In Trump Era–We Must Fight Economic Injustice and Racism at the Same Time

2017-01-25 10

This is an era to learn from mistakes

[Speaking Truth To Power]

After observing another commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s holiday we then witnessed a sexist, xenophobic, race-baiting rich man’s son being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

It comes during a time of raising racism and blatant police bigotry, brutality and murder of Black-Americans with impunity.

What does Dr. King’s dream mean now that this reactionary regime riding on a wave of racism –used as a campaign strategy–intolerance, and on the economic insecurity of millions of White Americans, is now occupying the highest office in the nation?

During his February 4, 1967 “Drum Major” speech, Dr. King addressed several things: including the bigotry of many White Americans who support racism—and in doing so, unknowingly, oppose their own economic interests. He said, “You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor White people. And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being White…the poor White has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, he is forced to support his oppressors. And the only thing he has going for him is the false feeling that he’s superior because his skin is White.”

This insightful analysis by Dr. King is the primary reason why so many White Americans voted for Donald Trump in November.

Unfortunately, even many White so-called progressives continue to make the argument that racism was only a marginal issue in the election—and, that economic insecurity was really the major factor that propelled Trump to victory.

While economic insecurity was surely featured in the election, many continue to ignore this fact: economic insecurity in America has, more often than not, been inextricably linked to racial animus against the “other,” which oftentimes in American history meant hatred against African-Americans.

Consider the logic being employed: “I believe the economy is doing poorly and even though I’m not racist if the racist candidate can turn things around I’ll give him a chance.”

Today, Latinos, and Muslims have been added to this “other” column of those who’re scapegoated to insulate the real culprits from being exposed for their manipulation of an economic system that is built on exploiting the many to enrich the few.

If we are to make real progress in building the alliances for change the voices of the left need to be more honest about the fact that racism has been one of the main barriers for decades to building a truly massive movement of working-class people of all colors and backgrounds in America.

Since last November’s elections, there has been much talk about how the Democratic Party abandoned the “White working-class.”
This notion is problematic because it suggests the false idea that others—like, African-Americans and Black people—were the beneficiaries of Democratic Party politics, unlike the poor downtrodden White people. This idea is beyond absurd—so, why do so many White people believe it?

To be sure, the deliberate destruction of unions through the decades have weakened progressive forces.

Yet throughout American history, everyone—usually African-Americans— except those economic elites who rig the system– have been scapegoated whenever economic hardship brought misery to White Americans. Sadly, we now live in an alternate reality where many White Americans have been conned into believing that a rich man’s son will magically bringing prosperity to them—even though he has no track record of service to anyone, but himself.

And many who cry about America’s economic injustice say nothing about its racial injustice.
For several years now, since the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, we’ve seen numerous instances of unjustified police violence and murder against Blacks in this country. Accountability has been non-existent for those who have engaged in willful acts of criminal brutality against African-Americans. Many in politics are still parroting the discredited idea that violent and murderous cops only represent a “few bad apples.”

How can these apologists have the temerity to say this with all the video-taped acts of police brutality and murder that we’ve seen over these last few years? Dr. King once said “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”

The harsh reality is: institutional racism in America’s police departments will not come because of bravery or leadership from Capitol Hill. It will also not come from the halls of legislative bodies throughout the country. The change we need will only come when “We The People” make these cowards in Congress act.
With the racist rise of Donald Trump, we have regressed to the Nixonesque mantra of “law and order.”

In the disgrace that was the nomination hearing of Senator Jeff Sessions we heard a lot about keeping police safe—but nothing about demanding justice and accountability against those who pervert the very idea of “protecting and serving” the public. Obviously, that slogan never applied to African-Americans—since, we’ve been criminalized since the rise of America’s police institutions, which has its genesis in the Slave Patrols.

Isn’t it quite telling when politicians lament the killing of police officers but become deaf, dumb and blind given the clear police racial profiling problems we’ve seen?

If you listen to these political phonies, one would get the false impression that police—unlike innocent Black people—are the main targets of violent attacks. The body count tells us different.

In Senator Session’s nomination hearing, virtually nothing meaningful was said about the lack of accountability that is a widespread issue in police departments across the nation. Moral integrity is an oxymoronic notion on Capitol Hill. These political “leaders” made it clear they will not act against the scourge of institutional racism in American’s police departments—which, is indeed interesting, especially, in light of the FBI warnings that hate groups, like the KKK, have been infiltrating police departments.

Dr. King also said that “it may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me.” However, what happens when law enforcement officers are the ones killing? In nearly all of the recent cases, the law has allowed the lawless killings and murders of Black people to go unpunished—with the complicit help of prosecutors and other willing elements within the judicial apparatus.

The “law and order” rhetoric is meant to signal to police that this incoming administration will fully support the thuggery from police that we’ve witnessed on video display over the last few years. These folks have said not one mumbling word about any of the police abuses we’ve seen against African-Americans.

They also plan to profit from “law-and-order.” The share prices of private prison corporations have shot up in anticipation of increased mass incarceration since Trump’s election.

All this means we’ve got to fight—all of us, not just African-Americans and Black people but White-Americans who know deep in their hearts that the violence directed at us is linked to the same economic exploitation that is hurting all of us.

For far too long even so-called liberal and progressive White-Americans have been silent about the violence that is visited on Black Americans.

White Americans who are now angry because of the economic injustice that has shrunk their pay-checks must also care about the racial injustice that Black America faces—in all areas of American life.

Dr. King once said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

As we embark into the viciousness of the next four years, Dr. King’s message of resistance remains vitally important. We must all fight against the sexism, xenophobia and bigotry that Donald Trump represents.

The struggle against economic inequality must finally be linked with the struggle against America’s original sin: racism.

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