Sunday, 26 August 2012

OPEN LETTER TO THE sWP: 'BLACK PANTHERS MUST BE TREATED WITH MAXIMUM RESPECT'


Billy X Jennings with his Black Panther exhibition at marxism2012

FAO: marxism2012 and swp central committee

CC: bookings@marxismfestival.org.uk,
      enquiries@swp.org.uk,
      weyman@hotmail.com


BLACK PANTHERS MUST BE TREATED WITH MAXIMUM RESPECT
An open letter to the swp and their 'marxism 2012' festival in london

Billy X Jennings is the head of the Black Panther Alumni, the Alumni is the veterans association of the Black Panther Party for Self Defence founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in October 1966 in Oakland, California.

The Alumni includes the overwhelming majority of politically and culturally active veterans of the Black Panther struggle, and is very successful in its work popularising the Black Panther legacy throughout the world.

Billy joined the Black Panthers in 1968 as a teenager, and became a bodyguard for Huey Newton.

I first met Billy and Emory Douglas when myself and some other colleagues hosted them in November 2008. I helped in organising some events including at the Tabernacle in Ladbroke Grove and in the houses of parliament. Since then I have had the honour of being friends to Billy and Emory.

In early May this year Billy asked me if I could help him get some space for his Black Panther photo exhibition at the socialist workers party organised annual marxism festival. Despite my own views on the swp, I made a call to one of the very few senior black members of the swp and helped to facilitate to some extent Billy getting access to this organisation.

An individual in the swp who is a friend of Billy was generous enough to help Billy in an individual capacity with some practical and financial arrangements for his trip.

Billy spent four days everyday at the marxism festival setting up, displaying and putting away his photo exhibition, giving out publicity about the Alumni, and discussing with people about the work of the Alumni etc.

The marxism2012 was very lucky and honoured to have any reflective glory in having Billy there representing the Black Panthers and promoting their work and international legacy.

However, organisers at the event and anyone from the swp at the event from any level of the organisation:

- failed to offer Billy any water or any drink
- failed to offer Billy any food or meals
- failed to offer Billy any assistance of any kind
- failed to offer the Alumni any discussion exploring ways to support them in any way
- failed to offer the Alumni any direct support of any kind
- failed to offer any bilateral meeting between them and Billy as head of the Alumni to discuss on-going practical and concrete solidarity

I only found out about this on the last night of marxism2012, it was the first time on this trip to London I met Billy, we had an excellent meeting with young radical Black Power and anti-imperialist activists where we raised more than £200 for the Alumni.

It would be decent and right if the swp and the marxism2012 organisers gave a public apology to Billy and the Alumni and make full amends for this really stingy, inhospitable and unacceptable behaviour on their part.

I am not going to go into how deeply offensive and multifaceted is this lack of respect, but to those who understand they will understand. Question is, does the swp?

Billy and the Black Panthers have given so much to Black peoples and all peoples liberation from white supremacy and imperialism, and it would be a nice surprise that the white left don't always act like leeches and parasites on our peoples struggle and shows some basic human decency for a change.

Sukant Chandan
Sons of Malcolm
26 August 2012

Billy X Jennings Black Panther Alumni photo exhibition at marxism2012

1 comment:

Luqman said...

I wasnt there, but I am not so suprised. Seen it alot