Speech given for African Liberation Day May 27th, 2023 at Lafayette Square Park in Baltimore, Maryland.
Peace Peace Africans!
I’d like to thank the Maryland Council of Elders for organizing another wonderful African Liberation Day event and I like to thank Sister Abena for inviting me another year to gift books to children and also speak on behalf of Black Alliance For Peace. My name is Erica Caines and I wear many hats in the Black Alliance For Peace, which is an alliance that seeks to recapture and redevelop the historic anti-war, anti-imperialist, and pro-peace positions of the radical black movement.
African Liberation Day has been my favorite time of year since I have been invited to participate 5 years ago. Not only do I get to be among so many beautiful Africans, but we get to set an agenda for African people on this day.
African/Black people in the United States have a colonial relationship with the larger society. It is a relationship characterized by institutional racism. This colonial status operates in three areas politically, economically, and socially. We are politically stunted with our political decisions made for us due to a lack of power. We are economically disenfranchised and dependent on larger society and this is maintained by a social order that designates police in our communities as occupying forces.
As the late great Glen Ford told us, “Black Misleadership class” is not a ‘scientific” term but, instead, weaponized political terminology, with specific meaning based on Black historical and current political realities. The term refers to those Black political forces that emerged at the end of the Sixties, eager to join the corporate and duopoly political (mostly Democrat) ranks, and to sell out the interests of the overwhelmingly working class Black masses in the process. Their interests do not lie with us, the working class masses, but instead are tied to those of U.S. imperialism and its ruling circles.
Who are the Black Misleaders here? Let’s name them.
Mayor Bradon Scott, who has been in leadership through the city’s water crisis using AAVE and an Afro to deter from the policies he supports, like Johns Hopkins getting a new police force. Or the new state’s attorney Ivan Bates whose encouragement of youth criminalization contradicts his “progressive” campaign (just like his predecessor Marilyn Mosby). Recently, Bates welcomed Israeli Defense Force (IDF) into Baltimore promising to strengthen partnership supporting the existing “deadly exchange program” between IDF and BPD.
Or what about Maryland’s first Black governor who rose to ascension quickly? A military vet, promising to bring more police into a city that currently not only has the “Deadly Exchange” program, which, again, is a massive exchange between the U.S. and Israeli police and Israeli military where hyper-militarized policing techniques and technology are shared. There’s the 1033 Program, which is a part of the department of defense budget where military equipment gets transferred to civilian law enforcement agencies (this includes Morgan and Coppin state campus police). And most recently Operation Relentless Pursuit, making Baltimore 1 of 7 cities including Detroit, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Kansas City, Memphis, and Milwaukee, selected for the Trump Administration’s “surge” of federal, state and local resources.
The dire conditions that exist in African poor working-class communities in the US, specifically in Baltimore where more than 1/2 of poor residents live in deep poverty, meaning they live at or below 50% of the federal poverty line, which is the result of intentional systematic neglect under a white supremacist capitalist-imperialist system, leave poor African and other colonized people without the ability to live full lives. We are systemically dehumanized. Police are called to colonize communities of ALL oppressed folks to carry out the standard imperialist orders, with every intent to do more harm on behalf of the state than actually serving any positive purpose.
The uneasy truth about Black misleadership across America is that it often goes unanswered and unchallenged and rarely unprotected by class collaborators.
The struggle for Black power and Black freedom requires the defeat of neo-colonialism— this comprador class, which is the indirect rule of American capitalist, racist and imperialist policy in the guise of Black misleaders. Black political leaders of the two capitalist parties who have no history of supporting a Black working class agenda must be challenged. Black working people must unhitch our interests, needs and struggles from those of Black misleaders.
On April 4th, BAP launched its Zone of Peace campaign with the objective of recognizing this entire region as OUR AMERICAS. This means recognizing the right to self determination and sovereignty and end of militarism for all peoples of the Americas, of this region.
Peace is not the absence of conflict, but rather the achievement, by popular struggle and self-defense, of a world liberated from the interlocking issues of global aggression, nuclear armament and proliferation, unjust war, and subversion through the defeat of global systems of oppression that include colonialism, imperialism, patriarchy, and white supremacy.
Black Radical Peace Activism exposes the inextricable link between between militarism and war and capitalist exploitation and racist domination in the struggle for a durable peace that moves beyond the cessation of war and the elimination of militarism toward the historical fulfillment of equality, justice, and decolonization.
To contend with a Zone of Peace we would have to contend with the layers of policing and neocolonialism. We must think of local and domestic manifestations of Zone of Peace as community control and Liberated zones ——territories where the masses are in near-complete control over their political and socio-economic destinies because they control the institutions in a specific region, city, town or state. Because if we are talking about African Liberation Day as an institution and Zone of Peace as a guide to ensuring particular conditions so that ppl do not get entrapped by the state, then we are talking about liberated zones and community control. We are talking about building socialism!
We must continuously raise the fact that African/Black people in the United States are internally colonized subjects and we see this especially in the ways domestic and global imperialism manifests as counterparts. We must smash neocolonialism!
NO COMPROMISE NO RETREAT.