[lbo-talk] Are Conservatives Racist?

wrobert at uci.edu wrobert at uci.edu
Fri Aug 19 19:09:14 PDT 2011

I was implicitly referring back to the question of 'attitude' earlier in the conversation. To turn to the practical question, I can think of a couple practical examples out of the trade union struggle. HERE Local 17 made some interesting contributions in the late 90's. They brought up the ways that companies were using immigration status to engage in union busting, and eventually challenged the AFL-CIO's views on immigration. This focused on a group of hotel workers who were threatened with deportation for organizing. The second is the focus of the 2000 strike, which focused on the need to increase wages for the back of the shop workers, who were predominantly immigrant and non-white. Both struggles challenged the racist practices of the hotel industry in order to fight for greater workers' rights. Similarly, AFSCME 3299 has been confronting the systemic racism in the UC system in their attempt to insource the primarily Latino janitorial workers, as they did with their previous successful attempt to insource the groundskeepers.

Additionally, any practical challenge to the prison system and to policing is going to need to approach the questions of racialization, which was brought to the forefront by the recent hunger strikes.

As a last point, I agree that 'race' isn't a stable category. It morphs through the struggles of the world systems. To return to much earlier conversations, the notion of modes of 'racialization' seem much more productive, or to operate in the economy of Wallerstein and Balibar, to emphasize the role in various 'racisms' in creating 'race.' No doubt this response is incomplete, but I will leave my thoughts there.

robert wood

> I'm not sure who said that "racism" could be "reduced to an issue of
> prejudicial beliefs," but maybe you just wanted to say that. But it's one
> thing to say that a whole lot of systemic inequalities have "racial"
> dimensions and another to say they're the result of racism. For example,
> disparities in income and wealth between whites and blacks, or blacks and
> everyone else, are the result of generations of history - meaning the
> education and occupation of parents and parents of parents, and property
> acquired and passed on or not acquired and passed on. And "race" - I keep
> putting it in quotes because it's not all that easy to define - has
> something to do with all that. So what then do you do about it? You fight
> for unions, a better welfare state, progressive taxation, or more radical
> stuff. Does that mean you attack something called racism? If so, where do
> you find it and how do you fight it? Do you throw around phrases like
> "living hell" and "the left is racist because it does!
> n't revere the Black Panther Party"? Do you hire Tim Wise to give
> sensitivity courses? Where will that get you exactly? Will that change a
> single mind?
> Doug
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