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Interview with Rob los Ricos

Rob los Ricos (Robert Thaxton) is a released political prisoner in the state of Oregon who was sentenced to seven years in prison after a political action in Eugene Oregon. He is an anarchist of color and a contributing author of Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of Earth from AK Press. He is a dedicated and respected voice among radical circles, and has graciously agreed to be interviewed by Portland blogger "celticfire".
Interview with Rob los Ricos

Rob los Ricos (Robert Thaxton) is a released political prisoner in the state of Oregon who was sentenced to seven years in prison after a political action in Eugene Oregon. He is an anarchist of color and a contributing author of Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of Earth from AK Press. He is a dedicated and respected voice among radical circles, and has graciously agreed to be interviewed by celticfire.

Can you tell us what got you interested in radical politics? Who were some of your influences?

I grew up in front of a TV in the early 60's, so there was a lot of news reports about civil rights actions, the war in Vietnam and anti-war protests. What really freaked me out, though, were the assassinations: the Kennedys; MLK, Jr; Malcom X. What inspired me to get involved on a personal level were the actions of Weatherman, and particularly Weatherwomen, who were intruding into public schools, beating up teachers and taking over classrooms. We eventually did the same in my hometown.

Have you had any personal encounters with racism?

What, do you mean - other than just about every minute of every day of my life? I think the most frequent personal encounters would be all the times I've had to listen to folks of European descent tell me how racism isn't much of a problem anymore.

How can white people contribute to fighting racism and white chauvinism?

Well, I've liked the Race Traitor analysis of racism and white supremacy. I can't differentiate between what I read from them and my own thoughts, as they are so similar, and I may have carried some of it a bit further. But a good place to start would be to acknowledge that racial
divisions are artificial, that there is only one race - the human race. And even though it's convenient, it would be a great idea to abandon white supremacist jargon. By that, I mean don't use terms like "White," or "Person of Color," to describe people. We are all distinct people who come from distinct cultures, which developed in distinct regions. Claim your ethnic heritage, but leave the racist terminology behind. This isn't always easy. Take me, for example. I'm part Mexican, part English, part Spanish, part Irish. I've learned to accept all of these parts of myself, which hasn't been easy, as I hated Spaniards for a long time because of what they did to my Mexican ancestors. I didn't reconcile that rift within myself until I started learning about the history of anarchists in Spain. Categories that try to define people by fleshtones really only make sense within the framework of white supremacist ideology.

What advice would you give to people just taking up radical politics?

Stop it. It's too late to legally create any positive changes in this society. Instead of wasting your time accomplishing nothing other than compiling an FBI/police dossier, start learning how to
provide for yourself, and learn basic survival skills. This civilization is coming apart and anyone who wants to try to maintain the consumer lifestyle is doomed. People who want to raise a family and see the species continue need to concentrate their energies on learning how to cope with the coming ecological and political catastrophes this civilization has caused. Mind you, this will not be legal, but it's time to live in radically different ways. Otherwise, our species will likely become extinct before the end of this century.

How do you think we can build a revolutionary movement in America?

I don't believe i movement building. The survival of life as we know it is at stake, and most people are ill-prepared for the challenges ahead. The only advice I can give along these lines is to join together with a few trusted friends and decide how and where you're going to make your stand, apart from consumerism, then get out and start building a future for yourselves. In time, there will be many other bands of people dropping out - there won't be any alternatives, at least not pleasant ones. Besides, there can only be so many guards at the concentration camps.

Can you tell us about Manufacturing Dissent?

Sure - these artists in NYC, Ricanstruction, had become close friends and comrades of a dear friend of mine - Walidah Imarisha, who badgered them into contacting me. We exchanged a few letters and really liked where we were politically. It was a real mutual-admiration sorta thing.
I hadn't done a zine for a long while, and they were enthusiastic about wanting to produce something for distro out on the East Coast, so I began to send them brief rants and ideas I had in mind. Before I realized it, they had compiled these half-developed notions into a zine. I wasn't very happy with the idea, because I had wanted to discuss and develop some - if not all - of these pieces for a while. Once I had a copy and was able to read it, I really liked it a lot. It has this stream-of-consciousness feel to it, like I'm just tossing out ideas as they came to me. Which is exactly how it was done, really. It is definitely my favorite collection of writings I did while incarcerated.

Can you explain briefly what happened at the 1999 "Reclaim the Streets" demonstration?

No - it lasted around five hours, and the repercussions are still with me. About the best summary I can give would be to restate the charges I was convicted of: Assault II (assault with a deadly weapon - a rock), and Riot.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I'm mostly working at getting my life together. It's way more difficult than I had imagined it would be. Once I'm settled into a stable living situation, I'll start working on a compilation of some of my better rants that I've had published over the past ten years. With a lot of effort, Eberhardt Press should print it up for me early next year. This task is complicated due to the fact that I have no computer, and have to borrow or rent computer time.

Is there anything there anything else you would like to say?

Anytime someone asks me that, I have to acknowledge that I would not have survived seven years in prison without the support of so many people out on the streets. Letter-writing occupied much of my time, and kept me from sinking into the foul cesspool of life in prison. Without all the support from beyond the walls, I would have been lost.

Thank you all so much, for caring, for reaching out to me, for persevering through interference from the prisoncrats, and for helping me cope with very difficult circumstances.



SOURCE:
 link to celticfire.blogspot.com

homepage: homepage: http://celticfire.blogspot.com/2006/07/interview-with-rob-los-ricos.html

You have to hear this guy speak! 18.Jul.2006 21:26

Las Mujeres

A group of us saw Rob speak in ptld 2 days after he got out of prison. He was amazing! You have got to hear him speak. He also has a new blog @ roblosricos.blogspot.com.

Hope he does ptld again soon.

wow 18.Jul.2006 23:57

i don't know what to say

> I don't believe i movement building. The survival of life as we know it is at stake, and most people are
> ill-prepared for the challenges ahead. The only advice I can give along these lines is to join together with a few
> trusted friends and decide how and where you're going to make your stand, apart from consumerism, decide how and
> where you're going to make your stand, apart from consumerism, then get out and start building a future
> for yourselves

I'm a little surprised at this kind of escapism, although I guess I shouldn't be since Rob was locked up for so long. There is no other "where" out there to escape to. This is already Oregon. This is where people come to get away from Pittsburgh and Chicago. The productive arable land in America is already owned by owners, or patrolled by park rangers, and most radicals are not in a position to buy a chunk, build a bunker, and wait for Martial Law. You can run off to the Olympics -- or to Forest Park -- and squat under a bush, hoping nobody notices you, but most people who have tried this come back because it totally sucks.

"escapism" or awareness? 19.Jul.2006 00:47

nobody

i think characterizing rob's statements as "escapism" show a lack of connection to reality. i think it's clear that politics of any form are an archaic and completely ineffectual form of resistance. the only option left to people- as opposed to political functionaries- is to begin creating alternative institutions, alternative housing, alternative EVERYTHING so that when what octavia butler presciently described as "the pox" comes, there won't be TOTAL chaos.

yeah, but it's sincere 19.Jul.2006 00:51

ne1

I don't think he's being "escapist" necessarily. He's engaged in lots of different conventional, collective political struggles. But where's the organized left now? In a shambles. He looks at where things are headed, and it looks like total catastrophe. He's just trying to come up with some way to salvage something from the total impending chaos that seems to be engulfing us. I wish someone could gainsay him by pointing to any really promising political movement at the moment that seems to have a chance of critically intervening in the rapidly deteriorating course of things. But right now, I don't see it.

You had to be there 29.Jul.2006 04:38

Sixpack wabc@mutualaid.org

I understand where Rob is coming from. When you are confined inside a concrete and steel box, where you are forced to submit to the whims of your captors, and their desires can make or break your whole life, you tend to see things that the free world can never imagine.

When you have lived deep in the clutches of repression and humiliation, made to feel like you are no longer a human being and are not allowed to think for yourself, even your next breath is at the discretion of a stranger who makes it clear that he begrudges you that privilege---you tend to see life from a whole new perspective.

Walking out of the gates of hell is not sufficient to calm you. You will never be the same---you will never see things the same. If time really does heal all wounds, then those of us who have survived our residence in hell will need a lot more of it to reclaim who we are. Who we were doesn't exist anymore, but who we want to be is still within our reach. They can't take THAT from us--or they would.

You had to be there.