Prison Radio
Bilal Muhammad

I have been completely stripped of all American rights, my liberties, due process, and every sense of justice. They have been made nonexistent by the El Paso court system for no legitimate reason other than my race, religion, and socioeconomic standing, i.e. I am poor. So I wrote, “What to the Black Man is the Fourth of July,” which is based on Mr. Frederick Douglass’s original piece written back in 1862, which was titled, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

What have I, or those I represent, to do with the national independence? I am not included within the bounds of the so-called glorious American anniversary according to Dred Scott, nor would I partake in this celebration, as their high independence from the British government only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. We are not yet independent from rule, as the American government has become exactly what the colonies sought independence from. The oppressed have become the oppressors.

Their inheritance, that birthright right, is justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence, bequeathed by and built upon the backs of African slaves, capitalism, and genocide of the Indigenous people by their forefathers. It is shared amongst the rich and fortified by institutional racism solely for their benefits, not by us, nor for us. This Fourth of July is theirs, not mine and not ours, and that’s the end of that. The spoken word of Frederick Douglass and my rendition of his speech 171 years later are both examples of the authentic voice of Black alienation.

Such protests have been our healing cry against America, all throughout its history, past to the present, and how could it be anything otherwise? How can Black and other oppressed people truly believe we are American as long as our oppression and mass incarceration drive large portions of the nation’s economy, laws, and politics by depriving us of our god given rights? It is nothing more than modern day slavery under the 13th Amendment, or are we just too blind to see the facts? American capitalism, as in all capitalism, is based on exploitation. Else, it can never turn a profit. But there must always be a class to exploit in order for capitalism to exist.

So I asked you to ask yourself then, historically, who has been this exploited class in America? The answer to that is people of color and people no matter their color as long as they’re poor. So this Fourth of July week, I call your attention to the Ten-Point Program of the Black Panther Party, and ask that it be resurrected and enforced throughout the nation. Only then will we have true independence and true freedom.

Power to the people. Muhammad out.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.