Books by Huey P. Newton
War Against the Panthers /
Huey P. Newton Reader /
To Die for the People /
The Genius of Huey P. Newton
In Search of Common Ground /
Insights and Poems /
Essays from the Minister of Defense
* * * *
with Miriam and Wilson
of Love, Spirit of Revenge
Acts, Slaughter's Accomplishments
& Other Topics Related to
Nathaniel Turner of Southampton
A Post-Katrina Political Discussion
love was sufficient
Miriam: Rudy, you have so many
provocative ideas that deserve response, one by one. I
don't always agree with each and every one, but I respect you
and your opinions. Right now I'm dealing with what I was
talking about a couple of weeks ago: the nitty gritty of
life. I've spent the day with my 92-year-old mother and tomorrow
I hit the road to check on three of my four children (the
fourth, who is bipolar, has recently disappeared), spend some
time with five of my seven grandchildren (the other two are away
in college), hang out with close friends, do some research in
the library, and hope I have some time and energy left for the
special person in my life.
I'm exhausted, but I still have to pack,
clean up, answer messages, and send a box to friends who've fled
New Orleans. I just keep treading water and doing the best
I can. In the final analysis, that's all we can do.
But I strongly believe that, if we don't take care of the people
whom we love, none of the other stuff matters.
Maybe that's the question I'd ask Nathaniel
Turner, David Walker, and Huey P. Newton: Did you
Rudy: Would love have stopped the
destruction of an American city? Because of my idealism, which I
admit readily, I say, yes. So in this particular case I’d say,
yes, we did not love New Orleans sufficiently. We killed her
because we did not care enough for her health. We did not care
enough to secure her future, nor those of all its peoples.
We are skewed in how we use the word love. We
care more about the comfort of the comfortable than that of the
homeless. In all our piety we have a ghastly love for the poor,
a depreciating respect for the ignorant, and no love for the
conquered, however we profess otherwise, as when haters of the
poor speak lovingly about the Iraqi people and doing what’s
right for them. Our personal must have a social correlate or we
sink merely into self-indulgence, and arrogance.
That mother who blew herself up the other day
in Iraq, did she love her children? That slave woman who
murdered her children did she love enough? Freedom or Death? Too
much? Did Medgar? Sammy Younge? Did Malcolm? Martin? Other
nameless brothers and sisters abused and jailed who defied the
social controls that keep us prisoners as an inferior and
undeserving race did they love enough? That's a hard question to
The woman who raised me she’s 94. Could I
have loved her more? I don’t think so? Maybe? Could I have
done more? More of what was I was supposed to do? Maybe? She’s
poor and dependent on government assistance. I don’t know. I
did what I did. Turner did what he felt he was called to do.
Maybe Walker did too. Certainly, in Revolutionary Suicide,
Huey did what he thought required. Maybe, you’re right,
there’s indeed something wrong with our loving.
Maybe, it is not whether our love, loves,
lovers are sufficient, that is, the extent, the intensity (or
depth) of our love, loves, lovers, that is not the problem at
all. The problem may lie in its lack of focus, its nature, its
direction. Your question is profound. So there’s no easy way
to tell you I/we don’t love enough. Nor is there a way to
really ask Turner did he love enough. On a personal level, I’d
say he feared intimacy. For reasons that have the same source as
that of the slave mother who murders her children, Turner did
not father any children, contrary to the speculation by John
Henrik Clarke that Nathaniel was a loving father. That is an
unnecessary falsification, a negative kind of love.
That their loving intimacy is found lacking
with women and children says something very significant, if one
has ear to hear. In the case of these three men, they were
enslaved most if not all their lives, that is, their lives were
under such extreme social controls they were not allowed to
pursue bourgeois love, neither could master his own household,
be a provider for an aspiring wife, and be free.
Can love overcome the tax that society places
on our black us-ness? Can love create a greater us-ness,
we-ness? It has always been our hope. Huey went to China, which
is a sign of his open we. Can our blackness be more than
American? Can we love more than just the personal, our lover,
our family, our home team. Can our love embrace all we? Yes, as
a society our love is not enough.
As far as Turner, Walker, Newton—I’d say
their love was sufficient. I thank them for it.
Spirit of Revenge
Wilson: David Walker called for
resistance, not mindless terrorism. Walker's
goal was love; and he ended his Appeal with the wish for white
and black Americans to become "a united and happy
people." As for Turner, I comprehend, but do not
sympathize with, his spirit of vengeance, just as I comprehend,
but do not sympathize with the spirit of revenge that led H. S.
Truman to nuke Hiroshima. It think it was wrong to
incinerate helpless mothers and babes, although I comprehend the
hatred that led Truman to do it. As for Huey
Newton, I think he was just a screwed up guy, who refused to
make use of the abilities God gave him. A very pathetic
figure, whom I can neither comprehend nor sympathize with.
Rudy: I'd think your position
outrageous, mindless, if you had not so carefully phrased your
remarks. Yoking together Nathaniel Turner, Harry Truman, David
Walker, and Huey P. Newton into the same paragraph is extraordinarily
wonderful rhetorical construction. All four men, I believe,
however, would wish for "a united and happy people."
They were all good Americans. I have no complaint I’m ready to
press on either.
Yet that characteristic that allows you to
set Walker aside as somehow peculiarly special is a smoking
glass. There’s no footing there. You know nothing of his
personal habits and you do not know whether he would have
dropped an A-bomb on Nagasaki, or not. At best that would be
wishful thinking. Jim Jones's goal of love was admirable and we
see the consequences of that love feast. Huey would call that
Oratory and stump speaking were once a path
to freedom, societal elevation. Anything is better than being a
“field nigger.” When oratory becomes a career and you’re
paid tables filled with money which one balances one's accounts,
that is when the stench begins to trouble us. I'm not sure that
I as well as you can distinguish "mindless terrorism"
from other kinds of terrorism. I’m sure it must have some
meaning for you that escapes me.
In all kinds of terror people, to say the
least, are made uncomfortable and insecure. The Boston Tea
Party, I'm told, the British king felt it was "mindless
terrorism" the work of “hooligans" and the low
life of Boston afraid to show their true colors. From the view
of the South, the destruction of Atlanta and depriving people of
home and food and a living was "mindless." Work of the
uncultivated, surely. The struggles for freedom in Algieria or in
South Africa, those acts of violence too were viewed by some of
the Establishment as "mindless terrorism." That's the
standard MO position of the status quo.
Like Nixon, I've never had a course in
ethics. I’ve had only a simple black peasant religious
training. So I am not sure what should be done with
"vengeance" in the context in which you have placed
it. I'm not sure whether "vengeance" or
"revenge" is applicable within a state of war. In an
odd kind of way you have fused the personal, the political, and
With certainty, unless I just take a side, I
cannot tell you that the destruction of Fallujah was
simply an act of vengeance (revenge for the murder of
mercenaries, the public display of their mutilated bodies).
It had that feel coming from Cowboy Bush. Maybe some
Sadaamists may also take that view. Or other Arab sympathizers.
The US Marines and their war planners would explain the war for
Fallujah in a military jargon that would come nowhere near your
Slavery is a state of war. A people (men,
women, and children) are contained by violence and made to work,
abused in their sexuality, the integrity of person, to satisfy
the extensive needs and privileges of the few. It is a life and
death situation. When the non slaves have all the guns and all
the societal controls with its instruments to deny food, water,
clothing, rest, life—when these are all in the hands of a few,
though freedom is sought, there’s great difficulty in equals
meeting on the battlefield for glorious battle. The oppressed
use all kinds of “underhanded” tactics.
In short, slave rebellions are messy. There’s no doubt
about it, there were probably numerous My Lais and Abu Grahibs
we never get to hear about, nor see.
As for the war that occurred in Southampton
County, Virginia, 22 August 1831, I see it as war against a
condition of slavery that was no longer tolerable under any
ethical order that was then known. Is Freedom or Death, only
noble when it pours from Patrick Henry’s mouth? Does the
beauty of his mouth make war more palatable?
Humanity in how it dealt with humanity, in
Cross Keys, had slipped to the very pit of darkness and sin.
Pleads—for mercy when a child was taken away from a mother or
a wife away from a husband or a daughter set upon by sex
fiends—ears were sealed and righteousness trampled. What does
manliness require of us in such hours? Individual acts of
vengeance probably did occur in these instances, from running
away to murder. “Mindless,” universal order ripped to
threads, may apply in these instances.
What occurred at Fallujah, Hiroshima, Cross
Keys, that was not “mindless,” far from it. Considerable
military planning went into all three. The Pentagon and the Twin
Towers were too planned, had too much mind in it. They could
have simply planted some charges on the levees of New Orleans.
They could have done more damage, had a greater impact, and
crippled the nation to a farther extent than what happened in
New York and DC. Less mind indeed could have make greater
impact. But these cats were after tearing down symbols of power
and economic health.
As far as Cross Keys, I’ve stated that
Turner pulled off a journalistic coup. The Establishment wanted
to know whether this rebellion was an aberration or did it have
a greater breadth than Cross Keys. The authorities wanted to
know whether these were just hooligans and lunatics, madmen.
Only Turner could answer that question. They wanted him alive.
Of course, the Establishment nevertheless came down with its
usual rhetoric of “madmen” and “lunatics” and
“criminals.” We are familiar with that kind of staging from
our recent encounter with the rhetoric of authority in crisis.
Turner played his trump card, turned himself in, told the story
of the Rebellion, and had it published in Baltimore.
In the 1831
Confessions , my impression is not one of
“vengeance” and “mindless terror.” Let’s stick to the
document. That tells a different story from that of the status
quo, the slavocracy and its courts and media. Admittedly,
Turner’s rhetoric is couched in a Christian theology that is
beyond the purview, understanding, and sympathy of most
professional, academic historians. For Turner that has been a
rough field to plow, its hilly ground is filled with rocks,
clay, and crab grass.
That language of the 1831
Confessions is not however beyond all understanding.
Clearly, there was much mind, much commitment, and much secrecy
that went into that effort to counter the war slavery waged on
the Christian slaves of Cross Keys. I applaud it. It was one of
the most marvelous, mysteriously wonderful events in all of
American history. I sympathize with it. I’m not altogether
sure I understand it. My religiosity lacks the depth of that
which Turner possessed; my faith is not as sure-footed as his.
He stood beyond Time. And I am just a poor scribbler, whiling
away the hours.
As far as Huey, it is not my intent to place him
on the auction block for sell. Place before you his particulars
in sterling language. That ain’t my game. Every man’s life I
agree stands on its particulars. One refuge is simply to
paraphrase Matthew 7: Judge not that ye be judged. But that’s
all beside the point. My interest is not in Huey’s personal
life. All I place before you is Revolutionary
Suicide. I find it more interesting than Fox or PBS.
& Monstrous Acts
Harry Truman did drop the bomb on Hiroshima.
Rudy: I'm willing to accept whatever is the standard
American historical view of Truman and his orders to drop the
atomic bomb on Japan. Indeed, it was a monstrous act. I wish he
had not done it. And think I would not have given the order if I
were in his shoes at that time. The disagreement is more about whether
Truman was a monster. Of course such discerning would be easier
if we equated "monstrous acts" with
"monster," that is, those who commit monstrous acts
are monsters. But we do not do that. Of course, there are many
more willing to allow that Turner was a monster in his killing.
So you did well to bring Truman into the discussion. I think
neither Truman not Turner was a monster. Nor do I think that
those who plan "monstrous acts" (like Vesey and
Prosser) are necessarily monsters. Clearly, there are indeed
A useful distinction between "monster" and
"monstrous act." I do not think that Truman was
a monster; I believe that he thought that he was doing the
"right" thing to end the war against a country some of
whose people were prepared to commit suicide rather than
surrender. And I don't think that he or his advisors were
fully aware of the extent and long-term devastation of a nuclear
bomb. I also believe, however, that dropping the bomb was
a monstrous act.
Miriam: Rudy, I'm enjoying the debate
between you and Wilson, and dare not step into the fray.
You are the more eloquent wordsmith, but I'm afraid that I agree
with him with respect to Turner and Newton. I am against
bloodshed and violence, period, except in the defense of life,
so Turner's "mindful" slaughter of innocent women and
children is reprehensible to me, though I feel that he was
motivated by a noble purpose and a divine calling. I
admire him and his followers, just as I respect John Brown and
all of those who struck a blow against that inhuman and barbaric
institution: slavery. But throughout history there
has been so much slaughter for a Cause, be it political, social,
economic, or religious (certainly, the worst kind). To
wit, the killing fields of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, of Auschwitz
and Treblinka, the West Bank, Darfur, Jerusalem, Vietnam,
Uganda, the Congo, you name it. And for what? To
what purpose? What did the slaughter accomplish?
Rudy: I can appreciate your
squeamishness when it comes to the spilling of blood. I too
think that killing (murder) cannot be justified, but that it can
be understood, in some cases, as you point out, in cases of
self-defense. But it's in the exception, that it all becomes
murky. It was on the rock of self-defense that Bush launched his
war on Iraq and Sadaam. It was on the defense of the Union, that
Lincoln launched a war against the South that led to the
slaughter of over 600,000 Americans. Sometimes there were more
than 10 thousand dead in just one battle. Our foreparents—my
grandfather's father and his mother—believed that that great
slaughter had meaning, that it accomplished God's purpose and
Auschwitz, would there have been any
survivors, at all, if there had not been a march of murder from
the seas to Germany? Did murder to save people from murder did
it have a meaning, we usually thank that it did. Our usual
question, however, is should we have done our murdering earlier
to prevent some of the murdering that was being done on an
unarmed Jewish population across Europe.
Whether the killing is "mindful" or
"mindless" a person is dead, I wail with you in that
death. My tears for those dead in New Orleans as a result of
human carelessness and lack of caring might be however greater
than the murder and death of those SS who perpetuated the
Holocaust or the death of slaveholding children at Cross Keys.
I can get with, however, that
sentiment that that every death diminishes me.
The spilling of blood is universal in order
to establish some human order. There is no way we will get
around that one, anytime soon, in that human order must be had.
You might say then that the spilling of blood
(by person or state) is never meaningless, though on a personal
level it may be mindless. We may or may not desire it. It is
something even now we will not escape. I for one, though a
pacifist who never owned a gun and never pointed one at
another person, would prefer military intervention in Darfur, as
I would have in the case of Rwanda. So though I hate
killing, despise war, in some cases, I would recommend and
support murder that a higher end may exist.
Before I go, let me divest you of the notion
that at Cross Keys there were "innocent women and
children" killed. I don't know how you acquired that
notion. But that is just not true. There were "innocent
women and children" not killed. In any event, I always find
it strange that white women and children always come to the fore
before any thought of the black women and children that were
killed before and after 22 August 1831.
Nathaniel Turner, let me remind you, was
owned by a nine-year old boy. A child had title on his life and
a child received from the state the cost for Turner's
person when the state took his life. So you are quite mistaken
that the women and children of the slaveholding regime were
innocents, when a white child could inherit the life of a black
child, and when that same child could assert his authority over
Let me restate my view. I am not a killer. I do
not recommend killing. I have never taken a human life. I am for
peace. I think we should all be for peace. Our differences we
should seek to settle them in peace. The status quo can be such
that only war can sustain human dignity. I think that Nathaniel
Turner and Huey P. Newton would buy into all that. Whatever else
they did in defense of black life and black freedom, I’ll buy
into that. No squeamishness.
posted 1 October 2005
* * * *
A Huey P. Newton Story 2001 /
What We Want, What We Believe The Black Panther Party Library
The Spook Who Sat By the Door /
Passin' It On; The Black Panthers' Search for Justice
* * *
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
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