Sunday, August 5, 2018

Comrad George Jackson and Celebrating Black August

by Kenray Ogun

I'll never, never trade my self-determination for a car, cheap mass-produced clothes, clapboard house, or a couple of nights a week at the go-go. Control over the circumstances that surround my existence is of the first importance to me. Without this control, or with control in someone else's hands, I am forever insecure, subject at all times to the whim and caprice of the man in control, and you and I know how whimiscal some men can be.George Jackson

The month of August has been righteously self-redefined as ‘Black August’, it is a significant month of Black History; it is significant to me – it is the month of my own birth.

In the Afrikan ‘Yoruba’ cultural tradition August is the month of ‘Ogun’ - the Orisha archetype of trailblazing 'overcoming obstacles'; a powerful, fierce warrior who defends his people and fights against injustice; Ogun has the intelligence and creativity to invent tools, weapons, and technology.

Black August developed out of the racist repressive California prison system in honor of George Jackson, Jonathan Jackson, William Christmas, Hugo ‘Yogi’ Pinell, James McClain and Khatari Gaulden known as the San Quentin Six.

George Jackson became identified by prison authorities as the key leadership figure of a prison organization known as the Black Guerilla Family (BGF); Jackson was viewed as a major threat and became a target of constant prison repression including being welded shut in his cell.

Jackson struggled to eradicate racism and provide safety and dignity to Black prison inmates. Jackson was a voracious reader like Malcolm X studying political economy and radical theory. Jackson wrote many of his friends and supporters from prison; these writings were later made into the well-known books, 'Soledad Brother' and 'Blood in My Eye'.

George’s brother Jonathan Jackson was gunned down outside the Marin County California courthouse on August 7, 1970 as he attempted to free McClain, Christmas, and Magee the only survivor.

George Jackson was murdered by prison guards during a Black prison rebellion at San Quentin on August 21, 1971, along with three prison guards. On August 1, 1978 Black Guerilla Family leader Khatari Gaulden was murdered; August 1979 marked the official beginning of Black August.

During the month of August we are encouraged to individually and collectively educate ourselves ‘learn lessons’ about historical Black resistance movements that occurred in August such as Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion, the Haitian Revolution, the March on Washington, the Watts Rebellion and the Philadelphia MOVE Bombing. It is a time to honor the lives of some of our greatest Freedom Fighters who were born in the month of August, like Marcus Garvey, the Jackson brothers, and others.

Black August is a time for Black folks to join together and honor the lives of our freedom-fighting Ancestors and fallen soldiers; to advocate for political self-determination, to promote economic self-reliance, to increase our cultural competency, and to practice self-care.

To observe Black August individuals are encouraged to fast, eat wholesome food, exercise, support Black-owned businesses, abstain from alcohol and drug usage (unless medically required) the whole month as inspiration and practice extending it to an ongoing basis.

“I understand why many of us react as we do, and I said react. Our responses to the social stimuli (and in our case in this country, they assert themselves as a challenge) must necessarily be negative when we consider that Blacks in the U.S. have been subjected to the most thorough brainwashing of any people in history. Isolated as we were, or are, from our land, our roots and our institutions, no group of men have been so thoroughly terrorized, dehumanized, and divested of those things that from birth make men strong. Regarding this domestic issue, I must be the first to admit that I see that the black family unit is in ruins. It is our first and basic weakness. This fact may contribute much to our difficulty in uniting as a people. But for every effect there is a cause. If we are to understand and heal these effects we must understand the causes. To say that the Black family unit is slowly eroding because of pressures from without (poverty and social injustice), and from within (negative response to crisis situation) is to completely mistake the depth of the issue. There are three historical factors that have produced the present state of chaos on the family level of our Black society. First, the family unit was destroyed during chattel slavery. Men had the sense of family responsibility trained out of them. Second, our culture institutions, and customs, upon which unity depends and without which cohesiveness can never exist, were destroyed and never replaced. The best we could do was ape the ofay, and cling to a kind of subculture that manifests itself today in the hideous notion that if we educate ourselves properly, think the right thoughts, read the right books, say the right things, and do exactly that which is expected of us — we can then be as good as white people. Third, our change in status from an article of movable property to untrained misfits on the labor market was not as most think a change to freedom from slavery but merely to a different kind of slavery.” - George Jackson

Black August Movie:

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