June 7, 2007 - Issue 232
Keeping It Real
Terrorism's Hidden Meaning For Black America
By Larry Pinkney
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. Terrorism also 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 surrogates.
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.
BC Columnist 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.