An injury to one is an injury to all, right?

September 28, 2017
QWhat's all this about "white supremacy"? The battle is about class -- and there are plenty of white people in the working class. You're essentially excluding whites who might otherwise embrace your message. Respond, please.

There are a lot of white people in the working class, but there are also a lot of people of color.  The working class is not majority white.

Working class power can only come from solidarity, and solidarity can only be based on equality.  So, if we don't uproot structures that discriminate against workers of color, we're essentially giving up any chance we have of power.  Ever heard of "an injury to one is an injury to all"?  We take that seriously. Any attack on any member of the working class is an attack on all workers.

But there's something deeper, as well. We tend to think of class struggle as dealing mostly with wages, working conditions, etc--and that's because we think of capitalism as an economic system.  But it's more than that, at least in the Marxist way of thinking.  Capitalism is a system of social relations based on the ability of property to compel labor.  It starts in the workplace, but doesn't end there.

That compulsion takes many forms, but from the very beginning of the capitalist system, racism has been woven through all of them. From the expropriation, enslavement, and genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, to the enslavement and displacement of Africans, to Jim Crow and its descendants, racism has always been used to justify and maintain capital's power over labor.  If some workers can be treated worse than others--whether because of their race, or national origin, or sexual orientation, or gender identity--it starts a race to the bottom that screws everyone over.  This doesn't mean that white workers are the enemy, or have it easy, or aren't exploited--it means that every working class person has a stake in fighting racism.

As Marx wrote 150 years ago, "labor in the white skin will never be free while labor in the black skin is branded." That fight is far from over, and it is a fight for all of us.




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