[lbo-talk] Occupy the hood: A black perspective on occupy wallstreet

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Wed Dec 14 18:53:51 PST 2011

It's hard to make any political sense out of what Joanna & whoever Steve Bruns is quoting have to say. We have the beginnings of a new left upsurge; until it incorporates the interest of Blacks (as seen by Blacks) it will be a crippled one. Joanna is engaging in mere way-out speculation abut motives of people she does not know. She ignores the obvious explanation. At the October anti-war (and specifically anti-Obama) rally & march in Chicago, Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda was one of the featured speakers. He made essentially the same points Glen Ford had made at the Left Forum last spring. There has of course been racist errors by white leftists in the Occupations. There's also, of course, innumerable other errors being committed, point out of which is really pointless. It's part of what happens in an emergent left movement. Black Agenda is having a hard time attracting Black support because of the overwhelming Black support at this time for Obama. That will disappear eventually. As the movement grows it will be more varied in composition than is now the case. Then various matters can be worked out/battled out within such a growing left.

The apartheid state is a very special formation, not remotely the same as what Blacks face in the U.S. now or during the Civil Rights Movement. If you want to understand what was at issue then, I suggest you work at seeing that Rosa Parks on the Bus, the Panthers carrying guns into the California legislature were engaged in identical practices: Blacks were U.S. citizens, but that term was a mockery, both in the North and in the Jim Crow South, more formally in the South of course. The Civil Rights Movement was about making that citizenship actual. Separating Blacks and Whites on a bus in the South was a violation of formal citizenship, which the nation had allowed the South to continue uninterrupted. The various campaigns which followed forced the federal government to cease allowing this denial of formal citizenship rights to continue. Whites and Blacks had to aright to equal _formal_ treatment. California law specified that all citizens had a right to carry guns in the open. But police practice had in effect established that Black possession of guns was not to be allowed. In this case, the law was changed, denying all citizens the right to carry guns in the open. That change is/was an index to how hard it was for white America to accept 'white' behavior by Blacks. The same sort of thing erupted in the later '60s around women. It was a bit more confused, but in effect women and men were not even nominally or formally 'equal before the law.' The present ongoing battle over gay marriage has the same core: recognition of formal bourgeois equality of citizenship.

Blacks remained an oppressed segment of the population, including continuing police brutality and mass imprisonment. The War against Crime was a replacement for the more open repression (north and south) of the past.

Formal equality was achieved for all these groups. (Undocumented residents are denied any pretense of formal equality and that has to be a major element in the left we hope is emerging. We have to achieve open borders in practice if not formally.)

Oppression of racial minorities is no longer formal as it was but has no improved for large numbers of Blacks. The left is infantile while that remains unchallenged. But again on this list we have mere belly-aching unaccompanied by any though about how these goals can be embodied in practice. Joanna and Steve are not contributing useful thought. They are even contributing to the kind of analytic confusion which can interfere with an actual attack on the structural racism that permeates u.s. life. That racism is far more sophisticated than any "apartheid" structure, & to introduce that term is simply to confuse thought completely, hence weakening the struggle against racism in the u.s. We have to identify more precisely what we face.

I find Joanna's argument incomprehensible so I won't try to comment on it further. I think I understand and agree with the import of Doug's snazzy remark below, but it is really better to say nothing at all than to shoot off such short and elliptic remarks. As pointless as the remarks of Steve & Jonna are, they are made possible by a real and agonizing state of affairs in the U.S., one extremely difficult to come to terms with. Flippancy doesn't help.


-----Original Message----- From: lbo-talk-bounces at lbo-talk.org [mailto:lbo-talk-bounces at lbo-talk.org] On Behalf Of shag carpet bomb Sent: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 6:14 PM To: lbo-talk at lbo-talk.org Subject: [lbo-talk] Occupy the hood: A black perspective on occupy wallstreet

many folks did think that way. just as many white middle class married men with young children at home think that way and don't get involved in direct actions that might risk arrest and confrontation with the cops. why work to better your child's future when you might end up in jail today?

> Good thing the civil rights movement didn't think that way.

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