Get Out Revolution Newspaper - NY, NJ, Conn

Monday, August 21, 2006

Getting out Revolution in Brooklyn

E Flatbush, 8/12

Three of us went to E. Flatbush for about 4 hours. Though we were dogged by intermittent rain, we still did quite well. We got out 100 English and 6 Spanish papers and raised about $75, and we sold 8 t-shirts for $80. (We only learned of the price hike to $15 after we had sold all of these.) [A $25 dollar donation should be requested for t-shirts, a donation to continue to building networks of supporters for Revolution newspaper – would the contributor consider becoming a regularly sustainer for the paper – but in particular with the current issues we are focusing on and collecting donations so that paper supporters can get down to New Orleans during the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina .] We could actually have sold at least one or two more if we’d had a better size selection – several people requested double Xtra large, but we only had one.

One of the shirts was bought by a businessman who I believe was Black American. I started talking to him about the Katrina coverage in the paper, and as he was holding the paper up looking at that, his friend was checking out the “Wanted” back page and called his attention to it. They both bought the paper, even though she had initially said “I’ll look at his.” And when I told him we had it as a shirt he wanted one right away. (I should say that while he said he definitely agreed with what I was saying about Katrina being mass murder, he and other people were more getting the shirt as an overall _expression of anger at the Bush regime, and economic conditions and the wars and future wars in the Middle East came up frequently.)

But there was immediately a discussion in the business about whether it was safe to wear a shirt like that – this came up repeatedly through the day, often in the form that “white people can wear that, but if Black people do we’ll be labeled as terrorists and arrested.” I think at least a half-dozen people raised this in some form or another. My response was that on the one hand, there is nothing illegal about the shirt, but on the other, yes, something this defiant could draw unfriendly attention from the authorities, and we really don’t have any rights that they are bound to respect. But that people, and certainly Black people, are catching hell in any case, and it is important to start raising this pole of resistance.

(Initially I thought people were just raising the general “radicalness” of the shirt. But later a Jamaican woman specified that the shirt “focused on the president”. In retrospect, I should have pointed to the “can only be stopped through the mass action of millions” text to clarify that. I also think this reflects that there is a high level of fear among immigrants in this neighborhood, partly because of their status, and maybe also because there is more open and overt repression of things like this in their homelands.)

The response of the business guy (and also another person who bought one) was that right now you can’t just wear this in any situation, you have to choose it, but that as more people do buy them, it will open up more space in different situations. And he had concrete proposals for where we should take them (the barber shops, though it didn’t go very well there, to the extent we did it) and also wanted to wholesale them himself. (He both wanted to get them out but also wanted to make some money off it.)

As we were talking and he was holding up the shirt, another guy passing by on the street glanced at it and then was staring. The businessman waved him in and the guy said “that’s a great shirt, whose idea was it.” The businessman pointed to me and I asked if he wanted to get one. He did, but I didn’t have his size, but I said I could get it. He said he had to go, but he would come back to the business and get the shirt and leave the money, which is what we ended up doing.

I also found that when I very briefly held the shirt up to traffic people were staring, and one guy called me over to buy one, but again, we didn’t have his size.

At a beauty parlor, a young beautician (looked maybe 19 to me) said she didn’t want the shirt, but offered a donation of $5 (without being asked.) I gave her and a friend the current and last issue of the paper. She expressed great upset at Bush – this was split between things like Katrina and the wars in the Middle East, and the harsh conditions of the masses here. She said “what can we young people do about this?” She felt like the situation was volatile because people’s lives were so difficult; she didn't express the kind of hopelessness many older people do.

We talked about the campaign to drive out the Bush Regime and how something like this could and needed to take hold among millions, in the way that the immigrant movement did last spring. She thought this was possible too, and I pointed her to the Oct. 5 articles and WCW website. At the same time I talked about the need for revolution, and for many people to come forward amongst the masses and get grounded in the most scientific understanding of why things are the way they are and of the revolutionary way out, and that the new talks by BA could enable her and others to make a leap in their understanding and the role they played. She promised to check both out, gave me her card and asked me to come back next week.

So the experience with the shirts was very good, but so was the experience with the paper. At one Arab-owned business a youth bought the paper, and a few minutes later came up to me (while I was talking to someone else) and asked me for papers to get out. I have him 10 and he gave me a dollar – he actually seemed a little disappointed that I didn’t give him more. Later he told the other two people about another store we should go to. They went there and the store owner was very excited, got papers for everyone in the store and made $20 donation. The owner of the first store (who has regularly given the paper to select people, but not put it out or asked for money) decided to put it out and ask people for $.50, with him covering the rest.

At another store where I regularly talk to a nearby vendor, the owner – who was Greek – started asking me if we are against the government. I said yes, but it goes deeper than that, we are against the whole system that is based on plunder around the world and exploitation here. He asked what we were for and when I said communist revolution, proletarian revolution, he said “like Mao in China?” I said yes, and then he asked me if Mao made things better in China. I said some things about solving the food problem and the drug problem and life-expectance, and he said “what about street crime”? I said it was virtually non-existent because when the system is by and for the masses people aren’t driven to that. While he did seem to see the sense of that, he also went off on a tirade about how crime was rampant here and the courts let people go on technicalities, and people trash their own neighborhoods, etc.

It was a friendly encounter but he didn’t get the paper cause he said he never reads. But a Mexicano worker there did get it and donated an extra-dollar, and then tried to convince a Black guy he knew to get it (though he didn’t.)

A point on the Talks though – I got to see several of the people for whom we had played part of the first Talk previously, but none of them have listened to it on their own yet. For one of them this is because he has no Internet access and is really unfamiliar with all that technology – or at least that is one obstacle. Another guy said that by the time he gets home at night he is exhausted and doesn’t want to think about anything, but he did get the new paper and promised to listen to the talks. And then the third guy basically said he’s been catching up with his friends and hasn’t been to a library, but as soon as he goes he will download them to his PC. So that’s a little frustrating, and I don’t really know what else to say to people at this point.



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