Convention Discussion: The importance of the struggle for full equality & against racism


Submitted by the Communist Party of Eastern Pennsylvania & Delaware

Racism can be defined as any action, practice or belief, or social or political system that considers different races to be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities. Based on this belief, it also holds that members of different races should be treated differently.

Racism affects many aspects of human life and existence including educational opportunities, where one can live and where one can be employed. As seen in the history of the United States, racism is an ideology steeped in ignorance and enforced by ignorance and violence.

  • The crisis of the criminalization of African Americans has resulted in 50% of the prison population being African American, with Black women being imprisoned at an alarming rate.

  • The unemployment rate for African Americans is twice that of the national average. According to a study by the Brandeis University Institute on Assets and Social Policy, the wealth gap between white and African-American families nearly tripled from $85,000 in 1984 to $236,500 in 2009 due largely to home ownership, household income, unemployment, and education.

  • The suppression of the Black Vote is historical. This was seen in the 2000 Presidential election where George W. Bush, due to racist voter suppression was fraudulently elected and the Rightwing Republican takeover of all three areas of government took place. The disenfranchisement of African-Americans was presented as a template to disenfranchise other oppressed groups and all citizens.

  • Racism is used to divide union members in every union struggle. Immigrant workers have always been pitted against all low-wage workers. Instead of being used to divide industrial workers, they are now used to divide service, retail and warehouse workers as per the new service economy. Divide and conquer continues to be mode of operation for the ruling class.

  • The attack on Public Education has a sharply racist edge in that large numbers of public schools in Black and Latino communities are severely under-funded or are being turned over to private individuals and/or corporations of dubious character to run as charter schools. Unconstitutional gimmicks such as vouchers for use in private and religious schools exaggerate the problem. These districts and poor white districts lack funding for quality education. Most African-Americans live in segregated neighborhoods and have to send their children to segregated schools. 60 years after Brown vs. the Board of Education schools are more segregated not less.

  • Even with the creation and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, African-Americans are at the highest risk of becoming victims of substandard healthcare as a result of corporate greed. If the ultra-right were to succeed in eliminating this program, it would be even worse.

In 1913, in a document entitled “Russians and Negroes”, Lenin wrote: “Everyone knows that the position of the Negroes in America in general is one unworthy of a civilized country – capitalism cannot give either complete emancipation or even complete equality.” More than 100 years later, the treatment of African-Americans (and other racially oppressed groups) continues.

Historically, African-Americans hold a central place in this country and its struggles. Due to the intense, brutal and violent nature of the oppression that African Americans have experienced through slavery and its subsequent actions, this struggle must be given SPECIAL IMPORTANCE.

Former Communist Party USA National Chair Gus Hall stated in the book “Fighting Racism”: “The inequalities suffered by the other nationally oppressed components of our working class take different forms. But they are all based on the system of racism against the African American people, which goes back to the very beginnings of our country, some 400 years ago.”

All other movements (women’s, immigrant, LGBT, Latino, etc.) are built on the movement for African-American rights and equality. The liberation of other groups cannot take place until the oppression and racism against African-Americans is eliminated.

Racism remains the most potent weapon to divide working people. All workers receive lower wages when racism succeeds in dividing and disorganizing them. Institutionalized racism provides billions in extra profits for the capitalists every year due to the unequal pay racially oppressed workers receive for work of comparable value.

Racism affects the unity of the working class at all levels. Racism is a tool that not only exploits racially oppressed people; it aids in the exploitation of white workers as well. Racial discrimination in hiring, racist wage and salary policies, and racial stratification of various industries and trades undermine the interests of all workers. The ability of employers to pay workers differently based on skin color, country of origin, immigration status, or hire date in two-tier wage systems exerts downward pressure on the wages of all workers. It allows bosses to extract even higher profits from racially oppressed workers. Racism is good for business, but is bad for working people of every race.

Gus Hall continues in his book “Fighting Racism” with this: “The basis of racism is super-exploitation at the workplace that results in extra surplus value — super profits — for the capitalists. Thus, understanding exploitation of all labor is a prerequisite to understanding the source of super-exploitation of African American and all racially and nationally oppressed workers.”

White workers have a powerful self-interest in fighting racism-white workers will gain greater victories to the degree that they unite with nationally and racially oppressed workers. Multi-racial unity in the workplace and on the shop-floor is the key to winning victories for all, to lifting wages, conditions and dignity for every worker.

We, in the Communist Party, U.S.A. and our allies fight racism because it is a moral abomination based on the big lie of racial inferiority. We fight hard against racism because we understand that the unity of Black, Brown and White workers is the foundation of working class unity, a step towards a more equal society.

Karl Marx stated plainly in Capital, Volume 1 that “Labor in the white skin can never be free as long as labor in the Black skin is branded.” In other words, there can be no progress for the working class on any front as long as racism divides us.

We, in the Communist Party continue this practice of fighting racism to this day because we understand it is in our own self-interests and the interests of the working class as a whole. Understanding that our interests are identical is the first step to seeing ourselves as one multi-racial, multi-national, male-female working class. Just as racism and oppression of blacks was used to develop the template against all other oppressed groups (women, Latinos, LGBTQ, immigrants, etc.), working-class unity and its fight against racism against African-Americans will be used as the template for a GREATER SOCIETY. The Communist Party USA has a special political, ideological, organizational and tactical role to play, especially in the class struggle to advance working class unity in action against the common enemy – the ruling class of corporate America and its puppets: the ultra-right.

We must remain committed to the struggle for full equality for African American people by all means necessary including strong, enforceable, affirmative action guidelines. The revitalization of the African American Equality Commission would be a great step forward.

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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