A letter from Andy Zee
Four centuries ago, in August 1619, the first slaves in the colonies that became the United States were brought to Jamestown, Virginia. They were approximately 20 men and women kidnapped captives, most likely from the kingdom of Ndongo in modern-day Angola. Bought by the Jamestown settlers from English pirates who had seized them from a Portuguese slave ship, they were put to work on the tobacco fields of the South. They formed part of over 12.5 million kidnapped and enslaved captives from Africa shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in what is known as the Middle Passage, a voyage of misery and death in horrific conditions of brutal whippings, casual violence and the rape of women captives. Captives who were sick were thrown overboard, so often that sharks would follow the ships. Nearly two million did not survive this journey.
One of the cruelest instruments of commerce, the slave ship defined and shaped America, in conjunction with “the whipping machine,” critical to cotton production in the slave states of the South, and capitalist accumulation of wealth across the emergent United States.
Among some sections of liberal and progressive people, this anniversary is bringing forth a long-needed and welcome reckoning with the actual history of this country, not only the unspeakable horrors and brutality of slavery but how it defined, shaped and put its stamp on every facet of American society from its very origins and founding. It is calling forth beginning examination of and starting to touch on the continuing legacy of slavery in white supremacy and the oppression of Black people, and how it is originating in and still woven into the fabric of this system of capitalism and this society, foundational to the wealth and position of this country today. For example, this is manifest in the 1619 Project of the New York Times, among a range of works from other intellectuals and artists.
As a seminal anniversary and in the midst of this ferment, revcom.us and associated social media aim to play—through the fall and coming year—a vital and needed role in the questioning, discussion and debates, centered around the historic breakthroughs and extensive works of Bob Avakian (BA) on the actual character of the relationship between capitalism and white supremacy, and how the latter could actually—and only—be overcome through a revolution aimed at the emancipation of all humanity… a communist revolution.
To this end, we will have a series focused on the theme of The Oppression of Black People and the Revolutionary Struggle to Emancipate Humanity. It really does matter, from the perspective and goals of making revolution and emancipating humanity, that people follow through on this reckoning and confrontation, learning more about the history of this country and its founding and foundations. It matters, even more, that people follow through on their convictions and go beyond their comfort zone, to logical and scientific conclusions such as what BA says in the film Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution:
White supremacy and capitalism—they have been completely interwoven and tightly “stitched together” through the whole development of this country, down to today; to attempt to really put an end to white supremacy while maintaining the system of capitalism would tear the entire fabric of the country apart. White supremacy and capitalism—it is not possible to overcome and finally abolish the one without overthrowing and finally abolishing the other.
There are sharp choices and futures posed now.
First, there is the MAGA-style open re-assertion and imposition of white supremacy with potentially genocidal implications.
Second, there are efforts like that of the Times and many progressive public intellectuals to open up and make available the actual history of this country, in an effort to “save America” or, in the words of Nikole Hannah-Jones, the editor and driving force behind the Times’ project, to cast Black people as “the perfecters of this democracy” within the myth and comforting narrative of America as constantly striving for and gradually achieving “a more perfect union.”
Third, there is the real urgent necessity of getting organized now for an ACTUAL revolution to overthrow and defeat the system of American capitalism-imperialism, and the white supremacy woven into its fabric. As Bob Avakian has characterized:
There will never be a revolutionary movement in this country that doesn’t fully unleash and give expression to the sometimes openly expressed, sometimes expressed in partial ways, sometimes expressed in wrong ways, but deeply, deeply felt desire to be rid of these long centuries of oppression [of Black people]. There’s never gonna be a revolution in this country, and there never should be, that doesn’t make that one key foundation of what it’s all about.BAsics 3:19
Follow revcom.us throughout the autumn, as we not only bring forward the seminal work of BA on this, but enter into and bring that work to bear on the crucial debate on the cause of the problem, and the actual solution.
August 26, 2019:
The Oppression of Black People and Other People of Color, by Bob Avakian, an excerpt
August 19, 2019:
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You’ve read this article, now think about the crucial role revcom.us plays. White supremacy and fascism are running rampant, and women’s basic rights are being ripped away. America threatens wars on Venezuela and Iran, as it terrorizes immigrant families and wantonly plunders our environment—imperiling humanity’s very future. At revcom.us you learn where these horrors come from, how they can be ended through an actual revolution, and how people are working now toward revolution. You can find, engage and spread the work of Bob Avakian, the leader of this revolution, the architect of the new communism, and author of a concrete blueprint for a new society moving toward full emancipation. So become part of fighting for humanity’s future: sustain or donate now.