Interview conducted by Chief Cheem
Land back ya’ll, my name is Chief Cheem, and I represent the indigenous Zapotec people of Mexico, use he/him pronouns, and serve as the COS for BHT, the baddest anticolonial news outlet out there. Today we are blessed with an interview with the one and only Chief Afeni, Chief of the California Chapter.
With California having been the epicenter for C*VID cases in the past and lockdown restrictions easing up, can you speak on the importance of joining the California chapter?
Chief Afeni: Land back Cheem, yes, I think it’s very important that people join the California Chapter seeing that we have the highest cases (of covid) in the world, not just the state or country, but the entire world. Right now, we are leading the force of being on the ground, helping people, passing out KN95 masks. We have a chapter goal of passing out 500 masks a week in our direct communities, and we are hitting that goal. We need more hands-on-deck since it is a large goal, and we want to grow into more communities. With the units we have right now, we have a good presence, but we really wanna expand that because we know how important it is with this v*rus targeting our communities.
Alongside C*VID, homelessness is another huge problem that has plagued LA for decades and our Colonized working-class people in general who are denied the right to live. Can you discuss the rampant homelessness in LA and how the California Chapter is combatting this symptom of Colonialism?
I myself have been personally affected by homelessness here in Los Angeles. The colonial rental system and housing system is pure butchery; they literally lead us to slaughter. Housing here is so expensive, and within my community, there are at least three areas that unhoused Colonized people have reclaimed. They have tents, cars, mobile homes. My biggest thing right now for the California Chapter is to support those efforts and make sure they are not spreading colonialv*rus. We’re really focusing on getting them PPE and telling them about Hammer City because we understand how incredibly important that project is, especially for our unhoused individuals here in California. We know that Hammer City will be a great start to an answer to that contradiction until we overturn the root of all of our people’s problems.
Our California Chapter has gone through some recent changes, but ultimately we’re stronger than ever with our presence. Where do you see the California Chapter going this year?
With all organizing, it is about cycles, just like the world we live in. There’s spring, fall, summer, and winter. The California Chapter is one of the first chapters that was created in the Black Hammer Organization. We’ve gone through many phases; the phases of organizing. At the phase we’re at right now, I’m really excited; we have some phenomenal dedicated members that have been with the California Chapter since the beginning—you included Cheem—and some new members that are jumping in and bringing that young revolutionary vibrancy back into the chapter. We’re really excited with so many new members, so many new positions. We’re focusing on putting people where their skills will help them liberate their people and put them where their skills best fit within the revolution. That’s what California is focusing on doing right now; growing and getting ready for summer! Hot rebel summer is just around the corner, and we gettin’ ready for it.
We love to highlight our revolutionary mothers here at Black Hammer who balance a hectic schedule. So tell us and the other moms out there, how do you balance motherhood and the revolution?
First, I just want to say it is definitely possible to do so! Especially if you’re using the skills and the tools an organization like Black Hammer has given me. I have been able to really organize my whole life. I have a different outlook on how I raise my children, and they are a part of it, they are the next generation. I learned a lot from revolutionary mothers like Afeni Shakur, Assata Shakur, who all made sacrifices to make sure that their children could see liberation in their lifetime, and that’s really what I’m doing—it is possible. It’s just about incorporating the babies into the revolution, making them feel a part of it, and letting them understand that everything we do is for them as well. Just getting them involved. That’s how I’ve really balanced it. And with the help of my partner! Assata Shakur said you can’t have no reactionary partner with a revolutionary partner, so it’s all about that balance of them understanding why we are doing what we do and sharing that with our family. A lot of times, they’re fighting against it because they don’t understand it. It’s all about giving them that understanding and making it a part of everything you do in your life, that way, it’s not a surprise or like “uhh”. It’ more like this is my life, this is who I am, this is how I’m raising my family.
Being part of the California Chapter and Black Hammer for as long as you have been, could you tell us and reflect upon your journey as a revolutionary here at Black Hammer?
I was the FIRST California Hammer member! I launched the California Chapter with the help of Commander-in-Chief Gazi, Chief Nia, so many chiefs who just helped develop me and my revolutionary journey. I, in turn, have developed comrades under my leadership, and it’s been a beautiful, beautiful journey. I love being a part of the California Chapter; it is my baby, it is my home. I also love the idea that the California Chapter has created so many revolutionary leaders that I know will go down in history. Not only that, the California Chapter is itself a revolutionary mama; it has birthed MANY amazing revolutionary chapters in the BHO, including Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Washington, so many chapters. I’ve enjoyed the journey, and I can’t wait to see how much further we’re going to go cause I know we’re going to go far. We have some big footsteps to fill, being that the Black Panther Party started in California and ended in California. We don’t want that same revolutionary journey; we want to take this worldwide, take our journey all the way to revolution. That’s exactly what we plan to do here in California so JOIN US! JOIN THE CALIFORNIA CHAPTER!
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