basic income guarantee, David Gilbert, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (b. Michael King Jr. 1929–1968), Elaine Brown (b. 1943), Mothers Advocating Juvenile Justice, Mumia Abu Jamal (b. 1954), reparations, Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald, UC Television, UCTV, unconditional basic income (UBI), universal basic income (UBI), World Bank
LUMPENPROLETARIAT—America needs more sincere, honest, plain-speaking people, like Elaine Brown, to end the gaslighting in our society. Don’t we? And Elaine Brown is funny as hell, too, especially when she drops acid remarks upon her predominantly white, liberal audience. Occasional images of white ladies, aghast, are hilarious, no offense. I love all people, including white people. But the points Elaine Brown makes are so matter-of-fact, that she seems like a relic from another era, before people lost the courage to speak freely. She’s like an outspoken free-thinking person from the 20th century speaking to domesticated, defanged, and complacent 21st century liberals. I might be wrong. That’s just my reading of the room.
Like Fred Hampton, who organized the original Rainbow Coalition, to organize working class black, brown, and white people against the evils of capitalism in a “proletarian revolution”, Elaine Brown is also speaking to everyone, including expressing solidarity with all oppressed peoples, from Native Americans onward.
Their struggle is our struggle. And what about the Chicanos in the fields of California? Our friend, Cesar Chavez, who was a very close friend of the Black Panther Party, and all the others, that we knew that were in the barrios of Los Angeles. How can we talk about our freedom, if we aren’t talking about the freedom of the Chicano people?Elaine Brown (c. 59:30)
UCTV—[3 NOV 2008] Activist and author Elaine Brown, the first and only woman to lead the Black Panther Party speaks on issues of race with reference to her new book New Age Racism. She discusses the Black experience throughout American history and the issue of reparations for all descendants of slaves.
Series: Voices [5/2001] [Public Affairs] [Show ID: 5720]
Learn more at UCTV.
[Notes and transcription by Messina for Lumpenproletariat, UCTV, and Elaine Brown]
(c. 59:35) “Their struggle is our struggle. And what about the Chicanos in the fields of California? Our friend, Cesar Chavez, who was a very close friend of the Black Panther Party, and all the others, that we knew who were in the barrios of Los Angeles. How can we talk about our freedom, if we’re not talking about the freedom of the Chicano people? (Who used to call themselves Spanish, until they decided to go ahead and come on home, like black people did. You know? It used to be ‘negroes’; it became black. It used to be Spanish. ‘No, I’m a Mexican, a Chicano. I’m proud of that.’ And we helped to form the coalition that helped to initiate the Brown Berets in Southern California.
(c. 1:00:12) “And how can we be free, if the Puerto Ricans are languishing in the sweatshops of New York? And, so, we organized with the Young Lords and said, ‘Their freedom is our freedom.’
(c. 1:00:24) “And how can we be free, if the Chinese people, driven to the west coast like dogs, are not free in America? We can’t be. So, we formed a coalition with the Red Guard.
“And how can we be free, if poor whites are living in Appalachia and never got the drill that we were never their enemy. We can’t be. So, we formed a coalition with the white Patriot Party—not to be confused with the SDS intellectuals on the campus. The white Patriot Party armed young whites, talkin’ about the same agenda, that we had, revolutionary change in America.
(c. 1:00:52) “How can we be free, if women in this country were living like dogs and less than human beings? So, we said that the direction of women’s liberation was our liberation.
“How can we be free, when gay people are oppressed in this country. We say gay liberation is our liberation.
“And we set the agenda and the goal and vision, that was truly inclusive. It wasn’t multicultural. It was truly inclusive because we understood that our liberation had to come with the iteration of all human beings, who are oppressed and alienated and otherwise ostracized from this society.
“But the society would have to change. You know? Capitalism really has to go. We can’t have one guy owning as much as a hundred million people. We really know one human being is really not worth a hundred million people. We want to change the paradigm, and very much like Dr. King did, because many people said that Dr. King, at the end of his life, started talking like a Black Panther. And he was.
— snip —
(c. 1:02:54) “Even though he said himself in 1967, after the Detroit uprising and so many others before, he said: Look, how can I tell these young blacks and urban Americans to stop throwing Molotov cocktails in this country out of rage? How can I talk to them about the nonviolent resolution of conflict when their very country will send them to resolve conflict with violence? With some innocent people in Vietnam? Only to come home and be oppressed in their own country? No. I cannot. And I will not.
“He says that. But we erased that from the books.
“But, in 1968, what was Dr. King doing? He was organizing the Poor People’s Campaign. This was not about the Memphis Garbage Strike. This was about the Poor People’s Campaign. And what was the Poor People’s Campaign about?
“The Poor People’s Campaign was he tells us in words, in written words, on film, everywhere, he says: Look, in ’63 we talked about the check hadn’t been cashed. And in ’68, we gon’ cash the check. We goin’ to Washington to cash the check. And we’re not leaving until it’s cashed.
“Now, what does that mean? It means we’re talking about reparations for blacks. We’re talking about guaranteed income for all people in this country. We’re talkin’ about universal healthcare for everyone.
“These were the words, that he said. This wasn’t some [abstract] dream or fantasy. They were very concrete issues. And, worse, redistribution of wealth. They forgot that stuff—maybe ‘cos it’s been written out.
(c. 1:04:17) “So, that vision of his, of ours, was lost, especially when that bullet entered his brain and took his life because that left a gaping hole not only in the blacks in this country, but also the entire country. So, we slid. And we’ve been backsliding quite a bit since then.
“And we are right back where we started. Why are blacks poor? What’s the problem? The problem is a failure of will. And a failure of commitment to really talk about a country, and to make the commitment, that Thomas Jefferson gave lip service to. And that, of course, being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and those kinds of ideals.
“So, what the Black Panther Party attempted to do—and what that history [shows]—what that history gives us is an opportunity to look back at a vision and what happened to it. And where do we want to go in this country? Do we really want to be so divided along these lines? And, more importantly, do we black people and other poor people want to be equal?
“Or do we want to have the right to beat up Rodney King? Or do we want to be Colin Powell, killing 400,000 people in Iraq in the name of oil interests and, specifically, George Bush’s oil interests?
“Is that who we really want to be?
“Do we want to have the World Bank own the entire continent of Africa?
— snip —
“Do we really want to oppress the entire world?
— snip —
(c. 1:06:19) “And, so, we have to get back to a vision of who we really are. And that, I think, is in memory of what Black History Month ought to do for us—and not let us get side-tracked onto these special cases of these entertaining negroes, which is what I call them, because they really don’t have any other role to play. The same role, that slaves had many, many years ago, which was to entertain.”
(c. 1:06:40) “And, so, in closing, I will say this
— snip —
(c. 1:07:42) Q&A
A young white guy asked about an education reform issue. Elaine Brown reminded the young man that the American educational system was never designed for liberal education, but simply to train workers, to teach them how to more effectively recognize the 8 o’clock bell and the 5 o’clock bell. Admittedly, she ran roughshod all over his question, bringing up everyone from Che Guevara to the Battle of Seattle to Rodney King. The young man followed along patiently. Then, she did come back round to his question, in earnest, but tried to convey the complexity of the question.
“Yes, education should be free.” If only Elaine Brown knew about MMT.
“All teachers should have starting salary of $100,000 right now.” Audience applauded.
Then, Elaine Brown cited Jonathan Kozol, a “personal friend” of hers with a healthy critique of liberal illusions and divisive politics, which turn blacks against Hispanics. She cited the they’re-taking-our-jobs trope parroted by some blacks, when we haven’t had any jobs in the black community since 1973, she quipped.
“So, I don’t have the answer. But I’m telling you that your commitment will deliver the answer to you.”
The young white guy felt unsatisfied, so he proceeded to ask another question about higher education. Elaine Brown interjected that early childhood education and elementary education was more important a priority because poor children are being woefully deprived. She said it’s all about funding. “I don’t know where you’re gonna get the money,” she lamented. Again, if only she and the young white man and Jonathan Kozol, while we’re at it, if only more people knew about MMT. We wouldn’t be asking the question about where do we get the money. Of course, if we’re not careful, without a strong political base ready to mobilize on the unraveling of the MMT secret, the state will simply appropriate the reality of MMT for its own unaccountable agenda to the detriment of the people.
(c. 1:15:42) The next interlocutor, a black guy with dreads asked about reparations, but expressed skepticism about the possibility of reparations in America. Brown agreed that reparations will never come from the benevolence of white America, but insisted they’re required. In passing, Brown sharply condemned the South African Truth & Reconciliation hearings in South Africa, rebuking them for putting Winnie Mandela on trial. “They should have been ashamed.”
But the U.S. hasn’t even had any Truth and Reconciliation hearings at all. “The Germans, at least, acknowledged a crime existed.”
— snip —
“There’s plenty of money for reparations.”
— snip —
“But I think black people have to force this issue.”
— snip —
Elaine Brown comes to the same conclusion as Malcom X, Frantz Fanon, et al. and other survivors of narcissistic abuse: You don’t turn to your abuser for understanding, sympathy, or justice. You carefully and safely, walk away and leave. But when it’s in your own home, in your own country, in your own nation. The abused must seek legal justice from an outside, neutral third-party, i.e., an international court of justice.
(c. 1:20:59) “Why we are still looking for justice in the courts of America is always shocking to me. It’s like: Is there any clue here that the courts are not operating in your favor. They’ve dismantled every single thing, that served our interest. It’s so dire.
— snip —
(c. 1:24:35) Next question from the audience, a young white woman, who was shown in the audience during the talk, looking overwhelmed. She asked, how do we deal with all of the divergent single-issue movements and identity politics without diluting our own cause? Elaine Brown’s answer is honest. It takes a lot of hard work, finding like-minded individuals, and then building an organization. It’s not fun. And it often has few rewards. But it’s how the Black Panther Party was started, by just a handful of individuals.
Elaine Brown went on to remind the audience about the political prisoners, still languishing in jail today, such as Mumia Abu Jamal and Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald. I would also add David Gilbert among many others. These upright Americans are languishing in prison simply for engaging in activism, like we teach our kids to do in civics class, like the young white woman in the audience was asking for advice to do, to follow in the footsteps of the many upright Americans of the 1960s and ’70s, perhaps.
— snip —
[end of notes/transcription; see video link above for the full remarks by Elaine Brown on UCTV…]
[1 JAN 2020]
[Last modified on 1 JAN 2020 at 11:03 PST]