INTO THE MISSISSIPPI OF MEXICO
a Black Man Doing Here In ZapatistaLand?
I was on
a Talk Show (Steal This Radio) in the Lower East Side of New York City
the other day. I was invited to speak on my recent trip to Mexico. More
specifically, ZAPATISTA LAND., One of my Sistuhs said jokingly that we
should title this talk: "What's a Black Man
" we all laughed.
But upon second-thought, hmmm
to share with readers my experiences on this my first trip to Zap Land,
in particular, and Mexico in general.. I was encouraged to keep a journal
and actually ended up keeping two separate ones. There were two reasons
for going on this trip. One was to support the on-going Zapatista revolutionary
experiment in post-modern liberation struggle, and two, to use the time
to get my own dam head together in terms of breaking out of this self-imposed
imprisonment or self-colonization of my potential for 'becoming' as a
human being and for bettering my revolutionary participation. OK, okay,
I promise not to get too wordy but hey, I'm trying to convey as best I
can where I'm going with the Experience I'm about to share.
One of my
social movement family members from the Anarchist Black Cross (Sara) called
one day and asked if I was really interested in going to Zap Land as we'd
discussed at a prior Zap fund-raiser party. In my mind I said, "Oh
shit, she's serious. Am I?" Folks know I talk about traveling, going
places, never having been nowhere 'cept on that fuckin' federal prison
bus. And now the opportunity is before me to do it. Do it? Hm. My heart
says Yeah, but my mind is starting its regular shit: Excuses - Procrastinate.
But this time I said, Fuck it! By-pass the bullshit. I'm gonna do it!,
which verbalized itself to Sara as a big, YES.
I'm gonna leave the kounrty. To Zap Land, a land who's Peoples are engaged
in and are going through a different kind of Revolution. In fact, it's
so different that traditional leftist 'experts' on these things are at
a loss as to where to place it, how to define it and whether or not to
even support it. To me though, this is an exciting struggle. It is not
Marxist, Marxist-Leninist, Trotskyist, Maoist, Gonzaloist [*], traditional
nationalist, etc. (* By Gonzaloist I mean those who follow the movement
popularly known as "The Shinning Path" of Peru.) In short, it
has not adopted a Vanguardist, Political Partyist, modern pre-packaged
all-answered approach to Revolution. I'd dare call their style 'facilitationist,'
without a Hidden Agenda. It is inclusive, anti-authoritarian, radical
democratic, post-modernist. So, contrary to all who are stuck in blueprints
and formulas from the Great Ones of Revolution Past, I say, All Power
to the Zapatistas! for rejecting flunkeyism, as Eldridge Cleaver would
say, cause revolution is about daring intellectual honesty, creativity
and practice. It's about Che's Love. It's about shaking boundaries of
all kinds and even breaking them. And to me, it's obvious that Zapatistas
are aware that it's a truly new day, space and time. Subcomandante Marcos,
Ramona, Tacho, Trini and company seem not to fear wrestling with these
drastically changing imperialist times with some new combative and liberatory
a big kid in ways. So, I knew I'd take to this new experience like a kid.
I recorded in my journals not only sites, but my thinkings about those
sites. I also recorded what else I seemed to do 24-7: my thoughts on Revolution,
new developments in revolutionary and philosophical thinkings and analyses
and some introspections. So, I'm not sure if my entrees follow proper
procedures. I can only tell you that they're my honest entrees. In sharing
them I hope you will be encouraged to both support the Zap revolution
and to see how your life impacts on the world (worlds) and also how the
world (worlds) impacts on YOU. Such a complex, multi-faceted, multi-dimensional
life world we're in. So much to face, to learn, to do. There's probably
never been such a social, spatial and time matrix in history as now that
bounces any and every aspect of our lives and thinkings onto the center
and peripheral stages of life and struggle. It is truly a great time to
be alive and in the whirlwinds, undercurrents and roller-coasters of Revolution.
Git on board.
23rd - Happy Birffday Pops! - In San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico
Sara and Dema. Me and Dema had decided that Sara should be 'the leader'
cause she has the experience, best command of the language, and most resistance
to being 'the leader.' Ha! Here we are in other people's property (O.P.P.)
and I'm checking out their library. This is the rented house of Kael and
Melissa. Both are anarchists from Philly and here with a commitment to
Zapatista Support Work. They are into building water-purification systems
for Zap indigenous communities where needed. So yeah, this is a way-station
for those like us going from the ''city' of San Cristobal into the even
more mountainous Zap communities. And they are hosts to our little crew.
between Zaps and los mejicanos puercos (Is it puercos mejicanos/ pigs
first, Mexicans second?- smile) have reached a stalemate. We hear there's
an alarm, red alert of sorts, so our desires to visit and bring medical
supplies to the Zap Camp may not happen. We'll see. We're here in San
Cristobal in the state of Chiapas. The contrast. Coming from Super Tech
Babylon to here. Seeing a poverty Id only 'saw' in National Geographic
or in radical media. I now see this FACE-TO-FACE. Aw-man, my heart goes
out t the folks here, and my heart is crying! Little city kids hawking
'tourists' (us, too, as tourists regardless of how we might feel) for
pesos, pennies really, selling their cultural artifacts whose makings
and meanings go way back. I don't know, how many generations. To be reduced
to this?! Contemporary Mayans; majestic, proud Mayans. Shoe-shine, shoe-shine.
Bracelet. Necklace. Doll
The impact of NEO-LIBERALISM is what the
Zapatistas call it. Don Cordelion has cut off the head of the prize horse
and has presented it to the world's villagers. That's NAFTA, the offer
you can't refuse.
A land of
varied peoples. And the Indigenous folks, with their short selves
(I was told that that might be kinds fucked up to say as it doesn't consider
that their height may have to do to with their diet UNDER OPPRESSION &
EXPLOITATION. Well, I am here to learn). A Chicagoan here, who's a Zap
supporter, said that it was only 25 years ago that the powers-that-be
here in San Cristobal ALLOWED the Indigenous Folks into THEIR city. Dam,
treated like niggas! Ain't that some shit! Yeah, they need some Zapatistas,
got-dammit. Fuck it.
I can't figure out yet what Zap support is here among the city residents and Indigenous Folks, but there's boku literature, videos and other paraphrenalia around to purchase on this contemporary folklore of the Zaps. And the Folks make plenty of Zap dolls with characteristic masks and weapons. Some on doll horses. Cute. Powerful. And you know I gotta get me one of them on horseback (the only permissible occasion for a macho revolutionary man to be getting a doll. (Smile) A woman Zap preferably.
hatred and intimidation of Zapatistas and supporters, aint this some sign
of open support to defiantly sell such? I understand it's survival $$,
too, but shit, you willing to sell Zapatista symbols of resistance in
spite of a brutal Mexican government intimidation campaign and these freelance
reactionary muthafuckas? There's definitely some support here. How much?
What other forms does it take? And how is it sustained for the obvious
long-term? Okay, enough for now. That's my interest in popular culture.
You see where my head is at.
25th --- The Reality
here in La Realidad, a Zap stronghold. Day Two. We were hoping to leave
today in the Ganges, no! The Stream. Kid was smelling in a baaad (yet
honorable) way. Smile. Difference between here and San Cristobal is as
between city and country. San Cristobal the City (town to us?) seems to
crush out joy in the faces of its people, especially the Folks. Lil' kids
resemble defeated adults as they look at you with lifeless eyes and thrust
out dirty hands. Fuckin' pigs! But here in La Realidad, a Zap community,
faces are bright. Kids and adults. There's much laughter, play, work.
Skies are bright, mountainous range just beautiful and animals are everywhere
with the people. Chickens, roosters, dogs, cats, horses, bugs
Not a lot yet, but I hear that in December, they'll be really introducing
is an indigenous community that was created maybe five years ago by several
different Mayan peoples or groups made EXPENDABLE by NEO-LIBERALISM, i.e.
"Hm. This land seems good for global profit. You business and government
flunkies better get these worthless peasants off this land!"
is also designated 'La Paz (The Peace). The Zaps held a big international
conference here, last year, and 4,000 activists showed from around the
world. In fact, Gene (ABC-Bronx) was here. You have got to be here, know
what kind of hike it is to even get here, to fully appreciate how such
a feat was accomplished. And you talking bout some dedicated and Zap-inspired
muthafuckas from far and near. Whew!
Me and my
comrades are sort of attractions here. Wild-looking, blond short-haired
Dema; boyish-looking Sara, and the big black bald-headed guy - ME. The
kids stare at us, but particularly at me. Most of the international committee
folks here are Europeans. Am I the first person of Afrikan descent they've
seen? I'm gonna find out [*]
nice group from the international peace-observers committee here. They're
activist supporters. 3 from Spain. 1 from Switzerland, and I haven't learned
where the others are from yet. The Spanish camaradas know all about the
Spanish Civil War (dah) of their parents and grandparents generations.
This is exciting to hear. And yeah, I'm forced to call upon my high school
Spanish classes to pick up and speak the language 'un poco.' But being
in this group I'm reminded of the movie, 'Land & Freedom,' which is
pretty much about this guy who comes over as an Internationalist supporter
through the revolutionary Trotskyist group POUM, and how he experiences
the betrayal of the peoples struggle by the Communist Party in the
Civil War. This mixed group is here on pure inrternationalist dedication
and though there's a definite lull in the Zap/pig government talks, and
low morale, they keep this peace work going in support of Zapatista aims.
out today. Had a lil' audience. Everything is in the open here. Folks
aint use to seeing no one do our kind of exercises. Indian swoop push-ups,
stretches. Etc. And when I did some boxing, kicking, blocking maneuvers
and such, the Folks were amazed and ran and told Nikki (one of the Internationals
frm Switzerland) that that 'hombre' was doing some strange things and
to come look. Glad my brothers aint see me, my ragged style. Glad nona
my family in jersey can see me now. They'd be convinced, 'Yeah, Michael's
26th - While Waiting for 'Word'
No word yet
on if/when we can move on. So, patience is the key. This morning as we
shared café. We found out that the three camaradas de Espana left
early this morning. I'm a bit sad. We gathered round the candles last
night til 10:30 talking. Imagine: 2 Italians, 1 Swiss, 3 Spaniards, me
and Sara. Dema was having her bout with diarrhea elsewhere. And the topic
was the Spanish Civil War. This was AT MY REQUEST EARLIER THT DAY. They
were, like, READY. The discussion was spoz to have been around the two
movies: 'Land & Freedom' and 'Libertarian Women." What we really
got into was a history of the whole Civil War, backdrop, background, Durruti,
the role of the Women, etc. But before we even started, as we waited for
yet another big pot of café to get hot on the open fire, our international
friends wanted ME to talk about
What? THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY. Surprised?
Yeah. Felt good, too.
It was as
if Id jumped right into a movie screen as I imagined being around
the campfire during the Civil War with all these 'volunteers' from other
countries come together to support an ideal: Freedom from Fascism. Here
we were, our faces aglow by candlelight, talking about one of the most
heroic revolutionary struggles in modern time, and one that was more or
less anarchist and almost victorious. Ah, listen to them speak. At times
animated, at time serious, at times humorous. At all times honest! Sara
and Nikki did a lot of the translating for me, but I also found myself
understanding a lot, as them high school and prison lessons had been kickng
in. Curly would be proud of me!
Here, you're up early, at sunrise or a lil' after. The roosters don't
play. Ha! Its afternoon now and the café is hot, tortillas ready.
Our Italian comrades had just gave us a short on the situation in Italy,
re: anarchism, the Red Brigades, the Autonomous movement, Negri, etc.
Then came the convoy of government soldiers and the internationalists
had to do their 'peace work' with the camcorders, notebooks and pens.
Observe, observe. Record, record. This goes a long way in keeping them
fascist muthufuckas out of these communities' asses. Avoid bad publicity
Anyway, after the convoy had passed, me and Dema went to the store. Small,
one room hut-like thing, this store. Bought two sodas (fuckin coca-cola!)
and a pack of sweet crackers. Picked up our books and things and went
to a spot to read/write on this lazy afternoon.
Nikki and about 5 folks who just arrived from the City came through. She's happy and the Italians are, too! These arrivals are from Italy, here to replenish and continue the Peace/La Paz work. Again, our crew waits for 'Word' on our intended destination to the military camp and community of the Zaps, for it must always be CON PERMISO. Stopping here. My butt hurts sitting on this hard wooden bench.
- Back In San Cristobal
in San Cristobal. Our desire to visit the Zapatista camp did not come
off, but we were able to get some medical supplies and other stuff there.
And I forgot all about the CONDOMS! My excitement, y'know. But even they
are on the way to the camp today. Ha! Spread love, safely! Hey, I'm also
a trained sex educator.
6:00 maybe. No, it's still light out. But I think it is 6:00 because Dema
& Sara just left to met with the young folks (really young. Like teens)
from Europe, Danish, to talk about Mumia work which they already do. Mumia
really IS inter-national! More so than 'national' and that's a shame.
I'm very honest when they ask me about Mumia work in Babylon, and that
right in Philly we can barely get black folks to come out in support.
Enough. Lemme bring you up to date.
The day before
our departure from La Realidad, I finally got my dose of diarrhea and
nausea. Don't know what triggered it cuz I aint drink nona their running
water. So maybe it was something I ate
. Leaving La Realidad was
sad. I wanted to stay a lil' longer. Befriend the kids a lil' more. Converse
with the internationals more in depth and just let more of the acculturation
process happen (it helps to HUMBLE first world/third world folks like
me). Here, Africans-in-amerika will see just how much 'amerikans' we are,
just from a reluctance and embarassment in shiting in a out-house (letrina/letrino)
to language barriers due to our being raised on ENGLISH-ONLY and uncritical
personal amerikan arrogance. There's so much to say about this trip. Maybe
I'm lucky that the diarrhea happened the day before our departure. I got
to experience a lot of direct life there, non-mediated by commercial breaks
and manufactured news. Like, I bathed in the stream, washed my clothes
in it, too. The out-house experience.
Children. Child-adults, in many ways, nothing like ours. So responsible
at such young ages. A four or five year old girl or boy may have her or
his lil' brothuh/sistuh strapped or wrapped around their front or back,
taking care of them while Mom is doing stream-laundry, carrying gigantic
loads of fire wood on her head or back, or cooking. And these kids are
kids who laugh, play, get silly like most kids around the world. Ands
they can get 'fresh,' too. Well, here's what happened:
life here is socialist or even sort of communalistic. There the one who
is like the 'mayor' of the community, and others who are responsible for
different areas of community life, like who blows the horn that calls
for the community meeting. But, there's no big shots, jails or cops in
La Realidad. Only outside force is the intrusive Mexican government troops.
They make convoy appearances at least twice daily. But community folks
don't seem intimidated.
and then you look up and a Zapatista, a MASKED Zap, will come riding by
the house on a horse, strapped
- From the Capitol of Chiapas to the Capitol of Hyper-Reality, Cancun
this morning by bus (18 hours?) for Mexico. She will be able to get money
from her folks (hopefully) in order to fly back to Switzerland. Hopefully.
We each gave her some pesos to help. It's all we had ourselves after souvenir-buying.
Umma miss her. We all will. She came with us to dinner at friends' house
last night. Good amerikan food served with Ole Pork-pie Hat Jazz (Charles
Mingus). Culture. Hm? What's our culture? What's Black culture? What's
Babylonian USA culture? Gotta go outside of it, territorially, and for
a lil' bit of time, and suddenly you begin to see what it means to you
what you long for, what you can do without. And funny thing here is that
Im sure I'm the only NIGGA within a million miles of here. So, these
are Babylonian white folks whom, for some, Black culture is a vibrant
part of their personal, social, biographical mosaic. (Dam Ashanti, you'se
a baaad mutha
Shut yo' mouff.).Oops! Wait. I talked to my Sugah-pie
last night. About 12 midnight her time. And that voice did me silly wonders
on the googlie side. All is well, she says. Asked how my chilluns was.
She said, Cool, with that tone that hides. My daughter must be having
'males are dogs' blues, I bet. And of course, Kai has to ask me those
utterly ridiculous questions. Now picture this: house fulla people sitting
round talking and shit and she HAS to as, 'You miss me?' Argh! Why, why,
why? Because she's sick I tell you. So, cool and non-chalantly I spiel.
'Well, yeah, a little. Okay, gotta go now!' Ha! Women. Alright. Done told
the story. Break time.
- The Ancient Ruins of Tulum and its Beach Resort
We'll be heading back to Babylon tomorrow. It's 6:30 a.m. I been up about
an hour. Had to go to the bathroom. A BATHROOM! Here at Tullum, a resort
of sorts, we have our lil' hut, and I do mean little. When I got up it
was still dark but getting light slowly. So, I made my way to the bathroom
which is straight up about two flight of extremely high New York stairs
and behind the restaurant. As I walked back to the hut I notice the beginnings
of that sunrise and got my (Kai's) camera, books and journals. Gonna foto
that sunrise off the edge of the ocean then sit down at the restaurant
table to do some reading, writing, whatever. It's nice. Oh, I should tell
you that Tulum sits on the ocean edge. You can tell that an ancient city
existed here. Now, you can imagine what this colorful sunrise looks like
from this beach? Mm! Sara came up going to the bathroom, too. Unusual
for her to be up this early, but nice. I welcome the company. Done got
to know her a lot better and I like her. The Quiet One aint all that quiet.
here in Tulum for three days now and will leave tomorrow for Cancun. The
plane leaves from there for Babylon. The bus ride from San Cristobal to
here was about 15 to 16 hours. This is a smaller, less fancied version
of post-modern, post-reality Cancun or Atlantic City. For tourists, a
lot of Babylonians and Europeans. I spotted one - ONE - Black man
with a White Woman. Hm? Wonder what he thinks of me? Black man with TWO
White Women. Ha! Lawd hep me now!
This is the
journal I keep to record my thoughts on what I'm doing, plan to do, and
where I'm going with my life. Politically and otherwise. Here I am in
Mexico, in La Realidad. Look it up on the map. A community way deep
I been wasting my life for the last oh, say, eleven almost twelve years.
Its been that long since I been out of prison. Living a half-life is what
I say. When you have grown wise from experience, when you have read 1,000
books, when you have trained, been trained in a lot of good stuff (like
organizational skills, sex education, counseling skills, group participatory
learning techniques, etc.). And knowing that this was what you wanted
because of how moved you were by psychological insights into movement
failure (fuck Cointelpro! That was minor and it became our movement scapegoat.))
- you still procrastinate, sit back, half-participate, be liberal, walk
around not happy, etcetera, etcetera
I have created is somewhat a living hell. Hard on myself? I say no. Oppression
- oppression. Here at La Realidad you see a beautiful land and people
who are very poor, but a people who are surviving as best they can. We
know why there's poverty here. Mexico is a kapitalist nation, seemingly
'annexed' formally by NAFTA to the u.s. empire
the same pigs we fight, resist and all that. The u.s. is a real muthafucka,
believe me. People wanna be free, happy, prosperous in a good way, communal.
Why can't they be? Cuz of home-grown and international global kapitalist
interests who use all forms of official and unofficial military and slick
methods to keep order. So what does it matter, today, where people be?
The vast majority of the world's people are being fucked over by local
and global vested interest groups. And it hurts. It hurts me to see these
kids' bright, laughing, smiling, giggling, curious faces and know that
- without a doubt - without UNCOMPROMISING REVOLUTION, INSURRECTION -
they are doomed to an on-rushing misery and elimination they'll not fathom.
But somehow they'll come to accept it as out of their control.
it matter? Here amidst physical poverty, or in Babylon amidst a glittering
psychic poverty. Baudrillard's Hyper-Reality? So, though the oppression
'we' suffer and the wealth and power 'they' maintain is awesome and frightening
and MORE COMPLEX THAN MOST CAN EVER IMAGINE - revolution, insurrection,
revolt is still a do-able. Power to the People, yall! That's why I's so
pissed at me. Cuz the Great Refusal, the creative People's Intervention
IS still a do-able. It's the how and the fact that I have some ideas on
the 'how.' It's that I aint moved on offering them, as in doing all that
I can to HELP get the Revolution on the road.
I aint no
genius. I claim no special magic. Just a muthafucka who has some shit
to offer out of the crucible of my own experiences, readings, doings,
reflections, and minute experimentations. If one puts it in terms of Potential,
then I'm simply saying that I been wasting a lot of it and I'm at the
point of Fannie Lou Hamer's 'Tired of being tired.' I choose to be here
in Zap Land as a first step, as a concrete step in a 'recovery' process.
A sort of like my own N/A or AA for Revolutionaries. Shit and/or git off
The Zapatistas did.