No people can wage a struggle for self-determination and independence if they are wiped out of existence. The imperialists realize this and so should we: This is in the concrete reality that makes survival programs key organizing work for New Afrikan and Afrikan people everywhere. In addressing our survival needs, in Afrika, Amerika and elsewhere, we must have correct leadership and draw upon the broadest international support as well as practice self-reliance.
Our unmet needs growing out of imperialist and neo-colonial domination and oppression are many; lack of adequate basic nutrition and health care, support of prisoners and their families, providing relief to the multitudes of refugees and orphans produced by imperialist-instigated, armed tribal conflicts and people being forced off their ancestral lands for economic reasons in various parts of Afrika, the ravages of West Nile Virus, Malaria and other diseases—but the greatest single crisis facing Afrikan people worldwide is HIV/AIDS.
Many of us prefer to ignore this issue and rely on the governments and World Health Organization to properly address it. But that’s not happening. What is happening is genocide! In 2002, of the 3 million people who lost their lives to AIDS in that year, 2.2 million were Afrikans, and that’s not counting the New Afrikans in the Diaspora. In the interest of survival, we had better pay attention to this issue.
Five million people contract AIDS each year. Three million or more die from it each year. Nearly 90% of these are people in the 3rd World. Every day, 1,600 children die from AIDS. Two thirds of those infected with HIV/AIDS live in Afrika, where some six to eight thousand people die from it every day. That’s like two 9-11’s every day! If this were happening to white people, you would hear about it every day! In some Afrikan countries, like Lesotho, a full one third of the adult population is testing positive for HIV. Between 1992 and 2000, the HIV-positive rate rose from 7 million to 22 million. In 2005, one million Afrikan school children lost their teachers to AIDS. In Sub-Saharan Afrika alone, there are now 12 million AIDS orphans.
The disease in spreading in the New Afrikan Nation within Amerika too. It’s now estimated that 1 in 50 Black men in Amerika are AIDS infected, while 50% of all newly detected HIV/AIDS cases are Black wimyn. In 1998, Blacks accounted for 49% of AIDS deaths in the U.S. Although we are but 13% of the U.S. population, we account for 51% of the newly diagnosed HIV cases. Black men are 7 times more likely to contract the HIV virus than white men. And Black wimyn are 20 times more likely to contract it than white wimyn. Clearly this disease that is devastating Afrika is beginning to impact New Afrikans as well. HIV/AIDS statistics for Haiti now mirror those of the most hard-hit areas of Mother Afrika.
According to the United Nations, some 25 million have died so far from AIDS. This number will rise dramatically as those who are infected succumb to this killer disease. An estimated 40 million people are HIV infected worldwide, and only 20% of them are receiving any treatment to slow the infection, while less than 1.3 million people with AIDS are receiving necessary medications. Moreover, testing is limited, and probably 90% who are HIV positive don’t know it. No one knows how bad the situation really is.
Because the first AIDS cases detected in Amerika were male homosexuals, the media and religious right quickly hyped it as a “gay disease,” and even as “God’s punishment.” This stigma has left a continuing impression on public opinion in this country that runs contrary to facts. At least 75% of wimyn who are infected contracted the disease through heterosexual sexual intercourse. IV drug use is another cause, but the “moral majority” continue to frustrate free needle exchanges for drug addicts, as if their spreading the virus did not spill over into the general population.
Some will look at these statistics and say, “good! Let it kill off the nigg*rs, queers and junkies!” There can be no doubt that racism, bigotry and homophobia have retarded social and governmental response to this crisis. But even more significant is the fact that from the monopoly capitalists’ perspective there is a surplus of labor that can’t be profitably exploited and too many poor people who can’t afford to consume the products they’re selling. This is genocide—for real—and it is up to us to put a stop to it!
None of the existing policies on HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and treatment reflect or address the real world needs and crisis of this global epidemic, which for Afrikan an New Afrikan people is becoming a pandemic with genocidal overtones. Activism around this issue must be built beyond the ranks of those who have already fallen victim and are dedicating what remains of their strength to serving the people. These sisters and brothers deserve our respect and support, but a much bigger effort must be mounted and one that is not afraid to point out the political realities from a revolutionary New Afrikan perspective.
The building of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (NABPP) must take place in the thick of struggle around the most important issues affecting our people. Survival issues are of highest priority. We must survive in order to resist—in order to overcome—and in order to create a brighter future for future generations.
Tens of millions have died already, and many more are dying and will die, and literally billions are in danger. While the big name imperialist foundations and governments using their feet and procrastinate, the infection is spreading. Action is needed! It is time to build the survival programs our people need with our own hands and resources, mobilizing and unleashing the power of the people to act in their own interest.
A vanguard party and mass organizations are needed to lead and organize the people’s struggle. These won’t fall from the sky. We have to build them in the course of struggle!
Capitalism + AIDS = Genocide! Power to the People!