Salifu Sesay Mack is an editor at Hood Communist and a member of the Black Alliance for Peace and the Lowcountry Action Committee in North Charleston, South Carolina. He recently wrote a brilliant article at Hood Communist, “Nancy Pelosi Can Go Fuck Herself for Real,” which I was proud to republish here at Washington Babylon. Incidentally, the Twitter Censorship Police have suspended Hood Communist, so Twitter can go fuck itself for real, too. I recently asked Mack six questions (plus one bonus) about his article and his activism. Read it ’til the last drop.
- Thanks to you and Hood Communist for allowing us to reprint your story, “Nancy Pelosi Can Go Fuck Herself for Real.” What inspired you to write it?
The day of the Chauvin trial was…a lot. It was very difficult trying to process all that I was hearing and seeing that day, but Nancy Pelosi’s comments [“Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice”] really ended up putting me in a pretty bad headspace. I tend to really dislike all of her public stunts—from ripping papers to the Kente cloth moment, specifically because of how dishonest they feel. But in this moment, my anger aside, I realized that those words might have been the most honest thing she’d ever publicly said. Rather than ranting about it on Twitter, I took some time to sit down and write through what she was actually saying, and how much of it implicated what I believe to be the psychology of many people in her class.
- Your story has a great lede: “Imma keep this short. Americans are some sick fucking people.” Can you elaborate on that?
Sure. Americans by and large see their current society as something naturally occurring. What I mean by that is, they are propagandized to from the moment they are kids about how this country came to be, and provided all kinds of rationalizations as to why it should be allowed to continue. Most Americans are so brainwashed, they do not recognize that they carry out their everyday lives on stolen land. And those who do realize this fact, feel no real duty to fight to return that land. So from that level, the ground level, the very basis of the reality we exist in here is shaky at best. People who are unable to start conversations about the ills of this society from the material reality of settler colonialism and chattel slavery will be (and have proven to be) completely ineffective in solving the ills that plague their society. Many Americans do not believe there is anything wrong here. Many more see that things are bad, but they are only equipped to offer bandaids to an issue that requires organ transfer.
- Why was Hood Communist suspended from Twitter? And to let you know, I posted that lede of yours on Facebook as a comment accompanying a post with a link to your story. Facebook barred it for violating its Community Standards. Care to comment on that as well?
Anyone who wants to learn more about our suspension from Twitter should definitely check out this interview that I and my comrade Onyesonwu, did on The Last Dope Intellectual. To sum up what has the potential to be a pretty long story, when you are Black and a communist and highly visible online, you are going to get jumped from a lot of different angles. There are of course, the far right types who resent your very existence, the liberal types who refuse to read or engage history, and worst of all the “American Leftists,” the “allies” we’re supposed to “grateful for,” who believe they are going to lead the world revolution with nothing but vibes and chauvinism. Hood Communist on Twitter became the victim of all three groups after taking hard stances against anti-China propaganda and offering a defense of Third Worldism.
- You’re clearly not a fan of the Democratic Party. I’m assuming you’re also not a fan of the Republican Party. The U.S. political system seems completely broken, drowned by Big Money and incapable of expressing the will of people outside of the moneyed classes. Is there any hope? What’s your take on the so-called “Squad”?
My reading of history shows me that there has been and will be space for political/electoral struggle. But I believe that in the US, we are a long ways off from that right now. Most people alive today have never participated in a truly democratic election, or any election involving any people’s led party. All we know is ruling class elections. As the people begin to build community and grassroots power, I do believe a frontier that must be challenged is that of US electoral elitism. A people’s party (or even a few of them) must emerge to contend with the state for Power.
Before we can participate in voting, we have to create the conditions that will make it effective. That begins with mass political education. The “left” in the US is going to have to find ways to convince the general population to walk away from the two ruling class parties all together. That means we are going to have to offer them an alternative. I always point to the Ujima People’s Progress Party in Maryland as a Black workers’ led party that is seriously thinking about this sort of thing.
To your question about the Squad, I think people should read Erica Caine’s post on Hood Communist, “Progressive Is A Farce’ — Ask The Squad.” The short answer is that we don’t think much of them. We recognize them as a desperate identity reductionist effort on behalf of a political party that is failing to remain relevant to the needs of the people.
- So where does that leave you in terms of political work? What options are there for people (like me), who are disgusted with and totally alienated by our political system but want to do something positive?
People feeling alienated by American politics who actually want to aid something to the struggle that exist right now desperately need to expand their definition of politics. Jamil Al-Amin made it clear to us in the ‘60s when he still went by the name H. Rap Brown, that politics is more than “democrats and republicans.” He teaches us that politics is everything that concerns your life. Everything is political and we need to get rid of this old definition of politics because it no longer works for us.
Righteous Europeans who want to contribute to struggle need to stop organizing on behalf of the Democratic Party and take a step back, literally to square one, and begin organizing your PEOPLE. So much confusion exists among whites of all classes and it is because yall don’t really talk to each other or see each other as a community. Your people are in dire need of true political education that will lift the blinders off their eyes and reveal the real nature of this project called America. Talk to people in your community, find out what their fears and insecurities are, support them in organizing around those issues and educate them about who they are and where they are. If we are clear that revolution is necessary to make this life liveable for EVERYONE, then a revolution only YALL survive will be no revolution at all. It’s just gonna be another genocide under your belts, and another false start to whatever society comes out of that. Organize your people and prepare them to build true coalitions with African and colonized organizations and actually struggle under our leadership. Yall need to be getting prepared to commit class suicide and abolish whiteness forever.
African and other colonized people in the States are doing what we can with the many obstacles that stand in our way. We are trying to build food sovereignty projects to address issues of food apartheid, childcare programs, community defense, water purifcation projects, senior care, work unions, etc. We are trying to address the politics of our everyday lives, but we can not and will not make a priority of organizing your communities too.
- Can you tell me more about Hood Communist? It describes itself as a “collective of African radicals using journalism for Transnational African working class organization and political practice.” Is it possible for radical Communists to have an impact at the local level? So many people have a negative view of communism — isn’t that a barrier to reaching a lot of people?
Hood Communist is an open submission blog with seven Principles of Unity that every submission we receive must meet in order to be published. We are a team of 5, each involved with various national and local organizations. We believe heavily that ALL African people must be involved with revolutionary organizations fighting for justice. We use that spirit of organization to guide the tone and voice of the blog. Our involvement in organizations like the Black Alliance for Peace help guide our anti war, anti imperialist stance. And our involvement in organizations like the All African People’s Revolutionary Party help keep our ears, eyes and hearts tuned in with Africa.
I think that communism is as much a barrier as we make it. A lot of communists, for lots of different reasons, can be weird and unapproachable. But African people have a long history of revolutionary communist organizing within the US and across our diaspora. On a local level, all members of the Hood Communist level are involved with grassroots organizations fighting for justice. But what that may look like from person to person may vary. For me, I’m back home in a state that does not have a strong outwardly facing “Communist” vanguard. But we do have lots of Black folks that have been fed up with the system since the day they were born. My people are already radicalized, I don’t need to do that. My job is to work in service of my people and institute the political education around communism where it is safe and appropriate.
We understand that what Marx called “communism” builds on his observations of pre-colonial African and indigenous communities around the world—communalism. Our people have always lived communally, the goal is to infuse the ways we already live together with the consciousness necessary to get us to the next level.
- Bonus Question/ I’d also like to know more about the Lowcountry Action Committee, which you’re a member of, and that’s based in North Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a Black led grassroots organization dedicated to Black liberation through service, political education, and collective action in the Lowcountry.” I’ve been to the Lowcountry and North Charleston, and I know there’s a distinct Black culture in the region, but I don’t know its history or much else. Can you give me a brief introduction? And what sort of work does the Committee do?
Many of the members of LAC descend from or are Gullah Geechee people (although this is not a requirement for joining). The Gullah Geechee trace our ancestry to the enslaved African people on the coast of SC, NC, GA, and Florida, who were brought here from areas like Senegambia, The Kongo, Angola and Sierra Leone. Over time, all those different cultures, languages and religious practices came together into one homogenous group— The Gullah Geechee. Given that more than 40 percent of all enslaved Africans trafficked to America came through the port of Charleston, Gullah Geechee people represent a direct link between “Black” people in the US and Africa. That’s pretty huge because politically, the existence of Gullah Geechee people should be a reminder to all Black people here in the states of where our history and ALLEGIANCE must lie.
The impact of Gullah Geechee culture rings across Black communities across this continent, but like all Africans everywhere, the Gullah Geechee in Charleston continue to be heavily neglected. That’s what drives us. So the Lowcountry Action Committee is all those things you just said, and we are energized by the ancestral spirit of Africa that remains in South Carolina. We are focused on mutual aid and fighting gentrification in Charleston, a city where white people have a very twisted and spiritual relationship with this land of so much suffering. We are demanding community control of the police in Charleston. And we believe in self determination for all African people forced to live here in the US. For a better understanding of self determination, I’d point to this episode of a podcast I made about Gullah Geechee people and LAC’s fight in South Carolina.