Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Speaking Out For Antiracist Marxism

by Karyn Pomerantz, 9-12-2021

This article reviews the revolutionary politics of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a Marxist, anti-racist scholar, author, and activist. It presents her positions on class, racism, and capitalism, and the critical need for working class unity.

Over the last ten years, tens of thousands of people have rebelled against racist police murders, immigrant deportations, climate disasters, Covid-19 catastrophes, and incarceration rates that disproportionately endanger black and brown workers. People are asking about the causes of oppression and strategies and solutions to end them. Explanations range from the exploitative practices of capitalism, bad legislation to misbehaviors of poor people. Strategies include voting, building organizations to fight specific injustices, decentralized and uncoordinated organizing, unionizing, cooperatives, community control of the police, and communist parties. People call for abolition to defund and eliminate the police and prisons and end all forms of injustice. Many believe in white privilege and blame all whites for racism.

In a time of these identity politics, leaderless protests, and decentralized organizing, Taylor’s call for organized, multiracial, revolutionary struggle provides a more realistic course of action that can achieve working class power. Her works are worth understanding and applying.

The editors strongly recommend reading her publications and listening to her presentations on YouTube. She has written 3 major books, Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, and How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective.

This blog has promoted multiracial organizing that fights the system of capitalism. Take some time to read the posts on “white privilege,” exploitation, and “It’s Time to Name Names: Capitalism and Imperialism” at  https://multiracialunity.org/category/capitalism-and-imperialism/page/3/ . (If you’d like to get together and discuss these topics, come to our biweekly discussion group and email us for the details).

Continue reading “Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Speaking Out For Antiracist Marxism”

CLASS is the FOUNDATION of Inequality in Capitalism –

Inequality is Reinforced and Masked by RACISM and SEXISM

by Bill Sacks, 8-13-2021

A frontpage article in the Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/07/22/noose-construction-industry-racism/) tells of recent incidents at many US worksites in which nooses have been left in plain sight by unidentified persons (read cowardly racists). The intent of fomenting fear is derived from the ugly history of US lynchings, particularly in the South after the Civil War during Reconstruction and well into the 20th century.

            The article calls lynching an “implement of terror and murder used primarily against Black people.” This description is important both for what it says and what it only implies – though the implication emerges only if one is prepared to read between the lines and thinks about the word “primarily.” The fact is that out of more than 4,000 lynchings, roughly a quarter of the victims were white working-class persons. In many (or most) cases their “crime” was associating with fellow workers who happened to be black. Thus, whether the persons lynched were black or white or any other ethnicity, the motivation was always inspired by the ideology of racism, and the purpose was always to maintain and employ the practice of racism as a means of keeping black and white working-class persons apart and convinced that each was the enemy of the other.

This article argues that ruling class exploitation is the foundation of capitalism, affecting black and white workers, although to lesser degrees, and gives examples from literary sources.

Continue reading “CLASS is the FOUNDATION of Inequality in Capitalism –”

Critical Race Theory Threatens Ruling Class Power

by Karyn Pomerantz, July 1, 2021

As I write this, Critical Race Theory debates dominate the media, school board meetings, state legislatures, and university campuses. The Oklahoma City Community College canceled a course that discussed white privilege. Politicians in eight states have outlawed its teaching, and nine more are considering legislation to do so (https://www.heritage.org/data-visualizations/education/critical-race-theory-legislation-tracker/). Antagonisms at several school boards led to the cancellation of face-to-face meetings to avoid physical fights. Florida already passed legislation to ban its teaching and requires civics courses to include “portraits in patriotism” … to tell stories and “first-person accounts” of victims of ostensibly communist governments which are then compared with the more supposedly democratic US.” Florida’s Duvall County School Board fired a teacher for hanging a Black Lives Matter flag in her classroom. Texas passed a bill that prohibits teachers from discussing any theories of racism. For example, one section of the bill prohibits lessons that make:

“… any individual (should) feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex”

Another section prohibits teaching that:

“meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a members of a particular race to oppress members of another race (https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/pdf/HB03979I.pdf).

Proposed bills in other states call for putting cameras on teachers to reveal whether they teach the “wrong” ideas and outlaw any student demonstrations for social justice issues. University faculty in Florida will be required to register their political positions, and students and faculty will have to take surveys about their beliefs, and students must pass a “civic literacy” exam to graduate. If these beliefs deviate from the conservative, racist ideas of the state, the state legislature can remove their research projects and funding, seriously imperiling their jobs and increasing self-censorship.

Emboldened by Trump, opponents claim discussing racism offends and blames white people, that it rejects color blindness. They cite weepy accounts by white children allegedly exposed to these ideas. They never acknowledge the trauma people of color experience from physical, economic, and verbal abuse caused by racism.

Opposition to CRT at Loudoun County, VA School Board Meeting

What is this theory? Why has it generated so much opposition and disinformation? Why is racism so vital to capitali

Continue reading “Critical Race Theory Threatens Ruling Class Power”

Local Struggles Target Racism with Unity and Determination

Linda Green and Karyn Pomerantz, 6-25-2021

In Prince George’s County, Maryland, antiracist activists are bringing national issues into local neighborhoods by fighting vaccine inequities, police violence, imprisonment, and housing injustice. This blog advocates for multiracial unity and anti-capitalist politics. It supports organized, coordinated movements independent of electoral politics that include direct action and political education: walk the talk! While many activists participate in demonstrations and national and international campaigns, it is essential to recruit neighbors to sustain a mass movement against racism in their communities and on the job.

Mt. Rainier, MD Protest of Police Murder

This article describes several campaigns in this County and beyond, our challenges, and opportunities, and recommendations for other places.

Continue reading “Local Struggles Target Racism with Unity and Determination”

No Asylum for Haitians: Biden Deports Over 1000 Haitian Workers Fleeing Political Turmoil and Death

  

Karyn Pomerantz, May 17, 2021

UPDATE, May 21, 2021. Under pressure from immigration justice activists, Biden granted Temporary Protective Status, TPS, to Haitian asylum seekers who are in the United States by May 21, affecting 100,000 Haitians. Citing the political instability and violent uprisings in Haiti, the Administration reversed Trump’s denial of TPS. Could it be that it fears growing rebellion that could threaten the US’ exploitation of Haitian workers?

Demonstration, Feb. 21, 2021, against President Moise’s Illegal Rule

Since enslaved Haitian people abolished slavery in 1804, the imperialist nations, primarily the US, have attacked its economy and installed its presidents. They used Haiti as a cash cow, extorting reparations and interest payments on loans. From the beginning of Haiti’s liberation, France demanded reparations of $21 billion dollars in 2004 currency. The US CitiBank assumed the debt in 1911 in order to receive interest payments that Haiti repaid by 1947.

US troops occupied Haiti from 1915-1934 and supported the vicious governments of the Duvaliers under Papa Doc and Baby Doc. Reagan refused admission of Haitians to the US under the false assumption that they were likely to have HIV. US administrations overthrew the Aristide presidency. Clinton forced rice producing Haiti to import US rice, wiping out its rice farmers who then migrated to overcrowded cities where jobs were scarce. He established enterprise zones where foreign or international textile corporations employed Haitian workers, mostly women, who they grossly exploited with non-living wages and sexual intimidation under the guise of providing jobs. (See the article on migration here, Migration: A Reflection of Capitalism – The Multiracial Unity Blog).

The 2010 earthquake destroyed even more infrastructure that was weak to begin with. Over 300,000 people died, and survivors were forced into miserable refugee camps where little medical care or sanitation existed. Yet, tens of millions of dollars filled the coffers of NGOs who rushed their contractors to help Haiti rebuild. Known as the land of the NGOs, Haitian workers rarely if ever benefit from their programs. Organizations as revered as CARE were found to hoard the food sent to Haiti. The United Nations reported that NGOs and governments distributed only 43% of the promised $4.6 billion in aid for rebuilding. The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a liberal economic think tank founded by Dean Baker, reports the discrepancies in the promises of foreign aid and its reality (Haiti by the Numbers, Haiti by the Numbers, Ten Years Later – Center for Economic and Policy Research (cepr.net):

Continue reading “No Asylum for Haitians: Biden Deports Over 1000 Haitian Workers Fleeing Political Turmoil and Death”

Amazon Workers Organize – Black Workers Lead the Way

Karyn Pomerantz, 4-8-2021; Updated on 4-21-2021

Update on 4-21-2021, Behind Union Defeat at Amazon Bessemer – CounterPunch.org. See also comment.

As this is being published, Amazon announced that it won the vote on unionizing the plant in Bessemer, Alabama. Workers at the warehouse launched a union campaign last year to improve working conditions and pay. As of April 9, 7:00PM EDT, the initial count is 1,798 opposed to 738 in favor (out of approximately 6,000 voters). Amazon and the union intend to challenge the validity of some votes.

The workers’ efforts could still spark an international movement at other Amazon centers and in other industries that deliver unlivable wages, poor benefits, and unsafe working conditions. Workers at Walmart, Target, and fast-food restaurants may also be inspired to form unions, threatening the owners with a rebellious workforce and a loss in profit. A disproportionate number of workers in these industries is black, immigrant, female, and Latin. Their role as essential workers and their poverty create disproportionate exposures to Covid 19. Over 20,000 out of 1.3 million (2%) Amazon employees have contracted Covid 19 as of October 2020.

Placing the fight for economic security at the jobsite sharpens antiracist and class struggle beyond the legislative approach in the Fight for 15 campaign. Unions may not win every campaign or contract demand, but they provide a structure for workers to engage in many struggles, such as housing reforms, anti-war movements, and other activist mobilizations. It is important for all of us to support the Amazon workers in all ways possible.

This post will present the issues behind the Amazon organizing, its significance to the working class, the ways we can help, the current and historical role of black workers in the labor movement, and how an egalitarian society could deal with consumerism.

Continue reading “Amazon Workers Organize – Black Workers Lead the Way”

International Women’s History Month: Women Holding Up Half the Sky

By Karyn Pomerantz, 3-21 -2021 

Women marching in 1917 in Russia

Background – The Roots of International Women’s Day 

March is Women’s History Month that is celebrated with marches and cultural programs around the world. International Women’s Day, observed in the US on March 8, was sparked in 1909 when 20,000 women waistmakers in the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in New York City shut down the sweatshops to oppose disastrous working conditions, sexual harassment, and low wages. They inspired the German socialist, Clara Zetkin, to establish International Women’s Day with a march dedicated to universal suffrage, free childcare, and other reforms to improve women’s lives (The Socialist Origins of International Women’s Day (jacobinmag.com). Socialist parties in other countries adopted it with marches and demonstrations to create an international movement for justice for women.  

In 1917 in Petrograd, Russian working-class women held a militant march (pictured above) that launched strikes and revolutionary actions that established socialism in Russia. Lenin celebrated the role of working women in the Russian revolution as the Bolshevik Party endorsed International Women’s Day: 

“For under capitalism the female half of the human race is doubly oppressed. The working woman and the peasant woman are oppressed by capital, but over and above that—they remain in ‘household bondage,’ they continue to be ‘household slaves,’ for they are overburdened with the drudgery of the most squalid, backbreaking and stultifying toil in the kitchen and the family household.” 

Today, we see rote, performative recognition of Women’s International History Month by politicians, the media, and companies who advertise sales to commemorate it while maintaining conditions that oppress women workers. 

This article describes the role of capitalism in women’s oppression, the effects of Covid 19 on women, examples of women workers organizing against sexism and capitalism, and a class-based strategy to abolish sexism. 

Continue reading “International Women’s History Month: Women Holding Up Half the Sky”

Protect Our Students – Promoting School Safety: RACIST COPS OUT OF THE SCHOOLS!

by Linda Green and Karyn Pomerantz

Capitalism uses police as agents of social control in our neighborhoods, jobs, and schools, using their power to put kids on a school-to-jail pipeline. In 2013-2014, school police in 8000 schools arrested 70,000 students with black children overly represented (Ed Week). Detentions and arrests of students can affect college admissions and future incarceration. Criminal justice reformers have been fighting for years to interrupt this pathway by freeing schools of police and punitive policies like the use of metal detectors. Such measures do not prevent violence or its causes, and create an antagonistic climate. Parents, politicians, and teachers take different positions, some claiming School Resource Officers, SROs, are necessary to ensure safety and others protesting the increased risk of arrest and brutality mostly directed to black and Latin students as well as those with disabilities.  

Alternate methods to deal with behavioral problems in the schools exist. Researchers have shown that students who face racial discrimination are more likely to feel alienated in schools, disengaging from them by dropping out or not trying academically. Supportive teachers who acknowledge and show interest in students’ cultural backgrounds help mitigate this alienation (Bottiani, Gottfredson). Abolitionists point out that SROs do nothing to prevent mass school shootings, and a simulation study verified this finding (Child Trends). 

Continue reading “Protect Our Students – Promoting School Safety: RACIST COPS OUT OF THE SCHOOLS!”

Book Review: The Sum of Us- What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee.

By Karyn Pomerantz, 3-4-2021

In The Sum of Us (2021), Heather McGhee refutes the pervasive idea that racism, specifically white supremacy, benefits white workers. She contradicts the paradigm of a “zero-sum game” in which gains for black workers diminish the economic and social status of white workers. Instead, she advocates for “social solidarity” that would create a “solidarity dividend” that enriches the lives of all workers.

McGhee is another liberal capitalist author who has stong antiracist arguments but a weak analysis of the role of capitalism that requires racism to create profit and enforce divisions among workers. Liberal reformers, such as Sanders, the Ford Foundation, and unions, try to preserve capitalism by making it more equitable. McGhee was president of Demos, a liberal think tank for economic reforms. Her book reflects the insights she gained there.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Sum of Us- What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee.”

Fighting for Our Lives: Tenant Defense in a Pandemic

Organizers mobilize for outreach to tenants in Mt. Rainier, MD

by Karyn Pomerantz and Linda Green, 3-1-2021

Over 30 million people face evictions from their homes during the deadly Covid 19 outbreak.  Losing housing is nothing new. As neighborhoods gentrify, public housing deteriorates, and people lose jobs, more people have no or unstable homes. The US lost four million affordable housing units and seven million apartments for low-income residents over the last decade.  Before the pandemic, 25% of renters spent 50% or more of their income on rent, and 25% of people under the poverty line spent 70%  (Aspen Institute)! This serves the financial interests of the developers and banks who build and finance luxury, high priced apartments and houses, adding to the oppression of the entire working class. Since black, Latin, and indigenous people earn less and face higher rates of unemployment, this situation exacerbates the racism fundamental to capitalism. Larger proportions of families of color, including Asian families, expect to apply for assistance. Families with children have higher eviction rates, causing long-term trauma and other health problems.

The pandemic has worsened housing security. What kind of society kicks people out of their homes during a public health crisis!? Obviously, the drive to profit off of workers’ lives has no limits. The moratoriums on evictions only postpone pay-up day. Despite the federal moratorium and financial assistance to landlords, property owners apply laws that allow them to evict, such as requesting evictions for people who stay in their homes past their leases. As of March 1, 2020, a judge has ruled that the moratorium is illegal, throwing millions of people into limbo.

Continue reading “Fighting for Our Lives: Tenant Defense in a Pandemic”