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Mumia on Barack

December 1, 2008

Protest to free Mumia and Troy Davis, two innocent men facing execution, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 4:30pm, at the Federal Courthouse, 7th & Mission, San Francisco

by POCC Minister of Information JR

Recently Barack Obama was selected to be the first Black president of the United States, one of the most powerful jobs on the planet. In looking at that, we went to Pennsylvania’s death row to talk to former Black Panther, prolific journalist and Black political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal about his opinions on this historic moment in time.

MOI JR: What’s up, Mu?

Mumia: What’s happening, Black man?

MOI JR: Man, I’m good. How are you under the circumstances?

Mumia: Hey, look, another day in hell.

MOI JR: I hear it. I hear it. So I just had a few questions in regards to the selections. As of Jan. 20, 2009, Barack Obama will be the president of the United States. What is your opinion on this outcome?

Mumia: I’m not surprised. I am surprised by the scope of it, and I think the scope speaks of a kind of hunger in many American hearts. I think it’s also a referendum on the last four and the four before of the Bush regime. You know, sitting president, now George W. Bush, really, really alienated a good number all across all sectors of Amerikkkan life, and I think that all the stars aligned for Barack Obama. That was why I think that he resisted running, say, four years from now opposed to 2008.

MOI JR: Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. equated Barack Obama becoming president of the United States to the South African presidency of Nelson Mandela, where nothing changed but the color of white power’s representative. What is your assessment of this comparison?

Mumia: Unfortunately, I feel that his comparison may prove quite apt. There is a relatively new book going around called “The Incognegro” and it is written by a younger man named Frank B. Wilderson. Frank B. Wilderson is an English professor, a poet, a writer of course, but he spent several years in South Africa as a member of the ANC, so he gives kind of an inside flavor of what the presidency of Nelson Mandela actually meant to members of the ANC, members of the youth wing, members of the armed wing, and also for the poor in South Africa.

Needless to say, for millions of people in South Africa, they’re living in poverty, living in ghettos by any other name. Some still don’t have running water, don’t have electricity. Millions don’t have decent housing. But the rich, who were rich before the change of government, are richer after the change of government. And what has happened is that what South Africa had fought for many years was to create what they called a “colored buffer zone” between the masses of the people and the very rich. Now they have that buffer zone. It’s just Blacks, you see? And so the class differentiation between then and now is very, very stark.

MOI JR: How do you think the international community will respond to U.S. imperialism in Black face?

Mumia: I think that if what we are seeing on TV is any true indication, they will celebrate. I guess what I should have said also, in adding to your prior point and question, is that it doesn’t depend on them; it depends on us. If people organize, they can make change. But they can’t just kind of lay down and say, “Well, you know? …

THIS CALL IS FROM THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION SCI GREENE AND IS SUBJECT TO MONITORING AND RECORDING.

Mumia: “Well. because of this election, we’s free now,” you know? There’s still millions of people living in hells in Amerikkka right now, living far worse now than they were a year ago. The hardest hit communities for foreclosures were African Americans and Latinos, because they were suckered into those exploding mortgages, the ARMs, adjustable rate mortgages with balloon payments and so forth. Look at the incarceration rate, then look at education.

I mean, after all of this progress, when progress happens on a political level, it is symbolic, you see? But on a daily lived level, where most of us are, schools are more segregated today than they were in 1970-71. You could go to any Black community – you could go to Philadelphia, you could go to Roxbury, you could go to Pittsburgh – and, you know, the schools are Blacker than ever. And the education, frankly, for the young generation is worse now than it was in the ‘70s.

You know, under a segregated system, which you had all across Black Amerikkka, were extremely well educated teachers. They were there because they could not work in white universities or white schools. You had Black schools in the South where many of the teachers had master’s degrees or PhDs, because they would go up North and get their education and come back South. But they couldn’t work in the public school system. They could only work in Black schools.

You have nothing close to that now. Now people run away from the public schools. Now charter schools is the way that the state has been pushing people. They are making it into a private business. You remember Bush’s favorite words from several years ago, “This is an ownership society”? Well, that is what they tried to do, and if you didn’t have capital, if you didn’t own anything, well, you were on your own. Now you see where that has gotten us.

MOI JR: Most voters in the United States have no knowledge of the Electoral College, or its function, can you explain to us what it is?

Mumia: Well its really a device placed into the Constitution, that allows a small group of people, they call it a electoral college, it is not a real college (snickers) but a small group of people called electors who actually cast the formal votes for who shall be president and vice president. I mean, it may surprise people, but in point of fact people did not vote for Barack Obama or John McCain, they voted for electors who will decide when they gather together, who will receive the delegates among those electors. They do the actual voting. And this was a device put into the Constitution so that amerikkka didn’t get too much democracy.

MOI JR: Some people in the revolutionary community feel that Obama being president is a setback, because it will allow the establishment to deny racism still exists in Amerikkka, but the late great Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, said that “neo-colonialism is the last stage of capitalism.” What are your thoughts on the issue?

Mumia: I would refer to what I said above and earlier, that people cannot take shortcuts to organizing. Well, even with the Obama victory, if you recall the Republican Convention after the Democratic Convention, one of the best mocking lines that they used, and I remember specifically the former mayor of New York, Rudy Guliani, they joked about Obama being a community organizer. Well, in point of fact, he was a community organizer. And he used those skills to beat the hell out of anybody who was his opponent.

No one expected him … I remember in Novemeber of 2007, no one expected him to beat Hillary Clinton. Hillary was going to be the next Democratic nominee. No one expected this guy to beat ‘em. And when you looked at the Republican Convention and how the polls changed after it, everybody expected John McCain to be a stronger candidate coming out of the convention.

But this was a community organizer, so people who call themselves revolutionaries, who are organizers and activists and agitators, take the lesson about what community organizing really is. That’s talking to people, organizing people and making change. I mean, that’s where change really happens: talking to real people, changing their minds, bringing them over and organizing them.

THIS CALL IS FROM THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION SCI GREENE AND IS SUBJECT TO MONITORING AND RECORDING.

Mumia: Well, Kwame Ture used to say – every time he spoke to people, at least three times he would say – “You must organize, organize, organize.” He would beat that drum until it was deeply embedded in consciousness. He understood that unless people understood how to organize and then did that, there would be no change. And I’m just not talking about political change; I’m talking about real social change. So our people need to organize, organize, organize.

MOI JR: If you were allowed to vote, would you have voted? Why or why not?

Mumia: I probably would have. My mother was a judge of elections, and I voted (chuckling) from when I was very young, so I did have that habit. There was several times that I didn’t, but usually, it was a deeply embedded habit.

I probably would have voted for Cynthia McKinney, who represented a true radical alternative. Here was a Black woman, a Black woman who stood up very strongly in Congress against the Iraq War and against the Patriot Act and against a lot of the repressive measures that her fellow Democrats voted for. Well, because she stood up, she was isolated by the Democratic Party and, really, I think she suffered two electoral defeats because she was so outspoken. It was the Green Party that was a fit for her. And this is a Black woman! If a Black man is progress, a Black woman is real progress. But again, I mean organize, organize, organize.

YOU HAVE 60 SECONDS REMAINING.

Mumia: We can’t understate the importance of organizing.

MOI JR: Definitely, man. Thank you for doing the interview.

Mumua: Thank you, brother JR.

MOI JR: Just let us know what is needed from our end, that can contribute, and we’re wit’ it. And we’re there.

Mumia: Organize, organize, organize (laughing) …

MOI JR: No doubt (laughing).

You could hear the audio from this interview at www.blockreportradio.com. Minister of Information JR can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.

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