Revolution #264, April 1, 2012
BA Everywhere from SF Bay Area—a Snapshot
From a reader
Over the last weekend (March 17-18) a crew ventured out to follow up on the recent BAsics Bus Tour by going to outlying areas that the bus had passed by in the North Bay area. We went to two different cities, where the people had experienced massive ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement, formerly known as La Migra) raids. The Saturday foray split into two different crews, one that went to the Latino neighborhood, and the other to the downtown frequented by middle strata people.
Although the Latino neighborhood was a bit deserted, the financially very poor people there contributed money to the bus tour; while in the middle strata area, we sold four BAsics and attracted people with displays featuring BA's quotes. When a couple of Black women were stopped by the display of the "3 Strikes" quote form BA (downloadable from revcom.us), one of them mentioned that she had read Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow... and was very moved by it. She said our display made her "depressed," but still felt it needed to be said. We had been agitating that "people do not have to live this way"; and her eyes had focused especially on the last picture in the display of cops beating down on a young Black man and she said "that could be anywhere, even right here." And when we suggested that although Michelle Alexander's book is an excellent exposure, BA's book points to the solution, she looked into it and pulled out a $10 bill.
Also in this northern California city, by coincidence there was an Occupy General Assembly happening that afternoon. A crew of us went over there and passed out the "Reflections on the Occupy Movement" by BA; and later on one of us returned and was able to speak to these very points (a member of this GA was familiar with some of BA's works, and actually gave up his position in the speakers' line to our crew). When we spoke to the need for radical change as well as fighting the power, and that this required leadership, vertical leadership, and that people should hook up with BA, people applauded and our GA friend ended up donating money for BA Everywhere as well as taking a big stack of newspapers. (One occupier made a mocking gesture when BA's name was raised, but our speaker said we can talk about disagreements we have in a principled way; but BA needs to be checked out if people are serious about what we need to do to get out of this madness by making revolution.)
The second northern California city has been virtually unexplored by revolutionaries for a number of years. This is a city full of immigrants from all over Mexico and Central America, including especially Guatemala and El Salvador. This city also responded in a defiant way against the ICE raids a few years back, in which school principals were closing their gates to agents, churches were opening their doors to those seeking shelter, and volunteers were passing out whistles to alarm neighbors about raids.
On Sunday, we set up next to a huge housing project that contains maybe a hundred or so apartments; and while canvassing, we set up a table with displays on a well-traveled sidewalk corner nearby. Our displays were BA quotes about "why do people come here from all over the world," as well as "No más" ("I say no more of that" in Spanish)...and the photos of Black and Latino youths who had been murdered by police. Also a display about what imperialism does around the world was front and center. (Another team set up in a small strip mall next to a beauty shop ... more on that later.)
The only way I can think of to describe it was like we had lots of water, and here we were in a desert of very thirsty people. People flocked to our table in groups; and although most people spoke only Spanish, the first book sold was to a bilingual youth (from El Salvador). This young man looked at our displays and said "we really DO need to change the world. Things are too intolerable." We asked what he thought was intolerable: the wars (highlighted by the recent mass murder and desecration of an Afghan family), police brutality, war on women, ICE raids? He said, "Everything is intolerable." He added that it's also intolerable that so many people are so caught up in their personal problems that he has a hard time getting others to even care. We suggested he change that by having a BAsics session at his apartment...and so a plan is gelling to have a neighborhood group get together to get BA Everywhere.
Our orientation for the weekend was very important, especially in this neighborhood which was witness to a lot of the horrors of imperialism; but there still was a lot of holding onto the feelings that this cannot change because of human nature (tied to the religion question), and also their lack of knowing BA, and how his leadership can lead to revolution and beyond. AND then what they can do.
The religion question came up when talking to a group of four brothers and another young man from Yucatán who had a six-pack at his side. The man from Yucatán was arguing that you can't change the world because "it's all in god's hands." Another friend however had joked that his god was right there in the six-pack. One of us argued, "There are many religions in the world with many gods, and they all are wrong, and the world really is a horror, made by imperialism!" We added that the world has been changed in the past for the better. We had issue #260 with BA's interview on China's Cultural Revolution and used it to show people what was accomplished in socialism and how humanity can do better via the new synthesis of communism developed by BA; and if we want to change it radically to make a world people would want to live in, we need to get BA's name and work way out there. When one of the brothers asked about what difference BA could make, our friend mentioned what a difference revolutionary communist leadership could have made in Tunisia or Egypt! The four brothers then chipped in to buy the BAsics book together.
Meanwhile back at the strip mall... We had a small table set up next to a beauty salon (with the owner's permission) which had been going a little slow at the beginning. Nevertheless, there was a growing interest as the nearby grocery store clerks were putting copies of the Message and Call in all of the shopping bags, and many copies of Revolution newspaper were being distributed. So at the end of the day, one of our friends waltzed into the beauty shop, and was surprised at the response...she sold two copies of Lo BAsico and a Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) on the spot. The owner who'd given permission had been silently checking us out, liked what we had to say and asked if we'd be back again next weekend. In the area, we also sold a paper and got a $5 donation at a check cashing place, responding to people who asked "what is communism anyway? I don't really know what's going on otherwise to change the world!" They'd never heard of BA, but really had a desire to know.
At the end of the day, there was a feeling of excitement, AND a desire to do better next time as well. What about sound trucks with lots of hoopla, and many more visual displays of both problem and solution? Also what about having video shows at the local community center? There was a real chemistry that had been generated within our crew over the course of the day. Altogether we had sold nine copies of BAsics (six in English, three in Spanish) as well as a Constitution; and we had received numerous donations, including for BA Everywhere!!!
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