Assata Shakur was a member of the Black Panther Party who, like many other Black activists in the 60s and 70s, became a target of COINTELPRO. As part of the FBI’s campaign against the Black Panther Party, Assata was falsely accused of bank robberies and other crimes up and down the East Coast in the early 1970s. Her real “crime” was fighting for the liberation of Black people and other oppressed peoples from racist oppression.

After she was acquitted six different times on May 2, 1973, Assata, Sundiata Acoli and Zayd Malik Shakur were ambushed by state police on the New Jersey turnpike. A state trooper shot Assata in the arm and back as she had her hands in the air. Another trooper was killed. Zayd Malik Shakur was killed. Sundiata escaped and was later captured after a massive police manhunt.

After her arrest, Assata was shackled and chained to her hospital bed as the police guarding her shouted racist slogans, beat her with shotgun butts and threatened to kill her.

One of the state troopers admitted that he shot and killed Zayd Malik Shakur. But Assata was charged with the killing of Zayd–who she described as her “closest friend and comrade”–as well as with the death of the trooper. Sundiata Acoli was also charged with both deaths. No evidence linked either of them to the shooting of the state trooper. Defense testimony from several expert witnesses made it clear that Assata was not involved in the shooting. Nevertheless, in 1977 an all-white jury convicted Assata and sentenced her to life plus 33 years in prison. Sundiata was sentenced to life plus 30 years. He remains a political prisoner today.

Assata Shakur escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba, where she lives today in political exile. The United States government has offered a $1 million bounty for her capture.


Note: The bounty was recently changed to $2,000,000 USD. And since the U.S. and Cuba just agreed on easing relations NJPD has already made it expressly clear that they plan on using this as a chance to capture her and answer (or be executed) for crimes she never committed.

Who is Assata Shakur?

There is a reason Osama bin Laden was brought back dead rather than alive. The U.S. government didn’t want to try him. They didn’t want bin Laden, a former partner of the CIA, to recall in intimate detail the U.S. sponsored terrorism in the Middle East that has killed millions. They didn’t want to remember that before the Taliban they funded, trained, and partnered with the Mujahideen and countless other militias in proxy wars with the USSR, devastating and destabilizing entire regions in the process. LEAST of all did the U.S. government want a lesson in historical accuracy to rally the victims of U.S. oppression around the fact that AmeriKKKa has never given a shit about brown bodies — not here, not anywhere.

Nope. They didn’t want any of that. What the U.S. government DID want was a trophy for U.S. imperialism. They wanted to hang a dead body in the public square. They wanted a dead body because DEAD BODIES DON’T TALK.

This is why Fred Hampton never spoke again. Why Dr. King never spoke again. Why Malcolm X never spoke again. Why Huey P. Newton never spoke again. Why George Jackson, John Huggins, Bunchy Carter, Sylvester Bell, and so many others never spoke again. Any threat to the hegemony of AmeriKKKa’s narrative that it is the benevolent land of milk and honey — of democracy and freedom — MUST be dealt with.

It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations’ knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61).

As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, put it, the documents show that from the start, the FBI – though it acknowledges Occupy movement as being, in fact, a peaceful organization – nonetheless designated OWS repeatedly as a “terrorist threat”

The FBI’s Attempt to Blackmail Martin Luther King Into Suicide

Jan. 18 2011

I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday, and promised to post about it today. The day’s kind of gotten away from me, so this’ll be as quick as I can make it.

In November 1964, weeks before Martin Luther King was to travel to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, an anonymous correspondent sent him a package in the mail. The package contained an audiotape, and a letter.

The tape was a compilation of material recorded via Bureau wiretaps over the previous year. It consisted of off-color jokes and remarks King had made in private, among friends, interspersed with the sounds of him having sex with someone other than his wife. The letter included the following challenge:

King, look into your heart. You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability … you are no clergyman, and you know it. … You could have been our greatest leader. You, even at an early age have turned out to be not a leader but a dissolute, abnormal moral imbecile. … You are done. Your “honorary” degrees, your Nobel Prize (what a grim farce) and other awards will not save you. King, I repeat you are done. No person can overcome facts, not even a fraud like yourself. … The American public, the church organizations that have been helping — Protestant, Catholic and Jews will know you for what you are — an evil, abnormal beast. So will others who have backed you. You are done.

King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do [it]. … You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.

The letter was mailed 34 days before Christmas.

King did not receive the package until after he returned from Oslo, and after the 34-day deadline had passed. When he listened to the tape he quickly concluded that it could have come from only one source — the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

He was right.

The FBI had been wiretapping King for over a year by then, and Bureau chief J. Edgar Hoover made no secret of his loathing for the civil rights leader. The suicide package was prepared by Hoover deputy William Sullivan, an Assistant Director of the Bureau and the head of its Domestic Intelligence Division.

When you teach American history, as I do, you get asked about conspiracies a lot. As it happens, I’m skeptical about some of the biggest conspiracy theories out there — unlike nearly all of my students, for instance, I think it’s highly likely that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

But I’m not one to ridicule such theories, either, and I find the smug dismissal with which they’re so often greeted deeply obnoxious. Because forty-six years ago one of America’s highest ranking law enforcement agents launched a secret campaign intended to blackmail the country’s most prominent civil rights activist into committing suicide.

That’s not a theory, it’s a fact. And once you know that, it gets a lot harder to dismiss other people’s stories of shadowy government goings-on.

A captured or dead Assata wouldn’t be just to silence her: It would be to silence us | AmericaWakieWakie

December 22nd, 2014

“For centuries, nothing has so stirred up American fury like the escape of a slave. That ain’t just distant history. For daring to slip her bonds and escape from brutal and unjust bondage, the Empire now labels her a terrorist. That’s because to them, nothing is more terrifying than resistance to their imperial will.”

— Mumia Abu-Jamal on Assata Shakur

When it comes to “capturing” “terrorists” or America’s political fugitives, the same litmus test applies: What makes less noise, a prisoner or a corpse?

With the United States and Cuba resuming diplomatic ties, there has been a lot of speculation about what will happen to Assata Shakur, a 67 year old black liberationist and political fugitive. Almost immediately after President Obama announced resurrecting ties between the two nations, the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) started scheming to get their hands on her.

According to the NJSP’s Facebook page, Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, issued the following statement:

“We continue to work closely with the FBI towards the capture of Joanne Chesimard [Assata Shakur], a convicted felon and fugitive who escaped from jail in 1979 and remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List, as well as New Jersey’s Most Wanted List. We view any changes in relations with Cuba as an opportunity to bring her back to the United States to finish her sentence for the murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. We stand by the reward money and hope that the total of two million dollars will prompt fresh information in the light of this altered international relationship.”

But of course that’s the state sponsored narrative of whom she is and why she is wanted by US authorities. This is the only propaganda you are supposed to unquestionably swallow as you rally behind the most racist nation in the world to go lynch yet another life in the name of “justice”.

In reality Assata was a prominent female member of the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army. She became a member of the Black Power movement at a time when many activists were galvanized following the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. And she experienced firsthand the authentic history of a nation built on genocide and slavery, something which stands in stark contrast to the whitewashed beacon of exceptionalism that mainstream America propagates today.

That experience was cemented as Shakur was targeted and framed by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program, a series of illegal practices and entities formed precisely for the purpose of domestic political repression.

As David Love elaborated in a recent article for the Grio:

“The baby of J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO was designed to monitor, infiltrate and destroy social justice movements seen as a threat to national security, including civil rights and antiwar groups, the Black Power movement, [the American Indian Movement], and the Young Lords.  Some of the stated goals of the program in an FBI memo were to “prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups,” to “Prevent the RISE OF A ‘MESSIAH’ who could unify…the militant black nationalist movement,” to “Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining RESPECTABILITY, by discrediting them to…both the responsible community and to liberals who have vestiges of sympathy…,” and to “prevent the long-range GROWTH of militant black organizations, especially among youth.”

As a result, black leadership was decimated, either assassinated… or thrown in prison with the key thrown away.  Assata Shakur, who fled to Cuba, was the last woman standing, so to speak.  And apparently that is embarrassing to someone in the FBI, so they want to make an example of her as a so-called “domestic terrorist.”  That is why last year, 40 years after the shooting, the FBI made the politically-motivated move of placing Shakur on their Ten Most Wanted Terrorists list, making her the first woman and second U.S. citizen on that list.  If you listen to the FBI, you’d think the ten most dangerous people on Earth are essentially nine Al Qaeda operatives and—Assata Shakur.”

Yet still, to peoples struggling against American oppression she remains a prominent figure in the fight for liberation, and that’s the REAL problem. To put it how Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin might, a former political prisoner himself, the reason that the US government is still after Assata is not because they fear that she will engage in violence or to just punish her, but rather because they fear her effects upon the oppressed, who see in her the inspiration to fight — and more importantly, the strength to win.

Primarily it is for this reason that the US government is unlikely to seek extradition of Shakur. Further still, bringing her back stateside in the midst of a social movement like BlackLivesMatter, the likes of which has not mobilized since her last years in America, would only add fuel to the flame of public outrage over police terror in our communities.

There are more logistical reasons she is unlikely to be extradited anytime soon though.

These include, but are not limited to 1) because her (alleged) crime and acceptance into Cuba was political in nature she is not subject to extradition per the un-revoked 1905 extradition treaty between the US and Cuba; 2) if Shakur is a Cuban citizen, this would prevent extradition; 3) there are precedents for U.S.-friendly nations that have refused to extradite American fugitives who have fled the U.S. whom fear political repression upon returning; 4) it would take a decision by Obama or the DOJ to order it in the first place; and 5) any renegotiated treaty would have to go through the Senate first.

But if we know anything about the United States’ treatment of political dissidents, extraditions are low on the priority list.

There is a reason Osama bin Laden was brought back dead rather than alive. The U.S. government didn’t want to try him. They didn’t want bin Laden, a former partner of the CIA, to recall in intimate detail the U.S. sponsored terrorism in the Middle East that has killed millions. They didn’t want to remember that before the Taliban they funded, trained, and partnered with the Mujahideen and countless other militias in proxy wars with the USSR, devastating and destabilizing entire regions in the process. LEAST of all did the U.S. government want a lesson in historical accuracy to rally the victims of U.S. oppression around the fact that AmeriKKKa has never given a shit about brown bodies — not here, not anywhere.

Nope. They didn’t want any of that. What the U.S. government DID want was a trophy for U.S. imperialism. They wanted to hang a dead body in the public square. They wanted a dead body because dead bodies don’t talk.

This is why Fred Hampton never spoke again. Why Dr. King never spoke again. Why Malcolm X never spoke again. Why Huey P. Newton never spoke again. Why George Jackson, John Huggins, Bunchy Carter, Sylvester Bell, and so many others never spoke again. Any threat to the hegemony of AmeriKKKa’s narrative that it is the benevolent land of milk and honey — of democracy and freedom — MUST be dealt with.

It is why if we understand the current options available to the U.S. government, and if we remember its history, the danger of Assata’s U.S.-sponsored assassination is now more menacing than ever. AmeriKKKa doesn’t want to bring her to “trial”. That was done already and it was a farce. This government wants her shut up, out of sight, or dead. And a re-established U.S. embassy in Havana would make it that much easier. It would put agents of repression closer to Shakur than they may have ever been in the past 40 years.

So now is the time to renew our conviction to Hands Off Assata. Now is the time to remind our oppressive government that we are here, we are watching, and we will fight for Assata no matter where she is. This is the time to remember, in the powerful words of Dr. King, that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, because any effort to silence Assata Shakur is an effort to silence us.

(Photo Credit: RGB Store)

Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter

(born 1943; died January 17, 1969, Los Angeles, California), an activist and former Slauson gang member, earned the nickname “Mayor of the Ghetto.” While a gang member in the early 1960s, Carter was convicted of armed robbery and sent to Soledad prison. There he became influenced by the Nation of Islam and the teachings of Malcolm X, and he converted to Islam. After his release, Carter was encouraged to join the Black Panther Party in 1967 by Huey Newton, one of its founders. Carter then formed the Southern California chapter of the Black Panthers and helped start a Free Breakfast for Children program in the area.

Carter was shot and killed in 1969 during an altercation instigated by the FBI between the Black Panther Party and the US Organization at a Black Student Union meeting at UCLA’s Campbell Hall.

-At the Los Angeles, Memorial Sports Arena Los Angeles, CA

Taken from “Black Panthers: 1968” by Howard L. Bingham


8 Black Panther Party Programs That Were More Empowering Than Federal Government Programs | Atlanta BlackStar

The Breakfast Program

The free breakfast for schoolchildren program was set up in Berkeley, California, in 1968 by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. It was the first significant community program organized by the Panthers, and perhaps the most well known. By the end of 1969, free breakfast was served in 19 cities, under the sponsorship of the national headquarters and 23 local affiliates. More than 20,000 children received full free breakfast (bread, bacon, eggs, grits) before going to their elementary or junior high school.

Health Clinics

The clinics were called People’s Free Medical Centers (PFMC) and eventually were established in 13 cities across the country, from Cleveland to New Haven, Connecticut; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to Los Angeles. Women, according to sociologist Alondra Nelson, were the backbone of the effort —not surprising, considering that approximately 60 percent of Black Panther Party members were female. Some of the clinics were in storefronts, others in trailers or hastily built structures, and most did not last long. But they offered services such as testing for high blood pressure, lead poisoning, tuberculosis and diabetes; cancer detection screenings; physical exams; treatments for colds and flu; and immunization against polio, measles, rubella, and diphtheria. Nelson reports that many of the women and men involved in the PFMCs went on to become credentialed health care professionals.

Youth Institute

The Intercommunal Youth Institute was established in January 1971 by the Black Panther Party. In 1974, the name was changed to Oakland Community School. The Black Panther Party goal was to get children to learn to their highest potential and to strengthen their minds so that one day they would be successful. The school graduated its first class in June 1974. In September 1977, California Gov. Edmund “Jerry” Brown Jr. and the California Legislature gave Oakland Community School a special award for “having set the standard for the highest level of elementary education in the state.”

(Read Full Text)


An open letter from Assata Shakur – posted 1998*
May 6, 2013

My name is Assata Shakur, and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984.

I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.

In 1978, my case was one of many cases bought before the United Nations Organization in a petition filed by the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, exposing the existence of political prisoners in the United States, their political persecution, and the cruel and inhuman treatment they receive in US prisons. According to the report:

The FBI and the New York Police Department in particular, charged and accused Assata Shakur of participating in attacks on law enforcement personnel and widely circulated such charges and accusations among police agencies and units. The FBI and the NYPD further charged her as being a leader of the Black Liberation Army which the government and its respective agencies described as an organization engaged in the shooting of police officers. This description of the Black Liberation Army and the accusation of Assata Shakur’s relationship to it was widely circulated by government agents among police agencies and units. As a result of these activities by the government, Ms. Shakur became a hunted person; posters in police precincts and banks described her as being involved in serious criminal activities; she was highlighted on the FBI’s most wanted list; and to police at all levels she became a ‘shoot-to-kill’ target.’

I was falsely accused in six different “criminal cases” and in all six of these cases I was eventually acquitted or the charges were dismissed. The fact that I was acquitted or that the charges were dismissed, did not mean that I received justice in the courts, that was certainly not the case. It only meant that the “evidence” presented against me was so flimsy and false that my innocence became evident. This political persecution was part and parcel of the government’s policy of eliminating political opponents by charging them with crimes and arresting them with no regard to the factual basis of such charges.

On May 2, 1973 I, along with Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli were stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike, supposedly for a “faulty tail light.” Sundiata Acoli got out of the car to determine why we were stopped. Zayd and I remained in the car. State trooper Harper then came to the car, opened the door and began to question us. Because we were black, and riding in a car with Vermont license plates, he claimed he became “suspicious.” He then drew his gun, pointed it at us, and told us to put our hands up in the air, in front of us, where he could see them. I complied and in a split second, there was a sound that came from outside the car, there was a sudden movement, and I was shot once with my arms held up in the air, and then once again from the back. Zayd Malik Shakur was later killed, trooper Werner Foerster was killed, and even though trooper Harper admitted that he shot and killed Zayd Malik Shakur, under the New Jersey felony murder law, I was charged with killing both Zayd Malik Shakur, who was my closest friend and comrade, and charged in the death of trooper Forester. Never in my life have I felt such grief. Zayd had vowed to protect me, and to help me to get to a safe place, and it was clear that he had lost his life, trying to protect both me and Sundiata. Although he was also unarmed, and the gun that killed trooper Foerster was found under Zayd’s leg, Sundiata Acoli, who was captured later, was also charged with both deaths. Neither Sundiata Acoli nor I ever received a fair trial We were both convicted in the news media way before our trials. No news media was ever permitted to interview us, although the New Jersey police and the FBI fed stories to the press on a daily basis. In 1977, I was convicted by an all- white jury and sentenced to life plus 33 years in prison. In 1979, fearing that I would be murdered in prison, and knowing that I would never receive any justice, I was liberated from prison, aided by committed comrades who understood the depths of the injustices in my case, and who were also extremely fearful for my life.

The U.S. Senate’s 1976 Church Commission report on intelligence operations inside the USA, revealed that “The FBI has attempted covertly to influence the public’s perception of persons and organizations by disseminating derogatory information to the press, either anonymously or through “friendly” news contacts.” This same policy is evidently still very much in effect today.

On December 24, 1997, The New Jersey State called a press conference to announce that New Jersey State Police had written a letter to Pope John Paul II asking him to intervene on their behalf and to aid in having me extradited back to New Jersey prisons. The New Jersey State Police refused to make their letter public. Knowing that they had probably totally distort the facts, and attempted to get the Pope to do the devils work in the name of religion, I decided to write the Pope to inform him about the reality of’ “justice” for black people in the State of New Jersey and in the United States. (See attached Letter to the Pope).

In January of 1998, during the pope’s visit to Cuba, I agreed to do an interview with NBC journalist Ralph Penza around my letter to the Pope, about my experiences in New Jersey court system, and about the changes I saw in the United States and it’s treatment of Black people in the last 25 years. I agreed to do this interview because I saw this secret letter to the Pope as a vicious, vulgar, publicity maneuver on the part of the New Jersey State Police, and as a cynical attempt to manipulate Pope John Paul II. I have lived in Cuba for many years, and was completely out of touch with the sensationalist, dishonest, nature of the establishment media today. It is worse today than it was 30 years ago. After years of being victimized by the “establishment” media it was naive of me to hope that I might finally get the opportunity to tell “my side of the story.” Instead of an interview with me, what took place was a “staged media event” in three parts, full of distortions, inaccuracies and outright lies. NBC purposely misrepresented the facts. Not only did NBC spend thousands of dollars promoting this “exclusive interview series” on NBC, they also spent a great deal of money advertising this “exclusive interview” on black radio stations and also placed notices in local newspapers.

Like most poor and oppressed people in the United States, I do not have a voice. Black people, poor people in the U.S. have no real freedom of speech, no real freedom of expression and very little freedom of the press. The black press and the progressive media has historically played an essential role in the struggle for social justice. We need to continue and to expand that tradition. We need to create media outlets that help to educate our people and our children, and not annihilate their minds. I am only one woman. I own no TV stations, or Radio Stations or Newspapers. But I feel that people need to be educated as to what is going on, and to understand the connection between the news media and the instruments of repression in Amerika. All I have is my voice, my spirit and the will to tell the truth. But I sincerely ask, those of you in the Black media, those of you in the progressive media, those of you who believe in truth freedom, To publish this statement and to let people know what is happening. We have no voice, so you must be the voice of the voiceless.

Free all Political Prisoners, I send you Love and Revolutionary Greetings From Cuba, One of the Largest, Most Resistant and Most Courageous Palenques (Maroon Camps) That has ever existed on the Face of this Planet.


Get this book y'all! The FBI WAR on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders. It details how our freedom loving United States government targeted an attacked leaders and activists such as Bob Marley, Fred Hampton, Assata Shakur, Afeni Shakur, Jimi Hendrix, Huey P Newton and many many more who were subject to COINTELPRO and cointelpro style tactics of repression and neutralization. There’s a documentary tied in with the book as well that I have posted up on several occasions.

Black Power Activists Accused Government of Spying, but They Weren’t Called Heroes | The Root

Whistleblower Edward Snowden is considered a hero for claiming what blacks have been shouting for decades.

Perhaps we’ve got our definitions of “hero” twisted, but I have yet to hear a convincing take on what makes Edward Snowden one. Ultimately, this cat is not the post-modern neo-geek who hacktivists and fake libertarians profess him to be. All I’m picking up is yet another middle-class Caucasian kid road-tripping the globe—putting our international reputation at risk.

Let’s wave our hands through the smoke for a moment. Not sure how Snowden ends up in the pantheon of civil rights humanitarians who risked lives, families and sanity in the name of liberty and free speech: Gandhi, King, Mandela. The list runs on. These brothers stayed put—with bruises, bullets, whip marks and jail time to prove it. Many cats all over the world, including those unnamed, continue slugging it out in the mud of oppression. Mandela hammered rocks in the hot sun for 27 years. Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest. Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai (who should have ended up as Time magazine’s Person of the Year instead of as a runner-up alongside Snowden) still walked to school despite real threats from tyrannical local Taliban. 

Yet, 51 percent of Americans—according to a recent Angus Reid Global online poll—think Snowden is “something of a hero who should be commended for letting the public know that our governments are running electronic surveillance programs that threaten people’s privacy.” But, when didn’t we know government had us under surveillance since, like, the beginning of government? What, for real, is so spectacular and fresh about this latest string of punk-hits-then-runs revelations from a distant totalitarian land?

I can’t help wondering what the reaction would be if Snowden were, instead, black. Of course, we’d see this scenario play out a bit differently. In fact, we already have. Civil rights activists, Black Panthers and even African-American members of Congress have for decades highlighted the scurrilous surveillance activities of federal agencies from the FBI to the CIA. Yet, in this episode, COINTELPRO rings no bell. We prefer skipping along in Snowden Fantasy Land, lauding him up in some mythical Dos Equis’ redux as “The Most Interesting Whiz Kid in the World.”

Just not buying it. Americans never blinked this much, never raised alarms, never got this tied up about government fuzz in the basement of the NSA snooping through the phone records when it was happening to those mentioned above. Former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), for all her quirks, was lampooned and laughed out of Congress for even mentioning such things. For years, media outlets and cynical journos repeatedly gave activists of color the collective I-don’t-wanna-hear-it hand, dismissing them as “conspiracy theorists” and “fringe” crackpots with dissent agendas—even in cases when they did their due diligence.

How ironic: In our social media selfie bliss and over-sharing narcissism, we are suddenly so concerned about privacy. We weren’t all that concerned about it when the last president bullied through the Patriot Act. Few were this concerned about NSA encroachments during that long post-9/11 decade when conservatives successfully guilt-tripped and silenced everyone from the Dixie Chicks to critically thinking students in the classroom. And where was über-conservative “Birther” backer Larry Klayman—the mastermind behind this latest NSA lawsuit—when President Bush was busily reconstructing the 21st-century surveillance state? 

On many levels, the brand-new anti-NSA blowout bash has little to do with folks suddenly feeling creepy about federal agents going through their digital underwear. This has more to do with clueless college-age kids and drama-hungry pundits helping Snowden max out on his White Privilege Card. You see, surveillance states were all good when Texas was running things—but it’s (oh) such a big problem now that a black man runs our national intelligence apparatus. Just saying …


If you read the FBI files you will see that even Mr. J. Edgar Hoover himself had to say that it was not the guns that were the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States of America; it was not the guns, it was the Free Children’s Breakfast Program that was the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States of America. Grits. Now why was it the Free Children’s Breakfast Program?