Voices from the BAsics Bus Tour which was in the New York City and Surrounding Area from July 14-30th:
July 23, 2012
Three team members went to an Arab and Turkish part of the city. We weren’t sure if there would be much activity in the daytime since it is Ramadan and we found most people out the night before after they broke fast. The shopping mart that we parked in front of looked busy.
Right away, a team member of ours approached two teenagers wearing the hijab. It turns out that one was Egyptian and the other was Palestinian, but both were born in America. She asked them what their thoughts were of one of the quotes that is leading the bus tour—”American Lives Are NOT More Important Than Other People’s Lives.” BAsics 5:7. We got into a discussion with them about this in front of the busy shopping mart while the rest of the small auxiliary team continued to hand out dozens of palm cards with this quote and the other leading quote, “Internationalism: The Whole World Comes First” from BAsics 5:8 to people entering and exiting the store.
The young women were inspired enough to write on the poster on the side walk right in front of the store on a poster with the quote and put in writing WHY American lives are not more important than other people’s lives. The first young woman said, “Everyone is human and we are becoming one national society,” and the other said, “You should not be treated different because of where you are from. We are all human.”
Then the team member asked the young women about what they knew about women’s oppression. They weren’t exactly sure what that meant. Our team member opened up a discussion with them about the sexual exploitation of women and the violence against women. They answered that they knew about that. We explained to them why we were in this city and in this neighborhood, that we were there to organize people that would want a world without oppression and exploitation of ALL people. They said they would take some palmcards and the 12 ways palmcards and distribute them. In keeping with learning from the masses while leading the masses, they informed us that the outdoor talk we were planning in the neighborhood later that evening at 9pm may have been ill-timed in that at 8:21pm the fast for the holiday ends and that’s when people would be eating. At that moment their ride came by to pick them up, so off they went.
We moved up the street while continuing to hand out dozens of palmcards and entered a very busy barbershop filled entirely with men, with the exception of one three-year old girl who was the daughter of one of the patrons. The palm cards with the “No more generations of our youth…” quote was still in the windowsill, dropped off by the expedition team that scoped the neighborhood a few weeks prior. The three team members immediately engaged both the patrons and owners of the barbershop about the internationalism quotes. Israel was brought up by one patrons as the problem with America, in that they are the ones running the U.S.A. There was fierce and lively struggle with them that it was in fact the tail wagging the dog—that America was using Israel as its “attack-dog” in the Middle East. They admitted that this could be true.
Here and there, quite a few of the people in the barbershop asked, “Well, what kind of chance can your revolution have? How many people do you have?” We answered, “Not enough, but that’s why we’re here.” They answered with another concern, “You can never go up against this country.” We discussed their concern. A few of the patrons wrote on the poster underneath the young women’s quotes from earlier and seemed generally delighted that they had an opportunity to express their thoughts for viewing by the rest of the country. Someone in the barbershop also gave us the contact info of a performer that comes to the area often that is involved in “non-religious, anti-imperialist” issues, and suggested we get in touch. The team gladly accepted the contact.
Up the street a bit further, we encountered two youths in a small jeep. We told them why we were here while handing them a couple of palmcards. After some conversation they exclaimed, “You know, we were just talking last week about this, and we said, ‘What were really need is to start a revolution.’” We read them the last two paragraphs of “On the Strategy for Revolution.” the short essay in Chapter 3 of BAsics. About needing to accumulate forces and bring forward thousands today that will be the backbone and pivotal force in winning millions to carry the revolution through. After we read them that section, we told them that they were in luck as we were forming revolution clubs in the area. They made a donation to get a newspaper and we took a stack of palmcards with the quotes as well as the “12 things you can do” to give to their friends, and some “Revolution Club” fliers, and said they were going to try to make it to a discussion we were having later in the evening.
There was much excitement, curious minds, heated debates, and much struggle amongst the crowd of many people from many different nationalities, languages, and many cultures in the center of the downtown area of this quite fascinating town. It is a diverse melting pot of people, full of life, and humanity just in this one corner of the world. And also very different view of the messages of Bob Avakian of “American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives” and “Internationalism…The Whole World Comes First.”
The impact of many questions and debates mostly centered their attention around a beautiful world map that was done by an artist, who created it after reading BAsics. It is a beautifully displayed work of art that referenced to all the horrors that has happened in history by the U.S.A., and what they have done in other countries, with military takeovers in all parts of the world, and the oppressive state and the lives of millions upon millions of people, and other crimes against humanity. I thought that this display was the best I have ever seen of the whole world and what was tainted in the many crimes against humanity that was forged in blood, and even what the whole world is facing today, with police brutality, mass incarcerations, murderous villainy and lives lost due to the crimes of this capitalist-imperialist system that have caused much decay and ruin for many who mourn the victims of their crimes.
One young African-American male, maybe in his early twenties, was reading the quote on internationalism and I engaged in an conversation with this young man. I asked him what he thought of what he just had read and the subject of slavery came up. He was commenting that this is what began the economic structure of the United States. I then read him the quite from BAsics (1:4) on the role that slavery had in the development of the U.S., and also the wealth and power that still rest today on a worldwide system of imperialist and exploitation that has made the foundation of this system. He was taken by the quote, and then I whet his appetite for knowledge of the book, BAsics, by reading him the quote of “No more generations of our youth…” (BAsics 1:14). I asked him what did he make of the quote, and he very much agreed with it. Then he looked at the map again and he saw another quote, “Imagine a world without America…” that he took the initiative to read for himself. After he read it, he said. “Damn, that was powerful…and is this was the man who wrote it? (Bob Avakian)” I said “you are correct, this is the man who is the communist revolutionary leader who has done the work to find a new synthesis for making revolution, not only for this country, but all over the world, with all the degradations and the problems that has made it an horror to live in humanity.” As I had further told him about the bus tour, and the other two that had proceeded it, and the work it as done in its first two legs in LA and the Atlanta Tour where it has went to Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was killed by a want-to-be cop, and he replied. “It is a beautiful thing you and the tour is attempting to do, and wished us the best in spreading the word, “because we need something better than this, and if revolution is the solution, I am for it.”