An Interview

A comrade, Carrie M., who I met in Flagstaff but have been hanging out with a bit lately in Tucson interviewed be for a school project she’s got going.  I think it’s a really good summary about the time I’ve been spending in Arizona the last slightly over two years, and some of the over arching theories and experiences that shape the work that I do.  Here are the initial questions and answers (and the actual interview is very diffeent, posted here.):

1.  Can you tell me something about how you identify yourself?  Without using your name.
Do you mean politically?  I’m a person of color, and feel that shapes me more than anything else.  I’m an Autonomist Marxist, and an adherent to the Anarchist/Autonomist/Anti-Authoritarian People of Color (APOC) tendency, mainly influenced by the writings of Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin.  I grew up mostly middle class, but feel my experiences with racism and xenophobia have largely negated the relative class privilege I grew up with.  In the absence of affirmative action for the most part, being last hired and first fired, and having to work twice as hard to get half as far has never been an incentive for me to advance economically or educationally.  In fact, it’s had the opposite effect and I could easily be labeled a lumpen proletarian.  Though I did graduate high school and a community college, most of my work has been blue collar.
I’m also heterosexual and male, and know these heavily effect my world view and experiences as has also my father’s having been an immigrant, one who remained a resident alien when in the U$ as long as I knew him.
2.  I know you’ve traveled a lot, and been involved in different activist projects in other places.  Are there things that seem unique or significant to you about Arizona’s radical projects compared to other places you’ve been?
Arizona is pretty much the front line of the contemporary immigration debate.  Also the significant indigenous populations, especially with the work around native land struggles.
3.  What are some of the different projects you’ve been involved with in Arizona?
Protect the Peaks, the Taala Hooghan Infoshop, No More Deaths, Black Mesa Indigenous Support, and the Dry River Radical Resource Center.
4.  A big idea I’m trying to learn more about is solidarity.  It’s one of those things that seems like a word everyone knows and uses, but then it’s hard to say what it really means.  Can you tell me a bit about what it means for you and how solidarity is part of your activism?
Working with people in struggle.
            -why are anarchists so into solidarity?
I think it’s because Anarchism has pretty much always been oppositional.  So you’ve got a political tendency, that has for the most part, always been in struggle against oppression.  So I think it’s a natural outgrowth for Anarchists and Fellow Travelers to identify with other oppressed people and to want to join their struggles, especially since we frequently have a common enemy.
            -how is solidarity important in resisting the state?
Along the lines of what I just wrote; I think in the advanced stages of capitalism the great majority of people have a common enemy, the capitalist class and its lackeys.  So I think all the people who are being oppressed and/or exploited by the state and/or the corporations that for all intents and purposes run the state, need to look at our common interests, and those don’t exist in a political state.  Being aware of and supporting each other’s struggles, participating when appropriate.
5.  What do you think are qualities of a good ally?  How about things that make someone not a great ally?
I would emphasis what I just wrote above, Being aware of and supporting each other’s struggles, participating when appropriate. to me that’s what being an ally is.  But… I could kind of go on and on about how we all fall short of that.  I guess Leftist missionary types are probably the worst.  People with a program that they try to force on people to “liberate them,” and/or have some kind of messianic complex of being a great liberator or what have you.  It’s really so patronizing and I think just as damaging as the other kinds of missionaries a lot of radicals hate on.
6.  Specifically in Southern Arizona, how do you see the effects of border militarization?
I’ve characterized it as a low intensity war-zone here in articles I’ve written and discussions I’ve participated in, and I maintain that.
7.  You’ve participated in No More Deaths work near the border.  Can you talk a bit about that experience?  Anything that seems important to you is fine.
I think it’s some of the most important work I’ve done in my life.  I think immigration is the main Civil Rights struggle of our time.  It’s hard to write just a bit, the article sent you before is just the tip of the iceberg as far as even just my perspective goes.
            -how did solidarity play a part in that experience?  (if you think it did- maybe it didn’t)
In the sense that I think immigration is the main Civil Rights struggle of our time.  I think undocumented people in the U$ have been demonized, and scape goated for systemic problems, and that most people who are trying to walk into the U$ from Mexico are refugees of particularly brutal forms of capitalism and have just as much right to be here, if not more, than anyone who isn’t Native American.  So I think maintaining a presence on the Migrants’ Trail, especially doing the food and water drops, is about very basic human rights, and solidarity with people who struggle for access to them through immigration.  The Repeal Coalition in Flagstaff has a great slogan, something like Live, Love and Work Where You Please, and I think that’s what it boils down to.
8.  Are there other ways you’ve been involved in border resistance in Southern AZ?
Some demonstrations against SB 1070.

9.  Anything else that seems important you’d like to talk about?

Not right now, I’ve written a lot!  Thanks for giving me the opportunity!

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March POC Political Prisoners’ Birthdays

Richard Mafundi Lake
#079972
Donaldson CF
100 Warrior Lane
Bessemer, AL 35023-7299

Richard Mafundi Lake was a long-time organizer against racist police brutality in Alabama. To stop his organizing work, he was sentenced in 1983 under Alabama’s Habitual Offender Act to life in prison.

http://denverabc.wordpress.com/prisoners-dabc-supports/political-prisoners-database/richard-mafundi-lake/

Reverend Joy Powell
#07G0632
Bedford Hills CF
PO Box 1000
Bedford Hills, NY 10507-2499

As a pastor and a consistent activist against police brutality, violence and oppression in her community, Rev. Joy Powell was warned by the Rochester Police department that she was a target because of her speaking out against corruption. Shortly after Rev. Joy was accused and convicted of 1st Degree Burglary and Assault. An all white jury tried her; the state provided no evidence and no eyewitnesses. She was convicted and given 16 years and seven years concurrent.

http://freejoypowell.org/

Hugo L.A. Pinell
(Yogi Bear)
#A88401
PO Box 7500
Crescent City, CA 95531-7500

Hugo L.A. Pinell has spent the last 42 years in prison—34 of them in solitary! Hugo was a student and comrade of the legendary Black Panther Field Marshall, the late George Jackson, with whom he worked to organize other Black prisoners against the racist violence and prison conditions of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Address envelope to Hugo Pinell, address card to Yogi Bear.

http://www.hugopinell.org/

Ruchell Cinque Magee #A92051
D-5 #1
P.O. Box 4670
Lancaster, CA 93539

Ruchell Cinque Magee has been locked up since 1963. Politicized in prison, he later participated in the Marin County Courthouse Rebellion, the attempted liberation of political prisoner Johnathan Jackson. He has worked tirelessly as a jailhouse lawyer, working on his own case and helping many other prisoners win their freedom. He had been in L.A. for 6 months when he and his cousin Leroy got in a fight over a $10 bag of marijuana. In court, the two ended up with trumped up charges of kidnapping and robbery and he was given life in prison.

http://denverabc.wordpress.com/prisoners-dabc-supports/political-prisoners-database/ruchell-cinque-magee/

More info at: http://prisonbooks.info/2013/03/03/political-prisoner-birthday-poster-for-march-2013-is-now-available/