Tag Archives: Bobby Seale

How The Left Has Lost Its Way: Calling All Panthers, All Weathermen, All Progressives and All Leftists to the Front, Today’s Activists Desperately Need A Historical Lesson

Although I realize that this will sound peculiar, it nonetheless needs to be said. The relative non-response to the Republican Party’s “tax reform” efforts proves once again that significant sections of the Left, particularly within Black America, have abandoned, are afraid, or unaware of prominent class issues in this nation. I must say that their dereliction of duty by what can be termed a traditional Leftist coalition has occurred at a particularly inopportune moment.

There is little room to debate that the Left has allowed their traditional narrative regarding economic inequities to be hijacked by an illogical Republic Party argument that reminds one of late 19th Century populism. This strange narrative has caused many poor and working-class Americans to believe that the wealthy are interested in either economic equality or fiscal fairness. Oh, how I long for a return of the identity politic driven sixties radicalism, a period filled with diverse groups expressing a righteous indignation at economic disparities.

In many ways, it is shocking that monetary matters that have historically possessed the ability to mobilize poor and working-class American workers have been trumped in the new millennium by the haunting specter of Race. I must relate that it has been interesting to see the manner in which poor and working-class Americans have developed a belief in the false narrative that it is other poor and working-class people of differing races/ethnicities who sit at the core of their economic hardships.

One needs to look no further than the obvious racial animosity existing among Leftists at this present moment for verification of the previous assertions. In many ways, it is impossible to believe that today’s progressives are the grandchildren of sixties radicals who resisted the divisive nature of Race. Although issues of Race have always factored into the actions of American workers, however, it was relatively rare to witness the rise of political postures that amounted to poor and working-class whites adopting a political stance that amounts to their “cutting off their nose to spite their face.” There is really no other way of explaining Trump’s ability to capture huge swaths of white voters with hollow words filled with no real intention than to attribute it to a white populace whose economic problems have birthed a familiar weariness with matters of race and diversity.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that Trump’s ascension was bolstered by the intra-movement racial conflict that was occurring between black and white Leftists. Despite what black progressives would prefer to believe, the truth of the matter is that whites are not the only entity in this coalition that abandoned prior productive political positions such as inter-racial cooperation as a significant segment of Black America also retreated from traditional Leftist relationships in favor of a new political perspective that was best expressed in their opposition to whites, regardless of their political leanings/affiliation.

In place of the aforementioned stance of inter-racial cooperation has arisen a myopic and heavily flawed formula that advocates for Black America to turn inward and work toward the creation of a parallel society that could exist and operate without the of whites. Such a political development has rendered traditional black political positions of inter-racial cooperation and coalitions a political relic of yesteryear. Sadly, the mutually beneficial inter-racial alliances that groups such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the Peace and Freedom Party forged during a highly volatile and racially charged sixties protest era in a concerted attempt to activate the slogan of “All Power to the People” has long ago been forgotten my a new generation of young black leaders whose only political priority never strays from an overemphasis on Race and racial matters.

Unfortunately for poor and working-class Americans, the alluded to spirit of inter-racial cooperation that has historically proven to be their most reliable weapon against a greedy and avaricious wealthy class has been replaced by a terse xenophobia that mandates that today’s Leftists view each other skeptically, if not with a venomous hostility. Consider for a moment that while Conservatives make significant in-roads to this nation’s coffers, many black activist groups have seen sophisticated political positions devolve into a singular focus of opposing “whitey” at every turn, regardless of the issue or situation. It is this pedestrian understanding of American political matters that have facilitated the disruption of inter-racial cooperation among Leftists that the Right gleefully exploits.

What an unfortunate moment this is to be on the Left, particularly when one realizes that the historical record indicates that the most assured path forward is the development of productive mutually beneficial alliances among a highly diverse population of progressives.

There is no clearer illustration of the present spirit of non-cooperation among black activists than a recent “New Black Panther Party” meeting I attended. One of the initial things I noticed as I entered was that there was not a single white present. Although the absence of white radicals is partially attributable to their shifting political priorities, I am certain that the main reason for their absence was the bitter hatred spewed by groups such as the New Black Panther Party. As expected, the tone and tenor of the speeches conveyed an unmistakable perspective that whites were neither welcome nor needed in Black America’s pursuit of racial equality. The historical record that contradicts such a position matters little to these types of revolutionaries.

I intently listened as these neo-Panthers dressed in paramilitary gear ranted against all things white and supported all things black. I am convinced that in their rush to don paramilitary uniforms and posture with guns that they missed fundamental Panther historical lessons that made the Black Panther Party what it was. I am convinced that their lack of knowledge would sadden Huey P. Newton, Fred Hampton, Elaine Brown, Kathleen Cleaver, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver.

After exiting this meeting of the people, I could not shake a gnawing feeling that maybe every segment of the Left is woefully ignorant of the inter-racial coalition building that preceded them. Obviously, the alluded to historical illiteracy curtails contemporary strategies and strengthens their better-versed opponents.

I seriously doubt that this latest reiteration of the Black Panther Party is aware of the original Panthers working relationship with white radical groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society or the Weathermen for what Huey P. Newton considered mutually-beneficial reasons. Unfortunately, the alluded to ignorance regarding the utility of coalitions and alliances with like-minded groups fighting the same enemy compromises the achievement of reachable goals. One is ultimately left with an unfortunate query of are the various groups found on the Left even fighting for the same goals? It is sad that such a question has to be asked, and even more disappointing that I cannot offer a definitive answer to the most mundane of all queries.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

How Cam Newton’s Black Power Salute Exposes How Little We Know About the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

One of the most unfortunate by-products of being an African-American Studies Professor is that it seemingly invites a vast array of individuals with varying levels of historical knowledge to discuss various Race matters with you. Far too often, I find myself at the center of what evolves into contentious debates that would not be an issue at all if my challengers had any understanding of African-American history. The most recent incident occurred in the wake of Cam Newton raising a “Black Power fist” that reminds one of the mid-sixties Black Power Era.

The alluded to individual was exhilarated by Newton’s gesture; however, that euphoria dissipated when Newton later expounded on why he made the polarizing gesture. According to Newton,

The message is unity for me, black, white, different minorities around America. That’s my message. I want everybody to come together. We get nowhere separated. People feeling oppressed and people that are rich looking down on other people, you don’t get nowhere with that. We all are created equal. We need to find some kind of way to come together to make the situation better. Because where we’re going now, it’s not healthy at all.

It would not be an overstatement to state that the so-called “conscious” brother mentioned above was disgusted with what he considered Newton’s failure to stand firm for the Race. The referenced disgust was verbalized via derogatory name-calling.

As I expected, this “conscious” brother turned his attention toward me. Let me first say that I routinely avoid such engagements as those seeking my perspective have already made their minds up regarding the incident. I have found that the most unproductive discussions that I have had regarding racial matters involved individuals seeking to claim the vacated mantle of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

Trust me when I say that the vast majority of people who aspire to replicate legendary Black Power Era figures of yesteryear — Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, and Fred Hampton — know little about the ideological underpinnings that supported their revolutionary platforms. Instead of studying the revolutionary polemics of such individuals that highlight the impact that Capitalism has had on race, class, and gender within Black America, they rely on a menagerie of innuendo, rumor, and Youtube videos that produce little more than sophomoric “hate whitey” phrase-mongering.

It is this understanding that the individual that was seeking to engage me regarding Cam Newton’s “Black Power fist” gesture knew little about Panther ideology that led me to avoid what was destined to be a significant debate regarding the matter. Prior discussions had already taught me that such individuals have no comprehension that the Black Panther Party was able to be pro-black without being anti-white, particularly when it came to poor and working-class whites who were being exploited by Capitalism.

If those seeking to claim the Vanguard position of the African-American Freedom Struggle and walk in the steps of the Huey P. Newton led Black Panther Party had a real understanding of Panther ideology, they would have embraced Cam Newton’s insinuation that this nation needs a “rainbow coalition” of activists to address persisting socioeconomic equalities throughout the entire nation and recognized that at that very moment Newton was channeling the spirit of Fred Hampton. It was the Chairman of the Chicago branch of the Black Panther Party that initially used the phraseology of a “rainbow coalition” well before Jesse Jackson stole the term. If they cared to study, aspiring Panthers would understand that Hampton’s call for “Black Power for black people, White Power for white people, Brown Power for brown people, Red Power for red people, and Yellow Power for yellow people” was not a betrayal of the Race, rather a clear sign of political sophistication that eludes contemporary black leaders and theoreticians.

A figure such as Cam Newton should be applauded for his statement as it signals an uncanny understanding that it is Capitalism that we must fight against, not white people in general. It is the study of relevant materials that is most sorely needed in today’s black freedom movement and not a fixation on iconic images such as Panthers carrying guns and Angela Davis’ Afro. Until this latest generation of black freedom fighters realize that it is Capitalism, not White America that is the true enemy of our people, we will continue being busy and achieving very little as we continue our grandest tradition of failing to understand that it is the destruction of exploitive Capitalism that is the actual goal and not the overthrow of the prevailing racial order so that Black America could have her vengeance in oppressing those that have exploited her for so very long.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

WHY DID FBI DIRECTOR J. EDGAR HOOVER ORDER HIS MEN TO ATTACK THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY FOR SELF-DEFENSE?

We were saying that poor people should rally and organize against an oppressive government which oppressed us because we were poor, not just because we were black, but because we were poor. See, they could hear all the buy black, do black, think black, be black, black on, and black power. They could hear that, they didn’t care about that part. It was when poor niggers started talking about class struggle that they got frightened. And not just talked about it, but did something…No. They were worried about ignorant, poor niggers on the streets with guns talking about the haves and the have-nots.

(Ericka Huggins)

It is most certainly a daunting proposition to be born black in a schizophrenic nation whose creation was made possible by the enslavement of stolen Africans yet steadily reminds its citizenry that racial matters are relatively inconsequential. Despite what American powerbrokers have repeatedly attempted to assert over the past several centuries, race still somewhat matters.

In many ways, it is surprising that in a nation where an elite class of white power-brokers has risen to power by exploiting all non-elites regardless of racial classification or ethnic identity that racial struggle and pride has not been abandoned by all. Nonetheless, Race remains the rallying point for American groups. Considering the overwhelming influence of Race in America, one is hard-pressed to dispute one of Malcolm X’s most truthful assertions of U.S. racial matters. In an often forgotten moment of commentary regarding the melting of new immigrants into the American fabric of whiteness, Malcolm X remarked that “the first word that European immigrants learn when they come to Ellis Island is Nigger!” From the perspective of Black America, “Nigger” was the secret password that allowed the Irish, Polish, and every other new immigrant group to cloak themselves in a socially constructed and politically expedient cover of bland whiteness. Unfortunately, whites have much company in allowing Race to serve as a rallying point for politico-economic solidarity.

Consider for a moment that racial matters are so central to the vision of black leaders’ that their followers would certainly abandon their camp if they ever de-emphasized racial issues for another variable such as Class. Put simply; within the African-American freedom struggle, any discussion not exclusively focused on Race is not only ridiculed but also dismissed as utter foolishness by an unproductive revolutionary cadre fixated on Race. Black America’s so-called revolutionary class fails to realize that their obsessive focus on Race significantly marginalizes their status as revolutionaries seeking to liberate their person from the misery and sorrow that attaches itself to the economically exploited in any Capitalist nation. Although Black revolutionaries must for their mental comfort resist the insinuation that their efforts to liberate Black America from its centuries-long marginalized status are not only futile but also poses no threat to power-brokers, the fact that power-brokers rarely respond to their efforts should serve as a major indicator of they being on the incorrect path. If they were engaged in the revolutionary process, power-brokers would react in a real manner to their activities. Just ask the remaining leadership of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense if my words are correct.

One of the most unfortunate aspects of my having studied the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense for the past twenty years has been the internal angst that occurs when I engage groups and individuals who have convinced themselves that they are some way a continuation of the original Panthers that Huey Percy Newton and Bobby Seale co-founded on October 15, 1966, in Oakland, California. After the publication of my book on the Black Panther Party titled Creating Revolution as they Advance was completed, I received the honor of being invited to participate in panel discussions and deliver lectures over the Black Power Era and the vaunted Panther Party; the Vanguard of America’s highly-volatile sixties protest culture.

Although I wish that I could say otherwise, the vast majority of the panel discussions that I have participated in have only highlighted how little many of the individuals who have desperately attempted to seize the Panther’s revolutionary mantle know about organizational principles and philosophies.

One of the most telling signs that many of the modern reiterations of the Black Panther Party are uninformed regarding Panther philosophies is their disproportionate focus on racial matters and utter silence regarding far more impacting class issues. This current cadre of Panthers fails to realize that the path to revolution is not found in the arena of Race, rather class warfare. Despite their inability to recognize it, the poverty that has enveloped so many Americans should be the rallying call to action, not a clumsy attempt by one group of poor people to take the limited resources that other poor people have gained temporary access to.

The failure to accentuate Class over Race reveals present-day Panthers as intellectual lightweights who have yet to find their way to the revolutionary road; such individuals remain mesmerized by icons and symbols such as guns, leather jackets, and berets that mean very little in regards to revolutionary struggle. Contemporary Panthers are seemingly enchanted by the seductive siren known as Race.

Consider for a moment why J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, directed the overwhelming majority of Bureau resources toward the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s destruction. Is the answer to this query found in the Panther’s carrying weapons? Most certainly not! If that were the case, then the Deacons for Defense and Justice or Revolutionary Action Movement — two other black groups that openly carried weapons in defense of their community — would have received similar treatment. The answer to why the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was singled out over their activist contemporaries is ironically their decision to de-emphasize racial matters and accentuate class issues that are more meaningful in a capitalist society.

Consider for a moment the following recollection of Panther leader Ericka Huggins regarding why J. Edgar Hoover’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) singled-out the Panthers for the brunt of their repressive activities. Huggins recalls that,

We were saying that poor people should rally and organize against an oppressive government which oppressed us because we were poor, not just because we were black, but because we were poor. See, they (the FBI) could hear all the buy black, do black, think black, be black, black on, and black power. They (the FBI) could hear that, they didn’t care about that part. It was when poor niggers started talking about class struggle that they got frightened. And not just talked about it, but did something…No. They (the FBI) were worried about ignorant, poor niggers on the streets with guns talking about the haves and the have nots.

If nothing else, J. Edgar Hoover understood the inherent dangers that would eventually manifest from Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale’s teachings regarding the exploitative nature of capitalism and the need for an inter-racial coalition of like-minded organizations to combat this odd beast that threatened all of humanity.

American power-brokers realized that the Panthers pursuit of like-minded groups interested in overthrowing Capitalist America was a unique and significant threat to their existence. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was convinced that Huey P. Newton’s manifestation as a revolutionary theoretician that managed to emphasize class issues without totally dismissing the impact of racial matters made him the most dangerous man in America, one capable of being a messianic figure capable of unifying not only the black movement, but also creating productive coalitions with like-minded groups of varying races and ethnicities.

To the chagrin of his opponents, Newton displayed an uncanny willingness to forge alliances with groups seeking to destroy American Capitalism, regardless of their race/ethnicity or sexual orientation. Therein lays the reason that J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO selected the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense for the bulk of their repressive activities. Unfortunately, contemporary “revolutionaries” are still entangled in a “racial bag” that limits their ability to conceive innovative activities. One thing is for certain until the new Panthers are able to unlearn the draconian lessons of their oppressor, they will never reach, let alone travel down the revolutionary road.

ALL POWER TO ALL PEOPLE!!!!!!!!

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

And You Call Yourself a Panther?: The Hate-Filled Dead-End Road that Cultural Nationalist Routinely Travel

It is amazing that the same problems afflicting the African-American protest community 50 years ago remain prevalent to the present day. I am confident that most people think that I am referring to the dogged refusal of America’s leading cancers — prejudice, bigotry, discrimination, and racism — to excuse themselves from “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
If those are your thoughts, you are going to be disappointed to learn that I am not alluding to the pernicious evils mentioned above as I am attempting to address an ever-present danger found within the black activist community. The evil I speak of is the continuing tendency of Cultural Nationalists to haphazardly denigrate and mischaracterize all whites as a monolithic population whose sole political priority is to retard African-American politico-economic progress.

I am honest by relating that I have yet to find the words to express my frustrations with the manner that the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s legacy of racial progressivism has been co-opted and revamped to fit the needs of contemporary “activists.” Unfortunately, the activists mentioned above are absent a political platform capable of addressing the pernicious evils affecting the black community. The alluded to individuals believe that an integral part of revolutionary politics is not political mobilization or economic solidarity, rather they seek to advance their understanding of the black agenda via “hate-speech.”

Make no mistake about it, the re-surfacing of imagery intentionally designed to stir up memories of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPPSD) by individuals lacking even a superficial understanding of either the Panthers political platforms or historical experiences has needlessly marred the Panther legacy for counter-revolutionary self-serving purposes. The legacy left by Huey, Bobby, Eldridge, Kathleen, Lil’ Bobby, Bunchy, Fred, Geronimo, Elaine, and those who made up the Panther cadre deserve so much more than what contemporary manifestations of the Panther Party are providing.

What makes the denigration of the Panther image so painful is that if those behind the many attempts to resurrect the Panthers had taken a moment to study BPPSD ideology, they would have quickly discerned that Huey P. Newton opposed any effort to characterize other activist communities, including the white community, as being monolithic. Those who have studied Huey realize that he was not only a genius but also used that mental acumen to in a wise and judicious manner. Consider for a moment, that the Panthers, at the behest of Eldridge “Papa Rage” Cleaver, forged an alliance with the Peace and Freedom Party, a group of white radicals, because it served the interests of the Party at that particular moment. The Panthers are a great example of the utility of alliances and coalitions with like-minded groups, regardless of their race/ethnicity. Those who disagree with the above assertion know little about both the Panther legacy and the black struggle for racial equality.

Unfortunately, phrase-mongering rabble-rousing Cultural Nationalists who are quick to speak, yet slow to study, are not only comfortable spewing vitriolic hatred, but also often encouraged to do such by adoring audiences. Little do they know, that such a backward political stance stunts their political power as it alienates all around them regardless of race, class, or gender.

I have dealt with Cultural Nationalists long enough to know that they will both ignore and deny an easily accessible historical record that proves that inter-racial alliances were a hallmark of the BPPSD. It is for this population that does not mind existing under a yoke that is equal parts illogical and shockingly uninformed that I include the following quote by BPPSD co-founder Huey P. Newton.
According to Newton, the African-American activist community “…must also be able to realize that there are white people, brown people, red people, yellow people in this world who are totally dedicated to the destruction of this system of oppression, and we welcome that. We will always be open to working with that.

I am quite confident that luminaries of the African-American freedom struggle such as Newton, Hampton, Baldwin, Du Bois, and King are rolling over in their graves at the ascension of a black political platform that rests upon nothing more than divisive hate-filled rhetoric. Put simply; such rhetoric not only fails to represent black leaders who came before us, but also guarantees that none of the previous mutually beneficial alliances that aided our community in its pursuit of liberation are possible today. Contemporary so-called black leaders have efficiently placed themselves in a box of irrelevancy that they cannot escape.
Despite the euphoria that many of these new activists feel after hearing a profanity-laced rant against some yet to be identified “white man,” the truth of the matter is that such rhetoric serves as a highly imperfect substitute for a well-thought out political agenda. Not to mention that such hate-speech has yet to move the struggle forward one iota. Trust me when I say that it never has and it never will.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

WHERE HAVE ALL THE WHITE RADICALS GONE? HOW A RECENT NEW BLACK PANTHER PARTY RALLY NOT ONLY BETRAYED THE ACTIVIST ROOTS OF THE ORIGINAL BLACK PANTHER PARTY FOR SELF-DEFENSE, BUT ALSO ENSURED THAT WHITES WOULD NEVER ASSIST AGAIN IN THE STRUGGLE FOR RACIAL EQUALITY

I am confident that this will sound peculiar to most; however, it nevertheless needs to be said. One of the most visible signs that the political priorities of white progressives have altered dramatically in regards to the fight for racial equality is their declining relationship with African-American groups agitating for “the liberation and salvation of the Black nation.”

If the recent Presidential election did not definitively prove that the “White Left” has abandoned their natural political terrain, their bpp-pfpgradual drift from a principled position regarding racial reconciliation definitively proves this point. As a historian who has dedicated his life to the study of American Race Relations, it is evident to me that the disappearance of the “White Left’s” voluminous presence in the struggle for racial equality is extremely disappointing. The current absence of a definitive white radical presence in the fight against this nation’s standard racial issues speaks volumes about shifting political priorities among white Leftists. In fact, their silence in the face of ever-increasing racial disparities ‘speaks’ volumes.

As a student of American race relations, I found it startling to witness increased intra-movement ethnic conflict among so-called black and white progressives. It appears that the racial cooperation that undergirded sixties activism is a relic of the past. Long gone are mutually beneficial relationships between groups such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the Peace and Freedom Party whose primary desire was bringing power to the people.

Unfortunately, such progressivism has yielded to a contemporary activist scene whose absence of historical literacy fuels a shockingly DALLAS PANTHERS 2unrefined xenophobic impulse that encourages their public articulation of political positions that are outrageously antagonistic to potential coalition partners. Things have gotten so bad among today’s descendants of white radicalism and the Black Power era that they have publicly vowed never to work with one another. This shocking position is counter-productive considering that they both realize that they are often facing the same enemy who gleefully exploits progressives’ disorganization to further their exploitation of America’s poor and working-class.

What an unfortunate moment in time that we exist within.

Despite the unwise posture of non-cooperation that so many Black Nationalist leaders and so-called white progressive groups have chosen, the historical record regarding the path to racial equality is evident; it takes black and white progressives alike to move this nation closer to racial justice.

A recent New Black Panther Party meeting provided voluminous clarity regarding the state of non-cooperation among radicals. I noticed that there was not a single white progressive present. I am certain that white radicals absence had as much to do with their shifting political priorities as it did with the bitter race-based hatred spewed from a roster of race-baiting orators featured at this event. The tone and tenor of the speeches blared that whites were neither welcome nor needed in either this latest expression of Black Nationalist politics or the achievement of racial equality.

I intently listened as these ‘brothers and sisters’ decked out in paramilitary gear ranted against whites via a host of colorful descriptors that would have shamed and embarrassed original Panther leaders such as Huey P. Newton, Fred Hampton, Bobby Seale, and Assata Shakur.

I left this event with a gnawing feeling that every segment of today’s ‘Left’ is woefully ignorant of the coalition building that has always been crucial to progress on America’s racial frontier. The alluded to bpp-sdshistorical illiteracy not only compromises the activism of today’s leftists but also emboldens and strengthens their opponents. There is no doubt that this latest reiteration of the Black Panther Party is unaware of the original Panthers working relationship with white radical groups such as the Peace and Freedom Party and Students for a Democratic Society for logical mutually-beneficial reasons. Unfortunately, their ignorance regarding the utility of coalitions and alliances with those fighting against the same enemy curtails their activist impulses and delays the achievement of all goals. I am left wondering, are black and white ‘Leftists’ fighting for the same goals anymore? It is sad that such a question has to be presented, and even more disappointing that I cannot offer a definitive answer to this mundane question.

Fight the Power

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016