legal challenge on the effects GMO crops have on the environment, which temporarily put a stop on GMO corn-growing, including pilot plots….

Opponents of GMO crops believe that these modified corn seeds could contaminate heirloom varieties, and that the pesticides used to protect GMO crops are harmful to beneficial insects like bees – which have been dying off in record numbers.  Community advocates state that Mexico’s 59 varieties of native corn will be at risk if Monsanto is allowed to take hold of the corn market. [RELATED: Learn more about the dangers of genetically modified food at GMO.news

 

 

 

Again, when will Trump denigrate his own country for its outrageous policies and when will he and those in Congress understand how millions in Mexico have suffered through no fault of their own. This is best stated by Rick Relinger, in his 2010 article, where he notes in reference to research about the issue:

As the study’s results demonstrate, billions of dollars of federal subsidies for American-grown corn are largely responsible for the economic displacement of Mexico’s corn farmers. The impact of U.S. corn subsidies has severely transformed the lives of people who have no influence on U.S. policies. This economic vulnerability of Mexican farmers was initiated through the approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The inclusion of the agricultural sector within the agreement’s broader agenda of trade liberalization exposed Mexicans employed in agriculture to U.S. domestic economic policies. (It is important to note that U.S.-Canada side of the agreement contrastingly maintains significant restrictions to protect the Canadian agricultural sector). Although these subsidies produced an increase in the corporate ownership of corn production, a decrease in corn prices, and dwindling numbers of employed corn farmers-not to mention the displacement and forced migration of Mexican corn farmers-Mexican voters have no voice in congressional deliberations regarding the approval of federal subsidies for American-grown corn. (Prospect)

Invariably, in this neoliberal economic world in which we live, corporations take precedence over individual well-being at virtually every juncture. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of this!!!

I will end with this 2006 excellent article below about the importance of corn in Mexico by Christina Santini who recently worked at the “Food and Agriculture Organization” of the United Nations and at the time worked in urban planning and development at Harvard University. She is also a professional cook.

THE PEOPLE OF THE CORN

For Mexicans, maize is not a crop but a deep cultural symbol intrinsic to daily life. Corn was domesticated from a grass called teocintle by the peoples of Meso-America approximately 10,000 years ago. Often referred to as humanity’s greatest agronomic achievement, maize is now grown all over the world. The yellow corn commonly found in the United States pales in comparison to the shapes, sizes, and colors of the traditional maize varieties cultivated by the indigenous peoples of Mexico. The ears of corn may range from a couple of inches to a foot long, in colors that include white, red, yellow, blue, and black. Some varieties even have an assortment of colors on one ear.

Corn is inextricably tied to the quotidian lives of the peasants and indigenous peoples of Mexico. As the basic grain, it shapes daily meals, and it’s growing cycle influences the timing of festivals. The image and shape of maize is a ubiquitous component of architecture and crafts. Spiritually, physically, and economically, corn sustains indigenous peoples. In the words of one Indian woman, “Corn is so important because it allows us to live at peace. It’s our form of food security.” Corn is linked to survival: During rough economic times or in the face of natural disasters, families will produce more maize to feed themselves. A Tzotzil Maya elder recounts, “During the past five centuries, while our people have withstood suffering-enormous sufferings-our corn has allowed us to survive.”

Now the North American Free Trade Agreement threatens to change that history. NAFTA has allowed the Mexican market to be flooded with imported corn from the United States, the vast majority of which is genetically modified. Before NAFTA, more than a third of the corn produced by rural farmers was retained for consumption at home, and the rest was sold on local markets. Indigenous peoples and peasants were practicing true food sovereignty and protected themselves from natural disasters and price fluctuations. Most local maize is sold through DISCONSA, a network of rural food stores common in poor and remote regions. As multinationals entered the market, a few began to sell their corn through the DISCONSA network, a practice that artificially lowered prices, hurt local farmers’ income, and disrupted the usual pattern of retaining enough corn for contingencies. More importantly, some of the corn flowing into the network consisted of genetically modified organisms. Estimates of contamination vary according to locality, from 3 percent to 60 percent. Within the DISCONSA network, the Mexican government found 37 percent contamination.

“We have learned that agrochemical companies patented our maize,” said a Tzotzil statement published in 2002 in La Jornada. “They are putting in genes from other living beings and many chemicals to completely put an end to our natural maize, so we’ll have to buy nothing but transgenic maize. If these agrochemical companies try to do away with our maize, it will be like putting an end to part of the culture that our Mayan ancestors bequeathed to us. Our indigenous peasant grandparents gave their labor and their hearts; they cried as they asked protection from our Creator for their work to bear fruit.”

To address the threat to traditional corn, the Tzotzil people formed the Mother Seeds in Resistance project. Mother Seeds is based in an autonomous indigenous school in the Chiapas highlands. There the community is identifying seeds to be preserved and preparing them to be frozen (for preservation, the moisture content in the seeds must be below 6 percent; otherwise the water inside the seeds will freeze and then burst the cell membranes, destroying them).

Community members of all ages are involved in the identification process, and it has become a channel through which young are learning from their elders. “It’s good to talk about these things in Tzotzil,” said two teachers, “because it is our own language.” Aldo Gonzalez, an indigenous Zapotec who has been on the forefront of the campaign against genetically modified maize, says, “Native seeds are a very important part of our culture. The pyramids may have been destroyed, but a handful of maize seed is the legacy we can leave to our children and grandchildren.”

(Cultural Survival)