Seattle’s Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM) membership worked hard to build and promote the viewing party held on October 28, 2017. We gained valuable organizing skills working under African People’s Socialist Party, the African People’s Solidarity Committee, and the USM National Committee leadership. We are proud to announce that we surpassed our resource-raising goal of $500. We salute our local members who pledged reparations at the viewing party, helped staff and coordinated the event,including Julia, Marisa, Call, Janet, Tanya and new members Joyce and Sharrin!
Africans are under attack in Seattle by the police, as part of the genocidal gentrification strategy to increase housing for the white community. Further, Seattle is, as all American cities are, a concentration of the stolen wealth of African people. For these reasons, Seattle’s Day in Solidarity with African People viewing party was significantly overdue.
Africans in Seattle under attack by gentrification
With more than 700,000 people living in the city, Seattle has become one of the fastest growing cities in the country. There are plenty of jobs in the technology and e-commerce industries because of well-known companies like Microsoft and Amazon, but what about the rest of the people who consider Seattle home?
Though Africans had settled in the area contemporaneously with white settlers during territorial times, by the 1940s Seattle had become a mostly white city due to the restrictive housing covenants that prevented Africans and other nationalities from moving into exclusively white neighborhoods. At the end the late 1890s, two distinctly African neighborhoods, in the East Madison area and Yesler-Jackson area, had formed.
These neighborhoods then grew to be known as the Central District, with over seventy-percent of Africans living in the Central District in the 1960s. Now, due to increased housing prices and gentrification, only twenty percent of Africans live in this historically black neighborhood. White people make up sixty percent of the Central District in 2017.
The cost of living in Seattle has gone up dramatically and while the current economic pressures have affected everyone, African and Indigenous people have felt the brunt of colonialism and capitalism for centuries.
Whereas white people get the best of Seattle in terms of housing, schooling, and job opportunities, African people have experienced segregation, poverty, unemployment, and police brutality in their neighborhoods. According to the Seattle Times newspaper, “one in five black households are homeowners; meanwhile, recent studies of homelessness by King County researchers found that about sixty percent of families in shelters and up to forty percent of individuals living on the streets on any given night are black.”
The epidemic of police violence and mass incarceration affecting the black community has literally destroyed neighborhoods and families. The latest police murder in Seattle came this past June when the city policing practices were under federal scrutiny.
On Father’s Day this year, Seattle officers Steven McNew and Jason Anderson murdered Charleena Lyles, an African mother of four. Lyles was pregnant when they shot her seven times in front of her children. On November 15, 2017 the review board decided that the officers followed Seattle Police Department policy and will not face criminal charges.
The white bourgeois media has criminalized Lyles’ actions with their version of the incident in order to deceive the community that the the officer’s actions had justification. This is the pattern we see all over the country — first Africans are murdered in the streets, then immediately their character is murdered again in the media.
The “American history” that white people must acknowledge and for which we must make amends.
The history of white people in the United States began with the genocide of Indigenous people and the enslavement of African people who cleared the land, farmed and built cities for the white oppressor nation.
We owe trillions of dollars in reparations for centuries of genocide — in the forms of colonialism, stolen black lives, gentrification, and living a good and fruitful life but at the expense of everyone else. That history is coming to an end because white people are uniting under the leadership of the African working class to build a future through reparations and real material solidarity to African people.
In 1972, the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) created the African People Solidarity Committee (APSC) which leads the mass organization the Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM). APSC and USM were mandated by APSP to organize in the white community for reparations and to hold annual Days in Solidarity with African People (DSAP) events nationwide. Uhuru is the Swahili word for freedom and is the salutation in all of the movement’s communications.
USM’s points of unity are: 1. Africans have the right to lead their own struggle for liberation 2. We work under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party. 3. We work in white communities to raise reparations.
The Days in Solidarity with African People campaign was created so that the white population could honor Africans everywhere for their humanity and their constant struggle to have power over their own lives. White people can show material support for this struggle through reparations — the highest expression of solidarity. Holding events such as DSAP builds the much-needed white culture of reparations to replace the white culture of violence, anxiety, depression, and uncertainty.
Boston’s Victorious Day in Solidarity with African People
Penny Hess, Chair and founding member of the APSC was the first speaker, followed by Jesse Nevel, Chair of USM and 2017 St. Petersburg FL mayoral candidate, and Akilé Anai, APSP member, Chair of Justice For The Three Drowned Black Girls and Communities United For Reparations And Economic Development (CURED.), and 2017 St Petersburg FL District 6 city council candidate. The keynote speaker was Omali Yeshitela, founder and Chair of APSP and the Uhuru Movement.
Penny Hess made it clear that the goal of APSP is total liberation of African people, not just racial justice. Quoting from Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s An Uneasy Equilibrium, Hess reminded us of the position of the African People’s Socialist Party with regards to Black Power:
“We have never been diverted from the mission of capturing power. We determined long ago that characterizing our movement as a struggle against racism is a self defeating waste of time[…]What is called racism is simply the ideological foundation of imperialist capitalism. Racism is a concept that denies Africans our national identity and dignity rather than defining the system of African oppression. It relegates African people to the task of winning acceptance from and often becoming one with our oppressor.”
She went on to say, “one of the most racist things you can say is saying this is a struggle against racism because what does that keep us? In the center and that keeps the system intact.”
Hess deepened our understanding by explaining that the white population is in crisis because imperialist capitalism is in crisis. We see colonized people in this country and around the world are fighting back and taking back their resources. Colonized people want to end their oppression by any means necessary and Hess made it clear that it’s in white people’s best interest to join that struggle for African Liberation by returning stolen resources back to African and other colonized people.
She concluded that white people can’t just unlearn racism at a workshop to feel good about themselves for a day while the system stays intact. White people need to do more than just lip service to overturn the centuries of oppression propagated against African people.
The next speaker was USM Chair and CURED Vice-Chair Jesse Nevel. In 2017, Nevel ran for mayor on a platform of reparations and economic development to the black community in St. Petersburg, FL, under the leadership of Akilé Anai (Eritha Cainion), who ran for District 6 city councilperson.
This year’s Days in Solidarity with African People speaking tour highlighted the campaigns in St. Pete, a majority white city with a history of oppression. The history of St. Pete, like most of the United States, includes slavery, segregation, police containment and lynchings, and modern colonialism i.e. gentrification.
The campaigns were shaped under the tutelage of Chairman Omali Yeshitela who helped put these campaigns into historical and political context and who helped construct the campaigns that called for “Radical Times, Radical Solutions!” and “Unity Through Reparations!” Because of these campaigns, the Black Power agenda made its way back to the electoral political arena.
Anai and Nevel were suppressed and silenced in the local debates and negatively portrayed in the bourgeoisie media. Even though they didn’t “win” the election, they were victorious in building a real people’s movement where Africans voted for the first time in a long time and where white people could support candidates who called for reparations.
Anai and Nevel launched a new organization called Communities United for Reparations and Economic Development (CURED) which is part of the strategy to take back the power and control for the Black Community and for white people to show support for Black Power and self determination.
Nevel and Anai’s campaigns in St Petersburg, FL redefined the term progressive and Nevel showed how white people can rejoin the human family by making reparations:
“Reparations is the new definition of progressive! And from here on out no white person can claim to be a socialist and oppose reparations to African people – Bernie Sanders I’m talking to you – you can’t be a socialist and oppose the ultimate redistribution of the wealth to the workers of the world which is African people. And no white person will ever be able to claim to be an anti-imperialist, or radical, or revolutionary without uniting with reparations to Black people. This is the door to the human family. Reparations is for us to join the human family because we don’t get to just come back in after hundreds of years of raping, pillaging, and destroying and say ‘Alright, I’m here. I unlearned my racism. I’m dating a Black person. I have a Black Lives Matter sign. I put on a hoodie and grew a bad goatee and rapped horribly about Donald Trump in a garage. I’m cool now’ […] No! Reparations is the way! Reparations is the solution! Uhuru!”
Akilé Anai spoke next. During the campaign Anai repeatedly exposed the gerrymandering taking place in her city and brought issues that were important to the African working class into the center of the elections throughout the six months of campaigning. Her platform called for reparations and economic development to the black community, ending the displacement and gentrification of African communities, instituting black community control of police, building workers’ councils and creating single member district elections (to fight gerrymandering).
Anai addressed the majority white audience in Boston, MA and explained that these two campaigns garnered international support because a twenty year old African woman and a twenty-seven year old Jewish man were running on a joint ticket in the South, calling for reparations and economic development to the Black community. She summed up the mobilizing victories that took place over the summer and offered a solution for white people who are experiencing the contradictions of imperialist capitalism in the form of heavy drug use, anxiety, and depression and to join in the struggle for Black
Liberation and for the liberation of all colonized people.
Anai said that we are seeing the crisis of imperialism unfolding right before our eyes and that “it can no longer function as it has for 600 years, and masses of people are rising up and resisting colonialism and imperialism.” She welcomed the crisis of imperialism and said there is a tangible theory and practice under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party and Chairman Omali Yeshitela that it will finally end the oppression colonized people are subjected to on a daily basis:
“In St. Pete, the electoral campaign Unity Through Reparations gave the chance for white people to take hold of the life raft of humanity. The Party created the opportunity with the creation of APSC and we are extending it now to white people in Boston (and Seattle and everywhere white people live) to take the stance of reparations to African people and to commit other white people to take this stance because Africa and her people need to be free; the Indigenous and Mexican peoples need their land back; Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan are demanding an end to imperialist wars in their countries and colonized people will see victory. But, as a white person, you have to decide which side of the line you’ll chose to stand on: The side of the oppressed, fighting like hell to take down the system, whose victory is inevitable or the oppressor, a side without a future.”
The final speaker was Chairman Omali Yeshitela, who has led the Uhuru Movement for over forty years. He is a political theoretician who has written over a dozen books and developed the revolutionary theory called African Internationalism — the political theory of the African working class.
In his speech the Chairman summarized why APSP created DSAP, why the white ruling class funded the Civil Rights Movement for its own interests in cheap labor — and to thwart African liberation — and why Black Power matters just as much today as it did in the 1960s.
The Chairman explained how the brutality of living in the south and struggling in the Civil Rights Movement transformed African people and they started to lead their own struggle for African liberation and Black Power after the black petty bourgeoisie passed the Voting Rights Act and other reforms.
The Black Revolution was a worldwide revolution to destroy capitalism and free Africans who were dispersed all over the world and the Uhuru Movement has survived the US counterinsurgency and continues to forward the worldwide Black Revolution of the 1960’s.
The Chairman ended his presentation by saying the future is in the hands of the African working class and in this period of time white people are the imperialist system’s weak link:
“This whole concept Days In Solidarity With African People is designed to bring white people, North Americans as we like to say, into our process, to have this opportunity to speak to you […] People are experiencing a tremendous amount of anxiety, you can see in the popular culture that Europe and America, as it’s called, cannot see the future. They can’t see the future because that future is the future of a parasite that requires a host in order to survive and the host is resisting around the world ,which is why you see perpetual warfare going on everywhere.”
White people’s future is uncertain because colonized people are rising up and fighting back. There is an opportunity for them in APSC and USM, where they can be a part of transforming a parasitic social system, by jumping off the colonial pedestal so everyone can be free.
Making the reparations appeal was a wonderful success.
After the speeches, Julia and Marisa called for reparations from the audience as we looked at slides of the future Uhuru House in St. Louis, MO and revolutionary accomplishments of the APSP spanning over forty years — including how reparations has furthered the Uhuru movement’s mission and goals. Janet pledged $500 immediately and from there we had members pledging $5 to $100 towards our goal of $500. We raised $610 in reparations to African people, in addition to winning two new members to USM! It was really exciting to be in a room that had white people taking the stance of reparations to African People.
The 2017 National DSAP Speaking Tour and viewing parties raised thousands of dollars and won many new members to join USM in addition to new members in Seattle.
The work continues because as we all know Africans and other colonized people are not yet Uhuru, i.e. free, so it is incumbent that we continue to show and manifest solidarity in the white community and raise thousands and even millions of dollars in reparations to African People. Go to www.uhurusolidarity.org and join or make a pledge! Uhuru!
You can watch DSAP from home or have a viewing party of your own. Here are the videos:
Penny Hess: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga8nz4mpmMg
Jesse Nevel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZUTrKieySo
Akile Anai: (42:35 minute) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxgXeyyzHkU&t=6351s
Chairman Omali Yeshitela: (59:25 minute) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxgXeyyzHkU&t=6351s
Uhuru Foods & Pies Volunteer Opportunity (every Nov./Dec.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmDNMQC2zAE&feature=youtu.be