A recent article titled, “To Kill Comrade Rashid is to Kill a Movement in Development,” was penned by Comrade Shaka Sankofa Zulu. Let us hope that what his title suggests isn’t true, in that if indeed I were soon to die, hopefully we have set out enough of an organizational and strategic blueprint, and philosophical foundation, for others to continue this work.
Our Practice Distinguishes Us
It is true that since Comrade Shaka and I co-founded the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter in 2005 things have developed in ways unforeseen by us. But for me, oppression was expected. In fact, it’s something I’d endured long before becoming part of any formal organization. And I knew that this repression would come not so much in response to what we called ourselves as what we did. When we based ourselves upon a line of advancing the course of empowering the oppressed and despised, this put us in diametrical opposition to the ruling class interests of this imperialist empire. If we were serious about practicing what we proclaimed in this regard, then that practice would be at odds with those same powerful class forces. And as Comrade George Jackson once observed, “Power reacts to all threats!”
Everywhere I’ve been imprisoned since the birth of the NABPP, I’ve set to work educating and organizing prisoners, struggling to unite and develop them into revolutionary cadre and proletarian leaders—an advanced guard in the struggle of the oppressed to overthrow their oppressors. Alongside this work, I’ve looked to outside alliances to build bases of support in society, to unite the inside/outside movement, and to shed the antiseptic light of public exposure into the dark workings of the imperialist Prison Industrial Complex.
And in each instance, officials have reacted by bouncing me from unit to unit, prison to prison, and state to state. From one oppressive extreme to another, with the intent of disrupting and discouraging this work. I’ve been met with their physical violence, medical neglect, withholding and destruction of my belongings, efforts to cut my communication lines, threats of violence and death, attempts to provoke division and violence between me and other prisoners, efforts to bait me to react in ways that will “justify” lethal violence from them, and so on. All to no avail. This work continues…because the struggle continues.
The Beat Goes On!
What they fail to grasp is that we march to the tempo of a different drum than the one they beat. A drum whose rhythm and voice, like those of the Afrikan tribes from which our ancestors were robbed, speaks with the voice of the people. A drum whose sound resonates deep in one’s soul, playing out rhythms of what Comrade Fred Hampton, Sr. called, “The People’s Beat.” A beat that never stops! Because it is the very rhythm of life, love, community, and in times of struggle reaches a staccato pitch that enlivens the masses to rise up and shatter the forces that bind them.
It is a beat whose highest form has taken on the philosophical line of mass based revolution, embodied in the ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
What Sort of Panther Fears Death?
Comrade Shaka urges me in his article to not be discouraged by this repression or the pigs’ threats of death and acts of violence. When I read his words, I was immediately reminded of the reply of P’eng Te-Huai, one of the great military leaders of China’s revolutionary civil war, to a colleague of capitalist turncoat Nikita Khrushchev (the architect of anti-Stalin lies and slander that have come to since “define” Stalin and so-called “Stalinism” throughout the west).1 The exchange went thusly:
When Soviet leader Anastos Mikoian led the CPSU delegation to China to attend the CCP’s 8th Congress in 1956, P’eng asked him face to face why it was only now [after Stalin’s death] that the Soviet party was criticizing Stalin. Mikoian apparently replied: ‘We did not dare advance out opinion at that time. To have done so would have meant death.’ To which P’eng retorted: ‘What kind of a Communist is it who fears death?’2
But the claim itself has been proven untrue.3
As Comrade Shaka points out, we as New Afrikan Panthers are devoted Communists, which, like Comrade George we put proud emphasis on: “We are Communists not communalists.” Which makes us servants of the working class and all oppressed peoples even unto death. And we/I are willing—as exemplified in the words and work of Comrade Hasan Shakur who was assassinated in 2006 by the very state of Texas that now holds my body—“to not only die for the people but to live for them as well, for that is the real challenge!”
The People—Our Greatest Line of Defense
The masses of people are our source of life and work. And it is to them that we must look as our greatest line of defense, while educating and organizing them to this end, and ultimately to seize and exercise power in their own interests, and also to defend that power. This as Comrade Shaka points out is the revolution we are struggling to organize. In the process of doing this we must certainly build walls of protection around our leaders.
Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!
- For an important and thoroughly documented counter to Cold War era attacks on Stalin’s political work and leadership, see Grover Furr, Khrushchev Lied: The Evidence that Every “Revelation” of Stalin’s (And Beria’s) “Crimes” in Nikita Khrushchev’s Infamous “Secret Speech” to the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on February 25, 1956, is Probably False (Erythros Press: Kettering, OH, 2011); Grover Furr, “Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform, “ (two parts) in Cultural Logic (2005). At http://clogic.eserver.org/2005/furr.html and http://clogic.eserver.org/2005/furr2.html. [↩]
- Ibid, at p. 23, quoting Roderick Macfarquhar, The Origins of the Cultural Revolution, Vol. 2 (New York: Columbia University Press 1983, p. 194. [↩]
- See footnote 1. [↩]