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For us to make sense of the relentless, 400-year-long onslaught of racist violence against New Afrikans and other nationally oppressed people in Amerika and the absence of a collective program of comprehensive self-defense and secure communities among the majority of the New Afrikan population in the U.S., it’s important we first grasp the origin of this contradiction, as all other points of contradiction and irrationality flow from it.
When Bree Newsome pulled down the Confederate flag from in front of the South Carolina statehouse in Columbia on June 27, she gave brief, heroic expression to an anger felt far beyond the Lowcountry over the bloody massacre in Charleston 10 days earlier. The young Black activist’s exemplary act of protest recalled a series of events three decades ago, not in a bastion of the Old South ruled by Republican nut jobs, but 2,500 miles away in liberal San Francisco.
Jobs are the fastest way to slow down the revolving prison doors and to stop crime and bullets. No matter where I set the bar in an effort to manage my expectations for this visit, that bar has been forged and shaped by white supremacy. It took over 54 years to take down the Confederate battle flag, a flag used to champion the cause of slavery. It is from and into this environment that the first sitting Black president will walk into a prison system that has absorbed a number of old plantations.
On June 27, a young freedom fighter and community organizer mounted an awe-inspiring campaign to bring down the Confederate battle flag. Brittany “Bree” Newsome, in a courageous act of civil disobedience, scaled a metal pole using a climbing harness, to remove the flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol. She refused law enforcement commands to end her mission and was immediately arrested along with ally James Ian Tyson. Though the flag was replaced an hour later, only 12 days later, the Legislature voted it down for good.
Early reports revealed that Dylann Roof, a high school dropout, had a seldom used Facebook page and many Black friends. Then the Facebook photo of Roof sitting on his car with a Confederate flag license plate was revealed and another of Roof wearing a jacket with the flags of Apartheid South Africa and White-run Rhodesia, indicating that Roof was capable of tragically putting into practice what had been preached to him.