The April 29, meeting of the Brooklyn Branch of International Socialist Organization (ISO) (Proposed Agenda below)
Anti-black racism has been critically important to the US ruling class for nearly as long as there has been a US ruling class. In a country built on slavery and permeating with anti-black racism to this day, they have conjured all manner of slanders to justify the oppression of African Americans. To justify slavery in the land where “all men are created equal,” the US State deemed African-Americans as legally subhuman. Today, a “culture of poverty” is deployed to explain mass incarceration, stop and frisk, and denial of decent education. At every turn, the diminished life chances for African-Americans are explained away as a result of their own personal faults. Against these arguments, socialists must develop an instinctive revulsion.
Today, tens of thousands are revulsing against the rising tide of police brutality, broken windows policing, or “education reform.” We are in a moment where discussions about racism — and how to fight it — are suddenly happening among many many more people. But revulsion at racism does not automatically produce a single explanation. It matters greatly how one explains the existence and persistence of racism and anti-black oppression. If one thinks a trans-historical racism, or “fear of the other,” or white supremacy, is at play, the prospects for multiracial working class solidarity are dim. What’s more, if one believes racism to be a constant feature of human life, one must also believe that race is a fixed, biological, or real category.
The ISO puts a premium on building and supporting multiracial class struggle. To understand and defend this project, we must be able to convincingly explain how fighting racism ultimately requires class struggle, and how fighting the class struggle ultimately requires fighting racism. The foundation for these arguments is our ability to confidently take up questions about where anti-black oppression and racism came from, and why they persist.
To that end, we’ll read Barbara Jeanne Fields’ seminal essay, “Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the United States of America.”
Questions to consider:
- What is the relationship between racism and race?
- Why is it important to understand the relationship between ideology and material reality?
- Why were Africans enslaved, as opposed to European indentured servants or the indigenous population?
- Why is it important to understand slavery and other oppression as the outcome of struggle?
- What role does the state play in reproducing race ideology, and racism?
- What does it mean to say that race is a genetic fiction, but a social reality?
- The social construction of racism
- New BC election (members-only vote)
- Building Socialism 2015
Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015
Brooklyn Free School
372 Clinton Ave.