The writer is a longtime activist whose father was the acclaimed African American novelist, Richard Wright.
I was deported at bayonet point by Black soldiers high on hemp after the coup d’etat in Ghana against Kwame Nkrumah. I was honored to be on the barricades in Paris in 1968. I went with Kathleen Cleaver and Emory Douglas to the First Pan African Cultural Festival in 1969. I was in Conakry, Guinea, when [Amilcar] Cabral pronounced his speech “the Cancer of Betrayal” — all now part of history.
Does rubbing shoulders with history — our history — give us a sense of what a historical event is and what it isn’t ? I don’t know and must remain humble about these things.
All I do know is the long hours at the City Hall of Atlanta on June 6, into the morning of June 7, made a chill run down my historical spine.
The majority Black council members may think they won when they voted 11 to 4 in favor of the building of “Cop City” at twice the budget announced. But the photo that will go down in history shows that they felt the necessity to vote surrounded by armed military police, almost a timeslip back to what I lived through when the CIA-supported coup was engineered in Ghana.
You can find the photo that speaks their fear louder than their vote on YouTube on Status Coup today.
Since the old COINTELPRO and today’s version with its deserving now-legal heirs, we know that the core tactic against our movements is: Divide and rule.
We saw that tactic at work on June 6 when the blackface councilmembers on the city council could no longer hide how bought their allegiance was. Under the barrage of the public speakers’ hostility, they could only wiggle and squirm and let their mask fall. Fascinating and enlightening to watch. What we saw underneath revealed that Black is not always beautiful.
We saw that the divide and rule tactic was at work on an intergenerational level when the son of Julian Bond, one of the council members facing the public speakers, was reminded publicly that his father had lost his seat in that very hall because he had opposed the war in Vietnam. Hours later, the son betrayed his father’s legacy by voting for Cop City.
It reminds me of Judge Lucretia Clemons distancing herself from the memory of the lynching of her great grandfather when she sent Mumia back to death by incarceration.
We saw the divide and rule tactic denounced over and over again by the public speakers, when they kept repeating: “You cannot pitch those of us who live in Atlanta against those you call ‘outside agitators.’ The real outside agitators are the companies who do not live in Atlanta and will use Cop City as an occupying army.”
So the importance given by the white supremacists to the divide and rule tactic sends us a message: They are running scared of one thing, and that is our unity.
Now that Cop City is voted in, now that it is “branded,” now that they hope once it is built and operational, almost half the trainees will be from other U.S. cities and the world, our own tactics can only be unity between ground zeroes, unity between cities of resistance and unity between our respective liberation movements.
They are as scared as when they divided slaves from their families before sending them to the auction block.
In our unity will be our strength.
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