By Freedom Road Socialist Organization
The rulers of the U.S. are waging a war on the oppressed at home and abroad. The murder of Trayvon Martin and the July 13 not guilty verdict for his killer is an indictment of the system we live under. When the rich and powerful talk of justice they lie. Just take a look at what happened in Florida, or Iraq, or so many other places.
More than 50 years ago, when the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke out against the war in Vietnam, he said,
“The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy and laymen concerned committees for the next generation…We will be marching for these and a dozen other names [of countries] and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.” (April 4, 1967)
While the U.S. war in Vietnam is long over, the U.S. government waged war and occupied Iraq, is still at war in Afghanistan, is marching towards war in Syria and has military drone strikes in many more countries.
In much the same way, the goal of equality for African Americans that Dr. King fought for is far from realized. While the Civil Rights Movement and the resulting Civil Rights Act of 1964 swept away Jim Crow segregation in the South and the struggle to register black voters and the Voting Rights Act has led to the election of thousands of Blacks to political office, the masses of African American people are far from equal.
African American unemployment rates are still twice that of whites, while Blacks graduate from college at half the rate of whites. The typical income of an African American household is 40% less than a white household, while their wealth is 95% less. Black men in particular are arrested, convicted and jailed by the ‘injustice’ system, so that almost one third are in or have been through prisons. And Black youth like Trayvon Martin continue to be gunned down by racist cops and vigilantes while their killers walk free.
The root of the problem is that the U.S. was founded on the exploitation and oppression of Black people. As Europeans waged genocidal war on Native peoples, they also brought millions of slaves from Africa to work the land seized from Native Americans. The slave trade and slave labor not only enriched the white plantation owners of the South, but also the white merchants and bankers of the North – the Wall Street investment bank Lehman Brothers, whose collapse triggered the financial crisis in 2008, began as a financier of Southern cotton plantation owners.
The conflict between the northern industrialists and southern plantation owners led to the Civil War and an end to slavery. But the hope of Black freedom was smashed by the deal between the same two former enemies to end Reconstruction. Instead of 40 acres of land and mules to farm, African Americans were terrorized by the KKK and other forces to be tenant farmers, share croppers and convict labor under Jim Crow segregation.
It was after the Civil War that an African American nation was formed in the Black Belt South, named after the soil which grew cotton farmed by African American labor. This nation, with a common land base, economy, language and culture, saw some of the worst exploitation and oppression of African Americans. It was in and around the Black Belt that the great battles of the Civil Right Movement of the 1960s were fought. It was in the Black Belt that Stokley Charmichael (Kwame Toure), the chairperson of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which grew out of the 1960 sit-in by Black college students at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, made the historic call for “Black Power.”
Black Power, in its fullest expression, means nothing less than the right of self-determination, up to and including secession, for the African American nation. Only if the African American nation has this right to separate if need be, can this nation be liberated.
So who is it that stands in the way of Black Power, of self-determination for the African American nation and full equality for Black people outside of the nation? It is the descendents of the northern industrialists and bankers and the southern plantation owners, who are commonly known as the 1%, the tiny minority of rich who own the corporations and control the government.
These are the monopoly capitalists, the owners of the huge corporations that dominate the economy, and their servants among governments and universities who maintain the political and economic system in their interests. These are the same people who continue the U.S. foreign policy of war and occupation, while cutting education and services here at home.
So long as the political and economic system of capitalism, based on private ownership of the means of production and production for profit rules, no amount of Black elected officials, or even a Black president, can bring about the liberation of African Americans. The oppression of the African American nation and the oppression of African Americans all over the country continue today.
So we say that we not only have to fight racist discrimination, but need to end national oppression. We need to end the oppression of the African American nation in the Black Belt South and African Americans everywhere in the U.S. who make up an oppressed nationality (a distinct nationality facing political, economic, and social oppression and inequality, as do Chicanos, Mexicanos, Central Americans, other Latinos, Asian and Arab Americans, as well as Native Americans and Alaskan Natives).
To win this struggle for freedom, we need another economic system, one based on public, not private, ownership of the land and businesses that produce the goods and services in the economy, not a system controlled and for the benefit of the 1%. We need a political system based on democracy for African Americans, other oppressed nationalities and the working class. We call this system socialism.
Fight for Justice for Trayvon Martin!
Fight for Full Equality, Self-Determination and Liberation!
Fight for Socialism!