The Great Afrikan Return?!

Jalil Muntaqim, a world renowned political prisoner, has been to the parole board 12 times since 2002, when he first became eligible. He has been denied each time due fundamentally to the nature of the crime, which can never change. He has applied to Gov. Cuomo to commute his sentence to time served. Ask the governor to approve the application: Refer to Jalil as Anthony Jalil Bottom, 77A4283, and contact the governor here: Write to The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York, Executive Chamber, State Capital Building, Albany, New York 12224; call the governor, at 1-518-474-8390, tweet the governor, at @NYGovCuomo or email the governor, at https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form.  
For more information concerning Jalil’s case, check https://thejerichomovement.com/.

by Jalil A. Muntaqim

Did you know that 2019 has been declared “The Year of Return Ghana 2019,” a program launched by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., last year on Sept. 28, 2018.

As an avowed New Afrikan, I have been considering the development of Pan-Afrikanism over the last couple of decades. I have found this socio-economic and political ideal has been mostly abandon by the majority of Black activists. 

With the advent of Black Lives Matter and various other socially conscious Black activist groups, there has been little discussion regarding the historical significance and ramifications of being Black to a determination of an Afrikan identity. This is especially important given the heightened polarization of ethnic divisions in the U.S. with a white supremacist in the White House. 

While this is not the first time a White House occupant was a White supremacist, the vociferous espousing of ethnic cleansing of America has become an open debate and policy. Yet Black activists, as far as I know, are giving little attention to the prospects of being expelled from the U.S. in light of the U.S. government’s vicious expulsion of Latin Americans, or Hispanics, and others.  

Jalil’s daughter Antoinette and granddaughter Shacari visit him in 2000.

The white supremacist has forwarded an argument to justify ICE round-ups and deportations – that these Latinos cannot become citizens but are illegal immigrants. Also, in support of their position, they posited the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution needs to be amended to deny automatic citizenship to a child born to anyone who has migrated to this country. The white supremacists do not want these live births to be counted as U.S. citizens.

Hence, I urge all to consider, since the 14th Amendment was imposed on freed New Afrikan slaves in 1867 absent a plebiscite vote or referendum or any form of consent to be classified U.S. citizens, can such citizenship similarly be revoked by an act of Congress absent New Afrikans consent? The question for me is who will be next – if white supremacists were to take complete control of the U.S. Supreme Court and government as they are seeking to achieve? What contingency plans are Black activists considering or debating in the event of an actual civil race war as being advocated by Trump supporters?

Would it be presumptuous of me to propose it is time for Black people to give serious consideration to resurrecting the ideals and principles of Pan Afrikanism? That it is time to internationalize our political perspective of our being part of the larger Afrikan diaspora and strengthen how this may play out in our continued efforts to preserve our existence in the U.S.? Would anyone disagree there is a need to contemplate the building of allied political forces for (near) future engagements opposing white supremacists’ avowed determination to “Make America Great Again” (meaning white!)

We have come collectively to the last four years of the “International Decade for Peoples of African Descent” that was promoted back in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. I have found little information on what has been achieved in the last six years to mark the decade as a successful epoch in New Afrikan growth and development and the establishing of a New Afrikan and a Pan-Afrikan polity. 

In fact, the opposite can be identified by the continued epidemics, violent strife, ethnic divisions and confrontations from South Africa to Uganda and the divisions among Black activists across this country. The U.S. imperialists via AFRICOM continue to forge ahead, establishing bases on the continent and sowing dissension and divisions in the areas occupied by AFRICOM, to the overall detriment of the Afrikan populace.

While in the U.S., police murder of Black people is at an all time high, gentrification of Black neighborhoods has exacerbated Black displacement and homelessness, HBCUs are under threat of extinction, and mass incarceration, despite efforts to halt it, continues to grow. Several corporations have established themselves as the new controllers of the prison system. This applies not only to privatization but developing economic incentives for the maintenance of prison slave labor and exploitation: JPay, Securus, Aramak etc., to name a few. 

Black life in America continues to be challenged by the system of racist capitalism. In essence, the system functions in every dimension and capacity to exploit and control Black economic existence and survival. There has not been a single organization or leader that has forged a formidable strategy to challenge and combat what is obviously a systemic and seemingly strategic plan to diminish and/or eliminate Black existence in America. 

This genocidal onslaught on Black lives has to be recognized and made part of the national debate absent any niceties of bourgeois apologetic reasoning for such human rights violations. In essence, Black life in America is under siege, and it is time Black people collectively come to this understanding and decide how on a national level they are going to preserve their existence and prosper. W.E.B. Dubois warned that “Capitalism cannot reform itself; a system that enslaves you cannot free you.”

Jalil visits with his mother, Billie Bottom-Brown, in 2014.

If I may, I propose a national and united determination to demand and fight for dual citizenship with Ghana and Liberia, not unlike the Jewish community has with Israel. That Black people collectively begin the process of forging socio-economic and political ties, including cultural exchanges, manifesting the original ideals of the great W.E.B. Dubois and Kwame Nkrumah. To essentially initiate a Pan-Afrikanist determination originated by the three Trinidadian activists, H. Sylvester Williams, C.L.R. James and George Padmore, with whom the Jamaican activist Marcus Garvey developed an international calling and W.E.B. Dubios organized the first Pan-African Congress in 1919, an international forum of Black liberationists that included Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore and many others.

“. . . it is immensely important for Black people in the U.S. to recognize that we are collectively under severe threat of annihilation and extinction.”

It is time for Black people in American to emerge from under the racist canopy of America’s illusion of being accepted as American(s), identifying themselves as African-Americans. Al-Hajj Malik Al-Shabazz – Malcolm X – succinctly addressed this mental dilemma by stating that the “house Negro … identified with his master more than the master identified with himself.” I dare deem this behavior as symptomatic of a form of schizophrenic delusion from having suffered 400+ years of racist trauma – a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome – by identifying with the historically established nemesis of Black peoples’ very existence. 

This psychological conditioning, what W.E.B. Dubois calls “double consciousness,” has severely weakened Black peoples’ resolve to become totally and completely free of racist exploitation and repression. This reality has resulted in class divisions and disunity and color and caste animosities detrimental to Black survival in racist America.

Therefore, what I propose is a national campaign for building and establishing dual citizenship with Ghana and Liberia. Recognizing Ghana has publicly called for Black peoples’ return and Liberia was originally established for the restoring of Afrikan identity and nation-statehood reality for freed African slaves, it seems to me this is a pragmatic and strategic objective in pursuit of resurrecting a Pan-Africanist ideological and political determination in light of the growing and evolving anti-Black polity in the United States.

This action would serve as a catalyst to raise national consciousness of Afrikan identity, create an international and strategic alliance with Afrikan governments and human rights organizations and close the chasm between Afrikans on the continent and in the diaspora. The exchange would ultimately benefit all participants and further strengthen international cooperation against a common exploiter of Afrikan lives. Nationally, it would heighten the political consciousness and determination of Black peoples’ collective struggle opposing white supremacy in all of its virulent and violent manifestations of genocidal consequences.

Therefore, the greatest expression of Black Lives Matter is to resurrect and restore a Pan-Afrikan strategic determination inclusive of a New Afrikan identity. Our Pan-Afrikanist ideological determination would manifest as the internationalist conceptualization of our collective humanity. It raises our political objectives beyond the confines of U.S. domestic politics and inserts our struggle within the body politic opposing U.S. imperialism and neo-colonial exploitation of Black lives anywhere on the planet. 

We would begin the process of asserting not only our inalienable right to live, but our human rights as members the Afrikan family void of defining our relationship by our common enemy of white supremacy. In this praxis, we must take every necessary step to divorce our humanity from the clutches of white supremacists defining and regulating our existence on any level.

This includes the issue of reparations, whereby Black people need to establish a “Reparations Commission” among themselves and with the support of African nations and decide the demands to be made on the U.S. government and other governments that were engaged in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Once the Reparations Commission has settled on the demands, the demands should be made public and every Black/New Afrikan individual and entity will be called upon to join in the fight to accrue and obtain payment as forwarded by the Reparations Commission. 

Again, this development must evolve out of a Pan-Afrikanist determination with the realization that cooperation between Afrikan people is essential to ensure payment from those governments and individuals who are accountable for centuries of Black exploitation in all of its genocidal implications.

In the remaining four years of the “International Decade for People of African Descent,” it is immensely important for Black people in the U.S. to recognize that we are collectively under severe threat of annihilation and extinction. For example, in the last 30 years, the Black population in the U.S. has not increased beyond 15 percent of the total American population. Mass incarceration with its devastating effect of depopulation of Black people, confining Black boys, girls, men and women for decades of the most procreative years of their lives is indicative of a genocidal practice of the U.S. government’s white supremacist pogrom.

No one can claim Black Lives Matter absent recognition of a (New) Afrikan future. And that requires they be fully cognizant that Black peoples’ collective existence in America has for centuries been a continuous stark battle against a system that has only sought to exploit and profit off of Black bodies, off of New Afrikan lives.

It is with this understanding that this call is being made to the Black intelligentsia, academics, students and the Black working class, our collective body, to come to terms with our Afrikan heritage. To claim it and proclaim it, to resurrect and restore our Afrikan identity as a prominent determination forging a movement of national salvation. 

Such a movement not only opposes every vestige of white supremacy, but further serves to strengthen a resolve to oppose U.S. imperialism on the Afrikan continent. Ultimately, to build a new international Pan-Afrikanist consciousness in preserving our common Afrikan humanity.

Jalil gets a visit in 1982 at Green Haven Prison from Abdul Majid, Nandi Majid, Robert Seth Hayes, Deborah Brown, Saladum of Last Poets and Brother Saludeen. Robert Seth Hayes, Black Panther and co-founder of the Black Liberation Army, who was released last year after 45 years in prison, made his transition in October 2019.

From Queen Nzinga to Harrient Tubman, from Safiya Bukhari to Assata Shakur, we have a rich history of Afrikan/New Afrikan resistance. It is incumbent on us during this pivotal time to birth into existence a New Pan-Afrikanist Movement, a unified international mass determination to oppose and defeat white supremacy and U.S. imperialism in all of its deadly anti-Black manifestations.

Remember: We Are Our Own Liberators! 

About the writer 

Jalil Abdul Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom) with 48 years of political internment is one of the longest held political prisoners in the world. He has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Certificates in Architectural Drafting and Computer Office Management. He is the author of “We Are Our Own Liberators,” compilations of prison writings. Many of his essays have been published in such anthologies as “Schooling the Generations in the Politics of Prison,” edited by Chinosole (2002); “The New Abolitionists: (Neo) Slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison  Writings,” edited by Joy James (2005); and “This Country Must Change: Essays on the Necessity of Revolution in the USA,” edited by Craig Rosenbraugh (2009). Jalil’s articles have appeared in New York City’s Amsterdam News and the San Francisco BayView newspapers and many other progressive publications. His most recent compilation of essays and poems includes an extensive Afterward by Professor Ward Churchill, “Escaping the Prism: Fade to Black,” published by Kersplebeded in Canada, which can also be purchased on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble online, AKPress.org, Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Jalil is the co-founder of the Jericho Amnesty Movement. For more information on Jalil’s NEWKILL conviction and fight for parole, check www.freejalil.com.

Send our brother some love and light: Anthony Jalil Bottom, 77A4283, Sullivan Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 116, Fallsburg, New York 12733.