Racism, politics, science, etc.

Ingrid Multhopp zippycat at erols.com
Tue Jul 7 13:49:58 PDT 1998

Charles Brown wrote:

> In _Black Workers and Class Struggle_ Roscoe Proctor formulated this that Black workers are more militant than White workers on average, but that doesn't mean they are more class conscious.

I haven't read the book, but do you yourself believe this to be true? It's my impression that not only are Blacks in general more class conscious than Whites--for the obvious reasons that they are more likely to be working class or poor and even the 25% who have achieved middle class status sense the insecurity of their position and the bourgeois constraints placed on redressing inequalities--but that Black workers in general tend to be more class conscious than White workers (although the attitudes of Whites appear to be changing, thanks to increasing economic disparities--wasn't there a poll recently that found that more Americans define themselves as "working class" than as "middle class"--for the first time in decades at least? Is anyone out there more familiar with this poll than I am?). As an admittedly rather lame Exhibit A for my contention I would point out the the most popular "White-based" t.v. show among Blacks over the past decade (by far) has been "Married with Children"--which I would argue has the most trenchant class viewpoint of any show in popular television (although it is obviously less sensitive [or is that less obviously sensitive?] to gender issues than the more liberally admired "Rosanne").

> (Charles) You don't seem to get that that slogan is speaking to dominant nationalities of workers like British workers vis-a-vis Irish workers or white American workers in relation to black American workers, that their FIRST task is not a shorter work week, or better working conditions , or unemployment insurance or any other directly economic goals. FIRST, to fight the bourgeoisie you have to stop that DOMINANCE of one worker group over another, racism and great power chauvinism.
> (Ingrid) Yes, but that fight has been on-going for the greater part of this century, and I think that in so formulating your prescriptions you're letting capitalism off the hook. I don't see why we can't have a two-pronged approach. Why can't we fight for universal health care (i.e., socialized medicine), better working conditions, unemployment insurance, etc., while at the same time fighting the racist attitudes and power structures (such as police brutality, "values" explanations for poverty, et al) that divide working people? I mean, I fully endorse affirmative action, but I also see how the way it is presently formulated could be viewed as a "Nixonian" strategy to divide and conquer working people. That's because the way it presently works has no effect on who becomes the CEO's and others who directly control economic decision-making in this country. No, their positions are safe, while White workers who have been downsized and outsourced out of their jobs have an easy
> (read powerless) target for their rage, namely the minority workers who are guaranteed some percentage of the ever-shrinking pool of good jobs. I'm not trying to endorse that sentiment--I just don't think that it makes the major corporations, which generally support affirmative action programs, less culpable for their actions. Personally, many, if not most, of my favorite leaders, and even politicians, have been Black, but isn't the point that we should all do what we can to try to lead and fight for what we believe in (I mean the opposition is way too powerful for me, at least, to think that Black leaders can lead the struggle by themselves).

In solidarity,



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