African Americans fight
savage in-justice system

Editorial of the Fall-Winter 2007-8 issue of Struggle magazine
(CV #41, February 2008)

. The protests in Jena, Louisiana, show that a growing number of African Americans are willing to take action against the savage inequalities of the so-called justice system in the alleged land of the free. One of the most blatant examples of this inequality is the great preponderance of Black inmates in the prison system. The percentage of Blacks in prison in the U.S. today greatly exceeds the percentage of Blacks incarcerated in South Africa during the height of the racist apartheid system. This is shameful, a disgrace beyond words! And it harms the entire working class, of all ethnic backgrounds, as it provides the ruling capitalist class with an extra source of superprofits from unpaid labor and a scapegoat for the anger of the other oppressed, whose real need is to make common cause with the African American workers against the rich.

. The African American masses (and large numbers of Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and white supporters) have fought courageously against racism in many manifestations, especially during the 1960s. This struggle is obviously not over. Today you have big-city Black mayors but they are dancing with the white capitalists while the Black (and other) workers can barely make it from check to check. Today you have Black police but they imitate their white colleagues in profiling and murdering Black and (again, other) poor people. Today all people supposedly have the right to vote, but many are actually disenfranchised, the elections are tampered with, and the candidates are selected by the wealthy owners of the big corporations, who demand that the winners viciously plunder the workers.

. The struggle against the immediate effects of racism and exploitation must continue and be intensified. But the events of the past 50 years reinforce the Marxist conclusion that racism and the exploitation of the working class can only be eliminated by a revolution of the workers and the poor, of all backgrounds, a revolution which brings the working class to power and places as its foremost task the elimination of racist institutions and the destruction of racial prejudices. Only a socialist revolution is capable of this, because only it can bring out the creative initiative of the masses of the working people, who will learn through struggle that they cannot become free from the clutches of the rich unless they destroy racism altogether; it must be consciously organized and fought for. Any deviation from the anti-racist road will simply give the capitalists, who will not disappear overnight, a wedge to drive into the workers' ranks to defeat and enslave the poor once more.

. The present issue of Struggle features a number of writings by African American prisoners. From its beginning in 1985 Struggle has supported and circulated among prisoners who oppose racism and the capitalist system and has published their writings. Several years ago we published a special "Prison Poets" issue. Today we present militant writings which illuminate the racist "justice" system from deep within the belly of the beast. We also wish to congratulate one of our past and present contributors (see page 23 [of Struggle, which has one of his poems­CV]), Kenneth Foster, an inmate in Texas who has recently seen his death sentence overturned as a result of protests (he drove a car occupied by someone who later committed a murder, without Kenneth's foreknowledge). He is one of the eloquent Black Voices from Inside.

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. We must also comment that, with the recent UAW contracts with General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, the working class has suffered a new great betrayal at the hands of the sold-out union leaders. Not only has GM been allowed to escape its contractural obligation (where is the "sanctity of the contract" now, conservative free-marketers?) To pay for the health care of retirees, but a new, second tier of workers has been created making half the wage and benefit package of the present UAW worker. These disgusting concessions are sure to spread throughout the economy, dragging down with them the working conditions and living standards of workers in every kind of workplace and (need it be said?) of every ethnic background. The workers must answer with collective mass struggle. The growth of opposition at Chrysler is a good sign. Priority must be placed on the exposure of the sold-out union bureaucrats.

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. Struggle is not a magazine of poems about the birds and the bees and contemplation of our navels; we are an implacable fighter against injustice. We call upon workers and oppressed people of all backgrounds to fight against racism and capitalist exploitation and for a socialist future. We call upon progressive writers and artists to throw their creative wit and imagination on the side of the vast majority, the working class.

By Tim Hall

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Last changed on February 28, 2008.