Los Angeles

There is Something Beginning Here

Revolution #1, May 1, 2005, posted at revcom.us

The following is from a correspondent in Los Angeles:

Panning the city of Los Angeles from afar, your eyes are drawn to the many bright centers—not a massive downtown business district like New York or Chicago, but pockets of tall buildings sparkling on the skyline. Panning away from the bright lights reveals vast stretches of dilapidated neighborhoods—old houses and stucco apartment buildings dotted with churches, liquor stores, and run-down markets. Lining the edges of these neighborhoods are factory and warehouse districts—not the huge factories of the 1970s, but small mini-factories where people do work like packaging coffee, making furniture, sewing clothes, or assembling machine parts. In the most impoverished places of the city there is almost nothing you can see from a far-away glance—and when you focus in and move down into these neighborhoods you feel the oppressiveness of the surroundings.

A young Black security guard lives in one of these neighborhoods and works at a warehouse some distance away. He takes the train and the bus to work, always listening to the beats in his head that he’s dreaming up to rap over. He works and supports a family and is a firm believer in Islam.

Today his backpack is full of leaflets—in English and in Spanish—of the statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party: "The Battle for the Future Will Be Fought From Here Forward."

On his way to work he stops at the gas station where he always picks up snacks. The cashier smiles and warmly welcomes him as he opens his backpack to take out the leaflets. Her first language is Spanish, but she says in English that he’s come just in time because she’s run out of Spanish leaflets. She points to the counter where there are some English ones left and an empty space where the Spanish had been. He stacks the refills for her and tells her he’ll bring more Spanish next time. She explains that the trucker from Mexicali came to pick up more than usual for the truck stops on his route. He asks if she’s watched the DVD of Bob Avakian, Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What’s It All About, that he brought her last time. She says it’s great and that she’s passing it around to her family members.

I asked this young spreader-of-leaflets how he happened to connect with this immigrant woman at the gas station. He said that after some conversations, she told him he wasn’t like most of the Black people she sees come through there. Her impression of Black people had been that they don’t like to work and they don’t like immigrants. When she said he was different, she meant because he works every day and because he treats her as an equal. He talked to her about the history of Black people in this country and how Black people and immigrants from Mexico have ended up in the same poor neighborhoods together, oppressed by the same system. He told her that Black people need to fight not just for themselves but for everybody and that Black and Latino people need to learn each other’s histories. He was drawing inspiration from one of his favorite parts of the Revolution DVD.

In a neighborhood nearby, a Black high school student is studying another part of that DVD, which he got from his uncle in the projects. He’s already seen it once. But when his teacher gave an assignment to write about a leader he looks up to, Avakian was the first one to come to mind. So he’s going back over some parts of the DVD to write the paper.

The student’s uncle is also fairly young and wants to help move people in a revolutionary direction. When he read the "Battle for the Future" leaflet, his imagination took flight. He answered with a resounding "YES!" to the question posed at the end: "Are YOU ready to make a real difference —to not only spread the word of resistance and revolution, but make that a real alternative in society?" He wanted this leaflet to be everywhere—so he recruited friends and relatives to make sure it got out widely. Three boxes of leaflets weren’t enough. He came back for more, and then more—and one day said, "I need a box in Spanish to get to my homie in the projects in East L.A." By the time he was done he had distributed 10,000 leaflets in various projects throughout the city and even out to Moreno Valley (40 to 50 miles east of L.A. in Riverside county) and Las Vegas! In the projects he lives in he’s distributed many of the samplers of the Revolution DVD—and the Chairman’s name is beginning to become a familiar sound in the neighborhood.

In another neighborhood not too far away, an older Black man runs a popular boxing gym. He’s watched the complete 11-hour DVD set three times. Before hearing Bob Avakian speak, he thought the only thing possible for him to do was try to help Black youth stay out of prison. He was so moved by Avakian’s talk that he’s mobilized his trainees to distribute leaflets in the neighborhood, and he’s showing the DVD samplers on the three TV’s that are set up in the gym. He’s volunteered to do public speaking to tell people everywhere about Bob Avakian.

Farther away, on the other side of L.A.’s downtown, where the land becomes more hilly but the neighborhoods are not so much different, an indigenous immigrant from Mexico has been doing his own public speaking to small crowds. Normally working in a restaurant 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, on New Year’s Day he went to the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena to tell people about Bob Avakian. He distributed the "Battle for the Future" statement, telling everyone he talked to, "We have a leader who fights for global change. You have never heard anything like him."

Panning up and out of these neighborhoods, the panorama of the city is beginning to look a little different. The same landmarks are still there, but there seems to be a pulsing that wasn’t apparent at the first sweeping view. There’s something growing here that can be sensed by hearing pieces of conversations caught in the wind. A youth in the gangster scene sees the DVD sampler and says, "Damn, watching that makes me think a muthafucker got to change the whole way he has been looking at things." In the projects down the street two men greet the neighbor who got them their DVD samplers by putting their fists to their hearts and shouting out, "B.A.!" Farther away two young people talk outside a concert, and one begins to cry as he hears of the future envisioned by Bob Avakian—"People need this kind of leader to unleash their creativity."

There is something beginning here.