Revolution #104, October 14, 2007
On the Bus from Los Angeles
There were two full buses that left for Jena from Los Angeles, and I was one of 4 or 5 Latinos that got on. The conversations on the road were wild and fun and at times very intense! Many people on the bus had gotten the Revolution newspaper, which sparked great discussions on the different articles. There was a very heated debate on immigration and there was disagreement over the comparison made in the poster from Revolution newspaper that shows an old photograph with two drinking fountains, one for whites and the other for Blacks, and then asks the question: What’s the difference between ENGLISH ONLY and WHITES ONLY?
There was a vocal minority on the bus that was putting out all kinds of wrong arguments around immigration—the same arguments that anti-immigrant vigilante groups like the Minutemen make. This is dangerous shit! It was not good to see Black people spewing out the bullshit lies that “immigrants are taking our jobs” or that “they’re taking away things that are meant for Black people” or that “they’re illegal but yet get treated better than Blacks”…and that “immigrants should learn ENGLISH”!
Around the poster, some disliked it at first, almost saying: how dare you compare both! I spoke to how there wasn’t a difference, including the fact that the outcome is to make a section of people into “second-class citizens” and justifying the persecution and brutality against them. Really, what is the difference between slave-catchers during slavery times and the ICE raids happening and intensifying around the country TODAY!
It was as if all critical thinking went out the window when it came to understanding why people come here from all over the world and what’s the real source of oppression for Black people. It was pretty bad for about an hour, the worst you could think of came out, and it was even influencing others more broadly on the bus. It was as if somehow the immigrants were now the new oppressors!
The reality is that Blacks and immigrants have a common oppressor. I kept struggling and struggling and focusing on the fundamental point that the real source of oppression for Black people (and for billions on this planet) is in fact this system—this rotten system of capitalism that destroys people and the planet—and that the only revolutionary way out of all this oppression is revolution to uproot this system.
Things began to change and others began to get on my side—both young and old. They started to argue against these wrong positions from their own points of view. Things got more two-sided. Some would say it was the corporations not the immigrants that need to be blamed for the poverty in the Black communities. Others would argue that “you’re being racist like the white people by saying all this shit about immigrants.” At some point I used the example from Bob Avakian’s REVOLUTION DVD of how the system “played” both the Buffalo soldiers (who hunted down Native American people to “prove that they were loyal Americans”) and the Cherokees (who owned slaves that worked on the plantations) only to have the system turn around and betray them. We all started talking about “divide and conquer” and who does it ultimately serve?
Interestingly, this same conversation began to go in another direction—towards what could be done if the people had power in their hands. I agitated around the point that’s in Bob Avakian’s “Views on Socialism and Communism” series—that all the things that “frustrate” us because we can’t fundamentally change them (everything we’d been talking about on the bus) is solely because we don’t have revolutionary state power. I gave examples of what HAS happened when our class, the proletariat (made up of different nationalities throughout the world), had state power—we’ve been able to do really great things. I told the story of China and how when Mao Tsetung led the masses to make revolution to seize state power, one of the things that they did was to save from extinction certain languages of minority populations as a way of combating and overcoming the history of national oppression. And there were many other examples of what got transformed in China as a result of having power in the hands of the people—in education, health care, life expectancy, etc. Without a revolution to seize state power, all of this would not have been possible and TODAY the road to a better world, a communist world, will not open up without first making revolution to seize state power!
Very wild, fun, intense…and full of possibilities!!
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