by Kwame Beans Shakur, Co-founder and Chairman of New Afrikan Liberation Collective and National Director of Prison Lives Matter
As We begin calling on Our many formations and campaigns under the Prison Lives Matter (PLM) banner to unite for the organizing and promotion of the “Prison Lives Matter: Liberate Our Elders Webinar and Panel Discussion,” We must be clear on Our aims and objectives within the overall prison movement. This is a continuation of the Spirit of Mandela (SOM) International Tribunal in October 2021, and the monumental conclusions that found the u.s. guilty of Genocide on all five counts.
Being held within the belly of the beast, We are in a constant state of war and suffering from colonial violence on all levels. This sometimes leads to Us engaging in “on the go politics,” meaning We are constantly reacting to those individual attacks and organizing around issues with no long-term strategy in place.
The objective of PLM is to break down the dialectical/historical connection between the colonization and national oppression of the New Afrikan/Indigenous/Chicano nations within the u.s. empire through the 13th and 14th amendments, which give rise to the Prison Industrial Slave Complex (PISC).
There cannot be a disconnect between the New Afrikan (Black) movement for National Independence/Self-Government and the movement to abolish legalized prison slavery because they are one and the same. PLM and SOM are not about complaining how bad prison food and conditions are – We are building infrastructure and calling on the international community to aid Us in Our struggle for self-determination. In the course of doing so, We must educate the world to the true politics of imprisonment in the u.s. and the role these prisons helped play in the repression of anti-colonial movements during the high tide of Our struggles in the 1960s and ‘70s.
Following the teachings and direction of Brother Malcolm X, a number of Our leaders, including his widow, Sister Betty Shabazz, assembled in Detroit, Mich., for the Black Government Convention in 1968 to declare Ourselves free and independent from u.s. colonial shackles.
The colonial government and the united nations, then and now, refuse to acknowledge this as a legitimate struggle for National Liberation.
International Law gives us the right to proclaim our nationality and affirms that no one should be arbitrarily denied their right to a nationality. During the conference in Detroit, we established our New Afrikan creed, New Afrikan Declaration of Independence, New Afrikan Constitution and a governing body known as the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika.
The colonial government and the united nations, then and now, refuse to acknowledge this as a legitimate struggle for National Liberation. The u.s. only honors international law and general assembly protocol when it applies to them or an allied nation that supports its capitalist conquest of the world.
After the emancipation, “freeing” of the slaves, in 1865, We began building a new (New) Afrikan nation in the Black Belt territory. The same individuals who had just “given Us Our freedom” noticed that We were developing Our own political infrastructure, becoming economically self-sufficient, and feared that We would soon be ready to defend Ourselves on a military level over the land for Self-Government.
Knowing that we wouldn’t peacefully go back onto plantations in handcuffs and shackles, they sent the u.s. army into Our territory and disarmed Our people, murdered some of Our leaders and announced that we were now paper citizens of the u.s., and that “all men were equal” under the 14th amendment. This is not the way the world works. One power doesn’t force another sovereign group of peoples into involuntary citizenship through birth certificates/social security numbers to strip them of a national identity and prevent them from Independence. That is Genocide and colonialism.
Following its own patterns 100 years later, they again feared New Afrikan peoples achieving National Independence for Self-Government and the u.s. government sent its colonial forces into Our community to murder, frame and enslave Our Freedom Fighters. The international laws that We were supposed to be protected under also state that during the course of Our National Liberation struggles, We have the right to defend Ourselves by any means, including armed struggle, if the government that We are fighting against engages in armed colonial violence against the people.
There is no hiding or denying the dialectical/historical link between the colonization and national oppression of New Afrika and the creation of the 13th amendment and mass incarceration.
The international laws that We were supposed to be protected under also state that in any case where Our Freedom Fighters are captured, they shall be tried and treated as Political Prisoners (PPs). Instead, these Brothers and Sisters were captured and charged as criminals. In some cases, they were hunted and assassinated or enslaved and held in solitary confinement for years, and even physically tortured, as in the case of Sekou Odinga.
There is no hiding or denying the dialectical/historical link between the colonization and national oppression of New Afrika and the creation of the 13th amendment and mass incarceration. Dialectical/historical materialism means to overstand the science of Our socioeconomic reality, the cause and effect of capitalism.
Therefore, once We know how and why these prisons exist, then and only then, can We have a serious conversation about prison abolition. That is why i say that this movement We are (re)building isn’t to complain about poor prison conditions. We have to tie this work into the united front and the programs for decolonization that stem from it.
We are presenting a case to the International community of Genocide and domestic neocolonialism inside the u.s., where We have been denied the right to control Our own educational, economic, political, cultural, or social development which has historically led to the destruction of Our community, creating a rise in economic “crimes,” or what i call acts of survival, that have formed a pipeline from the ghetto to the PISC (Prison Industrial Slave Complex).
There are organizations/formations and individuals in every state who identify as revolutionaries or pro abolitionists. We have ones (people) in each region who identify as New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalists (NARN). However, it does very little in regard to the overall objective for decolonization on a national level when We are operating in a state of fragmented sectarianism.
When i say decolonization, i’m not simply speaking about New Afrikan/Black people separating from euro-americans or the u.s. government. That narrow definition and concept comes from a basic and narrow understanding of colonialism, thinking of it only in the physical sense or the kidnapping of Afrikan peoples and our colonization on this land. Slave masters, the colonial government and the PISC would not still be successful in Our captivity as a nation had they remained content with only holding Us in physical bondage on plantations.
It is the blueprint for Us to ultimately achieve Self-Government for National Independence.
Through our studies, We are educated to overstand colonialism as it operates on an educational, economic, political, cultural, social, spiritual, psychological and mental level. Once We were colonized on the latter two, it made it easier for Our people to be integrated and assimilated into the neocolonial period on all other levels. Therefore, if We were to win Our struggle for National Independence, if prisons were abolished and We were to simply decolonize on paper or by geographical location, We would still suffer from capitalism/colonialism on a mental and cultural level because We didn’t go through the fundamental transition stage of decolonization that altered Us into a new people on all levels for Our new society.
In order for Us to obtain what Frantz Fanon called a collective mastery, and what he described as the restoration of nationhood for Our people, We must establish and adopt a National Strategy. We cannot achieve liberation by obsessing over the works of Marx/Lenin/Mao or Fidel/Che in struggles that took place in other countries more than 50, 60, or 100 years ago. This is why a scientific study of Our own dialectical/historical connection to capitalism is critical, because it will show that We are fighting a more unique and advanced form: neocolonialism. We are so integrated into the colonial-oppressor system that We depend on them and cannot independently survive on Our own as We stand today without the umbilical cord for schooling, jobs (economic structure), housing (land), food (agriculture), clothing and medical care.
FROLINAN (Front for the Liberation of the New Afrikan Nation)
It was through this knowledge and overstanding that the FROLINAN handbook and FROLINAN National Strategy was established by veteran comrade, Jalil Muntaqim. It is the blueprint for Us to ultimately achieve Self-Government for National Independence. The National Strategy includes our 10 Programs for Decolonization. When properly applied on an individual, organizational and community level, this National Strategy and any of the chosen Programs for Decolonization allows Us to eradicate the codependency on Our oppressor as We set forth a new path toward self-determination to control Our own destiny. When We can begin winning over Our NARN formations to collectively acknowledge, dissect and adopt this strategy, then these Programs for Decolonization will ultimately serve as the infrastructure of Our communities around the nation.
With a new generation of cadre having studied the setbacks and shortcomings of the past, working in unison and spirit with those veterans/Elders who gave Us the science in the New Afrikan POW Journals, We are able to again start (re)building for Our restoration of nationhood.
Although the FROLINAN Handbook/National Strategy was officially put forward in the ‘90s, We are just now seeing the first tangible signs of its calling. With a new generation of cadre having studied the setbacks and shortcomings of the past, working in unison and spirit with those very same veterans/Elders who so graciously gave Us the science in the New Afrikan POW Journals: Books 1-12, We are able to again start (re)building for Our restoration of nationhood. Following the teachings of Baba Jalil, his younger cousin, Abbas Muntaqim, and comrades in Oakland, California, established the People’s Programs five years ago based on the concept of We Are Our Own Liberators and FROLINAN’s National Strategy, including a physical location to house these programs and a mobile health clinic to administer the work.
Jalil himself was finally freed from captivity in October 2020 after serving 49 years and immediately got to work implementing the People’s Liberation Programs of Rochester, New York. Following these examples, New Afrikan Liberation Collective (NALC) has purchased a building in my own community that will serve as a People’s Programs for Decolonization in Terre Haute, Indiana. Jalil, Abbas and I hope that by creating these infrastructures in the East, West and Midwest, the programs and participation of the people will set an example for the entire Movement, both inside and out, to come together in Class Struggle for National Unity.
The ”PLM: Liberate Our Elders Webinar and Panel Discussion” is a proposal for national unification and a continuation in Our cry of Genocide to the international community. We are proposing that this event be held at the Prince Compound in Houston, TX, during the summer of 2023.
In 2022, the Lawful Committee was added to the PLM National Coordinating Committee (NCC). We have attorneys and lawful counsel in Los Angeles, D.C. and Illinois, who are spearheading this committee by litigating cases and recruiting other attorneys, law professors and pre-law students around the kountry. The Lawful Committee will play a critical role in the “PLM Liberate Our Elders” webinar by working to bring in international lawyers, as well as organizing events to livestream the panel discussion on college universities around the u.s., including Harvard and Howard.
We have to move in the Spirit of Mandela and put an international spotlight on the Mandela Rules, which has been passed in the u.s. general assembly and already adopted in states that have put an end to the inhuman use of long-term solitary confinement. How is it that We have Political Prisoners, like Larry Hoover, who have been enslaved 49+ years and held captive in supermax facilities (solitary confinement, 23 hours a day, single cell) for 27 consecutive years? This in itself is Genocide and psychological torture. We need solidarity and strategy, aided by international support in order to abolish this.
REBUILD TO WIN! FREE THE LAND!! WE ARE OUR OWN LIBERATORS!!!
Kwame Shakur is a New Afrikan political prisoner currently enslaved in solitary confinement at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. He is the chairman and co-founder, with Shaka Shakur, of the New Afrikan Liberation Collective and is the national director of Prison Lives Matter. To get involved with his Freedom Campaign, please email email@example.com. Donate to the New Afrikan People’s Center here. Send our brother some love and light: Kwame Shakur, 149677, WVCF, P.O. Box 1111, Carlisle, IN 47838.