Racist Police Terror: Poisonous Tip of the Class War
By Nayvin Gordon, MD, 6-24-2020
While police violence and other forms of oppression affect Black workers disproportionately, White workers also suffer from racism, including incarceration and police murders (i.e. greater proportions of black working-class people are killed by cops or incarcerated, while greater numbers of white working-class people are killed by cops and incarcerated).
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.
We cannot feel anything but horror upon seeing the latest video of police executing a black man. We cannot help but feel gratification at watching the guilty precinct burn. But we also must reflect that many decades of tearing down symbols of racist oppression have not caused racism to end or even abate. What else must be done?
Near 60,000 more dead by August, the latest model says. But that’s okay, the President says, the governors say. We know who will have to pay.
From the beginning of the North American project, there has been a method –divide those who labor by layers of misery, levels of payment, locales of living. And make those separations obvious, by color, by gender, by language. And teach them to hate and fear one another. As capitalism grew in sophistication, the methods of separation did also, from enslavement to eugenics to nationalism and identity politics. Some think it is being mitigated by time and education, by compassion and movements. But let this pandemic show that little has changed.
Over a week ago, the first of 22 cargo planes laden with medical supplies from China landed in New York. Nevertheless, Chinese workers continue to be derided by our President. Prior to that, a photographer captured an image of President Trump’s notes during a coronavirus taskforce press briefing; the word “Corona” was crossed out and replaced with “Chinese” in ‘coronavirus’. Trump’s latest attempt at scapegoating through racist rhetoric is not only shameful, but dangerous as well. The deep reservoir of bigotry and xenophobia in our country that Trump has been deliberately stoking since the launch of his presidential campaign has spilled over. Again.
A NYC physician described the Covid-19 pandemic as “infection meets inequality.” As the pandemic spreads here in the US, evidence shows that it reflects the same racist health and social inequities that capitalism created in the 15th Century.
This post offers examples of racism during times of plagues and other epidemics, and reports early April 2020 data on Covid-19 morbidity and mortality rates among different racial and ethnic categories. These revelations of disproportionate deaths and illness have elicited vows to change the underlying causes of such inequity. This blog argues that the root cause is capitalism and that no reform, including elections, will eradicate racism, change the ways capitalism operates, or weaken the powerful owners of corporations and financial institutions. Capitalism cannot exist without racism, and we cannot live with capitalism.
The current pandemic has made the racial inequality in the US glaringly apparent if there was anyone who was not already aware of it. Countless articles have been written which document the much higher rate of infection and mortality for black and Latin workers in the US. Most reports, however, have responded to these glaring statistics with the hope or a vow to find a remedy, to cure the inequality which we have known has existed for hundreds of years. What few have acknowledged is that the capitalist US economy depends on racism for its functioning. Thus what we can actually expect, bar a mass movement to the contrary, is a return to hiding racial inequality and blaming the victims.
This contrasts the ways capitalist countries (primarily the US) mismanage epidemics and the changes communism would make. Part 1 discussed the prevention of epidemics.
Part 2 – Pandemic Management Under Capitalism = Social Murder
As described in Part 1, capitalists operate to make profit off the backs of workers. Whether they pay low or high wages, they ultimately exploit their employees by paying them less than the value they produce. Corporate boards cut benefits, increase productivity, establish factories in low wage, non-union countries, and avoid taxes to increase their wealth. This leaves low wage and unemployed workers destitute and vulnerable to disease.
Furthermore, in the interests of short term gains, they don’t plan for future needs or stockpile emergency equipment. While no country would ever have sufficient beds lying around in case of a pandemic, capitalists don’t invest sufficiently in prevention, health care, or medical research that would decrease the death rate of contagious diseases. Over the last decade, the US Congress has stripped funds from the CDC that cut over 700 employees and from public health budgets, leaving state and local health departments unable to conduct contact tracing, deploy enough outreach workers to educate the public, or pay for protective body wear.
In the richest country, we have regular people sewing gowns and printing 3D masks for healthcare workers. We have nurses, Instacart shoppers, and Amazon warehouse workers striking for protective gear and hazard pay. In Taiwan, factories produced millions of masks per day; the US has already depleted its stockpile and recommends that people make their own. The US had actually contracted with a company that could make inexpensive ventilators, but when the medical device industry objected, the government cancelled the contract. Currently, major hospitals will run out of ventilators this month (April 2020). This neglect amounts to social murder.
Here are some of the ways US capitalism sets up people for the kill.
Part 1 contrasts epidemic prevention under capitalism and communism
Part 2 will contrast management and control of epidemics (coming soon)
By Karyn Pomerantz, March 28, 2020
Like Hurricane Katrina, the coronavirus pandemic has stripped bare all the extreme inequities of capitalism. With millions at risk, it is the working class around the world, especially its poorest, black, and brown members, who suffer the most. As higher income people stay at home, low wage workers hold down jobs that endanger their health. Added to this are lifetimes without quality health care, education, food, and housing, and often the stress of racism and marginalization.
On March 27th, Black Agenda Report nailed it when it wrote:
“The United States is a global vector of suffering and death, through the policies of its corporate party tag-team. When deadly diseases are set in motion, the crime becomes mass murder-suicide.”
The two million prisoners in jail for crimes and the 38,000 undocumented immigrants detained in the US today are in grave danger of dying in large numbers from the Covid19 pandemic. Needless to say, the fact that the majority of those detained are black or Latin is a major factor in their lives being devalued by the rulers of capitalist America.