We as Black folks in this country have lived and survived under AmeriKKKan Apartheid for centuries now. From first being kidnapped from mother Africa and shipped here in chains like an Amazon package, to being declared as 3/5ths of a human being, the Black man in this country has been marked to be the most used and abused commodity in AmeriKKKa. You can look at The Dred Scott Decision, the Fugitive Slave Act, The Civil War, Jim Crow laws, Plessy v. Ferguson, Anti-lynching laws, Miscegenation Laws, Red Lining Laws, “War on Drugs”, “War on Terrorism”, Mass Incarceration, to the white-washed history and curriculum in schools.
Despite any and all that, I am a proud Black man in AmeriKKKa because I don’t conform or assimilate to the white male capitalist standard this country has set before us. I stand strong in the face of adversity and oppression, I fight for my people on a daily basis with the righteous intentions of decolonizing their minds to liberate their body and spirit. I wear my locs proudly, I wear my own clothing line proudly, I speak my native 7th w/d New Orleans dialect proudly, I proudly break down any and all lies the oppressor class has convinced or forced my people to believe. Like I tell folks, the greatest insult I can tell someone of the ruling class is “I can go into your world, you can NEVER come into mine”. That’s because we’ve created something from the funk and hurt we’ve endured as a people. I am proud, proud of the language we’ve created as we were outlawed from being able to read and write. Now EVERYTHING Black folks have created is commoditized or white-washed into the mainstream of society for profits. Whether it’s the music, the artwork, the dances, the slang, the way we greet, style of dress, way we rock our hair, we could go on and on. Under this white supremacy capitalist system, it’s not Black people they care about, it’s the money they can make off of Black people they care about, as it has always been in this country.
Peep game my people, don’t assimilate to the system, be proud of your existence, be proud of your culture, be proud of your creativity, be proud of your endurance, be proud of your uniqueness, be proud as you learn YOUR peoples’ history, and lastly be proud of US. This white supremacist capitalist system has attempted to beat Black folks into submission time after time and still we stand. State sanctioned oppression vs. the power of the people. Proletarian vs. Pig. Soul Brother vs soul sucker. Continue to educate, agitate and organize! And remember, the beauty is in the struggle, and it’s the working class people of New Orleans that make this place so desirable. We are the soul and essence of New Orleans. We are the food, the dance, the music, the rhythm, the talk, the flavor, we are all that and some jazz ya’ dig. Till next time, love & solidarity my peoples. #AllPower
2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the introduction of captured Africans as exploited laborers on present day US soil. For the Black masses it has meant 400 years of vicious white supremacist rule. 400 years of oppression and discrimination. 400 years of exploitation as unpaid and under-paid labor. 400 years of last hired and first fired. 400 years of rape, lynching and police murder. 400 years of denial of the right to self-determination.
Those captured Africans of 1619 on the slave-ship Jesus were sold into indentured service in the Jamestown colony in Virginia. The white ruling class farm owners soon saw an advantage in making the 7-year indenture for the Africans a permanent feature of their capture. The captured Africans were of a different culture and skin color of the European settlers and could be easily isolated. That transition of the captured Africans from indentured servant to chattel slavery almost permanently stained the relationship between Black and white workers.
The large landowners had to create a justification for holding other human beings into permanent chattel slavery. Their ideological champions invented the anti-human concept of white supremacy. The basic proposition was that the Africans and other non-Europeans were a sub-species of the human tree and that Europeans had a God-given right to civilize and make the “inferior” African into a useful being. White supremacy thus became the great divide that allowed for the importation of millions of captured Africans into the new world and the genocide of the indigenous nations who lived in the Americas.
Oppression breeds resistance
Those captured Africans, of course, were not robots. They understood both freedom and captivity. Those most conscious fought to the death on the African continent, during the middle passage, and upon arrival in the Americas to regain their freedom and reassert their humanity.
The Africans escaped their masters and created maroon colonies. On the plantations and in the mountains and swamps surrounding the plantations they also organized slave revolts, the most successful of which was the revolution in Haiti in 1791.
The civil war
Throughout the decades of enslavement brave fighters came forward to combat the slave masters and fight to end chattel slavery. Gabriel Prosser, Charles Deslondes, Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner organized major slave revolts. Hundreds of others built settlements in the swamps and dared the slave catchers to come for them.
When the Civil War broke out, nearly 200,000 Black men took up arms in the Union Army to fight to end chattel slavery. These soldiers were primarily field hands who had been biting at the bit to strike a blow for freedom.
During Reconstruction, Black former slaves, many of them field hands, became representatives of their people on all levels of government from US Senators to local government, championing radical reconstruction, equal rights and the upliftment of the freed people as they transitioned from chattel to wage workers.
The attempts of the freed people to implement their democratic changes were overthrown in 1876 when the Hayes-Tilden compromise allowed the plantation owners to return to political power. The Black laboring people were driven back into virtual slavery through newly created peonage laws and the development of the sharecropping system. Democracy was replaced with the Jim Crow system of racial apartheid that existed in the southern states until the modern civil rights movement.
The possibility that democracy could be established in the Confederate states was defeated when the rapidly developing capitalist regime in the north decided to abandon the battle to establish and defend democratic rights of the freed people. The Black nation in the Black Belt South, instead of developing along bourgeois lines with the right to develop its national economy, became an oppressed nation subject to state oppression meted out by the former plantation owners who now held state power all over the south.
The struggle against Jim Crow segregation and the reign of terror unleashed to roll back all the gains of Reconstruction consumed the efforts of the Black struggle for freedom. The Black bourgeois and petty-bourgeois leaders struggled over the best approach to win equal rights for the Black masses. Two contending trends developed. One view of accommodation to the apartheid conditions was advanced by Booker T. Washington, who argued that Black people should develop a strong economy and the white ruling class would eventually extend equal rights to the Black masses. The other view, represented by W.E. B. DuBois, was that Blacks should never abandon the fight for equal rights and should press the federal government to guarantee equal treatment for Blacks. Both views advanced the notion that the Black bourgeois class should lead the Black liberation struggle.
The Black proletariat strengthens
World War I caused the biggest internal shift and fissure in the Black liberation movement. Thousands of black soldiers were exposed to the war propaganda about fighting for freedom and democracy. This caused them to look at the conditions of the Black masses as a whole and to embrace radical trends developing in the world, especially the earth-shattering victory of the Russian Revolution. Additionally, many Blacks began the great migration to the north and west to take advantage of work in the factories. The Black working class began to see itself as exploited proletarians and part of the world struggle against capitalism. The first Black communist cadre were developed around the African Blood Brotherhood under the leadership of Cyril Briggs. The ABB called for the right to self-determination for the oppressed Black nation and the leadership of the Black working class.
World War II reinforced trends begun during WWI. During WWII there was a need for labor in the factories producing war materials. Black workers were needed in the factories. Millions abandoned the plantations of the South and landed in cities across the country. More Black soldiers fought overseas and came back ready to fight for full and equal citizenship rights. That period saw the growth of the Communist Party USA and the enrollment of thousands of Black workers. There began an effort to organize Black share croppers in the South. The CPUSA also gained wide support by their building support for the Scotsboro Boys, who had been falsely accused of rape. There was an open fight between the CPUSA, which championed the leadership of the Black workers, versus the NAACP forces, who championed the leadership of the Black bourgeois class.
The white supremacist capitalist ruling class promoted the leadership of the Black bourgeois and church leaders. The rulers would rather see a comprador class willing to accept capitalist society rather than a mass base for socialist revolution among Black workers.
By the early 1950s, the Black masses had rallied to the cause of ending racist discrimination and fighting for equal rights. The murder of Emmett Till; the victory against segregation in the Brown decision; and the Montgomery Bus Boycott served as catalysts for the Black liberation movement. This coupled with the awakening of the anti-colonial struggles of people of color worldwide. By 1960 Black student leaders came to the fore with militant actions to force an end to discrimination. Much of the leadership in this phase were church leaders and college students. The Black working class had yet to develop its own voice.
By 1963 a more impatient mood had developed among the Black masses. Dr. King and the other civil rights leaders developed the March on Washington demanding equal rights and an end to discrimination. In the inner city ghettos, the voice and program of the Black nationalist and Black Muslim leader Malcolm X began to challenge the integrationist, non-violent civil rights leadership. Black rebellions broke out in city after city from 1963 -1970. The Black Panther Party exploded onto the scene, calling for revolution, and held the loyalty of the militant Black youth. The BPP became the target of US government suppression which led to the destruction of the BPP as a revolutionary force by 1970.
Black workers lead
This period also saw the awakening of the Black workers as a distinct voice for Black workers with an anti-capitalist program. In Detroit and rapidly in factories all over the USA, Black workers launched Black caucuses and revolutionary union movement which challenged the capitalist factory owners and the racist union leadership. Hundreds of wildcat strikes were staged. The most conscious elements began studying Marxism and embraced the anti-revisionist communist movement. This movement held that the CPUSA had abandoned the revolutionary road and it was time to build a new communist party under revolutionary leadership. The slogan became “Black workers take the lead”. This spoke to the conclusion that only the Black working class had the interest of completely ending national oppression by the overthrow of capitalism.
This Black working class challenge to Black capitalist leadership came in a period where the US state declared war on the revolutionary movement by jailing some of its best fighters and by introducing crack cocaine in the inner city. The ruling class promoted the leadership of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Black Democratic Party elected officials.
400 years of struggle has shown that the complete liberation of the Black masses will only come about with the destruction of the racist capitalist state. The only class capable of promoting and working for this program is the Black working class. This will happen only if the class-conscious Black worker and communist organizations make organizing and developing the class struggle of Black workers the center of our revolutionary work.
As permitting fees, insurance and other compliance costs go up, and business is increasingly lost to Uber and Lyft, cab drivers and their families are finding it hard to survive in New Orleans. These drivers kept the city going for decades, and now they are being discriminated against.
On Jan. 4, several dozen cab drivers working at Louis Armstrong International Airport decided they’d had enough. That morning the City of Kenner’s Dept. of Inspections and Code Enforcement showed up to issue citations for alleged violations of a city permitting law. One worker refused to comply; within minutes, dozens of other workers were protesting by his side. They insisted that there was no legal basis for the citation, that the workers had already paid the fees. When the inspector called in Kenner cops for “backup,” the workers stood their ground. When he finally gave up and drove away from the lot, the workers cheered.
These cab drivers were not merely contesting an unjust fee; they were protesting the lack of respect for their hard work. These cab drivers can lose a day’s work or more if, for example, an inspector decides their vehicle’s tires don’t pass muster. In addition to inspection fines and the cost of repairs, every hour that the vehicle is in the shop is an hour of potential income lost. This can mean the difference between making rent or not. As cab driver Jean Ligonde put it: “Our job is very stressful: every time you see a city inspector, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“They’re trying to squeeze us out.” This was how a cab driver named Nadgi put it. He was referring to Uber and Lyft which are not subject to these regulations. Their armies of high paid lobbyists and lawyers have bribed the city into granting them special status as “Transportation Network Companies” as opposed to “Taxicab or For-Hire Vehicles” which is what they obviously are.
In 2012, the New Orleans city council passed 24 ordinances requiring cab drivers to purchase new vehicles, buy and install new meters, surveillance cameras, credit card machines, and GPS systems. Apart from the thousands of dollars cost to upgrade each cab, these changes increased maintenance costs and added items subject to inspection. The drivers are being assessed a 4.5% reduction in their fares for every payment made through the credit card machine company that the city contracts with.
Less than two years after the city passed these ordinances, and after months of lobbying city and state officials, Uber entered the New Orleans market. Uber and Lyft now have most of the ground transportation market. This is bad news for all workers in the taxi industry, “gig” and career alike: last year an MIT study concluded that more than 50% of Uber drivers were making less than the minimum wage in their state. No worker should tolerate poverty wages.
Driver Jean Ligonde sees a lesson in the Jan. 4 protest at the airport: “I think if we’d started earlier, a lot of the things we have on our back would have gone away. They keep taking advantage of us because we do not have unity, and they exploit that weakness.” In order to defend ourselves against the enemies of the working-class, whether they sit in city councils, on the boards of Uber and Lyft or in the cab of a cop car, taxi drivers must stand up for taxi drivers, must stand up for Uber drivers, must stand up for workers. We should all support them.
In 1991 Councilwoman Dorothy Mae Taylor introduced a bill to investigate discrimination by Mardi Gras Krewes that were allowed to parade in the streets of New Orleans. Ms. Taylor was a longtime civil rights activist and the first woman elected to the New Orleans city council. She held public hearings on the impact of racial discrimination by the old line krewes which were composed exclusively of racist ruling class men in the city of New Orleans.
This inquiry touched off a firestorm of protest by the ruling class and their sycophants. The racist rulers argued that the krewes were private clubs pursuing their freedom of association. They also argued that they were putting on a free show for the impoverished masses and were a benefit to the city as a whole.
Councilwoman Taylor would have none of that and forced the leaders of Comus, Rex, Momus and Proteus to admit that they only considered white males from among the elites of the city to become members of their organizations. She got them to admit that many business deals were consummated in their exclusive clubs thereby preventing otherwise qualified businesses owned by non-whites to get city business. The uptown rulers were not about to let this Black woman question their activity.
Coucilwoman Taylor had exposed the ugly side of Carnival in New Orleans. Her hearings brought out the racism that was on full display during Mardi Gras parades. It showed how Black people were often attacked by white racists and how Black people catering to the need of their “betters” served to reinforce the racial order in New Orleans.
By 1992 it was evident that a non-discriminatory ordinance would pass. This ordinance was weaker than the one originally proposed by Councilwoman Taylor, which would have allowed an audit of the krewes and reports on inclusion of minority firms in the business side of Mardi Gras. Only Rex among the old line krewes would open its membership. The others quit parading in protest.
The 1992 Mardi Gras ordinance was a step forward in the struggle of Black people for equal rights in New Orleans. The racist reactionary forces that stepped out to defend the racist krewes are the same forces who wanted to maintain the white supremacy monuments.
Working people of New Orleans should never forget the principled stand of Dorothy Mae Taylor who earned the love and respect of all Black and progressive-minded New Orleanians. We should honor her by putting her statue in a place of honor along a Mardi Gras route.
On January 26 at the Ashé Powerhouse, 150 people attended a public conversation with revolutionary artist and former Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, Emory Douglas. Hosted by the New Orleans Peoples Assembly and Take Em Down Nola, artists discussed with Emory the responsibility of progressive artists to serve the people by involving themselves with political organizations that are dedicated to the revolutionary struggle for liberation.
Emory shared: “I was able to share my creativity as part of an organization that gave me the chance to make art that reflected the politics we were involved in.”
“If you’re concerned about police murders, high rates of unemployment, or wars of mass destruction and you’re committed to enlightening and informing people about those issues in a provocative way, you can’t fear what your boss or even your family is going to say. You gotta do something if you don’t do nothing but spit. ”
On Jan. 8 and 9, between 150 and 200 million workers and peasants in India participated in a general strike that affected the entire country. Although ignored by Western corporate media outlets like CNN and FOX News, this was likely the biggest strike in world history. To put the sheer number of participants into perspective, this is equivalent to half the population of the United States participating in a strike.
In Mumbai alone, it is estimated that 12 million people participated. But the strike also affected many rural areas. Most sectors of the economy experienced slowdowns and even shutdowns. Farmers carried out road and rail blockades in support of the strike. The strike featured broad participation of women who have led many struggles against the current government of the reactionary Narendra Modi. Student and other non-union organizations also joined in on a mass scale.
The strike was organized by 10 different trade unions spanning many sectors of the economy including farmers, bank, factory, and transport workers. Prominent among these were the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), associated with the Communist Party of India. In the crowds of people, many could be seen carrying the flags of communist parties and affiliated workers’ organizations.
The 10 unions produced a 12-point charter of demands, summarizing many of the demands of the masses who are resisting the austerity policies of the Modi government. In the five years of Modi’s rule, the top 1% of the Indian population has increased its share of all household wealth by more than 20% while unemployment is at record heights and more than 90% of Indians make less than 10,000 rupees a year (US $143). The unions’ demands include a stop to “all pro-corporate, anti-worker amendments to Labour laws,” and the implementation of “a national common minimum wage of Rs.18,000/month for all workers.”
On Jan. 18, thousands of people from hundreds of Indigenous nations across the country and the world convened on Pawmunkey and Piscataway land (so-called “Washington, DC”) to stand united against the continuing injustices endured by the Indigenous peoples of North, Central and South America, Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
The march demanded immediate action on a host of issues, including the following:
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), of which there are over 7,000 confirmed since 2016 with many cases going unreported.
Environmental racism, evident in the oil, mining, and petrochemical companies that operate illegally on Indigenous land, often in violation of treaty terms between Indigenous nations and the United States.
Violence against Indigenous children, as demonstrated by the cruel kidnapping and caging of Indigenous children by ICE or by the right wing attacks on the Indian Welfare Act which protects Indigenous children from being stolen from their families by adoption agencies.
Voter suppression targeting people living on reservations.
The march began with prayer and song at 8AM outside of the Department of the Interior Building, now home of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (originally a division of US Department of War). Participants marched, drummed, and sang as they made their way through the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial. Of the many issues facing Indian Country brought up in the march, there seemed to be a common thread – the exploitation of Indigenous peoples by the capitalist ruling class and the continuing genocide, by intended action or neglectful disregard, of Indigenous peoples by that same ruling class.
According to a 2019 report by Oxfam, 26 billionaires now own more wealth than the poorest half of humanity. That’s 3.8 billion people combined. This reflects a trend of increasing inequality: last year, the wealth of billionaires increased by $2.5 billion dollars a day while the poorest half of the world saw its wealth decline by 11 percent, losing an average of $500 million each day. More wealth is concentrated in the hands of Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, than is in the hands of 1,000,000 teachers in the United States. To quote Charles Koch, enemy of humanity and seventh wealthiest person on the planet, “I want my fair share and that’s all of it.”
Infant mortality is a measure of how many children, per 1,000 live births, die in their first year of life. To lose a child is a terrible thing for a family, but this is a social problem that should concern us all. The rate is affected by all the economic, political, and social conditions that exist in a society. Truly, the infant mortality rate reflects the overall well-being of a population. If the rate is high in a place, or for a group of people, that tells us something about the conditions that people face. The United States has the highest rate among all developed countries and is 30th in the world.
Racism and Poverty Cause Infant Deaths in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama
Louisiana has an overall rate of 7.92. This is pretty bad, considering that Poland’s rate is 5 per 1,000. For white infants in Louisiana, the rate is 5.73. For Black infants it is 11.66. This pattern shows up again and again. Mississippi’s overall rate is an astonishing 9.08. For whites, it’s 6.91 and for Blacks, it’s 11.95. These high rates for whites reflect poverty and the even higher rates for Blacks, poverty and racism. Also terrible in Louisiana is the rate of maternal deaths during childbirth. If Alabama were a country it would be 100th in the world rating.
This is an outrage considering that U.S. politicians have long claimed that this is the best, and most prosperous country in the world. Profits may be soaring for the parasitic billionaire class, but how great can a country be when so many mothers and families experience the loss of a child due to poverty and systems of racist oppression? How many thousands of infant deaths could have been prevented if our society was organized in a different way? How many Black futures have been cut short in this way? How many children of working-class families of all races and ethnicities never got a chance in life?
The Cuban Difference
Once again, socialist Cuba shows that it does not have to be this way. Cuba is a formerly-colonized Caribbean country under a U.S. economic embargo since 1962. When the revolutionaries came to power in 1959, the infant mortality rate exceeded 60 per 1,000. In 2018, it is 3.963!
How has a tiny island nation achieved so much with limited resources? Cuban society is organized on a radically different basis from that of the United States. Cuba has made huge strides in eliminating systemic racism. With the socialist system, the Cuban people have access to world-class free medical care. Cuba’s Family Doctor and Nurse Program has 10,869 offices across the country, which is only 760 miles long and 55 miles wide!
In the United States, the wealth generated by the working class is hoarded by the capitalist ruling class, with only a fraction of it coming back to the people in terms of wages or social programs. In Cuba, by contrast, the wealth generated by the workers is used to benefit the workers themselves, whether it be through universal education, housing, or health care. Cuba doesn’t have homelessness. Just think. In Cuba, mothers can afford housing or medical care or lose their jobs if they are pregnant and day care centers are plentiful…
If the Cuban people have achieved these things through revolution and struggle, there is no reason that we can’t achieve them here, too. It is, of course, up to us to organize to overthrow capitalism and white supremacy. The ruling class will not give us the kinds of social advances brought about by the Cuban and other socialist revolutions.