Yoel Haile, political director for the Afrikan Black Coalition delivered a powerful speech at UCSB’s Black Grad:
What a beautiful and joyous moment this is!
I want to begin by congratulating the families and friends that are in our presence today. I want to congratulate the mothers and the fathers, the sisters and the brothers, the uncles and aunties, and the teachers and the coaches who have supported these graduates and showed them UNDYING LOVE in order to get them to this point! These graduates are only here because of your undying love and the endless sacrifices of the masses of our people! Therefore, we must begin by saying these degrees belong to YOU as part and parcel of the masses of our people! (Not the graduates)
However, as the old African saying goes, “you can only take the horse to well…”. And even though you have showed them undying love and made for them endless sacrifices, these graduates had to endure a great deal to get these degrees that they are getting today. And for that, we must be very proud of them!
I am so proud of you!
I am so proud of you because you have persevered countless hours of studying to get to this day right here.
I am so proud of you because you have held down 1 or 2 part time jobs or were student athletes on top being full time students to get to this day.
I am so proud of you because I’ve seen you battle hard times and depression to get to this day.
I am so proud of you because you have proved wrong every naysayer who told you that you’d never make it, that you’re not good enough, that you don’t belong here – and got this degree through sheer determination and will power.
I am so proud of you because in the process of getting your degrees, you’ve become fearless leaders, excellent community organizers, and responsible Black men and women. (And you know some of yall was wildin’ when you first got here but we ain’t gonna name no names and embarrass you today).
I’m so proud of you because you have witnessed the daily murders of our people by the brutal occupation army, that some of you call the police, and in the midst of the rebellion that you’re helping lead, you have managed to pass all your classes. (I know some of you were tempted to drop out and pick up guns to protect our people but we ain’t there yet so we’re gonna put that on hold. For now.)
I am so proud of you because you have CARRIED OUT our people’s tradition of Black Excellence, Resilience, and Resistance with the honor and dignity it deserves.
I am so proud of you because you have come to represent what is BEST in us as a people. That you have become some of the BEST that we got. And because of that, the struggle for the freedom of our people now resides in your hands and in your leadership.
Now, having established how deeply proud we are of each and every single one of you, and that the future of our people resides in your leadership, it is our duty to tell you the true magnitude of what our people are facing today.
My people, we are at war. The United States and Europe have been at war with our Mother Africa, and us, as Africa’s children, wherever we have gone in the world!
To prove this statement, we take you to Azania South Africa, where the white population there barely makes up 8.5% but owns 80% of the land and 90% of the total economy today! While the Black majority, our African masses suffer in poverty, live in shantytowns and have an unemployment rate of 40%! We’re talking about a country that is the world’s largest producer of platinum and manganese, and the world’s third largest producer of coal.
We take you to Ethiopia, where 60% of its national budget comes from the West, Europe and the U.S. As a result, that country is under effective control of its white puppet masters who pull its strings however they please from Washington DC. We’re talking about a country that has massive wealth in the form of fertile agricultural land that can feed all of East Africa.
We take you to Congo, the heart of Africa, where, ever since the Belgians and the CIA assassinated the first democratically elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, this country has done EVERYTHING under the sun to keep that country divided and fighting. We’re talking about a country that has the largest reserves of cobalt, and is one of the largest producers of copper and diamonds.
We take you to Haiti, the first independent nation in Latin America AND the Caribbean. Haiti was the first nation in the Western hemisphere to defeat THREE European superpower (Britain, France, and Spain), AND the ONLY nation in the world to be established as a result of a successful slave revolt! This act of independence was so revolutionary that the slave owning U.S President Thomas Jefferson refused to acknowledge the republic until after the American Civil War! Because of its Black revolutionary impulse, Haiti was never forgiven by Western powers who did and continue to do EVERYTHING in their power to keep that country divided, unstable, and under heavy economic control of the U.S. Today, Haiti is the playground of western so called “non-profit” organizations who do very little for the Haitian people but take in large sums of donation money for themselves. These organizations are nothing but modern day international poverty pimps, the scum of the earth! Nothing else! Nothing else!
Last but not least, we bring you to these United States of AmeriKKKa, the Babylon of our people, and the belly of the beast. Here is a country that was founded on the GENOCIDE of the indigenous people and the ENSLAVEMENT of Africans. We’re talking about chattel slavery here, a condition of human bondage so HORRIBLE that it is unmatched by anything else in human history! 250 years of SLAVERY, 90 years of Jim Crow, 60 years of Separate AND UnEqual, And more than 35 years of continued racist housing policy! We’re talking about a country that in 1921 in Tulsa Oklahoma, where there was a thriving Black community affectionately known as “Little Africa”, white people in all of their racist and murderous rage and envy, decided to have a race riot that murdered over 300 Black people, and looted and burned down 40 square blocks of 1,265 Black homes including hospitals, schools, churches and over 150 Black businesses. We’re talking about a country that has ASSASINATED some of our best leaders; Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Dr. Martin Luther King, Lil Bobby Hutton, John Huggins and Bunche Carter; and framed and incarcerated the rest, Angela Davis, Sundiata Acoli, Jalil Muntaqim and the courageous sister they could not keep in prison, Assata Shakur!
We bring you to the ‘80s, where the CIA DUMPED crack cocaine in Black communities all over the country so that the devil President you call Ronald Reagan can fund reactionary and capitalist forces in Central and South America. The CIA admitted to doing this intentionally in a report they issued in 1996, and as soon as Black people started to get organized to demand answers, within weeks, the so-called Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky affair broke out and became the national news for the next two years. Think about that.
We bring you to today, June 13th of 2015! Today America has the most prisoners per capita in the WORLD! This is a country where 1 in 3 Black men can expect to go to jail over their lifetime and where Black women are the fastest growing prison population today. Of course this has nothing to do with preventing crime but with making prisons a profitable business by incarcerating Black and Brown people at astronomical rates for non-violent minor drug offenses. We live in a time where our families are being pushed out of our neighborhoods through gentrification because rent is increasing too much and too fast. And most importantly, we live in a time where a Black person is MURDERED every 28 hours by the police and vigilantes! Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Ayana Stanley-Jones, Eric Garner, Miriam Carey, Freddie Gray. And countless others whose names we may not know.
And it is out of these conditions TODAY that this generation made its declaration of resistance, BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Graduates, and my dear comrades,
This is the historical moment to which you belong. And it is because we love you that we must tell you the true historical conditions of our people. For if the struggle for our freedom is going to reside in your hands and your leadership, you MUST have a correct historical analysis of white supremacy and capitalism, and how these two forces have joined hands to oppress us. But we, we are a resilient people. We are a courageous people. And we are a people who can survive ANYTHING, because we have survived EVERYTHING that I have just described! Because we have just established beyond any reasonable doubt, that Amerikkka has been at war with us from its very inception, the question for you is simple? What are you going to do about it? How are you going to unite us and lead us to Freedom? Your job is difficult but simple! And you have but one responsibility to the masses of our people! Your job is to organize yourselves in whatever profession that you go into in order to SERVE our people! Your job is to organize the masses of our people under one uncompromising objective! Black Liberation! As the Ferguson and Baltimore generation, you must recognize that what we need is not token Black representation in a white power structure. What we need is Black Liberation under Black Power! And the great Black Radical Tradition ain’t never been Capitalist! And when people ask you what do you want? You ought to tell them BLACK POWER! WHAT DO YOU WANT? WHAT DO YOU WANT? WHAT DO YOU WANT?
Thank you and Congratulations to the class of 2015!
All Power to the People!!