Recently, bell hooks passed away. Due to her passing away, new found attention to her work became main discussion across many social media platforms.
During this avalanche of attention, many decided to address bell hooks’s forgetton writings and controversal takes.
One of which was her position on Kevin, Korey, Yusef, Antron, and Raymond case, also know as “the central park five”.
As you scroll through that thread, you can see that what incensed most was hooks’s inability to course correct before her passing. According to some, this work had been reprinted at least four times without being amended.
Personally, I am glad she did not remove it. I do not need bell hooks to be something that she was not. Obviously, whether right or wrong, she felt THIS strongly about it. She was not only person, more on that later.
It is important that we all learn to take people as they are. No matter what successes they find in Life. No matter how they impress us in other areas of their Life. No matter how magnitude of information they provide us in this Life.
bell hooks had been provided enough information to publicly alter her published thoughts. She did not. This entire passage, including its theoretical socio-psychological analysis is dead wrong. It is completely founded on a lie. A lie that aided Joe Biden and Bill Clinton in pushing forward one of harshest anti-Black bills, their historica omnibus crime bill.
bell hooks should have recanted. bell hooks should have written a few pages on why she wrong, a few more pages of socio-psychological analysis doubling as bed time reading explaining how her wrongness reflects in a general sense, and a few more pages even of her detailing at length how others can avoid doing similarly. But, bell hooks did not do such.
So we must.
Alprentice Bunchy Carter is one of those unsung and undermentioned thinkers and strategic organizers of US Black history. His thinking with regards to division of talents and purpose vis-a-vis urban US Black socio-political materialist struggle is often overlooked. It is necessary to review Bunchy Carter’s framework for organizing applied in conditions where class antagonisms have worked to deflect overall Black socio-political advancements. It can be difficult for me to address this because I realize that readers will be polarized into divergent camps based on class-based identity. Not that OWL is in any way against being polarizing, it does strike me as wasteful for this particular discussion.
Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, according to Akinyele Omowale Umoja, was responsible for organizing a clandestine operation adjacent to Black Panther Party’s aboveground demonstrations and community centered activities. Umoja writes of Bunchy Carter’s initial foray into urban surreptitious movements in “Repression Breeds Resistance” stating:
The Southern California Chapter of the BPP had an underground almost from its inception. Former Los Angeles gang leader Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter virtually brought a military force into the BPP when he joined in 1967. Carter was the leader of the Renegades, the hardcore of the Slausons. In the early 1960s, Carter joined the Nation of Islam, and was deeply influenced by former prisoner turned revolutionary Malcolm X. In Soledad state prison in California, Carter met the radical intellectual inmate Eldridge Cleaver, who taught Soledad’s African American History and Culture class. His associations and the changing political and cultural climate motivated Carter to adopt a revolutionary nationalist organization, including an underground military wing. Upon leaving prison, Bunchy Carter worked to transform loyal members of his street organizations, ex-inmates, and other Los Angeles street gangs from the gangster mentality to revolutionary consciousness. In late 1967, when Carter joined the BPP, he was also able to contribute in autonomous collective of radicalized street forces organized after leaving incarceration.
In his role as Southern California Minister of Defense, Carter made it his responsibility to organize an underground Panther cadre. Carter’s most trusted comrades formed the Southern California Panther underground, often referred to as the “Wolves.” The true identities and activities of the Wolves were not revealed to aboveground rank-and-file Panthers. Carter’s Wolves carried out secret operations to support the work of the BPP in Los Angeles.
Probably the most significant recruit Bunchy Carter made to the BPP underground was geronimo ji Jaga (then known as geronimo Pratt). Ji Jaga, an ex-US military special forces commando and Vietnam war veteran, was sent to Los Angeles to work with Bunchy Carter by a relative who had become acquainted with Carter’s effort to build a Black freedom organization in Los Angeles. While not becoming an official BPP member, ji Jaga’s military skills became a valuable asset in assisting Carter in developing the LA BPP underground. After Carter was murdered in an FBI-provoked clash between the BPP and the US organization on the campus of UCLA in 1969, ji Jaga assumed Carter’s position as Southern California Minister of Defense.
“Bunchy” also wrote poetry when not directing Los Angeles’s radical underground. His poem, “Black Mother”, is a must read. Black Media Trust is a framework dealing with critical thought applied to possible propaganda. One of its pillars is a notion that racial obligations and fictive kinship are often manipulated. J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Counter-Intelligence Program took advantage of these racial obligations inherent fictive kinship allowed them to create situations that would lead to “Bunchy’s” murder and much of downfall of Black Panther Party.
Pratt served almost three years in the Army, earning a number of accolades. He completed paratrooper training in Georgia, received a Purple Heart and Silver Star during his two tours of duty in Vietnam, participated in more than sixty combat jumps, and was eventually honorably discharged in 1967. When he returned to Morgan City after his military service concluded, Pratt again sought the elders’ advice on what to do next. The elders arranged a meeting between Pratt and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, the founder of the Southern California Chapter of the BPP for Self-Defense.
In a discussion about Geronimo Pratt’s legal proceedings and unjust violation of rights while incarcerated, Christopher Michaels explains that Bunchy Carter may have organized Southern California’s chapter of Black Panther Party into three silos of focused activity. According to Michaels:
Carter founded the Southern California chapter of the Panthers a year before Pratt arrived in Los Angeles. It is commonly thought that there were three different sides to Carter’s organization—the three sides were:
He goes on further to explain his assessment by quoting Jack Olsen’s “Last Man Standing: The Tragedy And Triumph Of Geronimo Pratt”:
…political, military and ‘underground.’ The political tried to win the hearts and minds of the people; the military gathered a wide variety of weaponry and made fortifications for the ‘revolution’ and battle against the police and rival black organizations; and the underground consisted of criminal armed robberies against businesses and banks to ‘liberate’ money for personal and organizational use.
“Last Man Standing: The Tragedy And Triumph Of Geronimo Pratt” || Jack Olsen
Apparently, by Michaels’s telling, Bunchy Carter was highly selective. Given Ji Jaga’s talents, training, and technical know-how, Bunchy chose to align former Army paratrooper and Vietnam Veteran Geronimo Pratt with his Southern California branch’s military styled wing. While utilizing Geronimo’s expertise groomed on battlefields of South Asia, this choice also works to exhibit Bunchy Carter’s purposes for his underground arm referred to above by Umoja as “the Wolves”. Quoting Christopher Michaels once more:
Carter quickly realized that Pratt would be a perfect fit for the military arm of the Panther party, and the two became fast friends. Pratt enrolled in a Black Studies program at the University of California at Los Angeles, a program in which Carter was also enrolled, and began teaching party members the basics of weaponry and fortification.
As with a few of many of my childhood heroes, I never met Tupac Shakur.
I never shook his hand. I never had any discussions with him face-to-face, or over the phone. His impact on my life is for the most part through his music and his life’s story. It is quite possible that if we met in person, we might have not liked one another. However, we didn’t, and so…that is not something up for discussion. This being a post to commemorate him, I don’t want to blend too much of myself into it. I’ll discuss the exact nature of his influence through other means. Disclaimer over…
“Afeni Shakur(know to millions of youth as the mother of the late rapper Tupac Shakur) was appointed to a position of responsibility in the Harlem branch that she felt she was ill-chosen for. She felt she was neither ‘brilliant’ nor had the ‘leadership ability’ to function properly as section leader. It is an interesting psychological insight that people seldom perceive themselves as others do, but unless Shakur is projecting a false sense of self-effacement, it reflects a startling imbalance between what she and others perceived in her. Several committed Party members who worked alongside her were struck by her utter brilliance and here radiant sense of self as she went about her daily duties. Safiya A. Bukhari, who held various post in the Party and later commanded units of the Black Liberation Army(BLA), met and interacted with a broad range of Panthers, from all across the country, some famous and others not as well-known. While she found them all to be impressive individuals, she was deeply struck by Afeni Shakur. She would later write of her ‘exposure to an elfin, dark skinned woman with a very short afro’ :
Afeni Sharkur walked tall and proud among these people. She emitted an inner strength and assuredness that made me say to myself, This is a Black woman worthy of respect.
Other than my grandmother on [my] mother’s side, to that point I had not met a woman that I could look up to….At that time when I needed it most Afeni Shakur exemplified the strength and dignity amid chaos that I needed to see.
Afeni, taught by teachers and others in the white power structure that she was not worthy of much, probably saw herself as they did. But to those around her, another Afeni was visible. Indeed, Bukhari notes that ‘Afeni never knew she was having this effect on me.’ Yet this writer can safely state that Bukhari was far from alone in her response.
Other Party members saw something in Afeni that she may not have seen in herself. She was promoted from the ranks despite her objections when two leading Panthers were busted on old bench warrants that predated their BPP membership. Afeni would later recount,’…and every time I’d tell them that I shouldn’t be in any position like that, they would just look at me and tell me there’s nobody else to do it. That’s how they justified it.’ Jamal Joseph, who at sixteen was among the youngest members of the New York Panthers, would later list three women as some of his ‘most important teachers and best friends’ and as people who taught him to oppose male chauvinism and value the wisdom of women: Assata Shakur, Janet Cyril(one of the founders of the Brooklyn branch), and Afeni Shakur.
How did Afeni Shakur, as an angry, alienated, desperately poor girl from North Carolina, living in the cold, hellish Big Apple, get interested in the BPP? She heard someone she described as a ‘cute little nigger’, who later turned out to be Bobby Seale, giving a roaring street corner soapbox speech at 125th Street and Seventh Avenue about something called the Black Panthers. She was so moved that she searched out the address of the Harlem branch office, attended a Political Education class, and promptly joined. The way this young woman was treated was an important factor in why she joined:
When I first met Sekou [Odinga] and Lumamba [Shakur] it was the first time in my life that I ever met men who didn’t abuse women. As simple as that. It had nothing to do with anything about political movements. It was just that never in my life had I met men who didn’t abuse women, and who loved women because they were women and because they were people….
Afeni would later be numbered among the famous Panther 21, leading Party members who were targeted by the State for removal, incarceration, and attempted neutralization via government frame-up. The Panther 21 were indicted on April 2, 1969, on a plethora of weapons, attempted bombing, conspiracy, and related charges…
…Tupac Shakur. The son of Afeni Shakur, a Black Panther and a veteran of the Panther 21, Tupac was named for an Amerindian warrior who fought against the Spanish colonizers of Peru, Tupac Amaru.
A son of a Panther, he was born to let millions know of the unfairness and indignity of the life of his people, and he did so, with great talent and boundless passion.
Before his birth, his pregnant mother was ensconced in the city jail called the Tombs. As she awaited a trail that could send her to prison for decades, she composed a gentle, and heartfelt letter to her family. I do not know if Tupac ever got around to reading it. But a teenaged Panther in New York on loan from Philadelphia read it, and it made his heart weep with its beauty, its love, and its profound courage. Afeni Shakur wrote:
A Letter to Jamala, Lil Afeni, Sekwiya, and the unborn baby(babies) within my womb.
First let me tell you that this book [a collective autobiography of the Panther 21] was not my idea at all(as a matter of fact I was hardly cooperative). But I suppose one day you’re going to wonder about all this mess that’s been going on now and I just had to make sure you understood a few things.
I’ve learned a lot in two years about being a woman and it’s for this reason that I want to talk to you. Joan [Bird – another Panther 21 captive] and I, and all the brothers in jail, are caught up in this funny situation where everyone seems to be attacking everyone else and we’re sort of in the middle looking dumb. I’ve seen a lot of people I knew and loved die in the past year or so and it’s really been a struggle to remain unbitter.
February 8th when Joan and I came back to jail I was full of distrust, disappointment and disillusionment. But now the edges are rounded off a bit and I think I can understand why some things happened. I don’t like most of it, but I do understand. I’ve discovered what I should have known a long time ago — that change has to begin within ourselves — whether there is a revolution today or tomorrow — we still must face the problem of purging ourselves of the larceny that we have all inherited. I hope we do not pass it on to you because you are our only hope.
You must weigh our actions and decide for yourselves what was good and what was bad. It is obvious that somewhere we failed but I know it will not–it cannot end here. There is too much evilness left. I cannot get rid of my dream of peace and harmony. It is for that dream that most of us have fought — some bravely, some as cowards, some as heroes, and some as plain old crooks. Forgive us our mistakes because mostly they were mistakes which were made out of blind ignorance(sometimes arrogance). Judge us with empathy for we were (are) idealists and sometimes we’re young and foolish.
I do not regret any of it–for it taught me to be something that some people will never learn– for the first time in my life I feel like a woman–beaten, battered and scarred maybe, but isn’t that what wisdom is truly made of. Help me to continue to learn–only this time with a bit more grace for I am a poor example for anyone to follow because I have deviated from the revolutionary principles which I know to be correct. I wish you love.
Afeni Shakur(Mar. 20. 1971)
There are, indeed many legacies of the Black Panther Party. Perhaps the best of them are expressed in Afeni’s letter to her unborn child: hope, empathy, knowledge of our imperfections, knowledge of our shortcomings, the continued will to resist–and love.”
– Mumia Abu-Jamal, “We Want Freedom”