from Mumia Abu-Jamal to All Participants at the 3rd UN World Conference
Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
31 August - 7 September 2001 - Durban, South Africa
and radical greetings
to our many friends in Durban.
Long live John Africa.
is fitting that many of us gather in South Africa, fitting too,
that many in attendance here hail from the United States. Those
who have studied the issue of racism, and the phenomenon of white
supremacy, find too many points of convergence between South Africa
and the United States. Both nations claim heritages of democracy,
but in fact they have long and tortured histories of what some have
called "herrenvolk" democracies," where whites have
been granted a kind of egalitarianism, but non-whites were forced
into social, economic and political subordination. We know that
it didn't matter what is said on paper, or what government spokesmen
said. A lived experience communicated the worth of white life and
white property, while also communicating the worthlessness of black
and indigenous life and liberty.
millions of people of color in both these originally herrenvolk
states, that message is reflected in our daily realities. And because
a state has been forced to change its tune from its herrenvolk or
white supremacist roots, doesn't mean that all is now well. We remember
the words of Kwame Nkrumah who stated that political independence
is illusory without economic independence. Who can question the
wisdom of that observation when we look at the choking, numbing
poverty among blacks here in South Africa that continues under the
new political dispensation?
us consider the historical role of the United States government
during the years of apartheid from the 1970's, when there were the
now infamous Vorster/Kissinger conferences, Reagan's program of
so-called constructive engagement with the Botha regime. And how
many of us know that in the United Nations General Assembly, between
1978 and 1983, the United States voted at least 11 times against
any action by the world body against apartheid. For example, in
November 1983, the international community voted 110-1 for Resolution
38-19, an international convention on the suppression and punishment
of the crime of apartheid. In all the world, guess which nation
voted against the U.N. resolution, only one - the United States?
U.S. was the best friend the apartheid regime ever had. It has never
met a dictator it didn't like. Is there any wonder now that it wants
to demand that be no discussion of slave reparations in Durban?
The nation that held African people captive in chains and in human
bondage, reduced to cattle in American law, for almost 300 years
and then forced them into subordination, segregation and subjection
for another century under a Supreme Court approved lie of "separate
but equal," that today supports a prison industrial complex
that cages more black men, women and juveniles per capita than South
Africa during the Botha regime. In effect, a new slavery, accomplished
by the systematic and illegal removal of blacks from jury service,
this new herrenvolk state, forbids the world from the very discussion
of slave reparations. Imagine that.
I trust you - all of you - will do the right thing. Remember the
sweet ancestors, those precious millions whose whitened bones formed
under water walkways across continents - those shackled sons and
daughters of Africa, who prayed that death would bring them back
home, away from a land of greed, spirit hunger and madness. You'll
know whom to listen to. I thank you.
move! Long live John Africa.
From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Action Center/Millions for Mumia
39 West 14th Street, Room 206
New York, NY 10011
fax: 212 633-2889