I woke from a fitful dream this morning , in my sleep I kept seeing guys I knew who never came back from the war Viet Nam..in that way that dreams can be, some of them were real guys that I knew in high school or from my “hood” but some of them were just faces. I think it’s because I went to sleep with the TV on and there was so much stuff on about Memorial day… But yes I knew a lot of guys and even a few women who went to “the NAM” many never came back. As high school was ending for me and my generation, you had many people who lived in complete fear of the day they would get “called up” in the draft to go fight that war To be honest I also grew up with guys who grew up watching all those WW II movies with John Wayne and Audie Murphy..( I know none of you young people know who Audie Murphy was…do what you do best google him) and these people could not wait to get in uniform and go fight and kill some communists. You have to understand that everybody I mean EVERYBODIES Dad had fought in WW II in fact you could not buy a house in our neighborhood unless you were a veteran. Also I have to mention that not as many Black men went to college as they do today some didn’t have the grades , even more could not afford it. I was in that few who were sought out by the colleges both Black and White. We didn’t have Affirmative Action back then so all the big white colleges would literally hunt down Black “super students” …you only needed two or three in your school then no one could say Cornell , or Dartmouth were “racist” ..but you really had to be that “super student” ten times better than the white student to be what we called in those days “the nigger who sat by the door”..I didn’t have the best grades but in my IQ tests I scored in the 160s ..by the time I was in 11th grade it was not unusual for there to be a big black car sitting in front of my parents house when I got home from school two or three times a week ..all asking us to sign an agreement for me to go to their University … I don’t say this to brag .in fact it was a curse that inflicted a lot of pain on my parents and to this day colors the relationships I have with my siblings. But that’s a story for another day, the point here is that I seemed to be in a position to not be “cannon fodder” in that war….But they got a lot of us…I feel bad about it today that the stupid young man I was would make fun of these guys..”hey man you a little brown guy who is treated like shit in your own country going off to kill little brown guys on the other side of the world who just want to run their own country, man you’re a complete fool”. That was easy for me to say …I would have a student deferment and would not have to go…or so I thought ..that’s another story too for another day. But the point here is Uncle Sam took a lot of boys through no fault of their own .Money and class for the most part decided if you had to go or not.0ver 58,000 never came back.. and today I salute every single one of them. This picture is of a statue that sits in the park where the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial is….I kind of like it ..look closely at the soldiers faces ….I think it says it all.
This past weekend in Philadelphia we had a huge demonstration,I did not attend the March Against Monsanto Philadelphia that happened this week end. I simply was not feeling well and these days I have to really pay attention to that. Many of my friends were there. One old friend from my days in the Co-op business is David Woo, a long time activist who many people may recognize from his days at WHYY. Apparently there is an Asian person who works for Monsanto and sometimes shows up at these things ..sort a spy or a Shill if you will. My friend David is Asian ..apparently there were not many Asian persons in this crowd because one “full of himself..arrogant” White guy ..sort of the self appointed savior among recent Philly activist picks out David ..calls him the Shill and fanned the flames of what could have become a mob attack….David was shouted down and not really allowed to defend him self…The Arrogant “prick” responsible for all this is called David Mauriello..at least that what he calls himself now..Days later on the FB page for “March Against Monsanto” this guy posted a supposed apology ..his excuse ..The other guy looked just like David..now let me add that David Woo is a particularly gracious person and with some reluctance accepted the “apology” ..I don’t… it’s racist and almost says that it was Mr. Woos fault for looking Asian…cause as we all know “they all look just alike.” Here is the apology ..judge for yourself but to me it’s BULLSHIT ..call it the “they all look alike defense”……………………………”March Against Monsanto Philadelphia would like to clarify that there was a case of mistaken identity during the march on Saturday. David Woo, an apparent supporter of non-GMO proliferation, was mistakenly identified as a shill, pointed out unfairly, booed, and made to feel unsafe. We deeply regret this unfortunate incident, and sincerely apologize to David Woo.
Firstly, let us clarify, that we did not confuse you, Mr. Woo, with a 70-80 year old man in the GMO OMG documentary. You were mistakenly identified as a 40-50 year old man at a viewing of the GMO OMG movie whom Diamond and Leah interacted with for at least 20 minutes. Leah (the in-reality-not-so-young “blond woman”) spent some time trying to eliminate you as this man from ten feet away, but the evidence mounted against you. This man looked, acted, dressed, and spoke uncannily similarly to you, and absolutely was a biotech shill who spouted false information about GMO science and obfuscated conversation with the audience and individuals incessantly. This set of circumstances made it impossible to decipher you from this man. So for the mistaken identity, the assumption, despite that it was based on good educated information, and for publicly embarrassing you and for the hurt and anger this caused you to feel, we fully apologize. This was absolutely NOT a stunt – it was an honest mistake. We don’t do stunts. We believe in honesty, transparency, and the truth. We wish you had approached one or both of us at the MAM table at the market and clarified who you were; either one of us would have made the time to listen and discuss this. We also wish we had taken the same initiative.
The very sad reality is that there are shills out there who attempt to confuse and obfuscate the public about the issues in GMO science. Independent research is stifled, blocked, and discredited. Scientists in academia are paid off. Shills are everywhere – they show up to public events, they infiltrate social media, they attempt to block communication, they are present everywhere in the mainstream and even some alternative media. There are groups in social media who are there only to paint non-GMO activists as stupid and “against science” (check out the GMO Soapbox group or GMO LOL community on facebook as examples, and prepare to be attacked if you do join). They are everywhere precisely because of how much is at stake, i.e., the power, money, and greed inherent in potentially controlling the world’s food supply and the fate of public health. We are on high alert all the time because of this. This is an information war of the highest degree. It is absolutely the case that “an informed public is Monsanto’s worst enemy.”
The sheer volume of money that is spent to misinform the public is the proof of the significance of the stakes. An informed public is the worst enemy for the political machine as well, as it has been completely corrupted by corporate money. This applies at every level, Democratic, Republican, whatever. Multinational corporations have taken full control of the reins. As examples: one of the most important issues the non-GMO movement faces is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would undo all efforts in the United States and the globe to ban and/or label GMOs. After three years of study and wiretapping, it was proven in 2012 by Food and Water Watch through Wikileaks information that the federal government is strong-arming foreign countries and demanding GMO proliferation while simultaneously promoting global trade deals that would do the same. Unless corporate money is removed from the political system, these issues will only get worse.
To be clear, March Against Monsanto Philadelphia does not have a left/right political “slant” in the sense that is it not associated with, nor ever will be beholden to, any political party. However, the fight against GMOs absolutely IS a political issue, precisely because all politics is manipulated by financial motivations. Paul Glover and the Green Party of PA showed up to March Against Monsanto because of alignment with our beliefs – that corporate money must be removed from politics completely, that there should be no tolerance for political parties who do take corporate money, and that GMO proliferation must be stopped in its tracks. This is case of a party using the system to change the system, by not taking corporate money, and by supporting a platform that is about the people, not corporate interests. March Against Monsanto Philadelphia refuses to support a system that revolves around corporate interests. Because the Democratic and Republican parties are beholden to corporate multinationals, the entire political machine is corrupted and therefore invalid. We passionately oppose any candidate who is a part of this system, or anyone who supports such a system candidate. We believe the solution is to leave the system or find an alternate political solution that is not controlled by corporate multinational interests.”……..Well , that’s the apology they posted ..days after David almost got his ass kicked…what do you think..as always I welcome your comments
Today Malcolm X would have been 89 years old had he not been cut down. What made it most tragic was Malcolm died just when he had finally found his message…hit his stride. After all those years as a mouthpiece for Elijah Muhammad. Learning how to handle a crowd, learning how to use the press and most of all learning the organizational skills from setting up all those Temples of Islam. many of us were dazzled and still today can recite word for word those fiery phrases like by “any means necessary”…But what Malcolm’s mission had become at the time of his death was something very different . Malcolm had traveled to Egypt, Ethiopia Tanganyika, Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, Sudan, Senegal, Liberia, Algeria, and Morocco..meeting with all the leaders of the anti-colonial movements as well as the leaders of the budding anti-imperialism movements Gamal Abdul Nasser among other leaders even invited him to become part of their governments. But it was the Organization of African Unity that most impressed Malcolm. All these nations and colonies trying to become free nations, sitting down and sharing ways to benefit them all. He saw future armed revolutionaries mapping out strategies to aid each other as one movement…Why Not bring Afro-Americans into the equation ??..On January 30th 1965 I was in New York City traveling on my own for the very first time. I was still in high school and in NYC to be a part of the National Science Fair . one of many that leading industries like Westinghouse use to have in the old days. Of course I had known for quite some time that If I EVER got to NYC the first thing I wanted to see was Harlem, The Apollo Theater and find Malcolm X… Malcolm was easy to find, I asked a shoeshine boy. He said walk down to the next subway station ..he’s probably in that shop drinking coffee. Well off I went …he was not in any shop but standing outside talking to a group of boys about my age and older. He gave us all a hand full of leaflets and told us to pass them out in front of the subway stations..I told him I had seen him speak in Atlanta when he was still with the nation..and could he talk with me for a minute or two. “Pass these out, come back in about two hours if I’m still here we can talk a minute” actually he may have said it differently but that’s the way I remember it..this was almost 5o years ago. When I got back Malcolm was talking to a small group of men and women .. Basically what he said was Nationalism is the infancy of a movement ..a way to wake yourself up from the sleep of slavery and oppression. But for a movement to succeed you had to become international and our time as Afro-Americans ( a word he used a lot..Afro- Americans not African Americans) to join the international movements was now. To be honest I forget a lot of the exact words..but toward the end Malcolm mentioned he was building an organization that would take the case to the United Nations…I will never forget how he said he had to go… walked over, shook my hand and said.”.Muhammed’s Temple of Islam number 15″..(that’s the Temple in Atlanta) ..I said “yeah”…” don’t stay a Nationalist for too long..it will hold you back”.The picture below is of one of the very same leaflets I passed out that day..Malcolm was shot down just about a month later..I was in my Moms car ..coming home from church when I heard over the radio the he was dead…that last phrase of Malcom’s is still what I live by today it’s what got me involved with SNCC and was at the Core of the politics of the Black Panther Party. I kept a few of those flyers Malcolm gave me ( see pic below ) We all remember the Spike Lee movie and all the catchy militant words that Denzel said so well.. but today that seems to be all that many of us remember..But to me Malcolm real message was much more than that. As these little essays on this web site progress I will get back to this subject ..but please I welcome your comments
In early 1971 I found myself in Havana Cuba along with about a four other members of the Black Panther Party who were not among the dozen or so who already lived there for various legal reasons. One day a Cuban military officer Cuban Major Manuel Piñeiro Lozada gave a speech about the export of the Revolution to Africa. Not sending a fighting force but sending medical teams and engineering squads to maybe Angola or Guinea-Bissau. I was about twenty years old and still stupid enough to think of this as an adventure. I asked if I could be among the first to go. 6 other Panthers also asked to go.At that time tuberculosis, as well as one of the scaryest things I have ever seen, Dracunculiasis or ” guinea worm disease (GWD)”,were a major problem, Guinea worm is caused by drinking the water from a pond or stream and ingesting the worm larvae. There are sometimes no other symptoms for years but eventually a blister, very painful shows up. The worm sometime tries to come out or may stay for years and grow,sometimes up to four feet long, still inside the body. This is an horrible thing to see when half a village my be in some stage of the disease. As it is very painful when the worm bores its way out of the body. I had to watch and sometimes assist as Cuban doctors would extract the worms from the legs of screaming children in Guinea -Bissau where I went first. The real reason I was there was to dig wells to secure clean water..the best way to prevent the disease. Still a horrible job with all the biting insects and leeches… and trust me this was not an exciting adventure at all. The whole time we were in Africa with the Cubans we were assigned to a “cadre” of three with the fourth person being a Cuban soldier. In Guinea-Bissau and later in Angola I had Antonia Guzman who spoke English as well ..maybe better, as well as French, and some of the local Portuguese. Which was one reason why our next stop was Angola, then still a Portuguese colony and already in a fierce struggle for independence, Angola was all about Tuberculosis and getting as many children vaccinated as we could in three weeks, in the town of Huambo, as well as a secondary location called Andulo..I think. This was to become very dangerous work. It was my first time ever in a real war zone.. I still have bad dreams about diving to throw my body over some child to shield the body,who was in the middle of some medical procedure.. we got bombed almost every day from what I later found out were American supplied planes and ordinance.. which the Cubans found very funny “uncle Sam no help you now..ha ha ha” was a frequent joke. But it was not a bomb but some large caliber bullet that shattered the skull of Antonia Guzman and sent bits of bone and brains all over my face and in my mouth. We had to run for what seemed like miles to get away from the Portuguese patrol that found us one morning. I could still taste Antonia’s brain tissue hours later..something you never forget… Some poor soul had informed on us for probably a meal for his family… and the pigs found the medical camp…We never went back to find Antonia’s body. She was beautiful,, smart, funny and had a little girl somewhere in Oriente Cuba. And she looked a lot like the woman in the lower left hand corner of this picture. This picture is of Female Cuban soldiers marching in a MayDay parade. I like to think that Antonia’s spirit and the spirits of other freedom fighting women live on in women like this.
I saw this documentary last night , and all these years later it was still painful to watch. Maybe not for the reasons you may think. Unlike many people who simply don’t know any better I have no sense
of the Move people being positive ,progressive, revolutionary, or as many people who weren’t there say a “Black Power” group. I got a chance to see Move grow from a tiny “cult” centered around the “handyman” for an apartment building I lived in for a few months named Vince, (who I knew and used to talk to often until he stared calling himself “John Africa”) ..to a insanely aggressive group of lost people..on the other hand the Philadelphia Police Dept . was literally at that time equally out of control ..I posted this response on a link for an out of town friend…and it’s all true………..”At that time Philadelphia had what may have been the most out of control Police department in the Nation and what most people outside Philly don’t get is the Move Cult was an insane, volatile, prone to spontaneous violence group of people. I lived two doors away from them from 1972-78…though they were a mostly Black group they were not a progressive or positive group in any way.. living next to them or within a block of them was a living hell. They would broadcast obscenities over a bullhorn twenty four hours a day. Just walking past their house was risky thing to do..you could be vocally or physically attacked for no logical reason. And the stench from the rotting raw meat they would throw away on the front lawn was horrible. Finally people from the community went to the city for help. What happened in 1978 when they lived next to me and in ’84 was have an insane police dept. set loose on them …two insane forces meeting and a whole neighborhood held hostage and in 84 destroyed ..I have no stupid romantic notions of Move “standing strong” against the police that’s not what happened ..and I am a veteran of SCLC. SNCC. and was an organizer for the Black Panther Party..I know the difference between standing strong and just plain crazy….insanity met insanity and the mad dog racism of the Philadelphia police turned it into a tragedy.”