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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Racial Justice
Thoughts Provoked by the Comments of Preachers at the Funeral of Oscar Grant
At the funeral for Oscar Grant one preacher got up and said: “I thought Oscar was going to be a preacher but god had other plans.” Think about that: “…but god had other plans.”
Another preacher got up and said: “We must respond with prudence. I understand that the youngsters are upset, but nonetheless we have to trust in god. This is not your fight.”
Think about that: “…with prudence…trust in God…this is not your fight.”
In other words with “sound and reasonable thinking”…don’t be reckless.
Why are things, outrageous things like the public police execution of Oscar Grant, other police murders of Black men, and the general oppression and suffering of people here and around the world attributed to “gods plan,” “trust”—when we know or can know why these things happen, continue to happen—and, more importantly, when we can fight to change and sweep away the system which is the cause of all this?
Why are these preachers with their religion allowed to get away with spreading and imposing these mental shackles on the minds of people? Calling people “reckless” when they begin to act on real causes of their oppression?
Who, what are they serving by doing this?
Let’s “keep it real,” to use a popular phrase. Preachers and religion in general are working to keep people in mental slavery. Believing in things that do not exist – and in rationalizing, making excuses, and justifying the harm that is done to people by “real things” everyday under this system. They are working to hold together a society, a system that can not exist without brutal, murderous inequality and discrimination at its foundation.
Let’s take a closer look at the slave mentality of religion.
Not long ago I attended the funeral of a friend of mine. He too was a 22-year-old Black man. He liked to be called Dred.
Dred found himself bouncing between minimum wage jobs and selling drugs. These are the choices he found himself confronting. Not because of some non-existent god but because of the real working of the system and the conscious policy of those who run the system.
Nonetheless, this is how Dred lived for awhile. This is how he kept his head above water and survived.
He was hoping to supplement the income of his mother who worked 2, sometimes 3 jobs at a time. Dred had six brothers and sisters who lived at home with their mom.
Dred wanted revolution and ran with the RCP for awhile. He was a dreamer and fighter, but like millions in this country and billions around the world, the system trapped his life in its big powerful murderous arms—before he had a chance to really understand this—those arms squeezed him so tight they snuffed out his life at a very early age.
Dred was shot by others trapped in the same situation—local competing drug dealers shot him down on the street where his mother lived. The paramedics were late getting there and he bled to death. He bled to death while crying out: “Help me! Help me!”
After his death his mom said to me and others she wanted a closed casket. She did not want people looking down on his dead body. All their lives people had looked down on them and she did not want yet one more insulting reminder of this.
At his funeral the preacher got up and said: “god had called Dred home…” and some other things along these lines of superstition and mental slavery.
Immediately after the preacher spoke I went up front to say some things:
If the social order, the system, we live in was just and fair, if it was a revolutionary system…Dred would still be with us.
He was an amazing self taught artist. He could look at a scenery for a few minutes and capture all the beauty and things that are not so beautiful in his drawings and sketches…capture even more than what the untrained eye could see.
There are tens of millions like him in this country and billions more around the world whose lives and human potential are both smothered and cut short by this system.
When people like Dred are born, they are like the lines in that old song by Earth, Wind, and Fire:
shining star, no matter who you are, shining bright to see, what your life can truly be.
Under a revolutionary system (and I would add under the dictatorship of the proletariat as opposed to what we now live under—the dictatorship of the capitalist/imperialist class) people like Dred would be amazing us and the little children with their art and in all kinds of other ways. In ways we don’t even know about.
We need a new social order. A new system. A revolution. A revolutionary social order—that is in transition to a whole new world where there are no people “looking down or looking up”—because there is no system holding up some while holding down most—where all people are truly citizens of the planet in all their rich cultural and language diversity. Where each receive from society what they need to continually give to society what they are capable of giving intellectually and materially.
But under this system, youth like Dred run smack up against the realities that they and their lives do not count for anything in this economic-social arrangement of things.
Because this is an unjust social order, a system based on brutality holding down and exploiting the overwhelming majority—we never get to know the human potential of billions of people. It is coldly, brutally distorted, twisted, mangled, and taken from us everyday…minute by minute.
Well, after I said more or less this, other people talked — including the preacher…again. But there was no more mental slavery talk about “god calling Dred home.” Or “god’s plan.” People talked about Dred—their hurt, pain, sorrow…their loss.
But people felt uplifted knowing this loss happened not because of some “mysterious plan” of a non-existent god, but because of real things that we can understand and yes, fight and change.
Ironically as soon as the funeral was over the preacher made a point of seeking me out to say in so many words she thought what I said made more sense than what she had said.
Returning to what the preachers at Oscar Grant’s funeral said—I say this: get the fuck out of the way with your religion, chains of mental slavery, and attempts to make people helpless, hopeless, mental slaves…believers in superstition.
To the people I say: if they don’t get out of the way—then knock and push them and their religion out of the way with a “keeping it real” revolutionary understanding of reality. Make them take a back seat to this. Continue to do this in deepening ways as we build this revolutionary movement to uproot and sweep away this system.
How many more Dreds will there be? How many more mothers like his? How many more Oscar Grants, Sean Bells? Everyday here and all over the world in direct and indirect ways people are crying out: “help me! help me!”
And religious figures are insulting and hurting them by telling them it is all part of “gods plan.”
How many more people and little children in Gaza must be bombed, including with chemical weapons by the U.S. hit-man Israel? By the U.S. itself in Afghanistan, Iraq? How many more must cry out “help me! help me” before YOU cast aside ALL the mental chains of religion and get with the revolution?
None of this is “god’s plan.” All of it can be traced to the needs, workings, and conscious policy of this global system of imperialism that is headed by the U.S.A.
These are real things that humanity CRIES OUT to be emancipated from—and which it CAN BE emancipated from with an approach that is rooted in a real revolutionary and scientific understanding of things instead of one that is rooted in superstition and religion.