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Activist, former Black Panther Party leader delivers lecture

Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 09:02

Dhoruba Bin Wahad, an activist and author who organized Black Panther Party chapters in New York City, gave a lecture yesterday during which he spoke about modern racism and social justice.

Wahad began his lecture, “The Rise of Democratic Fascism: Post ’60s Revision of Black Radicalism in America and the Corporate National-Security-State,” by thanking students for attending and encouraging to keep up the social activism of previous generations. 

“There’s such a world of hurt out there that requires young minds and fresh thinking and new attitudes,” he said. “[We are experiencing] the consolidation of white supremacy in the post-civil rights era, under the guise of democracy and anti-racism.”

Wahad said social activists would be well-served by studying history, but warned his audience to be aware of the common biases of written history.

“History is decidedly sexist, anti-feminine and anti-female,” he said. “I am giving this overview not incognizant of the role that sexism and the oppression of women have played within society. I’d like to emphasize that many of the forefront strugglers in the civil rights movement have been women.”

Modern white supremacy still benefits from the fear it generates within society, Wahad said. He added that this was the same case during the age of  COINTELPRO — the counter-intelligence program which the FBI used to clamp down on the Black Panther Party — and has been present in American society since slavery was legal. 

“On the plantations of America in the South, the rule of white supremacy was based on one primary factor: fear, terrorism, intimidation, absolute physical violence and control over people of African ancestry,” he said. “It was regularized and institutionalized into slave codes, into laws that permeated the very fabric of the American character.”

Wahad also explained his involvement in the Black Panther Party in depth. He said it was ironic that the group has been denounced as a “violent organization,” when countering systemic violence was one of its founding objectives.

“Violence and terrorism was at the base of controlling black people of this country for over 150 years,” he said. “This [standard] is what drove J. Edgar Hoover to carry about a violent and oppressive movement against what he called ‘violent black nationalist hate groups.’ The people he was murdering and oppressing and putting in prison, he was labeling ‘hate groups.’”

Wahad said that while white people often have difficulty confronting issues of this nature, it is necessary to do so to curtail the negative impact of present-day white supremacy.

“We need to understand that white supremacy and white-skinned privilege is something you take for granted, but something which other people have paid for with their blood, sweat and lives,” Wahad said. 

Wahad cited the people who have been imprisoned for political actions as examples of those who have sacrificed their lives in the struggle for social justice. 

“As we speak, there are over a dozen black political prisoners who have been in prison for over 35, 40 years,” he said. “And I know, because they’re my comrades. Don’t forget, George Washington was once thought of as a criminal — there was a bounty on his head — but today, he’s a ‘Founding Father.’ Yesterday’s criminals are today’s heroes.”

Wahad encouraged the students in attendance to think independently about methods they could use in order to counter these present-day obstacles.

“Think outside the box,” he said. “Challenge the people that are teaching you to teach you something that will change the world, instead of teaching you to be cogs of the machine that will keep the world the way it is.”

Wahad encouraged students to support and appreciate the figures who continue to strive for social justice.

“The heroes and [heroines] that we have living today are very real, and we should try to appreciate them while they’re here,” he said. 

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