By Anne Hirsch
USM St Pete Comrade Appreciation Day 2018
The St. Petersburg, FL chapter of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement held a comrade appreciation party last weekend as a way to show revolutionary love for our members and supporters. The fundraising party was held on the weekend before Valentine’s Day at the home of one of our longtime members, where we raised $116 in reparations to African people, undermining a parasitic system and society built at the expense of African and other colonized people around the world. These resources will help us build for the May 23rd St Pete event of The Reparations Tour: White Solidarity with the Black Power Blueprint.
As with all celebrations in the white power capitalist world, Valentine’s day is about consumption. But we can transform these traditions — into practices that are informed by and support African Internationalism and its commitment to free all African people and their resources from the clutches of white power capitalism.
To this end the comrades read a February 2017 article from the Burning Spear Newspaper by Aaron O’Neal, Valentine’s Day: Colonized labor for capitalist love, which begins, “Roses are red, Violets are blue,There is blood on those flowers, And on the chocolates too!”
This was a profoundly moving read which changed our perception of what this holiday is all about. We understood from reading it that the essential ingredient of chocolate, cacao, comes from Africa where child labor is often used to cultivate and harvest the raw cacao. These children never taste the finished chocolate and never reap the gigantic riches produced for the chocolate industry. In fact, they make less than a dollar a day.
The flower industry is a colonial enterprise, built upon the exploited Indigenous workers’ backs, who will also never see the profits under parasitic capitalism. The commercial flowers we associate with Valentine’s day were first cultivated by the Dole company (formerly United Fruit), who wreaked havoc on the Indigenous people of South America. The flower industry is built up on the extraction of Indigenous resources, i.e. the exploitation of fertile, arable land, farmed not by the people for their own needs, but for whatever the colonizer or imperialist aggressor needs.
We saw in the Burning Spear article that capitalism exploits all things, even love, for its own devices — enriching a few at the expense of most of the people on the planet. The consumers who buy the products are duped by white power into thinking that these material products must be given to a loved one to show our love.
Valentine’s day is an empty and economically devastating tradition for many who feel compelled to comply with the tradition but can’t really afford it. White power capitalism does not care who it destroys to make its profit.
After reading this article, so as to not be despondent at our deepened understanding, we watched a video of a wedding of two leading forces of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), African National Women’s Organization President Yejide Orunmila and APSP member Kiongozi Binamu. Chairman Omali Yeshitela officiated the wedding as the leader of the African Nation, which is rapidly building dual and contending State power. In this celebration the triumphs of African Internationalism were on display for all to see. The beautiful African traditional clothing and the shining example of the comrades present inspired all of us.
The Chairman spoke of two people coming together in revolutionary love. A love that undergirds the comrades in their work to overturn white power and create a fully independent African Nation. Building for an fully independent African nation is how dispersed Africans come back together, specifically in the revolutionary Party to work for the revolutionary change required for the consolidation of the power of the poor and working class. African people dispersed around the world will take back their Africa and all its resources for all African people.
Then we watched a video of a comrade’s birthday party. In the Uhuru Movement birthdays are not celebrated in the traditional capitalist way — with a pressure to buy expensive gifts — but in the most humane and people-centered way: by expressing deep regard and appreciation of the person’s work as a revolutionary.
Comrades were lifted up by the words of their fellow revolutionaries — words whose meaning and sentiment will stay with them, for months or years to come, building and strengthening them. What more intimate or valuable gift could there be?
Following viewing this video we made cards for one another to express our own revolutionary love and appreciation for each other. We experienced first-hand through this video the power we have to uplift our comrades and the deep inspiration that their appreciation gives us to continue our work.
The St Pete event on USM’s The Reparations Tour: White Solidarity with the Black Power Blueprint will be Wednesday, May 23rd 6:30-8:30 at Akwaaba Hall at the Uhuru House, 1245 18th Street S. in St. Petersburg. Speaking will be Kunde Mwamvita of Black Star Industries and Jesse Nevel, Chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement.
Register for the Uhuru Solidarity Movement’s St. Pete stop of The Reparations Tour at www.stpete2018reparationstour.eventbrite.com
Follow USM St Pete on Facebook at Facebook.com/usmstpete
Unity Through Reparations! White Solidarity with Black Power! Reparations Now!