(This was wrote over this past Summer. Miriam had decided to share it with M1 and to publish it In memoriam).
REMEMBERING MY FRIEND BUNNY
by Miriam, M1 Detroit Local
Yesterday I was browsing the Internet, looking for an old friend. In an article dated June 9, 2011, this is what I found: WAVE OF HOMOPHOBIC VIOLENCE IN PUERTO RICO – 18 DEAD IN 18 MONTHS – LGBTQ MURDERS ON THE RISE.
Ivan McDonald and Frank DiGiovanni were among the listed dead.
I first met my friend Bunny, born Ivan Courtney McDonald in Jamaica, W.I. on March 24, 1950, when he moved with his family to Compton, California. He had come to the United States at the age of 5, living in Massachusetts until the age of 12, when they moved to Compton. We met at Walton Junior High School, in a science class, and together with another classmate, Don Chan, became close, see-you-every-day friends. His family home was across the street from Compton High and, after school, I would go over to the McDonalds every day. We taught ourselves how to play guitar; we wrote and played songs and poems, with great intensity. Both Don and Bunny’s experiences helped form my own, and as I became more political, I brought them with me. Together we went to anti-war marches, including ones that turned violent from police attack, like occurred in Century City in 1966. Together we smoked dope and went to love-ins. We talked ourselves out of stops by the police, except the one time we got arrested, along with my brother, Martin, for having weed. They called him all kinds of n words, called Martin a girl (long hair) and separated me out for the ride to the women’s jail, Sybil Brand Institute, SBI. Ma got us out, with bail money she kept on hand.
When it came time to register for the draft, Bunny did not. When it came time to declare citizenship (he had a choice between the US, Jamaica and England), Bunny did not.
Bunny told me he was gay when we were about 14 or 15. There was no gay movement then (1964) that we knew about. He spoke and wrote about his struggles being Black and Queer. We hitchhiked to San Francisco the first time in 1966. Bunny went back, connecting with the gay community around Haight Street. There is an issue of San Francisco Sunshine newspaper featuring a front page photograph of a group of naked men holding rifles, proclaiming the Gay Revolution. Bunny is center, front.
I moved to New York in 1967 and the following year Bunny came and stayed with me. He was looking for work as an actor and found a few parts, very very off off Broadway. He also had experience as a carpenter, learned from his father, and an extremely original and creative artistic sense. He moved back to California, this time San Francisco.
Bunny first introduced me to Frank in 1966. Bunny was living in converted garage space in his family home. He brought Frank home – they were together from then on.
Frank DiGiovanni was an Italian guy from New York, a little bit older, very street smart, intelligent and caring. They moved to San Francisco, where they would buy a place, renovate and sell. They then moved to New York, doing pretty much the same thing. Bunny worked as a set designer also, notably on Spike Lee’s Crooklyn.
They moved to St. Lucia and later to Maunabo, Puerto Rico where they lived next to the Caribbean Sea. I visited them in 2004, where they welcomed me like a sister, with much attention and love.
You don’t always keep in touch with the people you love and so it was with Bunny. When I did try to re connect, I found murder. Anger, sadness, loss, goddamnit.
I can remember Frankie playing Hogan’s Alley on the piano, Bunny on the guitar, laughter, conversation, a wittiness and understanding of the world and its ways that one doesn’t often find. I remember my friends Bunny and Frankie. I remember Frankie telling me, “we courted for 35 minutes and now we’ve been together 35 years.” It’s a story to share.
The following is a discussion document first drafted in June 2015 and discussed, amended, edited over the course of a couple months, and approved by the First of May Anarchist Alliance in September 2015.
We welcome discussion and debate of this document in order to help build a stronger and more sophisticated revolutionary anti-fascist movement.
This statement is dedicated to the martyrs of the “Mother Emanuel” massacre and all victims of racist and fascist violence. We dedicate our lives to ending these attacks, and the system that perpetuates them.
-First of May Anarchist Alliance, September 2015
pamphlet version available HERE
I. On June 17, 2015 a young white fascist carried out a vicious and hateful mass murder against 9 parishioners and clergy of the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Mother” Emanuel is the oldest Black congregation in the American South. It was the center of planning for a great slave rebellion in 1822 that was suppressed with the execution of Denmark Vesey and 34 others and the burning of the church building. The re-built “Mother” Emanuel has been at the center of Black Charleston ever since.
Dylann Storm Roof, the white supremacist that carried out the massacre must have known the symbolic power of his act of terror. It seems to have been designed to respond to the mass movements of the last year, that “No, Black lives do not matter.”
Roof is said to have drifted into fascist politics as part of the sizable right-wing and racist support for George Zimmerman, the vigilante killer of Trayvon Martin in Florida. Roof said that Zimmerman was right, and so did the courts and many others. Roof went on to make contact with neo-nazis, the KKK, and the racist Council of Conservative Citizens. He publicly identified with the old apartheid regimes in Southern Africa. It would be a mistake to see his radicalization and activation as an isolated incident – more likely Roof represents the tip of an iceberg.
II. South Carolina was the heart of the Confederacy, the state most dependent on slave labor and where the first shots of the US Civil War were fired. Since the defeat of post-Civil War Reconstruction, the racist white power structure has ruled the state, openly flying the Confederate flag as their symbol.
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON – A Review
By Miriam, Detroit, August, 2015
I was drawn to the film, Straight Outta Compton because this is where I’m from: Compton, California, where I lived from 1954 through 1967, when I graduated Compton Senior High. My family were Communists and so were active in a variety of community organizations – the Compton Council on Human Relations, the NAACP, my mother’s union. As a result I was active, too, in picketing Woolworth’s as part of the northern civil rights movement and joining union picket lines. As a family we attended various CP programs, hootenannies, bazaars, etc. and watched television news reports of the southern civil rights movement, the police and dog attacks and so forth. I was aware of Black/white dynamics at an early age and I was especially aware of the police and how they treated my friends, differently from me.
In Hieronymous’ review of this film on libcom.org he discusses the economic situation of Compton and Long Beach, the loss of work after the downsizing of the aircraft industry, the increased militarization of the police and the increase of Mexican immigrants into the community.
Straight Outta Compton portrays a realistic view of the police from a young Black man’s point of view – hostile, brutal, a very clear enemy. None of the “we are your friends” rhetoric promoted by school-law enforcement programs or by the mainstream media. The opening scenes of a police battering ram tearing apart the front of a home has shock value, but I don’t forget that this is the real.
The main criticism of the film has come from the women’s community who rightfully protest the erasure of the violence done to women by members of NWA. The film is promoted as a documentary, and because of this, the treatment meted out to Dee Barnes and other women in Andre Young’s (Dr. Dre) life should have been shown, in all its ugliness.
This aspect of the culture (male rap) is very anti woman – women are b’s and h’s, useful for p and for fetching and carrying drinks, to be ordered around. This over the top sexist behavior is not limited to male rappers, nor is it limited to Black or Latin communities. To greater or lesser degrees it exists wherever power is exalted, and power over people (men over women) is either celebrated or accepted as normal behavior.
Another criticism of the film is its treatment of the 3 Jewish men who represent the record industry. Because they are the only white people in the film (except for police, judges and the people stomping on NWA’s cds in a demonstration organized by Tipper Gore) their Jewishness stands out. One manager is ready to fight after hearing an anti-Semitic remark: “Did you hear that?! I’m going to call my friends in the JDL [Jewish Defense League]!!” He doesn’t get nearly as emotional or disgusted even when he witnesses the police humiliation of NWA outside his studio.
The true fact is that while not all recording industry personnel are Jewish, many are. Historically, it has been the Jewish promoter approaching the Black musician to be the in-between – the person promising big money to the artists and promising to represent them to the rest of the industry. This relationship of middleman is loaded with opportunities for fraud and that is what happens in this movie, too.
The young rappers wanting to believe they are That Good to get a record deal, the suspicions of the “white man,” the 3-inch thick contracts they don’t read, the promotion of parties, drugs, drink and women all conspire to keep NWA unaware of exactly how much money they made and how much is taken from them. “It’s business,” they’re told, “this is the way it is.”
I especially appreciated the unmasking of police violence and how this experience affected the Los Angeles rebellion after the cops who beat Rodney King were acquitted. One striking scene shows a red bandanna knotted to a blue bandanna as both advanced on the police. This signifies the Crips-Bloods truce that took place during the rebellion.
The call-in comments to the local radio station here in Detroit were all along the lines of “it is so good to see us on the screen” and “they are finally showing our story.”
Reality rap is called Gansta Rap by promoters; it is bought by youth Black and white; it is a focus of hostility directed at young Black people; its misogyny and over the top swearing keeps many parents from letting their children listen to it. It remains one of the few places Black youth feel they can speak their truth in language that is familiar. It is here that they touch the hearts and minds of other youth – worldwide, of all cultures and backgrounds – facing similar oppression.
In 2012, at the founding conference of our organization, First of May Anarchist Alliance (M1), members of the anarchist and libertarian journal, The Utopian, were in attendance. There were several discussions of affiliation and movement towards building a collaborative political tendency between M1 and The Utopian. The reality being that there already existed crossover between the groups with some members being part of both projects and other individuals having been supportive of each others work over the past years.
Over the next few years there has been support, aid and solidarity between our projects. Increasingly however there have also been questions and differences in both political priorities and approaches to organizing. It is unfortunate that these differences were not constructively raised or worked through. In June, members of The Utopian issued a letter outlining their differences and the break in political solidarity with M1. Several days later they issued another message announcing the end of collaboration with M1. We are issuing our response.
Below our response you will find the link to The Utopian letter and announcement.
First of May Anarchist Alliance
July 22, 2015
1. At its founding, supporters of the First of May Anarchist Alliance (M1), entered into an agreement with supporters of the journal, The Utopian, to work together and develop common efforts to build a revolutionary and anarchist organization. Those efforts have ended and supporters of The Utopian are no longer supporters of M1. The two organizations go their separate ways.
2. From the beginning, it was not clear as to how the two organizations would work together. M1 is and has been an organization of anarchists, actively involved in the struggles of the working class. We emphasize this with our principles of affinity, specifically point two, “A working class orientation”. The Utopian is and has been a group of anarchists who work together to put out a journal.
3. The strength of M1 is being an organization of anarchists, actively involved in the struggles of the working class, but this also is a weakness, as M1 has not been disciplined enough in developing its political approach, its propaganda, drawing out lessons from its work and in developing the framework for its view of the world.
4. Supporters of The Utopian have not been active in M1 for the past year, so the collaboration ended some time ago. Now it has formally ended.
5. The Utopian has published the letter it sent to formally end the relationship between the two organizations, which letter was sent in response to a request from M1 for clarification of certain issues, questions related to the work of the two organizations and whether supporters of The Utopian would participate in the upcoming M1 conference/meet up. The Utopian letter pointed to three main issues as the basis for the split: the lack of written response from M1 supporters to a nature of the period document written by a supporter of The Utopian for M1’s founding conference in 2012; the issue of defense of the right of Ukraine to self-determination in response to attacks by the Russian imperialists; and the fight of the Kurdish people and the PKK and its affiliated organizations in Rojava against ISIS.
6. On the nature of the period document from 2012, it was a useful document. It covered some issues related to the decline of the hegemonic power of the U.S. and was helpful in discussing the outlook of Marxists, the likely rebound of Marxist groups and the inability of Marxism to offer solutions or alternatives to capitalism. No one has or had a crystal ball, so the 2012 document is dated and did not forsee the collapse of the Arab spring, the resurgence of reactionary forces in Egypt and elsewhere, and the growth of ISIS. More troubling is the document’s failure to recognize the depth of despair among precarious workers in the U.S. and other advanced countries and level of attacks underway against communities of color and the Black community, in particular, in the U.S. and the danger of the resurgence of white supremacy. Now, among the central issues we face in the U.S. are the growth and development of the movement against police violence, what is called the Black Lives Matter movement, and the resurgence of white supremacy and racist violence and fascist organizing in response to that movement.
7. A supporter of The Utopian, also a founding member of M1, worked on developing a political response on the issue of Ukraine and the Russian attacks on the integrity of Ukraine. M1, as an organization, devoted considerable time and effort to this discussion. There were various concerns and approaches discussed. At a meet up in Chicago a year ago, the approach on Ukraine was one of the most important discussions. There was general agreement on the approach of defending the right of Ukraine and the people of Ukraine to self determination and opposition to the attacks of the Russian imperialists against Ukraine and developing the approach of military support to the people of Ukraine in this fight despite the role and involvement of right wing nationalists and even fascist forces along with the government of Ukraine in the fight against Russian imperialism. The person who was both a supporter of The Utopian and M1 was tasked with writing up the results of the discussion for M1 and to provide the basis for an M1 statement in defense of the right to the people of Ukraine to self determination and our support and defense of their fight against Russian imperialism even though we had no political agreement with the capitalist government of Ukraine or the right wing nationalist forces involved in the fight against Russian imperialism. The supporter of The Utopian chose, instead, to write an article for The Utopian on Ukraine and ceased activity with M1. That was a year ago.
8. M1 supporters should have completed this discussion on Ukraine on our own and should have stated our position and approach more clearly. The discussion on Ukraine and the right to self determination and the concept of military support without political support to the forces opposing Russian imperialism, helped to inform the discussions on Kobane and Rojava and the fight of the Kurds against ISIS in Syria. M1 did develop its approach on this fight and express its support for the fight of the Kurds against ISIS and held public meetings and discussions on this fight. Supporters of The Utopian were not involved in these discussions or these efforts and did not attend the public discussions on these issues. Contrary to statements in The Utopian letter, M1 did not offer any type of political support to the PKK and its affiliated organizations or attempt to downplay the history of the PKK as a Marxist/Leninist organization. M1 discussed and sought to encourage discussion of the role of Ocalan, the changes in political philosophy announced by the PKK and its affiliated organizations related to the fight against patriarchy, the role of women in the fight, the changes in the approach to national liberation and issues related to a Kurdish state, local autonomy and many other issues. At no point did M1 claim that the PKK and its affiliated organizations had ceased to be a Marxist organization or had become an anarchist organization or that M1 was in political agreement with Ocalan or the PKK and its affiliated organizations. This is false. M1 attempted to participate in discussions related to these issues, in the necessity of fighting the ISIS forces, the role of women in the fight, issues related to local autonomy and the fight for anarchist revolution, the issue of borders and ending borders, and the role of the maximum leader and why that is and was counter to all conceptions of anarchist organizing.
9. M1 continues to discuss and develop its approach on self determination, opposing imperialism, opposing ISIS, opposing U.S. imperialism, offering military support even where we are not in political agreement and so forth. Where The Utopian letter says M1 should “be ashamed” of our approach on Ukraine, we are not ashamed and we continue to develop our approach. We reject the allegation that M1 capitulated to the PKK and its affiliated organizations or downplayed the history of the PKK in the fight of the Kurdish people, while M1 continues its discussions of supporting and defending the fight of the Kurds and others against ISIS even though M1 is not in political support of the PKK and its affiliated organizations.
10. M1 will continue to work to build an anarchist organization based in the actual struggles of the working class and oppressed people. M1 is aware of the need to continue discussions to develop its political approach and to see those discussions through within our organization. These discussions are necessary in order to develop the political approaches and the framework of political agreement for building a fighting and revolutionary anarchist organization. Our forces are small, but we are determined to continue to develop our propaganda and our approach and our beliefs and our organization. We urge individuals and groupings who seek to build a revolutionary and anarchist organization based in the struggles of the working class and oppressed peoples to join with us.
Follow the below link to The Utopian,
The Utopian’s relationship with M1AA
Protesters confront police outside Camden Yards, Bmore.
By B.D., First of May Anarchist Alliance – Detroit Local
ORGANIZE AND FIGHT BACK!
This is not the time for “peace” marches. This is not the time for “healing” in our communities. This is the time to rise up and fight back. From Baltimore to Ferguson to New York to Detroit to Minneapolis to Seattle, people are fighting back against the police murders of our people.
In Baltimore, a gang of police chased down Freddie Gray, dragged him from his bike, threw him down and broke his neck. Freddie Gray, age 25, went into a coma and died a week later from a broken spinal column. These police acted as mad dogs. And these brutal, insane scenes are repeated again and again across this country.
People of Baltimore are resisting the ongoing police attacks. People have fought back against the police and the authority of the state. The governor and mayor called out the National Guard, and a 10 pm curfew has been in place for nearly a week. The prosecutor has filed some charges against the six police who killed Freddie Gray, but they already are out on bail. We all know how difficult it is to get any kind of conviction against a cop in this country. An 18 year old from Baltimore, charged with breaking out the window of a police car on Monday, remains in jail with bail set at $500,000, while the cops who killed Freddie Gray have bail set at less than half of that amount. The system places a higher value on the window of a cop car then on the life of Freddie Gray. This is not the time to declare “victory.” This is the time to organize the resistance throughout the country. Continue Reading…
The following is a short summary of the anti-immigrant violence happening in several cities and townships in South Africa. The Report is made by a member of First of May Anarchist Alliance currently living there.
Report by D.
KNIFE EDGE: An immigrant waits for gangs of locals that attacked foreign shop owners in the Durban city centre yesterday. At least three people were stabbed and one burnt. Image by: TEBOGO LETSIE
It’s an unfortunate situation that’s having an impact on everybody here in Durban. Downtown has been a no go zone during the night, it has been the primary battleground between native South Africans and immigrants in the city. In response the ANC controlled government has organized nationwide counter demonstrations on Thursday that brought out tens of thousands of people, however on the following day more looting of immigrant shops was reported in Johannesburg.
Tension between indigenous South Africans (Zulu’s Xhosa’s etc.) and “foreigners” (Nigerians Ethiopians Somali’s etc.) has been bubbling for a quite a while. SA in particular has a long history Xenophobia that dates back to the days of apartheid and has even increased since its demise. The last big wave in 2008, left dozens dead and injured in Cape Town Durban and Johannesburg. Just last month there was a riot in Soweto where again foreign owned businesses were looted, though some dispute whether it was targeted or just a coincidence that they happened to be foreign. Continue Reading…
SATURDAY APRIL 18TH – 12 NOON
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE BASEMENT CLASSROOM
111 E KIRBY ST, DETROIT, MI 48202
Public Presentation and Discussion on the Struggle in Rojava
Against the State and Capitalism.
Against Patriarchy and Domination.
For a multi-cultural, anti-racist and free society.
In the war-torn Middle East region formerly known as Syria, a popular revolution is underway. The most dramatic actions by the people in what is now known as Rojava (western Kurdistan) has been the heroic resistance to the military siege by the authoritarian and murderous Islamic State. The people of Rojava have adopted a new program of social self-defense and reconstruction.
Join us in a discussion of this struggle, its relevance to our fight against U.S. and international Imperialism, and its meaning for the whole of the Middle East.
HOSTED BY THE FIRST OF MAY ANARCHIST ALLIANCE – DETROIT LOCAL
Ikemba, a new member of First of May Anarchist Alliance is now training in Germany with a professional soccer club. Here is his report from anti-fascist protests in Frankfurt earlier this past March against a new racist, right-wing formation – PEGIDA – Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamazation of the West.
When the incident of Michael Brown being slain at the hands of the individuals who are supposedly protecting and serving the masses occurred in August I was in Germany, pursuing a professional soccer career. I felt miserable that I was in Germany and I couldn’t find a way in which I could support individuals who were just as enraged as me through direct action. I was happy, enjoying Germany and new experiences, while things in the United States were occurring, that I felt, I needed to be a part of. Eventually, I made my way back to the United States and I quickly began attending protests against police violence. I felt I needed to be involved, although I am often annoyed with the sheer symbolism of protesting rather than there actually being demands made. With that being said, I was content with the militancy that was taking place in Ferguson. I ended up driving down to Ferguson the day after the announcement of the “no indictment” of officer Darren Wilson. I was eager to be involved in protesting, that I felt, would be militant in a way that not many protest in the United States are. Continue Reading…
The resistance following the murder of Michael Brown was immediate, local, based in the community and angry. This resistance grew quickly, folks came to Ferguson to support and, in the fall, with the failure to indict on Brown and the Eric Garner murder in New York, the movement took off in New York, in Ferguson and across the country.
The breadth and depth of the movement surprised many, but there is a resistance in this country. We were surprised by the Occupy Movement from a few years ago, and we were surprised by the nationwide resistance on Trayvon Martin. Now we see this resistance continues to grow and to deepen and to get broader, but it remains, in many ways, not organized.
Encouraging developments were/are many: this started from the community in Ferguson and grew from there. Various forces were in motion. Younger, working class youth from the Black community, more middle class youth from the Black community, many young women and parents. There also was support from the broader movement, which includes many younger, white folks. This also appeared to include some younger middle class students as well as some working class young folks. There also was support and actions from Latino, Asian, Native and other communities. The breadth and scope was encouraging and a new development, I think. This is something we’ve been working towards, and we’ve seen some examples of it.
The range of tactics also was encouraging, from the focus on the police and local government/authority to the no business as usual/shut it down approach to blocking freeways and bridges, actions at shopping malls and other. There were some good examples of direct action tactics using social media to organize, having more than one action at a time in the same community, coordination and taking these actions to the population as a whole all were new directions which grew out of the struggle. There was some creativity and coordination that we haven’t seen before. Continue Reading…
A new pamphlet published by the Minneapolis Local of First of May Anarchist Alliance