David Hilliard: Well, it…it um… It’s certainly history, but it’s also contemporary because many of the issues that we worked for forty years ago are still very necessary, not just in the States, but even here in France, issues like education, and issues like jobs that the students are now demonstrating for. Those are universal issues. So our organization’s program its constitution, asking for jobs and better healthcare, housing and education. So, that is not so much nostalgia, it’s also very relevant today, here in Europe.
DH: I think that the situation in Africa and the States is just a matter of distance. Just by the airplane you can be in Africa in 9 hours maybe. But the situations in Africa, in South Africa, for example, is very much with crime, because there’s no jobs, because of housing, because of disease, AIDS, the world is in a pandemic, because of the AIDS because there is no healthcare for people. And so, I think that the connection between these Africans Americans and people in Africa are very similar, that we have the same problems. After all, we’re just this place Africans, but our homeland is also on the continent of Africa.
Interviewer: Yes, and what about more political problems they have like in Congo, or…
DH: Yes, people in the Congo, people in or people in other parts of Africa, the Sudan, where there’s much genocide. Those are the issues that the world should be concerned about because the death of any man diminishes the species of humanity, so we should be involved whenever is, you know, a catastrophe, whatever there’s assault on human kind. It is all of our duties, in Europe or in Africa or Latin America or North America to support human right causes.
DH: Yeah, I think that are all come from Africa without a doubt.
DH: I think that it’s important that people in France, in Africa understand that the only thing that separates us is distance! If you were in my community, you… people would think that you are a home girl…”hey home girl” I mean you may be from the Ivory Coast but who would know but for the language, the language barrier. We are all one and the same, it’s just the language. It is because we were taken away from our various homelands in Africa. West Africa, you know, that’s where the slaves were—part of the slave trade, well that’s so who we are. And for people that are conscious, we know that, we know that, so… we are eager to connect with our motherland. And but, it’s not so important as it used to be thirty, forty years ago because if you want to connect to Africa you could go to a community in New-York, lots of Africans there, there are people from Nigeria, from Gambia, from Ethiopia, from Sierra Leone, from, you know… from all over the continent. So…, you know, a plane right there is good because you can go back to your roots, but what do we, what do we, you know, really you know worried about? I mean we can come to France and meet people from Africa. The whole world is what we ought to claim. We shouldn‘t claim a particular country, we‘ve, the world is, is our oyster, as we say. We don‘t have boundaries. But of course, we are excited about supporting people in Africa because this is the most oppressed place on the planet. It’s exploited for all of its richness. You know, the diamonds and the oil from Nigeria.. People in Africa are very, very poor. Why? Africa is a very rich continent for all of its natural resources.
What we want to get the new generations, the young Afriks, is the philosophy- the idea that why do you have to be free in France? Why can’t we have our fight right where you are? Why do we talk about coming to America and having a black power movement? No one has a black power movement in Africa ! That’s why we were wealthy, were rich, were powerful ! So, where ever we are we have to make a fight, and then we have to understand that we have a right, anywhere in the world, to exist, because the whole world is under the domination of one country, which is called US Empire…
You know umm… it’s important that young people in Africa, now, wherever they are, to understand that - every situation is different -
They have to understand their environment--what worked in the sixties in my community may not, and probably would not, work in their community in today. But there are certain universals and one of those universals is that if you relate to the people, the mass of the people, and if you are working in the people’s interests then, you will certainly be victorious. But that is a condition: you have to know what the needs of the people are. And if you are not speaking to those needs, then, you are going to be isolated. So, for those people in Africa, or wherever they are struggling, they have to have their own agenda, and they have to understand what the needs of their people are. Those are why successful movements are successful. Because you speak for the people. You represent the people’s interests and when you represent the people‘s interests you can’t fail.
Because all successful, social change movements, are movements that have the backing of the people, there is no other way. If you don’t have the backing of the people, then you are out there alone, you are trying to build the movement. Successful movements, you know, start, because somebody has to make some sacrifices, but if the sacrifices are really addressing food - I presume, not being right – healthcare, jobs… Those are the issues that people face everywhere. If you are not addressing these issues then you are not going to get to support of the people. So, that is why it is always important to do the work: what is it that the people want ?…
You have to ask the people that if you want to know: what are our needs ? What do you want ? Then you will really speak for the people, you will not be imposing your ideas on the people. You get from the people, you concentrate, and then you give back to the people. This is the only way to be successful, so that is what I offer to young people who are struggling in Africa: know what is happening in your community, and then, you will be successful.
11:17 - IRAQ
DH : Well… We think that…
Interviewer: We should not have gone in there…
DH : Well, absolutely, we think that… there is much to be said about the progressive people in France who did not support the war in Iraq. Well, too bad, more people in America does not follow the example in France, because the president is obviously a crazy man. And he has gotten the world in such an unstable position. ehhh, there is no safety for nobody, in Europe or in America, Latin America, or in Spain, the whole world is now in the danger of the terrorists. Because of what America has done, in terms of making enemies with people around in the world. So we must end the war in Iraq, but we must also end the aggressions against the people in Cuba and the people in continent of Africa and all over the world. America has to end its aggressions against other people, wherever they are.
Interviewer : Hum, hum. Yes.
12:26 - HISTORY
DH : Uhhh I also think that uh… History is important and that is why we are here, to share the History of our experiences in the States, and how all our experiences connect with people here in Europe. Uhh, I think that, the issue of education, because of the internet, because of modern technology, it has made it even more possible that we share information wherever we are. But I think that if your question has to do with the teaching about the history of colonialism in the schools, then, of course, we are also on agreement with that, because it was our Black Panther Party who wanted an end to the colonialism in Africa and wherever, the imperialists, you know, oppress people…
I think that all colonialization is bad because it destroys culture, because it is another form of occupation, and, in a way, even in America, there is uh, what we refer to as colonies, in our communities, because we do not control our communities. Our Black Panther Party, in some way, takes issue with words like colonialism, words like nations, words like states, because colonialism can only exist if there are nations! We say that there are no nations, because America is an Empire. So what is happening is Africa, Latin America, and Europe, are communities of the Empire. So, sometimes we use words that no longer describe the social reality. It is no longer called colonialism, we can no longer have colonialism, because there are no nations America has negated this, because nations can not exist if there is also an Empire, the Empire destroys the nations. And the America is the only true Empire ever in the history of mankind.
And colonialism is never good. Eeeeer, just as what is happening in Iraq : there is a manifestation of colonialism, uhhh we certainly oppose that and uh, anytime a culture, a dominate culture is forced onto another culture, that is what we call aggression so there is nothing good to teach that colonialism has positives. It is always very negative. Very bad.
15: 20- BLACK POWER
We reject the definition for Black Power, if Black Power means segregation, if it means uhhh if it means uhh, separate states or separate communities, because Black Power can also be another manifestation of racism. So we said « No, we don ‘t accept Black Power ». So, what we do profess is all people living together with full equality, and not based on race, not based on class, because we are against that. So, if for us Black Power means the control of community, and if we live in a district in America, and if there is a majority of people of African - American descent or African descent, then, this majority should represent that particular community. That is called proportional representation.
Interviewer : Yes
DH : But this has nothing to do with race, it has to do with the majority in a particular area so, for us, Black Power was not a good thing if it means separation from other people. That is not good, we opposed all of that.
But we do support any agenda that will give people the right to have control over the institutions in their communities. So that is what we fought for. We were not black power advocates. We said all power to all the people. Our slogan was “all power to the people.” Not black power.
17:05 - ALGERIA
We studied Franz Fanon in the early development of our Black Panther party, because we learned a lot about the Algerian revolution, and the Algerians against the colonialism of the French against the Algerians, so we were also given a welcome in Algeria by then President Houari Boumediène, Boumediène, gave us an embassy in Algers, Algeria. So, we had a very warm friendship with the Algerians and we studied very, very much Franz Fanon and the psychologies about the Algerian Revolution and the book called “Wretched of the Earth.”
18:00 - RACISM
…racism as symptomatic of this…
Interviewer : yes
DH : Hey ! Yeah, without a doubt racism exists! All over the world, racism exists. Uhhhh, I think that racism will be a problem for a long time to come. I think that right now, what we are doing in America, again, is dealing with the impact of racism. There has been some…, some equality. Some equality in jobs, some equality in the government. There has been, you know, some changes. But the issues of racism will take many, many years to deal with, because those remnants of our old societies takes time to change. But right now we are trying to deal with some power to control our communities, to control our destinies. And then racism will be something that, I think, we will learn to deal with through a long process of education, working together, but it is not going to go away soon.
19:18 - BLACK RACISM
Yes, I think that we have to take issue that we have to oppose any racism. You see, we say that we don’t relate to people based on the color of their skin, but as Martin Luther King said the content of their character, we identify with people if they are progressive, and if they have the gender that speaks to equality. We don’t care about the race. That was not the philosophy of the Black Panther Party and we oppose anybody who has a racist agenda, and we don’t like that. That is why we oppose people who are anti-Semitic--We don’t accept it. We don’t accept any kind of racism. This is all bad.
Yes, it is… that is why the Black Panther Party exists… to end the violence of the constant authority of the police in the communities. It was called number 7 on our constitution: End the police brutality in our communities. End occupation by the police in our communities. We saw the police in our communities just as the aggressors are in the communities in Iraq. We saw that as being one in the same. This is just a matter of distance. But the similarities were pretty much the same. So, we oppose the racist police’s practices in our communities. As a result, there is now many, many black people on the police department. There are many women on the police department. Because we broke down those barriers: black people and women, people of Asian descent, people from Hispanics are on police department now. That was not the case when the Black Panther Party started. But because of our struggle, we were able to break down these barriers, and to make the police department more representative of the people in the communities in America. But, yes, sure, exactly right, this was because of the violence of the police and the racism that made our Black Panther Party exist.
21:51 - SELF-DEFENCE
Well, I think that the preservation of life is always our inalienable right. If someone comes into your home, and starts raping your children, or murdering in your domicile, in your home, you have the right to defend your home. This what we mean by self-defense, but the violence that was perpetuated against black people in America by racism and by the fact that we were brought here through the transatlantic slaves trade, where we had no right, where we were treated as second classes, that is what we were fighting against. The Constitution in America gives you the right to protect your life and your property, as a basis for self-defense. On the other hand, to just run around with a gun in the community and assault people is absolutely criminal and that is not acceptable, and the Black Panther Party has a clear distinction between those people who are just criminals and outlaws, and people who have the right to protect their lives against any form of violence. We used to make this distinction. We would say (that) because people would say : « You are very violent ». We would say, « But how could you say we were violent ? » If the police comes into our house, they have no right. And they come in and they are beating us and they are killing us. We are trying to defend our life against the aggressors, so, we said that the violence of the oppressor is not the same as the self-defense of the victim. Two different things- we were victims / they were the violent ones.
23:44 - HAMAS
Well, of course, we are opposed to any form of violence, anywhere in the world; we called for peace in the Middle-East in 1970. Our leader Huey Newton met Yassir Arafat. And we met the people of Israel because we wanted peace in the Middle-East. We think that it would never be peace in the Middle-East and until Jews and Palestinians learn to live together in the same land space there is not going to ever be anything that will solve the problem with a Palestinian nation, and a Jewish nation, serving the same territorial space. That is just crazy and it is not going to happen. What is going to happen is that they are going to learn to live together and uh, and share a common geographic location. But Hamas, for the Palestinian people, uh seems to do good things for the Palestinian people : they gave them hospitals, they gave them homes, they gave them food, they give them education, and what is it ? It is not the right of the Jewish people to dictate to the Palestinian people, who their representative leader should be. That is what I mean by community control, if there are these Palestinians who live in that part of the world, where they are the majority and then should have a representative that represents the Palestinian people. There is just no argument about that. But I think that in a final analysis, that Jewish people and Palestinian people must live together in peaceful coexistence.
25:26 - MARXISM
Well, we think that there are some very erosive and very destructive tendencies to capitalism, obviously, look at all the problems of the world that are not solved, that people are rich and most of the majority of world people are living in abject poverty. Where the ruling class the 1 percent controls all of the worlds wealth. And it is absolutely unacceptable. But on the other hand, we learned (eeer) that it is incorrect to call yourself a Marxist. We said that Marx was not a Marxist. We said that Marx was a dialectical materialist. He understood the science of making the social revolution for the Soviet Union. But Marx didn’t dominate what is called, and did not create « called » the dialectics. Our Black Panther party accepted the same signs that Marx and Lenin helped evolve called dialectical materialism. So did the Chinese, but they do not own the dialectical materialism method. We are dialectical materialists, not Marxists. We don’t believe in Marx, we believe in the philosophy that Marx advanced to the dialectical materialism.
Interviewer : Yeah, very interesting. And what about Maoism ?
DH : Mao is also dialectical materialists. It is not… We are not Maoists, we are not Marxists. We are black people from Africa, who has a scientific approach to our world. Our philosophy is that everything in the world is always changing. Nothing remains the same. Which means that you have to always adapt your thinking in your…. In your approach. That is in all the universality : it is called contradiction.
Interviewer : And you said yesterday that the Che… Che Guevara and Fidel Castro were your heroes ?
DH : Yes. Yes. In Latin America, because of what they have done uh, as an example of how you can have a system, obviously that in a lot of ways, does things that capitalism does not do. Capitalism has not solved the issues of illiteracy. In Cuba there is no illiteracy Zero illiteracy. There are more doctors in Cuba than anywhere in the world. So they are dealing with those problems. So we take those as examples. We think those are positive examples of what they happen when there is a re-prioritization of economics. Something is very bad on how the economy under capitalism, is organized because there is only a few people that enjoy the wealth of the economy in this system while the majority are in an abject poverty. And the capitalism doesn’t work. And so Cuba was an example for everybody. Look at Venezuela, under Hugo Chavez. We think he is a hero to solve their problems. Those are good examples for people to really to study. And our Black Panther party is very impressed with Cuba and Venezuela.
28:43 - THE NEW GENERATION
Well um, we live in an era where culture is dominate. We live in what is the culture universe. This generation is first attracted by media. They have the internet, technology, they have, you know, hip-hop. That is universal. So, if you are going to be relevant right now, then you have to use the medium of this generation. Their medium is fashion, their medium is certainly culture. So if we are going to get our message, that is an historical message to this generation, then we have to use their medium. It is technology, right, the computer. It is the music, it is fashion. Right, the hip-hop generation. So, one would be (stagnant and not really effective if they are not using the tools of this generation to communicate. You won’t communicate, you will miss them. So, culture is very important right now, what this generation does not have - that we had - was the political consciousness. So our job, and which is a tough job, is to change their consciousness. And that is what the politics are, the meeting of art and politics, the culture and politics, right now, we are in this culture war, and we will going to be able to use the, you know, the positive tools, that are available to us through pictures, the images, as we have at La Bank gallery. And we have to use movies, and we have to use music, to get the attention of and to educate this generation politically.
30:48 - THE MEDIA
Sure, the media , it controls. The media let us do only, what they think serves the interest of their controllers. The people who own the media. But, that is not so much a problem for us, because we don’t get the media, the mainstream media. Ours has always been underground, this is always independent filmmakers. (Eeeeer), and we are OK with that. (Eeeeeer) And that is why the internet is so important. Because with the internet, they seem… they can’t control all the information on the internet. But Hollywood is not good. Fox television is not good. But we like to be independent to make the films and to promote our culture. But mass media, they control culture, and they will only give you a sound bite, and it will always be very negative. That is what always happen with the Black Panther party with media, you only see just a small frame of the Black Panther party: always marching, always militant, you never understand what we are really about. But for the documentary and independent films, we can tell our story more completely.
32:11 – <THE> GLOBALIZATION
I support free trade. I don’t support fair trade. Fair trade is not the way. Free trade is. Because if the world is, as I said earlier, all communities together, then it only makes sense that you have coffee from Colombia, and from California, and from Africa. Because we are all a part in the same world. There is only one economy and it is a global economy. So, we should always be able to share resources and to enjoy the wealth of the world. In the final analysis, our Black Panther leader Huey Newton teaches us that what is needed in the world, is the redistribution of the world’s wealth. You see ? Because all the wealth of the world is controlled by just a few people in Wall street. But the way the economy of the world is run it is dictated by America. America controls the free market. You don’t participate in the free market. Blockades as in Iraq, as in Cuba, as in Venezuela. So, either you play the game, or you don’t get a chance to operate in the free market. So, the free market is what we are talking about. We are talking about free market, not what is called fair trade, that is controlled by the big growers and the corporations. We opposed that.
But we are open for, in an economy where people can bring their products and have access to a worldly economy we think that this, in a final analysis this is what it ought to be about. So we call for a redistribution of the world’s wealth. That is what Huey Newton calls our revolutionary intercommunalism (sic). He says that right now, in his philosophy, it is called intercommunalism He says that we live in a world of reactionary intercommunalism. Why? he says. Because the world is controlled by the reactionary forces in the world. They are controlled by the big corporations, they are controlled by the United States government, and its empire and its aggressive policies in the world. When we are in a state where you talk about that free trade where everybody can enjoy the wealth of the world, then, now, we are in this new stage that is called revolutionary intercommunalism, because, then, as you will read in Marx, then the whole world who belongs to the people. That is what we are talking about. He has just as another definition, because he doesn’t accept the terms : nation ? No good. It doesn’t exist ! States ? There are no states, there is no boundaries. What is the difference between France and America. There is no difference! The difference is we don’t have a lingua franca obviously, because I don’t know what you are talking about but we have some universal things that we all can agree on: food, healthcare, we don’t have enough money, we don’t have good education for our children, but all our problems are similar that way. So, as we breakdown the boundaries, we will see more similarities than differences. And we will also have, at some point… and English is trying to be the universal language anyway, we won’t have these boundaries where we can to communicate.
35:44 - ART & POLITIC
The role of the artists, if they are progressive, is to carry the message of the people. and I think that artists also have to understand that everything that they do is political. Whether it is promoting the system, or if t is promoting the underclass. But artists have a role and it is OK to use the artists to get the message across, as we did in our Black Panther party, our newspapers are filled with art and images over oppression, and images, that will teach the people how to get their freedom. So, if they don’t believe in the politicians, that is very smart, because politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth, they give you double messages, they don’t deliver. But the artists also must be leaders. So, art in politics are not like this or like that. So the arts in the politics have to be one. So it is OK to use the artist as a medium to get the message across, but if the artists are reactionary, then the artists are not better than the politicians. So, artists must also become leaders, not just artists.