WASHINGTON, DC–They came from all over–from Florida, South Carolina, DC, New Jersey, New York, California and Maryland. They also came from Congo, via England.
They defied marathon-related detours that had streets blocked off that made it nearly
impossible for folks to get to the site. But, they came anyway–in bunches–and filled the
room to capacity.
These were mostly Africans who attended the March 26, 2011, National Conference on the Other Wars, hosted by the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations (BIBC) at the Festival Center in DC.
For most of the attendants, it was a conference whose time had come.
Their presence and exuberant participation in the conference was confirmation of the
declaration by BIBC chairman, Omali Yeshitela, during his conference overview, that the
conference and the very existence of the Coalition are a criticism of the white left and the
traditional peace or anti-war movement.
Black is Back confers "Legitimacy of Significance" on imperialist wars against Africa and African people
It was necessary to organize the Conference because the traditional white left and/or
peace movement have been the ones to confer legitimacy and significance to the wars
being waged by the US and Europe.
Inevitably, while these wars were important, they were wars that were selected from a
myriad of aggressions imperialism was making on the peoples of the world.
The fact that these wars were important to white people did not make them the only
important wars, or even the most important wars.
The Conference was packed with Africans who generally do not attend anti-war
or “peace” conferences.
This alone spoke to the significance of the conference.
Africans none-participation in white-led peace movement
While all empirical data generally reveal greater African opposition to wars being waged
by the US against some country and/or people or another, the African turnout for anti-
war actions is seldom reflective of this fact.
This is because the wars most Africans are confronted with as a daily aspect of life
never get recognized by the white left.
It is hard to mobilize Africans against the US war against Iraq or Afghanistan without, at
the same time, mobilizing against the wars this same US is waging daily against African
people right here in the US and around the world, from Haiti to Congo.
And what about the so-called Indians and Mexicans, whose lands were forcibly annexed
by the US, resulting in the so-called “illegal aliens” against whom war is daily waged?
The problem is that the traditional white left has accepted US imperialist definitions for
the situations confronting Indians, Mexicans and Africans.
The reality is that the public policy of police containment that Africans in the US have to live with, which results in police murders, mass incarceration and a host of political prisoners going back for decades, is something that most white people–including the left–see as protecting their interests as white people.
The police don’t just shoot African people; in the minds of most white people, they also
protect white people from Africans.
The perennial retort from whites, when criticized about their stance concerning Indians,
is: “So, whatcha wanna do, give the land back to the Indians?”
And Mexicans are just those people whose entry into the US, which was previously
Mexico, causes an assortment of problems from crime to added costs for social services.
The National Conference on the Other Wars was organized by African people to give
recognition to those struggles around the world and within the US that actually represent the Achilles heel of imperialism.
It was a conference to say that not only are the “other wars” important, they are actually
the wars being fought by imperialism to protect an avaricious social system that was
born of genocide and slavery.
The white left has never been able to say this, and the African liberation movement has
never said it better than on March 26.
Victory to the oppressed: A blistering critique of imperialism
The conference opened with a blistering critique of imperialism and a criticism of the
white left by Yeshitela, who called for a new peace movement that is capable of
criticizing imperialism as a social system, which was born of war and which requires war
for its continuation.
Yeshitela reminded conference participants that one of the things that distinguishes the
BIBC is the fact that it not only calls for peace, but also demands unity with the struggles
of the oppressed who are under attack by imperialism.
Victory to Afghanistan! Victory to the people of Iraq against the US colonial occupation!
This is the true stand for anti-imperialist peace, as defined by the Coalition.
BIBC not only stands for peace, it stands in solidarity with the resistance of the world’s
peoples against an imperialism that is in crisis, in its death throes.
The different wars US imperialism is waging at any particular time, whether in Viet Nam,
Panama or Iraq, are simply imperialist policies being carried out at any given time by any
given US administration.
However, imperialism is not a policy; it is a system that was founded on war and that
breeds war naturally.
According to BIBC, as the only sure way to end war, it is necessary to oppose
imperialism as a system.
The National Conference on the Other Wars called for the creation of a real, genuine,
anti-war movement that would address the wars being made against the Mexicans on
both side of the illegitimate border, as well as against other indigenous people of the
US, whose land made up a critical part of the “primitive accumulation” of capital that gave birth to capitalism as a social system.
Incredible, scientifically based presentations backed up by empirical data exposed the
imperialist wars being waged against African people throughout the continent of Africa
and in Haiti.
Black is Back – A genuine anti-imperialist coalition
Contributing to these discussions were Glen Ford, a founding member of the Coalition,
and Luwezi Kinshasa, secretary general of the African Socialist International, and
currently based in London.
Euginia Charles presented on the history and ongoing war against Africans in Haiti,
especially now by the US-sponsored and led United Nations military brigades currently
Many Africans in the US were ignorant of the history and situation with Africans in
In fact, many Africans in the US and elsewhere are generally ignorant of the situation
with Africans across South America.
Rich Piedrahita, a member of the Coalition’s coordinating committee, attacked this
general ignorance with a vengeance.
Piedrahita spoke of the history of Africans being brought to Colombia in chains. He
also let the conference know that Africans in Colombia constitute one of the largest
African populations in all of South America, and that Africans there, as in most of South
America, suffer poverty and national oppression that is not even addressed in the US-
influenced civil conflict currently wracking Colombia.
Efia Nwangaza, another founding member of the Coalition, based in South Carolina,
revealed the depth of US hypocrisy, the hypocrisy of a country that pretends to be
a purveyor of democracy around the world, when more than a million Africans rot in
prisons in the US.
This is in addition to those brave African men and women who are in prison for political
offenses of struggling for the emancipation of Africans colonized within US borders.
Jared Ball, a professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore, gave a brilliant
presentation on psychological warfare as a means of colonial control of Africans in the
Queen Mother Yaa Asantewa, a stalwart, longtime organizer for reparations and
member of the International Committee of the National Coalition of Blacks for
Reparations in America (NCOBRA), helped the conference to understand that
reparations had to repair damages that cannot be calculated in monetary terms, but
must also include the relationship between Africans ourselves in the process of making
Diop Olugbala of Philadelphia, president of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru
Movement (InPDUM), demanded recognition of the war being made by US colonial
police organizations against African people in the streets of the US.
Nellie Bailey, of the Harlem Tenant’s Council, exposed the deep rape of any semblance of resources from African communities through gentrification that enriches predatory
financial institutions and landlords while dispersing the African community to undermine
black political and economic power.
Unity with the Mexican and Other national liberation struggles
Conference attendees were especially appreciative of the presentation by Christian
Ramirez, a representative of Union del Barrio, a Mexican National Liberation
organization based in San Diego.
Ramirez’s presentation acknowledged the contradictions that sometimes affect the
relationship between Mexicans and Africans in the US, but expressed a deeply held
belief that it will be the unity between Africans and Mexicans in the US that will result in
the defeat of US imperialism.
Central to almost all the conference presentations was the recognition that the system of
imperialism was born of the European theft and occupation of the lands now known as
the Americas, the slave trade and other forms and acts of colonial domination and
This is something that rarely, if ever, happens with white left events, which usually see
Europe, the US and white people in general as the subjects of history around which
every event must be measured for significance.
Africans and others are relegated to status as objects of history without any independent
Hence, wars that impact the lives of the oppressed have no significance unless they
impact the lives, interests and/or consciousness of white people.
Hence, the conditions of existence of “Indians,” Mexicans or Africans seldom achieve
any and never receive adequate recognition at white left events.
BIBC was formed on September 12, 2009, by a wide array of political and ideological
expressions within the general anti-imperialist tendency of the African community from
the US, Canada, England and the Bahamas.
On November 7, 2009, less than two months after its founding, the Coalition organized
the first-ever national rally and demonstration at the White House against the regime of
US President Barack Hussein Obama.
Warmongering Obama and the white left
Despite Obama’s obvious warmongering platform, most of the so-called progressive
white left pretended to believe that an African face at the helm of government
determined the character of US imperialism.
In addition to this being a betrayal to all those who suffer imperialist aggression around
the world, this stance was also a betrayal of Africans suffering colonial domination within
It expressly exposed of the nature of the left, which would assume that Obama’s
presidency—one that did not even address the oppression of African people—could
otherwise satisfy an anti-imperialist agenda.
Within the so-called African “progressive” community, there was also evidence of this
convenient ignorance of imperialism that prevented some veteran black nationalists and pseudo-communists from coming out in opposition to Obama’s wars.
However, after the Coalition took the lead and threw its metaphorical body on the
grenade, many African and white progressives did attend the November 7, 2009, rally,
though far fewer participated in the march on the White House.
Since that inaugural November mobilization, the Coalition has sponsored a host of other
actions that served to begin to define the issues of war and peace and what anti-
imperialist actions should look like.
In 2010 national marches in support of the Haitian struggle were conducted in Miami and
Harlem, and another action in DC in opposition to Obama’s wars was held.
These marches did not treat Haiti as a charity case, as much of the white left traditionally
It recognized that France and the US, along with other European predators, have for
centuries lived of the blood of Haiti, and that what is needed for Haiti is revolution and
reparations from the US and France.
By the time of the November 2010 march on the White House, much of the traditional
white left had come to understand the nature of the Coalition and had begun to stay
Other than the whites who function within the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, there was
little or no participation from the white left on November 13, and only one other identified
representative of the traditional peace movement attended the National Conference on
the Other Wars.
However, participation by the white left in BIB actions has only secondary significance at
The most significant thing about the BIB events is that it provides a means by which
African anti-imperialist self-determination activists can come together to forge a common
agenda for struggle that unites the best representatives of our collective aspirations for
liberation and social justice.
Indeed, the significance of the BIBC and the National Conference on the Other Wars is
that they offer an opportunity to support, promote and build resistance to imperialism
around the world and within the US itself.
The Coalition is a concrete manifestation of our potential to unite around a common anti-
imperialist agenda, not just for our own gratification, but as a means by which the
masses of our people may be brought back fully into political life through common
organization around a common, agreed-upon democratic program.
BIBC has already established guiding principles of unity, a governance document and
various resolutions for action that informs its actions.
However, what distinguished the National Conference from just another talkfest were
some of the resolutions passed after various presentations.
One resolution called for African Liberation Day, to be held in various locations in the
world and sometimes in the US, and to be used as an anti-war platform regarding imperialist attacks against African people.
The second, related, resolution called for August 20, in deference to the August 17
birthday of Marcus Garvey, to be used as a day of action against the wars in Africa and
against Africans everywhere.
A third resolution called for opposition to Africom being hosted anywhere on the African
continent and for Africans around the world to mobilize in opposition to Africom.
Another resolution called for unity with Union del Barrio in its call for the demilitarization
of the Mexican-US border immediately, and for the Coalition to send a delegation to
California to visit with Union del Barrio for a firsthand investigation of the conditions at
The Conference also resolved to combat colonial psychological warfare by supporting
Coalition-controlled independent media and, finally, to continue to support all legitimate
efforts for reparations to African people.
LONG LIVE THE BLACK IS BACK COALITION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE, PEACE, AND REPARATIONS!
ALL POWER TO THE BLACK IS BACK!