Moving the party forward on African American equality

Moving the party forward on African American equality


The George Floyd murder, similar to the struggle to free Angela Davis, has the whole world looking at that trial. The video of George Floyd being murdered, seen all around the world, has brought attention to the struggles of Black folks in the U.S. African Americans are not just a poor people suffering, and the opinion of Black, brown, white, and others is calling attention to Black struggles in the U.S. We need to call attention to this situation. We need to be prepared for whatever the outcome is in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who murdered George Floyd. We demand justice and an end to racist violence by the police and non-state actors. Racist violence includes violence against trans people of color.

The struggle against racism and imperialism is linked, binding the struggles of Black folks to that of people on the African continent and the Caribbean, as well as with that of the Palestinian people for liberation. We stand with the migrants arriving at the U.S. southern border, demanding humane treatment for them, reunification of children and parents who have been separated, no incarceration, and provision of social services, education, health care, housing, and a path to citizenship.

The fight against racism has moved to a new plateau and stage. The recent electoral victory against racism saved democracy in this country. The demonstrations against police murders were decisive in defeating Trump. We have to be confident that the way things are going makes the struggle for freedom more possible, and historic goals achievable. Republicans are putting forth a “new Jim Crow” structure — and democratic forces have to stop them. We see the struggle against voter suppression, police brutality, and poverty as key for the Black community and for democratic struggles.

A different awareness toward racist police violence exists today. Great masses of people coalesced around the demand that “Black Lives Matter.” and the BLM organization has been maturing as it continues struggling, moving leftward over time.

In response to the 2020 uprisings, and to the demographic changes unfolding in the USA where nonwhite people will no longer be the minority, there is an increase in racist, anti-democratic, legal, and extra-legal attacks on the Black community in the form of gerrymandering, KKK organizing, terrorist violence, voting access restrictions, loss of municipal governance in Black communities, diminished access to health care, increased unemployment, and more. The hysteria around the growth of people of color in this country from our perspective is to be welcomed. It draws the lines of struggle very clearly.

Racism and anti-communism go hand in hand. Racism cannot be fought with anti-communism. The Trump attacks on Biden as a “socialist,” the Trump anti-Chinese designation of COVID-19 as the “Wuhan virus,” were direct attacks on the ideas of democracy and freedom inherent in the struggle for socialism, and on China as an economic competitor, a nation where workers control the heights of the economy. The attacks in Georgia and elsewhere against Asian women highlight the misogynist dimension to the racist anti-communism of the Trump movement.

The African American struggle is critical to the transformation to a more democratic society. The struggle is not confined to Black folks but is the property of all democratic forces. We cannot effectively deal with U.S. anti-racism and demand full equality for all by ourselves. This struggle is the pattern for all democratic movements.

The Black community commands a historically unique position today because of the unrelenting history of racist oppression and community fightback. Trump would not have lost without the 2020 uprisings against racist police murders of Black people, but also without the organizing of millions in the Black community. It is essential to the struggle for worker power in the U.S., and for socialism, that the CPUSA focus on growth in the Black community as a central task of all the party.


Material conditions

The material conditions demand a focus on the Black community:

The Urban League Equality Index found that overall equality for Black America in 2020 was 73.8%, compared to whites. Looking at factors like economics, health, and education, the Urban League determined that, “rather than having a whole pie (100%), which would mean full equality with whites . . . African Americans are missing about 26% of the pie.”

“The net worth of a typical Black family is about one-tenth that of a white family,” according to the Urban League’s State of Black America report.

After the Great Recession, the rate of Black home ownership hit a new low not since since the Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968 (State of Black America).

There was a slight uptick in economic indicators pre-pandemic, “largely driven by greater equality in men’s earnings, as well as narrowing of the unemployment rate gap between Black and white men (from 47% to 50%) and Black and white women (from 55% to 57%). Black men’s median weekly earnings increased from 70% to 73% of white men’s” (State of Black America).

However, it is likely that the 2020 recession wiped out these gains, and the overall wage gap has widened over the last 20 years. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “Compared with white workers, black workers have been losing ground since 2000. . . . In 2000, black wages at the median were 79.2% of white wages. By 2019, they were only 75.6% of white wages, representing an increase in the wage gap from 20.8% to 24.4%.”

These figures distort the standard of living of white working-class people, being heavily skewed by the wealth of the ruling class. The standard of living and quality of life of white workers are closer to that of African Americans than to the ruling class’s.

Other data indicators

  • 1 in 3 Black men born in 2001 will spend time in prison in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 11 Black adults are currently under correctional control (in prison or on parole/probation).
  • 1 in 1,000 Black men and boys will die at the hands of police.
  • 1 in 3 Black families have zero or negative wealth.
  • 1 in 3 Black children live in poverty (Brookings).

Unemployment crisis

  • Because 1 in 6 essential workers are Black, the pandemic has disproportionately affected the Black community.
  • 1 in 2.5 Black adults were unemployed or temporarily furloughed in April 2020.
  • Black women workers were especially impacted by the unemployment crisis because nearly 28% of them are employed in service jobs, and more than half of home health aides are Black women.
  • Low-wage essential workers risked their lives on the COVID-19 frontlines for a median pay of $13.48. Twenty percent of them live in poverty and more than 40% rely on public assistance.

Black women in the workforce

  • In the U.S. today, women make just 82 cents for every dollar a man makes, while the wage gap is worse for Black women: For every dollar a white man earns, Black women make just 62 cents, or 33.7% less than white males.

Low-wage crisis

  • Raising the minimum wage to $15/hour would increase the wages of 30% of Black people.



In order to address the central importance of the Black community in democratic struggles, the following actions are put forth:

1. A national party building conference

2. A special building and recruiting drive aimed at African Americans, with a special approach to the South

3. Organize discussions around the country on the importance of outreach to the Black community and the struggle against racism

4. Revamp Triple Concentration, the Party focusing on the struggle against racism and for the Black community, on the national/state/and local level

  • All levels of the party’s leadership have to be involved
  • Centrality of the struggle for African American equality

5. Develop new tools to make us more visible

  • A party pamphlet on African Americans and the CPUSA, including the question of socialism
  • Get archives digitized: James Jackson, Charlene Mitchell, Jarvis Tyner, Esther and Jim Jackson, W. E. B. Du Bois

6. Develop a presence for the African American Commission, CPUSA including

  • A web link to the work of the African American commission
  • Reviving the African African Equality struggle column in People’s World
  • More articles on African American equality
  • A journal for longer think pieces to come out twice a year maybe for now.
  • Web links to our clubs operating in major Black communities

7. Above all better club life and more work in grass roots

  • Leadership needs to pay more attention to our clubs.

8. Annual conferences to assess our work in the African American community and draw new conclusions

9. A discussion with the YCL to see how they can help build in the Black community

10. Agree to the recruitment of 500 new members on the basis of the fight against racism

11. Linking the struggle against racism to federal bill against voter suppression, support for the PRO Act, and the struggle for Medicare for All

As comrade Jarvis said in 2005, “The movement of the African American people for full social economic, and political equality has always played a decisive role in the overall struggle for democracy and socialism.” This remains true today.

As we end, let’s remember that each generation has to be won to anti-racism. Many people have no knowledge of the civil rights movement, or a distorted knowledge, and they accept racial equality in the abstract; are for fair treatment for everybody but have no ideal how we got were we are today or that the battle for civil rights is not over. Let’s rectify that situation, build both the level of understanding and the level of organization, demanded to end the scourge of systemic and personal racism that causes disunity in workers struggles and death and destruction on the woman, men, and children of the Black community.

This report was presented to the April 2021 meeting of the National Committee.
Images:  top, Joe Brusky (CC BY-NC 2.0); George Floyd protest, Joe Brusky (CC BY-NC 2.0).



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