"Capitalism is like a piece of shit. You can shape it into a ball or you can shape it into a square, but at the end of the day, it’s still a piece of shit" -Richard Aoki
The quote seems a bit unpolished but the idea behind it is profound. We live in a consumerist society; amerika is an oppressive babylon under corporate rule. Although there are many actions we can take within the system to try and improve our situation, when it all comes down to it, it’s the capitalistic ideals we are taught to live by that perpetuate racism, sexism, classism, colonialism and countless other forms of repression. Therefore, it’s not individual actions that create the unequal system, the system itself is flawed and we will never achieve equality by trying to use any capitalist institution to solve the problems of capitalism itself.
Richard Aoki was an iconic figure of the Black Panther Party, Asian American Movement, and the Third World Liberation Front. A symbol of Afro-Asian solidarity, his role as a warrior of the people was instrumental in creating the first Ethnic Studies university programs, as well as helping the Black Panther Party get started.
In his biography, Samurai Among Panthers, Diane C. Fujino describes his dualistic function as a warrior and a scholar, just as the samurais of feudal Japan were expected to be skilled with both the pen and the sword. “While seemingly contradictory, these two sides in fact represented the harmony of fighting and learning, of theory and practice. Aoki prided himself in being a warrior-scholar”
Richard Aoki was an inspirational activist, and truly a people’s warrior. Though other fallen Panthers such as Huey Newton and Fred Hampton get much more publicity, I recommend anyone who is interested in revolutionary struggle, political activism, particularly the intersections of the Asian American and Black Power movements, to become acquainted with Richard Aoki. Samurai Among Panthers is a must-read for anyone interested in the struggle looking for inspiration.