On August First there was a march in La Mesa California. The organizations that called for it was Stronger Together and Uhuru affiliated organizations. There was a lot of confusion on social media since some rallies have become downright dangerous. People wanted to know if this was at the very least endorsed by Black Lives Matter. It wasn’t, that is the short answer. The Uhuru Network, to be brutally honest, is not in the mainstream. From their own writings, they could be described as far left, even if on some reading I would be reluctant to do so.
Uhuru is far closer to a description of a millenarian cult, with a leader and a rigidity of thought. Nor is this the first time this movement has taken to the streets in San Diego, in order to coop marches. We witnessed some of this as reporters, However, the organizer of those marches tried to work with them, with utter failure. Here, is the version from Catherine Mendonca regarding those issues, and yes, there is a parallel to what happened on August First, 2020
When the first #FergusonResponse rallies happened in San Diego, we were joined by another group in our direct action in City Heights, NOT knowing that another group — WHO go by Uhuru Solidarity Movement-posted on their event page stating they were mobilizing in the same spot WITH us and planned on taking the march down to Southeast. When they joined us, they co(opted) the march and on fb POSTED ABOUT about possibly taking the highway again.
By posting on facebook acts of civil disobedience-WHETHER INTENTIONAL or OUT OF ignorance, you may incriminate yourself, other organizers as well as community members may be charged with crimes.
YOU PROVOKE THE VERY ENEMY WE ARE PROTESTING, hence the term PROVOCATEUR.
A PROVOCATEUR WILL TRY TO GET THE MOVEMENT TO DO SOMETHING INCRIMINATING, or SAY SOMETHING INCRIMINATING, endangering everyone to heavily armed police. THE FACT A WHITE PERSON POSTED THIS IS EVEN MORE ATROCIOUS
The marches in City Heights were protesting police brutality. Some things never change, I suppose. While her outfit was not aligned with BLM, none in this town was. At one point they grew large, into the over a thousand people, which for San Diego is impressive. And at the time police heavily policed them, with both San Diego Police (they were always near Mid City Division ) and the California Highway Patrol.
It is then that the Uhuru group first sent people, but later brought more than a few elements. They started, like Saturday, to get aggressive with members of the media, and got into fights. It is then, as the post points out, that the Uhuru group tried to take over the freeway (I-15) for a second time. And after those events, the demonstrations died off. Why? People felt unsafe and did not want to participate in what can be dangerous, but there are degrees.
Let me be very clear. This is not a story coming from the one-day actions of this group,. They are part of a universe of radical groups, which is not limited to the far right, which can be white, supremacist and cult-like as well, We have them with marginalized groups as well. The African People’s Socialist Party, and their sister organization, Uhuru, are one of those. The only reason why again they became relevant is that they are using the present moment to coop a movement. At this point, this would be Black Lives Matter. Uhuru is starting to run demonstrations where they do not deny or admit that they are BLM. They are not, and like they did in City Heights, they are dangerous by design.
The Africans Peoples Socialist Party and Uhuru
The origins of The Africans People’s Socialist Party lies in the experience of their Chairman, Omali Yeshitela, during the Civil Rights era. He was one of the many young men who joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC for short early in the 1060s,. That was the Black Lives Matter of its time, together with Martin Luther King’s movement, which was not the same. If this sounds familiar, this was the organization that Congressman John Lewis cut his teeth at. The movement did things like sit-ins at lunch counters and was instrumental in the freedom rides of the early part of the decade. It was the revolution that led to the Civil Rights Act, and a series of other legislative efforts. It was, in short, the reason for the end of Jim Crow.
Yeshitela considers the civil rights era a failed revolution because it did not go far enough and its leaders were either killed or became part of a black bourgeoisie. He believes that electoral and party politics in the United States are a waste of time and a tool of oppression. He also believes that he has the solutions, within the vanguard of his party. In his own words:
Sometimes our positions are unpopular in the short term, even among the masses, only to be vindicated as events unfold to reveal a truth that was obscured by the faulty analysis of the prevailing common perception. On such occasions we must move in opposition to the direction the masses are attempting to go. Otherwise, what is the meaning of leadership?
When a representative of our Party and movement stood up in an Obama campaign meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida in August of 2008, our challenge to Obama met a fierce, solid wall of vocal rejection and opposition from the African masses themselves. Even some members of our movement and Party fell under the sway of liberal imperialism after being intimidated by the delirious mass response to the Obama candidacy and presidency.
His is a vanguard party in the classic Marxist tradition, even if he also rejects Karl Marx. Why? Marx was in the Empire, and could not see the working classes among the colonized people. Yehsitela only uses Marx when it helps him make a point. This is not unlike many a third world revolutionary vanguard movement, such as the Shining Path or other cults of personality. However, the international headquarters of the movement is at his home in St Petersburg Florida, a hotbed of revolution. Or at least I suppose, he would like to believe such. While speaking of his home, he also wants to keep the South Side of the town black. In other words, he wants segregation, which is a strange way that makes him popular with white supremacists, who also believe in the separation of the races. Not that the chairman believes in the race as a concept, but he holds another bizarre idea. He knows that all Africans, no matter where they live, are the same. This denies Egyptians their history, going back to the earliest civilizations and the rise of agriculture and writing, for example. The whole lot is part of a working-class culture with the same history. The only reason for national borders in Africa is the colonial past that capitalists brought. This is a-historicism of the worst kind.
The philosophy of the party sounds good on a first pass if you are anywhere on the left of the spectrum. It’s critical of Capitalism and imperialism. It means decolonizing African lives and to improve the lot of the (black) working class. It is for reparations. This work is done through the party and the party’s organizations, including Uhuru, which serves as an umbrella for a few businesses, including Uhuru furniture and Uhuru Foods and Pies. The Uhuru houses serve as a place to organize and educate the revolutionary cadres. There is one in San Diego.
Yehsitelism as the ideology is called, also believes that those who have liberated African peoples, such as Nelson Mandela, are part of a rising bourgeoise that has betrayed this same working class. As you can see in the quote above, they also reject the presidency of Barack Obama. While they may get behind some candidates from time to time, for the most part, they eschew the two major parties.
This is a fringe movement that uses explosions of street actions to recruit and to become relevant beyond true believers.
Black Lives Matter is a Threat
If you are part of this fringe movement, Black Lives Matter (which has gone international in more than just theory) and other successful street-level movements are a threat. They need to be destroyed or at least discredited. BLM, with all its warts and problems, is in the mainstream of American political life. It is in some ways the descendant of SNCC and other successful movements of the 1960s and works in similar ways. It is about mobilization and taking power within the system. The movement is not about radical revolutions or pan-Africanism. It has been successful in mobilizing people, not just in the United States, in very vocal ways. The Defund the Police part of the program, as well as other ideological stands are becoming policy.
BLM is programmatic but inclusive. This is something that the UHURU movement is not. And while see themselves as an international movement, Uhuru has not been as successful as BLM.
What follows are some of the things that BLM believes in, because it matters.
We work vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people.
We intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.
We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.
We see ourselves as part of the global Black family, and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black people who exist in different parts of the world.
We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.
There is a critical role for the idea of family, even if not necessarily the western concept of the nuclear family. They do not deny that black people have different histories and different experiences across the world. Nor are they hardcore anti-imperialists and Pan Africans. They are also something else that Uhuru is not, They have no problem with the LGBTQ community and in fact, affirm them as part of the universe of people. They are queer affirming, which goes against the grain for the Uhuru movement. In that sense, BLM is in a vanguard within the black community.
BLM is also willing to work within the system, as much as possible,. And outside if need be. But they are not against electoral politics on principle.
So here we run into one of the oldest tactics in the world. This is to discredit a movement by co-opting it in the streets. Uhuru leadership is very well aware that most people cannot differentiate between different groups in the streets. It does not matter if they are BLM or for that matter the universe of white supremacist groups that have also taken to the streets. So calling for a march and pretending to lead it is the perfect cover. To be brutally honest, even the media is unable to tell them apart as well.
There is something else. The uniform that Uhuru wears is black clothing. Incidentally, in the heart of Southern California, this is the kind of clothes that could lead to heat stroke, but I digress. There are another two groups connected with black clothing and at times military-style boots. These are both ANTIFA and Anarchist. In a sense, the latter, with bandanas, fits the look to a T. So most people will see black-clad individuals creating havoc, and not realize it wasn’t them. The penchant for not getting anybody taking photos or videos is also part of this. Anybody who does not want their photos taken at a march called on the streets makes me ask what they are trying to hide? Especially when the call-out poster mentions civil disobedience. This can take many forms, from blocking traffic to other things.
This brings me to the routes chosen. Like 2014 when Uhuru took over the marches in City Heights, the route taken was not precisely the best, or safest. This is, in my view, was done by design. People will stop coming to a march because they believe they are BLM affiliated and they are dangerous. This has the side benefit of damaging the work that BLM has been doing.
Here we get into something else. Over the last four years, we have been at the forefront of a hybrid warfare campaign. Perhaps now at the beginnings of a color revolution in the United States. This sets to set American against American. Most of this is part of Russian information warfare which has been extremely successful. And to no surprise, a friend shared this from the Guardian:
The Russian government has helped fund a conference in Moscow to bring together separatists from the United States and eastern Ukraine, despite cracking down on its own dissidents.
Opposition to the US and European Union was the factor unifying the assortment of guests at the “Dialogue of nations: the right to self-determination and the construction of a multipolar world” conference at the President hotel in downtown Moscow on Sunday.
Among international participants were representatives of Sinn Féin, the Catalan Solidarity for Independence party and Italy’s European Communitarian party Millennium, as well as separatist groups from Hawaii and Puerto Rico and the US-based radical black power Uhuru Movement. (My emphasis)
This is not minor, and it points to efforts from different forces to weapons these groups. The Uhuru Movement is not one that has any love lost for the system and imperialism. The fact that they are playing patsy with a nation attempting to rebuild their own empire is ironic, but not unexpected. I guess get help wherever you can is the motto of the day.
Taking to the streets pretending to be what you are not, is one way to sow chaos. And right now this would serve different goals. However, until American major media is willing to look under the hood and beyond just its a black march, must be BLM, these games will succeed.
La Mesa, August 1, 2020
This was a classic of all the above. The march call came after a failed attempt to do the same the preceding week. The call was never endorsed by either local or national BLM organization. Also, the poster called for civil disobedience, so trying to keep the media out (which they succeeded, to a point) is not surprising. Nor can I call this a peaceful action, on either side of the political divide to be fair. There were arrests with the Defend East County group, but also attacks on the media by Uhuru security. The speeches were pure Yeshitelism, including the chosen nom-de-Guerre for the two speakers. Tianna Africa spoke first for the African Peoples Socialist Party. And some of her speech was remarkable from a propaganda perspective.
“Uhuru, Uhuru is Swahili and it means freedom.”
“We keep freedom in our minds, 24/7” So far so innocent and none to question her or her goals,. Then she told the crowd that she was going to salute the Chairman, but also told people to go read him. Yes, I have, and what I have found so far is a classic of third world nationalism, with a strong dose of pan Africanism and a dollop of millenarian ideology. This is not Black Lives Matter or any mainstream group. It is radical alright, and she went into some of it in her speech.
The Chairman “has been fighting for our freedom longer than most of us have been alive.” Given that the party started in 1973, and that he was part of SNCC, you could make that argument. She also told people that none should leave the march without signing for any of the groups that stood in solidarity with black and indigenous people. Conveniently there were tables to do that at, and they were part of their movement. Uhuru has been called a political cult, and in some ways, it behaves like one. This is precisely not how BLM behaves.
What came next is standard fare for most organizations.
“We need to get off the sidelines and get into organizations.” She also mentioned “they say” that black and brown can’t get along Then she asked “who are they? And fuck them!” Incidentally, this is also coming from somewhere else. The movement has worked together with Union del Barrio for years, which they see as fellow travelers in the radical realm. Whether the Union is or not, they do not work the way Uhuru does.
And for whites, she did mention anther organization within the umbrella, The Uhuru Solidarity Movement. They are supposed to work with Uhuru, and the party, but as subservient to the movement. Why? Imperialism of course, and a way to pay for white guilt. Again, this is not standard fare for BLM speeches.
Africa mentioned another part of the agenda for the movement. This is the concept of reparations. The Uhuru movement has been in favor of reparations since 1991, however, the talk of this started close to the end of the civil war, It has taken different forms over the decades, but it is not something they began, or have led on. However, they always give that impression. This is problematic, but part of the pattern with Uhuru. They claim to be the vanguard and in many issues, they are following in the steps of others.
I will mention this. They are against the Democrats, but it is the Democrats who want a commission to study this issue (again.) It is coming from the pressure of BLM in the streets, not the party.
The speech also took on the radical revolutionary fervor you would expect from a vanguard party. “We are ready to arm ourselves.” Africa declared. Then her speech addressed the white supremacists who were intent on counter-protesting the march “We got some people walking around here not liking what we have to say! Fuck them!”
Then she went to the meat fo the matter as far as they are concerned. “I am not here to make friends, I am here to recruit. I am going to pull out all the soldiers. They want to call us thugs and gangsters, hey I’ll talk to the thugs and gangster and organize them in the right way. Those you call thugs and gangsters they are not fit for you. All we want to do is get them to the right side.”
“Our prisoners are not prisoners, They are prisoners of war.” We need to bail out our people, we need to stick out for our people and we need not to say MBS slogans. Don’t put your hands up and say I can’t breathe. No more.” (These are classic street chants for BLM). So yes, the speech was confusing if you are not familiar with Uhuru and if you were thinking this was a Black Lives Matter event.
The second speech was given by Jenaba and it was a direct attack on feminism, intersectionality the Democratic Party, and electoral politics. She attacked feminism as a mainstream movement, that claims that it will “allow us to do well in the existing social system. That we must find ways to integrate ourselves and replace toxic masculine sitting at the heads of colonial corporations with our own selves.”
But when the system rejects people like her then they are then told to “shut up and go along with how things are. But it seems to me that we have a social system based on our oppression. And replacing the men within that social system is no solution.”
While BLM has a critique of the system, and it speaks of oppression it does not add the following dollop on top.
“That as women, and men and children, all of us, we have to join within a movement that is going to overturn the social system that has no redeeming values. This is the way that we recapture our humanity.” She argued that the system requires that we are forever slaves.” Again, this is no BLM speak,
She explained that this is the significance of feminism, it allows you to join in a broken system, so you get that illusion of freedom. “The people will not be allowed to have any success.” Ergo, feminism, which has been a tool of liberation and allowed women to do many jobs that were not possible, is itself a tool of oppression. This is what she is telling you. It goes without saying, this is not BLM speak.
Then Jenaba went for the jugular. Intersectionality relieves white women from being critical of their own opportunities, translation, privilege. She went on to say that the only solution is to “destroy patriarchy, which is colonialism.” Oh never mind the patriarchal system is far longer than the last five hundred years of history.
Her criticism of government came next, “It is no longer possible to control the people by the government. That the masses of people around the world are demanding freedom and taking their freedom back.” Then she explained that the emerging powers like India and China are just a new form of colonialism and that they need a new game plan. Again this is no BLM talk.
Jenaba also said that in the past oppression was associated with white skin, but it is no longer white. “It’s white power in blackface! It’s white power in brownface!” She also addressed the times we live in, and this will resonate with the crowd., “the system clearly is not working for all of us.”
This crisis is deep, and this is an empire in decline, which in fact pundits have said. Union del Barrio has been saying this for years, she added. “That the land we stand on is indigenous land (the Kumeyaii have been saying this far longer than Union del Barrio since they are the original inhabitants of this land, but I digress.)
Her conclusion was a direct attack on both feminism and neo-colonialism. She added that “We have a situation where people should be flocking to revolution, They should be flocking to the Uhuru moment, they should be flocking to the Union del Barrio.” And they should flee anything that takes them back to the unsafe embrace of the Democratic Party. This rejection of electoral politics is classic of the movement, but not of BLM.
If you are going to join any march, be careful. Because what happened on Saturday has a history in San Diego. It was part street theater, part recruitment drive, and part attack on another movement that will work within the system.