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Thursday, 31 October 2013

San Fernando Educator Urges Supervisor Yaroslavky to Vote "Yes" on Civilian Oversight

"I want to say to supervisor yaroslavsky that as a nephew of two uncles who were both formerly incarcerated and subjected to an isolated existence where violence and authoritarian control were the norm, that this call for immediate action of accountability and transparency is a personal matter of mine. My family has suffered greatly from the effects of the jailing and imprisonment, and there are still thousands of families and whole communities even who continue to suffer from vicious acts of institutionalized terrorism and violence forced onto their loved whom have become invisible to many."

Stop and Frisk is Legal Again !

As I predicted stop and frisk is not going anywhere because the prisons will not be denied fresh minorities to house in exchange for tax payer dollars.

NYPD cops will be conducting free colon exams with each stop just like old times : ) If you are in protest the best you can do is buy a whistle and blow it because the racist criminal crime syndicate has been given the green light to hunt down black and brown men and to hell with the Constitution.

A Just Cause Coast 2 Coast - "FreeTheIRP6"

Sam Thurman, Cliff Stewart and Ethel Lopez, of the Colorado exoneration firm A Just Cause, discuss what happens when the wheels of justice trample unbridled over the rights of innocent Americans, like their SPECIAL GUEST and EXONEREE, LAMONT BANKS!
Although the American system of justice is the most-respected worldwide, it is still a system designed, and operated, by humans, which means it's not perfect.  Sam and Cliff will highlight ongoing struggles against "the system" to free wrongfully imprisoned people, and what happens when justice miscarries against an actually innocent person.
A Just Cause is currently campaigning to help "FreeTheIRP6," who has been wrongly imprisoned in Florence, CO for a crime they didn't commit. To read full story, visit www.freetheirp6.org.
For more information, about A Just Cause and TO DONATE to the IRP6 legal defense fund, please visit www.a-justcause.com.
Twitter: @AJCRadio
Twitter: @A_JustCause
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AJustCauseCO

Escobar: 9/11 excuse for NSA - gift that keeps on giving

Snowden's revelations about the NSA has seen US intelligence bosses go to great lengths to justify their activities. Officially they've been told to use 9/11 as their main argument, according to a document leaked in the media. And some politicians are happy to follow that advice

Observe: Joseph Young at TEDxMarionCorrectionalSalon 2013

Mighty Joe Young comes to Marion by way of Chicago, Illinois. The biggest lesson he learned from his loving and supportive family is to always lend a helping hand. Joe can boast that his worst addiction is to sunflower seeds. He is taking the stage to show off his talent, and to show that his constant singing and rhyming is not because he is just some crazy dude. After TEDxMarionCorrectional he will get back to work, serving others while continuing to hone his word craft.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

The Cost of Cancer

Doctors have been advising their patients struggling with terminal cancer to stop taking medication due to the cost of cancer medicine and the financial well-being of struggling people. Can doctors prescribe outrageously expensive medication and not be in violation of the hippocratic oath? We talk about the news on this Buzzsaw clip with Tyrel Ventura and Tabetha Wallace.
Watch the full episode here:

Buzzsaw Short Videos:

More Buzzsaw Full Length Interviews and News:

Police shooting of 13-year-old provokes protests

More than a thousand people gathered this week in Santa Rosa, Calif. to protest the death of a 13-year-old boy after a county sheriff shot and killed him. Police say Andy Lopez was carrying a pellet gun that looked like an AK-47 when they confronted him. Witnesses say they heard the sheriff's deputies order Lopez to put down the gun twice. One of the deputies, Erick Gelhaus, opened fire when Lopez turned around, shooting the boy seven times. Ameera David talks to RT's Ramon Galindo about the controversy surrounding the shooting incident.


City College students marched through the streets of Hamilton Heights (HARLEM)   on Monday, Oct. 28 to protest the closure of the Morales/Shakur Center. 
City College Students Demand Return of Community Space 
<p>City College students marched through the streets of Hamilton Heights&nbsp; on Monday, Oct. 28 to protest the closure of the Morales/Shakur Center.</p>
City College Protest Leaders Suspended
Khalil Vasquez, 22, right, a senior and Tafadar Sourov, 19, a sophomore, say they were intercepted by campus police and an NYPD officer as they attempted to attend class Monday morning and told they were no longer allowed on campus following last week's protests over the closure of the Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Student and Community Center on the third floor of the North Academic Center at 138th Street and Convent Avenue.
Tafadar Sourov:  (THE YOUNG MAN TO THE LEFT IN PIC) "The Morales Shakur Community Center was a place I visited in high school, and seeing that there was a revolutionary space connecting students to the community was what made me decide to come to City College. Today, the administration is coming down on me hard for being a leader in the struggle for a liberated CUNY, but I still believe in defending our communities and universities from militarization. I believe in struggling to build a new CUNY that is run by the community, the faculty and the students, that is open to everybody. Let us all struggle for democratic control over CUNY, to end militarization and win back the Morales Shakur Center!"

<p>Protests over the sudden closure of the Morales/Shakur Centrt&nbsp; last week continued Monday with students speaking out in front of the Adminsitrative Building before marching through the streets of West Harlem to Broadway. A police car came to escort the crowd of about 50 students as they marched in the streets.</p>
The fight to save the MSCC is much bigger than the space itself. It's not fearing being in campus because a Public Safety officer "might" detain you when you're trying to leave. It's being able to voice your opinion about something your school is doing and you as a taxpayer want some say in. It's about not being silenced when you're a dissenter, at least allow dissenting thoughts to be said. It's about there being more students than security guards when they're not needed. #savemscc #ccnyshutdown

WHO DO THEY SERVE. JUST DOING THEIR JOBS. - "ATTENTION STUDENTS I just witnessed with my own eyes a young man in a white shirt and denim pants ask some security guards questions about why they were shutting off entrances. He was put on the ground and handled physically by FOUR OFFICERS. Each officer was carrying a limb on this man and they were carrying him away. Not holding him while he was walking - but CARRIED away. I haven't been involved with the protests at all but seeing this just igniting something in me. EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS. THIS IS HAPPENING NOW, THIS HAPPENED A HALF HOUR AGO IN THE NAC. 10/28/13 - a confused and angry student."


Free All Political Prisoners!

Anarchist Black Cross Sounds Alarm on Prisoner Healthcare

By Kit OConnell (Firedoglake)
At a gathering of Anarchist Black Cross groups, prison support activists raised the alarm about mistreatment of America’s prisoners: a pattern of denial of necessary medical care and compassionate release amounts to state-sanctioned torture.
Here on Firedoglake we’ve covered the death of Herman Wallace and the denial of medical treatment to whistleblower John Kiriakou, but these are just two of many victims.
The Anarchist Black Cross movement is a coalition of loosely allied groups which support prisoners. Many of them came together last month for the third annual national gathering of North American Anarchist Black Cross groups in Denver, attended by organizations from as far away as Mexico City.
They identified medical treatment of political prisoners as a key issue, and the North American Anarchist Black Cross Medical Justice Committee issued this statement at the time of Wallace’s death:
Herman was just one of many, ageing political prisoners (and prisoners of war) in the United States who are currently being denied adequate medical care and the compassionate release for which they qualify. These people are incarcerated for their opposition to actions or policies of the US government that are in violation of human rights, and as such should be afforded the protections of international law. It is the opinion of the North American Anarchist Black Cross Medical Justice Committee that these captured dissidents and combatants be granted compassionate release and dignified medical care, with respect to their age, health and sacrifice in service of legitimate struggles against oppression and exploitation. It was too little, too late for Herman; that must not be the fate of our other elder comrades.
The Geneva Conventions contain the internationally recognized standard of care for prisoners of war. The standard of care for Political Prisoners in the United States ought to be at least as sound as the Geneva Conventions. It currently is not. We have many ageing comrades struggling for the most basic health care while incarcerated. Even the Office of the Inspector General found that the existing [Bureau of Prisons] compassionate release program has been poorly managed and implemented inconsistently, likely resulting in eligible inmates not being considered for release and in terminally ill inmates dying before their requests were decided, as noted in the Department of Justice April 2013 review of the [Bureau of Prisons] compassionate release program. We cannot allow this to keep happening. What’s happened to Herman Wallace should never happen again. No one should die in prison. Least of all, perhaps, those who have spent their lives fighting oppression and injustice.
The statement goes on to detail the suffering of over a dozen current or past political prisoners from Lynne Stewart, the activist lawyer dying of cancer behind bars, to American Indian Movement member Leonard Peltier, suffering from serious health issues.

“The US concentration camps [prisons] are notorious for subjecting people to unofficial, indirect slow death and torture,” said Joseph Jordan of the Denver Anarchist Black Cross when we spoke by phone. “One of the ways is through conscious, medical neglect and profit being prioritized over human care.”
I asked Jordan what he thought my readers could do to help political prisoners. “Write, call, email anybody relevant — particularly the wardens of the prisons that these people are held in, and for federal cases the Federal Board of Pardons and the Bureau of Prisons.” The Bureau of Prisons is responsible for recommending compassionate release and, in cases like Stewart’s, will frequently deny the validity of medical claims about the prisoner’s health.
Jordan also said anyone can help raise awareness about political prisoners. “What should the average person who’s compassionate but not an ABC member do? Write to political prisoners, talk about them to your friends and coworkers. Make it an issue. Writing to a political prisoner takes just minutes and as a show of support it means a lot.”
Jordan stressed that the Anarchist Black Cross movement differs from groups like Amnesty International because it supports not just political prisoners, but those he called prisoners of war — people who actively opposed what he sees as an oppressive government and now face mistreatment behind bars. “This government is illegitimate,” he added. If our government lacks legitimacy, then its laws are also illegitimate, designed to maintain power or build the prison-industrial complex and the school-to-prison pipeline.
But regardless of how you feel about their actions, all prisoners deserve humane treatment.
We’re fighting not even for civil rights but for human rights. For healing to happen, especially if you’re aging, you need access to good food. You need access to clean water. You need access to sunshine and exercise and fresh air. All of those are necessary for healing — our ancestors have known this for thousands of years. It’s not officially considered torture, but that’s what it is. –Joseph Jordan
Keeping a sick prisoner like Leonard Peltier from accessing his native culture and its traditional healing methods is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.
Helping Political Prisoners

If you’d like to appeal to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on behalf of a Federal Prisoner, you can write:
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First St., NW
Washington, DC 20534
You can also reach out to the U.S. Pardon Attorney, Ronald L. Rodgers by phone at 202-616-6070.
If you’ve got a few minutes of free time this week, why not write a letter to a political prisoner to show your love and solidarity? Below, you will find the addresses of three political prisoners mentioned in this article, but both the Denver Anarchist Black Cross and Operation PenPal maintain extensive lists of prisoners. #OpPenPal also has a great guide to prisoner support by mail. You can also use FlikShop to send photos to prisoners via iPhone app or website.
John Kiriakou (see also defendJohnK.com)
John Kiriakou 79637-083,
Federal Correctional Institution, Loretto,
P.O. Box 1000, Loretto, PA 15940.
Leonard Peltier (see also whoisLeonardPeltier.info)
Leonard Peltier
USP Coleman I
U.S. Penitentiary
PO Box 1033
Coleman, FL 33521
Lynne Stewart (see also LynneStewart.org)
Lynne Stewart
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
PO Box 27137
Ft Worth, TX 76127



Oregon Jericho
The Jericho Movement for Political Prisoner Amnesty
P.O. Box 17420
Portland, Oregon 97217


Free All Political Prisoners!

Caution: Your GPS Ankle Bracelet Is Listening

October 25, 2013 06:48:44 am
By Waldo D. Covas Quevedo
When defense lawyer Fermín L. Arraiza-Navas sat down with a prospective client in San Juan, Puerto Rico last April, he casually asked the man about the Global Positioning System (GPS) ankle bracelet that he was wearing as a condition for his bail.
The reply was just as casual.
“They speak to me through that thing,” the man said.
It wasn’t the first time the lawyer encountered GPS bracelets with apparently extraordinary powers. He told the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Reporting (CPIPR) that a previous defendant’s GPS ankle bracelet started to vibrate during a meeting with him.
But Arraiza-Navas decided this was more than a coincidence. He cancelled the meeting and filed a motion at the Puerto Rico State Superior Court in San Juan to have the device removed.
During the court hearing on the motion, his worst suspicions were confirmed.
A Corrections Department agent, who works at the Puerto Rico Pretrial Services Office's monitoring center for defendants free on bail, placed a GPS ankle bracelet on the court podium and made a call from the device to a technician of the SecureAlert company, which provides them at a facility in Sandy, Utah.
The technician, who was addressed through the GPS ankle bracelet—which has a phone feature—testified that, although the device is supposed to vibrate when activated from Utah, the feature could be turned on without warning.
Superior Judge Elizabeth Linares ordered the device removed within the Court's cell area for the duration of the meeting between the defendant and his defense counsel.
But the discovery has raised serious questions about whether such technology violates the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship—and the right to privacy—for thousands of individuals under court supervision across the U.S. whose personal private conversations could be heard or recorded without their knowledge and without a court warrant.
Civil Liberties Concerns
These concerns were shared by privacy experts and civil liberties attorneys contacted by the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Reporting.
Puerto Rico Constitutional legal expert Carlos E. Ramos, who teaches at the Interamerican University Law School, said “the state [efforts] to listen and/or record the unauthorized conversations between a defendant with his or her lawyer through an electronic GPS-bracelet represents the most absolute and gross infringement to that person's constitutional rights.”
“If that action is conducted through a private company, the infringement is magnified,” Ramos added.
During the court hearing, Arraiza-Navas noted that no alarm or signal was heard or seen when the electronic communication was allegedly finished.
In his motion to the court, the lawyer stated that the system’s operators had informed his office that the device was able to “activate unilaterally” from the command post and that “the conversations could be heard.”
However, Assistant San Juan District Attorney Erika Quiñones-González denied that the device infringed on the defendants constitutional rights.
Quiñones-González asserted in a motion contained in the case file that “the supervised defendant is warned by a vibration and sound before the line is open to allow communication.”
She added in her motion that when the phone call is over the GPS electronic supervision system emits the phrase “Secure Alert: disconnect call”.
The prosecution also claimed the controversy was premature because it was not proven that his constitutional rights were violated.
Opening the Line
However, in her response, Quiñones-González also stated that the Pretrial Services Command Control officer testified that there are two ways to open the phone line: one is announcing the call by the vibration and a particular loud sound.
“The supervised defendant does not have to take action and the line is opened so that the agent can provide instructions or communicate with the supervised defendant, as the case may be” if the protocol is activated by some alert, she said
The second method: when the supervised defendant clicks a button to notify the Command Center of an emergency, the system emits the phrase “Secure Alert: disconnect call” so that both know that the call is over and close the communication.
Issa L. Toledo-Colón, Deputy Executive Director of the Puerto Rico State Pretrial Services Office, said that the Commonwealth supervises 714 defendants awaiting trial with the traditional Radio Frequency (RF) ankle bracelets through a contract with Behavior Intelligence International, and another 337 with GPS-cellular phone ankle bracelets through a contract with SecureAlert.
An Associated Press investigation published in July estimated that as many as 100,000 sex offenders, parolees and suspects are free on bail wearing ankle bracelets.
The Prison Legal News, a printed and on-line publication aimed primarily at an inmate readership, estimates that 200,000 persons are under some sort of ankle bracelet electronic monitoring.
GPS ankle bracelets were introduced in the last decade to replace the original devices, in wide use around the U.S. since the 1980s, that require a land phone line. The bracelets alert a monitoring center when the person wearing it is away from the perimeter established by the court, usually their own home.
More sophisticated version of these devices have the same features as a cellular phone. They provide real time monitoring, with the capacity to record the location of the person wearing it---thereby allowing authorities to be warned if the suspect or convict is in a banned area or to confirm the individual is complying with his or her work, study, medical or other activities agreed with the court.
The high-tech surveillance capability of these devices represents an overstep of the state’s right to supervise a defendant charged with a crime, Arraiza-Navas wrote the court.
Calling the practice “flagrantly unconstitutional,” he said “it cannot be supported by law that in order to be set free under bail [persons] charged with a crime have to waive their right to privacy and to keep their conversations with attorneys confidential.”
Experts Shocked
Leading legal experts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. expressed serious concerns about the possibility of government and private companies providing electronic ankle bracelets being able to eavesdrop or record private conversations of the persons wearing them.
The lawyers claim this violates the Fourth Amendment, as well as the Federal Wiretap Act and the Puerto Rico Constitution.
Victor A. Meléndez-Lugo, Director for the Appeals Division for the Puerto Rico Legal Aid Society, said that he has not heard of any similar case and found the possibility “shocking”.
“The recording or interception of phone calls in Puerto Rico constitutes a crime”, Meléndez-Lugo added. “If that is happening in Puerto Rico it has to stop happening since yesterday.”
William Ramírez, Executive Director for the Puerto Rico Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said defendants have a right to privacy to avoid self-incrimination—a right that could be infringed if they are unaware that their conversations could be listened to or recorded by the Pretrial Services Office, or by the private company that provides the GPS/cellular phone ankle bracelet.
According to Ramírez , the right to post bail under the condition of wearing an ankle bracelet is not an automatic waiver to the right to privacy.
Other civil liberties advocates agreed.
Ben Wizner, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU in Washington, D. C. said it was the first time he had heard of such a case, adding that “if it allows eavesdropping or to record conversations, (it) is a very important issue that is worth exploring.”
Jerry J. Cox, President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, expressed concern for the incident in written remarks to the CPIPR.
“If law enforcement agencies anywhere in this country are using such microphone-equipped GPS ankle bracelets they must, at a minimum, make both a general disclosure of that fact to the public and our elected representatives, as well as a specific and complete disclosure of that fact to each and every person who might wear one of those ankle bracelets, as well as to his or her attorney,” Cox wrote. 
“And under no circumstances whatsoever can there be any intrusion into the confidential and privileged discussions between any person and their counsel.”
Waldo D. Covas Quevedo is a reporter for the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Reporting. The original, longer version of this story appeared in Spanish in the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo de Puerto Rico (CPIPR) website, and is reprinted through the services of the Investigative News Network. He welcomes comments from readers.
Freedom Archives   


Free All Political Prisoners!

The most racist city in the U.S.?

Sarah Blaskey and Phil Gasper report on a new study that shows the pernicious effects of racism as it afflicts African Americans in liberal Madison, Wis.
On the march against racism in Madison (Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement) 
On the march against racism in Madison (Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement)
MADISON, WIS., has a reputation as one of the most liberal cities in the country. It is also possibly the most racially unequal.
In early October, Race to Equity--a Madison-based initiative started by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families--released a report detailing racial disparities in Madison, and more broadly in Dane County, Wis. The findings are staggering.
The Race to Equity researchers expected the numbers compiled for racial disparities in Dane County to be similar or slightly better than the national averages. After all, Madison has long prided itself on having quality public education, good jobs, access to health care and human services programs, a relatively high standard of living and, in general, a progressive outlook on social, economic and political questions.
But while living standards for the white population in Dane County are higher than the national average, for the Black population, the opposite is true. On every indicator, with only two exceptions out of 40 measures, statistics collected in Dane County demonstrated equal or higher racial disparities between whites and Blacks than the national averages.
Here are just a few examples of the extreme inequality that exists in Dane County.
-- In 2011, the unemployment rate was 25.2 percent for Blacks compared to just 4.8 percent for whites. Nationally, the unemployment rate was 18 percent for Blacks and 8 percent for whites.
-- In the same year, "over 54 percent of African American Dane County residents lived below the federal poverty line, compared to 8.7 percent of whites, meaning Dane County Blacks were over six times more likely to be poor than whites."
-- More than 74 percent of Black children live under the poverty level as opposed to just 5.5 percent of white children. The report suggested "that this 13 to 1 disparity ratio may constitute one of the widest Black/white child poverty gaps that the Census Surveys reported for any jurisdiction in the nation."
-- "In 2011, African American youth in the Madison Public School District had about a 50 percent on-time high school graduation rate, compared to 85 percent for white students."
-- "African American adolescents, while constituting less than 9 percent of the county's youth population, made up almost 80 percent of all the local kids sentenced to the state's juvenile correctional facility in 2011."
After uncovering these alarming truths, the report tries to explain them. How can such an apparently well-to-do and progressive place be so racist?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Structural Racism in Dane County
The United States' long history of slavery and Jim Crow racism created deep-seated structural inequalities that have persisted long past the abolition of legal racism and account for the racial disparities that we see today in all 50 states. But there are several structural factors unique to Madison and Dane County that make the situation especially bad here.
Madison in a college town. It is centered around a high-powered university that often ranks amongst the best public universities in the country--a status Madison works hard to maintain.
As a result, the majority of jobs in the city and surrounding areas demand a highly skilled workforce with advanced degrees and work experience. Often these jobs get taken by recent university graduates who elect to stay in the city. By contrast, the area has few opportunities for less skilled, entry-level workers seeking quality jobs.
The presence of some 40,000 college students also means that there is a lot of competition for the limited entry-level positions available in "retail, hospitality, personal service, construction, manufacturing and transportation." Students take these jobs as part-time employment to get through college. This creates more obstacles for other, less-credentialed job-seekers looking for full time employment.
These barriers for obtaining quality jobs are exacerbated, according to the report, "by hiring and human resource practices that set credential, reference, training or background thresholds at levels that operate, perhaps unintentionally, to discourage or exclude highly motivated and capable applicants who possess less developed resumes or less formal education."
Unemployment disparities and other factors mean that the Black poverty rate in Dane County is 54 percent, almost twice the national average.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Small, Under-Resourced and Disconnected Neighborhoods"
Another structural disadvantage faced by people of color, in particular African Americans in Madison, is the highly fragmented areas on the fringes of the city where most of them live. Location has disenfranchised African Americans politically and socially and made it even harder for them to find accessible jobs.
The Race to Equity report showed that about "half of the area's low-income Black households live in approximately 15 small, compact residential concentrations scattered within the city and around its perimeter."
These enclaves are mostly rental developments, tend to be home to between 100 and 400 families of color and are usually surrounded by larger, predominantly white neighborhoods.
There are no large-scale, permanent Black neighborhoods anywhere in the city that would provide a social or political anchor for African Americans. In fact, county-wide, "there is not a single aldermanic district, supervisory district, planning unit, or even a census tract where African Americans constitute the majority of residents," preventing significant political visibility. In 2013, African Americans only held a handful of public offices out of the hundreds in the county.
These African American enclaves generally lack "a church, a full-service grocery, a public school, social or civic clubs, developed open spaces, a bar, a restaurant, or a significant employer," and tend to be "thinly or unevenly served" by public transportation systems.
High turnover rates, mobility, small size and many of the factors listed above inhibit strong community building in these neighborhoods.
According to the report, "Kin networks, for example, appear less wide, less deep, and less multi-generational in Dane County's Black areas than in the larger, more rooted African American neighborhoods found in most American cities."
This ghettoization has led to a fractured community of color, fewer social programs and fewer support networks, which limits the ability of African Americans to organize.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Madison Public Schools and the Achievement Gap
A major factor that prevents progress toward racial equity in Madison is the public school system. For white students, Dane County public schools have a reputation for excellence. But, in general, county schools channel Blacks students into remedial classes that offer little opportunity for college preparation.
Black students on average have drastically lower reading scores from an early age, lower on-time graduation rates, higher suspension rates and are less likely to take college preparatory classes.
In Dane County, "in the 2011-12 school year, Black 12th graders were only half as likely as white 12th graders to take the ACT [college admissions and placement] exam. Finally, of those taking the exam, African Americans averaged a score of 18, compared to a white average of 24."
The existing disparities create stereotypes about new students, leading to differing academic expectations that exacerbate racial inequalities in the county.
The report documents many cases in which African American parents worry about sending their children to Madison schools, fearing that they will have fewer opportunities to thrive than in other cities. Many have considered moving away for this reason.
Stereotypes and uneven expectations are also present in disciplinary processes. "In 2011, for example, public schools in Dane County reported 3,198 suspensions of Black students as against 1,130 suspensions of white students," although African Americans are only 17 percent of the total public school population.
In other words, Black students in Dane County schools are 15 times more likely to be suspended than white students.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Criminal Injustice
Disparities in disciplinary processes extend beyond the public school system. In 2010, Black youth in Dane County were six times as likely as white youth to be arrested. This compared to a 3-to-1 ratio in the rest of the state and about 2-to-1 nationally.
"The striking result of these disparities is that African American adolescents, while constituting less than 9 percent of the county's youth population, made up almost 80 percent of all the local kids sentenced to the state's juvenile correctional facility in 2011," according to the report.
The numbers are even worse for adult sentencing disparities.
"While Black men made up only 4.8 percent of the county's total adult male population, they accounted for more than 43 percent of all new adult prison placements during the year [2012]."
Wisconsin as a whole has by far the highest rate of imprisonment for Black men in the United States. A from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Wisconsin's Mass Incarceration of African American Males, issued at the same time as the Race to Equity report, found that in 2010, 12.8 percent of Black men were imprisoned in the state--almost twice the national average, and more than 3 percent higher than the next worst state.
But while the incarceration rate for Black males in Dane County is lower than the rest of the state, the racial disparities are higher.
A 2009 report from a Dane County Task Force on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System found that "Blacks were 25.6 times more likely to enter prison from Dane County than Whites."
The Race to Equity report also gives numbers for arrests. "In 2012, African American adults were arrested in Dane County at a rate more than eight times that of whites. That compares to a Black-white arrest disparity of about 4-to-1 for the rest of Wisconsin and 2.5-to-1 for the nation as a whole."
According to the report, "the alarming truth is that our numbers, taken as a whole, suggest that the distance between whites and Blacks (in terms of well-being, status and outcomes) is as wide or wider in Dane County than in any jurisdiction (urban or rural, North or South) for which we have seen comparable statistics."
The report concludes with well-intentioned but vague calls for change directed at "community leaders." But reports and fine words directed mainly to people at the top will change little. What is needed is a movement from below that will challenge both racial and economic inequality. Until that is built, the huge disparities in Madison and Dane County will remain.


Cyntoia Brown

Cyntoia Brown 16 year Old Victim Of Sex Trafficking Wrongfully Charged With 1st Degree Murder.
Sign The Petition · chn.ge/177hdcB  

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

VALENTINE ROAD, HBO Documentary with Dir. Marta Cunningham

Valentine Road, the new HBO Documentary about the shooting of gay student Lawrence "Larry" King by classmate Brandon McInerney in their Oxnard, California school. Though there was child abuse and white supremacy informing the horrible attack, the community came to support the accused murderer and vilify the "deviant" victim. We discuss the film and the issues of hate, youth, gender and empathy that created such an incredible story on this BYOD interview with director Marta Cunningham.

Marta Cunningham is a first time filmmaker and accomplished actress, dancer and choreographer. A native of Northern California, she was so moved by the story of Larry's murder that she became embedded in Oxnard and soon began filming those whose lives were touched by the tragedy. The film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win many awards including best documentary at Miami and San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Film Festivals. Marta also won honors as a first time filmmaker and first time documentary filmmaker at the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.


BYOD Full Episodes Playlist:
BYOD Short Clips Playlist:

00:01 Welcome to BYOD.
00:21 Introducing Valentine Road and Marta Cunningham.
02:40 Child abuse, gender identity, and the story that demanded a documentary.
05:14 Investigation of child care and focusing on the children.
07:06 Valentine Road, Trailer.
08:02 Valentine Road, Clip: The morning of the shooting.
09:20 The events that led to the murder and the police reaction.
10:46 The school responds to the shooting.
13:00 Gender roles, costs of self-expression and femininity.
15:08 The defense attorney arguments for Brandon McInerney.
17:58 Costs of rehabilitation and incarceration.
18:25 Valentine Road, clip: Defense attorney.
19:50 Valentine Road, clip: Attorney interview.
21:00 Coming to be an advocate for Lawrence "Larry" King.
23:02 The McInerney family history of violence.
25:00 Understanding the larger social issue.
26:45 A jury of women act for the defense of the accused murderer.
31:41 Shooting in Oxnard after the event and time spent waiting for the wheels of justice.
32:40 Brandon's girlfriend and support from the community.
35:45 Race and homophobia and what makes news.
37:30 Seeing the film on HBO.
38:32 Making films and the community of doc makers.
40:00 Working on LGBT teen films.
42:49 Hunger and children and different effects of abuse.
45:22 Thanks and Goodbye!

Sue & Paul Rutherford Fighting the Bedroom Tax

Sue & Paul Rutherford are trying their hardest to care for their severely disabled grandchild; but with the introduction of the cruel 'bedroom tax', their future is uncertain.
Broadcast on Wed 30 Oct 2013, 11:00, BBC One

International Figures Call for Freedom for Five Cubans Imprisoned in the U.S.

International Figures Call for Freedom for Five Cubans Imprisoned in the United States for 15 Years

PRESS RELEASE: Wednesday 30 October   
Noam Chomsky, Emma Thompson, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Ricardo Alarcón, Günter Grass and Ramsey Clark have joined other international personalities in support of Voices for the Five, an international coalition calling for justice and freedom for five Cubans imprisoned in the United States.

Voices for the Five, launched today, brings together supporters from the arts, media, legal, NGO and campaigning organisations calling for justice and freedom for the Cuban Five - five Cubans arrested in 1998 while attempting to prevent terrorist attacks against the Cuban people by groups within the USA.

Human rights and legal groups have raised questions about the fairness of the trial. Amnesty International stated that she has "serious doubts about the fairness of the the proceedings leading to their conviction" The organization says that she is "supporting calls for a review of the case by the US executive authorities through the clemency process or other appropriate means"

On 7-8 March 2014, a major two day Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five will convene a panel of internationally renowned commissioners drawn from legal, human rights, political and academic backgrounds and organisations at the Law Society in London as part of the Voices for the Five initiative.

The Commission will hear testimony from René González Sehwerert, the first and only member of the Five to have been released after completing his 15 year sentence. He will be joined by family members, victims of terrorism against Cuba, lawyers, politicians and campaigners from Cuba and across the world.

A full list of endorsers and video messages from international supporters of the Cuban Five can be found at www.voicesforthefive.com. The website calls on people across the globe to sign up online with messages, photos and videos to add their support to the hundreds of international figures already involved.

Michael Mansfield, famous English barrister, says "I am delighted to endorse the Inquiry into the case of the Miami Five to be held in London next March. It will serve as an expression of truth and conscience by the people for the people. Politicians cannot be trusted to undertake such an exercise"

Noam Chomsky, American academic and activist, says "They weren't criminals. They were heroes. I mean they were exposing to the US government crimes that are being committed on US soil; crimes the US government is tolerating and theoretically should be punishing itself. The five Cubans took a risk in doing that and that was a heroic act and instead of being honored for it they are being severely punished for it.
And that's why global opinion is so appalled by this travesty. The only way to remedy the injustice is to withdraw the charges completely"

Irmita González, eldest daughter of René González Sehwerert says "I was only 14 when my dad got arrested and I am 29 now. I have been growing up in the middle of this battle. It's too long. It's time for it to end and for my uncles to come back to their families, their life and their country, because they are people who have fought against the harm that has been done to Cuba for many years. They should be free and we need them back."

Notes to editors:

1. The two day Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five will convene a group of internationally renowned commissioners drawn from legal, human rights, political and academic backgrounds and organisations. They will hear first hand evidence from witnesses about their personal experiences of terrorism against Cuba, the arrest, the trial, legal appeals and the treatment and sentencing of the Cuban Five. This public event and will run concurrently with a full programme of rallies, concerts, exhibitions, screenings, media and cultural events to reach out to the widest audience as possible and generate increased international support and awareness for the cause of justice for the Five.

2. Endorsers include
Noam Chomsky, US academic and activist
Julie Christie, UK Actor
Ramsey Clark, Former US Attorney General
Günter Grass, German Nobel Prize for Literature
John Le Carré, UK novelist
Mairead Maguire, UK Nobel Peace Laureate
Michael Mansfield QC, UK legal
Phil Manzanera, musician, Roxy Music
Emma Thompson,UK actor                    
Alice Walker, US author
Dame Vivienne Westwood, UK international fashion designer

Full list can be found at www.voicesforthefive.com 

3. The International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five will be on 7-8 March 2014, The Law Society, Chancery Lane, London

4. The Cuban Five are Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero and René González - five Cuban men arrested in Miami in 1998 while attempting to stop terrorist attacks against the Cuban people. They were arrested in Miami in September 1998, where they were illegally held in solitary confinement for 17 months and charged with conspiracy to commit espionage. An unfair trial resulted in terms of between 15 years and double life.

For further details contact:

Rob Miller, Director Cuba Solidarity Campaign

Katrien Demuynck, European Coordinator Free the Five campaign,

Cuba Solidarity Campaign, c/o Unite, 218 Green Lanes, London N4 2HB, Britain

To learn more about the Cuban 5 visit: www.thecuban5.org
To order a copy of "What Lies Across the Water" write to info@thecuban5.org

Striving for poverty.

Striving for poverty.

Black Youth Answer The Question, "Are We Racially Profiled?"

Recently at our 1Hood Media Academy we discussed racial profiling. Not surprisingly, all of our students had experienced it in one way or another. We also talked about why we're racially profiled, and what Black youth should do about it. Ironically we had this conversation before the high profile incidents of "Shop and Frisk" at Barneys and Macy's. S/O to 1hood Media Academy student WillyPGH who directed and edited this episode!

Is there a white skin privilege?

The idea that all whites are privileged at the expense of Blacks is popular on the left--but Bill Mullen makes the case that Marxism offers a better understanding of racism.
Harlem marches to defend the Scottsboro Boys 
Harlem marches to defend the Scottsboro Boys
CAPITALISM HAS had devastating effects on people of color in the U.S. in recent years. Current Black unemployment remains at nearly double the national average for whites; predatory subprime lending caused foreclosure rates to skyrocket among non-white homeowners when the Great Recession hit; and mass incarceration and "stop-and-frisk" police policies continue to make African Americans and others doubly vulnerable to state-sponsored racism.
In the political sphere, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the U.S. Supreme Court, gerrymandering of congressional districts along racial lines, and new restrictions on democratic rights in the form of voter ID laws--not to mention the mass deportation of immigrants and attacks on reproductive rights--have left the poor, disproportionately non-white population in the U.S. facing the sharp end of the neoliberal stick.
It can be no surprise that one effect of this climate is to undermine confidence about the possibility of building interracial struggles for equality--certainly not at a moment of seeming hard times for any grassroots struggles.
Widening gaps in income and wealth between whites and non-whites; wage gaps between men and women, and whites and non-whites; the continuation of a ruling class that still looks and speaks in the name of white men (along with, increasingly, white women); egregious judicial miscarriages of justice like the acquittal of George Zimmerman; the ongoing epidemic of police violence; the eruptions of mad-dog racism among the Tea Party and the Religious Right--all of this naturally increases skepticism about the potential of whites and non-whites to link arms in successful campaigns for racial and economic justice.
Some commentators, bloggers and activists put forward what is sometimes called "privilege theory" or a "white skin privilege" analysis to explain these conditions.
Many good anti-racist activists have adopted some or all aspects of the "white skin privilege" argument. Fundamentally, the idea is that racism is inevitable under capitalism because all whites, no matter their class, benefit from the unequal distribution of social resources along racial lines. Because all whites gain from this arrangement, most are loathe to fight against it.
Many young activists who use the term privilege are really talking about oppression and inequality. But there is more specific meaning to the theory of a white skin privilege, as it was forcefully described by scholar Laura Pulido:
White privilege is a form of racism that both underlies and is distinct from institutional and overt racism. It underlies them in that both are predicated on preserving the privileges of white people (regardless of whether agents recognize this or not). But it is also distinct in terms of intentionality. It refers to the hegemonic structures, practices, and ideologies that reproduce whites' privileged status. In this scenario, whites do not necessarily intend to hurt people of color, but because they are unaware of their white-skin privilege, and because they accrue social and economic benefits by maintaining the status quo, they inevitably do.[1]
Pulido's description of white skin privilege is powerful and useful in some ways for describing the unintended effects of racist behavior. Yet the popularity of "white skin privilege" theory also speaks to capitalism's capacity to obliterate histories of real interracial struggle that challenged racist "hegemonic structures, practices and ideologies."
This erasure, or amnesia, is a historical marker of successful and ongoing attacks on the social welfare state, trade unions, workplace labor organization and public education---all arenas where the U.S. working class has a long history of standing up to racism.
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"WHITE SKIN privilege" first appeared as a codified body of analysis in 1967. In that year, Noel Ignatiev, under the name Noel Ignatin, and Theodore Allen produced a pamphlet containing two articles: "White Blindspot" by Ignatiev, and "Can White Radicals be Radicalized?" by Allen.
"White skin privilege" theory as they developed it argued that white radicals and activists did not put enough emphasis on racism in either assessing U.S. history or developing tactics to build revolutionary movements in the here and now. Their analysis combined the influence of Black nationalism's emphasis on white supremacy in U.S. society; a commitment to the centrality of Black workers to the revolutionary struggle; and an argument that "white chauvinism" among white workers was the single-biggest obstacle to working-class unity, and hence revolution.
The Ignatiev/Allen pamphlet was published by the Students for Democratic Society Radical Education project, and had a lasting impact on the New Left, SDS and the Maoist New Communist Movement.[2]
But most people who invoke "white skin privilege" today are more likely influenced by academic writing done in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which began to re-popularize the term and the idea. These writings have little direct relationship to the 1960s political analysis of the term, whatever its merits and flaws, and should be considered separately.
In this article, I want to focus on two writings that, in my estimation, are most often quoted or cited by contemporary anti-racist activists in support of a "white skin privilege" analysis--though the two pieces are very different in character and diverge in how they explain and interpret the causes and effects of "white skin privilege" or "white benefits."
The first is Peggy McIntosh's essay "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Napsack," written in 1990. McIntosh, a professor of women's studies, argued among other things that whites benefit from racism by having unfettered access to social spaces where they are a majority and to consumer goods tailored to their interests (like flesh-colored Band-Aids).
The second is David Roediger's 1991 book The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class. Roediger, then a historian at the University of Missouri, drew his title phrase "wages of whiteness" from W.E.B. Du Bois' 1935 book Black Reconstruction. There, Du Bois argued that antebellum and postbellum whites in the American South earned what he called a "psychological wage" from living at a higher economic and social standing than African Americans.
Roediger applied this idea to a wide range of 19th century labor history, documenting instances where white workers chose to act against Black workers rather than working for solidarity within the working class. Roediger argued that while capitalist bosses did use racism consciously to divide the working class, white workers sustained racist ideas--"approved them," in Du Bois' words.
I think both of these writings, despite their differences, exhibit weaknesses in explaining what racism is and how it works. For this reason and a variety of others offered below, I believe that Marxists should reject "white skin privilege" as an explanation of how capitalism produces racism, and how we might fight against it.
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PEGGY McINTOSH'S "White Privilege" essay often describes white skin privilege as the expression of personal decisions and choices. This makes racism appear to be something that depends on individual behavior or lifestyle, rather than structural inequalities produced under capitalism. As a white woman, McIntosh writes:
1. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
McIntosh here confuses individual rights with "privileges." "Privilege" in this context better describes the power held by institutions and their representatives that restrict or abuse those rights to begin with--police, banks, realtors, etc. Calling basic rights "privileges" also puts the onus of social change on restricting the rights that do exist for some, rather than extending them to others. This is sometimes called "checking your privilege" by privilege theorists.
Such an approach leads only to recognizing inequality, rather than fighting to overturn it. As Native American activist Andrea Smith has written of "checking your privilege" workshops she has observed: "It did not appear that these individual confessions actually led to any political projects to dismantle the structures of domination that enabled their privilege. Rather, the confessions became the political project themselves."
The idea of insisting on basic social rights as "privileges" also indicates how capitalism wins concessions from anti-racist activists, restricting the fight against inequality to one of individual reflection and moral achievement, rather than collective solidarity.
McIntosh also refers to the world of white skin privilege as a "system" without describing its structural features. Privilege, she says, is "conferred" upon whites, but she doesn't say how or by whom. She pays no mind to class differences among whites that significantly limit, for example, the areas where most can afford to live. She ignores the fact that many working-class whites live in highly integrated neighborhoods, while wealthier whites "pay for" their segregation.
She then writes about privileges:
Disapproving of the system won't be enough to change them. I was taught to think that racism could end if white individuals changed their attitude. But a "white" skin in the United States opens many doors for whites, whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us. Individual acts can palliate, but cannot end, these problems.
So racism creates a set of privileges that white people can't avoid having, and "[i]ndividual acts can palliate, but cannot end, these problems." McIntosh makes "privilege" a question not of fighting racism, but of feeling guilty about it. She normalizes racism, while downplaying the confidence and capacity to resist it.
White skin privilege is a dangerous counterpart to the point Michelle Alexander makes in The New Jim Crow that capitalism individualizes racism in order to prevent people from fighting it collectively. As Alexander suggests, we need to understand racism as a social structure that needs to be torn down by mass movements, like the prison walls themselves.
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DAVID ROEDIGER'S The Wages of Whiteness was written during a period--the late 1980s--of the dominance of conservatism and extreme pessimism about the prospects of the class struggle and interracial class unity. Thus, many white working-class people who had identified with Democrats in the past shifted their loyalties to the Republicans during the 1980s, in response to the saturation campaign designed to demonize the Black working class.
In my opinion, this historical context shapes Roediger's approach to the history he examines in The Wages of Whiteness. Himself a committed and politically active anti-racist, Roedger nevertheless focuses his book almost entirely on examples of failures of racial solidarity in U.S. working-class history. This aids his thesis that "working class 'whiteness' and white supremacy [are] creations, in part, of the white working class."
In order to make his argument in The Wages of Whiteness, Roediger makes several errors in analysis. I will discuss just two here.
First, Roediger excludes from his definition of the "working class" property-less African Americans and other non-white workers. This exclusion enables him to disregard evidence of interracial collaboration, and naturalizes the equivalence of "whiteness" to class.
To his credit, in the afterword to the second edition of The Wages of Whiteness, Roediger admitted this error--what he called "the unexamined and indefensible notion that white males were somehow 'the American working class.'" Roediger acknowledged that this made his interpretation of labor history more pessimistic than it might have otherwise been.
Second, I believe Roediger distorts the ideas of W.E.B. Du Bois. In Black Reconstruction, Du Bois clearly identified the "wages of whiteness" as a divide-and-rule strategy, under which racism is imposed by the Southern planter class and northern industrialists on workers. Du Bois was very clear that racism did not originate with whites. He writes:
The race element was emphasized in order that property-holders could get the support of the majority of white laborers and make it more possible to exploit Negro labor. But the race philosophy came as a new and terrible thing to make labor unity or labor class-consciousness impossible. So long as the Southern white laborers could be induced to prefer poverty to equality with the Negro, just so long was a labor movement in the South made impossible. (p. 680)
Du Bois could not have been clearer that racism is disadvantageous to both Black and white workers. White workers must even be "induced to prefer poverty" over equality with Blacks. Du Bois also makes clear that this attitude did not originate with working-class consciousness, but was a "new and terrible" strategy to maintain control over newly proletarianized labor.
By emphasizing that this divide-and-rule tactic prevented a successful interracial working-class movement, Du Bois means to show that the only lasting "benefit" from this outcome went to the American ruling class. Barbara Foley has also pointed out that Du Bois was likely to assume that, in using the term "wages of whiteness," any "wage" provided under capitalism was in the interests of the capitalist class, not the working class.
Roediger's book, unfortunately, emphasized only one element of Du Bois' interpretation: The "tragic" fact of white workers allowing racism to blind them to their mutual class interests with Black workers.
The Wages of Whiteness is Roediger's most widely read book, which is why I have concentrated on it. But it should be said that Roediger has gone on to write several other books on race and U.S. history, which emphasize clearly how ruling elites use race to divide labor. These include his valuable recent book, with Elizabeth Esch, titled The Production of Difference: Race and the Management of Labor in U.S. History.
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THE HISTORY of interracial struggle in the U.S. is hidden from most people. It is important to recapture that history in order to assess the validity of "white skin privilege" theory. I would highlight these historical events to give us a more complete picture[3]:
-- In 1676, a mix of 400 armed whites and Blacks, free men, servants and slaves, rose up against the government of Virginia in what has become known as Bacon's Rebellion. Though the Rebellion included an attack on Pamunkey Indians, stirred by the ruling class failure to provide land protections, the Rebellion was also a response to beatings, whippings and restrictions on marriage suffered by both slaves and white servants.
-- In 1688, Francis Daniel Pastorius and three other members of the Germantown Settlement in Pennsylvania drafted a petition requesting that slavery be outlawed in the colonies. The petition also defended the right of slaves to rebel. Though slavery continued as a practice, the document was resurrected in 1844, giving further momentum to the abolitionist movement.
-- In Boston in the 1730s, bread riots and protests against high prices for daily goods preceded riots against the impressment of men into naval service. Crowds storming the house of the colonial governor of the state were described by a merchants' group as a "Riotous tumultuous Assembly of Foreign Seamen, Servants, Negroes, and Other Persons of Mean and Vile Condition."
-- In 1739, 18 members of the Darien, Georgia, colony introduced a petition to Gen. James Oglethorpe and colony trustees against the institution of slavery. The petitioners wrote, "It is shocking to human Nature, that any Race of Mankind and their Posterity should be sentanc'd to perpetual Slavery."
-- African American slaves and freemen fought for their freedom alongside whites, in both the Continental Army and the British Army during the American Revolution. Crispus Attucks, an African American, was famously one of the first Americans to die in what would become the Revolutionary War.
-- As Howard Zinn and Herbert Aptheker have shown, whites assisted in slave rebellions in the U.S. as early as 1802. William Lloyd Garrison began publishing his abolitionist newspaper Liberator in 1831. The Underground Railroad was an interracial collaboration. Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs were both assisted in their flights to freedom by whites. John Brown, a friend of Frederick Douglass, was executed for organizing a raid on the federal government's arsenal in Harper's Ferry that he hoped would spark a slave insurrection. He was eulogized by W.E.B. Du Bois for his attempt to help organize what Du Bois called the Black "proletariat."
-- Lucy Parsons, who was of Black, Native American and Mexican ancestry, and her white husband Albert Parsons, helped to lead the May 1886 nationwide strike for the eight-hour day. According to her biographer Carolyn Ashbaugh, when Parsons spoke of workers' revolution, she "talked about the common blood of humanity which flows in Black Africans, workers of Europe and in her own ancestors---the real Native Americans. Poverty was their common enemy, and they must fight it together."
-- Both Reconstruction and the massive railways strikes of 1877 involved Black and white cooperation. The New Orleans General Strike of 1892, the Populist movement before the turn of the 20th century, and the steelworkers and miners' strikes after it were all interracial. In contrast to the racist American Federation of Labor, with its craft union orientation, the major industrial union movements in U.S. history, including the Industrial Workers of the World and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, emphasized interracial organizing.
-- Black workers not only played a central role in the development of the white majority Communist Party of the U.S., but they shaped its policies on Black self-determination and the primary role of African Americans in labor struggles. Harry Haywood and Claude McKay were among the Black Communists to emerge as important leaders. Interracial unity was crucial to Communist struggles in Harlem and Alabama during the Great Depression, as demonstrated in excellent books by Mark Naison and Robin D.G. Kelley.
-- Every major civil rights organization or initiative in the postwar period through the 1960s was interracial, and led by African Americans--the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Martin Luther King Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign, to name a few. The SCLC, for example, emphasized its view that not all whites were racist as it sought to build a larger movement.
-- Among the Black Power groups of the 1960s and 1970s, the Black Panther Party created interethnic anti-racist affiliations with other oppressed groups and with some anti-racist whites, as did the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM) in Detroit. One of the mentors of DRUM activists was the white Marxist autoworker Marty Glaberman.
-- More recently, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel's occupation of Palestine, and national protests against the murder of Trayvon Martin and execution of Troy Davis all saw new interracial coalitions formed to challenge racism and the effects of capitalism.
-- In 2012, the interracial Chicago Teachers Union won strong support for its strike across working-class Chicago, especially largely Black and Latino communities, by emphasizing the struggle against "educational apartheid," as shown by school closings and layoffs of minority teachers disproportionately affecting African Americans and Latinos. Union solidarity and racial solidarity went hand in hand.
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THESE EXAMPLES from U.S. history help confirm the Marxist analysis of how capitalism uses racism to try to divide and rule--and how struggles arise, some organized by socialists and some not, to challenge both racism and the capitalist system.
Marxism is specific about racism precisely where the idea of a "white skin privilege" is fuzzy and vague. Marx, as is well known, traced the history of capitalism to what he called a period of "primitive accumulation"--including the extraction of wealth from Latin America by the European colonizers, and the beginnings of the slave trade.
The cotton industry of the 19th century, Marx famously wrote, couldn't exist without slavery, and capitalism without both. This led Marx to his famous pronouncement in Capital, referring to racism in the U.S.: "Labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the Black it is branded."
Marx also showed how capitalism and colonialism created hostility and racism among English workers against Irish workers, even though the latter were, by definition, "white." In an 1870 letter written to Sigfrid Meyer and August Vogt in New York[4], Marx wrote:
Every industrial and commercial center in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians. The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life. In relation to the Irish worker, he regards himself as a member of the ruling nation, and consequently, he becomes a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself. He cherishes religious, social and national prejudices against the Irish worker. His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the "poor whites" to the Negroes in the former slave states of the U.S.A. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money. He sees in the English worker both the accomplice and the stupid tool of the English rulers in Ireland.
This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short, by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes. This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organization. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. And the latter is quite aware of this.
Marx is clear here that capitalist competition produces resentments and racial bigotry---Marx calls them "religious, social and national prejudices" among workers. He is clear that this prejudice is maintained by bourgeois society in the interests of the ruling class. Like Du Bois' analysis of Southern society in Black Reconstruction, he sees racial hostility as a key to the "impotence" of the working class--its weakened ability to fight back in unity against its exploitation.
It is here that Marxism draws its sharpest distinction with "privilege" theory. Marxism holds that people's ideas--such as their ideas about race---can change depending on objective historical conditions. From Bacon's Rebellion to the CTU strike, there are examples of ordinary people who have defied the expected behavior based on their possession of property, social standing or place in existing hierarchies of power, and acted according to the principle of solidarity--that an injury to one must be confronted because it is an injury to all.
Privilege theory is predicated on an unchanging status---privilege---rather than a dynamic understanding of human consciousness or human history. Its pessimism follows from its premise. Privilege theory's skepticism about social change flows from its investment in a conceptual category that is static and often, as we have seen from the evidence, ahistorical.
Marxism remains the best tool for analyzing racism, sexism and other forms of oppression--and providing a guide for combatting them--because it understands that capitalism is the main engine of oppression and social division. Gregory Meyerson has put this well[5]:
Marxism, properly interpreted, emphasizes the primacy of class in a number of senses. One, of course, is the primacy of the working class as a revolutionary agent--a primacy which does not, as is often thought, render women and people of color "secondary."...
The primacy of class means that building a multiracial, multi-gendered international working-class organization or organization should be the goal of any revolutionary movement: the primacy of class puts the fight against racism and sexism at the center. The intelligibility of this position is rooted in the explanatory primacy of class analysis for understanding the structural determinants of race, gender and class oppression. Oppression is multiple and intersecting, but its causes are not.
Meyerson helps show why it is precisely when racism and sexism are on the rise--like the times we live in today--that we must turn to Marx for guidance. Our fight is not just against men making more than women, but against the exploitation of all workers. Our battle is not just against the "privilege" for some to own homes in segregated suburbs, but the reordering of society so that everyone experiences lives of equal means.
Our struggle is not only against the "hegemonic structures" that allow George Zimmerman to get away with murder, but the proactive fight for public streets where differently abled men and women, Black, white and Latino, gay and straight, can live free of the violence of inequality. Our efforts to build a "multiracial, multigendered international working class organization" depend on our ability to forge alliances between people, based not on giving up whatever they do have, but on fighting for the same rights for everyone.
That's what it means to have a Marxism that puts the struggle against racism, sexism and all forms of oppression at the center of its tradition and practice.
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1. Laura Pulido's article is "Rethinking Environmental Racism: White Privilege and Urban Development in Southern California," Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 90, No. 1, March 2000, pp. 12-40.
2. The essays by Ignatiev and Allen can be found here at this website in a pdf. Allen later went on to write The Invention of the White Race, in two volumes, and became a critic of "white skin privilege" analysis. See his essay "On Roediger's Wages of Whiteness."
3. For a good review of U.S. historical literature on interracial struggle, see Lee Sustar's article in International Socialism.
4. Marx's letter can be found at the Marxists Internet Archive.
5. Quoted in Sharon Smith, Subterranean Fire, p. 45; originally in "Rethinking Black Marxism: Reflections on Cedric Robinson and Others," Cultural Logic: An Electronic Journal of Marxist Theory and Practice, 3, no. 2, (Spring 2000)