[Audio] Black Struggle and the Right-Wing Frenzy Over CRT

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The right wing has attempted to stifle all discussion about racism in classrooms and in history textbooks by loudly arguing that “America is not evil! America is not racist!” But for millions who are looking at the systemic racial inequality in this country, it’s bringing back those questions about the history of oppression. How do we explain the persistence of racism today? What is it going to take to end it?

[Theme Music]

Welcome to another episode of Socialist Revolution podcast! I’m Antonio, I’m an editor at socialistrevolution.org, and today’s episode is based on a session at this year’s Montreal Marxist Winter School, where we discussed the polarized debate over Critical Race Theory, the history of the mass struggles against racism in the US, and the fight against racism today.

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At first glance, to take up the question of the “right-wing frenzy” over Critical Race Theory might appear to be an odd choice. I don’t think any of us are particularly interested in what’s happening on right-wing cable news outlets like Fox News, or the reactionary propaganda that comes out of the mouth of Donald Trump or other Republican politicians.

Although this is more than just a right-wing frenzy, it’s also a wave of laws directly affecting teachers and what they can and can’t say in the classroom.

In the last year, 137 bills have been proposed across 35 states to restrict teachers from talking about issues like racism or other forms of oppression in US history.

The republican governor of Virginia set up a hotline for parents to report teachers if they were teaching “inappropriate” subjects.

One online group of conservative mothers in New Hampshire offered a $500 bounty for any parent that catches a teacher teaching about racism. The group was called Moms for Liberty!

In some states like Florida, similar legislation has been proposed that requires teachers to teach the “evils of communism”—it’s not just on the question of racism.

In the state of Indiana there are two competing bills being proposed. One would force teachers to teach that Marxism, communism and socialism are “detrimental to the people of the US” and “incompatible with freedom.” Another bill proposes to ban all talk of “anti-American ideologies”—it doesn’t define what that is, but it would make it illegal to even ask that question.

Books are being banned in hundreds of public school libraries across the country.

You can sense the fear in all this legislation, a real frenzy to stop a discussion from happening. But today’s topic isn’t really so much about what’s happening on the right. It’s about something broader that’s taking place nationally.

The mass movement against racism and police terror that was sparked by the murder of George Floyd in 2020 was referred to as a national reckoning. That experience has left its mark on the consciousness of the living generation of the working class.

I’m convinced that when the socialist revolution erupts in North America, the workers that participate in that revolution are going to remember the events of the summer of 2020. And the ruling class, the capitalists, and their generals, are also going to recall the memory of those events. That’s our starting point, and the context for this discussion.

Scale of the movement

That was 20 months ago, I think we all have a pretty clear memory of that summer. It not only swept across the US, but it also spilled over the border into Canada, and spread to 60 other countries.

For hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, those days of protest were life changing. That was the closest we’ve come, as a living generation, to living through a revolutionary situation in the US. 26 million people came out into the streets, that’s 10% of the adult population. There were at least 7,750 recorded protests affecting practically every city from coast to coast.

Tens of thousands of military troops were deployed across 30 states. 200 cities enacted curfews, and teargas was used against protestors in over 100 cities. At least 14,000 people were arrested, and we’ll never know how many were brutalized and injured.

An open split developed between military generals and the president over whether to mobilize the army itself using the “insurrection act” of 1807.

And of course, Trump himself was forced to go into hiding in his underground bunker below the White House.

Degree of public support

But I think the most astounding statistics have to do with the degree of public support for these protests, many of which were open confrontations with the state.

At the height of the movement in early June 2020, three-quarters of the population supported the mass movement. 78% of Americans felt the anger that led to the protests was justified. The protests were backed by a 60% majority of white people and even a 53% majority of Republicans.
In those volatile days, respondents were evenly split on whether they characterized the protests as “mostly peaceful” or “mostly violent.” Among those who called the protests “mostly violent,” 54% supported the protests anyway. And among the general population, 54% saw justification in the torching of the Minneapolis police precinct.
These scenes naturally call up historical parallels with the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s. One difference is not only that 2020 was unprecedented in the size of the protests, but also in the size of its support.
Never in US history, not before or after the Civil War, or the Civil Rights movement, has there been that degree of solidarity among people of all colors, against racism and police terror.

That fact makes 2020 a world historic turning point, and a turning point for the struggle against racism, which deserves to be analyzed in its historic context. We’ll get into that history in a moment.

The movement ebbed

During the demonstrations, a number of Democratic Party politicians attempted to co-opt the movement by making symbolic statements of support, empty gestures, and promising police reform. The priority of both ruling-class parties was to get people off the streets.

As soon as the protests died down, those promises were promptly forgotten, all talk of reform vanished. And in the presidential election campaigns, both parties attempted to present an image of having defended law and order—especially the Democrats.

The largest mass movement in the country’s history was left with zero political support by either ruling party, who essentially treated it like it had never happened.

But, of course, the movement wasn’t forgotten by the millions who participated and watched it unfold. It unleashed something deep in society—deep sentiments of solidarity in struggle, and debates about the nature of racism, and the history of oppression in the US.

But from the perspective of the ruling class it was necessary to get a grip on these debates, and attempt to cut across those sentiments of solidarity.

Especially for the right wing. As far as Trump was concerned, a large section of his base was wavering. At the height of the movement, even a majority of Trump’s party felt that sense of human injustice in the light of George Floyd’s public murder.

The ruling class need for a “Culture War”

The rise of the right-wing frenzy over Critical Race Theory is Trump’s answer to June 2020. It’s a desperate attempt to change the topic, and get people to forget about the mass struggle in the streets, and to reframe the discussion about racism.

And the mass media outlets across the bourgeois political spectrum have joined in this effort. They have sold us a story about the US being swept up in a “culture war”—a struggle to define the identity and values of the country.

We’re told that the US is being split down the middle by the right and the left. And how are these two camps supposedly defined?

On the right wing, it’s clear: it’s Trumpism, it’s traditional conservatism, with its reactionary white-washing of US history, its prejudices, its thinly veiled racism. Presenting it as the triumph of freedom and liberty for all.

But on the left, at least according to cable news, it’s not that they’re reporting the rise of revolutionary socialism, or the fact that 38 million people have a positive view of Marxism in the US, or the fact that we’re seeing a strike wave and mass unionization efforts across the country.

Instead they describe the rise of the far left as the rising influence of identity politics. For the bourgeois media, the far left is represented by “cancel culture” and academic theories like Critical Race Theory.

Now, does identity politics have a rising political influence? Without a doubt, you can see it not only in American universities but all over the world. But that was by no means the main social force we saw in the streets in 2020.

And when we look at the incredible leftward radicalization among young people in the US, we see an interest in revolutionary ideas inspired by the mass struggle against racism and other factors like the climate crisis. It’s above all a desire to fight back, not a burning interest in the ideas that came out of 1980s academia.

Beside putting forward the boogeyman of CRT as a powerful radical conspiracy, which the right wing associates with Marxism, the effect of this bourgeois propaganda campaign has been to bring up questions about the history of this country, and the nature of systemic racism. It’s bringing that history to life.

Bringing history alive

One of the first things Trump did was to announce the first-ever White House Conference on American History. He argued that the mass movement was left-wing mobs trying to destroy the country. He said it was the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in schools that attempt to make students ashamed of their history.

He specifically named CRT and defined it as a “Marxist doctrine holding that America is a wicked and racist nation … and that our entire society must be radically transformed.”

The right wing has attempted to stifle all discussion about racism in classrooms and history textbooks, by arguing loudly that “America is not evil! America is not racist!”

But for millions who are looking at the systemic racial inequality in this country, it’s bringing back questions about the history of oppression.

2020 naturally brought certain questions to the forefront of mass consciousness: how do we explain the persistence of racism today? What will it take to end it?

And it’s absolutely true, that without understanding that history, we can’t really explain the present.

Without understanding the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s, we can’t explain the state of racism and racial inequality in the 2020s. But then you have to go back further, because you can’t understand the civil rights movement without understanding what happened after the Civil War, the rise and defeat of Reconstruction.

We don’t have time for a detailed history, and that’s a topic for another discussion and several forthcoming articles and podcasts.

But I will mention a few of the key points that show what this history looks like. The history of the mass struggle against racism—as a revolutionary class struggle—is really at the heart of the debate over the nature of racism and oppression in the US.

250 years of chattel slavery were ended by a revolutionary civil war that involved the armed uprising of the former slaves.

Marx and Engels considered this revolution to be the most burning issue of their time. They wrote hundreds of articles about the war, and they followed its every twist and turn in their personal correspondence.

You might have heard of Marx’s letter to Abraham Lincoln congratulating him for his reelection and raising the slogan “Death to slavery!”

When the war ended, Marx wrote a statement on behalf of the General Council of the First International addressed to the American people.

It was a statement of congratulations for ending the horrific brutality of slavery. But it also contained a warning about the tasks ahead, the tasks of reconstruction. He called for full rights for the four million formerly enslaved people.

He said, “If you fail to give them citizens’ rights while you demand citizens’ duties, there will yet remain a struggle for the future which may again stain your country with your people’s blood.”

“We warn you, as brothers in the common cause, to remove every shackle from freedom’s limb, and your victory will be complete.”

Reconstruction

If we look at the events immediately after the Civil War, the decade of Reconstruction—especially Radical Reconstruction—it would appear that society was being completely transformed. Reconstruction was even called a Second Civil War.

After the armed overthrow of the slave owners, freed Black people took their destiny into their hands. Not only had they risked their lives to flee the confederate territories, but they took up arms. Since hundreds of thousands of them had fought in the war, they were overwhelmingly armed and organized.

This was a period of incredible progress toward democratic and civil rights. Black men were given the right to vote, women wouldn’t get the vote until half a century later—three years after it was achieved by the Russian Revolution.

But this was an enormous development. And in the course of that decade, from the late 1860s to the late 1870s, some 2,000 Black men were elected to state and federal positions. Measures were taken to abolish racial segregation in the federal government as well as in many public spaces throughout the South.

Public education was established for the first time in the South. There was a massive campaign of building hundreds of schools, and hiring 10,000 teachers. These changes benefited poor whites as well. And so did the voting rights, because they abolished property qualifications and poll taxes which had stopped poor whites from voting too. In addition to hundreds of schools, around 50 hospitals were built throughout the South.

There were some measures toward land reform to divide up plantations among freedmen, although the majority of these measures were rolled back by Andrew Johnson during the period of “presidential” Reconstruction following Lincoln’s assassination.

When white terror organizations like the KKK were set up by former Confederate officers to intimidate and attack Blacks, they were fought back with armed resistance, backed by federal troops. Klansmen had their rights suspended, and were prosecuted by majority Black juries.

In South Carolina, where Black people won two-thirds of the legislative seats in the state government, the KKK was actually wiped out, and completely eliminated by 1871, until it was reestablished in 1915.

In other words, considering the scope of these social changes, while the workers of Paris were seizing power and storming heaven, something similar was happening throughout the South.

A major difference being the property question. Radical reconstruction achieved incredible advances, but it stayed within the limits of capitalist property, which meant that land and capital was in the hands of the white former slave owners.

And just like the Paris Commune, this short but glorious period was ended by a bloody counter revolution.

In 1876, there was a highly contested presidential election. Just like in 2020, troops were deployed to protect the Capitol building. The US Congress made a deal to remove federal troops from the South, in exchange for certifying Republican control of the White House.

The Northern capitalists had succeeded in their aim of replacing slavery with wage labor, so they basically handed political power in the South back to the southern capitalist class. This turned the southern US back into a dictatorship of the former slave owners, who unleashed racist terror and rolled back the gains of that period.

Slavery had been abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment, but it was brought back in new forms, such as sharecropping and convict leasing.

W.E.B. Du Bois wrote a masterpiece on this period, Black Reconstruction in America, with a chapter called “Back to slavery.” He says: “The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.” It was an agonizing counterrevolutionary defeat and a complete social reversal.

Most of the measures of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s had been achieved a century earlier, only to be eliminated by the ruling class when they betrayed Reconstruction.

The Supreme Court in particular was an instrument of counterrevolution and interpreted the reconstruction era laws in very narrow ways that eliminated their substance and turned them into empty symbols.

Jim Crow

That was the beginning of 90 years of the Jim Crow regime of segregation and institutional racism. After 250 years of slavery, which created the foundation for the wealth of the US and its position as a major imperialist power, Black people were subjected to another century of inhuman oppression.

During this period, organizations of white racist terror like the KKK were intermingled with law enforcement, business, and local government throughout the South.

While the Russian working class was overthrowing the Tsar and taking power, the US White House was inhabited by an open supporter of the KKK, Woodrow Wilson.

Black people were lynched, terrorized, prevented not only from voting but from exercising practically any kind of freedom. Segregation of public spaces meant Black people couldn’t go to the same schools, restaurants, parks, libraries. They couldn’t use the same drinking fountains, bathrooms, entrances, or public transportation.

There was segregation of housing that prevented Black people from purchasing homes through all kinds of legal racist policies like redlining. Banks denied loans and mortgages to Black people and forced them into predatory contracts, confined to impoverished neighborhoods. This meant Black people had worse conditions and infrastructure, worse schools, and worse transportation.

There was a racial division of labor, which confined Black people to worse jobs, horrible wages, and higher unemployment.

There were laws prohibiting interracial marriage in 30 states, not just in the South but all over the country, many of which were still in place until 1967.

The Civil Rights Movement

This was the picture of the US at the time of the last civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s.

The period of Jim Crow leading up to WWII saw multiple waves of the Great Migration in which millions of Black families moved into cities in the North and West, and became proletarianized.

The Civil Rights movement was a mass struggle that linked the fight against Jim Crow to social demands of the Black working class. The earliest mass effort at integration after the defeat of Reconstruction was the rise of industrial trade unionism, led by Communists.

Before that, the narrow craft unions were mostly organizing the upper layers of the working class, who were more conservative and more prejudiced. But the fight to organize industrial workers meant uniting across color lines. Those battles around the rise of the CIO set the stage for the civil rights movement.

The other major factor was the discontent of Black soldiers returning from WWII and suffering the same discrimination as before. This was one of the triggers of the mass upsurge.

One figure in this period was A. Philip Randolph, a Black socialist who had been an early supporter of the Russian Revolution. In Harlem, during WWI, he launched a mass publication called The Messenger, which the Justice Department considered “the most dangerous Black publication in the country.” It agitated against WWI and supported the Bolsheviks.

Randolph was also the founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, one of the first major Black unions. In the 1940s, he used mass mobilizations and the threat of a mass march on Washington to force the federal government to pass the first civil rights legislation since the end of Reconstruction. So the earliest shots of the Civil Rights wave took place at the initiative of Black workers organized in the labor movement.

But the major battles of the 50s and 60s that produced some of the most iconic images of that period were the mass marches and pickets, and mass resistance in the face of police terror, and the violent terror of white racists.

Images of racist cops attacking protestors with dogs, water cannons, and batons, now take on new light after the experience of so many protestors facing that brutal repression in 2020.

Major battles included the year-long Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and 56, where Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr became national figures.

Freedom rides throughout the South to physically defy segregation in public transportation and public spaces in the face of violent racist resistance.

The massive March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, where Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in front of a quarter of a million people.

The late 1960s was also a period of a sharp uptick in the class struggle. From 1967 to 1971, the number of workers who participated in strikes doubled.

And after years of heroic mass struggle by Black workers and youth, as well as by the labor movement and a section of the white working class, the result was a formal end to Jim Crow.

This was legally achieved through a wave of legislation, after the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs Board of Education, which ended public school segregation on paper, there were the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Voting rights were restored, segregation of public schools and spaces was abolished, discrimination in the workplace and in housing was made illegal.

This period has been called a Second Reconstruction, and with nearly a century delay, it restored most of what had been achieved, and then destroyed, after the first Reconstruction.

Limits of “Equality on paper”

And yet, this too was a limited victory. The glaring difference between equality on paper, or before the law, and genuine equality in life, revealed the shortcomings of the civil rights movement.

Because the legal forms of racist inequality, the Jim Crow laws, were not the root of that inequality, they were a supporting structure for upholding it. But the social and material, economic component of inequality, the property question, was never uprooted.

This is a very important question for revolutionary socialists to understand today, when we talk about how systemic racism is hardwired into capitalism to this very day.

Look at the housing question. 90 years of racist laws concentrated Black people into the poorest neighborhoods of major cities, and prevented them from buying homes. That meant that the assets of Black families did not appreciate with the rise in property values over time.

Ending those racist laws didn’t reverse the effects of inequality, it didn’t provide people with houses or savings, so, major cities remain largely segregated to this day.

The gap in home ownership between whites and Blacks has remained unchanged since 1960. The same can be said for the gap in average wealth between white and Blacks families since the 60s. It’s basically stayed the same.

And since housing segregation by neighborhood determines basic funding for school districts and infrastructure, poor Black neighborhoods have underfunded schools and hospitals.

None of the civil rights legislation ever fixed that.

70% of black people in the US live in counties where pollution levels exceed federal standards. For example, the area of Detroit Michigan has one of the largest garbage incinerators in the US. Since the 1980s it has been burning garbage from across the Midwest and even from Canada.

87% of the residents living within a mile of the incinerator are Black, and it’s a hotspot for respiratory diseases like asthma. This is an example of the structural inequality that was never repaired.

At the end of the civil rights movement, this reality was very apparent. The experience of that struggle left a lot of people asking “Where do we turn now? We tried this route of legal reform, but it didn’t succeed. So what other route is there?”

When that kind of question is asked on a wide scale that’s an important moment in the class struggle.

We know how the most militant leaders of the civil rights movement answered that question. They all moved in the direction of revolutionary class struggle—which posed a serious danger to the ruling class. So much so that in every case, these figures were repressed and assassinated one by one.

Malcolm X was killed 1965, after breaking with the Black Muslim tradition and taking a fundamentally anticapitalist position.

He explained that racism wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t profitable. “You can’t have capitalism without racism.” “You show me a capitalist, and I’ll show you a bloodsucker.”

I was reading a Washington Post article about gentrification. And they quote a researcher who explains how Black and Latino neighborhoods are being displaced (in Washington DC).

“Real estate developers are looking for areas of the city where they can buy low and sell high. “[they] want to maximize their return. This is not a conspiracy. This is capitalism.”

These issues bring back the words of Martin Luther King when he said that you can’t talk about solving the economic problems of Black people “without talking about billions of dollars.”

“You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of the slums.”

“Then you’re getting on dangerous ground because you’re messing with capitalist interests.”

Martin Luther King was killed in 1968 while supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis, also after moving toward a class analysis.

Fred Hampton, one of the leaders of the Black Panther Party, was killed in 1969, shot by the FBI at the age of 21 while lying in his bed. His position was “We’re going to fight against racism with solidarity. We’re not going to fight capitalism with black capitalism, but we’re going to fight it with socialism.” He called for international proletarian revolution.

Each of these figures went through a political evolution that led them to the same conclusion, that their fight against racism could only succeed as a fight against capitalism. And therefore the fight requires revolutionary class solidarity across all color lines.

If you consider the circumstances of both of these mass struggles that we’ve looked at, the period of Reconstruction, and the “second” Reconstruction of the civil rights movement, they both went into an impasse because they left capitalist property intact.

So this is our reply to the right-wing debate about the role of racism—yes that oppression is at the very heart of this society, from its very foundations.

Capitalism has racism in it’s very DNA, and the primitive accumulation of capital in the US—the start that it got as a powerful participant in the world market—rests on centuries of slavery followed by generations of racist oppression to this very day.

The invention of ideas about racial superiority and inferiority was an ideological creation of capitalism, a tool to justify its exploitation of enslaved labor, despite upholding bourgeois values.

So, yes, we need a complete transformation of society in order to uproot that—a socialist revolution.

We’re completely opposed to reactionary attacks on teachers and we should fight any attempts to restrict their teaching. But we should also keep in mind that the radicalization taking place among the youth is not happening in the classrooms, it’s happening on the streets, in the workplaces, online, at home. It’s life under capitalism that’s leading tens of millions of young people to become interested in revolutionary ideas.

And despite all the attempts of the right, we know that the debates over the legacy of racism and oppression are not going to be silenced by that legislation, in fact they’re going to intensify.

What about CRT itself?

Setting aside the frenzy of the right wing, if we turn our attention to Critical Race Theory itself, and strip away the myths to analyze the real body of ideas from the academics who identify with the CRT label—or “race crits” as they often call themselves.

The impasse of the 60s and 70s gave rise to very different political conclusions, some in the direction of revolution and class struggle, but others in a very different direction. The rise of CRT represents a trend that turned in an opposite direction.

But while the Panthers, Malcolm X, and to a certain degree, Martin Luther King, moved toward class conscious and anti-capitalist conclusions, “you can’t end racism without also ending capitalism.” CRT was born from the conclusion that “you can’t end racism.” That racism is a “permanent feature” in American society.

This was the conclusion of a Civil Rights lawyer turned Harvard Law professor, Derrick Bell, who is considered the founding father of CRT.

After witnessing the shortcomings of the legal battles, his conclusion was that racism would never be eliminated. This fight could never succeed.

Instead of finding class interests as the obstacle behind the persistence of social inequality, CRT found race interests. It said the fight against racism failed because white people are too determined to maintain inequality.

Instead of concluding that a mass struggle across color lines to overthrow the capitalist system was necessary, it concluded that the law upheld and perpetuated white interests, and that racism persists because white people as a group are the dominant social force in society, and they’re unwilling to let go of the privileges they get.

The rise of CRT as a more influential academic movement happened in the 80s around a series of conferences by law students and professors.

Many of them came from a tradition of Critical Legal Studies that aimed to expose prejudice and inequality in the law and justice system. It explained that the law was basically a political process.

But CRT rejected Critical Legal Studies because they thought it emphasized class too much, and instead they put the question of racism at the heart of everything. That was the shift to CRT.

It also became much more philosophically idealist and borrowed from the postmodern trends that were becoming dominant in the universities in that period.

Kimberlé Crenshaw was one of the figures that led this campaign. She is also the founder of intersectionality theory.

Oppression became something very individual, based on identities that gave every person a unique place in the complex web of social power.

The truth is the class struggle vanished completely from this framework. Even class became a very individual question of identity, social attitudes, but class interests never entered the equation.

As for the idea of overthrowing capitalism, it was like speaking a totally different language. It was something from a different planet. That idea never entered this body of thought.

If you think about this period, that pessimistic direction of thinking had a lot of momentum behind it. After the wave of revolutionary movements in the 60s came a wave of pessimism among left-wing intellectuals in the universities who threw their hands up and said the revolution failed because the workers aren’t revolutionary anymore.

The rise of CRT delivered a similar message—people will never unite against racism.

The prevalence of the privilege politics that we see today is a modern outgrowth of these ideas, and that philosophical framework.

A Revolutionary Fight to Uproot Racism

What we need is a revolutionary fight to uproot racism. While fighting the right-wing attacks and explaining the role played by racism at the heart of capitalism and US history, in relation to CRT, the most important question is: Is this a tool that can aid the revolutionary struggle against racism? Is it going to be useful for the objective of transforming society? Our answer is simply no, that’s not what the tool was created for, that’s not what it’s intended for.

As with every other offshoot of the New Left and the postmodern turn in academia, the conclusion is always “the world is broken, and we don’t have the answers.”

But even more than that, I’d say the kind of identity politics that has dominated and permeated the academic field of race studies, and has spread beyond campuses into mainstream culture, is also not a tool for fighting racism.

It works against that fight, and cuts across revolutionary class consciousness by presenting all white people, regardless of their class, as the dominant group at the top of a hierarchy.

If your starting point is that all white people benefit from racism and uphold it, and that they must acknowledge this privilege and rectify it as individuals, then uprooting racial inequality through a material restructuring of society is impossible. Identity politics tells white people to look inside and find their internal white supremacist prejudices, as an explanation for the source of racism.

If your starting point is that racial inequality is the bloody legacy of capitalist exploitation, and that the working class can overthrow that system through united action, then you have a way to fight.

It’s true that that solidarity has not always been present among the majority of the working class in the US. That tragic fact, the existence of so much racist prejudice, has been one the largest obstacles in the development of the class struggle in this country.

But the millions who poured into the streets of this country in June 2020, were a perfect reflection of the racial makeup of the US population.

The George Floyd uprising showed us a glimpse of the new generation of the working class. And it showed that the instrument of racial prejudice is weaker than at any time since it was first created by the capitalist class. June 2020 was a perfect example of what a mass struggle on the basis of solidarity looks like.

Our starting point for the struggle against racism is that it is a central part of the fight for socialism in our lifetime. A poll last year found that 60% of Black Americans have a positive view of socialism. And just as Black workers and youth have always been at the vanguard of the struggles against racism, and for working-class unity and solidarity, the Black working class is destined to play a central role in the coming revolutionary transformation of society.

The overthrow of American capitalism and the formation of a workers’ government would not automatically erase the legacy of racism. But it would mean the beginning of the end, because it would mean finally tackling all the material and economic roots of inequality.

It would mean workers of all backgrounds collaborating to plan the economy and raise everyone’s living standards dramatically.

The third American revolution will usher in a third Reconstruction, more radical and thorough, more transformative than any previous mass struggle for Black liberation.

Only in that way, by expropriating the capital of the ruling class, built by centuries of slavery, colonialism, exploitation, and oppression, only by building a world of true social equality on the basis of economic abundance, only through a socialist revolution, can the crimes of racism be repaired.


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