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The Haiti connection: An open letter to Black people everywhere

March 13, 2009

by Abdul Olugbala Shakur

My beloved people, my name is Abdul Olugbala Shakur, and I am a New Afrikan Freedom Fighter. Though I am only 47 years old, I have been active in the service of our people since the early 1970s.

Marching with blaring trumpets and chanting crowds on Jan. 26, 2008, Haitians say No to the U.N. massacres in the Site Soley neighborhood of Port au Prince. Ever since enslaved Haitians defeated Napoleon’s armies in 1804 to become the world’s first independent Black nation, world powers have tried to kill the bodies and spirits of their descendants. But, defiant and resilient, Haitians march on. – Photo: Jean Ristil, HaitiAnalysis.com
Marching with blaring trumpets and chanting crowds on Jan. 26, 2008, Haitians say No to the U.N. massacres in the Site Soley neighborhood of Port au Prince. Ever since enslaved Haitians defeated Napoleon’s armies in 1804 to become the world’s first independent Black nation, world powers have tried to kill the bodies and spirits of their descendants. But, defiant and resilient, Haitians march on. – Photo: Jean Ristil, HaitiAnalysis.com
I grew up in the struggle. The struggle is my life; it’s all I know. I came to prison at the age of 18 for allegedly participating in an armed attack on two white sailors in retaliation for a violent sexual assault on a young sista from the community.

As a realist, I understand I may never step foot beyond this concrete hell again, but I refuse to allow this concrete hell to define who I am or restrain my revolutionary spirit. Though I have spent the past 25 and a half years in solitary confinement – an attempt by my keepers no doubt designed to destroy my spirit – my spirit is free, for I have transcended the concrete hell which contains my physical being.

One of the most pervasive misconceptions pertaining to our imprisoned community is that we lack a sense of humanity or the capacity to empathize, or that we are selfish and always seeking to take advantage of others. This is one of many reasons why society at large tends to allow the prison industrial slave complex to treat us with brutality, as if we are deserving of such inhumane treatment.

I, as a New Afrikan political prisoner of war, know this is not an accurate description of who we are, especially as it relates to New Afrikan political prisoners of war, political prisoners, and politically conscious prisoners and activists. Our good deeds and activist work is often overshadowed by government-sponsored anti-prisoner propaganda.

I believe it is time for us as a collective to display our sense of humanity and come together to save our communities. To exhibit a greater expression of our humanity, let’s reach out our hands to help our people in Haiti, to rebuild our international symbol of resistance to global white supremacy and slavery.

Approximately three months ago I received a letter from a young sista inquiring about why I show so much concern for the people of Haiti, especially being that I am not Haitian? I told her I am a New Afrikan and as a New Afrikan I represent the totality of all that is Afrikan – and Afrikan descended – so I embody all that is Black and beautiful.

I am Haitian, I am Jamaican, I am Afro-Cuban, I am Kenyan, I am Afro-Puerto Rican. All that is Afrikan, from Afrika to the rest of the world, their blood also runs through my – our – veins. During the slave trade, the racist slave traders intentionally tried to destroy the Afrikan family – which they believed would facilitate the psychological breaking process.

The slave traders sold family members to different genocidal slave plantations. For example, a mother went to Haiti, her husband to Cuba, her mother to AmeriKKKa, her sista to Brazil, her daughter to the Dominican Republic, and her son to Jamaica. We as a people are descendants of this attempt to execute this global Afrikan genocide, and I refuse to contribute to that genocide by denying my global Afrikan family. As a New Afrikan, I am also Haitian, and I am compelled by this innate affinity to stand up for the rights of our people in Haiti.

I realize that we as a people in this country are faced with our own crises, from the violent deaths of our young people due to gang and drug-related violence and to HIV/AIDS. Our communities are just as unstable as many of the Afrikan-run countries.

Political prisoner Abdul Olugbala Shakur, self portrait
Political prisoner Abdul Olugbala Shakur, self portrait
Though we can all concede that these unstable conditions have been orchestrated by the forces of white global supremacy, we can’t blame racism for our own failure to act in our own best interest. I am not neglecting the problems that we face here in this country. Being part of an imprisoned think tank, the New Afrikan Prisoners Writers’ Union, we are equally committed to resolving many of the problems we face as a people.

We have developed a number of proposals designed to address many of the problems we face daily, like gang violence, criminal behavior and the protection of our young women in particular, but the key to our success is coming together as a people and not depending on the government or working with the cops. They don’t give a damn about us or our children. We must take the initiative to do for ourselves, and this includes helping our global Afrikan community.

The world became spectators as genocide scourged the sacred Black land of Rwanda. In contrast, when genocide was visited upon the former European nation of Yugoslavia, European nations around the world – AmeriKKKa in particular – mobilized their forces to stop and prevent the genocide of other white people. But they allowed genocide in Afrikan countries to go undeterred. Here we are again being spectators, as genocide ravishes our people in Congo, in Darfur and in Haiti. Yes, Haiti.

What’s going on in Haiti is often associated with countries in Afrika, but right here in the Western Hemisphere, a new form of genocide is taking place. Our people in Haiti are faced with conditions that are equal in results to those that exist in Darfur and other places in Afrika, but yet very few people or governments are responding, except to mandate an occupation by United Nations troops, whose main goal is to suppress the Lavalas movement of President Aristide in the name of “maintaining order.”

My beloved people, it is obvious that we as a people can no longer depend on others to value Black lives. It is quite clear that Black lives do not hold the same human value as white lives in the eyes of European people, which includes white AmeriKKKa. So it is incumbent upon us to move on behalf of protecting, preserving and valuing Black lives, both here and globally.

This task will require direct participation on all our parts, including those of us behind enemy lines. I am particularly appealing to the Black church. In my opinion, the Black church can play one of the most effective roles in intervening in the U.S. government-orchestrated genocide in Haiti. The Black church already possesses the internal infrastructure and capacity to mobilize a grassroots campaign designed to end the genocide in Haiti, restore the democratically elected government of Aristide and remove the U.S. puppet regime who had gained power via an illegal and unjust coup.

It is obvious that we as a people can no longer depend on others to value Black lives.

Many have suggested that the Black church is no longer relevant, and an appeal to them would be an act of futility. It is inconceivable to think that the Black church would ignore the plight of our people in Haiti. I refuse to believe this.

The suffering and pain of our people in Haiti have only been exacerbated 10-fold due to the multiple and rapid back to back hurricanes that have hit Haiti. Many people, including children, have died as a direct result of these hurricanes. I, as a New Afrikan freedom fighter, don’t expect the forces of global white supremacy to come to the aid of our people in Haiti – no different than the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

We as activists knew that our communities were not prepared for a natural disaster. We are now three years removed from Hurricane Katrina, and not one of our communities is prepared for a natural disaster. As soon as another disaster hits, we will be blaming racism again but, I ask, what is stopping us from acting in our own best interest?

When I see the tragedy in Haiti, it is symbolic of our own failure as well. White supremacy nationally or globally is not stronger than the global Black Diaspora, but our strength depends on our ability to come together and ACT IN OUR OWN BEST INTEREST.

We have the means and resources at our disposal to improve our living conditions and communities, but our people in Haiti don’t have the means, resources or infrastructure to resist global white supremacy and their orchestrated genocide. This is why it is imperative for the global Black Diaspora to respond to their needs and call for help.

White supremacy nationally or globally is not stronger than the global Black Diaspora.

We are in a position to serve as an advocate on their behalf. We are in the center of the imperialist monster that is contributing to this genocidal process. We can apply the necessary pressure on this government and their stepchild, the United Nations, to compel them to act in the best interests of the people of Haiti. Though I don’t recognize the legitimacy of this fascist government, I believe we have no choice but to attempt to reach them with the hope that they will intervene and end their support for a non-democratic government and demand the immediate release of the Lavalas political prisoners, POWs and activists.

We as New Afrikan prisoners can help to raise awareness, using the various media, to inform ourselves and educate our communities about the genocidal crisis that has engulfed our beloved Haiti. The more we learn, discuss and write about the crisis in Haiti, the more people will be aware of it.

I encourage the Black church, grassroots activists and Black student unions to contact the Haiti Action Committee at www.haitisolidarity.net, action.haiti@gmail.com, or P.O Box 2218, Berkeley, CA 94702. You can also contact me if you want to discuss what you can do to contribute to Haitian resistance and reconstruction.

My beloved people, we hear the cries of suffering that reverberate from the depths of Darfur, Liberia, Congo and all across our Motherland, but we have not heard the cries of suffering and pain from our people in Haiti. I ask: WHAT HAVE YOUR EARS HEARD TO WISH TO HEAR NO MORE? AND WHAT HAVE YOUR EYES SEEN TO WISH TO SEE NO MORE? Can deafness and blindness be a desired escape from our own reality, with the hope that our problems will go away on their own? Unfortunately, this is not the reality of our situation. It will take a conscious and collective effort to resolve our daily problems.

We are committed to resolving the gang violence in our communities, and we invite you to join our efforts. But we are equally committed to restoring our beloved Haiti. It is important for us to get involved. The lives of many children are at stake and Haiti is not in the position to save their – our – children.

I have spent almost 26 years in solitary confinement – isolation – but I refuse to allow my isolation to serve as an excuse for doing nothing. I am committed to serving ALL OUR PEOPLE, especially our babies and children. Seeing the resilience of our beloved Haiti has strengthened my commitment to our global revolutionary liberation struggle – until the last drop of my Black royal blood.

My beloved people, believe me, I understand the reality of the harsh conditions we find ourselves in, and we of the New Afrikan Prisoners Writers’ Union are committed to solving the problems we face daily, but we are asking each one of you to make a contribution towards rebuilding our beloved Haiti in the spirit of our beloved generals and liberators Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Toussaint L’Ouverture. We each can contribute something to this worthy cause.

Seeing the resilience of our beloved Haiti has strengthened my commitment to our global revolutionary liberation struggle – until the last drop of my Black royal blood.

Though the genocide in Darfur embodies the typical elements that define genocide, Haiti is experiencing another form of genocide where the global powers of white supremacy orchestrate conditions that are similar to that of the typical genocide, but make no mistake about it: It is still genocide, and many of our children, women and elders are dying daily.

We can make a difference. Join our struggle to save our beloved Haiti. We must do it for the children. We can no longer turn a deaf ear to their cries of pain. I will now bid you all my love and solidarity! Long live our New Afrikan independence movement!

Abdul Olugbala Shakur (s/n J. Harvey) works with the New Afrikan Prisoners Writers’ Union. Send our brother some love and light; write to Abdul Olugbala Shakur (s/n J. Harvey), C-48884, SHU D-4-112, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.

5 thoughts on “The Haiti connection: An open letter to Black people everywhere

  1. Ann Garrison

    Someone said to me recently that the U.S. is absolutely determined to control Haiti, that “we” would drop a nuclear bomb to control Haiti, half the tiny island nation which also includes the Dominican Republic. And that he did not understand why.

    I agree, and I could speculate about this a great deal, having studied a fair bit of Haitian and Haitian/U.S. history, but it would be just that: speculation, about an often inexplicable constant of U.S. foreign policy, since Washington and Jefferson sent $400,000, late 18th century dollars, worth of munitions to Napoleon’s forces, to crush the Haitian Revolution, which Napoleon, who was way overextended at the time, in the Mediterranean, failed to do.

    Reply
  2. Nefertiti Feyikemi

    It makes me want to scream these Imperialistic Capitalistic Fascist Monsters(the system)…Its like a bacteria and we haven’t came up with a cure for its plague…its been plaguing us for centuries…It must be stopped!…ions old grudge, because this nation(first black nation)in central Amerikkka to gain its independence from the
    powers that be!!!

    Reply
  3. Nadine Dominique

    Dear Brother Abdul Olugbala Shakur,

    Reading your pledge I could only say “Dieu soit Loué!” other Black brothers are starting to understand. However being a Haitian that paid dearly for the right to self-dertermination there is a point I want to make to re-align the Quest.

    In 2004, the right to self determination was taken away from the Haitian people. The Lavalas party is a symbol of that right. We have to be very carefull in asking for the return of whoever…We have to analyse the international situation now and see that a return now would be a step backwards because history doesnt repeat itself the same way… We are still in the confusion and chaos that 2004 created…Bon mas mele ak move mas…We must take the time to regroup and reorganize ourselves…the election way might not be the only way at this point…The grassroots have been really injured siince 1991 and never really been able to regroup…Lets support them and see what kind of a leader will rise from that work (that as started in the grassroots but needs support) We have to be able to organize fair elections with a Permanent institution (we are still in a KEP provisoire, in any country that would be considered a fraken joke, since 1986) We have to look forward now and we have to ask for the right to make our own choices, our own way, for and with the majority of people in all works of life. This moving backwards by asking for a return, is a bit far fectched and really looks like cheap propaganda.

    Hopefully we can reach a higher consciousness by understanding all the implications in the actions we undertake.

    Solidarity
    Nadine Dominique

    Reply
  4. Jamal

    Where is Oprah when you need her?? Hello?? Earth to Obama?? Well I hope it helps you sleep at night because this is a tragedy, and people turn a blind eye. What if it were you??? What if it were you??? The us damn near had a heart attack when the Tsunami hit, but what about Haiti? We can write letters untill our knuckles bleed, the people need to be empowered. How can they feel empowered when you have a big Royal Carribean Cruise Line that sucks up everything like a mammoth, and the people bearly profit from it. How can these people feel empowered when the US has dumped tons of toxic waste into their waters? If it were up to me everybody would get a bag of potatos and an AK 47 to fight off these Weimperialistic monsters who prey on weaker countries, and systematically destroy them in each and everyway. Some organization is needed, awareness is needed. Where is CNN now??? Where is MSNBC now?? Like I really give a DAMN about the octupulets mom!

    Reply
  5. F. Jones

    The unprecedented profound feelings of internalize self hatred and self contemptuous attitudes presently among so many African Americans is not a natural occurrence resulting from a white dominant society upon the Black psyche. Nor is it even some unknown phenomenon void of a rational explanation. It is the result of a deliberately deplored modern method of suppression and control. A mass manipulative system used for maintaining the current statuesque. It has remained America’s best kept secret – until now. A secret held by the true ruling elites that actually runs the country. These groups of wealthy white individuals maintain their positions of power and prestige regardless of who is actually president.

    The national media’s distorted portrayal of Black America that amplifies the negative to the point that it distorts reality is more than just biased media reports. They function as media manipulation psychosocial programs. It is a covert system of control that ensures the continuance of white dominance by ensuring that Blacks remain the most racially devalued and most economically exploited group in America.

    The constant relentless bombardment with deplorably negative images of themselves that of which African Americans are so inundated with throughout the media is a very carefully and deliberately designed psychological conditioning program. It is a program designed to break down African Americans’ sense of Black racial heritage, allegiance and unity by subjecting them to seeing only the fraudulent worst in themselves while implying that they admire, respect, and trust only Whites.

    Its daily assault on the Black psyche is designed to corrupt African Americans’ sense of racial unity and cohesion, mold the character of self-hatred, and engender self-doubt, self-loathing, and distrust among their group. This media psychosocial treatment is deliberately designed to divide and manipulate Black people into accepting white dominance over their lives by convincing them that it is now they that are their own worst enemies. Blacks own negative interactions and experiences with their fellow Blacks merely act as confirmations to what is being implied.

    This is all possible because the mass media form for us our image of the world and essentially everything we know—or think we know—about events outside our own neighborhood or circle of acquaintances comes to us via our daily newspaper, our weekly news magazine, our radio, or our television. By employing carefully developed psychological techniques, the mass media guide our thoughts and opinions. The way in which the news is covered: which point of views are emphasized and which are played down; the phrasing of headlines; the choice of words, pictures, and illustrations—all of these things subliminally and yet profoundly affect the way in which we interpret what we see or hear. The media tell us which side of an issue that we should favor, forms our images of various groups of people. Even our images of ourselves is greatly influenced by what media shows us about our own group. Given these factor the media has been used for decades by government elites to manipulate public opinion and to socially engineer society towards governmental objectives.
    Therefore it was logical that the U.S. government elites would use this same well proven method of control against its (greatest organizers, protestors, and fighters of institutionalized white racism) Black population as a means of maintaining its white dominance and control. This media deplored psychosocial program manipulates the minds of the Black masses to admire and love whites while blaming and hating themselves.

    Through its suppression of certain news stories that are contrary of the myth of white supremacy and its blatant propagandizing of distorting TV documentaries that deploringly characterizes its Black population, the white controlled media have taken the lead in persuading a whole generation that Black people are the most physically abusive, the most users of drugs, the laziest, the worst parents, the worst children, the lesser intelligent, and have contributed nothing at all to the benefit of society.

    This media psychosocial program perpetuates a depiction of Black people that expresses a profoundly distorted view that elevates what is wrong with Black America above all that we know is right with Black America. Its portrayal of Black America is one that ignores all facts that conflict with the racist conceptions of the white elites and sees the endemic problems of Black America as rooted primarily with Blacks themselves, instead of emanating from white racism. This program revises the past to conveniently make whites appear less inhumane through out America’s brutal racist history; and despite a brutal history to the contrary– fraudulently depicts whites as being the standard of ethics and morale values while portraying Blacks as being all that’s wrong with America. It also facilitates a national consensual environment of where in which Blacks cries for equality are lesser heard and their mistreatment appears more justified.

    And although this media psychosocial program is less blatant than those earlier racist systems used in the past against Blacks, its affects are very real and detrimentally. In fact this method is by far the most proficient system ever deployed against America’s black population.

    To the detriment of Blacks, this system of applied psychological conditioning has been an extremely effective. It has successfully conditioned many African Americans to not only accept, but in some cases to prefer the dominance of Whites and white institutions over their lives by misleading them to believe that they are, themselves, their own worst enemies. These thoughts when injected into the Black psyche engender an aberration of internalized self contempt that pulverizes Black unity and halts Black upward mobility.

    Molding Black Minds

    Reply

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