Building for peace in communities of color

November 29, 2023
Building for peace in communities of color


The following presentation was given by Dom Shannon at the CPUSA Peace Conference 2023, November 11-12, in New York City.

The African American Equality Commission believes peace is a concrete necessity for all workers in the U.S. and globally, including Black and Brown peoples, Asian and LGBTQ+ communities, and for women and children. Humanity cannot thrive or develop fully and democratically, building in a positive social and economic context, without peace.

The struggle for peace by workers in the U.S., living in the heart of the imperialist hegemon, has a global impact. The military budget, money spent on immigration enforcement (e.g., ICE and border patrol), and the funds spent on racist policing support the obscenely unequal distribution of wealth in the U.S. and globally under capitalism. The military budget is a trillion-dollar form of welfare for the 0.01%: military “aid” goes into the pockets of the U.S. ruling class, as “aid” recipients have to spend their arms money in the U.S.

As John Wojik wrote in “Urgent People’s World Town Hall Friday to Stop War on Gaza,” “As this past Saturday’s demonstrations confirm, a renewed peace movement demanding a ceasefire in Gaza is rising up around the country and indeed the planet. From union halls to the halls of Congress, voices are calling for a just peace, a Palestinian state, ending terror and attacks on civilians, and releasing hostages. Meanwhile, members of Congress have introduced legislation calling for a ceasefire, along with redirecting military spending to domestic needs.”

These demonstrations are too often spontaneous rather than organized, suggesting that a mass peace movement is needed and workers are ready for it.

As the CPUSA program “The Road to Socialism” says: “The need for international working-class unity is more important than ever. We cannot rule out the danger of war between imperialist powers in the future, though the destructive effects of modern nuclear and space weaponry, the overwhelming military superiority of the U.S., and the certainty of internal political opposition all serve to discourage ambitions for direct military inter-imperialist conflict. Working people are the victims on both sides of all imperialist wars and military adventures.”

The working class struggle in Palestine and the struggle here in the U.S. is the same: we both are struggling to stop fascism. The movement to Free Palestine is not isolated from other struggles; we must draw connections between the struggles. Similarly, the movements for Palestinian freedom must unite the working class, including anti-Zionist Jewish workers, of Israel, the U.S., and Palestine, and worldwide, in one struggle against genocide and fascism.

The CPUSA has a long history of standing for peace, from World War I through today’s imperialist-spawned genocide and war. Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Shirley Graham, Henry Winston, and many other comrades decorate our history with examples of struggles for peace.

For humanity to exist, the U.S. military, the world’s largest polluter, must have its budget slashed and moved to meet the needs of working people and environmental justice.

Today’s spontaneous uprising against the Israeli state’s Zionist genocide against the peoples of Gaza and the West Bank, the threat of Israel taking direct control of Gaza politically, as well as its current de facto control over the Gaza infrastructure and social services is being confronted worldwide by youth and others marching and protesting, crying out for justice and peace. Calls to “Free Palestine” and for “Ceasefire!” echo wherever caring humans walk.

This movement correctly condemns Hamas’s terroristic tactics. Israel’s disproportionate and terroristic response has already killed over 10,000 people, including 4,000 children. It too is unconscionable and must be condemned as fascism and a crime against all the Palestinian peoples, all workers, and humanity. Slaughtering the unarmed — including children — bombing hospitals, schools, and residential neighborhoods; arbitrary detention without end; racist police brutality; and denial of resources to oppressed communities must end in Palestine and the U.S. The cries of parents searching the rubble for their children, buried by Israeli bombing, must be heard. The parents of immigrants separated by U.S. law from their children must be heard. The cries of U.S. parents seeing their three-year-old children dragged from militarized schools in handcuffs must be heard. The cries of the parents of youth and the mentally ill slaughtered by militarized racist police in the U.S. must be heard. Free Palestine! Immigrant Lives and Black Lives Matter!

The CPUSA is called by history to take concrete and practical collective actions:

  • Immediately mobilize all members to engage in the struggle to force an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The people are in motion, this Party must join them immediately with complete commitment if we are to have standing, play a positive role, and help lead this uprising in a positive working class direction
    • Join with Palestinian, youth, and other groups already in motion in communities of color. If there is no local activity, reach out to neighbors and friends, unions, family, churches, senior organizations, and make your voices heard. Ceasefire now!
    • Organize letter writing campaigns, educational forums, visits to elected officials, calls to the White House, and more demanding Ceasefire now!
    • Reach out to elected officials. Demand support for Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian in the U.S. Congress, who is under racist attack. To date, only Black and brown elected representatives have supported her. That must be challenged by the peace movement.
    • Engage with Black-led organizations like the Movement for Black Lives, which “stands with the Palestinian people and especially those in Gaza, that have been engaging in resistance at the Gaza border.”
  • Continue to build the peace struggle around the demand “Move the Money” — to move the money from the military budget and immigration enforcement to meet the social needs of workers and the oppressed. End billionaire welfare.
    • Work to restore and strengthen the Child Tax Credit, which was expanded during the pandemic but slashed by the same Congress that approved an additional $850 billion for the military budget last year:
      • Black Americans’ poverty rate has always been much higher than the white rate. But research shows that the effect of a more generous child tax credit was to dramatically reduce Black poverty all over the country. (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, June 1, 2023. Expanded Child Tax Credit Helped Black Families.)
      • Temporary Aid to Needy Families Program (TANF) is another program that needs to be protected and expanded with money taken from the military budget and from the immigration enforcement budget.
      • Work with the Poor People’s Campaign to build the Third Reconstruction and Poor People’s Moral Budget. We encourage supporting the Moral Budget and organizing around how it impacts local cities and municipalities, addressing the need to pass local child tax credit bills and to fight for free school meals at public schools to combat childhood poverty, and more.

The nature of the peace for which we fight will contribute to determining the unity that is built. For that reason, the peace for which we struggle must be a material peace that is actively anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-genderist, and anti-xenophobic, and which promotes international solidarity globally.

Working people of the world, unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains.

Click here for more on the CPUSA 2023 Peace Conference.

Images: Group of diverse friends by Keck Medicine; Stop Seperating Families by Michigan United (


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