Revolution #276, July 29, 2012
Scenes from BA Everywhere
Week of July 23
"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.
BAsics Bus Tour New York Street Scene
From a Volunteer on the BAsics Bus Tour
July 19, 2012
Today was an important day on the BAsics Bus Tour. We met all kinds of interesting people that were examining what BA was talking about. My comrade and I talked to one lady who had a lot of anger towards the people for killing each other and for doing what the masses do to each other on a daily basis. We struggled with this lady for quite a while. At least we put some questions in this woman's mind. After we were finished discussing the situation that Blacks find themselves in, we moved on to speak with another lady who was interested in what we were doing. We told her that Carl Dix, one of the founders of the Revolutionary Communist Party, was speaking out on this block at 6 pm. So we built the day up and in the neighborhood for Carl's speech.
We had street theater where we put forward a show to stop stop-and-frisk. One comrade had on a big red pig nose and a big fake badge that said "Special Police" and a police hat, so it was obvious he wasn't a real pig. He called to me and said, "There was a crime in the neighborhood. You Black guys all look suspicious. I know you guys smoke weed." I said, "I didn't do anything." He told me to spread my legs and started frisking me. Then I was slammed on the ground. This same woman that we talked to earlier came up. The comrade playing the pig had his back over me, so she couldn't see the red nose or the fake police badge. She couldn't bear to witness this injustice and was going to jump in to stop this cop from manhandling me. She was outraged by this stop-and-frisk maneuver. She yelled out with rage, "What the fxxx is this? Who is this mxxxxxfxxxxx?" Another comrade told her, "It's street theater," and she seemed relieved. At the same time, the police tried their best to intimidate the people in the community by posting up in their cars on all sides of the revolutionaries.
After our skit, our crew was chanting, "NO to Stop and Frisk!" "No More Generations of Our Youth," and "No Pipeline to Mass Incarceration."
Then I met a lady and her daughter and they were interested in Carl Dix speaking. I just remember the daughter asking me who was on my shirt? I told her it was Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and this is what Carl Dix was going to be talking about.
We came up with a new chant:
Brothers getting stopped and frisked, WE SAY NO MORE!
Sisters getting raped and dissed, WE SAY NO MORE!
Stop the pigs from killing youth, WE SAY NO MORE!
Exploitation around the world, WE SAY NO MORE!
Responses to the July BAsics Quotes
The following are some of the responses from people in one area to the two quotes from BAsics that are a focus in July: "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives" (5:7) and "Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First" (5:8).
Middle-aged unemployed Mexican immigrant worker whose son was murdered by police:
"Even though some Americans think they themselves are superior and treat people in other countries, including immigrants, as second-class people, that's wrong. Because America oppresses other countries, people there have no way to survive except to come here to find jobs. I think everyone's life is precious and everybody should be equal, and there should not be someone's life being more important than others'... In Mexico, the country where I came from, people have no work in the fields and they're forced to go to the cities. But they cannot find jobs in the cities. That's why they risk their lives to cross the borders. I fully agree that the whole world should come first—that's a very good orientation. Only 1% of the American people are rich and they control everything, even other countries. I used to have dreams when I first came here, but after my son was killed, I've lost my dreams... Revolution here? Yes...but there needs to be revolution in Mexico, too."
Black man in his 50s at a meeting in the 'hood about BAsics Bus Tour:
"It's really wrong for the U.S. to oppress other countries for the sake of making money. It's really wrong for the U.S. to wage wars to dominate other countries. They do air strikes and kill people. U.S. rulers are the real terrorists!"
Black woman in her 40s:
"People need jobs but the government has not provided that. Instead, wars and wars have been waged on other countries. We need to do something—we need revolution. But we cannot let leaders get killed like what happened to Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and MLK."
Black woman in her 30s:
"I absolutely agree with these quotes. I'm against 'my country first' mentality. It's a class and social problem we are dealing with. Some people would say that their class is first and their country comes first, but poor people have nothing and so they have nothing to say about being first or better. For poor people, yes, the whole world should come first."
Black woman in her 40s:
"I agree with the quotes and I think we have to educate people and children about how the system works in oppression, like how the police murder people and how they carry out the 'stop-and-frisk.' We also need to educate people on how the system carries out wars against other countries in order for the U.S. to be number one. I really think every person's life should be equal."
Middle-aged Black man:
"I like these quotes. The president says 'God bless America and nowhere else.' That's selfish! The U.S. does many, many bad things to people of other countries. Like wars. The U.S. does these to keep its power over others. No more of this."
Immigrant in his 30s:
"America is the real terrorist. America hits you with a bat and then gives you some crumbs."
Young man from Central America:
"The American-trained troops killed my grandfather in a village of 3,200 people, in my country. Then after they burned his corpse, they hanged it on the tree."
BAsics—"It's Powerful Stuff"
Available online at revcom.us and basicsbustour.tumblr.com: audio of Revolution correspondent Michael Slate's interview with a Black woman in the Bronx who just recently learned about Bob Avakian and the movement for revolution and who is an ardent supporter of the BAsics Bus Tour. Here's a brief excerpt:
Michael Slate: You didn't know about Bob Avakian before. The purpose of this tour is to actually reach people like you and turn them on to who Bob Avakian is and what his work and vision is. What do you think about that now?
Nicky: I think that—I've never met this man, I've just started reading his book, but I think that he is a leader. You know, a leader is a person that has a vision and is so genuine in that vision that they're allowed to get other people to share that vision and to become a part of it. In my opinion, he's a leader in a positive manner. People say, you know, communists or whatever. Listen, this man is teaching me things that I never knew before, and is showing me a way to change the things that I feel needs to be changed—which is the whole world, by the way. It's powerful stuff.
Mass Meeting in the 'Hood to Promote the BAsics Bus Tour
On a sunny Saturday, July 14, the day before the bus tour's official launch, we held a mass meeting out in the open park. This was something quite new. Previously, we've held cultural and fundraising events in the same park; but this time we were having a meeting about the bus tour and the revolutionary potential of the masses with participants as wide ranging as families of people whose lives had been stolen by the police, Revolution supporters, ex-prisoners, a college professor, teachers, and over a dozen local residents who had been part of the anti-July 4th party two weeks prior. Something else new was the fact that some residents from the 'hood were bringing their friends as well as family to the meeting. Some people (other than the cops) who've been checking the revolution out for weeks were also beginning to come around, seeing that we were not just playing.
The meeting began by reading an edited version of the speech given at New York Revolution Books on June 27: "The BAsics Bus Tour and the Revolutionary Potential of the Masses of People." This was very important for getting grounded in what getting BA Everywhere means, including two powerful quotes from the BAsics Chapter 6 essay about BA never losing faith in the revolutionary potential of the basic people. This reading was interspersed with playing the audio of Michael Slate's interview with Virginia, a resident of Sanford, Florida (site of Trayvon Martin's killing), where the BAsics Bus Tour went a month ago, showing the impact of the BAsics Bus Tour on people there. If you have any doubt about the impact of the words of BA on the people, you must listen to this interview, especially after Virginia says she "couldn't put the book down" and had to find out more about BA!
Later in the program, a nine-minute video of a demonstration at the Sanford police station was shown a total of three times. Some people were so moved by the video that they watched it all three times.
After a sister read a letter from a prisoner who said that he felt BA was speaking to people like him... and about not feeling sorry for himself, that he has the potential to become one of the emancipators of humanity, we all sat down in a semi-circle to get down to some questions in people's minds.
Immediately someone raised "why New York?" which is related to "why not our own neighborhood?" Although the New York bookstore speech details the monumental disparities of wealth and oppression between upper Manhattan and Brownsville, as well as the issues of racial profiling, and the issues of immigrants from all over the world, this is still a question among those who feel the boot of the man directly on their own necks in this 'hood. It was then that a college professor mentioned the importance of "priorities," i.e., we would like to have the resources and people to go all over... however New York is extremely significant and can have far reaching impact on getting BA Everywhere in a worldwide sense... as another participant noted, New York is a center for lots of things from art and music to political events like Occupy. Or from page 3 of the latest Revolution "what goes down here reverberates."
As far as worldwide impact, it was noted that New York is also a center for immigrants from Haiti, Africa, Puerto Rico, Asia, etc., etc., where the U.S. has made a living hell of their homelands. For these people especially, the two main quotes popularized by the bus tour to NYC about American lives not being more important than other people's lives as well as internationalism, reverberate. Add to this mix the horrendous stop-and-frisk racial profiling of the local residents; and there is great potential to spread even further.
Another participant then raised the question of what exactly were we expecting to accomplish with these bus tours. This was wrangled with, as the importance of making BA a household name was necessary for the people to break out, and what all this means for making revolution. As one resident said, "BA Everywhere is a good goal!!" An ex-prisoner then raised his hand to testify what the horrendous conditions of the jails are and what prisoners' participation in the movement for revolution, even via the mail (referring to the prisoner's letter read aloud by a sister), really meant to him. We talked about the significance of last year's hunger strike of the prisoners in raising people's sights... and how in the midst of this BA's voice was touching a raw nerve to those in the hole. Also how we all learned from those prisoners... it wasn't just a one-way street.
Another question that came up was "how can the people see their own potential? They often have so many different things blocking them. They don't even see what's happening in the outside world, because they get caught up in the basic necessities like food and shelter, transportation and basic money problems which set people against each other." This question was taken up by someone who brought out the "12 ways" card... yes, we all do recognize this as a contradiction, but there is a way to deal with it—people can get involved in this movement in many ways and by doing that they can learn more. And the very first suggestion on "12 ways" is to view BA's Revolution talk DVD (in fact BA addresses this very question in the DVD Q&A) and read BAsics.
Related is the fact that people can come to the revolution many different ways, and in fact there were many different ways that people could support this bus tour, including fundraising. Plans were made in the meeting (and carried out the next day) to go to a middle class area, sell Skittles, get reactions to the two main quotes, and raise money for the tour.
There was more discussion about how significant this tour could be in getting BA Everywhere, especially when it was not just the couple of dozen on the bus, but the hundreds and thousands that could be following it on basicsbustour.tumblr.com and so on. People seeing a better world being possible and what communism is all about as envisioned by BA. So at the end, people at the meeting were encouraged to take stacks of the palm cards and other materials to get out way beyond the 'hood. A lot of these were done, with people hanging around to talk more with the revolutionaries and check out books displayed on the book table of Revolution Books.
Send-off for Bus Tour Volunteers
A group of us got together for a festive send-off for volunteers from our area to the BAsics Bus Tour. We enjoyed wine and some kick-ass spicy chocolate cookies made by a teenager to help raise money for the bus tour. People from Occupy, activists, and revolutionaries came together to express their support for the volunteers and shared their thoughts about the bus tour and Bob Avakian's quotes that are the theme of this third leg of the tour.
As we were talking about the bus tour, several people wrote down their comments about the quotes. We pinned them, along with other statements we had collected earlier, to a poster board with the centerfold poster from Revolution. One of the statements, comparing the U.S. to a spoiled child, was written by a middle school educator who is deeply disturbed about how kids are conditioned to think in this society. She was moved by the bus tour video and said she is happy to donate to an effort that poses a visionary alternative to the current situation and that can broaden people's outlook.
The view that people all over the world are all important was spoken to in many ways in the statements, and it drew out people to talk more about their sentiments and personal experiences. One person recounted how, while working a day labor job, he put his life in danger by challenging the chauvinistic rants of his redneck employer/driver, who threw him out of the truck when he refused to back down.
Woven into the evening with this spirit of internationalism and resistance was also a sense of the joy that comes with taking on the powers-that-be as people shared lessons from their experiences.
We had a good time, raised some money, and our volunteers left for New York City with a warm bon voyage.
Chicago Benefit: WE SAY "NO MORE!"
Sunsara Taylor said in the most recent BAsics Bus Tour video, "Sometimes you are in the midst of history and you don't even recognize it." As people gathered at the Elastic Arts Gallery in Chicago on July 8 to create an evening of culture through which they both expressed the need for and propelled forward important efforts toward the emancipation of humanity, I thought of these words from Sunsara.
The evening, which benefitted the upcoming New York leg of the BAsics Bus Tour, brought together a diverse grouping of musicians and spoken word artists who united around the importance of promoting quotation 1:13 from Bob Avakian's BAsics and supporting the bus tour. A number of them had participated in previous fund raising events for the BA Everywhere—Imagine the Difference It Can Make campaign, but never before had they all shared one stage on one evening.
Performers poured passion and poetry into the evening, delivering up an experience rich, tasty, and memorable. Audience members and performers fueled each others' seriousness and positive energy. Each performance was artistically vibrant and emotionally stirring. Several were not only politically relevant, but also politically challenged the audience to get deeper into bringing about fundamental change, and to be part of the movement for revolution.
After a welcome from the MC, who read BAsics 1:13, the video from LA Rising was shown. BAsics 1:13 has struck a chord with many people in this city because of the insane number of people, mostly Black youth, who have been shot and wounded in violence among the people. So far this year, 263 have been killed! There is a crying need, especially for those who see and experience the daily life of those most oppressed in this society, to focus on the social conditions that promote a "kill or be killed" mentality among those whose real interests lie in doing away with this killing system. Media, politicians, and top cops spew forth the lie that the oppressed are self-destructive savages. Bob Avakian's words resonate with people who see that the present system offers the youth only more destruction and oppression, who sorely yearn for a better world, and who are beginning to see the movement for revolution BA leads as the way to get there.
George Flynn began the performances with two of his piano/word compositions. Flynn is an internationally acclaimed composer and pianist. He describes his works as being modern classical or avant-garde classical music and he began by telling the audience he recognizes that 99 percent of the people in the world don't listen to his kind of music because they are too busy toiling and trying to survive. But, as he said, he likes this stuff and wants to play it. Those familiar with his work and those just being introduced to it were not disappointed in any way. His pieces were excerpts from his longer compositions "Kanal," about the failed Polish revolt against the Nazis and "American Rest" that were written in the period of and immediately after the Vietnam War. George read the lyrics before he performed the music, and the words recreated the horrors wrought by an arrogant empire that cares nothing for human life.
Kush Thompson then stepped up to the mic with a powerful spoken word poem about the hopes and fears of a Black mother about to give birth to a son and what will await him in this world as it exists today. Kush is a young Black woman and recent high school graduate who was selected as an Indy Finalist in the 2011 Louder Than A Bomb youth poetry competition which celebrated over 600 young writers, representing Chicago at the national Brave New Voices 2011. She has performed all across the Midwest since then and in Chicago, including at Victory Gardens Theater, where she is an ensemble member for the Poets to Playwrights Conservatory.
Next, poet and writer Esaun performed a poem that told the tale of Bennie and Corey, two men down on their luck who settled for lower and lower sights but should have been aiming much higher towards liberation. His piece was backed by the musical ensemble brought by Prince Saleem, a flutist and saxophonist who has performed around the world.
Chuck Jines, a philosopher and blogger, read his piece "Beat," inspired by the work and life of Allen Ginsberg, using wordplay to paint a picture of a society in which everyone and everything is corrupted and degraded by commercialism and commodity relations.
Writer Jacqueline Lewis then performed a spoken word piece she put together for this event. To the rhythm and beat of the ensemble, and with a soaring flute from Prince Saleem, Jacqueline declared, "I say no more!" and, fist in the air, said "Today—tonight—is the right time for change!"
Following this dramatic piece, poet Malcolm London took the mic. Malcolm also competed in Louder Than A Bomb 2011 as a member of team YOUmedia Chicago and was selected as an Indy Finalist in the 2011 competition. This year he competed in Louder Than A Bomb College Slam and was a featured poet at the recent dialogue between Carl Dix and Cornel West at the University of Chicago. He began with a spoken word piece about an incident on the "El" train concerning a homeless woman and racist frat boy who dissed her. Then Malcolm performed his "A Change Is Gonna Come" piece, a furious wordplay poem picking up on the famous Sam Cooke song.
Then a slide show was played with pictures of the Revolution Books contingent in last year's Bud Billiken Parade, the largest African-American parade in the country that annually brings tens of thousands of people onto the streets of Chicago's South Side. Last year, many family members of youth slain by Chicago police marched with posters of their loved ones and with banners promoting Bob Avakian's BAsics. At this July 8 cultural event, the call went out for even more people to participate in an even bigger contingent in the next parade coming later this summer.
The new video from the BAsics Bus Tour featuring the scenes from Sanford, Florida, was then shown. After Sunsara Taylor's compelling call on the video for people to donate funds for the new leg of the tour, a local revolutionary took the stage to ask people to dig deeply and donate that night. Cash did fly into the donation baskets, and one person took advantage of an iPad provided for people who wanted to make donations online. After this, a break allowed people to mingle, meet, and eat some delicious food donated by a local Mexican restaurant.
But the night was far from over! The young poet Nine took the mic to speak his piece about the shooting of Rekia Boyd by an off-duty Chicago cop in March this year. He had the audience repeating the theme line, "Rekia, beautiful Rekia." After he finished, he told everyone, "I know that if nothing else, that Rekia Boyd, as long as I'm alive, like she's going to be alive and fighting for her justice through me. So as you read these terrible press clips about the people that the cops are shooting down and people who are dying from 'Black on Black' crime, 'brown on brown' crime, etc.—like just hold on to one person. Cause if each of us do that, that means none of these people will ever be forgotten. Word."
Delinda was called up to the stage by Prince Saleem for her first-ever public singing performance. She did a beautiful jazzy version of "My Favorite Things." Esaun came up once more with his piece "Locked Down."
Then the Prince Saleem Ensemble broke out into full force, causing people to get up and start dancing. Soon a Soul Train line shaped up and people styled. Poet Nine later commented jokingly that "The revolution will not be televised, but apparently it will have a Soul Train line!"
A late-arriving poet, T.J. Gardner, aka Poetically Correct, then came up to pour out a spoken word piece on her vision of true love that segued into the soul classic "Just My Imagination" by the Temptations.
In all, $565 was raised for the BAsics Bus Tour.
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