“A History of UFD.”
When I first founded UFD on July 29, 2008, it was initially meant to serve as a positive alternative to gang. I got tired of seeing young prisoners get caught up in gangs. I believe if they were offered a positive alternative, they would choose that alternative. I was right, but soon learned that this wasn’t what DOCS wanted. So, they would discipline me for my organizational efforts for not first seeking authorization. When I finally sought authorization to form a prison chapter UFD, DOCS denied my request on specious grounds.
There are those who believe I should change UFD’s name or abandon my efforts to get DOCS to recognize and approve prison chapters of UFD, but instead create a new program. This is because of UFD’s past affiliation with the New African Independence Movement and the New African Liberation Movement and their ideology. After careful consideration, I decided to reject this approach, because its only purpose is to placate the bias and reactionary officials who control DOC. UFD’s past affiliation with the New African Movements and their ideology, have no bearing on its efficacy at steering young prisoners away from gangs, drugs and violence. Besides, the ideology of the New African Movements is supported by history, and by international law. All human beings have a right to self-determination. That is, the right to decide their political allegiance.
Further, slavery is a crime against humanity, and as such, nothing flowing from it has legitimacy. Therefore, European nations involved in slavery illegally stripped my ancestors of their sovereignty as free and self-governed people in Africa. Hence, when slavery ended in America, with the passage of the 13th amendment, Black people, by human right and international law, we’re once again a free and sovereign people, entitled to land, reparations, and self-government.
But Black people were never informed of this. Instead, without our consent, the United States government made us paper citizens with the passage of the 14th amendment. I say paper citizens because after the honeymoon period, during the Reconstruction area from- the Reconstruction Era from 1868 to 1876, where Black people were afforded political rights and economic opportunities, Black people were subsequently subjected to close to 80 years of legalized racial discrimination and repression in the form of Black codes and Jim Crow. We were stripped of our hard-won political right and economic opportunities. So, were we really citizens, or just citizens on paper? Till this day in 2019, Black people still have to deal with racism almost in every facet of life in this country.
Be that as it may, I began to view the ideology of the New African Movements as impractical, but not because it’s invalid. I simply began to doubt Black people today care enough about our human right to land, reparations, and self-government, to pursue these objectives. For better or worse, we’re Americans now, and should fight for full social, political, and economic equality for ourselves and all people. The ideology of the New African Movements, in fact, supports Black people choosing to remain as American citizens and fighting to make America a better, more equitable country for all.
In light of my evolving political understanding, I formally split UFD from the ideology of the New African Movements in 2016 and begin developing the Conscious Money philosophy to replace it. UFD is now focused on the social economic empowerment of Black and disadvantaged people, regardless of race or color. Be that as it may, I’m not going to apologize about UFD’s past affiliation with the New African Movements. Why should I have to apologize for believing in the ideology that addresses the over 500 years of white supremacist, terroristic, racist discrimination that even to this day still rears its ugly head?
Maybe, the United States should change its name, or form a new Republic, since its legacy is stained in the blood of slaves. UFD’s legacy, however, is filled with trying to help reform and rehabilitate young prisoners. Something DOCS refuses to do.
This is Dontie S. Mitchell, better known as Mfalme Sikivu, reporting to you from Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York. Follow me on Facebook @freeDontieMitchell. Thank you for listening, and God bless.
(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.