On October 29th, 2017, the fifth stop of the magnificent “Days in Solidarity with African People: Unity Through Reparations” speaking tour came to Gainesville, Florida!
The event was hosted by the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, the organization of white people under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), working in the white community to raise reparations to African people.
The event opened with an uplifting and powerful African cultural presentation setting an optimistic mood: Gainesville-based performance artist Mandisa Haarhoff sang a selection of songs by Miriam Makeba. Beautiful African fabrics, clothing and jewelry at the vendor’s booth adorned the room.
Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC), spoke first.
Chairwoman Hess stated that we must understand the historical and material foundation of this system in order to truly combat the current overt white nationalism in the U.S. (which had just manifested itself in Gainesville in the form of Richard Spencer forcing his way onto the University of Florida campus plus an attempted shooting of a left protester by one of his followers).
Hess laid out the basic understandings of African Internationalism, the political theory developed by Chairman Omali Yeshitela of the African People’s Socialist Party, and the view of history from the perspective of the black working class.She explained that African people are one people all around the world, wherever they have been dispersed, and that Africa must be united and in the hands of the African working class.
Hess described how the APSP has developed a strategy to win white people to support the freedom struggle of African people and has determined how to do that in the context of the history of violence and terror inflicted by white people on the rest of humanity.
It is key, Hess said, to acknowledge that all white people stand on a pedestal of the stolen resources of African people. Hess described the unique circumstances of white people: “We could transform our lives; we came to the U.S. as poor serfs or miners, and we could climb the ladder of success in a slave economy on stolen land…we are not the victims.”
She debunked the notion that racism or ideas in the heads of white people are responsible for lynchings, exposing that this notion is self-centered and white-centered. Racism is but the ideological underpinning of colonialism and imperialism, the true root of violence and genocide against African people.
Quoting from Omali Yeshitela’s book, “An Uneasy Equilibrium: the African Revolution vs. Parasitic Capitalism”, she said:
“We determined long ago that characterizing our movement as a struggle against racism was a self-defeating waste of time. What is called racism is simply the ideological underpinning of capitalist imperialism. Racism is a concept that denies Africans our national identity and dignity, rather than defining the system of our oppression. It relegates us to the Sisyphean task of winning acceptance from, and often becoming one with our oppressors.”
Hess echoed Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s assertion that the struggle of African people is a struggle to recapture power by a nation dispersed by imperialism.
In concluding a powerful summary of the basic tenets of African internationalism, Hess appealed to white people to end our self-imposed isolation and alienation from humanity, saying:
“If we want to have something to live for, we have to join everybody else on the planet earth, and to do that we must pay the reparations, we must do our work inside the belly of the beast, so that African, oppressed and colonized people around the world can be free and this world can be saved. I believe that that is our interest […] Unity Through Reparations!”
Next to speak was African People’s Solidarity Committee member Jesse Nevel, Chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and Vice-Chair of Communities United for Reparations and Economic Development (CURED).
He opened by explaining that the APSC and USM were both founded and organized by the African People’s Socialist Party. These white solidarity organizations, he said, are part of a strategy of the APSP, which has opened a front of the struggle to liberate Africa and African people by extending the struggle for reparations to African people into the living rooms, cafes, classrooms and libraries of the oppressor nation.
Nevel was assigned by the APSP to run for Mayor of St. Petersburg (in tandem with Akile Anai for City Council) on a platform of “Unity through Reparations.” He described the reaction of the white media, which acted as if it could not grasp the concept of a white man fighting for reparations. The “Unity through Reparations” campaign mobilized as a call to the white community to stand for reparations and real economic development for the black community.
Nevel then put forward the reasons why “reparations has to be the center of a genuinely progressive worldview and practice for white people”, stating that “reparations make us be honest about who we are and what we’ve done,” reminding the audience that the U.S. would not exist without the enslavement of African people.
Nevel raised the contradiction exposed by Bernie Sanders. Sanders claims he is a socialist, and yet he rejects reparations, the redistribution of resources, a basic principle of socialism. Nevel also asked why Jews have received reparations for crimes committed against them, while African people, whose oppression is the basis for the entire parasitic capitalist world economy, have not.
Nevel then shared the APSP’s vision of a revolutionary world in which there will be no colonizers, in which “there will be human beings. There will be a liberated humanity and a liberated Africa.”
Akilé Anai, Chair of the Committee for Justice for the Three Drowned Black Girls and Chair of CURED, made the final presentation, knocking it out of the park with a call-out of the “anti-racist” politic.
Anai criticized the white left for reacting with hysteria, portraying Richard Spencer and Donald Trump as the incarnations of a white nationalist apocalypse, when in reality white nationalism started 600 years ago and has been brutally oppressing African and colonized people ever since.
Anai observed that “the colonizer does not have the solution to colonialism”, explaining that the “fight against racism” puts white people in the center, and that putting white people’s thoughts and feelings in the center is itself an expression of white nationalism.
She then outlined how the white left has put racism in the center and also arrogantly tries to assume the responsibility of leadership of African people, declaring that “white people have to come under the leadership of the black working class. That’s how we combat colonialism, imperialism and parasitic capitalism.”
Calling on white people to attack the material basis of colonialism by jumping off the pedestal of the stolen resources of African people, Anai closed by urging white people to join USM and “Get on the side of Unity Through Reparations!”
Following Anai’s mobilizing and winning presentation, Jesse Nevel and Johann Bedingfield led an appeal to white people in the audience to join in the active process of rectifying the relationship of white people to African people through paying reparations to support
APSP’s crucial institutions for economic self-determination.
Bedingfield and Nevel acknowledged the profound leadership and vision of Chairman Omali Yeshitela and Deputy Chair Ona Zene Yeshitela of the APSP in winning white people “to see our future in the inevitable success of the African liberation Movement, and freedom for all of humanity in our lifetime.”
Bedingfield and Nevel discussed APSP’s Black Star Industries (BSI), the Party’s programs of economic development for the African community, within the historical context of the COINTELPRO counterinsurgency, reminding the audience of the gentrification that is annihilating the black community. BSI is the way that African working class people battle this annihilation and rebuild in the face of attack.
A photo presentation showed the many programs of Black Star Industries: economic institutions that have been built, and the new ones that are being built right now.
Beautiful photos showed the buildings in St. Louis, Missouri, under renovation to become the newest Uhuru House and the Uhuru Jiko Commercial Kitchen.
Also pictured were Uhuru Furniture and Collectibles, Black Power 96 Radio Station, the Burning Spear newspaper, Uhuru Furniture stores in Oakland and Philadelphia, Uhuru Foods and Pies, Uhuru Community Health Fair and Flea Markets and the Uhuru Houses that have been in existence for decades in St. Petersburg, FL., and Oakland.
Reminding the attendees that white people donated one million dollars to white cop Darren Wilson as a reward for murdering Mike Brown, Nevel urged the white people present to put forward resources in material solidarity with the struggle for African liberation. This return of stolen resources in the hands of the African working class underwrites the concrete programs that are building economic development and self-determination — the only way to end police murders and all other manifestations of the colonial oppression of African people.
This appeal was very successful and a total of $1972 for the year was raised to support Black Star Industries! Local members upgraded, new supporters became members and others made significant donations.
Notably, one attendee became an Ella Baker-level sustaining member, meaning she will pay $100 per month in reparations to Black Star Industries!
The appeal won a tremendous victory for reparations to African people.
Holding the Day in Solidarity with African People in Gainesville, was a victory,
providing white people with profound political education and the opportunity to unite with the struggle for African liberation in concrete material solidarity.
White Solidarity with Black Power!
Forward to the Huntsville Day in Solidarity with African People!
Akilé Anai, Chair of the Committee for Justice for the Three Drowned Black Girls (3DBG) and Communities United for Reparations and Economic Development (C.U.R.E.D.)
Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee.
Johann Bedingfield, National Outreach Chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, and Jesse Nevel, USM Chair.
Cultural performance was provided by artist Mandisa Haarhoff.