Black Radical Congress and "the Left"

Michael Eisenscher meisenscher at
Sun Jun 21 15:55:51 PDT 1998


I think you miss the entire point of the BRC. You may think that African Americans have no way to win if they struggle alone rather than as part of a larger working class movement, but Blacks have struggled on their own for many decades and when united and determined have extracted victories from the racist power structures and racially influenced institutions, like unions. But that is beside the point. Obviously, with allies, any group, including workers of all racial or national origins, would fare better than if being forced to fight alone. The whole point of union corporate campaigns demonstrates that lesson.

The objective of the BRC, as I understand it, is to develop greater unity among the multitude of tendencies within the Black community and Left precisely to be able to negotiate stronger relationships and alliances with others, as well as to clarify for themselves how to strengthen the Black liberation struggle. It has been the experience of innumerable organizations and movements dominated by the white Left that influences of racism among whites within those institutions has either kept people of color from joining them, induced those who join to leave, kept the minority who join from having effective influence or more than token leadership, or caused those who join to form caucuses to be able to struggle within those organizations and movements against the racist influences of their white members and leadership. The BRC will enable a more united Black Left to negotiate more effectively the terms of their relationship with the rest of the Left, in addition to charting a course of struggle that does not depend upon but would deserve to be supported by the balance of the Left. Rather than find fault with it as inadequate to defeating capitalism, we should celebrate this development as a potential leap forward, not only for the African American Left, but for all of us.

In solidarity, Michael E.

At 01:48 PM 6/21/98 -0400, Rakesh Bhandari wrote:
>I don't think there is a black agenda-- radical, liberal or conservative.
>Often the expulsion of all non-black others from such racially exclusive
>conferences has the effect of isolating and thus dispiriting those blacks
>in favor of revolutionary proletarian politics. Just as
>segregation allows whites to maintain vicious stereotypes about blacks,
>the exclusion of whites and others renders them easily homogenized as a
>racist unified horde in the minds of blacks. Once blacks are turned on
>to themselves--which is to say they see themselves as a powerless minority
>in a racist country--it becomes inconceivable that they could become part
>of a fundamental material transformation of this country; it is inevitable
>that they will slip into the nihilistic despair bemoaned by Cornel West.
>It's irrelevant whether this congress thinks of itself as radical; blacks
>on to themselves can only request the govt to enforce anti-discrimination
>statutes, request that the class biased laws of this country be enforced
>in a less discriminatory way (blacks shouldn't be treated more brutally
>than non blacks who commit the same crimes), ask corporations for more set
>asides, etc. All this can *only* be accomplished by an appeal to capital's
>self-interest; left on to themselves, blacks have to turn to capital for
>support and thus tailor their agenda accordingly Hardly radical. I think
>a better radical congress would be one organized in terms of radical
>opposition to the Democratic Party and existing trade union movement
>(Herbert Hill and Evelyn Nakano Glenn could make their case); blacks
>could then find allies among other workers who have not been served by the
>representatives of labor (Wojtek could talk about the failure of unions to
>challenge job descriptions, qualifications, workload, pay, etc). Such a
>congress has the potential to be radical.
>best, rakesh

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