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.
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 is a slightly revised version of an article with this title that appeared in Science & Society 82, 2 (April 2018): 269-75.
Intersectionality, a way of thinking about the nature and causes of social inequality, proposes that the effects of multiple forms of oppression are cumulative and, as the term suggests, interwoven. Not only do racism, sexism, homophobia, disablism, religious bigotry, and so-called “classism” wreak pain and harm in the lives of many people, but any two or more of these types of oppression can be experienced simultaneously in the lives of given individuals or demographic sectors. According to the intersectional model, it is only by taking into account the complex experiences of many people who are pressed to the margins of mainstream society that matters of social justice can be effectively addressed. In order to assess the usefulness of intersectionality as an analytical model and practical program, however—and, indeed, to decide whether or not it can actually be said to be a “theory,” as a number of its proponents insist—we need to ask not only what kinds of questions it encourages and remedies, but also what kinds of questions it discourages and what kinds of remedies it forecloses. Continue reading “Intersectionality: A Marxist Critique”