January 13th, 2018

In 1969 a group of White, working-class Americans born in the South but living in Chicago came together to create The Young Patriots Organization. An 11-point document came out of that organization—printed using an odd-faux computer font—that was meant to parallel the 10-point manifesto of The Black Panther Party. I abstract the document below, but the entire is worth reading.

1. CLASS: We see that the key to truly understanding and improving our situation is to truly understand the nature of class society.

2. WELFARE OF THE PEOPLE: We believe that all people are entitled to adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care.

3. PIGS AND PIG POWER STRUCTURE: We demand the end to pigs murdering and brutalizing our people.

4. SCHOOLS-EDUCATION: We understand that the main purpose of the educational system as it now stands is to make people fit smoothly into the capitalistic class society.

5. DRAFT: We oppose the draft because it means poor and working class men fight rich mens wars.

6. UNIONS: The idea of unions was a good thing.

7. EXPLOITATION OF THE COMMUNITY: We understand that the businessman in the community make their living off of us.

8. RACISM: Racism is a tool of capitalism to make people fight among themselves, instead of fighting together for their freedom.

9. RELEASE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS: We demand the release of all political prisoners.

10. CULTURAL NATIONALISM: We believe that to fight only for the interests of your close cultural brothers and sisters is not in the interest of all the people, and in fact perpetuates racism.

11. REVOLUTIONARY SOLIDARITY: Revolutionary solidarity with all oppressed peoples of this and all other countries and races defeats the divisions created by the narrow interests of cultural nationalism.

All of this is prelude to Michael Harriot’s The Caucasian Panthers: Meet the Rednecks Armed, Ready and ’Bout That Anti-Racist Life for The Root. Harriot writes:

Despite Martin Luther King Jr.’s protests, the March on Washington and activism, King was assassinated only when he reached beyond race and began talking about class and economics with his Poor People’s Campaign. Malcolm X was gunned down after he talked about including whites in the freedom movement.

Six months before his death, the charismatic Hampton and his Black Panther Party joined a group of people to organize the Conference for the United Front Against Fascism. Calling the conglomerate the “Rainbow Coalition,” the group included the Puerto Rican Young Lords and a group of Southern transplants who fashioned themselves after the Black Panthers. They had an 11-point plan similar to the Panthers’. They favored armed resistance. There was one major difference about the members of this group, which called itself the Young Patriots Organization:

They were white.

Harriot drills down through the lens of Zac Henson, a UC Berkeley-educated economist and scholar with a Ph.D. in environmental science, policy and management and head of the Cooperative New School for Urban Studies and Environmental Justice, and a self-described redneck. Harriot continues:

Henson doesn’t consider the term “redneck” a pejorative, and defines a redneck simply as “a white working-class Southerner.” He has been working for years to separate redneck culture from its neo-Confederate, racist past and redefine it according to its working-class roots.

“The only culture that white people and upper-middle-class white people have is whiteness,” Henson explains. “To fit in that class, you must strip yourself of everything else. What I would like to do is show white working-class whites that the neo-Confederate bullshit is a broken ideology. … A lot of the activism in anti-racism is all about white people giving up their privilege in regards to white supremacy. I believe that will never work with working-class whites. You have to find a way to show working folks that anti-racism is within the self-interests of working-class white people. And you have to do that with a culture.”

Henson is one of the people trying to renew the legacy of the Young Patriots and build the anti-racism redneck movement.

A key element in that fight, and one Harriot zeroes in on is Redneck Revolt—not to be confused with Antifa—which:

strongly believes in community defense, the basis of which must be meaningful involvement in our own communities, material support for other liberatory defense groups and survival programs, and an acceptance of the risk we take on when we commit to defending each other. Defense means more than just confrontation. Our relationships with our neighbors are strengthened by breaking bread together, knowing each other’s families and struggles, and becoming accountable to one another. Most importantly, we are willing to take on personal risk to defend those in our community who live under the risk of reactionary violence because of their skin color, gender identity, sexuality, religion, or birth country. For us, that means that we meet our neighbors face-to-face, and stand alongside them to face threats whenever possible. We understand this means that we may also become targets ourselves and become known to their enemies, but we act always with the understanding that those who oppose liberty for all people are already our enemies. Power is built collectively through intentional relationships and networks with each other. The best security measures enable us to act militantly and from a position of strength, rather than preventing us from taking meaningful action

Harriot continues:

Redneck Revolt actually showed up at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., when, it says, it was asked by locals to provide security at Justice Park. Even though Redneck Revolt members were armed, ready and “refused to blink,” Shaun, from Pittsburgh’s chapter of Redneck Revolt, admits that they were surprised by the large number of fascists in attendance.

“All I can underscore is that we are at a historic moment where we are experiencing a fascist resurgence that feels like something out of the last century,” he said. “I can tell you—it might sound hyperbolic—but I saw thousands of Nazis that Saturday. And every one of them had the same expression on their face: They looked like a 10-year-old boy who enjoys terrorizing things weaker than it. They were looking at everything that doesn’t look like them like food.”

Redneck Revolt considers itself to be the opposite of right-wing groups like the Oath Keepers and the III% (aka the Three Percenters). Redneck Revolt members not only use their organizing power to recruit and protect communities, but they also meet with other militia groups to spread their message of anti-racism.

Sounds like an organization I could get behind.

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