During the week of 2/19 – 2/23, the online forum Black Perspectives is publishing a roundtable of essays from academics and thought leaders addressing the 150th anniversary of W.E.B. Du Bois. My essay addresses a Communist Du Bois and sympathetic King to socialism. It is titled “Race, Religion, & Radicalism: Martin Luther King Jr. and W.E.B. Du Bois.” I explore their juxtaposition of a radical Christian message to their radical walk, as they and Christ despised capitalism and its greed. This is a public forum opened to those who may know little about our academic work and topics. Read more about the forum and the authors here.
I wrote this essay on the past and current struggles of the Black and white working class in the United States. I noted that:
Racism has long divided the working class, and today is no different. Many white working class people voted for Donald Trump. And much like 2008, race was a reason. While some will salute a strong economy, in truth, wages have flattened for the working class. Because of this, and because white workers have grown suspicious of the burgeoning black power call by Black Lives Matter, the search for solidarity continues to escape a racially divided country, as noted by the current political climate.
This essay was published by the Hampton Institute here.
This NY Times article is worth a read. It notes,”Communists believed that organizing the working class would work only if white workers realized that their liberation, too, was bound up with the fate of black workers. Facing this threat, anti-Communists and segregationists worked hard to sustain the fractures. They blamed Communists for fomenting “race mixing,” evoking sexualized fears that social equality would mean black men having sex with white women….The party inspired loyalty for reasons beyond simply an affinity for Marxist ideas. It was the campaigns Communists ran against police brutality, the practice of lynching and the Jim Crow laws that made their politics relevant to the lives of ordinary people.”
You can read it in its entirety here.
As chair of the Communist Party USA Boston, I represented the Communist Party USA on this conference panel sponsored by BSUP to discuss the Party. During Q & A, a young white male from my home state of Alabama asked about our movements and why we have ignored a state in dire need of mass organization. I assured him that Alabama is on my mind and that I have not abandoned it. I do hope to return home as a teacher, mentor, and leader of social movements. Oh, and to spend more time with Mom and Dad.
At the #NoMuslimBan rally in Boston?
In a very early draft, I noted the church — both the Negro church and the white church cannot fully reconcile their racial differences because at the heart of their differences exist capitalism. It was capitalism that transformed the Negro church after 1970 from an agent seeking radical change to one procuring materialism. And because churches love capitalism, they continue to fall short of being revolutionary change agents. Capitalism promotes racism and divides the black and white working class from an achievable world. The white church fails at transforming the weak, poor, and oppressed in their space. While “some” provide food and shelter, they have yet to challenge the status of oppression that keeps the soup lines open. Others have conformed to blaming those who struggle, giving in to the solution of liberalism, as a measure in which capitalism favors them and their paternalism.
The 21st century church must disavow its complacency and promulgate equality through radical preachers who love people more than capitalism, and who will subscribe to what Psalm 82: 3-4 notes: “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Black academic and radical organizer Melvin Tolson once noted, “Jesus didn’t believe in economic, racial, and social distinctions…. You talk about Karl Marx, the Communist! Why, don’t you know Jesus was preaching about leveling society 1,800 years before the Jewish Red was born?”
Melvin Tolson above discussing Jesus as a radical.