The Black Panther Party’s Ten Point Program: A Manifesto for Absolute Humanity and Justice

Scattered thoughts on racism, rebellion, and revolution, with a call for real solidarity in the fight against racial injustice.

In the midst of this pandemic, having been in quarantine for over 80 days now, I’ve been experiencing a natural sadness that I know so many others are too— a feeling of hopelessness, anxiety, and fear over when this nightmare might ever end.

But this week I’m furious. All my sadness has transformed itself into nothing but unadulterated anger.

I am sickened by these supremacist structures that racist oppressors fight and die to uphold. I am sickened by the insidious “I’d vote for Obama a third term” white liberal who would gleefully summon the police on a Black man, fully knowing the power an action like that holds. The white officer conditioned to believe Black people are ‘inherently’ threatening while willfully turning his cheek to the fact that his kin are the ones who have looted, exploited, and profited from centuries of violent colonization, genocide, war, and occupation. They are the threatening ones. Those who consciously benefit and profit with impunity from the immense suffering of others are the threatening ones. They are the ones to whom we should clutch our purses and pearls at when they walk past us. They are the ones the media should demonize and defame.

We can’t merely change this system, we need to defeat this system — one that sets its foundation on a philosophy of supremacy. An inhumane system that only works through the dehumanization of anyone who isn’t a WASP male. I am so very tired of this country.

These systems of oppression are all interconnected. That’s the greatest education I’ve ever received, and it never came from a classroom. Systems of occupation, militarism, surveillance, economic and environmental exploitation are one and the same — from Gaza to Minneapolis to Kashmir to Xinjiang to Turtle Island. The explanation of their genesis is the basic belief that some humans are worthy of all the resources, life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that this blue sphere can afford us, and only crumbs are meant to be thrown to the rest to temper an inevitable rebellion. Many say the system is broken. I think it is working as intended — it is purposeful and by design. Even now, in this pandemic, capitalists want to valiantly bring the economy back into full swing so that our mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers can die for their profit. They now want to deem working class folks “essential” to pretend they ever valued them. Bear in mind it is no coincidence that so many of our essential workers are Black.

These systems of oppression are all interconnected. That’s the greatest education I’ve ever received.

The rebellions after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have unsurprisingly come under fire by the establishment. Understand that any economic loss from looting during a righteous rebellion against state-sanctioned violence is pennies compared to the trillions that have been looted from Black and Brown communities and countries. These folks want to talk about looting a Target while they are the biggest leeches of them all — sucking the soul out of everything left that is good. Music is a mass manufactured business. Art is a colonized business. Education is a Eurocentric business. Healthcare — healing people — is a business. What gold haven’t they turned into rust with all their plunder of astronomical proportions?

They have sacrificed the sanctity of the earth, animals, and the finite time and energy of humans for this green paper, paper most people will never get nearly as high of a share as they deserved. A new kind of civilization needs to be created. A communal civilization in which earth is considered sacred and the value of a human life is not dependent on her economic contribution. A society in which the maximization of profit is replaced with the maximization of service, justice, and happiness.

Music is a mass manufactured business. Art is a colonized business. Education is a Eurocentric business. Healthcare, as in, you know, healing people, is a business. What gold haven’t they turned into rust with all their plunder of astronomical proportions?

The pandemic has been killing Black people at exorbitantly higher rates. This is not a fluke. Centuries of deliberate inequality in housing, employment, healthcare, banking, and education has led to this. Disproportionally higher Black death in a pandemic and lynching by police in broad daylight are not occurring in isolation as one-off horrific phenomenons, they occur as a result of meticulously protected racist structures. I call upon every one of us to resist. That includes protesting, organizing, boycotting, divesting, donating to civil rights organizations, writing, running, and voting, but above all — educating. Having painful but crucial conversations with white and non-Black friends who’ve been gaslit to believe this society is okay.

Start with your own education — read the Black Panthers’ Ten Point Program. See how it rings true as ever today:

The Black Panther Party’s Ten Point Plan (1966):

What We Want Now!

  1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.
  2. We want full employment for our people.
  3. We want an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our Black and oppressed communities.
  4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.
  5. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society.
  6. We want all Black men to be exempt from military service.
  7. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people.
  8. We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.
  9. We want all Black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black Communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States.
  10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.

What We Believe

  1. We believe that Black People will not be free until we are able to determine our own destiny.
  2. We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the White American business men will not give full employment, the means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.
  3. We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules was promised 100 years ago as redistribution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities: the Germans are now aiding the Jews in Israel for genocide of the Jewish people. The Germans murdered 6,000,000 Jews. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of over 50,000,000 Black people; therefore, we feel that this is a modest demand that we make.
  4. We believe that if the White landlords will not give decent housing to our Black community, then the housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that our community, with government aid, can build and make a decent housing for its people.
  5. We believe in an educational system that will give our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.
  6. We believe that Black people should not be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government that does not protect us. We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like Black people, are being victimized by the White racist government of America. We will protect ourselves from the force and violence of the racist police and the racist military, by whatever means necessary.
  7. We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States gives us the right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all Black people should arm themselves for self-defense.
  8. We believe that all Black people should be released from the many jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial.
  9. We believe that the courts should follow the United States Constitution so that Black people will receive fair trials. The 14th Amendment of the U.S Constitution gives a man a right to be tried by his peers. A peer is a persons from a similar economic, social, religious, geographical, environmental, historical, and racial background. To do this the court will be forced to select a jury from the Black community from which the Black defendant came. We have been, and are being tried by all-white juries that have no understanding of “the average reasoning man” of the Black community.
  10. When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s god entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, and that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its power in such a form as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accused. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, and their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards of their future security.

Recognize that these demands are no different from the demands of our Black brothers and sisters fighting in resistance today: the right to live in harmony, the right to a fair trial, the right to be free of police brutality, the right to be free of economic exploitation, the right to have a guaranteed source of income, shelter, healthcare, and food. These are not radical commandments, but rather, proclamations rooted in absolute humanity and justice.

hey young world, the world is yours

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