CPUSA must be a Party of militant anti-racism

BY:Dom Shannon| April 2, 2024
CPUSA must be a Party of militant anti-racism


This piece is a contribution to the Pre-Convention Discussion for our 32nd National Convention. During Pre-Convention Discussion, all aspects of the party’s program, strategy, and tactics are up for consideration and debate. The ideas presented here are those of the author or authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Communist Party USA, its membership, or their elected leadership bodies. — Editors

The fight against racism is an ever relevant and important topic in American politics. In many ways, the issue of racism guides most all political actors in their approach to economic, social and democratic issues. For some decades now, far right politicians have been the biggest proponents of maintaining racial hierarchies in American life through legislative policies as well as the enabling of right wing extremist groups from the Ku Klux Klan to more modern groupings such as The Patriot Front and The Proud Boys. The Black Lives Matter movement coupled with the growing support for progressive political change in general and socialism in particular, mobilized center left forces against far right racist forces that seized political power through Trump’s POTUS campaign. But as the movement began to lull and the far right influence over political and social life grew, many socialist activists and organizers began searching for answers. One conclusion amongst some that is still pervasive even today, is that “identity politics”, which for better or for worse was being championed by some elements of the BLM movement, kneecaps the popularity of left wing policies and ideas. Thus for many, consideration for racialized exploitation under capitalism in the United States has been pushed aside so that socialism appears less “liberal”. This determination is not only harmful but also antithetical to our Party’s history.

The “anti-identity politics” strain amongst the socialist left is not all that novel. The Socialist Party’s refusal to integrate white and non-white members, along with the assertion that the fight against racism was gratuitous and that racial discrimination would only be conquered once socialism came to be, is in part what led to the formation of the CPUSA. Our participation in labor struggles that organized both Black workers and white workers alike oftentimes creating unbreakable unity, our involvement in the civil rights movement winning key democratic battles for Black Americans, elevating our Black members to positions of leadership empowering and entrusting them to guide the Party ideologically–these highlights in our Party’s history were made possible because we refused to turn a blind eye to the effects of racialized exploitation within the context United States capitalism. From that, we were bestowed extremely pivotal theoretical breakthroughs from our Black leaders, notably, Claudia Jones’ popularization of the concept of triple oppression–a description of the super exploitation Black women workers face under racialized capitalism in the United States.

Militant anti-racism is a part of our Party’s roots, grounding our outlook both historically and today. However, this rich history may be threatened by the contemporary version of the old Socialist Party assertion that fighting racism as its own distinct battle is extraneous. These ideas that have burrowed into the minds of an uncomfortable number of self-identified socialists alienate large portions of the working class who have mobilized and continue to mobilize against racism and white supremacy externally. Internally, it manifests as chauvinism, where Black and brown comrades are degraded, spoken over or are not given the opportunity to express themselves at all. Indeed, racist talking points that mimic those used by the far right, such as questioning the intelligence of minority political leaders or rejection of considerations given to racial and ethnic minorities, is a commonality amongst these types. With this straining growing amongst the socialist left in the U.S. the CPUSA must reaffirm its militant anti-racist roots and commitment to fighting racist hierarchies, racialized exploitation and triple oppression in American society, as well as develop adequate protocols for addressing racism, chauvinism and bigotry internally–for a multiracial, multiethnic CPUSA!


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