Trayvon, Christian, Jason, Gerardo, Kendrec and nine children in Afghanistan: a discussion of race, violence and the authoritarian psychology
by the NCTT Corcoran SHU
“’Racism’ is used to justify and facilitate the exploitation of peoples, and it’s based on the false belief that humanity is divided into a plurality of ‘races’ that stand in relation to each other as ‘inferior’ or ‘superior’ based on physical and/or cultural differences. There are no ‘races’ – only people(s), groups of people(s), united and distinguished by common history (social development), habits, interests etc. – sometimes we call all of this … ideology.” – James Yaki Sayles
Greetings, brothers and sisters. A firm, warm, and solid embrace is extended to you all. In the past year we have witnessed a succession of murderous assaults against the people from various segments of the bourgeois apparatus reflecting a common character structure: The authoritarian psychology. In July 2011 a group of racists beat Jason Smith, a young New Afrikan man, to death in Louisiana; in February 2012 Trayvon Martin was murdered by a racist vigilante in Sanford, Fla.; that same month Christian Gomez was allowed to die of starvation-related complications by guards while on hunger strike at Corcoran State Prison in California; in March 2012, 17 people, nine of them children, were slaughtered by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bales in two Afghan villages as they lay down to sleep; that same month Kendrec McDade was slain by racist police in Pasadena, Calif.; in April 2012 Gerardo Perez-Ruiz was murdered by border vigilantes in Eloy, Ariz.
Each of these atrocities can be traced back to warped thought processes. The U.S. mass psychosis is the key inhibiting factor of social progress in this nation and the origin of sadistic violence in the modern world. Though all of these atrocities offend the humanity of each of us, we’ll highlight two of the cases to illustrate the etiological correlation of racist, xenophobic, sadistic violence and authorization psychology.
You’re a young man, a child really, and you don’t know who this guy is. He could be a kidnapper, pedophile, racist murderer – you don’t know. “I’m going home, man.” And you attempt to continue on your way … but he prevents you.
You’re frightened and confused as your fight or flight response kicks in; an altercation ensues and you scream for help as this strange white man pulls a gun. He aims at your chest and your screams of terror are cut off by the thunderclap of a gunshot, and the shock of pain as the hot bullet rips into your flesh slamming you backwards. You fall to the ground feeling the wet pavement under your cheek. As your life flows out of your body, your young eyes glaze to darkness as you die …
You wake to the familiar ache of hunger in your small cell in Corcoran State Prison ASU. You’ve been on hunger strike, and now something is wrong. Your heartbeat is racing, you can’t get enough breath. You knock on the wall to alert your neighbor to your distress. Soon the rest of the guys on hunger strike begin to kick and bang on the doors.
The prison guards can clearly hear the yells of “Man down” and your cell number as a sharp pain grips your chest and abdomen and you fall to the cold cell floor. The calls of “Man down!” and kicking on cell doors becomes more insistent as if the others can sense the grip of death closing around your body. The guards continue to ignore these calls.
Fear and panic seize you as your body no longer obeys your commands. You’ve not eaten in many days. It was the only way to bring attention to the reality of the U.S. domestic torture program being carried out in ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) and SHU (Security Housing Unit) torture units in California. That coupled with your illness has weakened your body too much to resist the draw of the veil.
It seems like so much time has passed since those around you began calling for aid to help you and none has come. None will ever come as you realize you are about to die … It hurts so much, perhaps death is not such a bad thing … Your eyes begin to flutter … They open and shut once more … but they see only emptiness … You have passed on …
We have included in our previous discussions the pathology that has been created by our failure to deal with the legacy of racism and the capitalist authoritarian psychology that spawned it. It has claimed five more victims here and 17 more in a single night in Afghanistan. Trayvon Martin and Christian Gomez did not have to die. But they did. George Zimmerman and CSP-Corcoran ASU guards both share the identical psychological character structure of authoritarian man, reinforced by their particular stations in the U.S. social arrangement: the dominance of white male privilege and state power.
George Zimmerman, an affluent member of an exclusive gated community, clearly exemplifying the perceived supremacy of his Euro-American parentage and economic station, felt completely justified in pursuing this New Afrikan child that he identified as “Black” to the 911 operator. He then stated, “They always get away,” just before hunting down, accosting and subsequently murdering this poor child.
Much of America does not get that within the New Afrikan community there is still a discussion held between parents and male Afrikan children about the dangers they face in the larger society because of their sable skin. For any that believe this is an exaggeration, the execution of Trayvon, Jason and Kendrec is proof these fears continue to be well grounded in truth and prudence. The fact that Mr. Zimmerman continues to feel justified in executing Trayvon, as evidenced by his self-serving statements to Trayvon’s parents at the bail hearing, should chill all of you reading this. The state released him.
Within the New Afrikan community there is still a discussion held between parents and male Afrikan children about the dangers they face in the larger society because of their sable skin. For any that believe this is an exaggeration, the execution of Trayvon, Jason and Kendrec is proof these fears continue to be well grounded.
The irrational core of such justifications lies in the racial dehumanization of New Afrikans (males in particular) in the U.S. This dehumanizing dynamic is embodied in the historical development of property relations in the U.S.: a wealth surplus cultivated on the backs of Afrikan slaves working stolen Native American lands.
The unique ideological basis of capitalist economic development in the U.S., which incorporates the race-caste system as a vital component of the class structure, created a corresponding character structure that this process reproduces and re-enforces in its citizens. There has never been a conflict between democracy and racial oppression, inequality and exploitation in the mind of authoritarian man in Amerika. The pathological dehumanization of racism is the central component which allowed Zimmerman to not only murder a New Afrikan child for walking “his” neighborhood, but to justify doing so as “self-defense” and have that “justification” echoed by the Sanford Police Department. Such irrational reasoning has an origin.
In “the ignoble parody of modernity,” Cornel West states, “racialized persons and racist practices were systemized and canonized principally owing to the financial interests and psychic needs that sustained the slave trade and New World slavery.” It is this racial component of economic exploitation and conquest which is the developmental foundation of U.S. society still celebrated on Columbus Day. The irrational mentality of George Zimmerman did not fall from the sky. It was developed from the authoritarian mass psychology and national ideology of the U.S.
While a historical analysis of U.S. economic conditions gives us a glimpse into the material basis for racist ideology, it provides little insight into its irrational core – how it got there in this warped form today. Subject to the socio-economic conditions of U.S. capitalist society, Amerikan man reproduces those unique historical economic processes in his ideology.
This is why some three centuries after the “Willie Lynch method” was introduced to increase the productive output and relative safety of enslaving Afrikans in the Amerikas, the same twisted psychic structures that process created continue to be reproduced in both New Afrikans (the slave mentality, inferiority complexes, self-hatred) and Euro-Amerikans (authoritarian white male privilege, superiority complexes, hatred of other human phenotypes) in the U.S. today.
Ideologies reshape man’s being; we discover his material core by analyzing the process by which he forms ideologies. The toxic historical process and development of U.S. patriarchal authoritarianism exemplified by its brutal enslavement of Afrikans, bloody extermination of Native Americans, conquest and annexation of lands and resources, from Northern Mexico to the Philippine Islands, continue to give rise to the psychic certainty of additional atrocities in those who maintain the ideological “traditions” of the “Amerikan way” today.
The toxic historical process and development of U.S. patriarchal authoritarianism exemplified by its brutal enslavement of Afrikans, bloody extermination of Native Americans, conquest and annexation of lands and resources, from Northern Mexico to the Philippine Islands, continue to give rise to the psychic certainty of additional atrocities.
You see, the irrational formation of an ideology also makes man’s character structure irrational. Thus the genesis of the pathologically warped reasoning of Zimmerman; that he, not this frightened child, was “justified” in “defending himself.” Such a position is an indictment of the modern U.S. authoritarian mass psychology itself.
Now that the mainstream media, who shamefully ignored this tragedy initially, have gotten so involved that the mass psychological nature of authoritarian ideology is on display. National media outlets are asking the parents of Trayvon, “Shouldn’t George Zimmerman be given a fair chance?” “Shouldn’t we let the process play itself out?” These are legitimate questions, but they are questions that should not have to be asked. That they felt it necessary to ask questions like this is the best proof that we are going about this all wrong.
For example, Pat Buchanan asked on one news program, “Would Al Sharpton and others have come forward had it been a white male who had been shot by an Afrikan citizen?” We all must see how illegitimate these questions are, but entertaining such irrationality is what the pathology created by the historical legacy of racism has reduced us to.
We actually think that because there is a New Afrikan citizen in the White House – who is shamefully and routinely disrespected by the political establishment – and at the head of the Attorney General’s Office that, somehow, we are not the same nation we were in the not so distant past. Many say and think this, while simultaneously – again – engaged in a conversation about the lynching of Trayvon Martin … and we don’t see the contradiction.
To be sure, for weeks we’ve watched corporate mass media put forward theories of justification which absolve this gun toting, self-appointed “neighborhood-watch commander” of culpability in murdering this child – even going so far as attempting to disparage Trayvon’s character with such descriptions as “He was a troubled youth with behavior problems” in one breath, while dialoging on the analysis and re-analysis of the police video of Zimmerman’s head in the next.
The underlying message of the corporate mass media was given unvarnished clarity only days later in a tweet by a white New Jersey police officer, who said of Trayvon, “Act like a thug; die like a thug.” This simple articulation of the modern dehumanization of New Afrikans in Amerika by the authoritarian apparatus was the guiding ethos of George Zimmerman and the Sanford police.
This is really the type of sick, twisted rationalization that was proffered by Zimmerman and initially accepted by the Sanford police. Even when it was clear the nexus of protestation had forced the reactionary state to cleave with the authoritarian social imperative and finally arrest Zimmerman, instead of focusing on the self-evident atrocity of Trayvon’s murder and inexcusable delay in the state seeking redress, the authoritarian regime used this moment for law enforcement to sing its own accolades and re-enforce the authoritarian status quo by stressing the position that the national outcry at this one man lynching was not a factor in the state’s decision to prosecute.
They verified it by allowing Zimmerman to deposit $15k with a bail bondsman and just walk out of jail scott free, as though such a warped human hiding behind the “stand your ground” statute does not pose a threat to the safety and lives of others. Just as disturbing , only weeks later, it was discovered Zimmerman was not having such a great economic difficulty as he’d led the court to believe. He had raised some $250k online for his “defense.” The fact that so many Amerikans donated money to Zimmerman in just a few short weeks that he was able to amass a quarter million dollars is definitive proof of the mass psychosis of the authoritarian psychology in Amerika.
The “stand your ground” policy that is the law in Florida does include the Trayvon Martins of this nation; how can it not? With this in mind, how can any rational person entertain, even for a second, the explanation of Zimmerman, who’s admitted to pursuing and confronting this child before slaying him?
We live in a society that has never committed itself to changing the way that it thinks. The same social, political and economic forces that created the mentality that lynched Emmett Till and later James Byrd is the same system that is responsible for what is call racial profiling today. This is the same type of thinking that resulted in the murders of Kendrec McDade and Gerardo Perez-Ruiz earlier this year.
Trayvon Martin’s black skin is what put him on the radar of Zimmerman and he said as much to the 911 operator. The dispatcher specifically told him not to pursue Trayvon, but Zimmerman hunted Trayvon anyway because he felt he had the authority to do so. The authoritarian mindset had fatal results.
The outrage that has been and continues to be expressed is justified. But it is not enough to demand justice. George Zimmerman is a symptom of a diseased society. We have legalized hate with the legislation of racial profiling and laws such as “stand your ground,” Arizona’s anti-immigrant statues and “gang” injunctions on entire communities of color. It is a crisis of culture, a manifestation of the malignant sickness of bourgeois society.
The core authoritarian psychology that gives social validity to these warped mindsets must itself be eradicated. We will continue experiencing these atrocities until such time as the minds of the masses are transformed, until we realize a victorious revolutionary change in this society.
But this pathology finds its most indifferent expression not in the gated communities of the upper middle class. No, it finds its most indifferent expression in prisons. Over the past 30 years, with tacit state sanction and support, the victims’ rights lobby and prison industrial complex have waged a successful dehumanization campaign on those who’ve abrogated “the law.” The compulsion of socio-economic desperation, race-class disenfranchisement, and intentional underdevelopment of specific segments of the underclass – overwhelmingly New Afrikan, Latino and Native American – have been irrationally discounted as the origin of “crime,” and the onus for survival activities has been placed solely on the shoulders of the individual offender.
From this artificial social perspective has arisen the myth of the sub-human, predatory, criminal offender. Those consigned to U.S. prisons do not simply lose their physical freedom; they lose their social designation as fellow “humans.” Society views prisoners the same way we view vermin – as something other than human, repugnant and unworthy of compassion. Christian Gomez discovered this with fatal results. Prison, as a tool of social control and race-caste containment, has always been a key component of U.S. capitalism, but the broad based, systematic dehumanization of prisoners has expanded in direct proportion to the economic expansion of the prison industrial complex.
In the 2010 annual report of Corrections Corporation of America the world’s largest private prison purveyor, they state: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices … For instance, any changes with respect to drugs or controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of people arrested, convicted and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing the demand for correctional facilities to house them.”
Those consigned to U.S. prisons do not simply lose their physical freedom; they lose their social designation as fellow “humans.”
The CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association), GEO Group [the world’s second largest private prison purveyor], and the Fraternal Order of Police have parroted these same lines openly in their lobbying efforts at the state and federal level. Do you not see the inherent contradiction in a public safety apparatus whose speculative profits and salaries are attached to maximizing criminal offenders, not reducing them?
This view they hold of prisoners and potential prisoners as commodities by the various aspects of the prison industry – both public and private – provides a compelling economic motivation for maintaining that social dehumanization in the overall populace. Seventy percent of all TV programing is crime and punishment content, from “Cops” to “Judge Judy,” from “Law and Order: SVU” to “Blue Bloods” and countless others – all re-enforcing the message of corporate mass media and the labor aristocracy of prison guard unions like the CCPOA that prisoners are not humans but some subspecies of bipedal animal entirely separate from humanity itself. This is particularly pronounced in American paramilitary organizations like police or prison guards and is a manifestation of the mechanization of authoritarian man in the West.
Like the authoritarian process itself, this mechanization of man took centuries and finds its origins in man’s efforts to disassociate himself from the animal as he developed technology. The best analysis of this is given by Wilhelm Reich in his piece, “The Human Struggle for Freedom,” where he states: “His viciousness, his inability to live peacefully with his own kind, his wars, bear witness to the fact that man is distinguished from other animals only by boundless sadism and the mechanical trinity of an authoritarian view of life, mechanistic science and the machine … Man’s claims are peculiarly contrived to make him forget that he is an animal … Man’s life is dichotomized: One part of his life is determined by biological laws (sexual gratification, consumption of food, relatedness to nature); the other part of his life is determined by the machine civilization (mechanical ideas about his own (self) organization, his superior position in the animal kingdom, his racial or class attitudes toward other human groups, valuations about ownership, science, religion etc.)
“His being an animal and his not being an animal – biological roots on the one hand and technical development on the other hand – cleave man’s life and thought. There is thus no contradiction in the mind of the prison guard in upholding their oath to the Constitution’s noble humanistic ideals and dehumanizing imprisoned citizens. The warped character structure of the authoritarian psychology to differentiate itself from the “animal” – “the criminal” – makes that dehumanization a simple economic determination for prison staff, an almost reflexive psychological process intimately connected to their economic empowerment, socio-political prestige and influence.
Society’s support for this evil in service to power and privilege is exposed by their apathy and silence. Despite his mistakes in life, Christian Gomez was not only human, he was a hero, and those of us who are principled people cannot allow his sacrifice to be forgotten. Much has been said about the medical problems that he had which contributed to his tragic death. However, the question that we must ask is: How dreadful must the conditions under which he and others were housed have been that Christian would commit himself to starving himself given his medical condition?
How sick and twisted must the core psychology of our nation be that so few of us have expressed our horror and outrage at the prison guards who just stood idly by, ignoring screams for help, and let him die in agony? How long will we allow racism and the authoritarian psychology at the core of those guards’ character structures to govern our cultural mores? The same sadism in service to the authoritarian imperative laid waste to the peaceful protest at Attica in 1971; gunned down W.L. Nolen and other freedom fighters in the late ‘60s and let them bleed out on the yard, feeding the melancholy history of Soledad State Prison; assassinated George L. Jackson in San Quentin on August 21, 1971, … and allowed Christian Gomez to die horribly in Corcoran ASU on Feb. 2, 2012.
Much has been said about the medical problems that he had which contributed to his tragic death. However, the question that we must ask is: How dreadful must the conditions under which he and others were housed have been that Christian would commit himself to starving himself given his medical condition?
Only in struggle, in actively educating those who are unconscious, organizing those who are conscious and mobilizing the advanced elements against the authoritarian psychosis will we effect meaningful change in the ideology of hate and sadistic violence which is at the core of authoritarian man’s character. It is incumbent upon all freedom loving people to change the culture in which we live. Institutional racism, by whatever name it is called, must be confronted and destroyed wherever it rears its ugly head.
As we have stated before, you, the 99 percent – the people – are the greatest force on this planet. You have the power to change this society and the world you live in now, to dictate the kind we all live in the future. The power to change the culture that has already taken so much from us … and of us, is in your hands.
The NCTT (NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nation) Collective Think Tank), both here in Corcoran SHU and Pelican Bay SHU, have put forward practical programs and platforms for all of us to build toward a brighter world. From the 10 core objectives of the occupy movement national coalition and three pilot programs – CCE (Closed Circuit Economic) Initative, Sustainable Community Agricultural Commune; Block-Vote Democratic Initiative – developed here; to the glorious efforts put forward by NCTT Chairman Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Abdul Olugbala Shakur, such as The Bunchy Carter Institute for Revolutionary Change in Pelican Bay give us all the tools and institutions capable of forging the transfer culture necessary to turn the tide of history. By taking up these tools and supporting these efforts, we consciously act to shatter the chains of the authoritarian psychosis, to free the minds of all masses – to free ourselves.
You, the 99 percent – the people – are the greatest force on this planet. You have the power to change this society and the world you live in now, to dictate the kind we all live in the future.
Let us end this discussion with these words echoed down the corridors of history as a basis for a lasting solution to these ills of society: “The commune. The central citywide revolutionary culture. But who will build the commune that will guide the people into a significant challenge to property rights? Carving out a commune in the central city will involve claiming certain rights as our own – out front. Rights that have not been respected to now. Property rights. It will involve building a political, social and economic infrastructure, capable of filling the vacuum that has been left by the establishment ruling class and pushing the occupy forces of the enemy culture from our midst. …
“The revolutionary is outlawed … Revolution is illegal. It’s against the law. It’s prohibited. It will not be allowed. It is clear that the revolutionary is a lawless man (or woman). The outlaw and the lumpen will make the revolution. The people, the workers, will adopt it. This must be the new order of things, after the fact of the modern industrial fascist state. …
“You will find no class or category more aware, more embittered, desperate or dedicated to the ultimate remedy – revolution. The most dedicated, the best of our kind – you’ll find them in the Folsoms, San Quentins and Soledads.” – George L. Jackson
Will you continue to stand idly by, content to submit to the bonds of the ruling 1 percent, submitting to conformity, turning a blind eye to the evil pervading the very fabric of society? Or will you stand with us and those who dare to change the nature and structure of capitalist society, dare to change the culture of hate, dare to struggle, dare to win?
Your choice will determine the course of history. History will be kind to those of us who love freedom. The spirits of Trayvon, Christian, Kendrec, Gerardo, Jason and those nine Afghan babies are watching all of us with an interested eye. What will you show them?
In solidarity with the Bunchy Carter Institute for Revolutionary Change. Until we win or don’t lose.
For more information on the NCTT COR-SHU or its work product, contact: Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP-COR-SHU 4BIL-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212; J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP-COR-SHU 4BIL-46, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212; Kambui Robinson, C-82830, CSP-COR-SHU 4BIL-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212; and Jabari Scott, H-30536, CSP-COR SHU 4BIL-63, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212.
For more information on other NCTT projects or the Bunchy Carter Institute for Revolutionary Change, contact: NCTT Chairman Sitawa N.J. Dewberry, C-35671, PBSP-SHU D-1-117, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532, or Abdul O.S. Harvey, C-48884, PBSP-SHU D-4-112, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.
This statement was transcribed by Kendra Castaneda.
The father of Jason Smith, 14, describes his son’s KKK murder on June 6, 2011, and asks for help.