Tuesday, November 15, 2016

White workers must speak out at Trump's divisive racial message

Stephen Bannon Trump's Chief Strategist endorsed by Nazi Party and KKK
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

As some readers know, I am retired and worked for a public utility for almost 30 years. Black folks, Portuguese, Irish and Italian Americans are just some of the people I know who built my union, who had the courage and class consciousness to recognize that without organization, we were easy pickings for the boss. It didn’t make racism or sexism go away, and I know that the black workers and the women had a more difficult time of it. Nevertheless, all of us benefited from it and it did change consciousness to a certain extent as it is through struggle that this change occurs.

I am proud of my union and its history. I also know that the vast majority of white workers I worked with were not raving racist, bigoted people. An old friend long dead who was in the Black Panther Party and the US army assured me that it is only natural that most white folks would have prejudicial views of black people, we live in a racist society and they’ve been indoctrinated with it for 300 years. He said this without any sense of blame, simply a historical fact and he also believed it was unnatural for us to be this way.

The white activists, along with black and Latino brothers and sisters in my union local took up many issues facing the black and brown communities, from police violence to jobs and mass incarceration.  We campaigned for the release of Geronimo Pratt, imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. We supported workers on strike from the great battles of the 1980’s like Patco, Hormel and Eastern Airlines, to the Apartheid struggles in South Africa and the persecution of workers and union activists there. We were instrumental in helping save the life of Mahmoud Masawra, Palestinian trade union leaders who led a strike of Jews and Muslims.

Like most unions not dominated by the bureaucracy, it was an activist minority, the most conscious politically, that made this happen. But in areas where the union was strong-----had strong representatives----class-consciousness was greater. This was a reflection of the consciousness of the leadership or certainly important sections of it.

So most of the membership did their own thing, they were quiet, they got on with their daily lives, working overtime, taking care of the kids, paying the mortgage and enjoying what leisure time they had doing what they wanted to do.

I want to say to the white worker, not just at my former workplace but throughout the country, you can be silent no longer. 

A local West Virginia official in Clay County has just been suspended for posting the following on Facebook:

"It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels."

The Mayor of Clay responds with: "Just made my day Pam."

This follows after Kentucky Republican Dan Johnson, ousted the incumbent Democrat Linda Belcher in Bullitt County in a race for the state House of Representatives.

Johnson had previously posted a series of racist rants on FB Facebook depicting Barack Obama and his wife as monkeys

And what happened other than him being elected?

“Republican officials, including likely new House Speaker Jeff Hoover, had called on Johnson to drop out of the race.”,  reports Yahoo News,  But Hoover declared last week that Johnson would be 'welcome in our caucus.'"

I don’t support the Democratic Party or it’s president. But workers have to fight racism in all its forms, this is disgusting. It's always been there of course, it's built in to the system. But Trump has given it life.

I have written enough about the disgusting, criminal role played by the trade union hierarchy, the members of which ingratiate themselves and beg at the feet of the degenerate Trump in the hope of getting a few crumbs from the master’s table. We have come to expect nothing less from them.  Their myopic worldview will not protect or preserve their members’ living standards. It is a position aimed only at keeping the revenue coming in, them in jobs and their obscene salaries and perks intact until they die. They will do nothing until they are forced or replaced.

But the ranks of the trade union movement and white workers throughout the nation must speak out, must stand up and condemn the degenerate racist Donald Trump.  If you don’t want to be seen as a racist then you can’t stay silent when white racists, especially those in powerful positions, promote their ideas, speak openly and without fear of retribution. If you want to feel secure and safe in our communities or working as some of us do in the black communities, then make sure people know whose side you are actually on and that means making it clear. If you don’t like being lumped in with Trump, Breitbart and the white nationalists then separate yourself from them.

And that means through action over time, not words. It is easy for those of us with white skin, the same color as the dominant ruling class, to opt out, to keep our mouths shut, “At least it’s not me they’re after”.  It is this racist divide that has allowed the living standards of the white working class population to decline along with their life expectancy. Trump will increase that tendency, not halt it.

As you go in to work today think of how your black brothers and sisters and other people of color feel in this climate. You work alongside these people every day, you cooperate at work, you might be in a union together socialize once in a while although that is what is lacking because if you don’t socialize with a people you can’t know them.  How can you stay silent when the future president of this country is talking about them the way he does and filling political posts with neo-Nazis.

Believe me, people of color are frightened. They are frightened for their children, themselves, their loved ones. The Nazi’s and racists are getting bolder. Why wouldn’t they? The Commander in Chief has given them the Green light. At very least on a moral and for some of you, a religious level you must not stay silent.

If the white worker who has remained silent on this issue for so long does not speak up, you are betraying your own children’s future because they are coming after you. Racism is a divide and rule tactic that weakens us, strengthens them. I have had a decent life in this country because of the struggle for racial and sexual equality and what it has brought us so far. I want future generations to have a decent life.

Those that know me know I am not a liberal. I am not ashamed of my skin tone. I don’t feel guilty about being white or a man or my having an accent that is popular in general, all of which are assets in the US. But I know damn well it has its advantages in a society where the ruling class is the same color and they use that, try to con me in to thinking I’m one of them, that we have unity. We do not.

In my work life and all the years I lived in the black community I never met black folks who wanted me to apologize, have me beat myself up or deny anything about myself like the white liberals do. All they ever wanted, like us all, is to be treated equally and fairly and not be denied such treatment on the basis of color or race; it makes people so angry when they raise these conditions and white folks deny them. You’re calling someone a liar when you respond to these concerns lightly or discount them altogether There are rare exceptions, very rare, and these examples don’t attack white the power structure, management or the rich, they simply want to be part of it. It is white workers they attack.

So start talking up this disgusting situation in the workplace. Let the black folks, women, people of color, know where you stand because we do look like the ruling class, a superficial similarity really but made in to a crucial one for divide and rule purposes. Tell them you feel for them right now, that this must be awful for them and that they must worry about their kids because they do. If you’ve been silent on this issue all your life of course you might be suspect, plus, the petit bourgeois white lefty types overdo it as a means of proving their “non-racist” status. The liberals are often condescending and act like they feel sorry for people and all that. The point is we should feel inspired by people’s struggles in the face of adversity. It’s no skin off my back. Black workers see through the phony liberal solidarity. Class-consciousness may be weak but it is exists.  In the future it will emerge with a vengeance as the “Whip of the Counterrevolution” in the form of Trump and his racist gang is felt across our backs, including the backs of those who in desperation or foolishness voted for him. This will not always be smooth, reaction too will have it's day given the absence of leadership, but it is in times of struggle that workers tend to unite along class lines and the divisive tactics of the ruling class weaken.

If you have a local union get down there and have it make some statement, preferably, a resolution calling on the trade union leadership at the national level to organize a huge protest on inauguration day against racism and to defeat Trump. At very least make your union’s voice heard in condemnation of the direction our society is going. Talk to your relatives and friends in unions and get them to pass them, help them pass them. Silence under these conditions is taking a side, the wrong side.

Black workers are natural allies of white workers as are all workers no matter what their sexual orientation. The divisiveness is not our creation but overcoming it is our responsibility.

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