The term “class suicide”, sounds hard. i mean not hard doing, but hard. Like “Revolutionary Nationalist”, or “Communist Guerrilla”. That kind of hard — like, huh!! You ever meet some Brothas or Sistas & after you introduce yourself they intro’ themselves as Revolutionary Nationalists & it just comes off hard, like they are standing against the forces of evil & ill-intent & resisting the on slaught. The images provoded are of the few standing firm against the many — real riders on the storm. Well, class suicide is another one of those phrases evoking an image of the putting to death of an old way of life while simultaneously (dialectically) constructing a new way of living. That’s the image, almost as if it were an event. Something to do now & with immediate results. But class suicide is no event, it is a process. Itself a way of life.i was a criminal, a lumpen. i was involved in a street organization (‘gang’) that had at it’s center a criminal heart. i wasn’t a criminal, actually, until i joined the set.Had taken nothing from any working class person nor gave much thought to whether the u.s. settler government was legit or not. i was an adolescent, a blissfully ignorant youth, with nothing on my mind except going outside to play. — finding enough grass torun football plays on & climbing trees to get fruit. then, the local set began to expand & recruit & since my block was in their territory, & they seemed to control it, my attraction was sparked. First tho’, i need to say, my mother was a single working class parent. While shewas not in the least criminal, she had little if any national consciousness. thus i was be queathed no political compass or national moorings. i was, as i said, just a blissfully ignorant youth.
Having been born in 1963, i came of young age in the absence of the Movement.i saw only quick flashes of Panthers on twenty second news casts which only served to confuse me.Having joined the set (street org.) i was socialized into the criminal mind set because We had a quota of sorts to meet. We needed certain clothing (uniforms), shoes & the ubiquitous drugs & alcohol. Thus, at the same time as i was criminalizing my mind i was also becoming an addict. For me they went hand-in-hand. We never contemplated getting jobs because the unspoken, tho’ critically adhered to ideological line of the turf was “gangsters don’t work We take what We need” was ever present if rarely expounded on. The blissfully ignorant mentality was gradually exploded as the life style of cops & robbers kicked in. Simultaneously, two important factors happened & began to dawn on me. Those who had were to be victimized & the police were the legitimate forces of the state — which as a consequence of the first two points of awareness, was now seen as a legitimate entity. i can clearly remember hearing in kourt for the first time as a 15- year old “offender”: “The people of the state of california versus kody scott”. i was like whoa! Gradually i evolved criminally, parasitically — never working, always taking,forever running, dodging & fearing the police. And then, of course, there were the drugs,the alcohol. The cycle was vicious. The juvenile halls turned into camps; the camps into youth authorities, into prisons, into SHU terms & eventually into this indeterminate SHU term i’m saddled with today. Ah, but the laws of nature don’t allow for such imbalances to last without con-frontation, collision & change. That is the natural dialectical development of all things As the conditions of my captivity as a criminal grew ever tighter, more lengthy & much more complicated, i began to seek ways of relief.
My initial efforts, however, were driven by selfish motives. i wanted to be part of the destruction of the empire, but not a builder of the people. i wanted to transport my violent, criminal ways into the Movement to get back at the police for having locked me up all those years. i was angry, totally caught up in the riot stage of mental development. i had no concept of dialectics — thus, to me a revolution entailed destruction of the existing order & a mere replacement with Our people. i was in the “paint the white house Black” stage. i was driven by hate of the enemy (tho’ i must admit to not clearly knowing who that was) without much love of self & kind. i was seeking “Black Power”.i wasn’t trying, nor was i aware of having to commit class suicide. i didn’t really overstand to what degree i’d been criminalized. Didn’t have any class consciousness,thus i wasn’t aware of having to put one to death while birthing another. i felt that while i was a prisoner, i’d committed no acts of harm or defamation to Black People, & thus since abstaining, i was not a criminal. Spoke to all the brothas on the yard, got busy in every instance of racial strife & passed out books with glad tidings. Thought i was a revolutionary. Time progress & i learned a bit more. i even read Huey’s auto’ “Revolutionary Suicide” — but got little out of it. i needed my gun — i needed to get out of prison & create a group with that Panther mentality. That’s what i remember thinking my last few months in Folsom i got out of Folsom & one of the first things i got was a kalishnikov ak-47, 7.62×39 .Complete with a bayonet & extra duct taped clip. Man, i must have posed with that gun for hours in the mirror! i was thinking of all the images of communist guerrillas & revolutionary nationalists i’d seen in pictures, and on the news around the world. i was in the game! Thought i had my mind right. Was ready to “get down”. i went to the range & familiarized myself with my weapon. Could field strip it, clean it & put it back to-gether in no time. Thought i was a communist. It’s sad, but in a way funny, ‘cause the riot stage is a very real & sometimes necessary stage to pass thru. for it gives one that first taste of Us against them. It fosters that young idea of We need each other to stop this. But it’s a dangerous stage to be caught in. Very, very dangerous. For not just one self, but for the people as well. Needless to say, without the requisite consciousness, the gun & i soon parted company.
The gun fell into the hands of invading pigs & i fell in the same hands. Was sent back to a cell — this time in Pelican Bay SHU. It’s so clear now, but had little meaning then. That’s when i got at the ‘rad Atiba Shanna & told him i’d been captured & why. He said, “i’d rather have one cadre free than 100 ak-47’s.” It took me years to overstand & appreciate that one sentence. For this comrad has done more to de-criminalize/de-colonize my mind than any other person, book or event in my life. i fell on hard times in prison. for i was caught in a rough transitional period. Beginning then to overstand class & nation politics, i saw the clear need to commit class suicide. i began then to overstand the philosophy of dialectics & it’s application to ordinary life — as a way of thinking, a way of life
As a criminal/street organization member i had all the trappings of a “ghetto star”: the reputation, respect & fear required to flow in that stream without molestation or serious challenge. i grew up in that, formed many of it’s laws & propagated it’s tenets religiously. So, when i began to peel, or commit class suicide consciously the transition was perhaps more hazard latent than for the average cat.You see, just as We Revs are locked in a struggle for the minds of the masses(ideologically, theoretically & philosophically), so too are criminals in this struggle. Webattle primarily the state’s propaganda machine which endlessly promotes bourgeois capitalist culture & white supremacy over socialism & national independence. Crimi-nals in their positions, propagate pseudo-nationalism & hedonistic petty-bourgeois capitalism, while simultaneously perpetuating national oppression & fear. Having been a criminal way longer than i’d been aware of Our national reality..
visàvis the empire, & having been party to the status afforded such length activity, my transition has beenvery difficult.Everyone i know & have known since i was eleven, has been crime-related. When in prison, in a 100% criminal population, the topics discussed aren’t revolutionary, forthe most part, but criminal. But i continued to transform against great odds & formidable antagonism. i soldier daily against rumors, ice-grilling, shifty-eyed stares & un-popular ideas. It’s no walk in the park, i tell you. For criminals down here can be as reactionary & as inimical as criminals in the white house & the senate. They look upon Us as threats to their existence, livelihood & ability to prey upon the people. Class suicide entails the peeling off of the “made in amerika” trademark. it’s not just from criminal to Rev (working class mentality). It’s dialectical & could very well mean or be, from ‘Rev’ to criminal. Or from petty-bourgeois to Rev, & vice-versa. But it is a process. In another personal correspondence with Comrad Atiba, he said “whenever you come into the new way, you inevitably bring with you traits of the old way.” This is true, but one must constantly re-enforce the new with actions designed to ce-ment the process away from the old & into the new. For me it has taken, to a large degree, socializing new people into my circle. Being involved, but most importantly,study to activate & consolidate struggle. Study & struggle. The birth pains of revolutionary working class consciousness are strenuous. It’s charting new & unfamiliar territory; new relations & relationships. It’s ultimately beingtrue to oneself & one’s commitment.i am still transforming — still evolving as a Revolutionary, but i can say with all honesty & passion that i am not a criminal or a parasite. Struggle forward. Re-Build! Sanyika Shakur We Mourn the Loss of Comrade-Brother El-Amin, who recently made his transition after a long illness. He was theinspiration and main force be- hind the Nkrumah-Washington Learning Center, a bold at- tempt to fulfill the vision of Sister Marion Stamps & the Black Panther Party on the south side of Chicago.