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RosaClemente321px-NLNWikiUserLUMPENPROLETARIAT—Recently, free speech radio (KPFA, 94.1 FM, Berkeley, CA, Pacifica Radio) broadcast audio from an address delivered by Rosa Clemente.  Clemente is an educator, Ph.D. student, mother, activist, and former USA Vice Presidential Candidate alongside Cynthia McKinney.  In this address, Clemente discusses contemporary and historical topics, including radical transformation, student activism, as well as parenting in the context of struggle for socioeconomic justice and equanimity. [1]



HARD KNOCK RADIO—(29 MAY 2015)  What’s up, fam.  You are tuned to Hard Knock, here on the Pacifica Network.  On today’s programme, organiser, independent journalist, and hip hop scholar, Rosa Clemente.  All this and more, ahead, after these news headlines.

[SNIP]  [KPFA News Headlines (read by Mark Mericle)]

[This is a rush transcript. Full transcription pending.]


ANITA JOHNSON:  “And, again, you are tuned to Hard Knock Radio.  And, as promised, we will be listening to a speech from Rosa Clemente, the 2008 Vice Presidential running mate of Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney.  In this talk, she covers the Black Lives Matter Movement and white privilege.  Again it is out honour to be able to play this speech in all its entirety, here on Hard Knock Radio.  Again, Rosa Clemente.”  (c. 9:00)

ROSA CLEMENTE:  “First, thank you so much.  Thank you Colorado College, The Butler Center, all the students, faculty, staff, community members, and everybody who’s working, to all the working people who are serving, feeding us, making sure we’re okay.  Alright?  Let’s continue to fight for a liveable wage for people. [applause, cheers]

“And a big thanks and love to Dr. Paul Buckley.  I’ve known Paul longer than he’s known his wife [laughter] or anybody in this room.  I met Paul in 1990 when we had just entered the University of Albany.  And I can fill hours and hours with how much fun we had in those times, how smart we became, how intellectual we became, how our love for community grew.  But I’ll tell you something.  Even back then, Dr. Buckley—Paul, to me—was one of those men who was not afraid of women being in leadership.

“I’ll never forget a time on our campus in 1993.  I had become the president of the State University Black Alliance, SUBA, which was the umbrella black organisation.  And you have to understand.  Colleges in the ’90s and up until the 2000s, when administrators started figuring out how to quell student activism, were hot political times.  You know?  And everyday there was a protest, a rally, a gathering.  We were not just coming together socially.  We had fun.  This is a crazy thing.  We were so political.  Like, we’d shut down a building.  And, the next day, we’d be at a party at the campus center ballroom ’til four AM in the morning.  And, then, on Monday, we’d be in class.  And, then, on Thursday, we’d shut something down.  And, then, on Saturday we’d be at a party. [applause, cheers]  Right?  Because resistance should be joyful.

“And, one particular time, the Zionist organisation on campus was coming heavy after me.  And I had, actually, been suspended in my student government position.  And I had become director of multicultural affairs.  And what, basically, we did as black and latino students is we just took over student government.  We ran for every position.  And we took it over because we were sick of paying money into the college fund and not having anything for us.  We were tired of not having black and latino tenured professors.  We were tired of our contentious dean attacks.  Right?  And it was a hot rally.  And it was interesting who became violent.  It was not the black and latino students.  It was the white Zionists fighting for peace, that became violent against us.  (c. 12:12)  [SNIP]


[This is a rush transcript. Full transcription pending.]

[SNIP]  (c. 15:14)

“And we need to have people, in higher education, that break that.  If not, the neoliberal agenda will destroy higher education.  It’s almost already there.  It’s saveable.  But you really need to look around some campuses and question how some campuses can operate in communities, that are predominantly people of colour and still be predominantly white campuses, when the majority of this country is not a white majority anymore.

“And that’s not only incumbent on students of colour to talk about.  White young people need to start having this discussion.  White young people need to start rejecting a lot of the generational stuff, that y’all been taught.  As well, young people of colour need to understand what white anti-imperialism and white people in this country have sacrificed, and who has laid their lives on the line for black and brown liberation.  These are really important things.

“And, unfortunately, many of these things do come from a higher education experience because most people, that are not in a college, regardless of race or ethnicity, do not have the luxury of having discourse.  Right?  People are trying to eat, save their farms, have water, stop fracking in their community.  There are middle class families, now, working three jobs to keep their house, pay their student loan debt.  These are really real things.  And that’s what college should be about.  That’s what higher education should be about.

James Baldwin said:  To be a negro in this country, and to be relatively conscious, is to be enraged almost all the time.

“Today, at a conference, Bell Hooks said:  Make your home site a place of resistance.

Dr. John Henrik Clarke.  If you don’t know who he is, go Google him tonight.  Powerful people cannot afford to educate the people they oppress because, once you are truly educated, you won’t ask for power.  You will take it.  [cheers]

“And Assata Shakur.  And, if you don’t know who Assata Shakur is, you need to know now.  As relations with Cuba normalise, there’s also a dismantling of the Cuban Revolution.

“And there are political exiles in Cuba from this country, that’d be spending life in jail for their political beliefs, like Assata Shakur and William Morales and Nehanda Abiodun. [2]

“And you have to understand these young people, at that time, that were in college and left that to be part of a black or a Puerto Rican liberation movement, and because of their political beliefs, were almost killed by the state, and fled to Cuba and received political asylum.

Assata Shakur says:  People get used to anythingThe less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it growsAfter a while, people think oppression is a normal state of thingsBut, to become free, you have to be aware that you’re a slave.

I hope that the words I speak tonight, here, in Colorado empower everyone in this room to become agents of change, agitators, and freedom fighters.  May the words push you to transform, not reform, this system of white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism, that seeks to destroy us mentally and physically.  These are very dark days in America.  Or, as my colleague says, more like days of blinding whiteness.  (c. 18:59)

“Even with this, some of us occupy spaces of privilege and have been afforded opportunities, that a majority of our people will never have.  If we waste it here, we’ve done a disservice to our collective history of struggle and resistance.  As well, we will have betrayed the legacy of every ancestor and our fallen sisters and brothers all around this country.

“I am sick and tired of black and brown bodies of women and men, LGBTI people, becoming hash tags to Tweet, as we await 28 hours for the next death at the hands of the state. [applause] (c. 19:40)


[This is a rush transcript. Full transcription pending.]

[SNIP]  (c. 39:22)

“And, if you see the footage last night of 150 police in riot gear in the daytime, facing a group of young twelve-, thirteen-, fourteen-year-olds, mostly African American and Latino youth on their bikes in the front of that.

“And what’s the juxtaposition to that?  Forty miles down the road, the White House Correspondence Dinner.  Baltimore’s rebelling and the 1% is eating cake with the president.  Right?  Look at that crazy contradiction:  a black president, a black attorney general, a potential soon-to-be-female president.  Women can also be the faces and behest of patriarchy.  Be very careful.  Be very careful, my women, especially women of colour, about Hillary Clinton.  Understand the policies.  Or we’re gonna get caught up in another eight years, like President Obama, who has deported the most Latinos than any other administration, including George Bush.  We cannot accept this anymore, especially those of us who have privilege.  Right?

“So, as I finish—right?  I’m also a person who believes in resistance as joy.  I love to have fun.  And we’ll have fun after.  And, hopefully, we’ll dance and all of that.  But I’m not a person to take lightly every day, that’s given to us, especially, as folks of colour.

I have a ten-year-old daughter.  And I do not believe that every day she’s safe.  And I have taught her not to trust policeAnd I have taught her how to encounter policeAnd I have taught her not to trust the stateAnd I have taught her—at ten yearshow to question her education system.  Right?  Because I would not be a good parent to a young Afro-Latina woman, who could be Aiyana Jones at seven years old.  (c. 41:32)

“I grew up in New York City.  And my parents didn’t talk to me about race.  And I think part of it was they felt:  We went through all this, so you don’t have to.  But they did a disservice to me.  It took me ’til I was 22 to even talk and understand what it meant to be Puerto Rican and, then, what it meant to racialise as black, and what it meant to be about social justice and racial justice.  And I understand why they did what they did.  But I can’t afford to do that for my daughterI can’t afford not to racially socialise her in a society, that already hates her, not only because of her colour, but has sexualised her because of [being] a woman.

“I have to tell her, when she goes to college, I’m gonna have to teach her seven other levels of protection because, in colleges, we’re teaching women how not to get raped, as opposed to telling me how not to rape women. [applause, cheers]  Right?  If I don’t do that, I’ve done a disservice.  (c. 42:48)

“So, the Black Lives Matter movement, especially for Latino folks, who might not racialise themselves as black, be very aware that even if you don’t, you have already been.  [SNIP]


[This is a rush transcript. Full transcription pending.]

[SNIP]  (c. 44:29)

“I can’t do something big every day.  None of us can.  But every day we can do something to expose this system and be agents of change.  As Du Bois taught us:  We can strike hammers to this system every day and envision a new world.  Black lives matter.  We should be unapologetic about it.

“We can enjoy so much of what we have right now because of the sacrifice of our ancestors, our elders, our freedom fighters, our war veterans, the veterans we call OGs, the ones that survived the assault known as Counter Intelligence Program.

“We have to be unapologetic, unafraid, unbossed, unbought.  We have to say:  We will not compromiseWe will not bendWe will not be passive.

Fredrick Douglass said:  Let me give you a word of the philosophy of []The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions, that may cover yet august claims, have been borne of earnest struggleThe conflict has been exciting, agitating, all absorbing, and, for the time being, put in all other terms worth the silence.  It must do this.  Or it does nothing.  If there is no struggle, there is no progressThose who profess to favour freedom and, yet, depreciate agitation are men and women who want crops without plowing up the groundThey want rain without thunder and lightningThey want the ocean without the awful roar of its many watersThe struggle may be a moral one, a physical one, It may be both moral and physical.  But it must be a strugglePower concedes nothing without a demand.  It never did.  And it never willFind out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong, which will be imposed upon themAnd they will continue until they are resistant with words or blows or both.  The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

“Pa’lante siempre, pa’lante.  Thank you.  [cheers, applause]”


[1]  Audio files of Hard Knock Radio broadcasts are taken down after a couple of weeks.

[2]  Cf. “List of United States citizens granted political asylum in Cuba”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_citizens_granted_political_asylum_in_Cuba


[Image entitled “NLN Rosa Clemente” by Thomas Good – Next Left Notes (Photo Credit: Thomas Good / NLN). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

[Transcription by Messina]