Applied Panther Love: Organizing the Black Brigade and its Work Within the Razor Wire Plantations (2005)

By Kevin ‘Rashid’ Johnson

Minister of Defense – New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison Chapter

The Black Brigade is a mass organization, which means that its members are warriors drawn from a variety of political, spiritual and cultural schools of thought. What enables the Brigade’s membership to function as a unit in programmatic unity is its core function of rendering service to the Nation of Afrikans in Amerika.

So far, the Brigade has operated in a relatively loose and unaccountable fashion. Its work and organizational structure have not been consolidated nor clearly defined, particularly in relation to serving the needs of the imprisoned New Afrikans. This is natural given the conditions under which it has been founded, but it is time to pull the Brigade together into chapters at the respective prisons where the members are confined and begin to develop concrete programs to serve the people.

In order to do this, the members must develop a clearer understanding of the tasks before us, and the members of the NABPP-PC within the Brigade should play an active and leading role in this process. We are ourselves in process of creation of our organizational structure, and the two tasks are intertwined and dialectically united.

Our people’s material needs are food, clothing, medical care, shelter, security (conflict mediation), literacy and education, family-community support and cohesion, spiritual freedom, legal support, safe and healthy working and living conditions and so on. Some of our people need psychiatric care, drug and alcohol addiction counseling, and other specialized rehabilitative services. There are two primary aspects of serving these needs within the razor wire plantations: 1.) The first aspect is creating STP (Serve The People) program committees. 2.) The second aspect is organizing study and discussion circles to politically and ideologically educate and continually deepen people’s understanding. In other words, the Brigade must develop revolutionary practice and revolutionary theory using one to enrich the other.

The Party has the same basic tasks. The difference is that the Party members should be committed revolutionaries in a fuller sense, who are down for the whole thing. Their role is to be the advanced detachment or vanguard. In carrying out the two tasks, we must implement Panther love, which is the positive commitment to raise the oppressed masses out of their physical and mental enslavement to imperialism, and to pave the way for a better world for future generations through revolutionary struggle.

Study and Discussion Circles

An enslaved people are brought into and kept in this state by being made to believe that they are physically and mentally incapable of doing for themselves without a slave master. They are conditioned to rely upon their enslaver for motivation and direction and to achieve their survival needs. Fundamental to accomplishing this is to keep the enslaved misinformed and ignorant and living under conditions where they are compelled to seek the necessities for survival from the enslaver.

This is essentially how things worked on the old cotton and tobacco plantations and how they work on today’s razor wire plantations. And overall, it is how things are for the New Afrikan Nation within the Amerikan Nation and for the working class under capitalist dictatorship. The imperialist (mis)education system, the (mis)information and entertainment industry, and even the religious indoctrination establishment all work to keep the masses of people numb from the neck up. They fill our heads with false and misleading information about what is going on and how things got to be this way.

They teach us false histories and interpretations of world and domestic affairs, swamp us with mind-numbing entertainments and diversions, and subtly (and not so subtly) infect us with self-hate and contempt for our blackness, keeping us in the dark about our truly remarkable Black heritage. Such positive images and examples empower us and enhance our self-esteem as Black people and give us the confidence that we can not only be independent but contribute in a powerful way to advancing society to a higher level.

As Comrade Russell ~Maroon” Shoats pointed out: ‘When a whole people undergo … separation from their historical past, they invariably become easy prey to those who want to use them, because not having any historical record to fall back on, they have nothing to compare things to.” He further stated that, “Ironically, they are like the circus and zoo lions and elephants raised in captivity. Never having been taught by other lions and elephants in the wild, they don’t know how to hunt or forage and survive in their natural habitat. They are pretty easy to control and are pretty harmless to their controllers.”

“European slavers and expansionists,” he argues, “were well aware of this phenomenon, and they argued and fought with their peers to have strict laws adopted that were designed to eradicate as much past knowledge from their enslaved Afrikans and Amerindians foes as possible; including their traditional spirituality, languages, folklore, hair styles, diets, family patterns, their values and sense of right and wrong, their former group solidarity, and overall, their customs and self-identity.”

So it becomes self-evident how valuable correct education is for an oppressed, marginalized and neo-colonized people, like we New Afrikans, and especially in the creation of effective mass organizations. Any organization that is not based on the people and their true history is opposed to them and will treat them as slaves and manipulate them against their true interests. Organizations that are based upon the

people’s true interests do not fear the truth and encourage their members and the people to study hard and to be critical thinkers.

We do not want to be manipulated and exploited by our own Black bourgeoisie but to free all of humanity. Black liberation can only be accomplished by the overthrow of global imperialism, and we in the Belly of the Beast, the heart of the monopoly capitalist empire, must play the leading and decisive role and deliver the coup de gras, the death blow, to this epoch of exploitation and oppression.

To do this, we must liberate ourselves from the mental, spiritual and ideological shackles of slavery. We must rise above our station as beasts of burden, wage slaves and lumpen proletarians, and become the New Men and Women of the Socialist Revolution. The Black Brigade’s first duty is developing its member’s minds, their knowledge and understanding along with the people so they will not lose confidence in their ability to become the makers of history.

Bravery in the absence of political understanding is only brute courage. The courage we need is conscious and the result of understanding what needs to be done and how to go about doing it. It is what will make us unconquerable. Death comes to all, but like life it can vary in significance. To live a life of purpose, to live and die a revolutionary, is the highest calling there is. To be like Comrade Hasan and fear neither life nor death in the strength of total commitment, that is the ultimate freedom.

To develop this level of political understanding and commitment, the New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison Chapter must set the example for the Black Brigade and the masses. We must study the hardest, teach and demonstrate the principle of revolution, and in every way strive to be the people’s pride and inspiration. Through the regular practice of organized collective study and discussion and applying the

principle of “each one teach one,” the Brigade’s political and spiritual development will be enhanced and welded more and more into a unified force to serve the people.

Serve The People Committees

The work of the STP Committees is as the name implies, to develop programs to serve the basic survival needs of the people. By practicing self-reliance, mutual assistance and creativity, we can achieve a measure of self-determination and people’s power even under the most oppressive conditions. This is applying Panther love in practice. Those who have particular skills or abilities can apply them to help others. Even the unskilled can donate their time and efforts.

We should strive to be as independent of Empire as ‘We can be and look to our own needs and collective welfare. Of course we will still demand the services the State is obligated to provide, but to the extent we can, we should be self-reliant and not dependent. For example there is a lot we can learn about natural cures, nutritional supplements and health. We can assist each other in legal work and research, in learning languages and dealing with personal issues like anger, grief, addiction or self-discipline. This demands unity in theory and unity in practice, getting past self-centeredness and becoming family and comrades to one another.

The STP Committees should implement survival programs according to conditions with the particular prisons in which they operate. They should make assessments of these conditions and the prisoners’ needs and resources. Successes should be shared with others so they can be replicated when applicable.

Within the razor wire, our survival needs are many:

Health: There should be a public health committee at each prison to address the issues of disease prevention and treatment. HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis A and C, TB and STDs are at epidemic levels in many prisons, yet little is being done on prevention education, testing and treatment. Sanitation, use of disinfectants, healthy diet, exercise, and access to proper medical care and medicines are issues that need to be addressed in an organized way.

Legal Aid: Many people would not have to be in prison if they had proper legal advice and assistance. There should be a legal assistance committee to organize the jailhouse lawyers, legal resources, community legal aid and support contacts, and to assist prisoners with legal paperwork, filings and record keeping.

Literacy and Language: There should be a committee to help illiterate prisoners learn to read and write and/or to become bilingual. There are many other potential committees that can be formed to address a whole range of issues from drug and alcohol dependency to rape prevention. These committees should research and hook up with services available on the outside and the inside. obtain and produce educational literature and distribute it.

Get Organized!

No people have to accept the role of slaves and submit to violation of their human rights. Organizations like the Human Rights Coalition (HRC), initiated by Comrade Maroon to mobilize prisoners. their families and supporters in the communities to fight for respect for prisoners’ human rights, should be spread nationwide with chapters in every state.

We are building a national campaign to amend the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to strike the clause that perpetuates the status of slave for those convicted of a crime, and along with this to abolish the racist death penalty and other Draconian practices. and to extend universal suffrage to give voting rights to prisoners and others denied this fundamental civil right. Political action committees need to be organized to advance this work.

Within each unit and prison chapter, captains and other officers need to be chosen and organizational structure needs to be developed. This must be done in coordination with the Brigade Commander, Nathaniel Lee, but it must also reflect the will of the people and recognize the natural leaders among us.

The NABPP-PC has a responsibility to be a leadership vanguard, but the Black Brigade is an independent organization with a life of its own and needs to develop its own leadership structure. Not everyone in the Brigade is going to agree with our Party Line in total nor should they be expected to. Our unity is programmatic unity.

Important as our work. on the razor wire plantations is. it is mainly to transform them into “Schools of Liberation.” Our principle task is to train revolutionary warriors who will in turn transform the oppressed communities into base areas of cultural, social and political revolution. We must always keep this strategic orientation in mind.

Our struggle is for the liberation of our people from centuries old oppression. It happens that our liberation is impossible short of the liberation of mankind from the system of capitalist exploitation that was built on the backs of our ancestors. Though conditioned to think as slaves, we must learn to think as liberators and as leaders of a worldwide struggle.

Indeed. he who has been last will later be first, for the times they are

a changing!

Dare to Struggle – Dare to Win!


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