Monday, June 8, 2015

Events leading to Texas cops attack on black girl explained

 Note: Have the whites that are claimed to have played a significant role in inciting the melee been arrested?

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Many of us have already seen the video of the McKinney Texas cop dragging a young African American girl to the ground, treating young people like dogs and drawing his gun on unarmed black kids who were clearly concerned about the way the young 15 year old was being treated. This cop was so frenzied it's hard to believe he wasn't on pcp or some other drug. Hopefully he'll get tested.

There will be the usual defenders of the police, mostly European/white Americans on the basis that kids should do as they’re told and that those who challenge them deserve what they get.  Despite eons of police brutality, particularly directed at people of color much of it kept out of the public eye until the advent of phone cameras, these apologists for institutionalized racism still fail to overcome their own racial bias. In fact, they refuse to even consider it. It is the hardest thing in the world to consciously change one’s own worldview, the way we have been taught to think. I know, I have been through that.

My grandaughter is a couple of years older than that young girl. She is, like the victim, young, impressionable and bright eyed. She is intelligent, has a mind of her own and she is a strong personality.  This could have been her.

Things have changed over the last 40 years in the US. I am retired now and not active in the labor movement like I once was.  I have a diverse group of friends including white middle class people, white collar workers and of course blue collar white workers as that’s what I am.  I can say with all honesty, so many of the white people or European Americans to use a better term, that I am around in my everyday life are horrified and at least sympathetic to the fears and anger among the black population at the police brutality and outright murders of young black men and also to the general economic crisis that weighs more heavily on people of color. My experience over the last 40 years is that the white working class and sections of the middle class have been savaged by the so-called free market. Many have also come to understand that racism is institutionalized in our system--------it is endemic to it.

This is of little solace to black folks who at this point are in the line of fire (have they ever not been?) and who, with just cause, feel isolated and alone with so many of them in prison, or in the criminal justice system, unemployed, lacking opportunity etc. How can they not feel this way?  While there is growing support among white Americans in terms of becoming involved in the struggle against racism (and sexism I would add, which is probably more pervasive), more often than not this group is composed of those ideologically driven, by progressive political or religious views.  The masses, the millions of working class people in this country are still dormant.

So I am optimistic that there are many more Americans equally distressed with the situation and not unsympathetic to the victims of racial oppression but where do they turn?  Of course there is individual responsibility but we are talking about mass consciousness and mass action here. People see no significant social force taking up this issue in an active way, one that can unite us across racial, gender and other socially divisive lines. At best people just get on with their lives thankful it’s not happening to me. Like electricity, humans tend to seek the line of least resistance. Most Americans never supported the wars, but they don't act on it. The presence of a unifying power can change this.

Is there such a force in US society?

I want to inject something here.  I have been accused by some socialists of having a principle of attacking the heads of organized labor. But to ignore the role that the labor officialdom (I’ll use that term throughout) plays in society, in actuality an absent role, is wrong as is being neutral in a just war of resistance. I’ll go further; abstentionism in such conflict is supporting the oppressor.

Most youth, like those attacked by the cop in the video, and the 88% or so of workers unorganized, never give the labor officialdom a thought. Why would they? They are absent from the lives of most people especially the youth.  Many socialists and others on the left also refuse to take up the officialdom’s role openly, refuse to campaign against their policies, they do not want the conflict for one reason or another. Some are too busy building a revolutionary party that has no influence among the working class whatsoever and never will as one can't be built using the present long since failed methods. No doubt the internal struggle in any organization is the most difficult-----it’s like a civil war in a way.

With regards to the ongoing murder of blacks, institutionalized racism and sexism, the corporate wars and the offensive of the 1% on every aspect of our lives from the hedge fund managers, the Goldman Sachs crowd and the assault on the environment and the corporate wars in the interests of profits, on all these issues the silence of the labor officialdom is deafening. 

I went to the website of Afscme my former union today. Not a mention of the events in Texas. Same with SEIU and the AFL-CIO site. Afscme has 1.6 million members in 3600 locals. SEIU has 2 million members and the AFL-CIO 12.5 million members. All these workers are in key industries. These workers stop work----- the mighty US economy comes to a halt.

Here in California the AFL-CIO state labor federation, one of 51 state federations, has 2 million workers affiliated to it. There are some 1000 county labor councils of the AFL-CIO last time I checked. The LA labor council has around 800,000 members, the Chicago labor council 500,000 members both bodies have hundreds of locals affiliated to them with roots in our communities.

Despite having practically nothing to say about the ongoing police brutality and the crisis in the black and other communities, the President of Afscme Lee Saunders, did have this to say about Hilary Clinton announcing her run for president in April:

Statement of AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Secretary Clinton’s announcement.
Washington, D.C. — 
“Secretary Clinton offered a strong message for working families in her announcement today. Voters are looking for candidates from both parties to bring serious, proven solutions to the table that level the economic playing field and ensure every American has a free and fair shot at the American Dream. Among these proven solutions is making it easier for workers to organize so that they can share in the prosperity of their own productivity. America's public service workers look forward to hearing where the candidates stand.”

SEIU’s vision says the following:
We believe in and will fight for a just society:
Where all workers are valued and all people are respected.
Where all families and communities thrive.
Where we leave a better and more equal world for generations to come.

Well how is this to become a reality? Magic?  Ferguson, Baltimore, Eric Garner in NYC, Oscar Grant. On these issues and the institutionalized racism in US the labor officialdom is absent. And as for gang activity and young people being drawn to them in the urban centers, the alternative rather than prayer circles and candlelight vigils is jobs and massive social infrastructure investment to provide them as well as training and education centers for youth who can learn the skills needed to work. The trade unions can provide training through their apprentice schools by locating them in communities. The public sector unions in conjunction with agencies can also direct funds and resources in this direction rather than providing, hundreds of thousands of volunteers and millions of dollars getting people like Obama and Hilary Clinton elected. This is what we must fight for in the trade union movement. By doing so openly we will be brought in to conflict with the officialdom but we cannot avoid this fight.

The officialdom’s has meant untold hardship for all workers of every race, color and creed as they generally support the bosses’ arguments. In actuality, the labor officialdom not only refuses to fight racism in a serious way except by spending $400 million of their members’ money getting Democrats elected, the press releases of the present head of Vatican City are to the left of organized labor’s pronouncements.

A point we raise repeatedly on this blog is that the police and state security forces in general have been beefed up in the aftermath of the Seattle WTO protests and more recently, the Occupy Movement.  This is in preparation for the wider protests that are ahead as the austerity agenda of the 1% is carried out through both political parties. What we are witnessing in the communities of color and the inner cities we will be seeing more and more in the suburbs as the assault on the living standards of all Americans intensifies.

We can be sure that as these events arise, the old divide and rule tactics of racism and sexism will shift from the back burner to the front. Their media will play the role it normally does in order to shape public opinion. But these are not such the game winners they once were. In the aftermath of the struggle for women’s rights and the civil rights movement, increased mixing of families and communities and after years of attacks on living standards, US capitalism is not in the same position it once was.

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