By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP,USA
Revolutionary Worker #1096, March 25, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org
There is something I read recently that shows a lot about the history of the USA and the nature of this system. This is from a book about lynching in the South during the period between 1900 and 1940, when most Black people lived in the rural south. This is a book by a "mainstream professor"--somebody who is generally progressive and is writing this book to expose the history of oppression of Black people and of lynching in particular. But he's not some wild radical. And he makes this matter of fact statement, which when I read it, it just hit me--it almost, metaphorically, knocked me down. This is what he says: "It is doubtful that any Black male growing up in the rural south in the period 1900 to 1940 was not traumatized by a fear of being lynched." Now just think about that: it is doubtful that any Black male growing up in the rural south from 1900 to 1940 was not traumatized by this fear--in other words, could feel free of this danger--of being lynched.
There was also something I was reading in another book that relates to this--and I'm not going to say, just yet, what this book was about, because I want to get into it "from the side," so to speak. This book quoted someone talking about the market. There is all this talk these days about the wonders of the market--the market takes care of everything, as long as you leave it to the market the greatest good will always result for the most people. This book was quoting some guy, one of these traders, who was talking about how he would give higher prices than "any other purchaser who is now or may hereafter come into the market." And where I found this was in a book on slave-trading--the market that is being talked about is the SLAVE market in the United States not that long ago, shortly before the Civil War. So when you hear people talking about THE MARKET, remember that what they're talking about, whether then or now, is trading in human flesh and human misery. Where do you think this wealth comes from that they trade in? From exploitation--all the things that the masses of people are subjected to all over the world. When you hear the words "the market," this is what you should think of, and this is what you should tell people the market means--the trading in human misery and human flesh--it's nothing else, it's nothing less.
Now, let's go back to the statement that I quoted about lynching in the period 1900 to 1940. Does anyone think that during that time the rulers of America and all their mouthpieces got up in world forums and before the media and said, "Well, you know, we'd like to say that we're the champions of democracy and the leaders of the free world, but how can we say that when all these horrors are going on--all this lynching and everything?" Do you think these muthafuckers got up and said that? Not once! They never stopped talking about how the U.S. was "the greatest country in the world" while Black people were being lynched by the thousands. They never stopped talking about how they were the leaders of the free world while no Black male growing up in the rural South (which is where most Black people lived) could be free of the trauma of lynching--and of course this trauma affected their family and other loved ones and friends, too, so actually no Black people in the rural south, and really no Black people in America, could escape that particular trauma and the overall horror of living as Black people in this "greatest of all countries," this "champion of democracy," this "leader of the free world."
And today what is the situation? Well, all we have to do is change a few words and that statement I quoted very accurately describes the situation for Black men growing up not only in the South but all over America today, and the effect on Black people as a whole. Instead of "it is doubtful that any Black male growing up in the rural south in the period 1900 to 1940 was not traumatized by a fear of being lynched," the equivalent today is: "it is doubtful that any Black male growing up anywhere in the U.S. today is not traumatized by a fear of being brutalized and murdered by the police." And these muthafuckers are still getting up and talking about how they're the leaders of the free world and the champions of democracy.
This reminds me of what Malcolm X said, talking about these people, the rulers of America. He said they have the nerve to get up before the world and talk about how they're the champions of freedom and democracy when they have blood coming down their jaws like a bloody-jawed wolf.
And I remember reading a story by Richard Wright, who wrote Native Son, but the particular story I'm thinking of is Big Boy Leaves Home. As I remember it, this story describes these Black youth growing up in the rural south, and there is this one scene, near the beginning, where Wright just captures the horror of this so powerfully. Here are these Black kids in the rural south--they're out playing and they decide to go swimming down by the river and they're having a lot of fun hanging out together, when all of a sudden they go around a bend in the river, or something, and they come across a white woman. And here the story really powerfully gives you the sense of the whole change of mood--all of a sudden they're struck with terror because they know that just by this mere accident their lives are now in danger, that they can be lynched just because they came across a white woman. And that's something that stays with you--once you understand what is captured in this scene, it is burned into you and you know: these imperialist bloodsuckers, these murdering hypocrites, cannot get up before the world and talk about how they have the greatest of all societies. They have to come down.
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