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.
I spoke to a crowed at the end of our protest march in front of the Boston State House. I am feeling a desire by many to bring true change. But that will not be easy. This march/protest was aimed against policies on deportations and refugees and Muslims.
I am with Jackie here, she is my friend; I am her friend. She is my ally and I am her ally. We stand with others as friends. Let me be clear here: I love people. And because I love working-class people, I have decided I can no longer be a friend with those who support the legislation of hate. What does this mean? I will not travel with you nor visit your home. If you are against LGBTQ folks, female rights, undocumented friends, black, brown, and others, and if you support hate and American exceptionalism, I am not your friend and you are not my friend. This is not just a virtual notion; it is true for me day-to-day. If you believe you are “just” due to your faith — we are not friends. To be my friend means you are my ally, and thus are seeking to evolve by walking with me to denounce bigotry. I will work with you on the job. I am working class and have to pay the bills. I have no interest in your religion or church if your members are not allies. I will be nice and say hello – Mom and Dad raised me well. I will work beside you at work — but just know I cannot be your friend; if you are not my ally, we are not friends. If you are arguing about my realities and the realities of my friends and allies – we cannot be friends. We cannot break bread in my home or have a glass of wine.
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I am meditating and studying a bit today since Janette and I have no community obligations — though there is always work that needs to be done. Hence, part of my many weaknesses is allowing for comfort, while others do not have such a choice. In my study and looking back at Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s recent work on race and America…I have concluded that she supports my working argument of Black elite comfort that perpetuates the failure of the civil rights movement and drives class division of black people and the structural nature of intra-racism among Black folk. Solidarity is a myth, as many have acclaimed a status that separates those of wealth from those of cyclical Jim Crow configuration. Again — Black elites have more debt and less wealth than whites, but so many have ignored the race.
I have taught this before, and as my students will tell you, it is a staple in my history course. I started the session off by presenting an illustration that conceptualizes the growth of European modernity and the birth of what Arnold Toynbee would call the “Industrial Revolution,” as students looked at the transformation from Lynda Shaffer’s article Southernization to what is called Westernization.
“The Industrial Revolution”is a term coined by Toynbee in the late 1800s and used by Marxist and socialist historians to attack “the captains of industry” and expose “the conditions of the working classes;” after World War II, conservative social scientists like Rostow used Britain as model for industrial “take-off.” Recent scholarship suggests the story is not so simple. See e.g. Peter Sterns.
I worked to draw a conclusion on the relationship between European constitutionalism, mercantilism, geo politics, and the expansion of capitalism. Because of these factors and a number of others, the British middle class promulgated the growth of Atlantic slavery while modeling a new economic paradigm that the French bourgeoisie and nobility would desire. Unlike the traditional Marxist’s interpretation of the revolution that claimed it started as a matter of class conflict between the third estate (peasants & bourgeoisie) and the first and second estates, recent interpretations claim the revolution was a result of the Atlantic market system. Feudal lands and titles no longer carried the wealth that the Atlantic market offered. With an ancient system in existence that prevented the French nobility from prospering in this newly minted Atlantic market, the second and third estate unified to overthrow the French ancient class system. The change in market forces ultimately contributed to the demise of feudalism in Western Europe, though this process was much slower for the East.
Besides the colonial wars fought for geo-political gain in the Atlantic market, the dawn of neo slavery emerged. Paradoxically speaking, this institution heightened during a period in which the literature addressed both natural rights and racial inferiority. I believe the process of understanding European history from 1450 to 1815 rest on students’ understanding of the Atlantic market.
I have been studying Marxist thinker Herbert Marcuse “An Essay on Liberation.” I guess I have read it three times in the past few days, as I aim to reconstruct my new vision for making people conscious of their plight. There is much to consider here as he notes with the “Great Refusal.” Elements of society are rejecting a projected norm, as we see with ill societal elements in need of advancement toward Marcuse’s New Socialism. I feel entrenched in the 1960s and today’s cultural wars with each read.
This is still very rough, but I am still mapping this out. Isaiah Jackson, my protagonist, lives in a world in which the duality of race and class are ubiquitous. His anger toward blacks furthers his metamorphoses and sense of self as he ponders the epics of religion, and the realization that God exists in a binary fashion. His tension and disdain regarding the intersection of race, class, and religion are reflected in his emotional ambiguity. Religious imagery, social realism, and Marxist tone carry my protagonist from his urban despair and black anger to a world of whiteness and distrust. Isaiah’s epic mission is a quest. The intersection of race, class, and religion challenges his worldview and brings about new hostilities as he confronts a white God masked under the guise of privilege.