Black Lives Matter leadership challenged on its opportunism by Uhuru Movement

ST. PETERSBURG, FL–On August 25, 2015, Chairman Omali Yeshitela and Gazi Kodzo of the Uhuru Movement (UM) took on a political struggle with the opportunism of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization.
 
In a teleconference with Julius Jones and two other BLM activists, challenging the empty, non-demand slogan of “black lives matter” and the danger of misdirecting the struggle into the embrace of the imperialist Democratic Party.
 
Julius Jones achieved national prominence as the BLM spokesperson who, along with two other Boston-based BLM activists, conducted a private conversation with U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, after one of her campaign events.
 
In the video of their talk with Clinton, Jones is seen pressing Clinton to confirm, “What in your heart has changed that’s gonna change the direction of this country?”
 
Clinton virtually begs Jones to make a set of demands. He refuses and brings the discussion back to her heart.
 
Glen Ford, Executive Director of Black Agenda Report, noted: “The fiasco can’t be blamed on Julius Jones; he was following the leadership’s policy. On MSNBC, BLM co-founder Alicia Garza […was asked…] what BLM wants presidential candidates to do. ‘First and foremost,’ said Garza, ‘acknowledge whether they believe that Black lives matter. […] We want to know what will you do to ensure that Black lives matter?
 
“From the lips of the founder, BLM is most interested in hearing candidates say the magic words ‘Black lives matter,’ after which it solicits policy proposals from the various campaigns. That’s it. No demands.”
 
In the phone discussion with Jones, Gazi expounded on the criticism of the Clinton video. “I’ve seen the effects it’s been having on the people. From Instagram to facebook to twitter, the people were disappointed and embarrassed by that video.”
 

Movement: marathon vs. treadmill

Gazi criticized Jones for failing to address the problems of colonialism, imperialism and white power.

“Hearts don’t build this world. Power, systems and violence build this world. Organizations build this world.

“Revolutions build this world. People are tired. They’re asking, black lives matter, but to what end? The overall question is, to what end?”

Jones deflected the political content of the criticism and focused on the manner in which it was delivered. He said he found the criticism so offensive that he compared it to an act of “black on black crime.”

Jones insisted that the confrontation with Clinton was broadly misunderstood by the masses of African people who watched it with feelings of embarrassment.

“The point of the action wasn’t to go in there to propose policies…,” said Jones.

“It was about her heart and her mind and what is happening with her personally now that she can understand the consequences of the violence that she’s caused.”

Chairman Omali Yeshitela responded:

“To have this confrontation with Hilary or anyone for that matter and say, ‘We want you to tell us what to do’, instead of saying, ‘This is what our demands are, this is where we are going— it does us a disservice!"

The Chairman explained that the movement has a responsibility to have demands to provide leadership so that the people can have a vision of where we are trying to go.

“Otherwise,” the Chairman said, “it’s like thrusting a people who want to run a marathon onto a treadmill. It makes a lot of motion but doesn’t go any place.”

Reject false leadership!

“We have in the making a viable movement, the first since the revolution was crushed in the 1960s.

We have a greater responsibility than to simply ask the oppressors, ‘What are you going to do with us?’”

Jones defensively insisted he does not speak for Black Lives Matter. “BLM is a decentralized network of 26 chapters,” a common refrain repeated by BLM spokespersons whenever they are met with criticism.

On August 28, the Democratic National Committee announced its official endorsement of Black Lives Matter.

We must reject false leadership that seeks to drag us into a self-defeating struggle to convince our oppressors that our lives matter.

We will never be free until we achieve black power over our own black lives.

As Herdosia Bentum of the Ferguson branch of the Uhuru Movement said as she stood before the Black Power Matters conference in August with the marks of police rubber bullets on her legs,

“If we ain’t struggling for power, we ain’t struggling for nothing! This is not a game!”

Struggle for Power!
Demand Black Community Control of the Police!
Black Power Matters!
Uhuru!
 

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