Watch African People’s Solidarity Committee Chair Penny Hess speak at the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations forum titled “Fascism, Neoliberalism and the Way Forward” on March 6, 2021.
Video of entire forum: https://www.facebook.com/246589021335/videos/164711742032291
The African People’s Solidarity Committee is the organization of white people, formed by and working under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party, building white solidarity with black power.
Belinda Parker-Brown: Penny is the Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee and has been a member of the African People’s Solidarity Committee since its formation by the African People’s Socialist Party in 1976.
The African People’s Solidarity Committee is the Solidarity Front of African People’s Socialist Party to extend the African Revolution into the white community. She is the author of
Overturning the Culture of Violence, a book based on African Internationalism and the understandings of Chairman Omali Yeshitela, targeting white people to recognize their history of terror to African people and to stand in genuine solidarity with African liberation through reparations. Thank you, go ahead Penny.
Penny Hess: Thank you very much for inviting me to speak.
This is a profound honor and as the Chair of the African People’s Solidarity Committee, I profoundly salute our leadership, Chairman Omali Yeshitela, Deputy Chair Ona Zené Yeshitela, Secretary General Luwezi Kinshasa of the Party who will be speaking next, also Party members Elikya, Kalambayi, Ticharwa and just the entire inspiring, incredible revolutionary Party of the African working class the African People’s Socialist Party.
I want to salute Benjamín Prado, Unión del Barrio and the struggle of the Indigenous people, from Alaska to Chile, and to say that this is their land that no white settlers have any legitimate claim to not one inch of this land. This land belongs to the Indigenous people.
And that to say that the African People’s Solidarity Committee, just to reiterate what was said, is the organization of white people organized under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party, directly accountable to the Party in all our work. And our mandate is, as was said, to extend the African Revolution behind the enemy lines as part of the Party’s strategy to win complete and total liberation of Africa and African people everywhere.
And our work is to win white people away from unity with our own ruling class to see our interests and genuine class struggle to be under the leadership of the anti-colonial African working class and to understand that our role is to be black power in white face inside the belly of the beast and to return the stolen wealth of African people in the form of reparations to the African Revolution.
This is what we do and everything that I understand over the years of being a member of the African People’s Solidarity Committee, both in theory and in practice, I have learned from Chairman Omali Yeshitela who was faced with the task of rebuilding the African Revolution and building the Party and his theory of African Internationalism which the Chairman called advanced theory which sees the world through the eyes of the African working class.
And it is possible for us as white people to embrace this political understanding, begin to see the world, not through the eyes of the colonizer, of white power, but begin to see the world through the eyes of the colonized. And this is very very exciting.
Increasingly more and more white people are drawn to this solidarity movement under the Party’s leadership because African Internationalism matches the reality of the world today. And the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, which is our mass organization, has members in 148 cities throughout the United States and 30 states and we’re also building in the continent of Europe and in Africa as well among the white settler colonizer population.
So now white people can be part of changing the world under this anti-colonial leadership rather than just trying to change the ideas in our heads as a struggle against racism which doesn’t change the world, which the Chairman, Chairman Omali Yeshitela has called a self-defeating waste of time.
And I agree with the central, most critical contradiction, issue, problem in the world today is colonialism.
And again to reiterate, this has been said several times, but colonialism is the political, state-powered domination of a whole people by a foreign and alien state power for-profit. And this is what all white people are.
And I think it is really really important that we understand this in this whole question of fascism. Because the central contradiction in the whole world is colonialism. It’s what the Chairman has called, and sometimes quoting Marx, the original sin, the primitive accumulation and that the ultimate struggle today is the struggle between the colonized and the colonizer; the oppressed and the oppressor. And as the Chairman says, “the uneasy equilibrium” between the past and the future. And we white people are the colonizers, all of us, and we are facing the African people colonized inside the borders of the United States and around the world.
And we live at the expense of African people, and this is colonialism that we witness inside the borders of the United States, something that many many from the white left want to ignore, want to obscure, and as Chairman Omali Yeshitela shows, capitalism was born of colonialism. It was born of the European assault on Africa, the kidnapping of African people of all ages, turning African human beings into commodities for sale, into a means of production, as the Chairman said through forced labor, unspeakable violence, terror and torture, genocide.
This was the birth of capitalism and how Europe and white people everywhere became prosperous and powerful. And the chairman has defined this. He calls it the inescapable dialectic, that our lives as white people, as the colonizers wherever we are, whether we’re in Europe, whether in Johannesburg or Cape Town or any place throughout the United States, Canada, even in South America, that we live our lives based on sitting on a pedestal on the backs of African people.
The two realities require each other to exist and the Chairman has laid this out and we can see that this system is born of a colonial assault and genocide and that can’t be refuted. This is historical record. Go back and look at history. And I’m saying this to white people because this is the struggle that we’re always taking on. I know that that’s clear to everybody in this forum today.
There was no war that Europe was involved in the last 500 years that wasn’t about something to do with colonialism, a fight over who would control the colonial trade and African people or other colonized people’s lands or colonial resources and the colonial lands.
So it is also important for us to understand as white people that colonialism has been a popular public policy embraced by the masses of upstanding religious honorable white people; workers and bosses alike; women and men; children and elderly; gay and lesbian. All sit on the pedestal of the oppression of African people.
And it is our responsibility to bring this reality to us as white people in order for us to understand how we can participate in overturning it under the leadership of the organized African working class that are very serious and in the process of seizing power and winning the total liberation of Africa.
And that it is this colonialism that we participate in as the colonizers that is the basis of white unity and national identity everywhere we are around the world. It is colonialism that was the meaning of poor and working-class peasants and mine workers from Ireland or Italy or eastern Europe who were very clear that coming to the United States and walking up the ladder of success or experiencing these proverbial streets paved in gold, was very clearly based on participating in terror , colonial violence, torture, genocide against African and Indigenous people.
All of the white workers coming here were clear about that and have and did participate in it and that all white people sit on this pedestal and that everything that we see and that we tell is the colonial narrative, the colonial justification for what it is that we have done.
So when i first came into the African People’s Solidarity Committee when it was formed in 1976, and after several years of struggle from the Chairman and from the Party and we began to deepen our unity with African Internationalism, it, you know 30 years ago or so, it became clear or important to the African People’s Solidarity Committee to be able to tell other white people, confront ourselves with the reality of what we have done and what we now do to African people and Indigenous people as part of the colonizers. That this is the human face of colonialism and what, how this actually happens.
And you know back in those days we began to study whatever books we could find to use them to, along with, as part of the Chairman’s political theory of African Internationalism, to say here’s what we’ve done.
When the Chairman is talking about parasitic capitalism, that this is what we’ve done and we began to give presentations and write articles and books based on African Internationalism, to win white people to join the movement for reparations to African people.
And we found an unending culture of violence, as the Chairman has called it, that we have inflicted as colonizers upon the colonized. That this was regular everyday white people.
It is not an anomaly, it is not something that happens now and then; it is the norm that happens every single day.
We see that the enslavement, the violence that white people carried out against African people, to maintain the enslavement of African people that little white children, including girls and boys were trained to inflict violence, to wield the whip against African people from a very young age. That all the participation in the general white population, and the common and popular sexual assault of African women, of African and Indigenous children, kidnapped as sex slaves, that the forced breeding of African people and the sale of babies on the open market that made up what’s called the second trade in African people inside the U.S. that was common every day.
The massive forced marches that white people participated in forcing African people to march in what was called a coffle, connected by their neck, from places like Kentucky and Virginia to Louisiana and Mississippi, across thousands of miles. Where African people were bound together and pregnant and nursing mothers forced to march through this hell.
And that we see white people, not just the U.S. government, not just the state or the military, but this whole question that white people ourselves were the state, that there is, as the Chairman said, a white people’s state.
That white people did things like cut out Indigenous women’s vaginas and used them as
hat bands or covers for their saddle horns; speared their babies, and also African people, by tossing them around from knife to knife in front of the mothers. That the state of California paid a million dollars a year to white settlers to bring in the scalps of Indigenous people from the general white population.
And it has been estimated that 80 percent of the genocide against the Indigenous people was carried out by white civilians, not the state, the official state power.
And I heard a white woman testify in California about the fact that her grandfather had a coat made out of the skin and hair of Indigenous people.
And that there are massive, there have been these massive festivals called lynchings, burning human beings while still alive, while white people are dancing around with bands playing and food selling and cutting off the ears and fingers and and body parts of African human beings and taking pictures of tortured africans with white children posed in front of them and making them into postcards.
That no price was ever paid. No price was paid. It wasn’t against the law to do that in this country and no white person was ever arrested for any of the tens thousands of these things called lynchings.
And that white people, white women, were leading the assaults on African people, mass murder happening all the time day by day. Every day. Every day.
And that we see white people throughout our history burning down whole African cities where African people were just trying to build an economy and life for themselves. And not just Tulsa, not just Rosewood, not just East St. Louis. In every state, just gunning down whole communities, destroying property, stealing it with impunity.
No price was ever paid. And all of that wealth was stolen and incorporated into white people’s wealth that is owned today.
We see the whole system of convict leasing, a popular system that’s called “worse than slavery” for nearly nearly a hundred years. That worked African people to death, the teenagers hogtied and the pictures that you can still see today of little toddlers, African children in striped suits, out in the fields, forced to work.
The convict leasing rebuilt not only the wealth of the southern states after the civil war and more. It rebuilt the individual wealth of former slave masters to greater wealth than before. The abolition of the official legal enslavement of African people and the wealth overall of white working people throughout the South.
And you know there are just so many examples of this, of how it happens that this tearing down with the participation of the general white population of whole prosperous African communities like here in St. Louis, 20,000, a community, a neighborhood called Mill Creek Valley, where 20,000 Africans lived, where they had hotels and clubs, jazz clubs and restaurants and the same in St. Petersburg, Florida, no doubt in every city.
In order for white people to build businesses, this was nearly a hundred years ago and 50 years ago and 100 years ago, gentrification now and then. And the policy of St. Louis with the complicity of white people, the participation of the entire white population, to let the African community rot, starve it of resources, push the Africans out, and the constant psychological assault, the verbal degradation.
And we look at the conditions today of the prisons, the colonial police, the military violence every single day, the subprime mortgages that Wells Fargo called “the ghetto loans” that took away billions, hundreds of billions of dollars of African wealth inside this country just in the last 10 years.
The redlining, the sentencing guidelines that are 500 times greater for African people than for white people.
To ask that forfeiture is stealing African people’s houses today, millions of African people in and out of the prison system. Only 80 men for every 100 African women.
Popular white involvement on every level.
And we can look around the world. We can see white settler colonialism in Zimbabwe, Sudan, Namibia, Kenya, Congo and un unbroken line from King Leopold and 12 million people where genocide was committed there and never mentioned, never talked about.
And the fact that African people today live on ten dollars a day or two dollars a day on the richest continent on Earth.
And the fact that African anti-colonial resistance is met with what the U.S. government very clearly understands as counterinsurgency against an anti-colonial struggle. Even as the white Left will never never say that, COINTELPRO makes that clear.
And that all white people had to do that were involved in the ‘60s was as the Chairman says, go back up on the pedestal, cut their hair, became lawyers, got a job. This is colonialism and this is the necessary foundation for white people to have the lifestyles that we expect.
This is the pedestal upon which we sit. This is the basis of white people’s democracy. This is the inescapable dialectic that the Chairman talks about. This is the basis on which we spin the white colonizer narrative, presenting ourselves as the arbiters of science, reason, beauty, justice, democracy and godliness.
And that we want to talk, why people want to talk about fascism when the reality of colonialism is not even mentioned. It’s taken for granted.
So before Hitler, genocide was the norm, never had a name as the Chairman has said.
So what can we do as white people? We have to be organized under the African Revolution.
And I refer to the quote by Amilcar Cabral that the Chairman quotes very often in his Political Report, where he said that to white leftists in Portugal, the way to fight fascism is to stand in solidarity with the struggle against colonialism led by the African working class.
And I say to the white people who are afraid of fascism, join the movement in solidarity with African liberation! See a new world growing for black power, black political and economic power, the anti-colonial struggle.
We owe reparations reparations now! For any white people go to uhurusolidarity.org.
Uhuru and thank you very much!
Belinda Parker-Brown: That presentation right there, all i can say is to my sister Penny is black power. Black power my sister. Black power, peace and reparations for black people. Thank you.
Lisa Davis: That’s right. Uhuru!
Penny Hess is Chair of the African People’s Solidarity Committee and author of the book Overturning the Culture of Violence. She is also Editor of the White Solidarity with Black Power column that appears in The Burning Spear newspaper.