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Citizen Slave of New Jersey

Today I took a trip to the NJ MVC (NJ Motor Vehicle Commision). After 8 months the pressure was on to conform to the rules of the land, or be without the convenience of paying more dues to it! My car has been acting weird and she really sounded weird today, but she got me there.

When I stepped outside, all I could do was shake my head at the big giant X that stretched across the entire sky. I had no time to dally with the sky phenomenon today so I quickly got into my car and turned on my GPS and headed towards Runnemede, NJ.

The panic I felt the few days before going there was immeasurable. They have a 6 point checklist of things you need to prove you are who you are and that you belong here on this planet. And if you don’t they will flatly send you home and tell you try it again. Fortunately, I was able to gather all that I needed and a little some for good measure. My goal, to get a photo ID. I was under the impression that I would have to take the NJ driving test so I opted for the ID card.

The “citizen slave” receptionist told me I had just what I needed and asked me,
“Are you sure you want to surrender your PA driver’s license?” The word surrender” sounded so ominous.
Surrender?” I asked, “you mean I have to give it up in order to get a NJ ID card?”
“Of course,” he respond candidly, “You cannot have several ID cards.”
(Like lady, what do you think this is?? Do you work for the CIA? Or some other top brass official organization, cause they the only ones allowed to have more than one ID card. In fact, some of them have several and depending on the occasion they will flash them for you, but you little comely “citizen slave” is only allowed one.)
I am stumped, now what do I do.
“You can just get a NJ driver’s license and that will be sufficient.”
“But how will I go about doing that? Do I have to take the driver’s lesson over again?”
“Oh no!” he responded as if he were just so happy to tell me that the slaves that come to his state need only surrender their other slave master’s jurisdiction and they are welcomed with open arms.
“You can do that today. You can get your NJ driver’s license today.” He smiled so nicely at me. It almost tricked me into feeling relieved. He actually believes in his slave master and that his slave master is one of the nicest slave masters around.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see in a picture frame, hanging on the wall behind him, the smiling face of Governor Chris Christie, whose face seemed to smile even broader now that he has been exonerated from that NJ BridgeGate Scandal. Even as I was leaving, the little happy “citizen slave” receptionist, went out of his way to bid me a fond farewell.

Standing in the MVC in Runnemede, NJ, I watched as “citizens slaves” renewed their vehicle registrations, their driver’s license, and get new ones. I watched “citizen slaves” pay $46.50 for vehicle registrations, $24.00 for ID cards, and $34.00 to transfer your license from another state to NJ.

I watched “citizen slaves” line up for their numbers and ID cards and had flashbacks of South Africa, when you could travel no where without an ID card. I watched the little old lady receptionist “citizen slave”, check the paperwork of other “citizen slaves” to make sure it was all there according to the law.

One “citizen slave” was so distraught, he wanted to register a vehicle in his name, a vehicle that belonged to a deceased or long gone relative. In his haste he started erasing the name of this relative on the registration document and then quickly caught himself before he erased everything. But, to his chagrin, he had altered the document which made in inadmissible. He was completely outdone, as he begged the other “citizen slave” to allow his document to pass. She flatly refused, fearful of her job being jeopardized as he begged and pleaded. She demanded that he get another document and get the person whose name is on it to get a new one.
“But he’s dead!” he cried.
“Dead?’ she responded.
“Well, he’s missing, he’s gone, I don’t know where he is. We can’t find him!” he responded frantically. “Is there anything you can do?”
“No, you need another document, you altered this one, we cannot take it.” She responds definitively..
“But isn’t there anything I can do?” the poor little “citizen slave” begged.
“Well, you can declare the car abandoned. Then you can take ownership of it.” Crestfallen, the “citizen slave”, walked away as I wondered why and how we are so anxious to add another chain to our ankles.

After several months, I finally am standing in this line to tell the world, I am no longer a “citizen slave” of Pennsylvania, but have transferred my slave owner to New Jersey. Then it was my turn, after standing in the wrong line for over an hour, I step up, to become a “citizen slave” of New Jersey. 

The little old “citizen slave” representatives busily worked away in their pastel blues and spring yellows. The younger “citizen slave” customer servant agent had perched on her desk a picture of her fiancé, totally clad in dressed army uniform. And as she faded away for a minute, creating a soft pause between herself and her paperwork, I wondered if that “citizen slave” representative was wondering if she would ever see her “citizen slave” soldier again.

Then she called my number, 67. Her diamond ring sparkled on her finger as she thumbed through my paperwork. She takes a soft break, and I traveled with her wondering how he is doing and will she ever see her fiancé again, and if she does, what kind of physical and mental condition will he be in. She was kind and courteous and most likely looking forward to getting out of there in contrast to her senior “citizen slaves” who appeared quite competent, white haired, deep glasses busily typing the information into the MVC standard software on their computers. I wondered how long they had been there. Was it Nepotism or genuine qualifications that had them there long past retirement age.

It’s lunch time and the “citizen slaves” lined up, one by one, almost two by two.

The young “citizen slave” customer servant agent looked at my head wrap and said,
“Um, it’s part of your religion, right?”
I nodded, she never looked up, and said,
“Right, it’s your religion, it’s okay” in a moving-right-along tone.

Then I felt compelled to tell her how outraged I was when they questioned me when I got my PA license renewed for 2014. I had been wearing my headwrap for these many years, which I politely did not state, and showed her my other license and passport with my headwrap and now they want me to take it off??!! She chuckled at my story, admitting that they would never take anyone of their “citizen slaves” through that as long as it’s their religion!! Again, the citizen slaves are not allowed to wear any head wear unless it’s for religious reasons. Though they are aware that some just want to wear the headwrap to cover their messed up hair. I can understand covering messed up hair, but I only thought that, avoiding the look I would have gotten if I changed my story. But seriously, many of us who wear headwraps ain’t wrapping up a new do, that’s for sure.

Then SNAP!!!!!!!


I questioned myself, wondering why didn’t  I feel jubilant!! What’s up with that? It’s finally done, I have all I need for anything, anywhere to prove I am a registered “citizen slave”. I can use this card to open a bank account, register to vote, get a passport update, show proof of address all over the place. I am in like Flint! but somehow I just don’t feel like happy days are here again. Where’s Pharrell Williams when you need him?

And then on the mechanical side of life, Ole Nellie, my car is acting up. She is leaking transmission fluid and had to be towed home after the ordeal at the NJ MVC. But Ole Nellie, she is a blessing, she came to a complete stop after several others, near home base, and quietly allowed herself to be drawn onto the tow truck and moved through the streets of NJ to my front door. I wondered if she felt my own conflicting feelings and since she had trouble with her transmission fluid leaking, I wondered if she was manifesting my own reticence to transition from PA Law to NJ Law.

I guess I am writing this to get a grip on how I feel about this. The irony of it all, is that as hard as you may attempt to get off the grid, consuming only a very little, at some point, you have to prove to somebody that you have the right to be here. How is it that human beings have to prove that they belong on the land they were born on?


Watching people have a glimpse, a tiny glimpse of “mission accomplished” as their paperwork past the acid test, and then slowly as they made their way to the door, you could hear the rattle of the prison guard keys and the slam of the prison gate, as each person knew, this was temporary, until that next date when they would have to stand in that line, once more, or else!!

Many of them have no idea of how they turned themselves in to the “citizen slave” master’s prison guards. They do not realize that by registering themselves, their property, their lives; at any point, at any time a law can be enacted to take them, their property, their lives away. The story of their life and survival on this prison planet is at the forefront of their minds. And if they register to vote, bequeath an organ, pay their taxes, they will be free. Free to live in America, the so called “greatest” country in the world. So the truth that they/we are walking around in a prison without bars is incomprehensible to most of those folks I saw today. They pride themselves in being good “citizen slaves”, doing their civic duty and staying within the extent of the law. And since it ain’t gonna change any time soon, I too stood in the line, felt that momentary sense of freedom and walked out, with my badge, my imprint, my chip, my picture and my acceptance into the “citizen slave” state of NJ.

I guess, I am feeling a little mournful. A deja vu of my ancestors who were transported to a new slave master, after they had just gotten used to the ways and wiles of the old one. Delving into the unknown can be a bit scary… then you pull yourself together and realize, it ain’t unknown, it’s the  

same slave master, just a different slave state.

So, I won’t just promise my poet friend I met in the line that I will come out and engage with him and his art; but I will go, because quiet as it’s kept, it is through our creativity that we can transcend slavery on this prison planet or at least find some joy.

It was interesting as I was surrendering myself to the banking system as a self employed “citizen slave”, the “citizen slave” Bank rep, chose to identify my Performing Arts rather than my Mental Health Profession as my main source of income. Ha! Could that be a sign, a signal, a message, that he inadvertently gave me? We are all in this boat together, at least pursue your Cultural Performing Arts to get that fleeting sense, “yeah, we live on a prison planet, but we can find some freedom through the arts.” He whimsically mused as he told me about his singing days and desire to go back to them.

I am grateful, I am blessed, I am honored to have the knowledge I have about this world, I would not give it back for any reason at all. It just felt like I had stepped into the twilight zone today, standing in the NJ MVC line adding another nail in the coffin of “citizen slavery”.

It’s over, it’s done, I am now a bonafide member of the human slave population of NJ. And what a cute little colorful chipped license they gave me. New address, new face, new license, but for some reason, it didn’t feel joyful, not at all.

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Chokwe Lumumba, mayor of Jackson, dies at 66 | Al Jazeera America

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST, TOO BAD SO SAD 😦

Chokwe Lumumba, mayor of Jackson, dies at 66 | Al Jazeera America

Chokwe Lumumba, mayor of Jackson, dies at 66

February 25, 2014 7:32PM ET
The first-term mayor was an attorney with a long record of black radical activism
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, a prominent attorney and human rights advocate who persuaded local voters into accepting a sales tax to fix crumbling roads and infrastructure in Mississippi’s capital city, died Tuesday, authorities said. He was 66.

City officials said Lumumba died at St. Dominic Hospital. A cause of death was not immediately clear, though City Council president Charles Tillman, who was sworn in as acting mayor, said he had met Monday with Lumumba, who had a cold.

“He kind of joked around about it,” Tillman said.

Lumumba served one term on the City Council and was sworn in as mayor last July. He was one of two candidates who defeated then-Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. in the Democratic primary in early June. Lumumba then defeated businessman Jonathan Lee in the general election.

As mayor, Lumumba persuaded Jackson voters to pass a referendum in January to add a 1-cent local sales tax to help pay for improvements to crumbling roads and an aging water and sewer system. He said then that the city needed an estimated $1.2 billion to completely fix its infrastructure, and raising sales tax by 1 percent would bring in at least $15 million a year until the tax expires in 20 years. Lumumba said the local tax will improve infrastructure, create jobs and increase public safety.
“It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that our beloved brother, human rights activist and mayor of this great city, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, passed away this afternoon,” Safiya Omari, Lumumba’s chief of staff, said Tuesday night.

Security guards escorted her away in tears. Omari made the announcement under Lumumba’s portrait inside Jackson’s antebellum city hall and surrounded by the seven members of the City Council. The building was crowded with city employees, politicians, ministers and other residents of Mississippi’s largest city.

State law says the council will set a special election for voters to choose a new mayor. The council has up to 10 days to meet about taking that action, then the election must be 30 to 45 days later
After the City Council adjourned its brief meeting, Bishop Ronnie Crudup, one of Jackson’s most prominent ministers, led the crowd in prayer.

“Lord, he was a good man, a man who had vision, vision for the city,” Crudup prayed.
City Council member Melvin Priester Jr. credited Lumumba for bringing a spirit of openness to city government.
“He has done a great deal in the last couple of months to change the culture of government in Jackson,” said Priester, who was elected earlier this year to Lumumba’s former seat on the City Council.

In 2011, Lumumba persuaded then-Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, to release sisters Jamie Scott and Gladys Scott from a Mississippi prison after they had served 16 years for an armed robbery they said they didn’t commit. Barbour suspended their life sentences and released them. The sisters did not receive a pardon from Barbour when he left office in early 2012, although he granted pardons and other reprieves to more than 200 people during his final days as governor. Barbour released the women on the condition that Gladys give a kidney to Jamie.

Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole issued a statement Tuesday saying Democrats are “deeply saddened by the loss of the promising new Mayor of our Capital City, the Honorable Chokwe Lumumba.”

“His young administration has been a great beacon of hope for so many of us,” Cole said. “He was just beginning to make an effective start tackling the long-neglected challenges faced by our capital city.”

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant issued a statement Tuesday saying he and his wife, Deborah, “are shocked and saddened by the news of Mayor Lumumba’s passing and are praying for his loved ones.”
“Just a short time ago, I had the opportunity to join the mayor in a church pew as we welcomed a new development to the city,” Bryant said. “His enthusiasm for Jackson will be deeply missed.”

Lumumba was born in Detroit as Edwin Taliaferro, and changed his name in 1969, when he was in his early 20s. He said he took his new first name from an African tribe that resisted slavery centuries ago and his last name from African independence leader Patrice Lumumba.

He moved to Jackson in 1971 as a human rights activist. He went to law school in Michigan in the mid-1970s and returned to Jackson in 1988.

Lumumba was involved with the Republic of New Afrika in the 1970s and ’80s. He said in 2013 that the group had advocated “an independent predominantly black government” in the southeastern U.S. Lumumba was vice president of the group during part of his stint. The group also advocated reparations for slavery, and was watched by an FBI counterintelligence operation.

“The provisional government of Republic of New Afrika was always a group that believed in human rights for human beings,” Lumumba told The Associated Press in a 2013 interview. “I think it has been miscast in many ways. It has never been any kind of racist group or ‘hate white’ group in any way. … It was a group which was fighting for human rights for black people in this country and at the same time supporting the human rights around the globe.”

Lumumba said during the 2013 mayoral campaign that he has shown he can lead across racial lines. In 1990, when the Ku Klux Klan planned to march through Jackson, he said he organized counterdemonstrators, including a predominantly white group of Millsaps College students. He also said he wants to empower people who have been left out of the economic system.

“We have to talk about equitable development,” Lumumba said. “Each portion of the population should be able to develop, and no portion of the population should be given any preferential treatment.”

The Associated Press

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/19/in-mississippi-americaasmostrevolutionarymayor.html

On the Death of Nelson Mandela

On the Death of Nelson Mandela

Updated December 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95. In the coming period,revcom.us/Revolution will have more reporting and analysis of the significance of the struggle against the brutal racist apartheid regime in South Africa with which Mandela was so closely associated, Mandela’s role in that, and the nature of South Africa today. But at this moment, the following are five points of orientation:
  1. The vicious system of apartheid—blatant, racist, brutal oppression and discrimination against black (and other non-white) peoples in South Africa, which Nelson Mandela struggled against—was part of a legacy of centuries of the most horrific plunder of Africa as a whole by the capitalist world. In South Africa after World War 2, apartheid further institutionalized and intensified that vicious oppression. Black (and other non-white) South Africans were locked down in prison-like “Bantustans,” without the most basic necessities of life (like clean water or decent shelter). They were treated as non-humans, subject to fascist “pass laws” that governed their every movement. On the backs of their labor, white settlers lived the lifestyles of northern Europe and global capitalism-imperialism accumulated massive profits.
     
  2. Nelson Mandela emerged as an opponent of the apartheid system in the 1950s. He joined the rising tide of courageous, widespread struggle among many different sections of people in South Africa that went up against the whips, clubs, guns and torture chambers of the regime. For this he was sentenced to a life of hard labor in prison, and he never backed down in his opposition to apartheid. The struggle against apartheid became a cause that inspired people around the world. Many people gave their lives in this struggle. And Nelson Mandela became the most prominent symbol of that struggle.
     
  3. But the powers-that-be are not praising Mandela because of his role as an opponent of apartheid, but because he conciliated with the forces of the old order, and played a key role in dismantling apartheid in a way that didn’t excavate, but in the main reinforced the historic and horrific oppression of the black and other non-white peoples of South Africa. Whatever Mandela’s intent, his outlook of “embrace the enemy” which is being so extolled by the powers-that-be in their eulogies, went directly against the need to uproot all the political, structural, economic, social and cultural relations that formed the foundation for that system.
     
  4. We have to have the honesty to confront the reality of the path Nelson Mandela charted. It did not lead to freedom for the oppressed people of South Africa. The vast majority of people in South Africa continue to suffer in the grip of global capitalism-imperialism. Today, two decades after Mandela became the first black president of South Africa, the situation for the masses of black people in South Africa remains horrendous. South Africa is one of the world’s most unequal societies. Over half the population of South Africa lives in extreme poverty. The only source of water for 1.4 million children is dirty, disease-ridden streams. Immigrant workers from poorer countries in Africa are subjected to violent attacks. Conditions for women, who played such a heroic role in the battle against apartheid, are abysmal—South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world. And, perhaps the most heartbreaking consequence of all, people have been left demoralized—seeing all this as more proof that fundamental change in society is not possible. That is not the case.
     
  5. But it is the case that nothing short of uprooting exploitation and oppression can free the people of South Africa or anywhere else. The “wretched of the earth” have made revolution and started on the road to communism—a society free of all oppression—first in Russia and then in China. They achieved great things before these revolutions were turned back. And not only has this been done before, it can be done again, and even better this time. We urge everyone reading this to get their hands on the special issue of revcom / Revolution “You Don’t Know What You Think You ‘Know’ About… The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future,” and get into the work of Bob Avakian at revcom.us.

The Tiny Window

A lesson in love, cooperation, fear, trust, ingenuity, inventiveness, resolve and determination. What you may ask?? I just watched my next door neighbors’ three young children come home from school and discover they are locked out of the house. (Now how come not one of them had a key, is another story, lol) They appear to be 12 (girl), 10 (boy) and about 6(boy) years of age. 
Watching the elder brother take the lead and open the basement window to climb in, only to find out, that while he may have been the one to open the window, he was not small enough to get through it. He must have attempted doing it several times, from going head first to feet first. 
The others coached, laughed and watched his every attempt to get through the window but he simply could not figure out how to get his backsides through it.
Then sister takes the lead, she seems completely animated the entire time, giving instructions, fussing, and basically being a female in a stressful situation where she has to get the men to follow her idea. Her idea, “let little man go through,” he can fit. 
Finally, big brother, after several failed attempts, IN A HUFF, goes along with the idea, snatches little man’s glasses off and tells him to do it. Little man is clearly terrified of the idea. What if I fall? What if I break something? Who is gonna catch me?? 
Big brother says, never mind and attempts to do it again with no luck. It is a tight squeeze and his hindparts just won’t make it, no matter how much he twists and turns. Then big sister stands behind big brother and measures her own hindparts. Hmmmmm. Maybe a bit smaller. She tries, it quite a few times, and while it may be a bit smaller??? she is not the same shape as her brother, long torso, just can’t seem to maneuver that torso through that tiny window opening. All the while they take turns running around to the other side of the building. Must be a bigger window around there to climb through.
Again and again, they negotiate and strategize and maneuver and attempt to figure out how can they get into the house.
Finally at long last, little man gets up the courage. It seemed to never occur to them to hold him as he goes through the tiny window opening. Something so obvious did not appear obvious to them at all. 
Little man, took off his glasses for the 4th time, tried going in head first, then feet first. It seemed his nervousness was dissipating as he pushed himself in little by little. After watching this for a few seconds, big brother has a great idea, maybe I’ll help him! He rushes over and holds little man by the head!! Wow, I wondered to my self, why didn’t they just hold his hands and reassure him that he wouldn’t get hurt??
In an instant, little man is in the house. He runs to the front door in another instant and opens the door. He lets his big brother and sister in to cheers and yells, little man, is the hero of the day!!!! 
I remember as a child and even an adult being locked out of the house. I remember pushing my own tiny son through the opening of a window. I remember my children telling me how they climbed onto the roof and got themselves in. But this is the absolute first time I saw little people do it on their own. I basically would have been of no service to them, they don’t know me, I am new to the neighborhood and most certainly they were taught not to speak to strangers.
It was an absolute pleasure to watch them work it out, and then wonder, how come we big bad adults can’t do the same? What is wrong with us that, if we have a common goal, we cannot negotiate in a way that everyone is helped and no one is hurt. Why can’t we take the risk of trying something new, it may be a little scary, but if the new plan works, try it.
Then I thought to myself, I hope and pray they grow up to be the same kind of adults I saw them as children. And then I hope they grow up and work in a important position at the UN, and maybe they could bring some of their talents and help this world be a better place, because seriously, ADULTS ARE NOT MAKING IT HAPPEN!
Update: The next day the young people arrive home again, to a locked door. Little man goes straight for the window. But alas, there was no need, they had the key to get in!

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