01/25/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/25/2020 13:36
Racially and nationally oppressed people live and work in every region, in every state, and in every major city and are largely working class. Institutionalized racism has resulted in the lowest-paying, most dangerous jobs generally being held by workers from nationally and racially oppressed groups. Among the nationally and racially oppressed are African Americans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans and other Latino peoples, Native peoples, Muslims, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, Arabic and Middle Eastern peoples, and many groups of immigrants and their descendants.
From its inception, the United States was built on racism. From the displacement and near genocide of Native people, to the enslavement of Africans, to the theft of huge sections of Mexico, to the racist exclusion of Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants, to the current xenophobic hysteria against Latinos, Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians, racism has been a convenient tool for the maintenance of power and extra profits by the ruling class at the expense of oppressed people and all workers.
Racism affects the unity of the working class at all levels. Racism is a tool that not only exploits racially oppressed people, it aids in the exploitation of white workers as well. Racial discrimination in hiring, racist wage and salary policies, racial stratification of various industries and trades, undermines the interests of all workers. The ability of employers to pay workers differently based on skin color, country of origin, immigration status, or hire date in two-tier wage systems, exerts downward pressure on the wages of all workers. It allows bosses to extract even higher profits from racially oppressed workers. Racism is good for business but is bad for working people of every race. White workers have a powerful self-interest in fighting racism-white workers will gain greater victories to the degree that they unite with nationally and racially oppressed workers. Multiracial unity in the workplace and on the shop-floor is key to winning victories for all, t lifting wages and working conditions, and honoring the dignity of every worker.
The workplace is not the only place where building multiracial unity is essential. Multiracial unity is necessary at all levels of class and democratic struggles. This is the reason for the long-standing coalition between the labor and civil rights movements. Not only do these movements have common enemies, they have a common agenda of expanding economic, social, and civil rights. The working class and racially oppressed people have common interests in housing, employment, education, voting rights, the environment, world peace, and other areas.
Members of the working class who are white must take an initiating and leading role in combating all instances of racism and national oppression wherever and whenever they occur and provide support to people of color who are in leadership of movements and organizations because such acts are the building blocks of grassroots unity and trust. They prove the struggle against racism is not for racially oppressed people to combat alone. It is in the self-interest of all workers, leading to greater unity, respect, and strength, for the labor movement and all other movements.
The depression of wages, the suppression of voting power, and the oppression of culture and language all hurt the working class as a whole. An essential aspect of class and socialist consciousness is for the working class to have a deep understanding of exploitation and national, racial, and gender oppression.
To fully understand its own exploitation and oppression as a class, the working class has to understand the extra exploitation and special oppression of its component parts and allies. This means understanding the historical experience well enough to develop an organic allegiance to the specifics of the democratic demands for equality of each. This includes taking action as a leading, solid advocate of those demands. The working class cannot win without the collective class achievement of an understanding of the complexity of its natural allies and of building multiracial, multinational working class unity. This understanding must be utilized to guide action. Racially and nationally oppressed people have a history of being subjected to oppression on the one side and resistance and fightback on the other, all of which contribute to the collective wisdom and range of action of the whole of the working class.