A Message from Mondo

Poet and author Mondo E. we Langa has been designated a “Political Prisoner” by Amnesty International for his wrongful conviction in the 1970 death of an Omaha Police officer while he and his colleague, Ed Poindexter, were the target of the FBI’s infamous “COINTELPRO” program. Mondo wrote the following “Juneteenth Statement” at the request of Nebraskans for Justice for distribution at this year’s June 21 commemoration in Lincoln.

As an African in the United States, when I think of Juneteenth, it is not the so-called ‘freeing’ of the slaves that I think of, or the announcements concerning the official ending of slavery. Rather, I think of those—such as Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey and others—who risked their lives to obtain freedom, not only for themselves and their families, but for all who were being held in bondage.

Chattel slavery was free labor obtained through physical force. Maybe 50 years ago, the saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, composed a song entitled “Volunteered Slavery.” When a person volunteers to be a slave, he or she is doing something that either does not benefit him or herself or actually works to his or her detriment. And he or she does so without being threatened with physical harm or pain. In this year 2014, while we commemorate the ending of chattel slavery, we have to face the reality that many of us have become volunteer slaves—slaves to clothes with designer names affixed to them, slaves to electronic gadgets, slaves to media hype about celebrities, slaves to the double-talk and rhetoric of politicians, slaves to all manner of mind-numbing nonsense and mayhem. Surely it is a travesty to be rid of one type of slavery, only to replace it with another.

Ed and I have been locked up for more than four decades. In the summer of 1970, while we were still on the streets of Omaha’s African community, the “National Committee to Combat Fascism” Omaha chapter, which we helped lead, was known to sometimes monitor police behavior in North Omaha and to sometimes do so while carrying firearms. But African people in Omaha didn’t fear that our guns were a threat to them. African people in Omaha understood that, if it would come to a time when we would use our guns, it would be for our own defense or for the defense of our community.

Today, too many of our young people—in particular, males—are slaves to guns, slaves to violence, slaves to the idea that their African lives aren’t worth anything, slaves to the idea that their lives aren't worth living. We didn’t put these kinds of enslavement into their heads. But through our own volunteered slavery, we have cooperated in the bondage to which too many of our youth have fallen victim.

Today, we should be reflecting on what to do to counter the messages being delivered to our children and youth by school curricula; television, movies, video games; the music industry; and other institutions that are making slaves of our youth to violence, materialism, etc. Today, we should be reflecting on what to do to free ourselves from the invisible chains that bind our heads and spirit.

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August 29th 2014

PEACE HIPNOTICA - We so agree w/Mr. Mondo. Thank you first of all for alll the brothers and sisters laying it down for the good of our people and our community, in and out of the prison system. We have no time, nor patience for KKK and other racists groups, black, white, and other, henchmen and henchwomen perpetrating violence on our people and/or our community through degrading, mind raping music, media,and/or behavior as well as any and every other tools being used to depress, oppress our people, our community, our economic and power base. THIS APPLIES TO ANY AND ALL INDIVIDUALS, POWER GROUPS, INSTITUTIONS, BUSINESSES, :AS WELL AS CLASS, SOCIAL AND RACIAL ENTITIES. LOVE OURSELVES, SO WE CAN LOVE EACH OTHER!!!! POWER TO DA PEOPLE!!!!!!!