Revolution #213, September 27, 2010

African American Day Parade

Saturday—Route of the African American Day Parade

Three of us went out the image poster, image card, and new Message and Call broadsheet along the parade route in preparation for the African American Day Parade the next day. We got 33 posters up in businesses; got up 500 palm cards on phone booths, light poles, any place we could find a crack to stick one in; and sold 13 English and 1 Spanish of issue #211 for $13. We distributed about 400 broadsheets, about 150 of which went into stores and restaurants.

The engagements with people over the issue of this Tea Party phenomenon were very interesting. One man spoke with us about how he thought that Obama was trying to do some things for the people (jobs…) but these people just won't let him. The thing that really struck him was when we got into the pyramid analysis and how the Democratic Party is also a ruling class party and not simply weak or spineless, and its program is dangerous—getting people caught in the election trap—politically paralyzed while fascist forces are building a political movement. He had not looked at the Democrats/Obama as doing great harm before. He was moved by the description of the times and took 100 broadsheets and a copy of the paper. (We saw him Sunday and he had gotten out all the broadsheets. He said that he told people about the system and people listened to him.)

At another scene in a Jamaican restaurant the owner decided to put up the poster amid debate over whether or not it was really possible to do anything about the horrors this system brings down on the people that are described in the slide show. Who is Bob Avakian? What is this plan? "These people (the Tea Party) are crazy!" Not that people thought they are harmless but truly agonizing over the insanity. One guy commented, "I don't understand why they hate Obama so much he's trying to be nice to them." (The pyramid framework has been an eye opener for those we've talked to. We have had people listen intently as we lay out what explains why the Democrats act as the do and what the Tea Party represents, and often time people do buy the paper.) The majority opinion of those we spoke with was that Obama is trying to change some things and these people are opposing him in doing this. We sold four papers in this restaurant to the owner and three customers.

We ran across several people who knew our movement. "I have a lot of respect for what y'all do." A 40 something black guy said as he bought the paper. He said he has been watching us for a long time.


Sunday—African American Day Parade

The African American Day parade seemed smaller this year but there were still many thousands of people on the street. We were confronted with the contradictions that come with working a parade: competition with the spectacle in the street, the music, people being in a festive mood. We had difficulty breaking through. Better visuals could have helped.

We were a little surprised to find that the Tea Party and the rise of this fascist movement was not clearly on the radar of most people we met. While many of the people we talked to expressed their out rage about what is going, the festive atmosphere, combined with confusion, and just not paying attention to what's happening, many people were unwilling to engage.

We expected there to be more stirring about the Tea Party in this section of the masses. Sunday revealed that there is quite a bit of ignorance while some are very upset.

There were people who understood something about what the Tea Party is, like the woman who said, "What we need is a revolution against this damn Tea Party!" She was like the many people who tended to see this question through the lens of being an attack against the Black president who is "trying to do some things (for the people) but these people won't let him…" There were others like the man who said, "The Tea Party is out there but Obama don't want to fight back." This confused him. This kind of sentiment came from most of those we spoke with who had an opinion.

Some people were offended that we would go after the Democrats and had a very hard time trying break out of the "election trap" logic. Others were much more willing to listen to what we had to say about the movement for revolution and a communist alternative to the programs of the Republicans and Democrats and this system.

The broad sentiment was a kind of lack of awareness that ran from people not having heard of the Tea Party at all, to most people who did know something of it having only scattered knowledge. and not recognizing that this it is a threat or the nature of it and a few who understood it by the terms mentioned above. Among those who had heard of them and knew "something" we tended to start telling people some of the features of this movement as in the first part of the article "Revolution is NOT a Tea Party!" You could see people's faces change with a kind of dawning recognition. Some of the better people argued that the masses are too distracted or bought off to get with the revolution.

There were a few people getting angry when we'd talk about the role of Obama. "You can't say that! Every time he'd trying to do something everybody's attacking him." Some of our best "lighting up the sky" happened when we concentrated our people on a corner toward the end of the day as people were leaving. We were able to get up on the milk crate and be heard with some agitation. We had a few moments when we were getting to some people and bringing forward some more advanced sentiment or at least waking some folks up. One Black woman responded sharply to agitation about communism arguing that no "white girl could come up to Harlem and tell us about our youth." This led to a scene of debate and struggle over the state of things in the world today and what it will take to put an end to all this. Another backward person kind of attached herself to us and tried to convince people not to listen. But there were spots when we did have people linger on the corner to listen and talk.

To restate the point, it seems that the level of political understanding and even recognition among these masses of the emerging fascist movement, is quite low. And those who do have some understand are looking to the democrats, even when they don't want to, and feel deeply frustrated.

The parade itself had a huge Democratic Party influence, people campaigning for office, The Freedom Party, and politicians leading the parade.

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