Reposted from Revolution #277, August 12, 2012
From the Road: Voices from the BAsics Bus Tour…
Interview with Te, BAsics Bus Tour volunteer, Black man in his 30s
Revolution: Maybe you could start by just talking about how you first met this movement for revolution and got introduced to the leadership of Bob Avakian, and then how you came to be part of this bus tour.
Te: Ok, well when I first met this communist leadership, I met it down in Georgia. And I met it during the [time of the] Troy Davis execution, legal lynching. And that’s what got me into this movement. And so ever since then, they told me the way and then they showed me the way out of this stuff, because I never knew why we were in the situation we were in. And they introduced me to [the leadership, vision and work of] Bob Avakian, and ever since I met him and I read BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, I knew that there is a need to put this to other people besides just me—everybody needs to know about Bob Avakian and his pathbreaking leadership. And I want everybody to know this stuff, you know, so, that’s how I really came to learn about communism. And so now I just try to get deeper and deeper and learn more and more and change the world in the process, because it’s so messed up on all levels for so many people, especially myself. And the book [BAsics] changed me when I just read the first page. I read the whole thing and it just changed me, and so I just wanted to go everywhere and spread this message of revolution anywhere I can, no matter if I gotta lay my life down, whatever, I just gotta spread this knowledge of revolution and changing the world. So that’s why I’m here up in New York, spreading revolution.
Revolution: Maybe you could talk a little bit about what your understanding of the world was like at the time that you first met this movement for revolution, and then how that was impacted by getting into BAsics, and you mentioned even the first chapter in particular.
Te: When I first started, I was all thinking that if we elect somebody else, get a new Congress, or maybe just change the people, just one by one, or just—I don’t know, I was lost, I was thinking that we could do it through this Democratic or Republican process, but it’s totally wrong, you know, this whole system is oppressive to all Blacks and Latinos and people around the world. It’s no good, and there’s no way out through this electoral process. So I was thinking that way, I was reading the newspaper, watching CNN and watching Rachel Maddow, and all this and I was thinking that’s the way. But I always felt like they weren’t really talking to what I was really feeling. And that’s why, when I met Bob Avakian, he was talking to my feelings, and talking to how I really felt, and what I was really thinking and feeling at the same time. So that’s what made me really dig deeper and try to understand what this is really about. And once I understand that it’s the science of communism, the science of revolution, this is the way out and nothing else—all the other stuff is not reality… and I needed something real and something I could really hold onto and something that wasn’t too complex… I could understand it, anyone could understand this stuff, it’s not like you got to be a scientist to understand wrong and right, it’s just—this is wrong, this is right, and that system that we live in now, capitalism-imperialism, that exploits and oppresses and drags people down in the mud is no fucking good. And I want a whole new world that’s good for the people, that lifts people up. That gives you power to talk—before, I couldn’t get up and talk in front of people like this and talk to people like this, until I met Bob Avakian and his leadership, and it makes me want to talk to everybody about this and scream it out, no matter where you at, because you know it’s right and you just feel it’s the truth.
Revolution: Before meeting the works and the leadership of Avakian and this movement for revolution, you couldn’t speak in public like this.
Te: I couldn’t, because I really wasn’t grounded in any science or any real facts, I was just grounded in what I thought was supposed to be the way. Now that I’m getting to what’s really going on, and why the world is like it really is, how it’s all connected, I didn’t know this before, ‘cause they never really told me this in school or the news on TV or the media, no one ever told me this until I learned about the science of communism. And this lets you see why we have a ruling class that rules over us and why it’s like this—why we’re exploited like this, why it’s like this. You won’t learn this from school or the best colleges or people in society, you only learn this through the science of communism—that’s the only way and nothing else.
Revolution:You were saying a second ago that when you first got introduced to this leader, that you felt like it really tapped into something that you felt. Maybe you could say a little bit more about how that first struck you. Like, the first thing that you saw from Avakian was BAsics?
Te: Yeah, that’s the first thing I saw was BAsics. And I read the first quote: “There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery, that’s a simple and basic truth.” And that makes you want to go deeper: OK, so all this richness, all these cars, all this money, all this wealth… if it was founded on slavery and exploitation, then what does that really mean and what kind of society do we really live in? And I just couldn’t understand it, you know? And now I do. And that’s why I want to change it, and that’s why I’m fighting to change it, and I want to bring more people into this revolution. ‘Cause I had a wrong understanding my whole life, and now I can see, and it’s a whole burden lifted off my shoulders. I feel liberated, I feel free, and I feel ready for revolution.
Revolution: Maybe you could briefly talk a little bit about what some of your life experiences have been like before meeting this movement for revolution and before coming on the tour.
Te: Before meeting this, you know, I was just caught up in what this society tells you you should do: You should work, you should do this, you should try to accumulate stuff and try to dog-eat-dog, beat each other out any way you can. That was my mindset: beat everybody out and fuck everybody else—”I’m first, fuck everybody else.” Now, I see the world as: we’re all together, we’re all interconnected in this shit, we’re all together in this shit, there’s no—it’s not scientific, it’s not reality by me saying that it’s just me first, it’s not compatible with the universe, first of all, it doesn’t go with reality. I wasn’t grounded in reality… That’s how I was caught up in the system, thinking what the bourgeoisie has put down to us. And now, I’m not, ‘cause I’m free, I’m free of all that, I’m free of that. Now, I’m fighting for a world where we’re all free. That’s why I’m fighting to break all these chains that have always been on me for all my life. And I’m fighting to unleash the whole world, that’s what I’m fighting for. I want a whole new way we relate to each other, that’s what I’m fighting for.
Revolution: What has it been like on this bus tour to be together with people who are taking out the leadership, the vision and work of Avakian to people who are most brutally oppressed by this system, and then people who may feel the way you’re describing that you felt and that you were living before meeting this movement for revolution?
Te: Oh, yeah, it feels great, because it’s a small embryo of what it could be and what we are fighting for. If you get a chance to see these people on this bus tour and meet ‘em, and understand what they want in life and the kind of world they’re fighting for—free of exploitation and oppression, where social relations have been changed in society—you want that type of world. There’s no other world you want. We don’t [have] this type of world. This is filth now. You want a whole new way now. And this communism is the way. These people share, these people heal each other without making any money; we’re not getting paid shit. We’re just out here risking our lives together, could get shot down any minute, but we having fun, we high off the people—just like Fred Hampton said in that book I read, “We high off the people,” because the people give us power, they give us energy, they give us strength. And I just want to keep learning more about communism, because like I said, I’m new to this. I’m still learning every day. So it’s been an amazing experience, and I’ve learned so much from these people, and I want to keep learning. And these people are wonderful, these people are amazing, these are my family, these are my comrades, man, and we’re ready to lay our lives down together at any minute, and it’s a bond you won’t get out of anything else but this right here, you know what I mean?
Revolution: What has it meant to take out to people who are feeling every day the brutal weight of this system and the misery and suffering and brutality it unleashes—to take to people who thought that they just had to put up with this that there’s the leadership and vision and strategy for a way out?
Te: Oh, yeah, now that’s a really fun thing, ‘cause that’s why I talk so fast and I’m so excited and I trip over my words sometimes; when I’m talking about this, I get excited, because these guys don’t have a way… and when I bring it to them, they like, “So you talking about revolution, communism?” I’m like, “Man, this is your way out. This is your only chance to get into this revolution, and run with this—join this shit, we can goddamn do this shit, come on man!” And sometimes they catch my enthusiasm, sometimes they just can’t realize it, you know. But you never know how people develop in different ways. But it’s a joy taking it to them, because this is their way out and this is their way to jump into it and get free from the chains that they in. It’s a way to get free, and it’s their only way, you know? And once I give it to them, I can’t [help] but scream it in their face: “Look, it’s your only way out,man!” and it feels good, man; it’s the best feeling in the world to take this to people; it’s no other feeling then telling people this, man. I wish I could do this every single day of the year, but I gotta go back and fucking work and shit… so I’m fighting this shit right now, ‘cause I gotta go back and fucking work and fucking eat and shit, so I’m fighting this shit right now, but it ain’t nothing better than this shit, I wish I could do this shit for a fucking job every fucking day. I gotta live somewhere and fucking eat, but this is what I wanna fucking do and I want to dedicate my life to this shit.
Revolution: What do you feel that you’ve learned through the course of this—I want to ask you on two levels: More generally what you feel you’ve learned, but also, specifically, what you’ve learned about what it means to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution?
Te: Now that, like we talked about today, the strategy for revolution, fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution is a very real thing, and I’m really coming to understand what that really means. Like these whistles that we brought to Brownsville the other day, you know, it gives people a sense of resistance, of rebellion against the system, of going against the system, and in the process it’s transforming how they think about other things and other questions about society. So that’s a good thing for the people in these ‘hoods and oppressed ghettos and barrios that we go to. And we transforming people for revolution—we fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution; that’s exactly what we doing out here. And it feels great doing it with other people that want a whole new world. It’s the best thing ever, man, that’s all I can tell you.
Revolution: I know, like you’re saying, you’re new to this and you’re still learning more as you’re going and getting deeper into it, but maybe you could talk a little bit briefly about what you were taught about communism growing up, and then what it’s meant to you to start getting into this new synthesis of communism that Avakian’s brought forward?
Te: See, all my life, communism I was taught it was fucked up; I was taught that everybody’s gonna wear gray suits and it’s a bad day for people living in a communist world. And it’s fucked up, it’s not something that you want; that’s what I’ve been taught all my life. But by me reading about Marx and Lenin and other revolutionary leaders, it opened my eyes to the reality that everything I’ve been told has been lies and I’ve been lied to by this system and what it does to everybody. It’s just not me, it’s everybody it does this to. The system lies in history books, through media, through all the other institutions that they put down. And once you see that, there’s nothing you can do but fight against this shit to change this shit. Yeah, I’ve been tricked by this system that communism’s no good. But once I found out what the truth is and the distortions that the system put through history on communism, you get sick and you like, “Damn! I’ve been lied to about all this shit and I need to fight this on every level ‘cause it’s wrong and it’s just unjust.” And your whole body is revolting against this shit, this revolting culture, this capitalism-imperialism.
Revolution: What do you feel you’ve been learning about how Avakian has re-envisioned revolution and communism, building on this past experience and overwhelmingly upholding it, but then also figuring out a way that we can go even further and do better the next time?
Te: One thing I’ve learned is that this is a moving science, it’s not just some dogmatic dogma that’s just stuck in stone. No, this shit is always changing, it’s always moving and flowing and moving forward. So that’s the one thing I like about it, ‘cause Bob Avakian, he says [paraphrasing], “I don’t know all the fucking answers, hell naw!” But we can learn together as a whole. We can come together, as long as we have a system based on people moving forward and not exploiting them and oppressing them and degrading them and making them scuffle and scramble just to make a living and survive in this hard system. He shows us how to relate to each other in a different way, and that’s the most important thing to me—relating to people in different ways and having a new morality. And that’s what it’s about—I’ve learned to have a new morality, not just talk bad to women like I used to, not to drink and smoke drugs and be out there doing shit like I used to. And this isn’t no religious shit, this is science that I’m learning. So it’s a whole different thing. I’m learning science, so that shows religion is a slave mentality and keeps people down, you don’t get any better with that shit and we need to throw that shit out and get science into schools—evolution—we need… I’ve learned a lot of shit, and I’m still learning, like I said.
Revolution: Did you grow up around people of a lot of different nationalities? Or no?
Te: Yeah. When I grew up, I grew up around a lot of different nationalities—I grew up in California, really. There was a lot of different people in my neighborhood, so we had a lot of fun. But when I stayed in LA man, there was a lot of killings and murders around me at the same time, ‘cause I have stayed in the ‘hoods before. And I have been brutally oppressed by this system in every way possible—by the police, by the courts, by the prisons, by everything. And it’s unjust, illegitimate. And it’s not my shame, it’s their shame. And we shouldn’t be scared to talk about what’s happened to us in this system. We shouldn’t be ashamed and scared to speak out with liberation and peace and justice for all, so we fighting for a whole new world.
Revolution: Part of why I asked that is I was wondering what it’s like to be part of a crew of people of an incredible diversity of nationalities and ages, and men and women—what it’s like to be part of an incredibly diverse crew of people taking this out to people.
Te: Yeah, it’s been great. Like I said, I’ve been learning different things from every last one of them, ‘cause we got different ages and different cultures and different things that they’re always teaching me every day, and I’m sure they learning from me too. And we all inspiring each other to do better and keep moving and keep changing the world. I mean, we in the process of changing the world, we doing big things, and we trying to do big things, so it’s the best in the world. It’s the best in the world. Nothing could be better.
Revolution: For people who have been supporting the tour or people who—on the Tumblr [basicsbustour.tumblr.com] or in person have been meeting this tour—in other words, people who are newly meeting this tour and supporting it and maybe trying to figure out how they fit into this movement for revolution, do you have anything you would want to say to them?
Te: Yeah, man: Join this revolution, man. Get with BA, man. That’s the only way that you gonna change this shit, man. No Democrat, no Republican, no Allah or god from the sky gonna do this shit. We gotta do this shit together, man. Like Bob Avakian said: only way to emancipate yourself is emancipate your damn self. So I encourage people to take this shit up, get into this science and get into it. If you want to change the world. But if you like this world how it is, and you don’t act, it’s gonna get worse and worse. But you gonna be getting eaten up in this process anyway, so, really you have no choice but to join this. Well, you have a choice, but I hope you choose the right thing and join this communist revolution. That’s the only way out for humanity.
This new synthesis… See also BAsics 2:31.