Sundiata Acoli Question # 5 From Tanya F. Baby

Tanya F. Baby: Uhuru ! I would like to ask Bro. Sundiata for some guidance on how would I go about organizing the youth in my community to help them to stop all of the counter-productive behavior that is being displayed throughout New Orleans. How can I do my little part to kick the truth to the young black youth? I don’t want to go the route that’s currently being done here by a few local churches. In my opinion their methods of trying to get them to come to church is NOT WORKING! The youth here in N.O. are not feeling that. I’m just looking for some ideas on what I could do to reach them

Sundiata: First, pardon my delay in responding Sis. Tanya Baby but i got tied up in some other matters/deadlines that i had to get out of the way first.

Second, you asked a very important question; one that’s on the mind of most conscious Black people and many other people.

Third, i know you know that all our youths are not engaging in counter-productive behavior so i assume you’re more concerned about our many “lost sheep/prodigal sons” which is as you should be.

And next, all i really know is that:
“A race is like a [person,] until it uses its own talents, takes pride in its own history and loves its own memories,
it can never fulfill itself completely.” -John W. Vandercook, Tom-Tom, 1926

i also know that to reach our wayward youth you must first be willing to go among them, engage them and began some sort of dialogue with them. i say this because so many of our people are afraid of our youths, particularly youths of the street organizations or gangs, and frankly some have a right to be afraid but i don’t think progress will be made without first a willingness to engage Black youths face to face.

That’s what Fred Hampton of the Chicago Panthers did in the ’60s with the Black P Stone Nation and he made good headway with them before he was assassinated. It’s what Geronimo and the L.A. Panthers did to recruit Bunchy Carter of the Slausons and other street gang members. Then this government used its counter-intelligence program, COINTELPRO, to assassinate Bunchy Carter, frame Geronimo (27 years for a crime he did not commit) and did the same to other Panthers to destabilize the BPP which loosened its influence on the L.A. gangs. They then began to prey on each other , mainly Crips and Bloods, through gang wars that spiraled out of control.


So what was the difference between the Panthers and the gangs? Politics! The Panthers were political, the gangs weren’t/aren’t. They say there were only 5000 to 8000 Panthers during their peak in the ’60/70s. There are about 500,000 gang members today. Can you imagine where we would be if those 5000 Panthers had been able (or allowed) to survive until today or to grow to 500,000 members? If so, we would be FREE today! And Obama would be a revolutionary president in the mold of Malcolm X or Patrice Lumumba instead of mostly a conventional Democratic Party politician.
But instead of half a million revolutionaries or Panthers we have 500,000 gang members who are more dangerous to themselves and the Black community than they are to our enemies. The main reason is because of their mindset and their lack of politics. SO ONE GUIDELINE FOR YOU, SIS. TANYA BABY, IS: FOCUS ON FINDING WAYS TO CHANGE OUR WAYWARD YOUTHS MINDSET FROM ANTI-BLACK TO PRO-BLACK AND FROM APOLITICAL TO POLITICAL.

Any success you achieve in changing youths mindset in that regards will go a long way in changing their counter-productive behavior for the better. Changing mindset means teaching Black youths to “Know Themselves:” to know their true history, place and future in the world and how to love and respect Black people instead of hating them, and to do the same to all people who do likewise to them. Changing mind sets from apolitical to political means helping to politically educate our youth in the revolutionary thoughts of Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Mao Tse-tung, Lenin, Marx and other progressive thinkers and in the revolutionary aspects of Pan Afrikanism, Socialism, Anarchism and other progressive philosophies, so that our youths know their real friends from real enemies and how to get real power for our people and all oppressed people to control our own lives. That is what real politics and real freedom is all about.


Now, no one is naive enough to think an introduction to Afrikan/Black history & culture and politics alone will sway most youths to change their counter-productive behavior. That would almost be like copying the local church’s method which is not working.

Many youths gravitate to street gangs because of the comradery, substitute-family, peer pressure, protection, sex, fast money and other material benefits, excitement and action that they find there.Youths love action and are going to do something one way or the other, either positive or negative, because it’s their nature to act. And they will act even tho their present behavior is mostly harmful to the Black community. Still, most youths want to do the right thing but many simply don’t have/ haven’t had proper direction in how to do so. Also it’ a well known principle that if you want to effectively stop an action, say a counter-productive behavior, then you had best have some alternative, say a productive behavior, to take it’s place.


Drug selling is the most difficult to switch/replace because the profits are greater/quicker than most other enterprises despite its harsh penalties of almost certain imprisonment or death. Still, instead of their selling drugs you might help show them ways to use their strength to open legit businesses that provide self-employment and jobs for them and their crews. The hip hop/internet industry seems to have opened the door to such opportunities for Blacks altho there are many other professions: light construction, real estate, lawn care, building/office cleaning, health care providers, soul food restaurants, cd/video shops, etc., that lend themselves to Blacks carving out a stronghold in the industry the same way Italians have done with the docks, longshoremen, unions, etc., the Irish have done with the police department, pubs, and as politicians, Asians have done with science/technology, Viet-Namese Gulf coast fishing and Asian restaurants, etc., Jews have done in medicine, science, media, law, banking,etc, and Mexicans are doing with common labor, farm labor, Mexican restaurants etc.
Instead of drug abuse you might help youths pursue a college education, technical training and a professional career.

Instead of Black-on-Black violence you might help show them the benefit of setting up Community Self-Defense Units to deter vigilantes, Black Water mercenaries and other racist elements from driving thru the N.O. Black community shooting and killing Blacks again as they did during Katrina.
And since the government’s standard response to ANY/ALL disasters occuring in the Black community has been to immediately send in the National Guard and nationwide police forces then for our youth’s own protection you might help show them the need to be well schooled in Community Survival Tactics under Martial Law. And the same holds true for N.O.’s need in particular for Community Flood Evacuation and Rescue Teams for anyone left behind during future floods. Many feel that government attitudes toward Blacks have somewhat changed for the better recently, and hopefully that’s so, but until proven true it’s better to hope for the best and stay prepared for the worst. Besides, for any oppressed people, Collective Self-Reliance is almost always the best policy.

i know there are organizations already engaged in some of these endeavors and have been doing so since Katrina hit. They deserve our highest appreciation, respect and support because they can’t do it alone. And it goes without saying that it would also be a tremendous benefit to them and to our progress as a people if street organizations would assist in such efforts instead of engaging in mostly Black-on-Black violence.

Sis. Tanya Baby that’s basically the gist of my ideas/thoughts on what you can do to reach/help our youth. It basically boils down to doing what you can to help politically and culturally educate our youth and to get them engaged in our people’s struggle for control of our own community and ultimately for complete control of our own lives: which is true freedom!

i hope something i’ve said is useful to you and i thank you for posing the question.

Love, and Struggle, Sundiata