For Dedon








For twenty-three years I listened to Dedon keep revolutionary Pan-Africanism on the air and in the conversation. I listened to Dedon survive the Wednesday Night Massacre in the mid Nineties, when the bloc of African hosts were removed from KPFK’s airwaves. I listened to Freedom Now survive moving air times. Because I listened to Dedon, I was able to attend numerous cultural and political events around Los Angeles, able to meet like-minded fellow travelers, comrades and allies. Dedon remained steadfast, a rock against the muting and erasure of radical African political thought and practice, unapologetically Pan-Africanist and revolutionary when reformist solutions monopolize the discourse on the progressive left, and KPFK had begun to sound more like the voice of the unchurched left wing of the U.S. Democratic Party. Dedon kept the African world, the colonized and neo-colonized world, the anti-imperialist international, informed about revolutionary processes locally and globally, with transnational content committed to principled solidarity: Cuba, Ireland, Libya, New York, Palestine, Venezuela, South Los Angeles. But more than that, the chance to know Dedon, to be in his company and talk politics and culture with him, hear his stories of solidarity work and emancipatory journalism in the countries so regularly under attack from the U.S.’s military, economic, and media apparatus, and hear him talk about surfing was to be enriched, educated and uplifted. The first time I met Dedon, I had just started teaching at Santa Monica College. Dedon had brought a sister from the U.K. to speak to the Pan African Student Union. I was so excited to meet the man whose radio show I had been listening to throughout the 90s. He was gracious, gregarious, and just a good brother. He was just an incredible brother, and an elder of depth and integrity. When we had Dedon, we had a treasure, our brother dedicated to our freedom and to a free and just world, and now that we no longer have him with us in this flesh, we are left with a hole that we all must fill because we owe it to him. Mojuba, Baba Dedon!



Modern Revolutions and the African- Our Agency, Our Centrality, Our Outcomes: A Survey of Modern Revolutions and Reform






















Below is a link to a PowerPoint presentation (Joko Teach-In: Modern Revolutions) and the bullet points that expand on some of the slides.  I gave the presentation a member of the JOKO Collective, a grassroots, community based  brain trust/think tank/study circle/discussion group.

“In the Yoruba language the word JOKO means “sit”. To “have a JOKO” is to have a “sit down”, or gathering for the purpose of resolving conflict — by uncovering the truth of the matter…JOKO is not a space where all information is created equal. It’s a space where information is scrutinized through universal rules of logic and inquiry, source quality and corroborative data, and sound, replicable methods of analysis…Thus, our agenda statement currently reads: ‘JOKO At The AFIBA is a panel/group discussion series that provides a space for the exercise of critical thinking. For practice in the art of sustained, critical dialogue, we treat selected topics for several sessions and in this way, we construct in-depth understandings of the topics, and their relationship to African People’s bid for empowerment.'” (from “Welcome to JOKO, a Grassroots Braintrust” by Tasha Thomas, posted at, August 5, 2014)

Joko Teach-In Modern Revolutions

A July Joko Two Day Teach-in:

“Modern Revolutions and the African World”


Saturday, July 11, 2015, 4-6 PM “A Survey of Modern Revolutions”

  • We must define Revolution and Reform.
  • 1649 The Commonwealth of England
  • Cromwell and Rump Parliament execute King Charles I and attempt to create an English republic.
  • Republicanism becomes the primary form of the modern, bourgeois, liberal state.
  • The class controlling the state controls the economy, the colonies, and the trade routes, to all of which Africans were central.
  • 1775-1783 The American War of Independence
  • The North American settlers wage an anti-royalist war for reform. They assume management of the system, and retain property and social relations. Independence insures that the U.S. can maintain slavery as the foundation of the national wealth.
  • 1789-1815 The French Revolution
  • Radical break with the Old Regime: Royalty, Aristocracy, and the Church.
  • Under pressure from men of color in the French National Assembly, slavery is abolished and then reinstated by Napoleon.
  • 1791 -1804 The Haitian Revolution
  • History of African resistance
  • From Caribbean front of French Revolution to Haitian Revolution.
  • Haiti shakes the security of all other slaveholding states and colonies in the Americas.
  • Spanish American Wars of Independence
  • Africans & Afro-Mestizos central to conflicts
  • 1808-1821 Bolivar and Gran Colombia
  • 1810-1821 The Mexican War of Independence
  • 1862-1898 Cuban Wars of Independence
  • 1848 Revolution in Europe
  • Primarily middles classes and organized workers seeking reform and/or asserting nationalist claims
  • Within a year, royalists and reactionaries reassert control.
  • Socialist ideas and principles spread and grow in popularity.
  • 1910-1920 The Mexican Revolution
  • Land reform was a key issue.
  • 1917-1918 The Russian Revolution
  • Bolsheviks come to power, execute royal family, and dismantle the Czarist state.
  • 1949 The Chinese Revolution
  • China goes from a nationalist liberation struggle to communist revolution with a primarily peasant army.
  • 1959 The Cuban Revolution
  • Under U.S. control since 1898 and the U.S. intervention in the Cuban struggle, Cubans make several attempts to overthrow foreign rule and the local collaborators.
  • July 26 Movement finally achieves victory.
  • Cuba embodies the propaganda problem of a successful revolutionary example.
  • 1945-1992 “Third World” Revolution
  • Africa
  • Americas
  • East and South Asia
  • The Pacific
  • Western Asia




Fifty Years Since They Took Malcolm


Today, fifty years ago, Malcolm X fell, a target in the centuries long war against African people.  In recent years, elite institutions have worked hard to revise Malcolm’s life and work to make him more amenable to a middle of the road, pro-business, civil rights, multi-cultural politics suitable to maintaining empire.  Malcolm left life as a revolutionary, a Black nationalist, a Pan-Africanist, an internationalist, and a critic of capitalism moving toward socialism.  His enduring popularity and the saliency of his critique of American racism, western imperialism and global white supremacy require the rulers to domesticate him, even now, so as to insure the rest of us remain domesticated. Malcolm was clear about our relationship to the U.S. state and we need his clarity, especially now in this moment of renewed energy in the Black Freedom Movement around the issues of police violence and mass incarceration.  Thank you, Brother Malcolm, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz.

Thirty Years Since We Lost Grenada

Grenadaflag This posting is late. It is nearly 3 months late. I don’t care. I still want to mark the 30 years since the attack on the Grenadian Revolution.  That October in 1983, when the U.S. assessed its ability openly to attack a sovereign nation in the midst of a revolutionary process, with its own troops, helped lay the groundwork for current U.S. imperial adventures. The Grenada invasion tested the U.S. general public’s support of U.S. military action after their defeat in Vietnam. The U.S. public, and the U.S. media, passed brilliantly. We now live with open U.S military aggression as a way of life.  The revolution in Grenada was a shining moment for the Caribbean, for the African revolution worldwide, for people’s revolution worldwide.  The Grenadian Revolution was a popular revolution.  We must study its strengths and its weaknesses, its organizational triumphs and its internal contradictions and continue to raise the name and the ideas of its martyred Prime Minister and leader of the New Jewel Movement, Maurice Bishop. Mauricebishop

Below are four clips from a documentary from the era. It provides a glimpse of what kind of grassroots motion the revolution was attempting to make real, a version of direct democracy and socialist re-organization.  Grenada was the sort of problem the U.S. cannot abide, the problem of a Good Example, exacerbated by the fact of being a primarily English-speaking African decent population with ties to U.S. Africans. This was the slowing of a revolutionary momentum in that era, and the reassertion of Reactionary politics and open imperialism. The Empire did indeed strike back.  Nonetheless, the spirit of revolution lives, in part because of the great examples in our histories, like Grenada and the New Jewel movement.

New Jewel Movement Billboard
New Jewel Movement Billboard

Omali Yeshitela and Luwezi Kinshasa on Mandela

Mandelamail&guardianMany words and much praise have filled the air in the wake of Mandela’s passing.  May the Ancestors be pleased with him. The condition of African people remains too critical to afford the luxury of sentimentality. Here is one of the necessary discussions we need to have if we’re serious about liberation. The system is fundamentally and structurally anti-African/anti-black. Free the land!

Chairman Omali Yeshitela and Luwezi Kinshasa at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
Chairman Omali Yeshitela and Luwezi Kinshasa at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

For Trayvon, For Us All

These are scenes from the second day of protests from one pocket of protests in Los Angeles the day following the Zimmerman verdict.

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What is left to say? Now a month since a jury of his peers acquitted George Zimmerman, what is there left to say?  Some of us have assailed the failure of the justice system, the lackluster performance of the prosecution, the cynicism of the defense, the complicity of the judge in her pre-trial and pre-deliberation instructions to disregard the issue of race and racial profiling, the apparent inability of the jury to empathize with Trayvon’s suffering and his parents’ pain rather than Zimmerman’s predicament and his family’s anxiety.  These targets deserve our missiles, but they were only doing what the system conditions them to do, protect white power and protect white property, including the property whiteness.  The mainstream responses to the verdict were predictable: calls for “peace,” calls to respect the verdict, appeals to the underlying fairness of the U.S. judicial system, rote denials of racism, praise for Trayvon’s parents for their “quiet dignity” and calls for prayer, the barely contained triumphalism of white folks, spewing forth on social media and cable news, and comments from the black POTUS and his operatives in civil society designed to de-mobilize the righteous anger of Black folks and their allies.  But we shouldn’t expect justice from a system wired to exploit and oppress.  We shouldn’t squander the moment by simply pursuing a federal and/or civil rights case.  What do we mean when we have been correctly in the streets demanding justice for Trayvon? What is Justice for Trayvon, for Aiyana Stanley Jones, and for the all the other Black folks killed extra-judicially, one every 28 hours? And how do we create that for ourselves so that we can stop hurting?


Even though the other jurors have challenged the characterizations of their deliberations as represented by Juror B37 to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, they nonetheless perpetuated the denial of the right of Black people to life.  That’s what that verdict and the stand-your-ground-law that was never directly introduced in the trial but haunted its every performance finally mean: Black people cannot expect their right to life to be recognized or respected.  It is a version of the Taney decision in the Dred Scott Case: Black people have no rights that any white persons need to respect, including the right to life or self-defense.  Trayvon could be pursued and confronted, and when he resorted to defend himself, unarmed, he can be shot and in effect found guilty of aggravated assault.  And we knew that we were all found guilty again, guilty of making white people anxious, agitated by our presence, a presence they both abhor and demand.  We remain stuck in someone else’s racialized psycho-drama, one that casts us as the stain that must always be removed but that must also always be present as the negation against which whiteness finds meaning.  We need to pull ourselves out of that phantasm.

As to the fairness of the trial, it was plenty fair, that is, plenty white.  Zimmerman was tried by a jury of his peers, his white peers, 5 to 1, and his class peers or peer-wannabes.  And the defense presented raised reasonable doubt in the jurors’ minds. But reasonable doubt means different things to different communities.  Reasonable doubt can’t be abstracted from direct experience or pre-existing attitudes and expectations.  It does not operate in a vacuum. 

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That’s why Zimmerman was armed.  That’s why thirty-three states have instituted stand-your-ground laws.  That’s why white people have been buying guns in record numbers since the election of Obama, a major feat considering how well-armed the white U.S has been since there has been a U.S.  Fear of black people is always reasonable to most white people, and others, in a system of white supremacy.  Fear animates U.S. politics and culture.  The jury arrived at the verdict demanded by precepts of racism white supremacy, the a priori guilt of Black people, and subsequent “necessary” behavior of white people to do what is fair for them if not justice for Black people, and others, the defense of whiteness.

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LAPD rolled four deep in their squad cars for days. Heightened surveillance has been in effect in the ‘hood since the verdict: bicycle cops, the ever present helicopter, they even broke out the horseback cops. None of this is new. LAPD has always acted as an occupying force in African and Chicano-Mexicano-Latino neighborhoods.  Citywide tactical alert for days, primarily visible in South L.A., I certainly didn’t see a heavy police presence on the Westside, despite the citywide alert. The Zimmerman trial and verdict has confirmed that the system does indeed work, the global system of white supremacy.  Things are cooler on the streets now. But we ain’t finished! We had better not be finished, because they certainly aren’t finished with us, pushing us into irrelevance, the grave and prison.

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