by Wally Linder, retired railway worker and organizer, June 22, 2020
The financial foundation of U.S. capitalism is racism. It is the source of some $500 BILLIONS (half trillion dollars) in super-profits. That is the difference between the household income of white and Black families and the basis for the oppression of Black workers in all spheres of life.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2019 figures), there were 17 million Black households in the U.S. The median income of those families was $41,361. The median household income of white families was $70,642. If the bosses paid the Black families the same as white families, an additional $29,281 each, they would have to fork over an additional $497 BILLION, 17 million families multiplied by $29,281 each. This would reduce the bosses’ profits by HALF TRILLION dollars.
This super-exploitation of Black workers is the combined legacy of 401 years of slavery, Jim Crow/KKK/police violence and the ruling class’ laws. The underspending for social services, the exclusion of Black vets from the post-World War II GI Bill’s policies (cheap home mortgage loans), and racist discrimination in schools, housing, healthcare also enrich the rulers.
With all the hypocritical avowals by liberals, conservatives, Democrats or Republicans to “do something about systemic racism,” about “reforming” the cops who’ve been ordered to enforce that racism for centuries; with all the media editorials and politicians’ op-ed pieces decrying this beastly oppression; with the hundreds of corporations “pledging to oppose racism” and to give workers paid time off to vote (for the bosses’ candidates); with State Supreme Court justices “vowing” to change racist decisions — there is not one solitary word mentioned about those half-trillion super-profits reaped from racism. Nor are there any crocodile tears shed about how that racism against Black workers is used to lower the wages of white workers, still another untold source of extra profit for the capitalist exploiters. Racism that divides these workers thwarts the unity that would fight the bosses’ attacks on the entire working class.
History is full of instances where Black and white workers have united to challenge the ruling-class’s attacks. We can draw on those examples and use them to fight racism at its source: capitalism. The rulers will never surrender their profit system peacefully. It cannot be reformed. It must be overthrown.
The working class and youth taking to the streets by the tens of thousands to oppose racist police brutality must be won to see that only wiping out the bosses and their profits — can destroy this racist system.
5 thoughts on “Racism Makes HALF TRILLION Dollar$ in Super-Profits for Capitalists: an Un(der)told Story”
This analysis of the black/white pay differential is a vital part of the racist exploitation and oppression of black workers and its flipside, the extra profits that are stolen by the capitalist class. It’s important to realize that there are three components to this difference between the median family incomes. First, is job category and seniority. Second, is the number of people in the family who work. Third, is the different pay for equal work.
While there is not that much difference between white and black families in the second category, racism is a major influence in the first and the third. Not only do black workers often receive lower pay for equal work, but they are discriminated against in which jobs they can obtain – both directly by employers and indirectly by different levels of attained education, as well as the quality of that education.
Perhaps the most important point, given that nothing will ever change until black and white workers are able to fight alongside one another against racist conditions and pay scales, is to emphasize the point Wally makes in the third to last paragraph. That is, that the average wage of white workers is far less than it would be in the absence of the racist divisions that hinder both black and white workers from presenting a united multiracial front against the bosses.
In fact, since all profit comes from the value produced by workers that the bosses steal for themselves, which is close to $2 trillion, and about half a trillion, as Wally says, is the difference between black and white wages, the other trillion and a half comes from the lowering of all workers’ wages below what workers produce, deserve, and would have at their disposal in a system that has abolished capitalism.
Very good additions.
YOU WROTE ” racism against black workers is used to lower the wages of white workers”. We need MANY concrete examples of how THIS statement you wrote IS TRUE. Thanks
Good point. Will work on it.