While some (but not most) of what the Party for Socialism and Liberation/ANSWER Coalition have said in their response to the Black is Back Coalition’s Open Letter is factually valid, their disingenuous, dishonest response is an example of using “facts” to hide the truth.
The truth is that the anti-colonial Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, comprised of 18 Black organizations, has conducted the Black People’s March on the White House for the past fifteen years, and Brian Becker, ANSWER and the PSL know this.
Not only do they know this, but in the past fifteen years, ANSWER has never accepted the Black is Back Coalition’s call to organize their base to participate in the anti-colonial Black People’s March on the White House. This, in and of itself, is a statement of how the PSL/ANSWER has measured the significance of the anti-colonial struggle of black people. It also contextualizes their ability to undermine our anti-colonial struggle with this contending November 4 mobilization.
The truth is that we had invited leaders from the ANSWER Coalition and PSL to speak at this year’s Black People’s March several months ago, and had spoken directly to PSL organizers as recently as September, to win participation from them in this year’s mobilization.
One of our representatives had directly contacted one of ANSWER’s “coalition partners,” Manolo de Los Santos of The People’s Forum, in August of this year, expressing our solidarity with them in the face of a vicious, slanderous attack piece published by The New York Times. We invited them to speak at the Black People’s March on the White House and participate in building for it. In mid-September, Lisa Davis, the Vice-Chair of the Black is Back Coalition, spoke at an event hosted by the December 12 Movement and made the announcement to the attendees, including PSL organizers, about the Black People’s March on the White House. Invitation letters were also directly sent to PSL and ANSWER to speak. We received no answer to any of the above communications.
The only message we heard from PSL/ANSWER on the call for November 4 was when we were blindsided by a social media promotion of their contending march on the same date, time and location.
The Black is Back Coalition’s Black People’s March this year, with the demands for the U.S. government to drop the charges against the Uhuru 3, has a heightened urgency in the face of the U.S. government’s indictments and threats of imprisonment of Chairman Omali Yeshitela and two other members of the Uhuru Movement who face 15 years in prison on bogus “foreign agents” charges, following the FBI’s military-style raids on their homes and offices last July.
PSL/ANSWER’s claim that their November 4 March on Washington is being organized by a coalition of Palestinians and Muslims, “of which ANSWER is just one member,” obscures the fact that while the Palestinian organizers may not have known about the Black People’s March on the White House, PSL and ANSWER did know. And they obviously said nothing to our Palestinian brothers and sisters.
Now ANSWER, Becker and PSL are attempting to hide their treacherous, interventionist role in splitting the Palestinian and African liberation struggles by blaming the contradiction on Palestinians. We are clear that our contradiction is not with the Palestinians, with whom the African Liberation Movement has always stood shoulder-to-shoulder in deep anti-colonial unity. Our contradiction is with the opportunist white left, which continues to demonstrate their willingness to isolate the Palestinian people and struggle by separating it from other anti-colonial struggles, including Africans in the United States.
On more than one occasion we have heard from Palestinian organizers who are involved in the March on Washington that the PSL and ANSWER insisted on the date of November 4, telling them that no earlier date was available because of “previously scheduled events.” This gives lie to the statement by Becker and PSL/ANSWER that it was the urgency of the war on the Palestinians that made it necessary for PSL/ANSWER to attack the struggle of Black people with this contending mobilization.
Moreover, an honest response from Becker and PSL/ANSWER to a notification from Palestinians of their intent to do a November 4 mobilization because of the urgency of the war would have been for Becker and PSL/ANSWER to call us to say that there was a possible contradiction with this date, but they did not.
A genuine solidarity with the anti-colonial struggle of African people should have driven PSL/ANSWER to raise in their meetings with other organizations that a Black-led March on the White House, which has taken place on the first Saturday of November for the past 15 years, was scheduled to happen on that same date, with urgent political and practical objectives to defeat a dangerous assault on free speech with implications for the whole anti-colonial struggle.
Phone calls were made to the Uhuru Movement by PSL proxies (what ANSWER refers to as their “coalition partners”) but never from ANSWER, PSL or Becker themselves. In each of those discussions, the Uhuru Movement responded that they were waiting to hear from Becker, the National Coordinator of ANSWER, because it was Becker and ANSWER who were the subject of the Uhuru Movement’s criticism.
While it is factual that Chairman Omali Yeshitela spoke at one ANSWER rally earlier this year, PSL/ANSWER’s statement wildly exaggerates their purported work to defend the Uhuru Movement against U.S. government repression. The truth is that even in the one rally where the Chairman spoke, he had not been invited by PSL/ANSWER. His presence there was a consequence of repeated follow-up on the part of the Uhuru Movement to secure a space on the program for the Chairman Omali to speak, where he was met with applause and unity from the masses.
If it is “unprincipled and false” to characterize ANSWER as a “white organization,” we suggest that the ANSWER Coalition take this up with their National Coordinator, Brian Becker, who stated publicly in an interview on March 28, 2023 that the ANSWER Coalition is under “white leadership.”
It is disingenuous for ANSWER to issue this statement without any acknowledgement of the fact that Becker, a leading member and co-founder of the PSL, is also the national leader of ANSWER. This response from ANSWER is an opportunistic affront not only to the African struggle but to the Palestinian struggle as well.
The struggle to push back against the U.S. government’s attack on the Uhuru Movement has involved the creation of the Hands Off Uhuru Fightback Coalition, an anti-colonial free speech coalition that seeks to defend all freedom-loving people against the escalating wave of colonial repression against political speech, including the Palestinians, whose student organizations in Florida, for example, are now being ordered by the state to disband.
History will remember this moment. We will be moving forward with the Black People’s March on the White House, endorsed by more than 40 organizations across the political spectrum and embracing multinational struggles, raising up the unity of Africans, Palestinians, Indigenous, Mexican and all colonized peoples against colonialism.
Becker and PSL/ANSWER should do the same: Oppose the imprisonment of the Uhuru 3, join the Hands Off Uhuru Fightback Coalition and support the anti-colonial free speech mobilization in Washington DC on November 4.
Not One Step Backwards!
Build the Anti-colonial Free Speech Movement!
Long Live Palestine! Free, Free Palestine!
Drop the Charges Against the Uhuru 3!