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Aimee Smith (F)
Los Angeles, US
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    Minister of Culture
    On a whim, I decided to attend a lecture yesterday with Emory Douglas at The Museum of Contemporary Art.

    A graphic artist and member of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, Douglas' political posters imprinted the covers of the BPP newspaper during it's run, leaving deep impressions on those who saw them. His lecture was fascinating, eye opening and included impromptu side commentating by none other than Bobby Seale himself.

    Unjust is the negative perspective Americans have been marketed which deflects focus from the positive impact The Black Panthers have had on the community and the nation: working with local grocers to feed children impacted by poverty, transportation for the elderly, youth dances to keep kids off the streets, and supporting of other causes such as the boycott of lettuce being farmed with now illegal chemicals/pesticides.

    They promoted forward-thinking concepts such as community policing rather than recruiting officers from outside neighborhoods, with no concept or empathy for the conditions and issues of those sectors.
    They protested against funding of police helicopters for the patrol of problem areas in San Francisco and asked why that money not be invested into those very communities to rehabilitate them.

    For all their hard work and waging of a justified revolution for black America to rise up against suppression, J. Edgar Hoover deemed them a threat to national security; "He was correct in a sense. The Panthers' message was a direct and serious threat to the capitalist status quo. The danger was not that the group would manage an armed coup and take over the government. Empowering people to stop facilitating their own oppression was far more frightening". *

    Some members still face trials at 70 + years old for conspiracy and murder. Most of their arrests are allegedly the result of being framed by Federal level agents. (See The San Francisco 8).

    * More from Colette Gaiter:
    http://bad.eserver.org/issues/2004/65/gaiter.html

    For more images and info on 'The San Francisco 8 '
    http://www.itsabouttimebpp.com/index.html


    Mon, Oct 22, 2007  Permanent link

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    cupcakewizard     Wed, Nov 21, 2007  Permanent link
    Emory Douglas' work is on display now:

     http://www.moca-la.org/emorydouglas/ 
    Xarene     Sat, Jan 19, 2008  Permanent link
    Pinar and I were on the bus the other day when a piss-stenched homeless man got on. We had to move three rows back and were still suffocating. Being from Turkey and not used to such sight, Pinar was disgusted. Her disgust, she voiced was that "in Turkey, which is not a very rich country, we don't have this because people take care of each other."

    I had also thought the same long ago when I moved to San Francisco. I made a mental note jumping over SF's sidewalk piss rivers, that I had never seen such sights in Iran because the people of that culture have compassion for and take care of each other. (There are beggars and panhandlers who are usually gypsy or illegals. To be honest, they are the ones who get the shitty end of compassion: none.) Both those countries are states without any real welfare system. Wealth and care is passed on by private charities, private citizens, private businesses, the neighbourhood mosques and other religious organizations.

    The problem the US has is that we are a Welfare State. We have become dependent on the State, and the State of course does a shitty job of not even providing a minimum standard of care for the poor. In this process the State has bred us to be greedy, non-caring, irresponsible individuals who walk past someone in need, asking ourselves "Why isn't the Government doing something about this?!"

    We are disconnected from each other and disconnected from humanity. That is exactly where the State wants us to be, otherwise they can't control us. Cliché, but "Divide and conquer" right? Yes, the Black Panthers as you noted were a threat because they were bringing a huge community together.

    We must get rid of the Welfare State, which in our case is merely a path to the Police State. Not every Government is fit to be responsible for its citizens and ours is pretty irresponsible considering where its priorities lie. We, not just as citizens caring for our countrymen, but as intelligent human beings looking after our own kind should "re-learn" to care for each other. Sigh... isn't that f***ing idealistic...
    cupcakewizard     Sat, Jan 19, 2008  Permanent link
    Wow, Xarene- your comment was very enlightening. I hadn't even ventured beyond my frustration with the system in regards to the demonizing of The Black Panther's quest for community support.

    The Welfare State does breed an attitude of every (wo)man for (her)himself.
    What's even more bizarre is putting a system into place only to develop a negative attitude toward those who rely on it. In my experience I've found many Europeans, Latinos, and just about every other culture have the mentality of taking people in and adopting a much more nurturing role than we've acquired in the U.S. I think you've shed light on the source of a lot of our issues.

    Do you think that a better approach is socialized healthcare?
    Xarene     Sat, Jan 19, 2008  Permanent link
    Any form of government organization, welfare, health care, etc... depends on the Government. Like I said the US Government has it's priorities out of whack—its after corporate, military, and imperialist interests. I don't trust them providing for my health because I will be forced to use certain drugs, see specific physicians, go to certain clinics and hospitals. I will be refused drugs, treatment and care if I am not in a specified bracket which will be determined by the Government. Basically socialized health care in America will mean the different classes will get different care.

    Think of how it is now: there are so many cases where insurance companies decide what is best for a patient and over-ride the physicians' diagnosis. Those patients die. Now add to this situation where at least that patient had the opportunity to seek the care and treatment which was best for him/her, another level of control and bureaucracy on top! Basically, a Government who has more foreign interests and spending needs to get out of the lives of its citizens.

    But in the case of a Government where the well being of their individual citizens and the nation as a whole is their top priority, yes, I say Socialism of anything will work. It works in Canada and from what I hear it is exceptional in Sweden. Now compare how things work in those governments to how they work here...
         Sat, Jan 19, 2008  Permanent link
    Xárene: Thanks for your very insightful comments. However, socialized health care may be pretty nice but it's not perfectly safe in this day and age. There's an interesting example happening of socialized health care and social stratification of the kind you talk about happening if the US had it where I live in Victoria, BC, Canada: Funding for socialized healthcare for the mentally ill was dropped significantly by the provincial government, (Headed by a general asswipe named, and yes his title is "honorable", Premier Gordon Campbell who landed a DUI in Hawaii and never got shit for it) and as a result the homeless population has skyrocketed in Vancouver and Victoria. Since the folks who go bananas without family to support them also have their legal guardian (The government) also stop giving a fuck, they don't really have anywhere to go besides becoming yet another incredibly disadvantaged, disregarded, and disrespected citizen of the street. If you really want to get deep in the matter, it all boils down to the fact that governments treat us only as commercial entities. Study some law and find out what a "strawman" (as some call it) is for more information on this.

    Going back to the always awesome black panthers, did you know that the US government did some really really really fucked up disinformation campaigns against them back in the 60's? They mass mailed these "black panther coloring books" out saying that they were from the black panthers after failing to convince the organization with an undercover agent to distribute them:

    http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/COINTELPRO/coloring.html

    You have to take a look a them for yourself. They're so disgusting when you realize who they actually came from.

    I also just discovered while looking around for that how some asshole (This is from a bit less than 10 years ago) still presented this as official black panther stuff in a university sociology course:

    http://www.nd.edu/~dmyers/courses/old/102au98/blpan.html

    ...
     
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