Ceasing to practice the gang lifestyle wasn’t enough

Ernie-Barnes-An-inner-strength-1400x1043, Ceasing to practice the gang lifestyle wasn’t enough, Abolition Now!
Iconic African American artist Ernie Barnes captures “An inner strength” emblematic of the Black life experience in this country. “When no one even cared/The rose it grew from concrete/Keepin all these dreams/Provin nature’s laws wrong/It learned how to walk without havin feet/It came from concrete.” Excerpt “The rose that grew from the concrete” – Nikki Giovanni, 2Pac

by eddie lewis

I am an ex-gang member and I’m currently serving 155 years to life sentence for two gang-related attempted murders. My practice according to the warped belief (theory) of that lifestyle was impeccable. I hunted people as if they were animals –  people I believed to be my “enemies.” I had no remorse or compassion and encouraged my younger homeboys to be just as callous. I wasted years in prison subscribing to the same worldview which led to my incarceration. 

All practice has a theory and in order for practice to be effective, and thus transformative, it must be shaped, refined and guided by insightful theory. It was a blessing to be put in the path of Bruthas who inspired me to change my life.

As I’ve walked the path of recovery from a life dedicated to irrational ideas and unscientific violence, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on my growth. Ceasing to practice the gang lifestyle wasn’t enough. I had to dive deep cognitively and effectively, then recognize the theory that informed my practice. Being a gang member wasn’t the cause of my problems; it was simply the avenue through which the roots of my problematic behavior projected itself.

I am a son of a domestically colonized people – a people who have been denigrated, abused, traumatized, murdered, miseducated and perpetually over incarcerated.

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100 apartments at 4840 Mission Street available for lease through DAHLIA San Francisco Housing Portal!

Households must have a minimum monthly income of two times the rent. Households must earn no more than the gross monthly income listed below: Applications and more info available on DAHLIA San Francisco Housing Portal: housing.sfgov.org

The applications deadline is September 28th, 2023 at 5PM. Applications must be submitted online at housing.sfgov.org from September 7 to September 28, 2023. For assistance, contact one of the housing counseling agencies listed at housing.sfgov.org/housing-counselors.

This property has some units with special features for mobility impaired or sensory impaired households. Several preferences apply; learn more at housing.sfgov.org.

Income and other restrictions apply. Section 8 welcome. Equal Housing Opportunity.

At no time during our people’s journey in this Western Hemisphere have we, as a whole, experienced healing or respite from state-sponsored terrorism regardless of era or political party in office. Economically, we have been systematically discriminated against and, for all intents and purposes, barred from achieving the amerikan dream. That reality alone has been a powerful shaping factor in the disintegration of our family unit as a people.

Under these harsh conditions, domestic violence and aggression against ourselves have marred our values and sense of self. In effect, each succeeding generation has become more detached, more desensitized in relation to self and kind, unless informed of what it means to be a human being. So, when I made the decision to change my life and was introduced to the concepts and ideology of NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism) and New Afrikan nationhood, I was at first disheartened somewhat with those who talked it, but didn’t walk it.

Absent the deep dive in self-reflection and self-criticism, in my experience, change will only be surface-level.

I wondered why it was so difficult to get Afrikans to truly work together and be ideologically sound and driven. I know now the failure to develop is in part caused by changing the practice, but not changing the theory. Many of us were raised in environments that were shaped by drug use, distribution, trauma, dysfunction and violence. 

A woman or man may come across an idea or message that resonates with them, but absent the deep dive in self-reflection and self-criticism, in my experience, change will only be surface-level. What really informs our decisions and actions are the concrete examples of years of experiences they’ve lived and most likely suffered. It is a heavy lifting, unearthing then eliminating the standards and values of the bourgeois capitalistic system that clears inner space to heal and grow.

George [Jackson] talked about the New Man New Woman in his chapter on “Toward the united front” (page 105, “Blood in My Eye.”) referring to those Women and Men who would redefine their ideas of humanity and relearn how to have healthy relationships in community. In my opinion, there is no higher revolutionary concept, no nobler goal than striving to grow and develop self so we qualify to become members of humane communities.

NARN provided a complete social, political and economic theory which constitutes a comprehensive network of principles, beliefs, values, morals and rules. There is no NARN without living our lives embedded in these scientific concepts – scientific in the sense that one cannot regard themselves as a New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist without the observable phenomenon of correct practice, which is the only criterion of truth! 

How do we get there? Criticism and self-criticism, deep-diving introspection and discovering the source of our anti-humanistic disorders; finding the roots of those backward ideas and values and replacing them with the standards and values of our revolutionary ideology reinforced by revolutionary culture. Ideology is defined in Webster’s new basic dictionary as the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a socio-political program – integrated meaning there is a consistent systematic logic and philosophy that undergirds all aspects of a socio-political program or platform.

In this malignant society, we develop disorderly perspectives, an anti-intellectual potpourri of misinformation, half-truths and colonial superstitions, and for many this serves as a worldview. A proper theory of struggle is a system of ideas that dialectically ties together all aspects of our collected social, political and economic reality shaping the purpose of our goals and the means used to reach our objectives.

Let’s strive to be in struggle, concretely, illuminated by the beacon of New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist theory and be that which theory asks us to become – the seeds of a new social order.

In struggle, Adisa Ajamu

Send our brother some love and light: Eddie Lewis, J22044, CVSP A1-2-4U, P.O. Box 2349, Blythe, CA 92226.