Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A confused black youth and thoughts for some white workers

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

We've got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don't fight racism with racism. We're gonna fight racism with solidarity.”   Fred Hampton

Some readers might wonder why I share a video of a confused African American child from Georgia in the US South.  My commentary is actually about the views of the white worker who shared the video on Facebook, but first I would like to comment on the 12 year old in the video. His name is CJ Pearson and he's Executive Director of Young Georgians in Government.  You can check out his FB page here. I was sent the clip around the time that Giuliani was making some statements about Obama and that he, Giuliani, can't be a racist because Obama's mother is white and other such nonsense.

When I saw it on FB, the sender included a comment about what a smart black kid this is.  My immediate response was from the hip saying that I thought the kid seemed like a bit of a dimwit. I was angry and I'll get in to why in a moment. The sender responded by saying that I simply didn't like conservative views or words to that affect. Labeling themselves conservative is the mask behind which many racists hide today; he then unfriended me fortunately.

I want to apologize to the youngster for referring to him as a “dimwit”.  He’s obviously smart, and articulate just very confused, he is only 12 after all and is not aware of history. Hopefully, when he gets older and looks back on this he will wonder what the hell he was doing and hopefully give his instructors a right bollocking for weighing in on the side of Rudolph Giuliani who, like many of the white racist politicians of the 1% cannot abide by an African American face as the face of America.

The 12 year old says with authority:,
“President Obama, You don’t love America. If you really did love America, you would call ISIS what it really is: an assault on Christianity, an assault on America and downright hate for the American values that our country holds. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and every single thing that our country stands for.”

Obviously, this young man’s older relatives have not shared the history of the gallant South with him. How many beatings, how many lynchings, castrations of perhaps even a relative or two took place. How many of his female ancestors were raped without cause to redress even in the modern era. And how is he to know the role of the US government’s foreign policy that has brought us al Qaeda and ISIS and slaughtered millions of people over the last 60 years?  Praise the lord for those “American Values”. Wasn’t the “assault” on blacks in the South an assault on Christians?  You think ISIS are bad.  It wouldn't be a bad idea for him to make a video thanking those thousands of young black people of the Civil Rights Movement who faced water cannons, dogs and even death in the struggle for basic rights.

In Georgia’s history it was a capital crime for a black person even bruising a white person.  Heather Gray points out “In 1816, "Georgia statute made the following acts capital crimes, but only if committed by a slave or a ‘free person of color': poisoning or attempted poisoning; insurrection or attempted insurrection; rape or attempted rape of a white female; assaulting a white person with a deadly weapon or with intent to murder; maiming a white person; and burglary."

So intent on maintaining the white racist ruling class position and keeping black people in slave labor camps Gray writes: "whites could be executed for introducing into Georgia, or circulating in Georgia, any publication for the purpose of inciting a revolt among the slaves." This statute was again repeated in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War”.  People that look like you aren’t necessarily your friends.

Are these the “American Values” this young African American boy is referring to?

So, the guy that applauds this “smart” black kid on Facebook is a white worker much like myself except born here in the US as far as I know. We even have another similarity in that I believe we both have Irish ancestry The brutal English role in Ireland is well documented and the British bourgeois were known to refer to the Irish as “White Chimpanzees.”  In my lifetime before the race relations act (I think in 1967) it was not a rarity to see in the windows of boarding houses, "No blacks, no Irish.".

We are both retired as public sector workers working for a water utility in California starting around the same time as laborers. It is being fortunate enough to work for a public utility that allowed us to retire so young and on an income we can live on, receiving a higher monthly income than many young workers do today. Neither of us should be ashamed of this.

But I cannot for the life of me figure out what is behind white workers that hold these views?  Does he think that the racist nature of these views is not clear for anyone with a brain to see? Is he unaware of them, conscious of them? Is he the “dimwit”?  I think it must be all of the above. I am pretty sure he would have supported Zimmerman, not Trayvon Martin and the Ferguson cop that assassinated Michael Brown, people with these views usually do. How black folks, and especially a black co-worker can refrain from just slapping someone with these views upside the head amazes me. I applaud their restraint.

But the most frustrating aspect of this is the hypocrisy.  I was active in the union at my workplace for 25 years or more. I hardly, if ever saw this individual and others with similar views at a meeting or participating in the struggle for some control over our work life. To my knowledge, he never once spoke out or supported our union for the numerous struggles in defense of workers’ rights, all workers and against racism, police brutality, or the disgraceful incarceration of blacks and people of color. 

This white worker loves Giuliani it seems.  In the 1990’s Giuliani savaged people like him and myself.  Giuliani attacked our union, the organization that at least sets some curbs on the offensive these folks have waged against the public sector. He attacked public sector workers with layoffs and opines, as all these right-wingers, do of how we are overpaid, lazy and how our pensions are exorbitant and bankrupting America. Martin Luther King said that racists are always labor haters or words to that effect. Giuliani is one of the prime examples, one of many in both of the Wall Street parties.

The right wing talk-show hosts and their political backers, many of them right wing Christians are leading the war against the public sector-----workers and services----and refer to our jobs as socialist type jobs. They are right if by socialism we mean jobs that are found only in the social democratic countries like Germany and the rest of Europe. So this guy has a “socialist” job with “socialist” benefits but wants to deny such a standard of living to anyone else. These jobs are being denied young American workers today. What hypocrisy.

Not only that; conditions in a public sector workplace have traditionally been more humane with more security than the private sector. It has been much harder to terminate us. This is a good thing and the unelected billionaires that run this country through their control of the two political parties want to end this, including eliminating our pensions. I’ll bet this working class supporter of a politician who wants to eliminate every aspect of his life that allows him certain freedoms, like being able to afford the rent, took care of a few errands on the job, stopped and had a breakfast or a bite to eat on the job. There’s nothing bad about that. What’s hypocritical about it is supporting those that want to deny it to everyone else with the view that “I’ve got mine”.  What’s more is that the racist ideology that is behind these conservative views is not hidden from black folks. They see what it is very clearly and it weakens all workers including the conservative worker holding these views as it is an obstacle to working class unity. It serves only the bosses, the 1%.  They laugh all the way to the bank.

Most of the white workers I worked with had more class-consciousness than this.  I had my battles with conservatives in the union but they too understood the need for unity despite weaknesses they might have had growing up in a racist society.  They helped build the union, they supported many of the causes that our union got involved in against racism and in support of women’s rights and other issues.

A major reason for this phenomenon, of workers supporting issues and politicians that are contrary to their own interests is due to the failure of the heads of organized labor to fight racism correctly and to provide a political alternative to the Democrats, a political party based on working people and our communities and organizations independent of capital and Wall Street. When workers figure they’re pretty much going to be poor no matter who wins then they vote or act on moral or social grounds, abortion vs prayer in schools, gun control vs gay marriage etc. As regular readers of this blog are aware by now this writer does not support Obama and the Democrats any more than Giuliani and the Republicans.  Obama is a war criminal. That doesn’t mean we do nothing, we have to struggle for working class unity, against racism, sexism and gender discrimination and all issues that divide us. I want the good fortune I had in terms of wages, benefits and retirement to be extended to all workers. We can’t accomplish that with the attitude of my former co-worker and those like him. 

I hope those white workers reading this who have been suckered in by the right wing conservatives will think more clearly about this issue. Your wages, benefits-------your own own future and that of your children depend on it.

For the racists and just plain stupid ones I guess we’re on opposing sides.

"While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."   Eugene V.Debs

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