People’s Struggle Vs Reform: Time for Systemic Change
Keeping it Real
By Larry Pinkney
I noted with supreme interest, on
the cover of volume one of Freemix Radio’s
“I Mix What I Like” CD byMorgan State University’s
assistant professor Jared Ball, a poignant quotation which reads: “In
an Obamamanical era we ask and [Steve] Biko answers ‘a change
in color of the occupier does not change the system.’”
In other words, without systemic change and despite any
cosmetic makeover, the U.S. Empire will remain the same blood-sucking,
avaricious Empire both internally and externally.
This is reminiscent of the paraphrased
words of Jamil Al-Amin [H. Rap Brown] when he correctly said, “I will
fight just as hard against a black oppressor as I will against a white
one.” We Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and White peoples must be mindful
of the trickery and treachery being perpetrated and perpetuated by the
corporate, military, prison apparatus of this despicably hypocritical
and capitalist U.S. system.
With this in mind, it was a welcome
breath of fresh air, when representing BlackCommentator.com, I
found myself among a core group of critically thinking Black
folks attending a panel discussion at the June, 2008, National Conference
On Media Reform. This particular panel consisted of a number of sisters
and brothers. It was exhilarating to be present with various other persons
from throughout the nation attending that panel, who are not
collaborators with the Empire and who have not drunk from what
I refer to as the 21st Century Jim Jones - Obama Kool Aid of unprincipled
politics, denial, political opportunism, and Black American self-erasure
/ annihilation. It was uplifting to witness the outpouring of approval
from the panel audience each time the current U.S. Presidential candidacy
of the courageous former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s “Power To
The People” campaign was mentioned. Clearly, the aforementioned panel
and ensuing discussion was, in the opinion of this writer, the most
relevant and important portion of a conference which otherwise, and
for the most part,fundamentally ignored the pressing
systemic issues and concerns of Black, Brown, and Red peoples
regarding the media of disinformation and consolidation in this nation.
The very word re form goes
contrary to needed systemic change - which is the only real antidote
to the U.S. Empire’s corporate, military, and prison apparatus. We are
engaged in a revolutionary people’s struggle for systemic / fundamental
change; not a liberal so-called “progressive” reforming of the
same filthy, unjust, hypocritical, unequal, corporately fascist system
and empire under some other guise. That is nothing more than a sham
- and a cynical one at that.
Cynthia McKinney, in her Statement
as the “Power To The People” Candidate for U.S. President “on the nomination
of Barack Obama as the Democratic Party’s Presidential Candidate in
2008,” was correct and quite clear that the specific “10-Point
Draft Manifesto of the Reconstruction Movement” is something that Candidate
Barack Obama needs to immediately “embrace” and act upon if he is serious
about real change in this nation.Moreover, Cynthia McKinney
is absolutely on point in her assertion that, “The people deserve an
open and honest debate on these issues and more.” Indeed!
The following is Sister Cynthia McKinney’s
entire official Statement issued to the presumptive Democratic Party
Candidate Barack Obama. I urge readers of BlackCommentator.com to
read it. Every single word is important and it speaks clearly and unabashedly
Statement by Cynthia
McKinney, Power to the People Candidate for U.S. President, on the nomination
of Barack Obama as the Democratic Party's Presidential Candidate in
2008 - (statement issued June 9, 2008).
“On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Hillary Clinton announced that her 2008
presidential bid is over, making Barack Obama the first-ever Black presidential
nominee of a major party in the history of the United
Congratulations to Senator Obama for achieving such a feat!
When I was growing up in the U.S. South in the racially turbulent 1960s,
it would have been impossible for a Black politician to become a viable
Presidential contender. Nothing a Black candidate could have done or
said would have prevented him (or her) from being excluded on the basis
of skin color alone. Many of us never thought we would see in our lifetime
a Black person with a real possibility of becoming President of the
The fact that this is now possible is a sign of some racial progress
in this country, more than 40 years after the Civil Rights and Voting
Rights Acts. But it is also a sign of the deep discontent among the
American people, and particularly among African Americans, with the
corporate-dominated, business-as-usual politics that has prevailed in
Washington for too many years.
Coming from Barack Obama, the word "change" did not appear
as just another empty campaign slogan. It galvanized millions of people
- mostly young people - to register to vote and to get active in the
political system. The U.S. political system needs the energy and vision
of all is citizens participating in the political process. Citizen participation
is always the answer.
Senator Obama called for healing the wounds inflicted on working people
and the poor in our country after eight years of a corrupt and criminal
Bush-Cheney Administration. Just as in November 2006, people full of
an expectation for change, including those the system has purposefully
left out and left behind, flocked to the polls to vote for Senator Obama.
Across a broad swath of the people of this country, and from those who
are impacted by U.S. foreign policy, there is a real expectation,
a real desire, for change.
While congratulating Senator Obama for a feat well done, I would also
like to bring home the very real need for change and a few of the issues
that must be addressed for the change needed in this country to be real.
First of all, a few of the more obvious facts:
United for a Fair Economy (UFE) produces studies each year on the anniversary
of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entitled, State of the Dream
reports. UFE has found that on some indices the racial disparities that
exist today are worse than at the time of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. For example, infant mortality, where the overall U.S.
world ranking falls below Cuba,
Israel, and Canada. They also
have found that, without a public policy intervention, it would take
over 5,000 years to close the home ownership gap between blacks and
whites in this country, especially exacerbated because of the foreclosure
crisis disproportionately facing Blacks and Latinos today. They have
found that it would take 581 years, without a public policy intervention,
to close the racial gap in income in this country. UFE has found unacceptable
racial disparities extant on economic, justice, and security issues.
After analyzing the impact of the Democratic Party's "First 100
Hours" agenda upon taking the Congressional majority, UFE concluded
in its 2007 report that Blacks vote in the Blue (meaning, they support
Democrats in the voting booth), but live in the Red (they do not get
the public policy results that those votes merit). And UFE noted that
Hurricane Katrina was not even mentioned at all in the Congressional
Democratic majority's 2007 First 100 hours agenda.
United for a Fair Economy is not the only organization to find such
dismal statistics, reflecting life for far too many in this country.
In a study not too long ago, Dr. David Satcher found that over 83,000
blacks died unnecessarily, due to racial disparities in access to health
care and because of the disparate treatment blacks receive after access.
A Hull House study found that the racial disparity in the quality of
life of black Chicagoans and white Chicagoans would take 200 years to
be eliminated without a public policy intervention. The National Urban
League in its annual "State of Black America"
publication basically concludes that the United States has not done enough to close long-existing
and unacceptable racial disparities. The United Nations Rapporteur for
Special Forms of Racism, Mr. Doudou Diene of Senegal, just left this country in an unprecedented
fact-finding mission to monitor human rights violations in the United States.
Dr. Jared Ball submitted to Diene on my behalf, my statement after
the Sean Bell police verdict. The United Nations has already cited
its concern for the treatment of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors
and the extrajudicial killings taking place across our country, that
especially target Black and Latino males, and especially at the hands
of law enforcement authorities.
I hope it is clear that the desire for change is so deeply felt because
it is deeply needed. Politics, through public policy, can address
all these issues and more in the favor of the people. We do not have
to accept or tolerate such glaring disparities in our society. We
do not have to accept or tolerate bloated Pentagon spending, unfair
tax cuts, attacks on our civil liberties, and on workers' rights to
unionize. We don't have to accept or tolerate our children dropping
out of high school, college education unreachable because tuition
is so high, or our country steeped in debt.
The 21st Century statistics for our country reflect a country that
can still be characterized as Dr. King did so many years ago: the
greatest purveyor of violence on the planet.
It doesn't have to be that way. And the people know it.
I have accepted as the platform of the Power to the People Campaign,
the 10-Point Draft Manifesto of the Reconstruction Movement, a grouping
of Black activists who came together in the aftermath of Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita to advocate for public policy initiatives that address
the plight of Blacks and other oppressed peoples in this country.
Among its many specific public policy planks, the Draft Manifesto
election integrity, if our vote is to mean anything at all, all
political parties must defend the integrity of the votes cast by
the American people, something neither of the major parties has
done effectively in the past two Presidential elections;
funding a massive infrastructure improvement program that is also
a jobs program that greens our economy and puts people to work,
and especially in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Hurricane survivors,
treated as internally displaced persons whose right to vote and
right of return are protected, play a meaningful role in the rebuilding
of their communities;
recognizing affordable housing as a fundamental human right, and
putting a halt to the senseless destruction of public housing in
enacting Reparations for African Americans, so that the enduring
racial disparities which reflect the U.S. government's failure to
address the reality and the vestiges of slavery and unjust laws
enacted can be ended and recognition of the plight of Black Farmers
whose issues are still not being adequately addressed by USDA and
court-appointed mediators despite a US government admission of guilt
for systematic discrimination;
acknowledging COINTELPRO and other government spying and destabilization
programs from the 1960s to today and disclosing the role of the
US government in the harassment and false imprisonment of political
activists in this country, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, the San Francisco
8, Leonard Peltier, including restitution to victims of government
abuse and their families for the suffering they have long endured;
ending prisons for profit and the "war on drugs," which
fuels the criminalization of Black and Latino youth at home and
provides cover for U.S. military intervention in foreign countries,
particularly to our south, which is used to put down all social
protest movements in countries like Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador,
creating a universal access, single-payer, health care system and
enacting a livable wage, equal pay for equal work, repealing the
Bush tax cuts, and making corporations and the rich pay their fair
share of taxes;
establishing public funding for higher education - no student should
graduate from college or university tens or hundreds of thousands
of dollars in debt;
ensuring workers' rights by 1) repealing Taft-Hartley to stop the
unjust firing of union organizers, ban scabbing, and enable workers
to exercise their voices at work and 2) enacting laws for U.S. corporations
that keep labor standards high at home and raise them abroad, which
would require the repeal of NAFTA, CAFTA, the Caribbean FTA, and
the U.S.-Peru FTA;
justice for immigrant workers, including real immigration reform
that provides amnesty for all undocumented immigrants;
creating a Department of Peace that would put forward projects for
peace all over the world, deploying our diplomats to help resolve
conflicts through peaceful means and overseeing the orderly withdrawal
of U.S. troops from the more than 100 countries around the world
where they are stationed, and an immediate end to all wars and occupations
by U.S. forces, beginning in Iraq and Afghanistan, and slashing
the budget for the Pentagon.
The Power to the People Campaign has visited 24 states and I believe
there is already broad support across our country for these policy positions.
The people deserve an open and honest debate on these issues and more.
I encourage the Democratic Party and its new presumptive nominee, Senator
Obama, to embrace these important suggestions for policy initiatives.”
The fact is that the people of the
United States of
Americadohave a real
people’s candidate who does not drink from the corporate
trough and who is striving for systemic change. She is
not a Republicrat [i.e. a puppet of the Democratic or Republican Party].
That candidate is Cynthia McKinney, and the concomitant “Power To The
People” Campaign, which is an important beginning in the ongoing
process of building a genuine people’s movement in this nation for much-needed
We can and must do this, folks. Black,
Brown, Red, Yellow, and White peoples - we can and must do this
my sisters and brothers! Onward then…The time is upon us to make and
keep it real. It’s not easy but then, despite the mythology of the empire,
there really is no such thing as the tooth fairy. But there is such
a thing as a genuine people’s movement powered by Black, Brown, Red,
Yellow, and White peoples determined to bring about systemic change!
BlackCommentator.com Editorial BoardMember, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black
Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New
Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully
self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations
under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In
connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to
voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally
televised PBS NewsHour, formerly known as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and
Thinker, by William
Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here
to read excerpts from the book). Click here
to contact Mr. Pinkney.