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New Book – Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings

July 23, 2010

By James Yaki Sayles

“This exercise is about more than our desire to read and understand Wretched (as if it were about some abstract world, and not our own); it’s about more than our need to understand (the failures of) the anti-colonial struggles on the African continent. This exercise is also about us, and about some of the things that We need to understand and to change in ourselves and our world.”  James Yaki Sayles

Like the revs that he most considered his teachers—Malcolm X and George Jackson—James Yaki Sayles grew up poor and found his maturity in prison, the place that Malcolm called “the Black man’s university.” And it was in the prison movement that he found his place in the battlefield. Although he made revolutionary theory his work, his life was rooted in a time of urban guerrillas and the armed struggle.

Yaki soon became a leading activist in the small prison collectives in his state. There were groups in Stateville, Pontiac, and Menard prisons, as well as individual members in other prisons outside Illinois and rads on the street. Yaki also became an influence in less public organizations.

One thing he never became was well-known. There were definite reasons for this. In part, because Yaki was a very private person who rarely talked about his inner life or childhood, and who never wanted to write about his own past to a curious public. When Yaki started out in prison, he had amassed a real library of political and history books, together with magazines and files of documents and correspondence. By the start of the 21st century, he was limited to one thin cardboard case, only a few inches high, which had to hold any books, magazines, newspapers, notebooks, files, letters, blank paper, pencil and pens he had in his cell. And he had to work mandatory eight-hour shifts every day at the usual makework prison jobs (such as counting out and counting in the checkers pieces in the day room), which cut down on his intellectual hours. All this led him to decide to center himself on one major project which only required two books, a reappraisal and explanation of Frantz Fanon’s great revolutionary writing, Wretched of the Earth…

Here, Yaki is on a mission. To make up for the misunderstanding of Fanon’s politics that he and so many of his young rebel comrades once had. To help guide the study by newer rebels of this complex and difficult reading.

To order, or for more information, visit www.kersplebedeb.com.


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