Scenes from BA Everywhere

Week of January 2

January 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


"Scenes from BA Everywhere" is a weekly feature that gives our readers an ongoing picture of this multi-faceted campaign, and the variety of ways that funds are being raised, and the whole BA vision and framework is being brought into all corners of society. Revolution newspaper is at the hub of the BA Everywhere effort—publishing reports from those taking up the campaign. Revolution plays a pivotal role in building an organized network of people across the country coming together to make BA a household word. We urge all our readers to send us timely correspondence on what you are doing as part of this campaign.

Houston end of year fundraiser for BA Everywhere

From readers:

On Saturday, December 22, several generations of people came together in an East End café for a Night of Revolutionary Culture to raise money for the BA Everywhere campaign.

Performers as well as audience members were drawn by and embraced BA's call for "a radical revolt against a revolting culture." A word to capture this night's experience is "transformation." About $400 was raised to take BA Everywhere into the New Year.

Several people had donated hand-made jewelry, pottery, baked goods and other items which were sold as holiday gifts. One of these items was created by the husband of a woman who supports Revolution newspaper, after she introduced him to the Revolution website. As she donated, she noted "now we have joined the revolution".

While the event was being put together, word got out among poets, and several offered to participate. Some had heard of BA, some hadn't. Some considered themselves radical, some "not political." But all who responded, hungry for an alternative to this putrid culture, jumped at the chance to be part of an event like this, even as they were learning more.

The program opened with a short clip from the "Imagine" section of BA's Revolution talk video, from which BAsics 2:8 was taken, where BA calls for a culture that uplifts and unifies people, as opposed to "...'bitches and ho's' and swat teams kicking down doors..."

Next began a succession of artists expressing heartfelt condemnation of this system—how it ruins, commodifies, gentrifies, impoverishes, and even paralyzes everything and everyone, both physically and spiritually. They spoke bitterness about the violence it brings down on people constantly, and expressed deep pain over the consequences. At the same time, even if not very defined in conception, their desire to end all this was tangible.

One poet spoke to the need for each individual to confront their own responsibility; to rise to the need, to not acquiesce, to embrace change. A clarinet, guitar and violin trio, playing klezmer music—a genre associated with Eastern European Jews and their resistance to the Nazis—did several pieces. On one of them, they improvised a chorus—chanting in between verses—"BA Everywhere!" An immigrant read a letter from a prisoner about a journey from "blind banger to conscious revolutionary."

The people who came out were from different walks of life, and the various elements of the event provoked a good back and forth among them. A young teacher who struggles to go up against the lies and bullshit the kids are fed in school got into a conversation with an immigrant from Central America... who, getting a richer sense of BA's perspective on art and culture, acquired a new desire to dig deeper into BA's new synthesis.

As we reached the end of the program, some in the audience demanded more. One of the poets returned to the stage to read a piece addressing the mistreatment of Latino immigrants, prefacing it with personal experience that turned his head around. The m.c. followed that with BAsics 1:14, where BA answers the question, "why do people come here?" with "because you have fucked up the rest of the world even worse than what you have done in this country...." A roar emerged from the gathering.

One striking thing was how many people thanked us and expressed an interest in the next event, including some people who had migrated to our event from another party at the cafe.

Cleveland: Holiday Fundraiser

From a reader:

On December 28, a holiday fundraiser for the BA Everywhere campaign jumped off at Cleveland Revolution Books. Walking through the door, you could feel the liberating music of Outernational's "Todos Somos Ilegales" playing, festive lights, the smell of food and lots of people. There was conversation over all kinds of issues, from the environment, to police murder and the "injustice" system, to how people's loved ones are being railroaded into long prison terms for something they didn't do, to small groups talking about what this revolution is all about, or how in some places very little activism is going on among the people, or just getting caught up with old friends.

As the BAsics Bus Tour video was shown, where one woman says how the police treat Black people there worse than a dog, people shook their heads in agreement. A Black woman liked Clyde Young's call to get BA out throughout society, in the schools and universities, to show people a pathway to change—fundamental change. She said how she has seen him on you tube and likes what he says. As she was leaving she said, "Taking revolution to Sanford gives people some hope not only about Trayvon but youth all over the world. And I can see more young people getting involved."

Besides world music playing, Art Blakey III played electric guitar and Ronnie B of 10:08 Vision rapped "Windows of Pain" exposing the horrors of mass incarceration. People who went on the New York City BA Everywhere Bus Tour spoke of their experiences like after a young person bought BAsics after flipping through the book and reading 1:31 about a world without America. Interspersed between clips of BA and BA Everywhere tour videos, there was a call for people to donate money, buy raffle tickets and as one person on the tour put it, "not just imagine the difference it could make but making that difference a reality." A woman who helped organize the event told about her experience in prison and can't get work while out, read the letter from a prisoner, "From gang member to revolutionary" calling on people to contribute to the PRLF.

There was a mix of people, young and older, different nationalities, some kids and all feeling they are part of making revolution, raising money to get Bob Avakian's vision of revolution, socialism and communism out among people in their thousands and millions. Everyone smiled when it was announced that we collected over $270 for the evening. Several restaurants donated food which was sold to help raise the money.

As music was still playing and people were still talking about what they thought about the evening and how to move this movement for revolution forward. A woman new to this movement told everyone, "I just sort of fell into this. I didn't know what communism is, now I see it as a viable solution and Bob Avakian puts out a scientific way of looking at the solution. I kept looking for answers and they are here."

As people left out into a cold night, they took bundles of palm cards and the Cornel West interview with Bob Avakian on CDs. There was a feeling of being part of the revolution and a determination to raise more money in different, creative ways to get the BA Everywhere campaign out in a bigger, broader and more impacting way.

BAsics Palm Cards at "Imagine" Event, Times Square

From a reader:

Recently in discussions over BA's interview with A. Brooks, What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, we discussed how the new synthesis goes at the profound contradiction (under socialism) of meeting the people's material needs and giving room for art, culture, intellectual ferment. It was a struggle to understand why this is a contradiction, and it is not just an automatic that you will have both. There was examples of what if an artist like Cristo wanted to wrap cloth around the South Bronx, but the people in the South Bronx needed cloth for clothing...not an easy decision when you want to bring into being a different kind of world. The discussion provoked a lot of new thinking on these questions, and it really made you appreciate the new synthesis in a new way.

A couple of days later Yoko Ono made a call for people to come out to Times Square at 11:57 pm to sing "Imagine" by John Lennon and watch her movie "Imagine Peace," showing on 25 different screens in Time Square. It was a cold night, and I had many things to do... but seeing how "Imagine" is my favorite song, and I was leaving NYC the next day, I went to check it out.

It was beautiful! On every other day in Time Square you are bombarded with images of woman half naked, products you are supposed to need even if you can't afford them, investment banks, you name it, everything you can buy under capitalism. It's the image of buy, buy, buy.... everything is for sale, everything is a commodity!!!

But on December 21 (and throughout the rest of the month) for three minutes you see the world! Over blue skies you see in 24 languages Imagine Peace.... And on this special night there was a gathering of thousands of people singing "Imagine" by John Lennon.

Standing there in the crossroads of the world, watching the images of different languages, singing the lyrics (at the top of my lungs)...

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

For three minutes you had that feeling of living there! A world with no heaven or hell, no countries or borders.... It was a feeling that cannot be described, but you were there for three minutes...And you were not alone, there were hundreds and thousands of people with you there and you felt the people of the world.

After the three minutes, the Times Square commercial images come back like you are being rudely awakened.... But those three minutes are known in your being, that you felt another world, and see a possibility of how the world can be different.

I spent the next couple of hours talking to people around me, handing out the BA card "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives," and "Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First." The cards with quotes from BA and what we had just experienced provoked some deep thinking about the state of the world. We talked about drones that kill thousands of people being dropped in our names, could you imagine a world without borders, why is the world so violent today, or has it been like this for a long time? What causes wars, is it people, government, religion? Can you really have happy holidays, knowing the world is suffering?

When I woke up the next morning I had a fucking cold, I was congested, had a cough, and body aches.... But it was so worth having this experience... and I thought back to the discussion of the new synthesis, and what a profound contradiction it answers, when you think about a new socialist society, where people's basic needs are met, and there is a flourishing of art, culture and intellectual ferment. That would be a society fit for all of humanity!

Informal Dinner and Discussion for BA Everywhere

In early December 2012, we had a fundraising dinner get together for BOB AVAKIAN EVERYWHERE Campaign. There were ten people in the group, including people from North Africa and East Africa and the United States.

After informal discussion and dinner, we gave a brief summary on BA Everywhere, what's been accomplished and the difference it will make when millions more watch videos of BA, read books and articles he's written, and hear such things as the Cornel West interview of Bob Avakian. Then we watched the video of Bob Avakian "1969 - 1979 - 2003."

After watching this video, one person in the group said that Bob Avakian "breaks down the concepts of revolution and communism so that anyone could understand them." Another person, after watching this video plus an additional video of "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over,..." said "yes, what he is saying about the youth is true, it is true all over the world and as well as in the USA, and we have to do something about it." The host (myself) impressed upon people that for all this time, from the late '60s until now, Avakian's message of ending imperialism and oppression has stayed consistent and never changed. Most of the people at our dinner had never before heard of Bob Avakian. One Black man who lives in the neighborhood, who we'd been discussing the Jim Crow period in the southern U.S. with (and who grew up in Mississippi during this time) made his contribution after seeing this Bob Avakian video.

All in all, we talked for six hours! We discussed many topics. For example, the new imperialists "land grab" in Africa and political developments in Egypt. We had this issue of Revolution newspaper—with the recent cover article on Egypt. Everyone received a copy and we discussed the main themes and lessons from that article. We used the BAsics promotion cards with everyone BAsics 1:3 (check it out).

There was a lot of contention on Obama. Some in our group were apologetic for Obama. When we spoke of Afghanistan, drones, and torture... they kept saying it was Bush's fault. Another person agreed with us, but thought the formulation "Obama is in some ways worse than Bush..." was a bad formulation and we should "just leave it as Obama being pro-capitalist." We talked about all this intensely. By the end of this round of discussion, we fought for people to show some determination and to come out of the fundraising dinner by telling people the truth about Obama rather than promote the idea, "Whew... at least Obama won" which way too many people think and say.

There was a lot of discussion about communism, the real history, and whether we can and should take communism straight up to the people. Some felt we should show the Avakian tape far and wide—they loved it—but "maybe it's best to not tell people up front he's a communist." A couple of others asked whether we'd thought of changing the name? Interesting were the comments, made in quite a matter-of-fact way, that communism "didn't work." We showed people that it did work in the Soviet Union and China. We argued with a lot of evidence. One man from Tunisia, who had made this remark, said "well... yes, Mao Tsetung was for real—a genuine communist, and my understanding is he helped the Vietnamese fight the U.S.," which he had some understanding of but it took challenging his comments that communism didn't work to pull that out of his thinking!

During the last couple of hours, many people contributed ideas for where to take the Bob Avakian Everywhere campaign. People felt those who are the most poor and oppressed were most important and also BA Everywhere needs to get to junior college students because they come from lower sections of society. We discussed how these suggestions were very important. Also there was discussion of how the starting point should be who needs to be reached from the standpoint of making revolution for real. The major colleges were mentioned as were the professionals. Some said "the professors at the major colleges fear for their jobs," (which we discussed from numerous angles)—they thought maybe we should also go to student clubs and give presentations to them to look for support and people who will help spread word about BA Everywhere on major college campuses. Honestly, some from this group from Africa voiced frustration about the lack of a determined and radical political movement from the students in the U.S.

There was also some discussions on the rise of religion in the last thirty years, including religious fundamentalism and how bad it is for women. Some in the group were Muslim, others were Christians, others were atheistic. I felt some brought into the discussion what I call "centuries-old logic" so we had some respectful debates on this matter too.

We were able to raise $175 from donations! Heartfelt contributions to help push the BA Everywhere campaign out there. People from this dinner are being invited to year-end benefit parties for BA Everywhere so they can meet other people. A couple are distributing Revolution newspaper to friends from these areas of the world, and we recently heard it's very controversial, and eye-opening.

—From two people who attended the dinner

Brownies and Tamales for BA Everywhere from the 'hood

From readers:

It's been said before that fundraising (especially for BA Everywhere) "brings people together" and introduces Bob Avakian to people who've never heard of him before. Members of Revolution Club in the 'hood wanted to do something to contribute to this exciting effort in getting BA Everywhere. A meeting was held and people decided to do a special project of raising money to get BAsics to prisoners during these weekends in December. We had listened to Cornel West's interview with BA; and a nerve had been struck in all that we didn't want to wait another "30 years" down the line just to endure more of the hell of police murders, war, racism, sexual exploitation, etc. Yes, humanity needs revolution and communism; and we wanted to raise money precisely to get BA's books to those in the hellholes of America.

Our fundraising was on two fronts: brownies and tamales; and a lot was learned in breaking down traditional roles and boundaries in the process. In making tamales, orders were taken which soon looked overwhelming. The sister who took up this responsibility said, "There were lots of obstacles we had to overcome. We had to cook on an electric stove, and we couldn't cook while my husband (who works at night) was sleeping ... the kitchen is right next to the bedroom! I got 2 friends to help, but we also got the men to help." After a lifetime of eating tamales, this was the first time the men were actually making them!

Although it wasn't part of the original plan, when the word about tamale making reached some Revolution Club members in another area of the city, they decided to take the project out to some of their own contacts. Soon some college students and others were taking orders and still others were collecting the funds. One Revolution Club member remarked, "This was not like delivering pizzas. It became an opportunity to talk about the Cornel West interview with BA, and it took a little more time than just taking an order." It was interesting that a few of those who ordered tamales for themselves also in turn took orders from others they knew. One woman who was intrigued by the idea of BA Everywhere and this fundraising effort from people in the 'hood came all the way to the 'hood to collect her order of tamales. $230 was made from tamales on one weekend; and the orders continue to come in! In fact, when another Mexican woman living in a nearby city heard about the success of this effort, she was inspired by it and volunteered to make some more tamales so she could take them out with us to sell in the upcoming weekend.

Meanwhile, a couple of women from the 'hood had volunteered to make brownies; and after some discussion, one said "what the hell have we gotten ourselves into"! She had expected this to be an easy responsibility to fulfill but it turned out she had to overcome some difficulties she hadn't forseen. This "cook" lived in a small single room with a microwave toaster oven; and her friend, herself also a member of the Revolution Club, offered to spend the night there with her and help out. But they decided they weren't going to use dollar store brownie mix. Since they had little money, they asked a friend to make the donation for materials. After reading some BAsics quotes, their friend bought $30 worth of groceries for them; and they were on their way.

The apartment was so small, they kept bumping into each other, but they had fun! Putting each brownie on a paper plate, they wrapped them up with a ribbon and one of the 12 ways from the palm card attached to it. The "cook" said, "That way when people come to the table, they can read at least one of the 'ways' that they can be involved in the revolution." They got one or more of 12 choices of brownies! The brownies were almost sold out in one Saturday at a farmers market in a neighborhood of mostly middle class folks; and this was a nice complement to a beautiful display of enlarged prisoners art and letters which were assembled and mounted with help from a college student with artistic talent, also a member of the Revolution Club. People at the farmers market donating to BAsics for prisoners ranged from women and men shopping for organic food, Occupy people with questions about the new synthesis, to an ex-con who wanted to make sure that his "friends" behind bars knew about BA.

In a follow up on the overall fundraising, one of the women remarked that it "was a good thing that Black and Mexican people can come together like this. It pulls us a little closer; and this is all about making a better world."

On one weekend alone when the brownies were sold at the farmers market and in the 'hood and when the tamales were going out through orders, the Revolution Club raised $336 from tamale and brownie sales, in addition to direct donations. In another rainy weekend, we took Revolution papers, palm cards of BA quotes, and Churros (made by the woman making tamales and her vendor friend she recruited for this effort) to laundromats in a couple of basic people neighborhoods and raised $63, not counting the paper sales. A good number of Blacks and Latinos donated, including a young man who repeatedly came to drop change in the donation bucket and told us that he just got out from San Quentin where he had heard of the Revolution paper and the BAsics.

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