by Bob Avakian

March 12, 2020

I see that the House of Representatives has passed a bill making lynching a federal hate crime (although it remains to be seen whether the Senate will go along with this and Trump will sign it into law). When thousands of Black people were lynched during the long years of Jim Crow segregation after the Civil War, the government of this “great democracy” repeatedly refused to pass a bill like this (and heroes of the “liberals” and “progressives” like former president Franklin Delano Roosevelt refused to push for such a bill when lynching was at its height in the 1930s).  But now—oh, yes now, when lynching has been replaced by police brutality and murder as the main way Black youth, and all Black people, are subjected to continual terror—now, the House passes a bill against… lynching!  The fact is that, since the 1960s, more Black people have been killed by police than all those who were lynched during the whole time of Jim Crow segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror.  And almost never are the police held accountable for this: almost never are they even indicted and tried; and when they are put on trial, very rarely are they convicted and sentenced in accordance with the severity of the crime—murder—they have actually committed.

As I pointed out in the 2003 “Revolution” talk,1 it is a bitter truth—and a damning testament to the actual nature of the system in this country—that every Black male growing up in the South during Jim Crow had a reasonable fear of being lynched; and today, with hundreds of Black people (and other oppressed people) murdered by police every year, and Black people as a whole subjected to systematic terror through things like “stop and frisk,” it is equally true that all young Black males (and this is increasingly true of females as well) are forced to go through life in this country with the constant fear of being subjected to harassment, brutality and even outright murder by the police.  But don’t waste time waiting for the government to pass a bill making police brutality and murder a hate crime!

All this brutality and terror is built into this system in this country, and this system could not exist without it. As long as this system is in power and in effect, all this will go on… and on… and on.

But we can very well exist without this system.  In fact, we can live in a radically different and much better world once this system has been swept away through the mass revolutionary action of the masses of people who are constantly subjected to, and all those who refuse to accept, the very real horrors continually perpetrated by this system, here and all over the world.

As I have said before:

in fundamental terms, we have two choices: either, live with all this—and condemn future generations to the same, or worse, if they have a future at all—or, make revolution!

One last thing.  For those—whether outright racists or people who have allowed themselves to take up the thinking of racists—who try to dismiss outrage about police murder of Black people by talking about how more Black people are killed by other Black people than by anyone else (including police): As I have emphasized in a number of talks and writings,2 this, too, is caused by this systemit is the system “working on” people, confining masses of Black people in conditions of deprivation, degradation and hopelessness, and continually pumping at them the “dog eat dog” mentality that fuels this cut-throat system of exploitation and oppression, from top to bottom.  All of this leads so many to deadly dead-ends, the madness of prison life, an early death—all for no good reason.  But all this too can be radically transformed through a revolution whose aim is nothing less than abolishing and uprooting this foul system and bringing a much better system into being. 

And for those who say this can never happen, the fact is that we have a developed strategy for how this revolution can actually be made, and a sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for a radically different society whose goal and purpose is to put an end to all the ways in which this system we now live under causes people to suffer so terribly and so unnecessarily.3

1. Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian (2003).  This film—which includes the very relevant and powerful sections “They’re Selling Postcards of the Hanging” and “Emmett Till and Jim Crow: Black People Lived Under a Death Sentence”—is available at [back]

2. This includes the very important article “More on Choices…And Radical Changes,” available at, which consists of comments by Bob Avakian that were part of a discussion with people that went deeply into the questions of why people oppressed under this system often get caught up in things like crime, who and what is fundamentally to blame for this, and what is the way forward out of this situation. [back]

3. This strategy is spelled out in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, a speech by Bob Avakian; and the vision and blueprint for a radically different society is contained in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian.  The text of the Constitution and video and the text of this speech are available at [back]