Revolution #273, June 24, 2012
Scenes from BA Everywhere
Week of June 17
"Scenes from BA Everywhere" is a regular feature that gives our readers an ongoing picture of this multifaceted campaign, and the variety of ways that funds are being raised and the whole BA vision and framework is being brought into all corners of society. Revolution newspaper is at the hub of the BA Everywhere effort—publishing reports from those taking up the campaign. Revolution plays a pivotal role in building an organized network of people across the country coming together to make BA a household word. We urge our readers to send in timely correspondence on what you are doing as part of this campaign—send your reports and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LA Grads Confront the Future for Youth
It's June and graduations are everywhere—caps and gowns, balloons, ecstatic families, crying grads. And looming over it all like a dark shadow is The Future—what is the world students are entering into, what promise does it have, and what meaning are their lives going to have? At one inner-city high school in Los Angeles, where less than half the students who started there as ninth graders make it to graduation, and this year's graduation included memorials for two classmates who died during the school year, graduating seniors got the opportunity to do something meaningful at their graduation and they eagerly took it. As students sat in their seats on the stadium floor and then walked up to have their name announced and picture taken with the principal, nearly 50 of them, about a fifth of the graduating class, wore a small orange-colored button on their blue gowns. From a distance all you could see was a button. But up close and in person, you could clearly read the "No more generations..." quote and "Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, BAsics 1:13."
A Cultural Celebration to Raise Money for the BAsics Bus Tour
Excerpts from a snapshot from Revolution distributors:
On June 7 as people walked in the door at the Grog Shop, a club in Cleveland Heights, you could hear the smooth and deep sounds of Art Blakey II on the electric guitar, along with a bass guitar and percussion. Then Al Porter, vice president of Black on Black Crime Inc., a Black community organization, and founder of the Hip Hop Workshop, opened the program with "This is not a party, this is an event!!" He said this event should be a life-changing experience because we are raising money to spread BA's revolution throughout society. Holding up BAsics, he twice read "You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics," and then read "An Invitation" by Bob Avakian dramatically and with conviction to set a wonderful tone for the benefit.
Rapper R the Czar challenged the street life and did a shout out to Bob Avakian. Reggae artist Ras Gato opened with a strong beat, denounced the rape of young women in Liberia, then jumped into "Stand up for your rights, Don't give up the fight." Rapper David Flynn exposed how schools close in the neighborhood then three prisons pop up. Solo Poet read BAsics 1:13 with such emphasis that everyone took note, and did a powerful riff on her djembe (African drum).
Art Blakey II read BAsics 1:16 and exposed how Trayvon Martin has been demonized. Rapper D. Gambit called for people to be part of the BA Everywhere campaign based on "the science from Brother Bob Avakian." Spoken word artist Suave Goddi ended his rap with, "Revolution is mental and BA and BAsics are in the air tonight."
Bill Arthrell read a poem for the event that ended with "This America—/The bones of Cochise,/The Navajo/Are roads now—/Interstates delivering/Oil—/The Oil/It takes to drill for More Oil./Endless Cycle of Avarice—That America,/The Dead America—The Glory of the Constitution,/The Grandeur of the Declaration—/The America that Isn't,/The America that Never Was." Shocka ran a riff with his guitar that began, "Bob Avakian started out with a dream, he is a dreamer and then look where we are now...." Al Porter did his update of Gil Scott Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" with "The Revolution Will Not Be Webcast."
The audience was riveted by video clips of Bob Avakian speaking in 1969, 1979, and 2003 and audio of him singing "Across the Borderline" accompanied by Outernational.
EMaxx did some uplifting R&B, and in referring to video clips of BA said, "That was the finest thing I ever seen." Timothy Cox sang and played guitar. Comedian and rapper Ronnie B shouted out "Windows of Pain" which hit hard on the issue of mass incarceration. Ukulele Man played those strings hard with lyrics about the oppressed and working people. The event ended with Art Blakey II and his "Soundstage" playing an original composition. He then invited the other performers to join in to belt out "Everyday People" and "Stand" from Sly and the Family Stone.
$429 was collected in ticket sales and donations. People were inspired that so many diverse genres and musicians came together to support the movement for revolution and the BAsics Bus Tour. BA awakened something deep inside them. One of the performers summed up the evening this way:" It was amazing, enjoyable, got a good feel of a movement there. There was a unity behind BAsics and I could feel that unity with the performers and how the audience responded."
BAsics 1:13 at an Urban High School
Friday was our second appearance at a large urban high school of mainly low income Latino and Black students. Last week we had a banner with BA's 1:13 quote laid on the ground where students couldn't miss it. A number stopped and signed it. We then took photos and sent them to the Bus Tour website. It is one of the banners that became incorporated into the collage of signature banners from across the country, so we were excited about letting the kids see what they had helped to accomplish.
We enlarged a copy of the banner collage to 20x30 poster size and attached it to an easel and set it up on the same corner we had been at last week. It was quite a draw. In the few minutes, we were able to get out a significant number of the 1:13 quote palm cards.
I tried to apply what I had learned by watching the video (on basicsbustour.tumblr.com) of Sunsara Taylor getting into the 1:13 quote. One young woman I'll call Abby took a palm card and when asked to reflect on the opening line—"No more generations...," she was quiet. "Was it true that it's not just her generation but also previous generations?" I asked. "Yes." She said her grandmother had spoken to her of her own experiences growing up in a racist society, but had said they didn't have to deal with the violence between the youth that Abby's generation is dealing with. I asked her what she thought the reason was for the difference. She thought for a while but said she didn't know. I tried to describe that it wasn't a problem of individuals but of the system creating a situation that fostered divisions between youth as well as the fear the system has of youth joining together, especially Black and Latino and other oppressed youth, to fight for a radically different future. That is what the real revolution is about, and people like her who want change need to know about it and spread the word about the possibilities and the leader who wrote that quote and who could lead such a revolution.
She listened but I didn't really draw her out, so I urged her to step closer to the poster collage and notice all the different cities and people coming together and signing banners to send to the BAsics Bus Tour. Chicago-Cleveland-Hawaii-LA-Atlanta... Her face brightened and she said, "Give me some of those cards. I can pass them out. I see a lot of people on the way to and from the bus every day."
I said, "What happened? What made a difference?" She said, "I knew about Trayvon but I didn't know anyone cared or was doing anything about it. Seeing all of these people signing their names made me think what you all are doing is a really good thing." I said that her stopping to think and talk about the quote and then taking them out to others was a really good thing. Just like the quote had made her think, it could affect others as well.
Seattle Take Back the Night
Revolution Books was recently invited to speak and table at a brave and powerful Take Back the Night event at Seattle Central Community College. It was hosted by the Gender Equality in Media and Society student group and included a speak-out with personal testimony by survivors, performances of poetry and music, and a candle light march to stop rape and violence against women. This was an important opportunity to spread the national initiative to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women, and that we did, reading the Call to Action and women taking up a beautiful banner with the main slogan during the march. It was also an important opportunity to spread BA Everywhere, particularly through BAsics 1:13. A staff person from Revolution Books read that quote along with BAsics 1:10 "...there is, on top of this, for those children who are born female, the horror of everything that this will bring simply because they are female in a world of male domination..." Bob Avakian's poetic spirit and internationalism resonated deeply with the participants, many of whom were international students from Asia, Africa and other parts of the world. After sharing and hearing personal testimony about rape, degradation and the shame that is put on people in relation to these crimes, BA's stand of accepting "NO MORE generations of our youth..." took on even greater meaning in relation to girls and young women around the world and the future we must fight for. The reading was met with nods, enthusiastic applause and some cheers. Students got palm cards and some of them carried posters of BAsics 1:13 during the march and asked if they could keep them afterwards.
A Conversation About BAsics 1:13: "I am a youth and I have a voice"
A reporter for Revolution talked to two young high school women who had been very bold on the bullhorn at a downtown intersection and were best friends. The reporter wanted to know what they thought of the "No more generations" quote which they had read together, out loud, a couple of times on the bullhorn. Here's what they said.
A: I feel that since the system has put us in such a lower community—like they purposely moved crack into our communities and then they have cocaine charges that are less than crack cases. People get off for cocaine. The 1 percent does this. They're putting us in these situations. Everyone gets high off crack and shoots each other. These horrible things, the injustices that are being legalized in our communities.
N: It's different things though. It is also a part of our communities. But there is also just too much crime, all kinds of crime. There is more violence than there is peace. As a youth, that's not a good feeling to hear about young people our age dying, your friends dying. In the past two to three years I done lost about eight friends.
A: To gunshots.
N: To violence, to street violence, to ignorance.
A: We are in an oppressive society, like so many different types of oppression. It's like institutionalized. We're put in places to where we are forced into these things. Drug wars, stuff like that go on. Gang wars. Things like that. What we're taught...prostitution.
N: And being young ladies, there's prostitution. Prostitution is so high up there. The girls keep getting younger and younger. I have a little sister, that's my sister over there.
Reporter: Yeah. It's horrible. How do you see this coming from the system?
N: I feel like the system protects it, cause they allow it and they're getting money off of it.
A: Keep their body, take their soul.
N: They (the system) bring em to the jails, and every time they book somebody for prostituting they're getting money off of it. I feel like it's a give-and-take thing, you feelin me? Like they're getting money off of the girls going to jail, and the streets are getting money for the girls prostituting.
A: And the undercovers really be trying to rape those females. Some cops are sick like that.
N: I know a girl who was on the track and she got raped by a police officer. And she never told because nobody would believe her. Who would believe her?
Reporter: And how do you see what BA was saying, about NO MORE generations of our youth, whose life is over...
A: Whose fate has been sealed!
The reporter asked A why she stepped forward and got on the bullhorn today and how she felt about it.
A: I feel that recently I have started liberating myself. Like I've been looking at politics, really thinking about stuff. Like things that I see on TV—growing up I'm made to believe those things like "communism is bad," and what not. You know, like not really looking into everything. Thinking that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. Bullshit. (Sorry about my language but BULLSHIT.) He really didn't. I swear that I look deeper into things now. Now that I analyze the world more I feel that I should step up and be a leader cause I understand and some of these people really don't understand, they're still oppressed by society. And the 1 percent of this world that own and rule everything. You know? Some things do come out more when you liberate yourself, and I feel that liberation is power, like I actually feel like I have power today. I feel like a leader. I stepped up for my community and I'm 15. I feel so powerful like now like I am a youth and I have a voice. Growing up I feel like the youth weren't supposed to speak out. Youth are actually speaking out today and I feel like that is a great thing, the sun is shining, it's a beautiful day, we are downtown and we are bringing in others to listen to our voices. Don't be afraid, start liberating yourselves.
N: If you don't speak you will never be heard.
Afterward, A. collected money for the Bus Tour, asking for donations for Skittles.
At the Gay Pride Festival, Hawaii
It was a gorgeous day and a team from Revolution Books in Honolulu set up a booth at the June 4 Gay Pride Festival at a local beach park. The Pride Parade had just ended, and the atmosphere was festive. Most of the people with booths were selling clothing, jewelry, and health products. A few promoted political candidates and some represented LGBT organizations. Our tent was decorated with red stars and mobiles with the cover of BAsics, from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian mounted on silver posterboard that caught the sun as they turned. We brought a banner BAsics 1:13, the "No more generations..." quote from the book, and laid it down inside the booth and displayed copies of BAsics next to it. People were immediately drawn to the banner, in the pictures above. We've had tables at Pride events in the past, but this was the best ever!
A young guy passing by the booth with his friends did a double-take and then enthusiastically told his friends: "Hey, I just signed a banner with that same quote at Revolution Books in Berkeley. This is awesome!"
A woman and her daughter who were visiting from Iowa asked what it was about and when we showed her information about the BAsics Bus Tour they excitedly asked whether it might come to her city. "We sure need something like that coming through. We live in a college town, but it's become so conservative that we're getting stifled. This sounds like just what we need."
A woman who was into an animated conversation with her friends stopped in her tracks. "No way! Revolution Books in Honolulu? I go to Revolution Books where I live all the time." She encouraged her friends to check us out.
A couple in the military picked up BAsics and read a couple of excerpts. We got into how any of the excerpts could be used to dig into what's happening in the world and why. We pointed to BAsics 5:7, "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives," and why it was so necessary to dig into it. She agreed and pulled out $10 and bought the book.
People were especially excited to hear that the bus tour went to Sanford, Florida. Almost everyone we spoke with had heard about Trayvon Martin. These were people who could envision what it would be like to go boldly into a community that's polarized and where feelings are really heated. They were surprised and had respect. "Wow, getting out of San Francisco and New York and talking about communism in small towns must really be scary—but that's what we all need to do. Be bold!"
Dozens of people signed the banner. Six copies of BAsics were sold and many more picked up materials and said they'd go to the Bus Tour website. A lot of young people talked about their frustration around not being able to talk about anything that really matters with most of their friends and how political discussion was so often ruled "out of bounds." They welcomed political discussion, even when they didn't agree. New connections were made and e-mail addresses were exchanged.
We left with our banner smash-full of names and feeling energized by all of the great conversations we'd had and with certainty that we'd see some of these new contacts soon. Sure enough, a young woman we met at the festival visited the bookstore the following day.
Uptown Stoop Sale
A very successful stoop sale held near the public housing projects raised $143 to pay for thousands of palm cards featuring the BAsics 1:13 quote to spread everywhere. A lot of the items, clothes for adults and children, used kitchenware, books etc. were donated by people from the projects who support the movement for revolution. A dynamic scene developed around the table. One older sister from the projects came by announcing as she arrived, "I'm here." She sat down with another person and they read aloud the Revolution newspaper article "The Trayvon Martin murder, The crime and the context" and discussed it. One brother we know who came by to help got involved in some lively and friendly debate about religion with a Latina woman who came by to purchase clothes. A significant number of people we know came by to support the sale; to say hello, or to buy something, or to offer their thinking about how we can raise more money and reach more people. We decided to do another stoop sale in two weeks that involves more people from every angle.
Houston Free Press Summerfest
A group of us had a booth at the Houston Free Press Summerfest, an annual music festival of diverse genres, this year featuring Willie Nelson, the Flaming Lips, and Snoop Dogg. This festival draws a lot of youth, many of them from the suburbs. Lots of people engaged the "No more generations..." quote banner, raised all kinds of questions about communism and BA, and many were surprised to find out that this communism was not what they thought it was. People signed the banner with comments such as "No Justice, No Peace," "Time for Change," "End Oppression" and "Keep the bus rolling!" We also took this banner to the county jail, where people were visiting their imprisoned loved ones, and to a housing project, where one young woman who had seen us at the jail signed the banner and took pictures of it to send to her incarcerated boyfriend.
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