The Ballot or the Bullet – 50th Anniversary

50 years ago Malcolm X gave his infamous Ballot or the Bullet speech which ranked 7th in the top 100 American speeches of the 20th century. Given the recent Supreme Court McCutcheon decision, I think the speech couldn’t be any more timely in favor of the bullet as the ballot has been even further handed over to the 1%.

Take note of a not-so-well-known piece of history that Malcolm briefly mentions around the 20th minute regarding the March on Washington. Malcolm is speaking about how the revolutionary fervor and originally strong, grassroots nature of the march was co-opted by the Kennedy Administration and other groups (collectively known as the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership) and was essentially neutered complete with censoring speeches and speakers [re: no James Baldwin].

Reforms and Concessions

This post was supposed to come out earlier and briefly touch on Obama’s NSA reform speech but it applies to most politician speeches including O’s more recent, lackluster State of the Union “festival of lies”. A large majority of the people already saw through Obama’s NSA speech as nothing but a PR stunt. Glenn Greenwald’s piece does well in conveying the sentiments of the people. Reforms and concessions lead us nowhere. Voting seems to only lead to more reforms and concessions. I don’t think folks are voting for the continuation of this bureaucratic capitalism that kowtows to greedy Wall St. oligarchs. Nor do I think folks are voting for the continuation of the ineffective, DEA backed, racist drug war that, like the school-to-prison pipeline, also feeds into the racist prison-industrial complex. The people certainly aren’t voting for gender inequality, a minimum wage that is drastically lower than a living wage or ruling-class drafted policies that aid and abet the destruction of our planet either. It’s time for revolution or change or whatever you feel comfortable calling it but it’s time for it now! It’s not like the ruling class is preparing a list to potentially suppress dissenters or anything, that couldn’t happen here!

I leave you with Jonathan Jackson Jr.’s analysis, in 1994, of COINTELPRO  which is just about 100% transferable today if one just swaps COINTELPRO for PRISM and FBI for NSA.

COINTELPRO, however, was really a symptomatic, expendable entity; a small police force within a larger one (FBI), within a branch of government (executive), within the government itself (liberal democracy), within the economic system (capitalism). Reformists in radicals’ clothing unknowingly argued against symptoms, rather than the roots, of the entrenched system. Doing away with COINTELPRO or even the FBI would not alter the structure that produces the surveillance/elimination apparatus.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Later for that! We’ve got to get together. We got to unify and organize. These reforms and concessions in Obama’s NSA speech are only addressing the symptoms and not the beast that, like COINTELPRO to PRISM, will surely continue to oppress us only under a different name next time.

The Rise of the Post-New Left Political Vocabulary

Very good discussion pertaining to the language of leftists today and of yesteryear.

The Public Autonomy Project

[Click for Printable PDF]

If a handful of time-travelling activists from our own era were somehow transported into a leftist political meeting in 1970, would they even be able to make themselves understood? They might begin to talk, as present-day activists do, about challenging privilege, the importance of allyship, or the need for intersectional analysis. Or they might insist that the meeting itself should be treated as a safe space. But how would the other people at the meeting react? I’m quite sure that our displaced contemporaries would be met with uncomprehending stares.

It’s not so much that the words they use would be unfamiliar. Certainly ‘privilege’ is not a new word, for instance. But these newcomers to the 1970 Left would have a way of talking about politics and political action that would seem strange and off-kilter to the others at the meeting. If one of…

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160 year-old Documents Intentionally Destroyed in Franklin County, N.C.

Reblog that deserves to be read and shared!!

Stumbling in the Shadows of Giants

I rarely re-blog, but this one deserves being spread far and wide.

Timeline of the Destruction of 100 Year Old Franklin County, NC Records

Please read the whole post included above – but the gist is as follows:

– This summer a new Clerk of Court in Franklin County discovered a trove (an entire roomful) of documents, some dating back to 1840, in a previously sealed room in the Franklin County, North Carolina Court House.

– Recognizing the historical value of these materials, she contacted the local historical society to assist in reviewing the materials, preserving them, and inventorying the materials.

– The Local historical group enthusiastically poured themselves into the project, mobilizing volunteers and the whole community – securing space to work, materials, and finances – in order to catalog and preserve the bounty of record books, photographs, deeds, chattel records, land grants, deeds, wills, personal correspondence, and countless…

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Honest Tea and Coca-Cola – Think Before You Drink.

In a previous post I explained why co-opted movements, such as a non-profit organization being sponsored by multinational corporations, can undermine the mission of the movement and the integrity of the non-profit. In a tweet of that post to Green America and Honest Tea (a wholly owned subsidiary of Coca-Cola), Honest Tea responded in turn with this post:

Let’s ignore the fact that they cited a TED Talk, which has been receiving lackluster press in some circles, of their own CEO essentially reading the script of this Alternet article. Let’s also forget that the TED Talk, which unfortunately sounds like this Alternet article, doesn’t even address the point they were making in their tweet. Let’s also forget that Coca-Cola (Honest Tea’s parent company) is responsible for atrocities that include systematic torturing, kidnapping and intimidation of union leaders and their families in an effort to crush unions. The point of this response is that Honest Tea completely missed my original point! I responded noting that boycotting companies that fight anti-GMO labeling efforts will bring change.

This isn’t just talk either. Bloomberg cites Coca-Cola’s profit rising as a result of a demand for their healthier drinks. The fact of the matter is, Honest Tea, supported fully by Green America’s hypocritical endorsing of them, is an accomplice to Coca-Cola’s war on GMO labeling.

K.E. Nero

An Open Thank You to Tracye McQuirter Author of By Any Greens Necessary

Recently, author of By Any Greens Necessary, Tracye McQuirter, gave me an autographed copy of her #1 ranked book on The Huffington Post complete with an inspirational message. Thanks, Tracye, for your words, as you noted are a great inspiration. By Any Greens Necessary is a must-read for not only women of color but all people worldwide struggling with food-related, avoidable diseases and conditions such as obesity, stroke, hypertension and more. Tracye grabs your hand and takes you on an adventure deconstructing common myths about food, explaining misconceptions inherent in diet fads and offers solutions and recommendations to getting around them. Lastly, By Any Greens Necessary also takes the guess work out of the kitchen, the bane of many fresh converts, by offering an array of delectable recipes.

Solid recipes, informative content and an easy, fun read makes By Any Greens Necessary a necessary addition to our respective bookshelves.

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K.E. Nero

The Non-Profit Industrial Complex and Green America

One of the problems with non-profits is that the sponsors or funds can come from sources that inextricably link them to dubious companies that undermine their purpose. By funding the non-profit, their mission is essentially either neutered or the non-profit will exist as a hypocritical entity that can only accomplish that which is approved by their sponsors, lest they risk losing funding. Concerning the non-profit industrial complex, Adjoa Florência Jones de Almeida of the Sista II Sista Collective said;

What has happened to the great civil rights and black power movements of the 1960s and 1970s? Where are the mass movements of today within this country? The short answer: They got funded. Social justice groups and organizations have become limited as they’ve been incorporated into the non-profit model… We are too busy being told to market ourselves by pimping our communities’ poverty in proposals, selling “results” in reports and accounting for our finances in financial reviews.

As a former member of Green America, it bothered me that even they are a prime example of this pernicious sort of relationship between movements and non-profits given their relationship with Honest Tea, a wholly owned subsidiary of Coca-Cola. Green America’s About Us notes that they work on issues of social justice and environmental responsibility. Their About Us says that “We see these issues as completely linked in the quest for a sustainable world.  It’s what we mean when we say ‘green'” and that they work to “stop abusive practices and to create healthy, just and sustainable practices.” Although both admirable and eloquent in their descriptions of their missions, values and goals – their actions are limited – quite hypocritically – to attacking their sponsor’s competition while dedicating little to no mention of their sponsor’s own conflicting practices. GMO Inside is a product of Green America that fights in favor of GMO labeling by exposing food giants and raising awareness in the issue of expanding GMO use. GMO Inside’s “Take Action” drop down menu highlights: 

From these pages in the drop down menu, activists have an array of powerful tools to thwart the GMO problem by signing petitions, posting on the offending company’s presumably, heavily monitored Facebook page and calling the offending company. However, only by clicking “Take Action” will activists see a footnote-like mention of Coca-Cola in the form of an image banner. Upon clicking that link, activists will find a list of Coca-Cola’s subsidiaries at the bottom of the page. At the time of this blog post, Honest Tea is missing from that list of Coca-Cola’s companies. Green America’s National Green Pages 2014 issue is rife with anti-green-washing rhetoric (see page 39), Honest Tea advertisements and a vote-with-your-dollars spread on pages 6 and 7 that has no mention of Coca-Cola or Honest Tea. Criticisms of Coca-Cola are so blatant that it warrants its own Wikipedia page.  This underscores the problem inherent in the non-profit industrial complex mentioned earlier; co-opted non-profits are fundamentally compromised and present a conflict of interest with their sponsors that effectively renders the non-profit a paper tiger. If you have a smart phone, the Buycott app is much more honest and comprehensive than Green America.

One of the founders of Corazon del Pueblo (a volunteer, not-for-profit collective and community cultural center) touches briefly on the problem with non-profits in this video around the 3 minute mark. He alludes very correctly to the absurdity in the idea that co-opted movements such as traditional non-profits can really realize their missions. Imagine if the Black Panther Party survival programs (such as free preventative health care, free shoe program and the free breakfast program) were funded by pharmaceutical companies, Nike and Kellogg. The contradictions and hypocrisy surely would undermine the pure intentions of revolution, community building and uplifting the consciousness of the people.

Green America and other non-profits remove otherwise well-intentioned, bright and energetic people from the streets and from creating truly meaningful movements and places them in offices creating spreadsheets and reports that validate their work to sponsors with the hope of justifying more funding. The revolution will not be televised, YouTube’d and certainly not funded by governments or multinational corporations.

K.E. Nero