On Kuwasi Balagoon
above was written shortly after the death of Kuwasi Balagoon 15 years
ago by Black Liberation Army soldier Albert Nuh Washington who died himself
a year ago, ALSO in prison! 1986 and 2000. Kuwasi was the first of the
BLA prisoners to die in prison. We know that Nuh was not the last as just
THIS year Teddy Jah Heath died in prison. It is said that death varies
in its significance. It can be weightier than a mountain or lighter than
a feather. We said that then as young fighters and we feel its weight
now as many of us are middle aged, in poor health and walking everyday
in the midst of social and spiritual devastation of our communities. When
one has lived the high tide of revolutionary struggle and has tasted the
power of striking back, when one has been part of organizational forces
and ancestral support that can take credit for putting fear in the lives
of formerly awesome pig oppressors, it is hard to attend the wake or funeral
of another comrade who reminds you that YES WE DID IT. We did it and that
we made a comittment to help build the Armed Potential for the liberation
of our communities. Crazy though we may have been, and crazy as some of
us still be, we left a mark and a message for generation to come that
we CAN win. And if it be that we cant win then we can, like Eldridge say
"throw a nigger wrench into the machinery" with the only power
that we have
the power to destroy the orderly flow of official everyday
1946 TO 1986. The essence of the Lumpen-street outlaw. Law-breaker, law-manipulator,
law-eliminator. And revolution sounds like grandmas breakfast call.
It was not only the social and historical forces that shaped him and so
many others like him. It wasnt only the creation of the Black Panther
Party and the genius of Huey P. Newtons vision of an American Revolution
led by that days discarded peoples "with no ties to the basic
means of production." It was that the idea was INSANE that anyone
should believe that the discarded people of the streets can be ACTORS,
leading actors on the stage of human struggle for freedom. Power to Insanity!
This is the most advanced technological society in the world. White racism
had corralled black people into urban Bantustans. Out of seemingly nowhere
comes Franz Fanons hustlers, janitors, maids, stick-up kids, alcoholics,
welfare recipients, killers (some trained by Uncle Sam to kill other people
of color), illiterates and college students turned revolutionaries who
will rock and inspire others to join all kinds of social movements to
ROCK this kapitalist empire at its very foundations. Kuwasi was a part
of that. He was an OUTLAW; an outlaw who was in search of a way to be
the most effective political actor he could for his people and for the
destruction of Babylon. His very constitution was freedom. His very personal
constitutional make-up was outlaw, as in, "I cannot accept any law
that is out of harmony with my very being." That search for existential
relevance was found in the Black Panther Party. Marx, Lenin and others
could agree on one thing about the Lumpen, that you cant harness
them, you cant discipline them. And maybe they were right. You cant,
or at least its hard to harness the Lumpen spirit, which is a nomadic
spirit, an anarchic spirit which is finally, a fuck the bullshit spirit
cuz Free Life is worth taking your best shots, literally. It was a good
thing (that just needed other creative organizational forms) not a bad
thing. Thats why when those of us even thought about joining the
Black Underground we thought of panther outlaws before us like Kuwasi,
Saundra Holmes, Geronimo and Twyman. Kuwasis name was already well
known. Wild man, escape artist. Freed himself and risked it sneaking armed
back to the prison gates for others. Daring, a daringness that was not
anything foolish but represented the kind of spirit that you cant
harness, the kind that guided Hueys intellectual daringness, the
literary daringness of Papa Rage, the role-breaking daringness of Assata
Shakur, and the bi-sexual daringness of
who? -- of Kuwasi himself!
when I was in prison we got word through the VooDoo Communiciations network
through Kuwasi (and others whom I cant name), that if we needed
help in raising up on outta that high walled prison to let them know.
We did. That was Kuwasi, for whom RISKS were like the air he breathed.
You breathe, you take risks. I risk, therefore I AM. And though it made
no sense to me then that he was also The Anarchist, I thoroughly understood
it now. When the BPP could no longer serve his spirit, the Black Liberation
Armys anarchistic style could. And he obviously liked the vision
of a Republic of New Afrika, free from Babylonian control and self-determining.
I respect that.
Upon my prison
release at the end of 1985 and attending his Memorial after his death
on December 13, 1986, comrades of the Black Liberation Army (and those
in the know) shared with me those stories (which make for precious new
motivating Myths) of the TRICKSTER, shape-shifter, elusive, daring, bold
Kuwasi. He could takeem down: enemies, armored cars, while being
sustained by love and loyalty, both giving and accepting. Kuwasi lived
his life, his short 40 years own his own terms, outlaw terms from his
personal to his political. He was in solidarity with whomever he wanted,
he loved whomever he wanted, he fought on whatever terrain he landed,
whether on the streets or in the prisons.
my ramblings, he left us all a rich legacy in actions and words. Both
had these things in common: they challenged the dominant reality that
held humanity in check, and they challenged us\our dominant revolutionary
thinking if IT was holding our humanity and movement activities IN CHECK.
That was the meaning of his political outlawry, his free lifestyle and
his undying love for Lumpen Humanity. He is bigger now than he was in
life. We can all, proudly the Black/New Afrikan, the Youth, the
Queer, the Outlaw, the Community, the Other take a piece of him
and be further motivated to struggle. Each piece will only multiply. Ha!
Hed probably just ask that we learn to CONVERGE collectively and
deal a final DEATH BLOW to this infernal enemy of LIFE.
cats, and there are cats. There is Kuwasi Balagoon
people dont need strong leaders." Ella Baker
the Freedom of All Political Prisoners with Urgency!
Revolution, I See Your Light Again.
thru the people!