"Black Power Isn't, Black Power Is" Basic Points of Unity/Distinction

“Black Power Isn’t, Black Power Is”

Basic Points of Points of Unity/Distinction

Cooperation Jackson and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement produced the following Points of Unity and/or Points of Distinction listed below to help ground the central focus and discussion of the “Black Power, Black Lives and Pan-Africanism” conference. The primary aim and objective of this conference is to start a process of collectively developing a “program of action” to build and attain Black Power, Self-Determination, and Social Liberation for Afrikan people wherever we reside - within the lands presently colonized by the United States government, on the Afrikan continent or throughout the wide Pan-Afrikan world.

Although Black Power exploded onto the world in 1966 primarily as a demand, this conference is not going to focus on creating a “list of demands”. Not because demands aren’t important, but because our movements have articulated many fundamental demands over the decades and centuries that are just as relevant now as they were when they were first articulated. We want to have a discussion about how we collectively organize ourselves, with all of our diversity and varying interests, to build and exercise the power to liberate ourselves. We don’t often engage in programmatic discussions that center on addressing the organizational weaknesses of our peoples and social movements. Or address what projects, programs, campaigns, and institutions we need to build power, why we need to build these initiatives, and how we are going to build them, including providing them adequate human, material, and financial resources. This is what we aim to discuss during this conference.

What follows are baseline points, meaning they constitute the starting points from which we begin a conversation about what Black Power and Self-Determination are and aren’t and how we go about building and achieving them. We do not expect all participants to agree with us on all of these points. No one’s participation is contingent upon agreeing with what is outlined. However, our facilitators will be operating from the grounding these points provide, and to be transparent and forthright we think its best to surface assumptions to help advance conversations and allow us to use our precious time together to go deeper and further in our discussions and deliberations in the pursuit of liberation.

We firmly assert that Black Power, Black Self-Determination, and Black Social Liberation cannot be rooted in the promotion and/or perpetuation of:

1.     Capitalism: an exploitative and oppressive socio-economic system that emerged in Western Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries and was imposed on the rest of the world through conquest, colonization and imperialist domination. The system is defined by the privatization of the means of production; the maximization of profit; the priority of commodity production; state monitored and enforced market exchange; and the predominance of wage labor in the productive process (i.e. classes).

2.     Colonialism: the conquest, theft and settlement of the lands of Indigenous peoples or long-standing communities (from previous acts of colonial occupation or urban/cosmopolitan development) by an outside or foreign people or power. 

3.     Imperialism: the economic, social and political domination of a people or nation by a foreign people or nation for the material, political and military benefit of the conquering people or entity.

4.     White Supremacy: a system of social and political domination that emerged between the 14th and 16th centuries as a result of the conquest and penetration of the worlds peoples and nations by the peoples and nations of Western Europe. This system centers, privileges and perpetuates the western European worldview, social structures, customs, norms, values and standards of beauty above all others.

5.     Patriarchy: an ancient and widespread social system that privileges males and centers and perpetuates their control over the means of production, the social order and human reproduction.

6.     Heterosexism: an ancient and widespread social system that privileges and standardizes heterosexual identities and relationships as socially normative and discriminates and typically punishes non-heterosexual identities and relationships.

7.     Speciesism: an ancient and widespread social system that privileges the human species above and beyond all other species and maintains that all of the other species are subordinate to our own and can be subject to our control and domination without the rights, freedoms and protections we attempt to provide ourselves.

Black Power, Black Self-Determination, and Black Social Liberation must affirm the humanity of ALL people of Afrikan descent and our dependent relationship on the Earth and all the complex relationships that mediate life on the planet that we must find a balance with in order to ensure the future of our children and our species. From our vantage point, this requires the following:

1.     The development and promotion of an ecologically regenerative economic system that subordinates capital to the needs of the people and the planet and is rooted in economic democracy and the collective ownership of the means of production, distribution, consumption, and reuse/recycling – i.e. eco-socialism.

2.     The development and promotion of a program of decolonization, most specifically in the Americas, in support of mutual co-habitation with the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and their just claims to their homelands and against the European settler-colonial projects that have imposed the nation-states that presently dominate the peoples of the Americas.

3.     The development and promotion of an anti-imperialist program that works to dismantle all the forms of exploitation, oppression and domination committed against Afrikan people on the continent and throughout the Diaspora, by forces both external (i.e. the imperialist powers of the US, EU, Japan and China or the sub-imperialist powers of Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, India, etc.) and internal to our lands and communities.

4.     The development and promotion of the most democratic and egalitarian (i.e. non-hierarchical and non-sexist) Afrikan centered worldviews, knowledge’s (productive systems, spiritual insights, etc.), values, customs, and traditions to dismantle Eurocentrism and all the ills produced by the historic system of white supremacy and its internalization by our peoples.

5.     The development and promotion of an anti-patriarchal program that works to dismantle sexism and patriarchy as a worldview, social custom and institutional framework to sustain and perpetuate male domination.

6.     The development and promotion of a sex and all genders program of social liberation that acknowledges the sexual and gender diversity of our people and our species and works to make the freedom of being and expression normative.

7.     The development and promotion of a worldview and social system that acknowledges our harmful impact on the Earth and works to protect all the species of the earth and the ecosystems and environments that they inhabit, by shifting our broadly held species view of “dominion over the Earth” to one of equal and egalitarian partnership with all the species that share the Earth with us.