Written by Tiny Lisa Gray-Garcia, daughter of Dee, granddaughter of Mimi
Tuesday, 06 October 2015 07:37
| Decolonization not canonization: Enslaver Junipero Serra was no saint
The screams traveled in the wind. Some so faint you could hardly hear, some so loud you couldn’t see. A gust of hurt blew in my face as I walked onto the oddly silent stretch of Mama Earth called Mission Tierra in Fremont, California, the ancestral land of the Ohlone peoples.
First Nations people spoke out passionately against the canonization of Junipero Serra at a convening in July at Mission Tierra called “Serra: Saint or Sinner?” – Photo: Poor News Network
The screams belonged to the ancestors. They always greet me when I walk onto these stolen spaces called Missions that are the locations of so many decades of colonial genocide to Native people of Turtle Island. Once the screams start, they never quit.
For the last few months, myself and other POOR Magazine family of poverty and indigenous skolaz have been traveling to Missions across CalifAztlan alongside First Nations elders and revolutionaries to address the 21st century violence of granting sainthood to Junipero Serra by Pope Francis.
“As an Ohlone woman who has ancestors that were enslaved at both Mission Dolores in San Francisco and Mission San Jose in Fremont, I am disgusted and appalled that the Roman Catholic Church is going through with the canonization of the genocidal maniac Junipero Serra,” explained Corrina Gould, First Nations warrior, woman leader and truth revolutionary, speaking to a convening in July at Mission Tierra entitled “Serra: Saint or Sinner?”
For the few people who still believe the colonizers’ washed history we are all taught in the “public” schools, the genocide perpetrated against Native people by the Catholic Church and its many agents, aka “missionaries,” is well-documented.
There is no secret that in the lie of discovery, the church played a huge role in the theft of land, and Junipero Serra, who spent 15 years in California, was responsible for the torture and death of thousands of indigenous people, including babies and mothers. He was part of a reign of colonial terror that lasted hundreds of years and used the name of the revolutionary African Jew Jesus (Yeshua) in vain.
“So many of my ancestors were killed because of missionary colonization, the truth needs to be told. That’s why we indigenous people are here today,” said Kim DeOcampo through her tears to the room filled with nuns, priests and catholic parishioners who seemed very sold on the canonization of Serra as though it was a done deal.
The unwashed history of Serra’s brutalization
Using indigenous bodies for brutal slave labor, Junipero Serra “founded” nine of 21 Franciscan missions along the Pacific coast. Some of them became cities, like San Diego and San Francisco. And, as usually is the case with the perpetrators of gentrification, mass redevelopemt, globalization, land theft, colonization and other acts that support the white supremacist power grid that is Amerikkklan, Junipero Serra receives “accolades” and monuments at both the Capitol in Washington and California’s Capitol in Sacramento.
These colonial lies are funneled into our minds as 8- and 9-year-old children in our public school curriculum. We are told to make small “mission” mock-ups with friendly priests and happy indigenous people as part of a California “history” lesson.
Using indigenous bodies for brutal slave labor, Junipero Serra “founded” nine of 21 Franciscan missions along the Pacific coast.
But what is always missing, just like it’s missing from most of the historical lies written by the ruling class who have a stake in us collectively being numbed into believing white supremacy ideology, is the real story of the mass torture, beatings, murder and sexual abuse of literally thousands of humans to ultimately establish the U.S.
“They were all bound with rawhide ropes, and some were bleeding from wounds, and some children were tied to their mothers. The next day we saw some terrible things. Some of the runaway men were tied to sticks and beaten with straps. One chief was taken out to the open field and a young calf which had just died was skinned and the chief was sewed into the skin while it was yet warm. He was kept tied to a stake all day, but he died soon and they kept his corpse tied up,” wrote Vasali Turkanoff, a Russian explorer who witnessed the torture at the missions himself.
If the claims of torture and abuse are questioned, one need only read the personal diaries of Serra himself, documenting all his brutality like it was a clinical study. Babies and mamas sexually and physically tortured and thrown over cliffs; people’s hands and fingers were cut off and they were beaten until they bled to death, brutally punished if they didn’t pray, dress or speak in the way that satisfied the missionaries.
The river of blood and destruction is deep and terrifying. This is the history we are never taught. We have to search for it because it is intentionally buried under lies of organized religion, land theft and savior mythologies.
If the claims of torture and abuse are questioned, one need only read the personal diaries of Serra himself, documenting all his brutality like it was a clinical study.
Actually, what is documented in multiple texts and stories both by outsiders and First Nation peoples across Mama Earth is people who were filled with abundance, had a complex labyrinth of traditions, both spiritual and political, living well and thriving on their ancestral land and needing nothing from the people who came here with guns and diseases bent on theft and destruction. One recent book that documents Serra’s genocide meticulously is “Crown of Thorns” by Elias Castillo.
“Junipero Serra becoming a saint continues to reopen wounds of the past and continues the genocide of the survivors through invisible-ization and patronizing behavior that continues to say that they know what is best for the Indigenous people,” concluded Corrina. “This canonization does not only affect and harm California Indians but the many thousands of Indigenous people in this country who were put in mission schools and the continued missionization of indigenous people across the globe.”
My Catholic herstory of poverty and survival
My mama, a mixed race, Afrikan-Puerto Rican, Taino and Roma Irish orphan, and her mother, my grandmother, a Roma Irish psychic, were both saved and tortured by all that was the Catholic Church. Nuns, priests and convents played so many parts in our broken herstories.
My mama, almost killed in countless Catholic foster homes and then “saved” by nice nuns who took pity on her, an unprotected child of color, only to push her out into yet another foster home, where she was starved and beaten, almost to death, still had an unspoken awe for the Catholic Church. My grandmother, who was indigenous Celtic Roma (gypsy) in her ways, altars, smoke, offerings, discussions with ancestors, levitation and powers colonizers would call pagan or sacrilege, but considered a “curandera, reader, psychic” by all the people of her community, even after a life of poverty and low-wage domestic labor, still believed in everything that was the Catholic Church.
With images of bloody, white-ified Jesus hanging all over the tiny, broke-down one room she ended up in and yet she still loved the nuns, crediting them with her salvation when she was placed in a convent at 12 because she was pregnant with her father’s child.
“I was raised a Catholic and I am still a practicing Catholic, but I am also an Ohlone woman with many ancestors who suffered so much pain in the missions, which is why I really hope Pope Francis does the right thing and stops this canonization of Serra,” said Ruth Orta, a mother, grandmother and elder Ohlone woman who spoke to the convening with tears in her eyes.
“We want to be instrumental in the healing. We can only do that together,” said Sister Gloria Jones, a Dominican sister and part of the Center for Education and Spirituality who organized the convening in July as part of a closing prayer for the day’s activities.
When I stood before the convening in Fremont, listening closely to the ancestors who were whispering in the corners of that vast white room, I tried to remind the church that one of the reasons this pope was chosen was to bring new consciousness into the church, new consciousness and new members. The church is losing members by the thousands and in these times of people’s internal transformations, awakening and rebellion, the only way the church is going to improve its relevance is if it stands with the people – all the people, especially those of us who have been harmed by organized religion.
This is the worst time to canonize an ancient killer colonizer! Instead, it is the time to move with revolutionary, de-colonial leadership. Not canonizing Serra would be a move in the tradition of another well-known revolutionary leader who was always ahead of his time, Yeshua , or Jesus Christ. Ometeotl, Ase, Semign Cacnona Guari, Aho …
Tiny – or Lisa Gray-Garcia – is co-founder with her Mama Dee and co-editor with Tony Robles of POOR Magazine and its many projects and author of “Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America,” published by City Lights. She can be reached at email@example.com. Visit POOR atwww.poormagazine.org.
Chairperson Valentin Lopez of the Amah Mutsun tribe of California speaks at a symposium on canonizing Father Junipero Serra at UC Riverside on March 13, 2015. Chairperson Lopez also spoke in April in New York City at the United Nations Indigenous Persons’ Conference about how his tribe continues to suffer from historical trauma as a result of the mission system. He hopes that his words will convince the Pope to rethink his decision to canonize Serra.
Written by Dedon Kamathi
Tuesday, 06 October 2015 07:14
| Dedon Kamathi: To challenge the U.S. Empire
Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney writes that this statement, found after Dedon Kamathi’s death earlier this month, is a “letter that Dedon wrote in the case of his demise during the trip that he and I took together to Syria while it was under attack from U.S. imperial forces. This letter, I believe, is critical to understand who Dedon was and how committed he was to his community. He was ready to give his life for his beliefs and for us.”
Sept. 14, 2013 – Hotep. If this statement is being read publicly, that is because I was murdered by the U.S., Israel and their European- and Arab-backed rebel forces in Beirut or Syria.
Dedon Kamathi speaks at the HP Boycott Campaign’s “From Ferguson to Mexico to Palestine” Community Forum on June 6, 2015.
Many have asked why would an educated African in America put my life on the line for Syria, for Arabs and not just live a middle class Negro lifestyle devoid of such danger. I have committed myself to the just struggles of Africa, Native Americans (AIM et al), Chicanos and Latin American revolutionaries.
The struggle of Africans in America via campaigns such as “Crack the CIA,” Free Geronimo and Smash the FBI-CIA-ADL, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, racism at the beaches, pools, surfing – the list is long – has also been my commitment to the local U.S. arena.
The same has been asked about my travels and constant political work in the war zones of Libya, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Eritrea and of course Mother Ethiopia in the 1973 period.
I answer that the principle of revolutionary internationalism and the objective of Pan Africanism as the driving ideological base of Nkrumahism-Turism is the reason.
Because the drive time programmers at KPFK and other Pacifica affiliates do not provide the other point of view of these anti-imperialist governments, I am committed via radio as well as lectures etc. to provide support to these progressive governments and movements.
Though not perfect, these governments and movements in relationship to the U.S.-backed forces, which attempt to disintegrate these nations into warring feudal fiefdoms, cannot be tolerated based on the principle of the right of a nation and people to self-determination.
I made a principled commitment to use whatever educational vehicles are available to challenge the U.S. Empire. My weapon is media, lectures, protest and organization.
Oppression by the U.S. and NATO and their stooges of anti-imperialist nation states is financed by our U.S. citizens’ tax dollars. The disaster capitalism of attacking nations whose centers of surplus profits is beyond the reach of the vampire 1 percent is why they are targeted. Hence I/we fight back.
It is significant that these same alleged axes of evil, these same non-Western controlled market economics have the most advanced position on the role of women, national minorities, religious minorities, economic nationalism, foreign policy independence.
Hence they must be defended. Whether it is the Black Student Unions, the Black Panther Party, the All African People’s Revolutionary Party or Freedom Now, I made a principled commitment to use whatever educational vehicles are available to challenge the U.S. Empire.
My weapon is media, lectures, protest and organization.
Kenneth S. Carr, aka Dedon Kamathi, Sept. 14, 2013
Written by The People’s Minister of Information JR
Friday, 11 September 2015 18:20
| Bay Area rapper Paris releases ‘Pistol Politics’
One of the fathers of political Hip Hop on the West Coast is still at ‘em and getting ready to strike again with the Sept. 11 Guerrilla Funk release of “Pistol Politics.” The rapper Paris’ career has survived through three generations of political Hip Hop most personified by acts such as Ice Cube, 2 Pac, Public Enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers, X Clan, The Coup and Askari X, then the second wave consisting of dead prez, Mos Def aka Yasin Bey, Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, Immortal Technique and Common, and now this third wave consisting of J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Ab Soul and the like.
In this war to keep something funky in our ears and something relevant on our minds, Paris has been and still remains at the front line of revolutionary culture that actually makes it to average everyday people in the streets. Be on the lookout for Guerrilla Funk releases by George Clinton, T-Kash and Dj True Justice before the year is out.
Check out the Left Coast Hip Hop OG Paris, as he talks about “Pistol Politics,” his career and political rappers.
M.O.I. JR: Can you talk a little bit about how you got into rap? When did you turn it into a profession?
Paris: Peace bro, I hope you’re well. I got into it in the early ‘90s and have been doing it off and on ever since. I wouldn’t call it my main profession, but it’s a component of what I do and a necessary release for me to get things off of my chest. I’m fortunate to still have a label, still have global distribution, to still be able to tour when I want to and to have a voice that resonates with what many people feel.
M.O.I. JR: What prompted you to create Guerrilla Funk Records? And how many albums have you put out under this label?
Paris: I created Guerrilla Funk right after the terror attacks of 9/11. It was initially started as a safe haven for artists who found that many creative outlets were no longer available to them because of the wave of fear-induced “pseudo patriotism” at the time.
If you recall, those events made it difficult for anyone questioning the system to be heard, and many of us found ourselves without a creative home pretty much overnight. Many acts have participated in Guerrilla Funk releases: Public Enemy, Immortal Technique, dead prez, The Coup, P-Funk, KRS One and many more. I think we’ve had about 12 albums thus far. Always quality over quantity.
I created Guerrilla Funk right after the terror attacks of 9/11. It was initially started as a safe haven for artists who found that many creative outlets were no longer available to them because of the wave of fear-induced “pseudo patriotism” at the time.
M.O.I. JR: Besides an artist, what other role do you play with the label? How has that been working?
Paris: I own it but usually outsource the majority of work that needs to be done with the setup of any given release. It no longer makes sense to have a fully staffed label, and many companies offer specialty services that cover the important elements of launching a commercial release properly. I do that with the sales force for retail, publicity, tour tie-ins, sponsorships, licensing placements etc.
M.O.I. JR: Over the decades, how have you seen the progression of Black politics in rap music, now that we are post-Katrina, post-Oscar Grant and post-Ferguson?
Paris: There are far fewer voices representing a Black political agenda in rap now because record companies don’t endorse those types of messages. In fact, they’d rather have white artists that create Black music, if left to their own devices.
American popular culture loves everything about Black people but the people themselves – the style, the music, the trends, the dances, just pick one – so there has been no real progression of Black politics in rap. If anything, we’ve regressed.
We’re more apt to be accepting of everyone, even if their respective agendas are detrimental to ours, and we’re quick to dismiss things that should be of greater concern to us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some simple-ass artist saying racism is over, saying that “Black lives matter” isn’t necessary or coonin’ to do ANYTHING that makes them a little bread.
It’s sad, really. Going up against simple shit is like swimming upstream most of the time. Just look at Worldstar.
But what I will say is that those of us who remain in hip-hop who make politically poignant material are more apt to really get it in now, because so few of us have a voice and because many of us are more mature and recognize the seriousness of the times. And there are acts out there who get it in the younger generation too – J. Cole, Kendrick and Joey Bada$$ come to mind. Lupe too, though he’s got stripes now and has been in the game for a minute. But we’re still here.
There are far fewer voices representing a Black political agenda in rap now because record companies don’t endorse those types of messages.
M.O.I. JR: Over the years you have worked with other political rappers on your albums such as T-Kash, Kam, Ren, dead prez, Public Enemy and Immortal Technique. What have you gotten out of these collaborations? How do you feel about their particular styles?
Paris: It’s been cool. Of all those mentioned, T-Kash and Kam are the ones I actually have ongoing dialogue with, and I consider them my brothers. Everyone’s voice is important though, and many of these acts represent different regions and walks of life that are all working toward the same goals of social and economic justice.
M.O.I. JR: Why don’t political rappers collaborate more?
Paris: I have no idea. I’ve done more than my part in that regard, though.
M.O.I. JR: I see you are gearing up for a George Clinton release. What was it like working with him? What does it sound like? When will the album come out?
Paris: The GC release, “We Come in Peace,” comes out in October and the new group is called Thang. It’s intended to be a continuation of the Parliament mythology of Sir Nose, Dr. Funkenstein, Starchild and the like, and it sounds MASSIVE.
Definitely was a long time coming and definitely was on my musical bucket list. George was hella cool. It was surreal gettin’ down with him because he was one of my musical heroes growing up.
I also have to plug the new T-Kash and DJ True Justice albums – both coming out Oct. 9, and both on Guerrilla Funk as well. Visit www.guerrillafunk.com for more info.
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming release? How does it differ from past Paris albums, especially the classic “Sonic Jihad”?
Paris: Thanks for the compliment, bro. The new release is called “Pistol Politics” and is available everywhere Sept. 11. It’s my first double album, and it’s a fusion of some of the best gangsta and revolutionary rap talent ever, featuring E-40, WC, Kam, Tha Eastsidaz, dead prez, T-Kash and more.
It’s a musical statement of solidarity – and a much needed united front – against oppression and institutional racism in an age almost devoid of political and social commentary in urban entertainment. We go in on society’s ills and we celebrate its virtues, emphasizing themes promoting unity, progression and community upliftment.
Usually you’ll find conscious acts trying to be more street to appear credible. On this album, the opposite rings true, as I feature talent that was very much involved in street life but is now revolutionary. Very powerful – and very necessary right about now.
The new release is called “Pistol Politics.” It’s a musical statement of solidarity – and a much needed united front – against oppression and institutional racism in an age almost devoid of political and social commentary in urban entertainment.
M.O.I. JR: Where can people buy the record?
Paris: It’ll be available everywhere Sept. 11 in both physical and digital formats. Local music stores will be carrying it, so be sure to support our indie merchants!
M.O.I. JR: How can people keep up with you?
Paris: They can subscribe with an email address at www.guerrillafunk.com, follow me on Twitter @paris_gfr and get at me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/paris.artistpageofficial. Thanks!
The Imam Jamil Action Network, Jericho Movement and other concerned individuals join in demanding immediate adequate medical attention for Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown.
Imam Jamil in prison garb, surrounded by guards
On Sept. 3, 2015, the Jericho Movement received an email from a political prisoner at U.S. Penitentiary Canaan, a high security prison in Waymart, Penn., concerning Imam Jamil. The sender said that the imam was in serious need of medical attention.
His jaw was swollen to at least twice its normal size, and he is in a lot of pain. We were told that the institution had been on lockdown for two weeks, which is why no word had gotten out earlier.
A family member was later able to speak with Imam Jamil and confirms the information. Someone from the Jericho Medical Committee will contact the prison clinical director to see what, if any, medical info can be gotten from the institution.
Please call or fax USP Canaan and ask – demand – that Imam Jamil be given immediate adequate medical attention. A more detailed statement will be forthcoming.
The phone number is 570-488-8000; the fax number is 570-488-8130. Let them know you are concerned about Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, No. 99974-555.
Please call or fax USP Canaan and ask – demand – that Imam Jamil be given immediate adequate medical attention. The phone number is 570-488-8000; the fax number is 570-488-8130. Let them know you are concerned about Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, No. 99974-555.
For those who want to write the imam, the address is: Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, 99974-555, USP Canaan, P.O. Box 300, Waymart, PA 18472. You may not get an immediate response from him, but we know all cards and letters are appreciated.
The Imam Jamil Action Network (IJAN) urges all to support this effort to gain relief and to demand the release from the unjust imprisonment of our righteous brother. We must stop this “execution by medical neglect.”
Visit the Imam Jamil Action Network, whose mission is “Working to Free Imam Jamil Al-Amin,” atimamjamilactionnetwork.weebly.com.