Convention Discussion: Racism is still our #1 fight

BY: Ben McManus| June 4, 2014

Submitted by Ben McManus, New Haven, CT

Despite the election and re-election of Barack Obama as president, the United States is not yet a post-racial society. While white liberals and persons of color celebrate these victories and their literal and symbolic meanings, President Obama has been disrespected publicly, his words and actions scrutinized and critiqued down to the micro level. He had been called a liar and a coward. These are the best and worst of times.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ban on affirmative-action-based admissions policies at state colleges and universities in Michigan. Earlier this month in Kansas, the First Lady reflected on the sixtieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, which declared that “separate educational facilities [for white and black students] are inherently unequal,” and therefore, public schools must be integrated. And, Donald Sterling, an owner of the Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball team, could be heard on a recording chastising his former personal assistant/girlfriend, V. Stiviano, for associating with black people.

Justice Sonya Sotomayor, in her dissenting opinion, writes, “Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities being denied access to the political process… [and] because of persistent racial inequality in society – inequality that cannot be ignored and that has produced stark socioeconomic disparities.” Writing about her own life, she acknowledges that opportunities made available to her, as a result of affirmative action policies in place, “opened doors in [her] life.” Mrs. Obama said that, even six decades later, the Supreme Court’s decision mandating school integration is “still being decided every single day.” Communities around the country wrestle with the issue of quality of education and disparities between that of urban and suburban schools, which often still translates to colored vs. white students. Mr. Sterling recounts stereotypical images of black and Latino people to Ms. Stiviano, insisting that the stereotypes are true, and that people will never change their attitudes, beliefs (and behaviors).

Racism, a legacy of the institution of American slavery, still runs rampant in our society, sometimes just beneath the surface of daily life, sometimes out in the open. It continues to divide us as Americans. Of all the demographic markers by which each of us can identify ourselves – race, gender, age, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, immigration status – race is the most powerful, psychologically and emotionally, and the most visible. Race is also capitalists’ primary tool in the ongoing campaign to divide workers against each other, which, ultimately, increases profits. But no matter how you identify yourself, the Communist Party will embrace you. Our Party understands that an injury to one is an injury to all. Comrades know that working-class people can progress only when we see through these false divisions and see our common interests – see that we share common ground.

As we move further into the 21st century, our Party must continue to reach out, to educate, and to welcome everyone, especially people of color. Latinos comprise the fastest-growing minority group in the United States. By the year 2050, they will comprise 29% of our national population. [At the same time, white Americans will be, for the first time in our history, in the minority (47% of the population).] Already, in many major cities, blacks, Latinos, and other people of color together comprise a majority of the population – a minority majority. These same people hold most of the jobs in the janitorial, hospitality, healthcare, food service, and retail industries – and lead the fight on important labor and community issues! These issues include a livable wage/higher minimum wage, immigrants’ rights, organization/unionization of working people, and employee benefits (sick days, health insurance), among others.

Recent experiences in New Haven show that we can organize a labor-community “rainbow coalition” – blacks, Latinos, whites, and others  coming together on important issues – and win significant political and economic victories over entrenched and outdated governmental and corporate interests.

As we educate people about our Party, we must remember the history and struggles of blacks and other people of color in America, “the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination,” (Sonya Sotomayor) and not fear speaking up on these topics, considered sensitive and controversial by many people. To grow the Communist Party as we need it to be in the 21st century, we must engage with communities of color and actively support them in their struggles for better lives.

The Communist Party must continue to support all measures available to overcome institutionalized and structural racism, and to act affirmatively to build a more inclusive labor- community rainbow coalition, effecting a shift in power from the 1% down through the 99%, for the good of all.

The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.

For details about the convention, visit the Convention homepage
To contribute to the discussion, visit the Convention Discussion webpage

30th National Convention, Communist Party USA
Chicago | June 13-15, 2014

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