In April of 1996, in a published
piece entitled, Double Standards I wrote, "The
point is simple - America must deal with the root causes of terrorism:
racism, injustices, and the suppression of human aspirations
throughout the world, including inside the United States itself.
Ignoring and accommodating these injustices is in itself an act
of terrorism." These words remain accurate and have become
even more relevant in the 21st Century, particularly in the case
of Black Americans and other people of color.
Terrorism is not limited to hijacked airliners
flying into sky scrapers or bombs exploding in civilian areas.
includes enslaving millions of Black people on this continent,
socially and economically crippling their off spring, and then
denying responsibility for the ongoing horrible damage that has
been done, while simultaneously refusing to pay reparations and
hypocritically perpetuating de facto racial inequality in this "land
of the free."
Terrorism also includes committing genocide
against millions of Indigenous Red peoples on this continent,
stealing their lands,
and continuing today to pretend that these actions represented "progress" and/or "civilizing
the natives." Terrorism is invading the sovereign nation
of Mexico, stealing and annexing its land, and the racist audacity
of referring to Mexicans, who enter this land that was a part
of Mexico's sovereign territory (until it was stolen by America),
as "illegal aliens."
No health care or decent paying jobs, inferior or no educational
opportunities, and massive incarceration, represent the very
real state- and corporate-sponsored terrorism being systematically
perpetrated and perpetuated against Black people and other people
of color in America. This economic, social/judicial, and political
war being waged against Black people, by the state and federal
governmental apparatus of the US, is nothing short of terrorism
on a daily basis.
Yes, terrorism must necessarily also include "the suppression
of human aspirations throughout the world including inside the
United States itself." These realities represent terrorism's
hidden meaning for Black Americans in the 21st Century.
The noted Emmy award-winning singer, actor,
and activist, Harry Belafonte, was unflinchingly correct when
in Venezuela some months
ago, he referred to US President George W. Bush as "the
greatest terrorist in the world." However, just as importantly,
we Black Americans know that it makes little difference as to
who occupies the so-called "White" House. The terror
against us to one degree or another is, and has been, constant.
As Malcolm X succinctly put it, we always "catch hell" from
white America. Indeed, the democracy of America toward Black
people continues, in one form or another, to be a democracy of
terror. Thus, the very real need to first understand and then
clearly reject the terrorism that is continually being waged
against us, physically and culturally, by white America and its
Notwithstanding the horrible economic realities that often coerce
young Black men and women to join the US military, the place
for Black people is not on the battle fields of Iraq, Afghanistan,
Iran or in someone else's nation elsewhere in the world. Our
place is here in America, where we must face and struggle against
what is probably one of the most insidious 21st century forms
of economic and social apartheid anywhere in the world today.
To paraphrase the words of Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr., "Violence
is the voice of the unheard." White America and the US Government
know this and have always known this. The injustices of hunger,
economic exploitation, and racial and cultural domination are
all forms of the systemic terrorism practiced by white America
both internally and externally. The response to that terrorism
is of course more terrorism, which in turn allegedly provides
America and its institutions with the excuse for waging war internally
and internationally. As all bullies and/or dictators know, perpetual
war means putting into motion and reinforcing the cycle of perpetual
terrorism; and in reality, war - waged even by a nation-state
- is nothing more than organized terrorism sanctioned by a nation.
It must never be taken lightly.
Principled, politically conscious Black people in America are
in an especially unique position, along with other people of
color, to help expose and break this cycle of perpetual war and
terrorism, on which we are and for so long have been, on the
receiving end. Terrorism's hidden meaning for Black people must
compel us to do all that we can to expose and break the cycle.
This must be a conscious choice and action on our part, even
as we remain steadfast in our efforts to keep it real by staying
true to the struggle.
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. Click
here to contact Mr. Pinkney.