I Dare You to Read This!

Our enslaved ancestors were ACTIVE agents of their own liberation. Some chose education, escape, revolt, suicide, breaking tools, work slowdowns and other forms of resistance.

My Grandparents’ generation boycotted, marched, made legal challenges, wrote and spoke against injustice, created organizations, etc.

My parents’ generation demonstrated, created Freedom Schools, started community patrols, educated, built independent institutions, fought to build a Black nation, etc. Some people throughout these generations were reformist, others were revolutionary, and some did nothing.

While there is always room to debate methods, let us not become part of the “do nothing” group. Even an abbreviated study of the past will demonstrate that we resisted our oppression, sought to educate/empower ourselves in every historical period, without exception. It is our right and responsibility to continue this tradition by any means necessary. Our very survival and development not to mention liberation, is at stake.

fanon quote

This nation/empire – as evidenced by its policies, practices, and founding documents -has upheld the motto that “All lives matter with the exception of Blacks, Native Americans, Latinos, poor, sick, or disabled people, those with limited formal education, and so many others.” We are standing at a crossroads. The doors of liberation, human dignity and social justice are locked. Who will come to open them?

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Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook, teaching Black student activists how to organize and lead. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. In 2015, he wrote My Two Cents: Unsolicited Writings on Race, Politics, and Culture. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Currently, Agyei is a member of the Black Power Cypher, five Black Nationalist men with organizing backgrounds, who host a monthly internet show addressing issues and proposing solutions. He runs his own business publishing books, public speaking, and teaching Black people how to organize and fight for empowerment. He is the founder and coordinator of Harlem Liberation School and the YouTube channel Black Liberation University.

 Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his          Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

Why I Now Renounce Black Nationalism and Race-Based Activism

Good morning, family! After much reflection and soul-searching, I’ve come to the conclusion that my previous political ideas and activities were misled and inaccurate. For this reason, I”m moving to Britain, marrying a white woman I met at a Republican convention, and will begin to write books and deliver speeches explaining how racism no longer exists, how Black people are to blame for all of our problems, why ancient Greece is the cradle of world civilization, and why cultural assimilation is our best choice going forward. Because I believe in organization-building, I’ve started the Uncle Rawkus Club and Ronald Reagan Publishing Inc. to spread my new ideals. I hope you will support my new mission. Hakuna Matata!

Given my political past, I owe my faithful readers an explanation. I do so with the following points:

  • Based on my new research, the TransAtlantic Slave Trade was a hoax, and whites never participated in such a thing. African people traveled to parts of the Caribbean, North and South America on their own and volunteered their free labor for 400 years.
  • Greece, not Africa, is the actual cradle of world civilization. Ancient Greece created the foundations of math, law, science, philosophy, religion and art from which the entire world borrowed and benefited.
  • Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey were FBI agents sent to warp Black Americans with hatred and finger-pointing. Their objectives were to divide the Black community and set us up for a race war we’d lose.
  • “Race” is a social construct developed by Black people to degrade innocent white folk and engender sympathy and pity

APRIL FOOLS!   APRIL FOOLS!   APRIL FOOLS!  APRIL FOOLS!  APRIL FOOLS!

The only way I’d believe and write any of that crap is if someone abducted, labotomized, and drugged me!! But since I have your attention, on a serious note, I have created a campaign to donate 3000 copies of my book Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens, to schools and youth development programs throughout the United States. To accomplish this, I created a page on Gofundme.com. Please visit the link and read more about this campaign. Then if you are willing, please donate what you can and share the link with friends, family members and co-workers. Thank you.

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Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” 

Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

Putting the Assata Shakur Issue In Perspective

assata-shakur-petition

On May 4, I launched a petition drive in support of political activist Assata Shakur in response to the news that the FBI named her on their “Most Wanted Terrorists” List, and posted a $2 million reward for assistance leading to her capture. The petition, addressed to President Obama, requests that he:

1. Launch a federal and state investigation to determine the validity of Ms. Shakur’s initial conviction and prison sentence

2. Rescind Ms. Shakur’s status as a “terrorist.”

3. Terminate any bounty or “reward” for assisting in her capture.

 4. Exonerate Ms. Shakur of ALL criminal charges and void the remainder of her (unjust) prison sentence.
ASSATA
At this point, the petition has gained over 2,500 signatures from people all over America and the world who value freedom and justice. We aim to eventually obtain 10,000 signatures. Naturally, some people have expressed opposition to the petition drive, citing that Ms. Shakur should be punished for killing a state trooper, or that it makes no sense to petition the same government that persecuted her in the first place. I like to respond to such commentary by providing some perspective to this issue:

1. There is not a shred of evidence that suggests Assata killed the state trooper. No gun residue on her hands or body, no gun, and no ability to shoot one given that police gunfire shattered her clavicle.

2. Assata was previously charged with abduction, bank robbery, etc. but was completely exonerated of all charges. This occurred before the state trooper incident. Therefore, we have every reason to believe that law enforcement agents around the country troopers had motivation to kill Assata on sight or imprison her on false pretenses.

3. I am not under the naive impression that the President is an advocate of Black liberation or nationalism. Past articles will attest to this. And while he is part of the system that hunts for and harasses Assata, we are nevertheless intelligent to use our constitutional rights to petition the government on this matter. Short of leading an armed cadre of comrades to Cuba for her protection and whisking her away to an undisclosed location, what are the other options available to us?

The $2 million bounty on her head insures that it’s just a matter of time before opportunistic and pro-American elements in Cuba abduct and/or provide info to the FBI for her capture. In such scenarios, politically conscious people use whatever means at their disposal to fight. Perhaps a strong petition drive might pressure Obama to launch an investigation and clear Assata. Whatever the case, it is self-defeating and apolitical to do NOTHING. At worse, such a tactic re-energizes a national and global discussion and awareness around political prisoners, the FBI’s racist practices, and the issue of Black political resistance. Students of history will note that most enslaved Blacks did not escape or participate in plantation revolts; yet many broke tools, deliberately slowed down work production, faked illness, and stole items from the plantation owners. In other words, they participated in acts of RESISTANCE, doing what they could with what they had.

4. We can safely conclude that the FBI has strategic objectives in declaring Assata a “terrorist.” Provisions of the Patriot Act and the other heavy-handed laws allow law enforcement agents access to resources and use of methods that are unlawful and unethical. This characterization of Ms. Shakur is obviously propagandistic given that she was not deemed as a terrorist during her active years as a member of the Black Panther Party or Black Liberation Army! The Cuban government cites no illegal activities on Shakur’s par. The only thing she’s been “guilty” of is teaching and maintaining a website. Shakur has taken part in no terrorist activities against America. The brothers responsible for  bombing the Boston Marathon, the racists that bombed the Federal building in Oklahoma, the “Unabomber,” and those responsible for attacking the World Trade Center might qualify for such a distinction, but not Assata. Therefore I interpret this move by the FBI and their timing for the move to be an attempt to 1)initiate possible conflict with Cuba, a country that continues to be a thorn in America’s side  2) pressure Cuban residents to cooperate with American interests  3) depict Cuba in a negative light at a time when we witness an increasingly pro-Cuba sentiment in America, 4) exercise a vindictive attempt to catch “the one that got away,” and 5) to intimidate and suppress any current and future spirit of aggressive Black activism and self-determination.

5. In supporting this petition drive, we defend not only Assata Shakur, but our right to organize and challenge the governmental oppression and repression of Black, Brown and other people in America.

My hope is that you will all sign the petition and encourage others to do the same. We aim to get 10,000 signatures. We must not allow our skepticism or cynicism paralyze us; We must maintain the spirit of defiance and resistance that our ancestors maintained; And we must stand with sister Assata in challenging racist and repressive law enforcement agencies. Let us not forget that brother Malcolm suggested, “By ANY means necessary.” Typically, we took this to mean armed revolt or other acts of aggression. But this phrase also includes legislation, petition, grassroots organizing and any other method deemed effective for challenging injustice and pursuing liberation.

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Agyei Tyehimba is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Mr. Tyehimba is a professional consultant and public speaker providing political advice and direction for Black college student organizations, community activist groups, and nonprofit organizations. If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

The Time is Now! From Black Theory to Black Practice

less talk

Experiences throughout the last 2 or three years of my life have caused me to seriously rethink my views concerning Black liberation. I owe this period of readjustment to my experiences as a doctoral student in African-American Studies and to my experiences on Facebook.

Prior to this time, I believed that our greatest challenge was to organize and re-educate the masses of our people. While this remains an inevitable step in the process of Black liberation, I’m now convinced that our largest challenge lies not with the masses of our people, but ironically, with the politically conscious element among us, those of us who presumably know what the problems are, understand how oppression works, and enjoy the privileges of education and exposure to social justice and liberation movements, political ideas and revolutionary figures. I am convinced that this community is highly conflicted, self-deluded, misdirects its energy, and has generally done a poor job of continuing the legacy of defiant ancestors and movements we claim to love and admire. And, to quote activismsome extent, I include myself in this critique. Because this reality presents such a crisis and challenge for us, I devote this article to addressing it. Some will no doubt resent my opinion and me for presenting itAllow me to assure you that if this article causes you to resent me, you join an already long and growing line. Being deemed a “:know-it-all,” touching sensitive subjects, or bruising egos, I can deal with. I cannot however deal with the lack of organizing, establishment challenging, and failure to convert theory to practice that is all-too-evident from those of us who deem ourselves “conscious.”

To make my point, all I need do is direct your attention to the vast majority of Black “political” or “conscious” discussion groups on Facebook. Most have become depositories for colorful stories, blistering arguments, and tons of video clips, songs, and banter about any number of current events or historical topics.

Naturally, some people on Facebook use the social network for entertainment . Others use it to reconnect with old friends or relatives. Some use it to stay abreast of news and others to identify and solicit lovers and sexual conquests.People have the right to determine for themselves how to use social networks.

My issue is with the politically and socially conscious members of our community. We are familiar with the problems, theories, anatomy of oppression, and historical information unknown to the masses of our people. A higher standard and level of expectation  are attached to us. If most of our political/theological theories and expertise is confined within internet chat rooms,  how does this benefit our suffering people in practical ways? Shouldn’t our ideas and expertise translate to organized activity that challenges racism and corporate exploitation? What purpose do we have for recitations of historical facts, video clips or penetrating analysis that is disconnected from political struggle? Has Facebook deluded us into thinking that virtual reality and reality are the same? Do our enemies oppress us and enrich themselves simply through discussion? As I once posted on Facebook,

History, politics, and theology are interesting things. They all run deep with so much information any one of them can take a lifetime to master. They all build on philosophy and theory. Given this, it’s easy for well-intentioned people to be so immersed in the philosophy and theory that they become little more than trivia experts and pundits. Perhaps rich and privileged people can afford to take such a leisurely and disconnected approach to knowledge. Oppressed people do not have the luxury of knowing for knowing’s sake. We must always approach history, politics and theology from the standpoint of uncovering information, perspectives, methodologies and inspiration to challenge our oppressors, organize, empower and liberate ourselves. Lastly, we should connect our theory to concrete action…

At another time, I posted,

To whom much is given, much shall be required.” I take this to mean that a higher standard and set of expectations is placed upon those of us with privilege. Harriet Tubman had no formal education. Neither did Frederick Douglass. Malcolm X had an 8th grade education and read voraciously while in captivity. Our ancestors did more with less resources and more obstacles than we. In this context, we have to reconsider some of the “victories” we claim and work harder…..

Education and consciousness-raising are to political struggle what rain is to crops. Yet, these are not enough. No farmer goes through the arduous tasks of preparing soil, fertilizing, picking weeds, and planting seeds without expecting a harvest! And no farmers expects a harvest without doing all of this work beforehand. Where is our harvest? Put another way, What literature, schools, banks, supermarkets, medical clinics, leadership training institutes, or movements have we harvested from our theories, philosophies, and discussions? How are we using our skills and knowledge to cure social ills, challenge corrupt societal institutions, or meet the needs of our people? Where are the Garveys, Malcolms, Dubois’, Kings, Hamers, Bakers,  Robesons, Nobles, etc. of our generation? Facebook, Twitter and other social mediums seem to breed and facilitate political masturbation: We experience some degree of release and pleasure, but produce nothing! if we never read another book, view another documentary, or listen to another lecture, we have enough information and skills right now to do something to advance our interests! Reverend Al Sharpton brilliantly reminded us of our mandate to resist and organize when he spoke at Rosa Parks funeral (shown below).

Too many Black people suffer from police brutality, illness, poverty, Black-on-Black violence, and political impotence. These problems must be addressed in tangible ways. I’m tired of people who claim to admire Garvey or Malcolm, but fail to uphold and implement their ideas. Even Dr. King who was not a nationalist or revolutionary per se, took theory and fused it with organized action to challenge America’s Jim Crow practices.  I’m equally tired of our tendency toward cult of personality – to follow a person rather than principles. I am beginning to conclude that too many of us have forgotten and abandoned the very principles we claim to uphold. Are we scared to actively apply our principles? Are we the niggers scared of revolution that the Last Poets referred to?

Yes, there are some people involved in the community. No, this article does not apply to all of us or to any individual in particular. And yes, there are many conscious Black folk meaningfully involved in various elements of organizing within our communities. But we need a national movement coordinating and giving meaning to various local efforts. And those of us who know better must stop worrying about our personal comfort and take our rightful role in the struggle. Internet clips and intense arguments via Facebook are no substitute for engaged grassroots action.Those of you who are about the work know who you are and should take no offense. To the others, if the shoe fits….We can take direction and inspiration from Frederick Douglass in his 1847 Farewell Address to Britain:

I do not go back to America to sit still, remain quiet, and enjoy ease and comfort. . . . I glory in the conflict, that I may hereafter exult in the victory. I know that victory is certain. I go, turning my back upon the ease, comfort, and respectability which I might maintain even here. . . Still, I will go back, for the sake of my brethren. I go to suffer with them; to toil with them; to endure insult with them; to undergo outrage with them; to lift up my voice in their behalf; to speak and write in their vindication; and struggle in their ranks for the emancipation which shall yet be achieved. 

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Agyei Tyehimba is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Mr. Tyehimba is a professional consultant and public speaker providing political advice and direction for Black college student organizations, community activist groups, and nonprofit organizations. If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

My (Political) Birthday Wish List

me and parents

So today, April 25th is my 45th birthday. This article unlike all the others is about me. I am a little uncomfortable talking about myself, unless there is a lesson or some instruction involved. Nevertheless, it’s important sometimes to put our own lives in perspective and connect ourselves to humanity. 35-40 years ago my definition of birthday included balloons, cake, music, games, presents, and plenty of friends and family to celebrate with me.

My views about my birthday are now radically different. Rightly so, because it is truly problematic if our views and sensibilities have not changed in 40 years, no? Now, I use this day to reflect, to give thanks for my blessings and conflicts. This day affords me an opportunity to review the past, assess the present, and plan for the future while being grateful for all my blessings and conflicts.

Today friends, relatives and acquaintances on Facebook will send happy birthday wishes. A small circle of close friends and family will provide expressions of appreciation in the form of gifts or invitations to go out and celebrate at their expense.

I take none of these expressions of love lightly; Some of my beloved friends and loved ones did not live to see 45 years of life. I grew up in Harlem, New York during the 80s surrounded on all sides by street gangs, murderous police, random violence, failing schools, and a flood of illegal narcotics and guns. So in a very real way I am grateful to be alive, especially when you consider that I had a stroke just 3 months ago, yet I can still speak, write, and think clearly and I’m not paralyzed.

According to this society I am a middle-aged man nearing the last third of my life. This is the time when I should focus on questions of personal health, career trajectory, mortality and legacy. Although a birthday is seen as a personal matter, I believe it provides us with an opportunity to look beyond ourselves, So I posed a question to myself: Agyei, what do you want, not just for or on your birthday, but in a larger and ongoing sense? This question is paramount because its answer directs my life and beliefs in so many ways. And because this birthday list will not be achieved in my lifetime, it fuels me with limitless energy and motivation. This also has implications and relevance for so many other people. So what do I want for my birthday and beyond?

  • The release of all people imprisoned for their political beliefs throughout the world
  • Black control of counties/cities with majority Black populations
  • A spirit of self-reliance among Black people and other oppressed people that leads us to create our own institutions and solve our own problems without apology
  • Black and Brown people being appreciative of our history, culture and accomplishments, and loving ourselves as we are, hair, lips, hips, complexion and all
  • A willingness to stand up for ourselves, speak for ourselves, determine our own issues, standards, goals and definitions
  • A cease to all wars, (particularly those initiated by the United States of America), the removal of all military bases, the use of that money for education, healthcare and social services, and an understanding that nations will rules themselves without intererence from larger, bully nations
  •  A cooperative spirit among people to work together in various capacities to challenge injustice and oppression regardless of artificial and man-made divisions and differences among us
  • A government and media apparatus free from corporate control, truly representative of its citizenry, and focused on protecting and advancing all people
  • A criminal justice system that is fair and that holds members of the powerful elite to the same standards as everyone else
  • The disbanding of the Federal Reserve System. It is ridiculous that the Federal government would borrow money from a collection of private financial managers and print essentially counterfeit money, thereby creating a tremendous deficit numbering in the trillions of dollars every year along with inflation
  • A class of leadership that puts common people and their needs over their own and that does not sell out or bow to personal comfort, status, corporations, popularity, bribes or threats of death or imprisonment
  • An economic Bill of Rights for all American citizens as encouraged by Franklin Delano Roosevelt that articulates, protects and facilitates the right to leisure time, adequate income, housing, medical care, recreation, and retirement care
  • And lastly, a Black led, Black financed organization that in the spirit of Malcolm X, works with other organizations to actively/effectively confront injustice and solve our problems

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Agyei Tyehimba is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Mr. Tyehimba is a professional consultant and public speaker providing political advice and direction for Black college student organizations, community activist groups, and nonprofit organizations. If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.