Book Review: “White Fragility” versus Anti Racist Agility

By Karyn Pomerantz, June 29, 2020

“White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo ranks as the number one best selling book on many publisher lists and has a months long waiting list at public libraries.  It clearly has an important message to garner such attention. What does this message mean for a multiracial fight against racism as we’ve witnessed in the protests around the world? What kinds of strategies does it encourage to overcome the racist nature of capitalism?

Dr. DiAngelo is a white woman educator who helps companies and organizations diversify their workforces and develop more harmony between workers of different “racial” and ethnic backgrounds. She creates and delivers an antiracist curriculum to the employees, mostly white, in order to expose white people’s racism and, as she states, to encourage them to recognize their privilege so they can stop oppressing black people. (The book focuses on black and white people). 

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Antiracist Book Reviews: Working-Class Unity versus “White Privilege”

by Bill Sacks, retired physician, REVISED June 27, 2020

Black authors have written many nonfiction books on racism over the last decade. Mark Whitaker listed and commented on several in the Washington Post’s Outlook section (June 14, 2020). He pointed out that Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me (2015) opened up a market for such books, and that Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow (2010) was an earlier bestseller that had a huge impact on public thought about incarceration.

The various authors’ analyses of racism differ. Coates claims that there is a caste system, in which all white people oppress all black people, regardless of class. The category of caste draws strict lines between members of different castes, in this case between all white people and all black people. Caste is proposed by Coates as the significant social categorization, as opposed to class, which is defined in relation to exploitation and consists of exploiters and exploited. However, it is class that defines the main interests of each group, not caste. Black exploiters have little in common with black victims of exploitation, who in turn have more in common with white victims of exploitation. Similarly, white victims of exploitation have little in common with white exploiters. The interests of exploiters and exploited are opposed to one another.

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Racist Police Terror: Poisonous Tip of the Class War

Racist Police Terror: Poisonous Tip of the Class War

By Nayvin Gordon, MD, 6-24-2020

Introduction

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).

This article documents some of the ways this occurs.  (See also Racism Makes HALF TRILLION Dollar$ in Super-Profits for Capitalists: an Un(der)told Storyhttps://multiracialunity.org/2020/06/22/racism-makes-half-trillion-dollar-in-super-profits-for-capitalists-an-undertold-story/

The fight against racist killer cops helps all workers:

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Racism Makes HALF TRILLION Dollar$ in Super-Profits for Capitalists: an Un(der)told Story

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.  

Continue reading “Racism Makes HALF TRILLION Dollar$ in Super-Profits for Capitalists: an Un(der)told Story”

Comrade or Ally? Book Review of : COMRADE, An Essay on Political Belonging by Jodi Dean

By Karyn Pomerantz, 6-12-2020

The uprisings over the horrendous oppression and killing of black people in the US have united people in ways we have rarely seen. Most protests in the past have been comprised of a single demographic group: mostly white in anti-war marches, Latin in immigration demonstrations, and black in anti-racist protests. The multi-racial and multi-ethnic participation in the rebellions stirred by police violence, disproportionate Covid19 deaths in black and native families, and sacrificial back-to-work decisions creates an enormous potential for working class solidarity and revolutionary change.   

Continue reading “Comrade or Ally? Book Review of : COMRADE, An Essay on Political Belonging by Jodi Dean”

Where Were the Hypocrites When Police Murdered 1000 People, Disproportionately Black, a Year?

by Karyn Pomerantz, June 7, 2020

appearing in Counterpunch, June 12, 2020

Kudos to everyone taking a stand and acting against racism. Your ongoing protests have inspired a vision of a better world based on cooperation and equity. Your militancy, persistence, and inclusivity reveal a passion for multiracial and global solidarity. As you continue resisting, we now see the hypocrites coming out of the woodwork hyping their phony pledges of anti-racism. 

This message criticizes the liberal organizations that pose as anti-racist while supporting the system that creates inequity. It is not an attack on those who work for them.

During the week of June 1, I received over a dozen “statements” from businesses, universities, and non-profits bemoaning the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery among the 1000 other men, women, and children killed by police every year, killing a disproportionate number of black men and women who have over twice the chance of being killed by police than white people. The messages acknowledged the centuries of enslavement, genocides, and disparities in health, wealth, and covid. It feels like people just discovered the oppression of the working class, especially workers of color.

Where was everyone when Black Lives Matter, Ferguson militants, families of dead children, and immigrant activists demanded an end to state violence, stood up to heavily armed police and ICE, and demanded indictments of killer cops who rarely serve any prison time?

Generations of activists have called for an end to brutal racism. Public health scholars and others have quantified the unequal distribution of those “social determinants of health,” you know, those conditions like housing, poverty, and unemployment that affect health. Who knew? Who cared? Yet rarely does anyone, including “radicals” like Bernie Sanders and AOC, name and oppose capitalism’s profit driven demands as the underpinning of these problems. 

Major public health organizations and schools have advocated for health reforms but only color within the lines of lobbying, petitioning, and begging Congress for money. Do you know that it took three years for the American Public Health Association to pass a resolution that police brutality hurts health? That the GWU School of Public Health refused to make a statement against the rash of police violence until it became popular and impossible to ignore?  That faculty and NGO staff have to censor radical ideas to keep their grant funding and their jobs?

Now we have cops posing on their knees when they aren’t kneeling on necks, football bosses apologizing for racism in the NFL, and businesses like Walmart pledging money for a center on equity and blathering about structural change as they continue to exploit their workforce ($15 per hour!) and lay-off thousands of employees. (Hint: they are the structural problem). 

Are we expected to praise politicians when they urge decarceration but leave people in death traps called jails in Prince George’s County and elsewhere? When they rename a plaza and paint Black Lives Matter on the street while sharing surveillance camera data to identify protestors? These utterly hypocritical actions only occurred when massive, angry, and determined people threatened the peace of the ownership class. Let us expose and reject the politicians (yes, Biden and Cuomo included) and opportunists who mouth platitudes in order to appease us and safeguard their power and wealth.

Let’s keep fighting back and organizing sustainable movements to overturn this system. 

Public Health in Times of Epidemics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

By Karyn Pomerantz, May 7, 2020

The corona crisis, on top of so many others, shows how lethal capitalism is. Poverty and racism are the pre-existing conditions that inflate the rates of death and disability. For billions of people around the world, this disaster continues the misery at the hands of the 1%. It hopefully wakes up other people to the inequalities, negligence, and outright murder of global capitalism. 

How has public health responded to such inequities and pandemics? What can we learn from previous infectious disease outbreaks caused by smallpox, TB,  and cholera? When public health is good, it is very good, but when it is bad, many people die. When public health gets ugly, it destroys our lives and future security and aspirations. 

Public health today operationalizes the prevailing political ideology: personal responsibility, the philosophy that individuals make decisions about what to eat, where to live, how to work, or  whether to graduate, and then pay the consequences. Public health has blamed the individual for poor health habits and focused on educating people rather than dealing with systemic issues. Even now, when many talk about social determinants of disease, such as housing, racist police violence, immigration policy, and employment, actual interventions still focus on individual behavior.

This article identifies some of the qualities of successful and failed attempts to control epidemics with examples from selected countries since the late 19th Century.

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Racism and Epidemics from the Plague to Covid-19

by Karyn Pomerantz and KT Conner

Social Murder: “Infection Meets Inequality” 

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. 

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A Better World is Possible: Pandemic Management Under Capitalism and Communism

by Karyn Pomerantz, 4-3-2020

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.

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OVER FORTY YEARS OF LEAD POISONING IN CHILDREN — THE CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE OF AMERICAN CAPITALISM

By Nayvin Gordon and Karyn Pomerantz, October 28, 2019


The US Department of Health and Human Services promoted October 20-27, 2019 as national lead prevention week. As of 2017, pediatricians reported that more than half a million US children had lead poisoning (AAFP, 2019).


The poisonous effects of lead have been documented for over 2,000 years. It is an environmental toxin whose effects are totally preventable; it has no biological role in the human body. Lead causes irreversible brain damage, especially in children. It affects numerous organs, such as the heart and kidneys, and influences behavior and cognition measured by IQ scores and other tests. Researchers have postulated that lead poisoning contributes to higher rates of impulsive behavior, attention deficit disorders, and poorer ability to process information. Nonetheless, the law does not require testing of all children for dangerous lead levels.

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