by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington
“Our point of departure is to serve the people wholeheartedly and never for a moment divorce ourselves from the masses, to proceed in all cases from the interests of the people.” – Mao Tze Tung, “On Coalition Government”
Revolutionary greetings, Comrades!
I am responding to an article penned by Comrade Michael Novick which appeared in the January-March 2018 edition of Turning the Tide (Vol. 30 No. 1). Michael’s article was entitled “Self-Criticism: Regarding My Relationship with TACO and the Black Riders Liberation Party.”
In Comrade Michael’s article, he referenced a statement released by the NABPP-PC concerning TACO and the BRLP. For the record, I can state that I am intimately familiar with all of the circumstances which led to the NABPP-PC statement. Self-criticism and criticism are integral parts of revolutionary practice. We revolutionaries engage in this practice in order to address problems and to resolve contradictions that expose themselves while we are engaged in this protracted struggle against imperialism and white supremacy.
Comrade Michael states in his article that he is not a Maoist. In fact, I am a Socialist and I also spend a huge portion of my time studying Marxism and Anarchism. Many of my close friends and comrades are Maoists, Anarchists, Marxists and, most importantly to me, Abolitionists! Prison abolitionists to be exact. Now allow me to give you a little history on our party.
The New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter was founded in April 2005 as a pre-vanguard organization that pushes the “Theory of Revolutionary Intercommunalism” and “Science of Revolution,” as theorized and practiced by Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties around the world. Our co-founders are Kevin “Rashid” Johnson and Shaka Sankofa Zulu.
Our job and mission as Black Panthers fall under two categories:
To situate the original Black Panther Party as an aggressive proletarian organization committed to the ultimate remedy of revolution as the solution to the immiseration of New Afrikan (Black) people everywhere. Our co-founders and respected elder and mentor Tom Big Warrior felt this party was necessary to create because the original BPP was being subjected to the revisionist’s knife by petty bourgeois intellectuals who wanted to portray the party as reformist, with a social democrat bent; we reject that history. That was our first mission and that ideological struggle against the party’s detractors remains alive and kicking.
To engage and mobilize the energy of those in the lumpen-proletariat class who are fed up with existing on the margins of the nationalist capitalist economy and who have encountered mass incarceration as an instrument of counter-insurgency as a result. The drug dealers, pimps and gangsters who prey on the people have found themselves struggling with a whole new reality when confronted with the viciousness of mass incarceration, which has posed several problems that necessitate immediate solutions.
Self-criticism and criticism are integral parts of revolutionary practice. We revolutionaries engage in this practice in order to address problems and to resolve contradictions that expose themselves while we are engaged in this protracted struggle against imperialism and white supremacy.
Why was I given 50 years for a petty coat robbery; why was I placed in solitary confinement torture chambers for refusing to work; why does it seem as if the police, prosecutor, public defender and judge are working in cahoots to jail my Black body?!
We the NABPP-PC are not advancing a non-materialist view here when we say that the New Afrikan youth’s first thought of “something here is wrong” starts right there in kindergarten, when the filthy, gun-slinging pig places plastic handcuffs on her for “talking back.” The encounter between the New Afrikan youth and the enemy pig consists of state repression and state oppression of a despised people who continue to be the floor-mat for the ruling capitalist class to walk on!
Most of these words are those of our Chairman Shaka Zulu who is currently in the transition stage from slave pen to free society. Eventually, our goal is to see our party constituted as a free-world political party that can provide an alternative to the current corrupt imperialist two-party system in Amerika.
The NABPP-PC is an above-ground, legal movement. We do not advocate or support any illegal activities. Our party stands for the liberation of Black people and all oppressed people everywhere!
Enter the Black Riders
Now that I have given you a little background and insight into the political philosophy of the NABPP-PC, allow me to state for the record that from a revolutionary’s standpoint, I love General TACO and I love the Black Riders Liberation Party.
However, in “Black Skin, White Masks,” Fanon said: “Today I believe in the possibility of love; that is why I endeavor to trace its imperfections, its perversions.”
Comrades, what happens when an individual you love and an organization you love begin to engage in actions and behaviors you despise or even hate? What happens when you refuse to acknowledge those mistakes and you remain silent?
Well, obviously a contradiction arises!
I was appointed to the position of deputy chairman by the Central Committee of the NABPP-PC, and when the information about General TACO surfaced, I was privy to all information as well as all of the recommendations made by the African People’s Liberation Tribunal which was initiated by the Committee to look into the matter. The members of the Tribunal and the Committee were made up of the respected elders and veterans of the Black Liberation Movement; their credentials were and are impeccable.
It’s been a couple years since I first saw the allegations against TACO and the BRLP. There were intense intra-party conversations pertaining to this subject. I am not at liberty to reveal the contents of those conversations, but I can reveal my thoughts and input.
When I first reviewed the documents, which included TACO’s response to the allegations of commandism and inappropriate behavior, I scoffed at them, thinking to myself and sharing with my comrades that this was an FBI COINTELPRO move to attack one of our “shining stars” in the revolutionary Black Liberation Movement.
[Editor’s note: As explained by Mao Tze Tung, “Commandism is wrong in any type of work, because in overstepping the level of political consciousness of the masses and violating the principle of voluntary mass action, it reflects the disease of impetuosity. Our comrades must not assume that everything they themselves understand is understood by the masses.”]
What happens when an individual you love and an organization you love begin to engage in actions and behaviors you despise or even hate? What happens when you refuse to acknowledge those mistakes and you remain silent? Well, obviously a contradiction arises!
You should know that to many of us prison Panthers and politicized freedom fighters, General TACO had become our hero. For real! But it gets deeper than that. The BRLP for self-defense does real work in the hood. They love New Afrikan people!
When Black and Brown people needed clean water to drink in Flint, Michigan, the Black Riders were there. When Hurricane Harvey hit the city of Houston, Texas, and devastated neighborhoods and communities of color, the Black Riders teamed up with the National Black United Front in order to provide survival supplies to the people.
When Comrade Michael first told me a couple months ago that he was planning to embark on this self-criticism path, I backed him 100 percent. It hurts, you know? However, a lot was happening in regards to my education as an activist and human being and Michael had the courage to do that which I did not.
Sisters and brothers, the NABPP-PC does not promote, condone, or sanction commandism, patriarchy, male chauvinism, misogynistic behavior or actions, and we damn sure don’t condone the sexual abuse or assault of our fellow sisters in the struggle: hell no!
I want y’all to think about something for a minute: If I will confront the president of the United States in regards to his bigoted and sexist behavior and remarks, do you think I am going to allow TACO to “make it”?
I can’t tell the Black Riders what to do, but I can offer a few suggestions in reference towards a program of restorative justice and accountability. I don’t know about you, but I believe we need the Black Riders Liberation Party to survive this.
The NABPP-PC does not promote, condone, or sanction commandism, patriarchy, male chauvinism, misogynistic behavior or actions, and we damn sure don’t condone the sexual abuse or assault of our fellow sisters in the struggle: hell no!
Restoration and accountability
Comrades, in the fall semester of 2017 a fairly well-known LGBTQ activist, scholar, freedom fighter and abolitionist professor named Dean Spade reached out to me and asked me would I be interested in participating in a course he was teaching entitled “Policing, Imprisonment and Justice.” His teacher’s assistant Danny sent me the syllabus and Professor Spade purchased all the required textbooks and sent me all the required reading and more!
A key topic in our class was violence against Black women and women of color. I was introduced to a who’s who of Black feminist scholars, activists and survivors. I was introduced to transgender folks who are confronted by abuse daily. But most importantly, I was taught about methods and programs which can be used to heal the victims of abuse and violence and also the abuser.
In retrospect, especially after finishing this course taught by Professor Spade, I firmly believe that the African People’s Liberation Tribunal was trying to give TACO and the Black Riders the opportunity to engage in something called “transformative justice and community accountability.”
Sister Mariame Kaba of Project NIA says that the goals of transformative justice are:
- Safety, healing and agency for survivors
- Accountability and transformation for people who harm
- Community action, healing and accountability
- Transformation of the social conditions that perpetuate violence – systems of oppression and exploitation, domination and state violence
During the college course, I learned that community accountability is not just a reaction we have when someone behaves violently; it is also a pro-active, ongoing thing negotiated among everyone in the community.
You see, sisters and brothers, we the members of the NABPP-PC are fallible; we make mistakes in our analysis of conditions sometimes, but we are not afraid of facing our critics or admitting wrong and fixing these mistakes.
I am positive that our Minister of Defense Rashid as well as our Chairman Shaka Zulu will weigh in on this topic. I am going to end my statement with some words concerning accountability spoken directly toward TACO:
Comrade TACO, I have been one of your most avid supporters within my organization. But I can no longer associate with you or remain silent. I am asking that you embrace accountability for the good of the Black Riders.
To me, accountability means being responsible to myself for my choices and for the consequences of my choices. For me, accountability is an internal skill, not an external process. TACO, nobody can force you to be accountable. And lastly, I will tell you that accountability is a rigorous and difficult process.
May Allah (SWT) direct your path and may Allah (SWT) protect all the Black Riders from the shaitan and the snares of this corrupt-ass white supremacist in the White House! I could say more but I’ll end there.
Dare to struggle; dare to WIN! All power to the people!
Keith “Malik” Washington is a human rights activist currently incarcerated in Texas. He is a co-founder and chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement. Malik is a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) and he is the Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter. Malik has been instrumental in calling for the abolition of legalized slavery in Amerika and he is very active in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign. You can view his work at comrademalik.com or write him directly at: Keith ‘Comrade Malik’ Washington, 1487958, Eastham Unit, 2665 Prison Road 1, Lovelady, TX 75851.