The room was jam-packed. People sitting on the floor, on the tables, people out in the hall. Many of the apartment blocks on Schenectady Ave have concrete inner court yards, have multiple means to get in and out without keys, lot of places to run and evade the police. The followers of the Menachem Mendel Schneerson and the Chabad Movement congregate near Kingston Avenue and the large Afro-Caribbean community stays more toward Utica; but for the most part the blacks and Jews live right on top of each other.
They for the most part ignore each other. With the exception of a bloody three day riot in 1991 this is virtually the only neighborhood where two completely different people’s share a ghetto.
But in the bunker basement here, not a white face in sight.
They are all pressing closer to hear the words of the man that so many people had been talking about. The basement of the apartment block fallout shelter has a maximum occupancy of a hundred and fifty people. Nearly three hundred had filtered in, a hundred more are waiting upstairs. Most people had just gotten off work, some neighborhood kids, boys off the block, had dropped by to see what all the commotion was about. They heard this man was “gonna tell it like it is and how it could be”. Lay it down for them in words they could understand. The neon lighting grid in the basement flickered its blinding light. Suddenly there was a hush. Three men dressed in black pushed forward through the mob. One of the men put his hand up in the hair, a call for silence. For some people in the ghetto there was religion, for others some little hustle, for a tiny talented tent make music or athletics for the whites. But lately for the struggling Jamaican and Haitian lower classes there were the words of Mickhi Dbrisk.
“You know what the trouble is these days?” he began.
“We work. We starve. We fight amongst ourselves. We embrace another civilizations God and we sing to hymns to white man on a cross. We work more, we hustle more, we get sucked into criminality, negativity and vice. They lock up one in 8 of our men, they break up our families and they use as their slaves. We always lose, and the white man never relinquishes his hold on the power structure. My name is Mickhi Brisk and I am here to tell you brothers and sisters not just how it is, but how it could be.”
Every voice died down to hear what he would go on to describe.
“The white man says we need schoolin’. But not a single one of our schools is well funded or intact. So we try go to college, but the majority of the colleges where actual opportunity is found are not open to us.”
“The white man says get jobs. So we try to get one. But most of the jobs we have to take are the jobs they don’t want, the only jobs open for us.”
“The white man says you ain’t a slave! That you can get some, equal opportunity, but as we all know. They on some shit. We are willingly patriating in a bondage system that get more work out of us than slavery did!”
“Now, I ain’t some redundant brother. Here me now. Do not. Do not I repeat blame the whites fo’ yo’ problems. The white man doesn’t want to hear it, can’t hear it, so it won’t do no good fo’ the community. Ya see, lots of brothas out there will tell you that blame needs to be cast everywhere but here. They say “BUY BLACK”. They say “BECOME MUSLIM”. They tell you “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” Hell I say it to, our lives matter. But itz the language behind the diction that’s important.” The whites kill us in the streets. They humiliate us and strip our rights in the court rooms. They lock up whole generations and take away our votes. The time for resistance was before they took us out of Africa, but the solution is not confrontation and protest. We must focus on control of our own development and intuitions! Like out Jewish brothers and sisters right upstairs do.
The youth began to leave.
“Hold the fuck up,” said Mickhi Dbrisk.
“You wanna go play gangsta, you’ll end up in a coffin. You wanna be a man. Hold the fuck up. Let’s drop this criminal shit today and we’ll teach you how to find with mathematics, with science with economics and with strategy.”
A few people, mostly young hoods walk out, but the masses were becoming enthralled.
“I come before you with a simple message. We as a community have suffered the injustice of being begotten by slaves into a modified slavery. We can’t hold onto that, but we must not ever forget it. We, the descendants of black African people are no better or worse than the white people. Bear in mind, when I say white people, I’m not talking color of skin. I mean the establishment. The man. There are many types of people and situations and circumstances dictate the state of current affairs. But learn to think about class not just race. So many out there will fight and die for their race or their religion. What I say is fuck your race? White people are slaves too. Yellow people, Brown people, Muslims and even the Jews are all bound slaves on in this world system. We need allies for our liberation, but do not hear my words and think we plan to start a plantation razing race war.”
There is a pause. Every eye is on him now.
“Never forget what our system does to maintain itself,” he began again.
“Never forget that as an American, black, white, and yellow you all on that slave ship and our goal is our won ship not burn the ship and drown together. What oppresses one man oppresses everyman, here and abroad. Our chains are not of lead but of the illusion of gold we are promised every day. It’s said in America that history has been a progression towards ever-greater freedom for humanity. “Name a better society than this one” is a common statement made to anyone who criticizes the system of modernity. But if no better system than this one has ever existed does that automatically recommend the status quo? What if, on a scale of 1 to 10, with most countries in the world currently scoring a 4, modern America is a 6 for its whites and a 3 for everyone else? What if humanity started out as driven slaves with a whip-master behind them; progressed to a stage in which they were only driven but not whipped, then to a stage in which they could stand enchained on their own? What if modern society is only one in which we all wear really shiny chains? Should we be satisfied with this state of existence? Is This Just The Way It Is? I cry bull shit!” He pauses. “I am here to say, Let’s get free together.”
If anyone had the audacity to speak up now it was young Tina Shabazz.
“So you talk a big game Mickhi, but what do we do?”
She was standing now, her trim and beautiful Nubian frame sliding out of her seat and pushing to the front of the crowd.
“We stand up and we dig deep inside ourselves and community, we marshal our resources and we prepare for autonomy, ghetto by ghetto,” he quickly retorted.
“Like my grandpa did?”
She would often claim Malcolm was her grandpa. Anyone who knew her knew she didn’t even know her father’s name let alone her grandpas’. In the hood she was treated like a crazy artistic teenager.
“Tina. Tina. Tina. Always rabble rousing, but never achieving nothing for the community.”
“What fucking community Mickhi? Harlem’s now half white, in five to ten years Bed Stuy will be too.”
“Not if we unite and resist,” he replies
“You would burn down a brothers’ home before you let the white folks get it, is that it? That we must fight? You is on some shit. The only thing brothas wanna fight fo’ is loseies and the next big score. How you gonna rally um them? How you gonna wake up all the good striving Christians and Separatist Muslims? What does Uhuru and your Jew allies have to offer that don’t get more young people killed like that last time we got up?”
“It’s this very attitude sister that keeps us all oppressed. Disunity and prejudices. Artificial divisions.”
“Way to be optimistic brother. It isn’t THE MAN that keeps us oppressed, we do a good enough job oppressing ourselves. You used to be Crip, you know the cycle.”
“Have you missed every word I just said?”
“I heard you loud and fuckin’ clear Dbrisk. “RARARA. Uhuru Movement! All power to the people!” the same horseshit grandpa shouted.”
“As you will be Tina. As you will be.”
She knew he wouldn’t argue with her long. After all, it was all a front. Dbrisk and Tina Shabazz were in the same squad; the community just didn’t know it yet.
“We have room for good Christians, we have room for Bloods and Crips, and we have room for strivers, bourgeoisie niggas and room for Muslims. We have a ten point program that will be familiar to everyone. We have clinics, schools and training camps. I am here tonight to invite everyone to enlist in the Uhuru Movement. As you may have heard on the wire there’s gonna be a show of force at the parade. We will keep everyone updated on the Fire Station, the underground press and via liaison officers.
“They are killing us man by man and isolating us in these ghettos to exploit us. If you can fight you fight, if you gotta run you run. This uprising is not black against white, we have allies among the whites, the Muslims, the Jews and even the Irish,” he tells them.
“You go back to your churches and school and places of work, the snitches in the room can pass this on to the cops; we are fighting for democratic Confederalism and autonomy and human rights. If you ain’t running’ wit it run from it.”
“Well nigga, how do me an’ my squad get in,” asks a tough young thug on the wall?” who one his government papers was written down as Joshua Hunter.
“Well, you’ve got your gangster slouch down, now it’s time to master the revolutionary swagger.”