Juneteenth 2020: Let’s adopt the mantra of Black unity and Black love

by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington, End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement

“If you do not understand white supremacy (racism) – what it is and how it works – everything else that you understand will only confuse you.” – Neely Fuller Jr. (1971)

“Showing LOVE should not be restricted to family members or romantic or sexual partners. LOVE should not be restricted to blood relations. LOVE is showing KINDNESS AND COURTESY OPENLY AND PUBLICLY to all Black people – even strangers – so our Black children will learn it is normal and desirable for Black Men and Black Women to respect and care about each other.” – “Black Love Is a Revolutionary Act” by Umoja, page 394

Peace and blessings, sisters and brothers,

If the COVID-19 pandemic did anything in Amerika to Black and oppressed people, it most certainly got our attention and demanded that we become AWARE. Aware of the fact that the legacy of slavery and the systems of oppression that brought it about are still having tragic effects on our lives and our livelihoods.

At first, I had intended on choosing the theme for this year’s Juneteenth article to be: “If we do not protect and care for each other, who will?” I mean as I analyze how many lives have been taken by this deadly pandemic, that’s how I feel. How do you feel?

Sisters and brothers, do you think Donald J. Trump and his team of bigots mourned the loss of Black and Brown lives? Trump knows we are not voting for him in November!

No! But we’re grieving, and we can choose to care for and protect each other!

So the theme and focus this year is Black unity and Black love. I propose that the prison abolitionist community along with all our free world allies do three things this year:

This photo of freedom fighters Comrade Malik and Kush-I-Robert T. Smith was taken at USP Pollock in Louisiana on March 1, 2020.

1) Unify in order to free our politicized and political prisoners, prisoners of war and our vulnerable elders.

2) Honor and remember our loved ones whom we lost and are losing to this deadly virus, by caring for and loving each other and celebrating our shared humanity.

3) Get ready for our solidarity actions, which will begin this Black August 2020.

Recently, I have been studying a book on Black Love: “Black Love Is a Revolutionary Act” by Umoja.

When I was held captive in the slave state of Texas, this book on Black love was banned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Director’s Review Committee (DRC). Many of my supporters and I found it strange that the DRC approved books like the white nationalist primer “Mein Kampf” but would prohibit a book on Black love. 

The DRC’s white supremacists – racists – Jennifer Smith, Billy Herschel, Lorie Davis and Bryan Collier were responsible for banning numerous books and other pieces of literature which illuminate Black history and shed a positive light on the Black experience. 

I encourage more prisoners in Texas to file federal civil rights complaints and specifically cite the ongoing invidious racial discrimination practiced by Jennifer Smith and the rest of those bigots who sit on TDCJ’s Director’s Review Committee. 

Challenge white supremacy. Love yourself by knowing yourself.

We must summon our spiritual strength and model forgotten greatness.

I’d like you to allow me to share another excerpt from this remarkable revolutionary book on Black love:

“It is UNDENIABLE that the white supremacy system and their white foot soldiers are waging a VICIOUS WAR against Black people on four levels: educational, economic, psychological and reproductive. It is also increasingly clear that (white) America has no patience or sympathy for poor (or “uppity” Blacks) and is rapidly and quietly building more prisons while it closes Black schools in preparation for … what? A $104 million Juvenile Detention Center to be built in East Baltimore while the city is closing predominantly Black schools. What is America’s plan for Black youth? THIS ANSWER SHOULD BE OBVIOUS.” – “Black Love Is a Revolutionary Act” by Umoja, page 385 

This year’s Juneteenth should be a time of deep thought, reflection and planning for the future! There must be a return of unity and love to the Black community. We certainly cannot love others if we don’t love ourselves.

All this talk of unity and love is absolutely meaningless without action! Should we stab and fight one another or should we try to resolve our differences in a respectful and peaceful manner? Hello, B-2. Hello, USP Pollock. Can you men hear me now?

We must focus our minds and take actions that honor the incredible sacrifices of our ancestors and respect our elders and empower the developing minds of our youth. We must summon our spiritual strength and model forgotten greatness.

The streets of New York that were filled with protesters when “People’s Lawyer” Lynne Stewart was railroaded into prison on a minor technical procedural “violation” were filled again when she was released, but her imprisonment – fighting cancer all alone and not being allowed to help other women locked up with her – took a terrible toll. – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 264847, Pendleton Correctional Facility, G-20-2C, 4490 W. Reformatory Road, Pendleton, IN 46064

I remember when “People’s Lawyer” Lynne Stewart was incarcerated in federal prison. She was battling cancer. I loved Lynne Stewart! You know why? She loved us! Do we love us?

Before she was released by the Obama administration, I was about to ask 100,000 activists and freedom fighters to descend upon FCI Carswell in order to free our sister Lynne Stewart.

Lynne Stewart’s youngest daughter Zena was able to visit her mother at FCI Carswell on Lynne’s birthday, Oct. 8, 2011.

Sisters and brothers, what about our incarcerated elders? What about Sundiata Acoli, Leonard Peltier, Imam Jamil Al-Amin, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, David Gilbert, Mumia Abu Jamal, Jalil Muntaqim – who’s contracted COVID-19! – and others? They deserve our unity to win their freedom now.

We have a system in place here in the United States that is addicted to the exploitation of our Black men and women and the scapegoating of poor oppressed people! The vicious nature of white supremacy will hold an old man captive until he dies or hunt down a young unarmed Black man who decides to exercise in a white neighborhood, massacre us in our homes and steal our last breath with a knee on our neck! Rest in power, Ahmaud Arbery! Rest in power, Breonna Taylor! Rest in power, George Floyd! Stop murdering our people!

Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd

Sisters and brothers, what if the video of Ahmaud Arbery’s execution had never been released? Do you think justice would have been served in Brunswick, Georgia?

We often don’t hear and respond to the phrase: “Don’t speak about it, be about it!” This Juneteenth, will you “Be about it?” Will you dare to show Black love to your sisters and brothers? Let us look at what our brother Umoja says about racial profiling:

“’Racial profiling’ refers to a police officer or a person of authority harassing or arresting non-whites because they are NOT white. In many cases, racial profiling is encouraged by white city officials to send a message that Blacks – especially Black males – are not welcome to live, work, shop or even drive through certain white areas. It is a psychological tool of intimidation and demoralization used against Black males to remind them that they are inferior, unequal, and will not receive the same courtesy and rights that whites take for granted.” – “Black Love Is a Revolutionary Act” by Umoja, page 231

Now view the Ahmaud Arbery execution tape again and tell me what you see.

Juneteenth is a Black abolitionist holiday. Direct solidarity actions are only one part of our comprehensive abolitionist strategy. We have to begin to identify the problem which has subjected us to this modern form of slavery and servitude.

Capitalism is the problem and it must be replaced by socialism or a society governed by the people and not these fake leaders who serve capital.

There is nothing easy about what I am proposing, but Chairman Shaka S. Zulu of the New African Black Panther Party has a plan and some solutions should you care to listen. The United Panther Movement is real. Soon I will be in a hood near you serving the people and expounding on UPM strategy.

“To stop BLACK GENDER WARS, we must STAND TOGETHER AND SHOUT in a TWO-BILLION-STRONG African voice: ‘NEVER AGAIN!’”

I end this year’s Juneteenth message with a final quote from “Black Love Is a Revolutionary Act.” I request that you repeat this passage to yourself a couple of times so that it can really seep into your heart, mind and soul:

“Try to imagine a time …

“When no VICTIMIZER, RAPIST or THIEF OF PEACE would be able to beat, torture, strip naked, fondle, rape or murder our daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, wives or husbands in front of our eyes because we will give our lives to stop that from ever happening again.

“And if you can’t imagine that, try imagining this:

“YOU will NEVER stand naked on any slave auction block or prison intake line, and you will never put yourself OR your loved one OR your neighbor OR your neighbor’s children in harm’s way again because you are them and they are you, because we WILL BELONG TO EACH OTHER AGAIN; a DNA-connected community of African souls that reaches from continent to continent and all around the world.

“To stop BLACK GENDER WARS, we must STAND TOGETHER AND SHOUT in a TWO-BILLION-STRONG African voice: ‘NEVER AGAIN!’” – “Black Love Is a Revolutionary Act” by Umoja, page 377

Sisters and brothers, I don’t need to tell you slavery was hell on earth! And my home state of Texas was no exception.

The Emancipation Proclamation and the abolition of slavery in Amerika was just an optical illusion. Those capitalist bigots knew exactly what they were doing when they created the slavery clause within the body of the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The slavery clause is italicized.

Slavery still exists in Amerika manifesting within our nation’s prisons, and that is why I and a growing number of anarchists, socialists, LGBTQ people and freedom fighters from all over the world continue to fight for the real abolition of slavery in Amerika – the dismantling of the prison industrial slave complex!

I will never give up and neither should you!

Honoring Rep. Al Edwards, ‘Father of Juneteenth Holiday’

This year’s Juneteenth message was crafted in order to honor the memory of former Texas State Rep. Albert Ely Edwards. Al Edwards was known as the “Father of the Juneteenth Holiday.” Our beloved and respected brother went on to join the ancestors on April 29, 2020. He died of natural causes and was 83 years old.

Rep. Edwards was born in Houston, Texas, on March 19, 1937. In 1979, at the age of 41, Rep. Edwards was elected to the Texas State Legislature, House District 146. As reported in the Houston Forward Times:

Texas Rep. Al Edwards, Father of Juneteenth Holiday

“One of the first major goals he (Edwards) wanted to accomplish upon being elected was ensuring the establishment of a state holiday that would recognize the emancipation of slavery.” 

In 1999 Texas House Bill 1016, co-authored by Rep. Edwards, was signed into law by then Texas Gov. George Bush.

June 19 became a paid Texas state holiday. As many of you may be aware, Juneteenth is now a Black abolitionist holiday that is celebrated all over the world.

Sisters and brothers, we are in desperate need of more public servants like Al Edwards. The state of Texas is being torn apart by forces seen and unseen. We have some servants of the people like Texas State Rep. Jarvis Johnson, D-Houston, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and U.S. Rep. Al Green who may be able to carry the torch of our freedom struggle. 

VOTE!

It is important for all of us to remember that without sacrifice, there will be no freedom. It is going to take much more than “Twitter fingers” and Instagram posts to change things. In November 2020 a bunch of y’all are going to have to get up off of the couch and VOTE! 

Listen, sisters and brothers: If Joe Biden wants our vote, he is going to have to start thinking before he speaks and put in some REAL WORK! Listen, Joe Biden: Do not take the Black vote for granted! You GOT TO EARN IT, SIR! Our vote has power. Use it wisely!

Dare to struggle, Dare to win! All Power to the People!!

Keith “Malik” Washington is assistant editor of the Bay View, studying and preparing to serve as editor after his release in September 2020. He is also co-founder and chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and an activist in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign and Liberate the Caged Voices. Visit his website at ComradeMalik.com. Send our brother some love and light: Keith “Malik” Washington, 34481-037, USP Pollock, P.O. Box 2099, Pollock LA 71467.